Annals of Customer Service


This really happened.
I was shopping for a winter jacket at a local store which shall be nameless (because this could have happened anywhere in Humboldt) . I found one that looked right but it had a fur collar- not exactly my style,  plus I figured it was fake anyway. I flagged down a salesclerk and asked if it was real. She went to consult someone and came back saying, “Yes, it’s real. It’s fox.”

FOX!  I couldn’t believe it. “Isn’t that an endangered species?” I asked.  I don’t know whether they’re endangered or not.  My neighbor says there are foxes in our ‘hood in Cutten but I never see them.

“No, it’s really fox”, the clerk said.  “It’s right here on the tag. See?”

I looked at the tag.   It said “FAUX”, not “fox’.  I explained the difference.  She was sort of interested.

That incident made me wonder what local employers are doing for customer service training now that the Eureka Adult School is no more. Years ago, the Chamber sponsored training for retail employees.  The legend is that their training got its start when the waitstaff at the old Seafood Grotto were heard telling visitors who asked what there was to do in Eureka, “Nothing”.  The Chamber is under financial duress at present and I would’t expect any expensive initiatives from them for awhile.  

Retail is critically important in this County; it provides thousands of jobs, not all of which are minimum wage jobs.  It provides training; most people’s first jobs were in retail.  Retail trains people to communicate,  problem solve, handle cash and a dozen other skills. 

Including, maybe,  the ability to distinguish “faux’ from “fox.” The fake fox fur turned out to be detachable.  I’m trying to decide if I should give it to the dogs to play with or if that would encourage aggression toward small critters.  I guess I’ve already done irreparable harm with all the “squeaky” toys I’ve given them. The faux mice and faux birdies have taken their toll.


Let’s Talk About Guns



When it comes to guns, everyone’s got an opinion. What I am presenting here are not opinions, but statistics that were gathered by a gun enthusiast from South Carolina, Dr. John Rheney, who has been the outdoor columnist for the Orangeburg Times & Democrat since 1984. Click HERE for his complete article.  They are followed by some California statistics from the State departments of Public Health and Justice.  If you have information to the contrary, kindly post it with your sources or better yet a link.  Enjoy!

Seven per cent (7%) of Americans hunt.

A survey found that 32 percent (32%) of Americans either own firearms or live with someone who does. This is down from 50% in the late ’70’s.

In 1977, a third of Americans lived in a household with at least one hunter.  In 2014, that number had declined to 16%.

While the number of guns being sold has held steady or increased, the guns are being concentrated in fewer hands.  22% of Americans own a gun as opposed to 31% in 1985.

About 35% of men and 12% of women own a firearm. 31% of people over 35 years old own a firearm.  Only 14% of people under 35 do.

Republican households owning guns: 50%.  Democrats: 25%.

Whites are twice as likely to own a gun than other races. People with higher incomes are much more likely to own guns than the poor.

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It’s mating season!!

No, not for you- for our ungulate friends at Prairie Creek and elsewhere on the North Coast. For the next couple of weeks, the elk will be sorting out their family matters and in some instances providing a loud and graphic demonstration of the mating process and its accompanying battles. A link to the appropriate Visitors’ Centers is HERE and the folks at Prairie Creek, 488-2039, are very helpful.  Check in with them for tips on safe viewing and give your kids a seasonal treat.


Eureka Restaurants Update

Marsa Jordan reports that her Zöe restaurant at 2850 F Street in Henderson Center, should be open sometime in the first two weeks of November, and we know a lot of folks are eager for the opening. She’s working with Carson Park Design on the website.

Just down the block on the other side of the bank, the Diver Bar and Grille is busy with their remodel and has moved in a wood-fired brick pizza oven that looks a lot like the one at Brick and Fire.  Yum! 

And the Cutten Inn remodel goes on and on and on…and on….


