Monday, November 11, 2013

Dolphin & Whales afflicted by morbillivirus (akin to human measles)

"Dolphin-Killing Virus Spreads South, May Be Infecting Whales Too" 
2013-11-11 by Nadia Drake []:
A viral outbreak that’s killing bottlenose dolphins is moving down the U.S. East Coast as the animals migrate south for the winter. Between July 1 and November 3, at least 753 animals have died. The outbreak began along the coast between New York and Virginia this summer. Now, carcasses are washing ashore in the Carolinas and Florida. Researchers have identified the cause as dolphin morbillivirus, a pathogen that’s related to human measles and canine distemper. Morbillivirus infects dolphins’ lungs and brains, causing weird behaviors and skin lesions and pneumonia (but the marine mammals can’t pass it on to humans).
In a normal year, during this same timeframe and in the same geographic area, the average number of dolphins recovered from the beaches would be 74.
So far, Virginia has been the hardest hit by the outbreak, with more than 330 dolphins retrieved from its mid-Atlantic shores. New Jersey takes the dubious honor of second place, with 131 dolphins. In the last month, the Carolinas saw their total spike to more than 120.
And last week, Florida had its first confirmed fatality. That makes marine biologist Megan Stolen nervous. She and her team at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute respond to marine mammal strandings along miles of northern Florida coastline – and from her lab in Melbourne Beach, she’s been tracking the outbreak and its slow march south.
It’s kind of like preparing for a hurricane: You know something bad is heading your way, but you don’t when it will arrive, or where, or how bad it could be. “We don’t know if we’ll get one a week or 10 a day,” Stolen said.
The die-off has already been classified as an Unusual Mortality Event by the federal government – a designation that frees up resources and sends investigators and responders to the hardest-hit areas. It’s already exceeded the pace set by the last major morbillivirus outbreak on the East Coast, an event that lasted for 11 months, between June 1987 and May 1988, and ultimately claimed 742 dolphins.
“We are less than halfway through that time frame, and we have surpassed the number of cetacean strandings reported in the 87-88 die-off,” said Teri Rowles, the coordinator of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. “There is no vaccine that is developed that can be deployed for a large, wild population of bottlenose dolphins. Or any cetacean species.”
Indeed, there’s something in the mix this time around that could be even more worrying. Other species have been showing up dead with dolphin morbillivirus in their tissues. Since July, three out of four dead humpback whales (in Massachusetts, Virginia, and North Carolina), and a two out of three dead pygmy sperm whales (in Georgia and Massachusetts) have tested positive for the pathogen.
Dolphin morbillivirus isn’t often reported in these species. Whether the whales are dead because of a morbillivirus infection – or simply exposed to it – is still unknown.
“We don’t yet know if we do have, indeed, an outbreak of morbillivirus in those species,” Rowles said. “We know we have the presence of virus, but we’re waiting on other tests to confirm that it was causing clinical disease or death.”
Marine mammals on beaches are usually in very bad shape – that’s why trained teams of responders come to deal with them. With death rates at least 10 times higher than normal this summer, local response teams have had to call in reinforcements: Veterinarians and scientists have been coming to help from all over the country, from as far away as California and Hawaii. When the morbillivirus outbreak was peaking in Virginia in August, teams there responded to as many as 18 animals in a single day.
“It was very unreal dealing with the numbers of animals that were coming in at the peak in August,” said Mark Swingle, director of research and conservation at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. “But we are still dealing with very high mortality levels.”
It’s not a trivial task to learn everything you can from an animal on the beach as the decomposition clock rapidly ticks. Teams process the dolphins as fast as they can, recording observations, investigating what’s inside, and taking out brains. Samples are collected, labeled, and stored quickly, filling freezers in multiple states with bags of tissues or tubes full of fluids. Some of these are sent to labs, like the one at the University of Georgia, where virologists helped determine that morbillivirus was the culprit behind the recent deaths.
In Florida, Stolen is busy getting her team ready for what could be the worst holiday season in years. For the last couple of weeks, they’ve been ordering supplies and getting protocols in order, in case they’re dealt the worst of it. It’s not the first time this year they’ve been dealt a tough hand: Since March, they’ve retrieved 74 dolphins from the Indian River Lagoon, a besieged and beautiful estuary that laps at the lab’s backyard. Unlike the die-off in the water to their east, though, the lagoon deaths remain unsolved.
Stolen doesn’t know if that event is over yet. She doesn’t know if the Atlantic Ocean will begin depositing dolphins on her other doorstep – or if those dolphins will mix with the lagoon population and infect them. But if the Atlantic outbreak does arrive, and if the dolphins in her backyard continue dying, she does know she’ll be overwhelmed with carcasses.
“We’ve done what we can do,” she said. “Now we just wait and see.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Great Republic of Rough & Ready

A secessionist project during 1850, no longer in operation, whose anniversary is celebrated every year.

