September 15, 2014
How 'bout more Burning Man pics?
Submarine art car. This was parked exactly midway between the Temple and the Temple's porta-potties, so it was anybody's guess.
Welcome to Gerlach. This is during the exit.
Think what you'd have to pay to rent one of those rooms if it were in San Francisco! No, really, it was Saturday morning and they were cleaning out the interior of the Man in preparation for the big Burn...and this was probably when there was that previously secret accidental spill of fire retardant.
Oh, those flower thingies. I know someone is going to come along and tell us the correct name.
Alex, a Burner Buddy. Saturday night and all dressed up to go to a Burn!
The Library of Babel interior at dusk. THe first time I came to the Library of Babel it was just as dusk was getting a bit darker. Looked in, and there was no lighting in the interior. It was very dark. I thought it was a wild experiment to see if Burners would respect the obviously delicate, handmade paper books and the unusual custom furniture. Or would they just turn it into a big sleep/fuck casita serving the Temple crowd? (I don't know which way I'd bet on that question.) But then it turned out their photosensor or clock simply needed adjusting. There were lights. The place stayed safe all week. And I don't think it burned. It was there on my way to the Temple burn, and there are no more ceremonial burns after that. Just trash wood.
Walk Los Angeles
Some organized walks coming up in L.A.:
- Saturday, September 7, Three Is A Magic Number. Twelve mile loop walk starting at Grand Park, downtown, 9 AM. The 12 miles is broken into three parts, and you can bug out when you want to.
- Friday, November 28, Post-Thanksgiving Epic. Starts at Chinatown Gold line station, 9 AM. Fifteen mile loop.
- Saturday, January 17, Ten Bridges Epic. "Walk over every bridge crossing the Los Angeles River between Broadway and Olympic Blvd." About 12 miles, 9 AM at the Chinatown Metro station.
- Saturday, February 7, Stair Trek VIII. 25 miles which include 92 stairways. Meet the in Laurel & Hardy Park, across from the Music Box stairs at Vendome & Del Monte, 8:30 AM. "You will walk every single staircase in the area bounded by the 101 Freeway (south); Riverside Drive (north); Elysian Park (east) and Hillhurst Avenue (west.)"
GoPro - the whole ball of wax
The New Yorker has published the most comprehensive (and literate, it almost goes without saying) article on GoPro cameras ever. The history, the culture, the danger, the blandness, the abuse. If you feel like there's any sort of GoPro information you missed, it's there...except for details about the hardware or where to get the best prices.
Zak Shelhamer, a photographer and former professional snowboarder, joined the company to help edit and produce snow-sport videos and now runs the adventure-sports division. He told me that he'd recently been talking to a pair of young Frenchmen who were planning to row a boat from Monterey to Hawaii. They'd submitted a proposal for a contest the company ran called How Will You GoPro? They didn't win, but Shelhamer gave them some cameras anyway and promised to take an interest in what they might come back with. In discussing the risks, he mentioned a guy who had tried rowing from Australia to New Zealand. "How'd he do?" one of the Frenchmen asked him.
"He drowned," Shelhamer said.
"How'd they figure that out?"
"They found his camera."
White Ford Mustangs Outta Control
Odd coincidence in the overnight Sheriff's reports:
- "The investigation revealed the driver of a white 2015 Ford Mustang was heading westbound on Country Club Drive, just east of Portola Avenue, when she veered her vehicle south and collided with the south curb."
- "A white Ford Mustang collided with a parked vehicle and fled the scene."
September 14, 2014
This year at Burning Man I gave walk-in camping a test for just one night. The walk-in camping area is on the east-ish side of the city. Motors are not permitted in it. I had, over the years, thought the people who camped there wanted a quieter environment with less exhaust from motor vehicles. But it turns out that more than 90% of the campers out there are within 100 feet of the outermost road (Lapis Lazuli this year), so they are getting just about as much noise and exhaust as I do two blocks into the city.
But they also get virtually no restraints on space. You can build a camp as spacious as you like, so long as you have some way of hauling your stuff out there that does not require a motor.
