Archive for August, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion

Posted in Feature Articles on August 27, 2011 by
Photo by Joe McGarity
The Fantom Penguin announces a few new things this week.
“The Fantom Penguin has been moved to an undisclosed location somewhere in the California Northstate to this ultra-modern facility which lacks only internet access and is otherwise the perfect place to publish a blog.”
The Fantom Penguin asked himself how his publication makes money.
“Well, that’s a very good question.  It’s one that I intend to answer this week.  There’s been a lot of confusion about what I do and I’m often asked how much do I charge to produce videos and it’s a difficult question because I don’t charge the subjects of my Feature Articles anything, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not here to make money, in fact Fantom Penguin is a division of McGarity Productions which is a for-profit business.  Joe’s Cat Ranch is a division (if you can call it that) of McGarity Productions and is a for-profit business.  There are reasons I have not sought non-profit status.  The most important reason is because I intend to make a profit.”
“Among other things, the Fantom Penguin is intending to take on, let’s say, more ‘conversational’ topics.  I’ve tried to avoid controversy up to this point, but I think if it’s done in an even-handed and fair way I can take on more ‘conversational’ topics without creating controversy, focusing on solutions rather than problems.  Also, I’m introducing three ways that the community can participate in paying me.  The first of which is what I call the ‘public net casting model’, although like I say I am a for-profit company.  I do accept donations in the form of ‘voluntary subscriptions’.  There is no tax deduction, by the way, since I am a for-profit company.”
“The Fantom Penguin is basically worth whatever you decide to pay for it and if you think that it should be free, then it’s still yours for free.  On the other hand, if it has some kind of value to it, I would challenge my viewers to make a small donation in the amount of 10% of your perceived value of what the Fantom Penguin means to the community and to yourself in your own experience.  This will allow me to continue.  I am also going to start accepting advertising from local businesses in two different ways.  For the introductory rate of $25, I will put a small ‘bumper’ at the beginning of each video saying ‘This week’s Fantom Penguin is brought to you by Such & Such Company. “
“I’m also going to start shooting ‘Featured Sponsors’.  I’ll make a Fantom Penguin-like video for your business for the introductory rate of $100.”
“It will be clearly labeled as advertising.  Subjects of Feature Articles will never be charged.  If you’re approached and asked ‘Do you want to be in an article?’, you or your organization will not be charged.  If you approach me and want me to make a video for your organization, if you can convince me that it would make a good story about community service, I will do it for free and make it a weekly article.  If you’re a business, a for-profit business and you want to advertise, I will do it for the cost of $100 to make it and then it will be on Facebook and YouTube and everywhere else that the Fantom Penguin exists and it will exist (more or less) forever.  Also there will be a second video box below the and there will be a ‘Sponsor Video’ very much like a Fantom Penguin video, clearly labeled as a sponsor, clearly labeled as advertising.  And I will charge $50 a week (introductory rate) to put your video there.”
How has the publication survived up to this point?
“A very small number of people have been extremely generous.  I would like to have an extreme number of people be generous in a small way.  This, I think, would be the ideal way of keeping the Fantom Penguin . . . afloat.  (Pun intended.)”
Your input on any of these subjects is encouraged.

