Forest Service Waved Off Early Air Support of Hunter Falls Fire Near Reno

12:04 PM Hunter Falls fire from Reno

12:04 PM Hunter Falls fire from Reno

On Saturday evening, May 17, the U. S. Forest Service was informed that there was an uncontrolled fire in the Hunter Falls area west of Reno, Nevada. Because it was dark and the area was difficult to reach by vehicle, the Forest Service elected to wait until dawn to attack the fire. On Sunday noon a ground crew still had not reached the fire and winds had picked up. The fire was rapidly growing sending smoke towering over Reno, Nevada.

According to an anonymous source it was 2:15 PM on Sunday before an air attack on the fire would begin and by that time the U.S. Forest Service had known about the fire for at least 15 hours. The lack of rapid response occurred on an active fire where high winds from an incoming front were predicted by the National Weather Service.

When asked about the delay in air support, a spokesperson for the U. S. Forest Service had said that air support was not available. According to the KRNV News in Reno, the Washoe County Sheriff”s Department, helicopter, capable of making water drops on a fire, was available. Another source said that two air tankers from California were in process of being repositioned Sunday morning to the Stead airport north of Reno to attack the fire.

4:55 PM Hunter Falls fire  continues to grow

4:55 PM Hunter Falls fire continues to grow

Apparently those resources were waved off by the Forest Service on Sunday morning. According to the source, the rationale for waving off the air tankers was to avoid dropping fire-retardant in the local watershed. There was no apparent reason for not using water drops from the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department’s helicopter.

The choice to send in ground crews, rather than air support, is also questionable. In 1994, a fire on Storm King Mountain fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado killed 14 firefighters when high winds kicked up and trapped them.

Colder temperatures and precipitation over the next few days allowed the fire to be controlled; however, there are many questions that need to be answered regarding the decision to wave off air support considering the weather forecast and the difficult terrain of the Hunter Falls areas. 

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The Grade Negotiation Season

Spring brings forth the failures as well as the flowers

Spring brings forth the failures as well as the flowers

Most people don’t realize that we are in a new season. It happens twice a year at the end of a semester when college professors are bombarded with emails from their students trying to beg, borrow, or steal a few points for a higher grade. It should be noted that the majority of these emails are not coming the students who attended class, turned in assignments on time, and studied for the tests. No, these are the students that missed class, turned in assignments late, and had a party to go to rather than study.

The emails are typically as follows:


Could u look @my grade. I need 2 have a c n u’re clas or i lose my finansal aide. i was sure i had a c n u’re class.


The student often assumes that the professor knows in which class the student was enrolled, and writes as if she or he is texting a friend. The student probably knows that they didn’t deserve a “C” in the class; however, they hope that the professor will feel sorry for them and bump them up. Usually, nothing changes, but the student can say to her or his parents that they were sure they had a “C” in the class and that they even complained to the professor, but he or she wouldn’t change it.

For the professor, these emails take pointless hours of time to review the scores, confirm the grade, and respond. It turns the end of the semester into a circus where all the clowns come out of the woodwork after being absent most of the semester.

There is nothing wrong with a student questioning their grade; however, if a student is at the borderline of losing her or his financial aid, and/or falling below the required grade average for enrollment, the problem is not about one grade, but the overall performance in all classes.

Sadly, professors are not allowed to offer an appropriate response such as:

Rachel Smith
ENG 203 – Writing For Business

Dear Rachel:

Thank you for your email. Your grade is based on your participation in my class and reflects the work you performed. The “D’ you received is not only correct, it is generous. I’m pleased to see that a student like yourself will no longer be offered financial aid, so that a better quality of student can now be a recipient.

I wish you well on your future in the world of menial labor for which you may or may not be qualified.


Edward Terrell
University of  Higher Education


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Stop Using the Fahrenheit Scale

I know you think it’s hard. We were taught temperature in the Fahrenheit scale. It’s all we know. Now forget it.

The problem in understanding the Celsius scale us that we try to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, or the other way around and it becomes too confusing. I say it again, forget the Fahrenheit scale. It’s the best way to understand the Celsius scale.

Why? Because most of the time we only care about the temperature to know how to dress, so try this:

  • -20°C   - Why are you outside?
  • -10°C    - It’s really cold. Gloves and a  muffler with your winter coat.
  • 0°C      - It’s cold. You need a winter coat.
  • 10°C    - It’s cool. Jacket weather.
  • 20°C   - It’s comfortable. Maybe long sleeves.
  • 30°C   - It’s getting hot. Short sleeve and shorts.
  • 40°C  – It’s really hot. Find the nearest air-conditioned room.