I decided to give it a try, but I didn't want to camp up close to Lapis Lazuli like everybody else, so I carried my gear as far as I was permitted. There are signs out there that say you can't camp within about 100 feet of the perimeter fence. I found out that it's hardly any quieter. The roar of the city carries quite well. But you won't hear individual conversations when you're that far out. The air is probably a bit cleaner, less dusty. But it's colder too. Wise people have observed that the temperature at night decreases the farther you get from the Man. I've observed that, but never measured it to prove it. I suspect it's actually that on the long walk home I just begin to cool down my own body and begin to feel more and more tired.
OTOH, walk-in camping had the cleanest porta-potties in the whole city. No one even tracked mud into them when it rained! You can see them in the photo above at the extreme right edge.
Walk-in camping is highlighted in green on this map. I see now that I could have gotten further from the city if I had camped closer to the 2:30 axis. I was concerned that my tent would be hard to find at night, so I put it near the 4:15 axis, so it was nearly a straight shot from my tent back to Burner Buddies...although I did have to loop around Danger Ranger's camp, which was one of those up close to Lapis Lazuli, right on the 4:15 axis.
Or, I could have moved my tent the other way, closer to the 5:00 axis, but that would put me next to an active road and the airport...although I'm pretty sure the airport is closed after dark. I was able to observe from my tent that commuter helicopters coming in to the airport had to park farther from the terminal than airplanes, thus requiring their passengers to walk farther with the little bit of baggage they are permitted to bring aboard. That might have been the most challenging part of Burning Man for some of those people.
Most Useful GoPro Accessory Yet
Six States Proposal Goes Down
The Sacramento Bee has provided this map showing county-by-county the rate of valid signatures. Mono County, for example, has a validity rate of 81%, but that's only 98 signatures. Imperial's validity rate is only 60.4%, but that's 1,939 valid signatures.
September 13, 2014
In A Hurry?
See the Man burn in only 37 seconds. This might be the best summary of the Burn experience I've seen. Honest.
Flying Over Black Rock City
Earlier this summer I was surprised and delighted to find a fundraising campaign being operated by Burning Sky to help pay for a new, better terminal building at the Black Rock City airport. The reward for a contribution of a measly $70 was a ride in an airplane around Black Rock City. What, so instead of flashing big breasts and a skimpy outfit, all I need to do is pay $70 to get on a plane?! I must be living in America. So I ponied up my $70 and on Thursday just after lunch I showed up at the Burning Sky camp at 5 & G. I signed a waiver of liability that was more comprehensive than any other I had signed. I could be tortured, mangled and killed with cold-blooded intent on my flight and the matter wouldn't even go to arbitration. I lose.
They drove us straight out on 5:00 to the airport where we showed our red exit bracelets as we went through the "security gate." The bracelets were to get us back into the city, but I was carrying my Burning Man ticket anyway. Only gradually did I realize that the flights were primarily for skydivers (who, I think, also must pay something before they get to the playa). When a plane isn't full of skydivers, the extra spots go to donor "observers." They had told us we would be limited to one camera and one small bottle of water. I thought they were being excessively conservative and brought my GoPro camera as well as my smallest pocket camera, plus one 16 ounce bottle of water. Once aboard the plane I saw that the restrictions were exactly right. In fact, they should tell people not to bring a DSLR, or even any camera with a lens that protrudes more than about an inch. Passengers sit straddling one of the bench seats (probably just a long board) on either side of the plane. The next passenger in front of you (we faced backwards) would squeeze between your legs as closely as possible. Burning Sky had not specified, but I thought it would be better to show up wearing clothes, so I did this dressed. I saw guys on other flights wearing nothing more than underwear and shoes.
We all had to wear parachutes. FAA requirement. Our instructions were only that if they had to be used we would be pushed out of the plane. Then we were to count to two and pull the big handle on our left side. If someone accidentally pulled that while aboard the plane, everyone was supposed to jump on the parachute as quickly as possible, otherwise the parachute wearer would be sucked out the door.
We had 6 or 7 jumpers and 6 or 7 observers on my flight. We took off south, got a good view of the entrance road (and last year's entrance road), then turned left to go around the city counter-clockwise. I think in the past all flights were clockwise. About three-quarters of the way around the loop we had reached about 13,000 feet (the playa is at about 4,000 feet of elevation) they opened the door and the jumpers began to jump. As soon as they were all off, the door closed and the pilot went into a dive that would have been suitable at the Battle of Midway (or pretty close to it). Then we circled back and landed.