Blood Drive Today

Posted in Feature Articles on August 20, 2011 by
Photo by Joe McGarity
How can an important resource be always in short supply if everyone has some?  What kind of resource is invaluable, but usually given freely?  The answer is Life itself:  Your blood.   The Fantom Penguin met with Community Service Representative Megan Forrest of Shasta Blood Center in Redding.
“So, we’re Shasta Blood Center, located in Redding.  We’re part of Blood Centers of the Pacific, which is based out of San Francisco.  We were the first community based non-profit blood organization in the nation.  We used to be located over on Athens and now we have a wonderfully new beautiful center on Larkspur.”
“Most people just don’t realize the importance of donating blood and what a community service it can be.”
“It’s important to the community because only 5% of the eligible population donates.  Blood is used every two seconds for a patient, so there is a constant need for it and it’s hard to keep up with demand.”
That makes it necessary to have a blood drive every day.
“So, when you donate blood, typically you donate whole blood, which is three products, red blood cells, plasma and platelets but you can also donate each of those components on their own.  So, you can do a whole blood donation (all three) or plasma, red blood cells or platelets.  They’re all used for different needs of patients.”
“The red blood cells are used for trauma patients or patients having surgeries, blood loss, platelets for cancer, plasma for burn victims.”
The Fantom Penguin asked if blood has a shelf life.
“Forty-two days for whole blood and then it’s different for plasma and platelets.  Platelets are really in need because it’s only five days and two days is testing, so we have three days to find a patient for it.”
“It does expire but in some cases, for instance O Negative blood, typically our shelves are empty by the middle of the day.  We don’t have any more to give our hospitals.”
Why aren’t more people donating blood?
“The restrictions are another reason that I think people are afraid to donate or don’t donate is they think that they can’t.  I’m on this medication or I’ve done this and really the restrictions are not as tight as you may think.  If you’ve had cancer in the past you can still donate.  If you have diabetes you can still donate.  If you are on certain medications you can still donate.  So, for someone who thinks ‘I can’t donate because of . . . ‘, the best thing is to call your local blood center and ask.”
“You have to be at least 16 years old and weigh 110 lbs.  We have blood drives going every day of the week on our Bloodmobile and in different local communities and also our blood center is open six days a week.”
“So when you donate blood, we take test tubes for testing and those test tubes are put on a plane that night to Arizona and they’re tested for blood type.  We also do free cholesterol testing for our donors and then 14 different diseases.  So, all those tests have to be cleared before we can release the blood to a patient.  The actual blood product, the bag of blood, goes back here to our lab where it’s separated and stored until it’s given to a hospital and released.”
“If any testing that, you know . . . West Nile or Hepatitis or HIV, we let the donor know, of course.”
“We also have an online donor profile for our donors which will track your cholesterol, your blood pressure, your pulse, your iron every time you donate, so it is kind of having like a mini health check for you.  It’s also supposed to have some benefits of donating, keeping your cholesterol a little bit lower.  Your body is reproducing that blood that you donate immediately, so you’re kind of changing your oil, I guess.”
“There’s different blood types for everybody.  O Negative is the universal donor, so O Negative blood can be given to anybody and it’s probably used the most but that doesn’t mean that if you have A Positive, a common type, that that isn’t also in need.  For instance I have A Positive, but that means a lot of patients going into the hospital also have that type of blood.  So while there are different types, O Negative probably being the one that’s used the most, they’re always in need — all of them.”

This publication once again assigned an “embedded reporter” as it has on other stories, only to discover that the Fantom Penguin’s blood type is the same its mission statement:  B Positive.

Active Roller Derby Team Seeks Venue for Fun and Excitement

Posted in Feature Articles on August 13, 2011 by
Photo by Joe McGarity
Perhaps because Nature seeks balance in all things, prim proper Redding, California is home to not one, but two roller derby teams.  Television and movies may paint these athletes as wild violent rebellious women, who don inappropriately suggestive “skate names”, but the truth of the matter is that Shasta Roller Derby is actively involved in working with many of the non-profit organizations helping our community to become a better place and setting a good example for young women to follow.  The Fantom Penguin spoke with Punk’n Ur Mom.


“We’re skater owned.  We’re 501(c)(3) non-profit.  We do a lot of work in the community to raise money for other non-profits or other causes that we believe fit our mission statement.”
“We do Relay for Life and other non-profits or organizations like our own.  We just are really active in the community and want to empower other people in the community to get involved.”
Indeed, the Fantom Penguin seems to encounter derby girls wherever and whenever charitable organizations are raising money.  They would seem to have little time for actual competition.
“We do a bout normally about once a month.  We take usually winter:  November, December, January off.  We might have a bout early in November but we usually take those winter months off because of holidays and stuff tend to interfere and there’s a lot of, like, holiday tournaments and stuff that we are involved in.  Other than that we have about . . . probably about once a month.  We do about eight bouts a year.  A normal season would be four bouts at home and four bouts away.  We’re looking for a home right now in order to host bouts.”
Why can’t they use the home they have now?
“Well, this is our practice facility.  We love it here, but we can’t host bouts here.  So, we’re looking for a facility that will meet our track specifications which is about 70’ wide x 100’ long just for our track and to be able to fit our refs and our benches and then we also need room for fans, of course. You can’t have roller derby without the fans.”
 “They know that we’re out there to help empower women and get women out here and it’s, you know, a sport ran by women for women but they’re usually pretty surprised at how diverse we are, how diverse the girls are as far as careers, families, just any sort of orientation.  We’re very diverse.  We’re very welcoming.  Anyone’s welcome to come and skate.  We have all skill levels from girls who’ve never worn a pair of skates in their life to girls that’ve been skating since they could walk.  So, you know, we welcome everyone and there’s a place for everybody in our league.”