The August HSU Economic Index Is In

The August Economic Index as developed by Dr. Escher and his team at HSU is in, and we should recognize the folks who make it possible. the Index is sponsored by the California State and Federal Credit Union, Coast Central Credit Union, Redwood Capital Bank and Umpqua Bank.


“We have suspended the Lumber Manufacturing Index until we can obtain a sufficient number of data providers.”

“The Home Sales Index increased over the previous month, while all other indices fell or stayed the same.”

“30-year mortgage rates in Humboldt County have decreased from 4.125 percent to 4 percent, while the median home price rose from $269,500 to $271,500.”

“Northern California’s average price fell from $3.52 per gallon to $3.33 per gallon, and Eureka’s average gas price fell from $3.63 per gallon to $3.17 per gallon.”

Wow, I sure missed that last one! Click HERE for the Index, and have fun!

My Favorite Businesses: Jeff W’s Lawn Service

I’d like to give a shout out to a business in which I have no financial stake at all. Jeff Wickizer has been doing my lawn for three or four years now and does a great job. He shows up when he says he will and works quickly. His cleanup is great and his suggestions are helpful.  In other words, he gets five stars.

You can reach Jeff by email to or on his cell which is 601-2090.  He’s also the General Foreman and Estimator at Professional Tree Services and you can reach him there at 839-TREE (8733). Jeff is a hardworking young guy with a family (they just had a baby a few weeks ago) and I say anyone ambitious enough to start their own company on top of a full-time job is the type of entrepreneur who deserves your support. Besides, he does good work. Give him a call and tell him I sent you. You won’t regret it. 


How To Gain Five Pounds In Two Weeks; Eating Out At Brick, Kyoto, Toni’s and the Benbow

Had a crowd of summer visitors? At least they’re a excuse for eating out. Here are some meals we enjoyed recently.

Brick & Fire- this is everyone’s favorite restaurant and if you haven’t been,  do yourself a favor and go.  Go now.   They’ve had a good run and nothing lasts forever.  Yes, it’s spendy but you could have a Wild Mushroom Cobbler ($9) which is pretty darn filling. Add a salad for $7 and you’ve got a nice meal. Add WINE  and your costs increase exponentially. If you order the brick-pressed bird, ask for it well done. ($22, enough for two meals.) The Italian Mac’n’Cheese ($15- also so rich it’s two meals) is so good I ordered it for my birthday dinner. We came back the next week and I ordered it again. We are so luck to have a bistro of this caliber I don’t even mind calling it a bistro.  Their website is HERE.

Masaki’s Kyoto- We wanted to see how the Kyoto was holding up without Eric Masaki, now with the HCSO and good for him. The answer is : just fine. We walked in on a Friday night with no reservations, ordered dinners and sushi-  lemon and Eureka rolls and something with eel. Service was quick considering  we were ordering sushi.  I’ve always loved the Kyoto but one of our group is a Shanghai native who has lived in Japan, is a damn picky eater and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Asian food. He pronounced the meal excellent and we all agreed. No website.

Toni’s 24-Hour Restaurant – is just that, a real restaurant, not a burger stand.  I didn’t take Toni’s seriously because all I ever heard about it was that it ‘s a great place to go when you’re drunk, hungry and it’s 3am. Also I could never figure out to get there. With someone else driving, and headed  for a movie in Arcata, we got there at around 7pm and found only a short line. The menu goes ‘way beyond burgers. The folks across from us were all eating chef salads and they looked good. I had a blue cheese burger on ciabatta and really liked the way they grilled the ciabatta. The onion rings, unfortunately, were cooked with oil that tasted stale,but I would try them another time. The burgers and shakes were excellent, but I would definitely think about getting the chicken-fried steak next time. Cozy atmosphere. Their website is HERE.