That’s it. If you can count by 10’s you can understand the Celsius scale. Okay, I’ll let you see the corresponding temperatures in Fahrenheit:

  • -20°C   – Why are you outside? (-4°F)
  • -10°C – It’s really cold. Gloves and a  muffler with that winter coat. (14°F)
  • 0°C      – It’s cold. You need a winter coat. (32°F)
  • 10°C     – It’s cool. Jacket weather. (50°F)
  • 20°C   – It’s comfortable. Maybe long sleeves. (68°F)
  • 30°C    – It’s getting hot. Short sleeves and shorts. (86°F)
  • 40°C - It’s really hot. Find the nearest air-conditioned room. (104°F)

If it helps, just remember that 20°C is comfortable if there is no wind. Every 10° up or down from that temperature is going to be a significant change in comfort level. It’s that simple.

Okay, if you’re a cook, the Celsius scale is a little more challenging, but baby steps, baby steps.

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Five Signs That Should Be A Dealbreaker When Purchasing A Pre-owned House

Greed is NOT good when purchasing a home. The ethics of selling a house have reached new lows and some realtors are little more that used car dealers looking to take advantage of the gullible and the inexperienced. Here are five things that should encourage you to walk away from a sale.

The Angry Realtor
Regardless of the circumstance, the sale of a home should not be a cause for anger. Terms are either acceptable or not, and an overly emotional or condescending realtor is a good indication that he or she is trying to distract the buyer (and sometimes the seller.) The ethical realtor understands that buying a home is one of the big decisions in life and everyone should be happy when the check is exchanged.

Unfortunately, the past decade has seen ruthless and unethical realtors gain a foothold in an otherwise, honorable profession. If a realtor accuses you of being unreasonable, they may be trying to attack your sense of self and create doubt so that you’ll back away from your convictions. Again, the terms are either acceptable or not, and if not, a counter offer or a polite decline are the only appropriate responses.

Buying a home can be a win-win, or win-lose depending on the ethics of the seller

Buying a home can be a win-win, or win-lose depending on the ethics of the seller

Flipped Houses Tricks
Buying a cheap house, fixing it up, and reselling it used to be an honorable vocation. It is no longer.

When profit is the primary motive, ethics of the seller and their realtor become meaningless. Anything in a house that needs fixed or replaced will likely be done at the lowest price with the least amount of quality and work. Here are some tricks in remodeling for profit that you should be wary of when buying a home:

Single pane, aluminum frame windows are great if you like high heating bills and wasting energy

Single pane, aluminum frame windows are great if you like high heating bills and wasting energy

  • New windows trick – Insulating dual pane windows are a standard in today’s home. Homes with single pane windows should have been updated in the during the last 20 years. Rather than updating all the windows, unethical sellers will only replace the windows on the front of the house, which improves its curb appeal, but doesn’t fix the problem.
  • Landscaping trick – Landscaping is a key indicator of how the house was maintained. People who didn’t take care of their yard, probably didn’t take care of their house. The unethical seller will plant a few new trees or bushes, and some decorative stone to cover the weeds and dead lawn. If everything looks new, ask about the drip system for the plants. If their isn’t one, then you know they are just trying to disguise poor maintenance with rock and mirrors.
  • Plumbing fixtures trick – New toilets and faucets make a house look updated, but that can mean it is updated. The unethical seller will use the cheapest toilets and fixtures at Home Depot or Lowe’s and pay an unlicensed handyman to install them on the lowest bid. Run every faucet, flush every toilet, and look for leaks, and/or sloppy installation.
  • New carpet trick – Worn floors and carpet will cause most buyers to walk away from a house. Enter cheap tan carpet. The quickest and cheapest fix is inexpensive tan carpet. A house that has new tan carpet gives the feel of a well-maintained home, but this should cause the potential buyer to look even closer at the home. It is worth the trip to a carpet store before a buyer begins home shopping. A home buyer should know the look and feel of high quality carpet versus cheap tan carpet.
  • Electrical outlets trick – A home with ungrounded, (AKA:  two-prong outlets,) is in desperate need of updating. It means that the house should be rewired (See Outdated Systems.) To disguise this issue, the unethical seller will change the two-prong outlets with three-prong, (AKA:  grounded) outlets, but they won’t replace the wire, nor will they have run a grounded wire to each outlet.

Bidding Wars
Bidding wars on a home is a win for the seller and always a loss the buyer. Home buying is not a game. The pressure of people bidding against each other drives the price up, and the value down. Walk away from a bidding war.