Does that include men?  The Fantom Penguin asked referees John and Joe.

Joe said, “Yeah, Merby, men’s derby.”


“That’s right!  Men’s roller derby is Merby.  That’s what I’ve heard it called.”

John continued, “Roller derby is rebuilding the image of the original roller derby that came out of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and it disappeared for a lot of years.”

“It has a lot more safety in mind now than what it used to have.  So, it’s tailored to blocking and things that aren’t deliberate towards hurting another player.”

Joe again, “You have hitting zones and blocking zones and target zones and you’ve got to keep it all legit.”

Punk’n added, “When you come here for your first time we give you a packet; you fill it out.  It’s basically a questionnaire:  Where are you at as far as skating?  There’s also an insurance form and a fee that you have to pay.  Actually, girls who are brand new, who just want to try it out, we actually have extra equipment that we loan them to try out for the first month or so, just to make sure it’s for them because buying roller derby equipment can get pretty spendy, depending on how fancy you want to get.”

Peer Court Provides Opportunities for both Struggling and Successful Teens

Posted in Feature Articles on August 6, 2011 by
Photo by Joe McGarity
Teenagers in the Northstate who have run afoul of the law have the opportunity to be adjudicated by a jury of their peers.  The new Executive Director of the Youth Violence Prevention Council of Shasta County, Susan Wilson, told the Fantom Penguin about what they do.
“The Youth Violence Prevention Council provides several different programs among them and probably the best known is the Youth Peer Court.”
“So far we’ve had 750 youth come through the Youth Peer Court in a ‘restorative justice’ sort of mode and we think that that’s really an exciting thing for Shasta County.  We also provide graffiti eradication programs.  We have a mentoring program and recently took over Plus One Mentors from the Shasta Family YMCA.  We have just added “Triple P” which is a Positive Parenting Program.  Help those parents of those difficult youth to develop similar skills and to help them deal with the issues perhaps before the judicial system becomes involved.  So we’re real excited.  We also have life-skills programs, classes and we have classes about alcohol and drug use for the youth.”
Individuals before the Peer Court are referred to as “respondents” and are not only judged by their peers, but represented by them as well.  Alexandra Ramirez has served as a Youth Attorney.
“So every person who goes on trial has already admitted to their guilt, so basically what we do is we deal with the circumstances around that.  That way we can find the best disposition available.  So we determine ‘disposition’ and normally it’s classes, community service.  A lot of the times it’s art projects and essays and then there’s also jury duty that we can assign.”
More like a sentencing court than a trial, Peer Court is presided over by a real judge and tends to focus on “Restorative Justice”.  Jennifer Richards, also of the Youth Violence Prevention Council explains.
“So we work really closely with both Probation and with schools.  These respondents are first-time (usually), low-level offenders that come through our program.  They come before a jury of their peers, so it’s other teenagers that are asking them the questions and coming up with positive dispositions.  They want to come up with dispositions that will actually help build skills and competencies.”
Susan Wilson added,
“Our goal is to help the teens deal with their problems and help families support the teens as they deal with their problems.  We call it ‘restorative justice’.  It’s really an important concept.  We know that punishment is not an effective deterrent for anyone:  Adults, youth, children.  So, what we need to do is develop some assets in these youth, give them some opportunities, give them some choices and help their family support them to more positive adulthood, you know, a more positive path to adulthood.”
But what can it do for the youth who serve as attorneys?
Alexandra Ramirez again,
“Well I think one important thing about Peer Court is that it’s not only just the respondents that are being helped, but it’s also the volunteers that are being helped a lot.  You learn a lot of great skills.  You learn how to deal with different sorts of people.  You learn how to speak in a public setting. “
Anything else?
“I’m going to Harvard in the Fall.”