We got pretty good views of the various textures of the playa. It's not all like the perfect flat dust where Black Rock City is built. We could also see some other smaller playas on the other side of some mountains.
Once we were aboard the plane, I ran my GoPro continuously.
On the southeasterly side of the playa you can see the very dark line that is the railroad. Roughly parallel to that and closer to Black Rock City is an officially designated road on the playa. That two-lane road, even though it goes through the Burning Man closure area, remains open as a public road so that non-Burners can get to their camps farther up the playa.
My ticket/boarding pass. Nobody ever asked to see it.
The parachute rack out by the runway. Just like life vest racks when you go whitewater rafting.
Why is the area between 2:00 and 12:00 always more chewed up than the rest of the playa? Every year it's this way, even though the city is moved to a slightly different spot every year.
I suspect these are some of those rich plug-n-play people we keep hearing about. My clues are two (other than flying in): (1) they are getting picked up in a plain ol' RV which is totally not permitted (it should be an art car, unless all these people qualify for a disabled placard), (2) one of them is carrying a bag from Jeffrey, which I think is this Jeffrey of New York and Atlanta (but it also could have been Jeffrey of Beverly Hills, a jeweler). I use Trader Joe's bags exclusively when I'm on the playa, and when I need to get from the airport over to 9:00 & Kandahar I pedal a 25-year old beach cruiser and hope my Trader Joe bag doesn't fall out of my bike basket.
The existing airport terminal, with an art car in front of it.
September 12, 2014
DHS Public Safety Commission, just the Police - 9/11/2014
This is only the Police portion of the September 11 Public Safety Commission meeting. Interim Commander John Holcomb was representing the Police. He is another PERS retiree who will work for us up to 960 hours. He's been working here for about three weeks. He retired from Cathedral City Police as Captain in 2008.
The Police have slightly liberalized their impound policy. Now if you are caught driving without a license and you have never had a license and you have never been cited for driving without a license before, then the vehicle you were driving may be handed over to a licensed driver to take away, or it may be parked on the spot if the Police think it will be safe, or if it has to be towed it will kept only for storage not as a 30-day impound. Commandeer Holcomb said that in this narrowly defined case, the driver "gets one bite at the apple."
He talked about the "stand off" at the apartment on Calle Las Tiendas. The victim had told the Police that he never took his eyes off the apartment as he went to the nearest payphone to call the Police and he did not see the fourth suspect exit. The Police came and caught three of the four suspects. The Police relied on the victim's statement, which meant the fourth suspect was probably still in the apartment. After a long stand off ("believe it or not, the SWAT team can't do anything quickly," the Commander explained) they found the apartment empty, so the fourth suspect is still at large.
The gun fight on Desert View was two gangs battling. One man was shot in the chest. Two of his friends got him in a car to take him to the hospital. On the way they wrecked the car, so the two friends abandoned their wounded friend there. The Palm Springs Fire Department got there in time to save the shot man. It was determined that the driver of the vehicle was the son of the registered owner. That man has turned himself in.
The recent event on Second Street involved one of the suspects in an robbery and auto theft. When the Police arrived on the scene the suspect took off on foot. One of our new officers who had just been released from field training took chase. She caught him and convinced him to give up his knife and to surrender. Money saved and won't make the national news. All is well.
A mini Police Academy is coming up on Saturday, October 18, 9 AM to 4 PM in the Lozano Center. This allows citizens to get a broader knowledge of the Police Department and how it works. If you are interested, RSVP to Jim Knabb at firstname.lastname@example.org There is no charge for this.
Commander Holcomb pointed out that DHS Police and Cathedral City Police are handling very nearly the same number of calls. Actual numbers, not per capita numbers. Cathedral City, however, has twice the staff in its Police Department and the city's population is 52,600, while the population of DHS is 27,700.
Officer Larry Gaines has been brought back from the Gang Task Force in order to assure adequate numbers of officers here for their safety. One day Commander Holcomb was going to lunch with the Chief and the City Manager when a call came in. There were two officers and one Sergeant in the field. Another officer was at the Banning jail. One of the officers here in town was trying to stop a woman bleeding to death from her jugular vein. Another was at a domestic violence disturbance where the male was alleged to have a gun. Meanwhile, the Sergeant was in foot pursuit of a burglary in progress. Commander Holcomb didn't say, but I imagine City Manager Magaña ended up having lunch alone.
