September 30, 2004
The dashboard of my truck got repaired at Kelley's in Cathedral City yesterday. Still no radio, but it sure looks one hell of a lot better. Woulda been nice if Kelley's had bothered to vacuum up the dozens of bits of electric wire they left lying all around.
Now I need a decent stereo that plays MP3s on CD and has a plug-in for my Sirius radio. I think regular RCA jacks work for that. Suggestions anyone? Remember, the sound only has to fill my little tiny compact truck cabin.
After some discussion with friends about whether plain ol' geraniums would grow here in Coachella Valley without super efforts, I was quite surprised to find a geranium still barely living in a big pot in my front yard. It hadn't been watered in along time, but seemed to have a bit of green to sit, so I'm watering it now to see what happens.
September 28, 2004
Osama's Buddy Bush
If there is one thing we know about bin Laden before the start of the Iraq war, it is that he wasn't in Iraq. With the invasion of Iraq, bin Laden got all the benefits of being America's public enemy No. 1 but none of the disadvantages. He got an explosion of anti-Americanism around the world, potential recruits lined up out the cave door and around the block for future suicide missions, swell new opportunities for terrorism in the chaos of Iraq itself, and the forced retirement of Saddam Hussein, whom he never cared for. He got a thousand Americans dead and hundreds of billions of capitalist dollars gone -- results that would make any terrorist episode a huge success -- without his having to lift a finger. And meanwhile, every bomb dropped on Iraq was a bomb not dropped on him. What's not to like?
All The News
After the previous posting, I shut down my computer and stepped outside to admire my full moonlighted view across the Coachella Valley. The moonlight was as brilliant as you'd see on a winter night in New England. This morning when we got up to drive Bill to Ontario, the moon was still pretty high in the west, illuminating the profile of Mt. San Jacinto.
My house has three sun pipes and the second thing you'd notice after noticing the nice light they provide, is how the filters were covered with bugs. It was so obvious and nasty looking, I was afraid it was a difficult chore to clean them. Yesterday I reached up to one and opened it up really easily. It's a pretty cool thing to stare up an open sun pipe during midday in the desert...have to remember it next time I drop some acid!
It was my complete lack of imagination not to realize that at night, during a full moon, they become moon pipes, bringing in a really subtle, unearthly (ha!) glow.
Meanwhile, down at the swamped apartment, I got to have a little chat with the plumber, who is happily being paid by the hour. First, to answer some questions I got from readers in those environs where slabs are not the norm: the reasons for putting the water pipes under the slab is that it's a very stable environment down there, good for drinking water temperatures usually; it's quieter as you have less water running through your walls; it's more efficient during construction. I've seen slab construction and they just lay out those pipes and run a vertical pipe wherever they're going to need water in the house. Cuts down on the number of pipes.
Now, at the apartment, where I never could figure out where "my" water heater was, I found out that my hot water was included in the rent. There's one heater in the building, at the opposite end from where I was...which made my apartment the most vulnerable. In order to make hot water quickly available in every unit, the hot water constantly circulates throughout a copper pipe loop. 1.5 inches, I think the plumber said. Except at my end where the loop does a turnaround (under my apartment), the pipe is narrower in order to maintain good pressure. It's narrower, and it has a thinner wall. The plumber suggests that running hot water through a narrow copper pipe continuously for 23 years will inevitably produce some thin spots. Besides the two holes he found under my apartment, he showed me another heavily corroded spot between them where he thinks another hole was developing. He said the condo association there is going to have to consider whether to begin the project of replacing all the hot water supply lines under all the buildings. Asked how this could be accomplished without jackhammering through every apartment floor, he said the usual solution is to run the line outside the building and bring the water in from there, thus losing all the benefits of underslab plumbing.
The last couple of nights here in Desert Hot Springs, Bill and I have walked to restaurants for dinner...a wonderful luxury, after the sterile life of a gated community where outside the gate you have only big roads leading to other gated communities. Here I'm only a block from the main street where first we tried La Palapa #4 where the food seemed good and they are set up for live entertainment. Mariachi bands on weekends, I think. Not sure if I want to see that or not.
Last night it was Thai Palms where the food was really good. I asked for very hot, and got it! On the walk over there we saw what we first thought was a fairly skanky looking prostitute doing the heroin chic look, but when she crossed the street towards us we realized she was a man. Didn't quite expect to see that so soon in DHS, but it must be a more diverse town than I thought.
It seems nearly every home has a dog or two, and if there is a leash law, it is certainly not enforced. I've heard dog owners in other parts of the valley warn of the risk of coyotes attacking dogs, especially small ones. I wonder why people don't regard it as a problem here. There's a tiny dog on our street that runs freely, even though open desert is just a couple of blocks away.
I don't know anything about the territorial habits of roadrunners (the birds) but I'll venture to say we have at least one living on our block. I've seen him go through my yard a few times, and he's appeared up and down the block at various times of the day. They're not so fast as reputed.
I met the former owner of the house for the first time last night. He came by to get some of his mail and told me he would just leave the tiles in the garage and let me throw them away for him. I said I could deal with that. He also let me know he's in the landscaping business, and he wanted me to contact him when I decided to begin doing some work here.
Weblogging from Desert Hot Springs
The phone lines seem to be in good shape as my dial-up is nearly 56K.
The water is on here too. Finally got them to send a man out at about 4:30 who found a yellow tag on my water meter indicating the water had been turned off at the owner's request. Down at the office the records showed that I am the owner and that the water was on.