The Benbow Inn- Our family has always loved the Benbow and it just gets better and better. We lost a family member earlier this year 

and a reunion at the Benbow just seemed like the right thing. Actually, my parents spent the first night of their honeymoon there and I thought that perhaps the reason I love the place so much is that I was conceived there. HA! Probably not since it would have involved a two year gestation. Yes, its spendy but they’ll negotiate, especially for groups. We had nine, in three rooms and two KOA “cabins” and they gave us a rate of $175 for Terrace Rooms, which are much nicer than some of the “historic” building rooms and are located on the other side of the building. The Terrace Rooms are a lot better for anyone who wants to avoid that godawful staircase going up to the front entrance. The food was perfect as always. They were featuring a white gazpacho ($7) with grapes which was pretty wonderful and very refreshing.  (The temperature was 95 and it didn’t start cooling off till 8pm.) The salmon ($32) was great, the linguini with vegetables was a big hit ($19) and the crab cakes ($15) are good and substantial  enough for a main course.  If you drive down for lunch , which is a nice excursion, you can have sandwiches and that gazpacho. You won’t spend any more at the Benbow than you will at Jack’s and some other mediocre places in Eureka. Benbow is especially nice for lunch around the holidays, when you can eat in the lounge near a roaring fire. And you feel like a millionaire. The website is HERE.







Hazards of Landlording-here’s one you never thought of

We’ve been offline for a couple of weeks, during which we experienced a lot of what all of you have- the cellphone outage. out-of-town visitors, more visitors, family reunions, and gaining five pounds from all the eating out. We’ll catch up little by little but I wanted to tell you first about a lesson learned re: the US Postal Service.  This lesson may save you some grief.

I have a 3 BR/2 BA house and for several years I have rented out the extra bedroom and bath.  On the same day that we had visitors from New Jersey,  one tenant moved out and another moved in.  Meanwhile my friend from LA , with whom I was planning a road trip to British Columbia, also showed up and realized he’d left his passport in LA. He got a friend to fetch his passport and mail it to my place using certified mail.  I use a PO box for 90% of my mail so I didn’t notice we weren’t getting any mail in the mailbox.

After a few days his passport hadn’t shown up so he accosted the mail carrier, who told him that he hadn’t delivered any mail to us for a few days because the house was vacant. Vacant!  Never mind the cars in the driveway and parked in front! Never mind the well-tended and watered planter box next to the mail box! Never mind that there were three adults and a dog living here the week this happened! Never mind that the house has not been vacant for even a day since I bought it in 1993! He thought the house was vacant.

Why?  Because he saw the forwarding order from the tenant who moved out and concluded that the house was empty. He apologized profusely for his error but by that time the passport had been sent to some kind of postal clearing house in Sacramento. We called the post office on Clark and they advised us to wait a few days. We did and nothing happened. To make a long story short, we went down there twice and enlisted the help of a supervisor named Eley,  The passport finally showed up this past Saturday, after being lost in the bowels of the USPS for almost three weeks. The stress on both of us was extreme.

The USPS is like any other organization- only as strong as its weakest link. Every supervisor we talked to at the USPS said the carrier “needed to be talked to”. How ’bout he should be retrained??  The lesson learned is that certified mail, which costs $3 and change, is useless.  If you have something valuable to send, send it REGISTERED which costs $12 but at least they can locate it. Registered mail is signed for at each stage of its journey, much tighter tracking.  I notice that Fed Ex has a small package option for $8.  I suspect that when Fed Ex loses something, they find it pretty quickly. Again, they have a signature for each transfer.

Next time, Fed Ex for sure. And folks, don’t bother with certified.  It’s not worth the paper it’s written on.  If you have any stories about lost mail and the USPS we’d love to hear them.



Well, the phones are down anyway so we’re checking out early. Enjoy the weekend, drive carefully and if you haven’t seen it yet, “Straight Outta Compton ” is surprisingly enjoyable for those of us who aren’t big hiphop fans. Good performances, and it’s helpful to us oldsters that Ice Cube’s son- who plays Ice Cube-actually LOOKS like his dad. And of course the music is great. Recommended. See you next week.