Recruitment is difficult because (1) there's that Sheriff's contract sitting in the corner like the 800-pound gorilla [my description, not his], (2) the severe pay cuts to less than competitive rates, and (3) the existing staffing shortage. But still, only "quality" people will be hired. There are currently seven candidates in process. Maybe one or two good candidates will come out of that bunch. Two new officers are in field training with another officer. Two other officers recently completed field training and are now working.
Recruitment and maintaining a safe number of officers in the field are the top priorities right now.
Even so, Commander Holcomb is working on updating the policy manual. He's also working on finding grants.
Commissioner Stephens asked if the Police are falling behind in report writing. The Commander said they are backed up by about 40 reports, which he and Commissioner Stephens agreed was not too bad. The real backlog is investigations. There are leads that need to be worked. Short response times to calls is being maintained.
Commissioner Lavy asked how they may be handling the squatter problem. The answer boils down to it's only a misdemeanor and more serious crimes get a much higher priority.
Vice Chair Meyer asked how many openings there are right now. The Commander said they are authorized 26 positions and they have 18 now. That's counting everybody. Mr. Meyer asked the Commander to bring back an overtime report next month.
Code Enforcement is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Police Department, but is now under the wing of Community Development. I suppose that if they will show up at any Commission meeting, it will probably be Planning.
The city has recently put out an RFP for restriping all of the roads in the city.
High Quality Photos Of Burning Man 2014
I've seen some high quality photos and I've seen some big collections, but this collection of photos by Duncan Rawlinson is both big and high quality. During the Embrace burn he was up in an airplane with a good telephoto lens.
Fundraising For The Orca Mural
Great news DHS! Paula Terifaj and Dana Johnson have teamed up to put on a fund raiser here in town at the Dog Spa to benefit the "Orca Family" mural to be painted on the Town Center Mall by John Coleman. Here are the details. And here is the link to donate on Kickstarter. We only have 26 days left and we have a long way to go. Please donate today! Let's do this folks!
Artist Fundraiser for Orca Mural in Desert Hot Springs
September 20th at 6pm
67840 Hacienda Ave at the Dog Spa Resort
“Wine for Whales Cheese Party”
Paula and Dana
RSVP to email@example.com
There's the blank canvas - that long blank wall that the kids from Desert Springs Middle School walk past twice a day.
The California State Song
It has only now come to my attention that I Love You California is the official state song.
And now you know why you never hear it. Maybe the Governor sings it when he gets sworn in. I don't know, I've never seen that ceremony.
Worse than that, though, California has only that one state song! Let me show you how the other state does it:
But wait, that's not all. Massachusetts is nearly 400 years old, so it's had a lot longer to celebrate music.
The Massachusetts state ode is Ode To Massachusetts. I cannot believe California doesn't have its own ode.
The list is not complete yet, but I've not found an audio version for these:
- Massachusetts patriotic song: Massachusetts (Because of You Our Land Is Free)
- Massachusetts glee club song: The Great State of Massachusetts
- Massachusetts state polka: Say Hello To Someone From Massachusetts
The Massachusetts General Court is an industrious body that has made additional official designations for the state flower, tree, bird, beverage, horse, insect, fish (take a guess), dog, gem, marine mammal (the right whale, Eubalaena Glacialis), fossil, mineral, poem, rock, historical rock (easy one there), explorer rock (Dighton Rock, an obscure site which I've visited), building and monument stone, heroine (Deborah Samson, veteran of the Revolution), muffin, shell (New England neptune), cat, soil (Paxton), Vietnam War Veterans Memorial (the one in Worcester), game bird (you don't even have to think to get this one), Memorial to honor Southwest Asia War veterans (also in Worcester), bean, berry (easy one), folk hero (John Chapman was born in Leominster), dessert (also easy), cookie, peace statue (the World War I veterans memorial in Orange), Korean War Veterans memorial (the one in Charlestown Navy Yard), MIA/POW memorial (the one in the National Cemetery in Bourne), children's book (it's obvious once you know the answer), children's author (Theodor Geisel was born in Springfield), donut, District Tartan (the Bay State Tartan), blues artist (born in Harlem, but grew up in Springfield), sport (easy - the one invented in Springfield), inventor (born and lived in Boston until age 17), reptile, artist, and glacial rock.