Getting a great deal is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. By shopping for homes over a period of months, the chance of being at the right place and time increases. There is a name for people who expect to spend only a week looking for a new home: Suckers.

Outdated Systems
Because everything wears out, and because newer house systems (heat, light, plumbing, electrical, appliances, etc.) are more efficient, buying a home with outdated equipment means, 1) that the previous homeowner didn’t do the maintenance they should have, and 2) the real cost will be much higher as you will be burdened with the cost and inconvenience making it current. Here are some systems you should ask about before you buy:

  • Water Heater Tanks – The life span of most water heaters is ten to thirteen years. If the heater is older than 2001, it needs to be replaced.
  • Furnaces – A well-maintained furnace can last 25 years. A furnace installed before 1990, is not only at the end of its life, it is costing you money because it is inefficient.
  • Electrical – The electrical system has about a 40-year life span. Any home built before 1975, should be rewired. It’s a tough job and expensive. It is not a job that should be done on the lowest bid.
  • Plumbing – Metal pipes can last for 70 years or more. Newer PVC (plastic) pipe has a much shorter life (25 to 40 years.) Clay pipes (used for sewer pipe in the mid-1900’s, is past its lifespan. A good home inspector can verify the state of the existing plumbing and their advice should be heeded.

High Pressure Sale
Anytime the buyer or their realtor is applying undo pressure for a decision the buyer should be ready to walk away. Used car salesmen have used this tactic for decades to push people into a deal that they don’t want. It also means that the seller may have significant problems with the house that they don’t want the buyer to discover.  

Certainly the buyer needs to make timely decisions, and a seller should not expect to have to pass up other offers while waiting for another buyer to decide, but if the seller is demanding an immediate decision, then warning bells should be going off in the buyer’s mind.

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Is Reno’s NBC Affiliate Moving Back to the Middle?

Image by Paul Kiser

KRNV reconnecting with the rest of the community?

Something happened at KRNV, Reno’s NBC affiliate, on April 8. It was not what they did, but what they didn’t do. Tuesday’s 6 PM newscast of the Sinclair Broadcast Group‘s (SBGI) station didn’t run an anti-government story.

It’s possible it they were just having an off day. It’s possible that NBC has applied pressure to the station to not run Fox News-type stories. It’s possible that the station’s staff has had enough of sacrificing personal reputations for the conservative agenda of their parent organization. It’s possible the parent organization has had an epiphany regarding serving all viewers, not just conservatives. Who knows? Regardless, it was a refreshing change.

The station did run a Sinclair produced story in the ‘A’ Block, but rather than presenting an overt bias, Kai Jackson, a former news anchor on Baltimore’s CBS affiliate WJZ, offered a story about the cost of extending unemployment benefits. Jackson, who joined Sinclair in December 2013, pointed out that $500 billion have been spent on unemployment benefits since 2008, which is an issue that connects with the conservative viewer. He then he offered the viewpoint of a small business person who says that the money has a positive impact on his revenue as it flows into America’s economy.

Image by Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun

Kai Jackson at the desk of WJZ CBS Baltimore

One could argue that the issue itself is more of a concern by Republicans, but that is not accurate. Democrats and liberals understand that unemployment benefits are not a long-term solution; however, the money paid out to the unemployed is not lost. It flows through the economy, which is also important. Jackson presentation of the issues was fair and educated conservatives and liberals on the complexity of the problem.

What Jackson didn’t do was line up a long list of rabid conservative ‘experts’ to manipulate the story, nor did he indicate his personal spin on the issue.

Giving the Viewer What They Want or What They Need?
A news team can either manipulate news to invoke an emotional response, or they can work to educate the viewer on  the issues of the day and let the viewer decide how they feel about those topics. In the case of the former the news is sexy and entertaining. In the latter case the news is less emotional and requires more intelligent thought.

The excuse that Fox News-type reporting is just giving the viewer what he or she wants is same rationale of a drug dealer or prostitute. Reporting news should not be an attempt to manipulate emotions. News shouldn’t be anti-government, nor should it be pro-government. This does not mean that news has to be neutral, just that it can’t be driven by a political agenda.

The conservative and liberal views in the United States are both essential to our prosperity. Both viewpoints tend to carve out policies that succeed. A perfect example is the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) It was the health care reform proposed by the Heritage Foundation decades before it became law under President Obama’s administration. Despite Fox News stories that are trying to paint ACA as a disaster, the facts indicate that the number of uninsured people has dropped significantly and the program is actually succeeding.