Rough and Ready Chamber of Commerce
Post Office Box 801, Rough & Ready, California 95975
(530) 797-6729
Rough and Ready is located in Nevada County, California, just a short drive west of Grass Valley. Rough and Ready provides ideal country living, and yet we are reasonably close to metropolitan areas. Our proximity to outdoor recreational activities seems to appeal to home-based business entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals who, along with conventional working and retired families, now enjoy living in Rough and Ready.
Rough and Ready has a population of 963 souls (2010 Census) and is proud to have an alert, responsive and highly skilled Volunteer Fire Department that operates with up-to-date fire fighting and rescue equipment.
Rough and Ready’s climate has an average summer temperature in the 80’s and winter average is in the 40’s. The average annual rainfall is slightly over 52 inches.
With an approximate altitude of 1,885 feet above sea level, Rough and Ready is usually, as we like to say, “above the fog and below the snow!”
Just 63 miles from Sacramento and 140 miles from San Francisco, Rough and Ready is conveniently located only 95 miles from Reno and 65 miles from the ski areas of Truckee.

The Great Republic of Rough and Ready
By the late 1840s, the population of the town of Rough and Ready had exploded to over 3,000.  The town suffered the effects of general lawlessness and a growing resentment for the government having imposed a Mining Tax on all claims.  On April 7th, 1850, a mass meeting of the townfolks was called to propose seceding from the Union.  The town  reacted by shaking its collective fist at the government with all its taxes and non-existent law and order.  The Great Republic of Rough and Ready was formed that day as a free and independent republic.  In the heat of the rebellion, they elected Col. E.F. Brundage as President. The new President issued Brundage’s Manifesto, which read in part: “We...deem it necessary and prudent to withdraw from said Territory (of California) and from the United States of America to form, peacefully if we can, forcibly if we must, the Great Republic of Rough and Ready.” Along with his Secretary of State, Justice of the Peace Hans Q. Roberts, they signed a constitution similar to that of the United States.
The Great Republic of Rough and Ready lasted only three months as one of the world’s smallest nations.  On July 4th, swept by a patriotic fervor, maybe feeling a little guilty (and possibly, according to some accounts, reacting to the refusal of Nevada City and Grass Valley saloons to sell liquor to the “foreigners” from Rough and Ready) another meeting was held.  The town gave resounding consent to immediately rejoin the Union.  Old Glory went up the flagpole and the whole episode slipped into history.
Or did it? On July 28, 1851, Rough and Ready became the third town in Nevada County to establish its own post office. For about five years during World War II, however, the Rough and Ready Post Office was discontinued. When citizens reapplied for a post office, officials tried to restrict the name to either “Rough” or “Ready” but not both “Rough and Ready.” “Too long!” they said. Local citizens stood their ground, insisting the name Rough and Ready had unique historical significance. In 1948, the post office officials relented, and Rough and Ready retained it’s “and.” During the search of the old records, however, it was discovered that Rough and Ready had never been officially allowed to rejoin the Union! A letter, dated June 16, 1948, from Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Vincent Quinn, resolved the issue and Rough and Ready was welcomed back into the United States...almost a century after seceding!