Massachusetts has been debating choosing a state rock song. The battle (I don't know if it's been resolved yet) is between Dream On by Aerosmith (Aerosmith originating in Boston is the only possible explanation for this) and Roadrunner by the Modern Lovers.
California, despite its state song, has also shown some effort in gathering state emblems. We've got an official amphibian, animal (it's extinct), bird, dance (West Coast Swing), fife and drum band, freshwater fish, flower, folk dance, fossil, gemstone, gold rush ghost town, grass (purple needlegrass), historical society, insect, marine fish, marine mammal, marine reptile, military museum, mineral (oh, just try a wild guess!), prehistoric artifact, reptile, rock, silver rush ghost town, soil (San Joaquin), tall ship, tartan (California tartan), theater, and tree.
September 11, 2014
I'm sure my east coast friends were filled with sympathy and concern when they learned that Hurricane Marie would be hitting southern California. Here we are having to deal with wildfires and earthquakes, when nature piles on with something that really only Florida deserves. Here, then, is a video documenting the force of Marie as she slammed into Malibu:
Oh, the humanity! Here the LA Times reports on the loss of historic structures in the area, especially the Point Mugu lifeguard station built in the late 1950s. It was used as a location in the film Hitchcock.
WSJ at Burning Man
The Wall Street Journal has a small gallery of Burning Man photos. What makes them different is the dry, distanced, anthropological explanations in the captions aimed at readers who have never heard of this "Man Burning thing."
This one, for instance, is captioned "Daytime dancing at the DISTRIKT, a non-profit electronic music and art collective." Generally it's referred to simply as "DISTRIKT," not "the" DISTRIKT...and nobody's making any money out there.
Surprisingly, the WSJ got no photos of Grover running in his tighty-whiteys.
September 10, 2014
Collapse Of The Temple Of Grace
After the insufferably long burn the night before, Burners were rewarded with one of the best ever fire collapses at the Temple burn:
More Photos From Burning Man - Caravansary
Black Rock itself before sunrise. It's several miles away.
Minnesota trailers do not require license plates and they are big enough that couches can go in a stable position.
The night I found a working free community bike right when I wanted one (clear across the city and exhausted very late at night).
A very appropriate art piece for the 7:30 Plaza, the center of the Gayborhood.
September 9, 2014
The Apple Watch Is An iPhone (eh, maybe not)
They don't say that, but it runs iOS [well, they don't actually say that] and you can make phone calls on it [uh, maybe], so it's an iPhone. [Maybe it only bridges to your iPhone in your pocket.] This video explains all. Except the price. The Watch will be available in 2015. The way the battery is recharged is very interesting, and, Yes, that means you will be able to buy yet another connector for your Apple product. But if you wait a little while third parties will bring out less expensive versions to replace your original when it breaks. New navigation style. Very interesting watch bands. The Watch comes in two sizes, 42mm and 38mm. And there are three styles:
- Watch Sport
- Watch Edition (the high price model)
It's a fitness tracker (all styles, not just Sport).
New flexible retina display made of sapphire can sense force as well as touch. So firm touches will do something different than light touches. It doesn't look like they are going to mar the beautiful exterior with anything so plain as a headphone plug...not even a proprietary Apple connection, so it's Bluetooth or listen via the speaker which I'm sure is amazingly well designed, but still very, very small. And it does have a microphone so you can talk to Siri.
You can securely [they say that now] store credit and debit cards and use the Watch to pay at retailers who have the appropriate contactless reader. This is called Apple Pay and will become available in October for iPhones and the Watch.
The Watch seems not to have a camera, but it can function as remote control for your iPhone.
You can store music on it (they don't suggest how much) or it can play your music from your nearby iPhone. But if you're using Bluetooth anyway, why not just connect directly to your nearby iPhone?
A useful function: you can use your Watch to locate your iPhone!
3 inches of real rain in an hour! Here's a video of the flood and mud damage which includes some GoPro aerial drone shots. The aerial shots show that the land slopes in such a way that the main force of the flow was directed off of the golf course and directly into the residences. You will, of course, notice the man hosing the mud off his driveway! I'm sure CVWD is preparing a written warning for him right now...unless they decide this was an emergency.