A local television news organization is not a blog. It operates under the rules created by the FCC to protect the public trust. For whatever reason, yesterday KRNV rose to the expectations of that public trust.

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Sinclair Opinion Survey is an Epic Fail of Research

Kristine Frazao

Kristine Frazao – SBGI Corporate News Correspondent

Kristine Frazao, National Correspondent for Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (SBGI,) delivered another anti-government news story that was aired on Reno’s NBC affiliate, KRNV, on Monday night. Her stories tend to be one-sided, Fox News-type reports that are long on manipulation and short on facts.

But on Monday, April 7, she came armed with a new ‘”weekend online poll” conducted by her employer (Sinclair) and she was ready to prove that she finally had undisputable evidence to back up her report. 

The piece used two clips in three seconds of ‘people on the street’ comments, followed by a third man in an eleven second response in broken English:

“very, very,…ah,.. big…uhm…debt, …uhm,….and is growing exponentially”

It was fourteen seconds of everyone’s life that can’t be recovered. Then Frazao revealed her ‘data.’

The Online Poll Fiasco
Frazao probably doesn’t know that for a survey to be valid, there are certain standards that have to be met. One is that the group surveyed has to be unbiased. Most researchers use random survey techniques to prevent harvesting the opinions that represent a biased group. That involves the researchers, 1) selecting the survey participants and, 2) utilizing a scientific method that allows anyone in the population being surveyed to be selected.

For example, randomly calling people is not usually scientific because it only lets the people who have telephones to be surveyed. An online poll is almost always considered unscientific because it only represents those who have Internet, understand how to use a computer, and find the web page with the survey.

So how did Sinclair post this survey? It took me several hours to find it because Frazao offers no information about how the survey was taken in her story. I finally found it as part of a larger survey on mostly Fox News station websites. In Reno, the survey can only be found on KRXI, the Fox affiliate, not on KRNV, nor Sinclair’s other station, KAME.

That issue alone destroys the credibility of the survey, but it gets better.

Image by Paul Kiser taken from MyNews4 newscast

Which question do you answer?

The survey question is designed to ask two questions. First, do you trust President Obama? Second, Do you think the Affordable Care Act will improve your coverage? If a respondent doesn’t trust President Obama, then the answer is going to be ‘no’ to both questions regardless of what the person thinks about the second question. Since this survey was on Fox News stations, it’s actually surprising that anyone answered ‘yes’ to the question.

But it gets better still.

Frazao read out the results as they appeared on the screen.

Image by Paul Kiser taken from MyNews4 newscast

2 + 7 = 9, carry the 1…goes this advanced math is hard!

Did you catch the problem? Yep, the numbers add up to 90%, not 100%. My guess is that the ‘Maybe’ group is supposed to be 11%, but the fact is that Sinclair people didn’t recognize the error, and Frazao didn’t either.

Image by Paul Kiser taken from MyNews4 newscast

Anti-ACA crusader from Monday’s (7 April) news story

The rest of Frazao’s story brought out the usual conservative ‘experts.’ Grace-Marie Turner and her 19-year crusade against health care reform, wearing exactly what she wore for last week’s ‘expert testimony’ against the Affordable Care Act. Once again she threw out numbers that predicted doom and despair, but Turner had no supporting data .

Image by Paul Kiser taken from video of KRNV newscast 1 April 2014

From last week’s story…is she wearing the same….?

Frazao also presented Manhattan Institute chart of the United States showing the difference in health care insurance premiums for a 27-year-old, by State, before and after the Affordable Care Act. Of course, prior to the Affordable Care Act the 27-year-old might not have been able to get coverage, and the chart doesn’t account for government subsidies.

And the Manhattan Institute? Another conservative think tank. At least Frazao is consistent in her ‘experts.’

Frazao brought out another conservative for more doom and gloom. She introduces Kevin Kuhlman, of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) by saying:

“Kevin Kuhlman with the National Federation of Independent Businesses (sic) says small businesses are already feeling it in their bottom-line.”

The only problem with that statement is that the provisions effecting businesses have been delayed until 2015, so how is the Affordable Care Act hitting the bottom-line in 2014?

Frazao does have one final person-on-the-street interview who praises the Affordable Care Act for the mental health benefits, but then Frazao ends by going back to her poll, and the ‘pessimism’ it shows about the future of Obamacare…the poll that doesn’t even add up.

NEXT:  What happened on Tuesday? Has KRNV decided to go back to responsible journalism?

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