"Rough and Ready Fruit Jar Pickers leave beloved palace"
2010-06-23 by Michelle Rindels []
It's Sunday morning, and hands are raised high into the warm air in a run-down building in Rough and Ready.
A band of amateurs is leading the chorus; the audience is singing at the top of their lungs, and an errant note rings out above the rest.
It's not church. But for some residents, the Rough and Ready Fruit Jar Pickers' weekly shows are almost as powerful as an old-fashioned Southern revival.
“There's more to it than the Pickers. There's more to it than the music,” said Uhl “Red” Sagraves, who plays an instrument called a banjitar, a blend of a banjo and a guitar. “It brings people together from every walk of life.”
Sing-a-longs are a decade-old ritual for the eclectic group of more than two dozen guitarists, fiddlers, dobro and mandolin players.
But plans to demolish the 1960s-era former gasoline station they crowned “The Opry Palace” — set to be replaced with a new fire station — mean times are a-changin' for the Picker family.
This Sunday will be the group's final show in downtown Rough and Ready, and after a break for Independence Day, the band that embodies the town's scrappy spirit will reconvene at the picnic area of Western Gateway Park, at least for the summer.
“It'll never be the same unless we can find a place we can call our own,” Sagraves said.
Humble beginnings -
The Fruit Jar Pickers were born in 1999 when a couple Rough and Ready residents, bored on a Sunday, decided to play music at a secondhand store in town. As word spread, a few more joined, and the band moved out to a patio.
Before they knew it, the band had grown to more than 20 people, with more than 100 in the audience, and they co-opted a vacant gas station on the town's main drag as their palace.
Nobody remembers exactly where their name came from.
“We don't know why we're so popular, because we're really not that good,” said Sheridan Loungway, who plays the washboard as the band's sole percussionist; the man who played the bones has since passed away. “We're a bunch of ragtags.”
Singing along is highly encouraged; practice is unheard of. Most of the music is from the 1930s, '40s and '50s and includes bluegrass, country and gospel music for a genre the band dubbed “Rough and Ready bluegrass.”
“We're playing the music the old folks like to hear,” Sagraves said. “It's the only venue available to the people of the AARP age. They can come and be comfortable, there's no alcohol, and they have friends there.”
Everyone is welcome on stage ... almost.
“If they couldn't leave their ego, they wouldn't fit in,” Loungway said.
Visitors come from around the world to join the sing-a-long, members said. It's hard to resist the homespun songs, clown glasses, sombreros and silly costumes band members don during the sets.
“We feed off (the audience's) energy,” Loungway said. “They can sing their hearts out if they want.”
A new home on the range -
As the Rough and Ready Volunteer Fire Department prepares to break ground on a long-awaited fire station funded by federal stimulus money, the Pickers are moving to other pastures.
Western Gateway Park isn't home like the dusty, chipped-paint Opry Palace they have haunted for years. The park's open-air setting doesn't have good acoustics. Musicians can't store their instruments behind roll-up garage doors.
They're hoping someone can help them find a new home in the same spunky town that brought them to life.
“It was ideal for us,” said director Everette Burkhard, “but all things must come to an end.”
To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail or call (530) 477-4247.
Rough and Ready will celebrate Secession Day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, 27. starting with a pancake breakfast benefiting the Rough and Ready Volunteer Fire Department. Event includes crafters and merchants, work at the blacksmith's forge and performance of the melodrama, “The Saga of Rough and Ready.”
The Fruit Jar Pickers give their last downtown performance from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in front of the Rough and Ready Opry Palace.
Rough and Ready is on Rough and Ready Highway, about 3 miles west of downtown Grass Valley.

"Rough and Ready celebrating Secession Days"
2010-06-24 []
Residents and friends of Rough and Ready will gather once again to celebrate the 1850 secession and three month life of The Great Republic of Rough and Ready.
This year's celebration, the town's 54th annual Secession Days, will be held Sunday in downtown Rough and Ready, beginning at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Rough and Ready Volunteer Fire Department.
At 10:30 a.m., the Rough and Ready Rascals will take to the stage for another raucous performance of the musical melodrama, The Saga of Rough and Ready. This perennial favorite covers early Rough and Ready history with humor and fun.
Throughout the morning, the locally infamous Fruit Jar Pickers will play their special blend of music and banter. This performance will be bittersweet as the group will be performing for the final time at the Picker's Palace before it is demolished in July to make room for the new Rough and Ready VFD Fire Station. Prof. Richard Gill and his Original Medicine Man Show also is set to perform and share his stories.
Throughout the celebration, visitors will be able to enjoy a display of beautifully restored classic and antique vehicles shown by members of the Gra-Neva A's.
Along with the musical entertainment, visitors can browse through the crafts and peddler's booths, enjoy food and beverages, and learn about blacksmithing from our official Rough and Ready blacksmith, who is scheduled to fire up the forge in the historic Fippin Blacksmith Shop.
Kids will enjoy free face painting and a free jump house. Guests can also take a chance on the big raffle drawing, enjoy the delicious treats of the Grange Bake Sale or stock up on genuine “Great Republic of Rough and Ready” apparel and souvenirs in the Blacksmith Shop. Secession Days promises fun for the entire family.
All proceeds benefit nonprofit Rough and Ready organizations: The Rough and Ready Chamber of Commerce, Grange #795, and the Rough and Ready Volunteer Fire Department.

WHAT: Rough and Ready Annual Secession Days Celebration
WHEN: 8 a.m. Sunday
WHERE: downtown Rough and Ready, five miles west of Grass Valley on Rough and Ready Highway
TICKETS: Free admission, free parking. Pancake breakfast, $6, $4 for children
INFORMATION: (530) 797-6729

Sunday, November 3, 2013

G-D Nation