Meanwhile, back at the rental unit, the two holes have been connected by a ditch about 10 feet long running from mid-kitchen to mid "dining area." Pile of mud nearly blocks the fridge. I met the unit's owner today! He seemed quite nice and apologetic. I had already been down to the management office to give my official 30-day notice.
The carpet cleaning people showed up and did improve the general ambiance a bit by removing the worst of the squishiness from the carpet.
Bill and I found time to make a tram trip up Mt. San Jacinto. It was a very clear day. I don't think I have ever been able to see the Salton Sea better. You could clearly see the eastern shoreline.
Must get to bed so I can drive Bill back to Ontario airport in the morning so he can get to Fort Lauderdale to see what the hurricane has left him.
September 27, 2004
Expect Some Delays
Yesterday, as we travelled home from the CMEN West Coast Gathering, Bill and I took a side trip into West Hollywood. He had never been there and wanted to be able to say he had seen it. Now he can.
We got into Palm Springs sometime in the afternoon and drove directly to my rented apartment where we discovered something of a disaster. As I opened the door I was met by a wave of humidity carrying the strong odor of must and mildew. The carpet was sopping wet. The bathroom floor was covered in sand. The kitchen floor had standing water on it. None of my faucets had been left on. The toilet was okay. I couldn't find any leaking pipes. But we thought we could hear water running in the wall. Mold was growing on the walls one to two feet up from the floor. A large crack had appeared in the ceiling.
A call to my landlord's emergency number brought some action. Their first idea was to begin vacuuming up the water and bringing in some fans. I suggested the first step ought to be a plumber to stop the water. Eventually my suggestion won out. Eventually we had a team of people on site wandering around. A locksmith was brought in to get access to the unit above mine...the one that has been empty since I moved in. Much to everyone's surprise they found no problem up there at all. When a real plumber showed up, the source of the problem was identified as a slab leak! A pipe under the slab had sprung a leak. When I last left the apartment last night the plumber was just beginning to jackhammer through the kitchen floor. The plumber was in a good mood, saying that calls on Sunday after 5 PM were what covered his own house payment! He said he hoped to have the kitchen floor back to semi-normalcy by midnight.
When I returned this morning I found that not only was the kitchen floor still a gaping hole, but he had to break another hole about 10 feet away in my living room floor. I can sit here and examine some of the geology of the Coachella Valley very conveniently.
The owner of the unit (who I know nothing of, as I deal only through his agent) offered me the use of another apartment he owns across the street. But who needs that when you've got a back up house in Desert Hot Springs?
Bill helped me as we made a couple of runs back and forth, retrieving musty clothes first. But a second surprise came in DHS. No water at all! I had the water turned on 2 weeks ago, but now nothing. A call to the water district's emergency number got me a person offering a vague reassurance that they knew about the problem and were working on it, sort of suggesting it was a wide area problem, not just me. I was kind of dubious, especially when the water still wasn't on by 10:30 last night. Ultimately, Bill and I retreated to the welcoming arms of one of the many fine gay resorts here in town. They had running water and dry carpets, but no wi-fi. Never heard of it.
I'm now sitting in the rented apartment, door wide open, A/C going full blast. I haven't done anything to set up broadband at the DHS house, expecting to be able to do that on a leisurely schedule, so I will be working via dial-up for a bit at least. And I will be working to haul crap around, so postings may be meager and unfulfilling this week. Sorry.
September 25, 2004
September 23, 2004
Infrared Photos at CMEN
September 22, 2004
Phallic Cold War
SSA Seeks Right to Discriminate Against Gay Employees
The Social Security Administration (my former employer) is seeking to remove protection from anti-gay discrimination from its contract with AFGE. This is assuredly another move to lower the quality of service in SSA district offices that serve the public directly.
There is a Jefferson City (Missouri) man here at CMEN who has led some hikes. He told us that when he was up near the dish antennaes today he spotted paw prints of a small or young bear on the jeep road. We told him we were sure it was the rare giant California racoon, which he very nearly believed. But we are believing in bear, ourselves, and will not be making any nighttime hikes up to the antennaes again.
Burning Man Photos
Public Naked Yoga in S.F.
George Monty Davis has been giving public demonstrations of nude yoga at various spots around the city of San Francisco, and it seems it's all legal — so far!
CMEN Photos (3)
A retired Miss CMEN Queen. Still lovely in her golden years.
Out hiking around yesterday I came upon a couple of deer in the woods. They were much darker colored than their eastern cousins. Coming back down from my night hike to the antennaes I spotted another deer in the woods, but I didn't realize what it was for awhile. I saw only the two eyes shining back at me. The deer was totally motionless and standing near some camp equipment, so I thought that I was seeing a reflection from some man made reflectors. Only after a few minutes when the deer turned its head did I realize what I was seeing.
The Santa Ana winds seem to be giving us a break today, but the weather remains warm and clear. Bill and I have decided we should stay until Sunday. He paid extra to stay up in Hillel House, a real building with a nice kitchen and a big day room. Unfortunately, the bedrooms are tiny, have only one window and have to be shared with seven other men. My creaky cabin with 16 snoring men is much more pleasant. When I want more room I just kick open the back door, which is right by my bunk.
This morning I drank the official camp coffee for the first time. It was hot, but tasted unlike any sort of coffee I'd had before. Not bad enough to gag me, not good enough to ever drink again.
September 21, 2004
That's Nick Tarr.
Badnarik Answers Your Questions
We could argue all day about whether Bush or Kerry is the "lesser evil." The fact is that they both support the war in Iraq. They both oppose gun rights. They both supported the PATRIOT Act. They both support the war on drugs. They both support confiscatory taxation. They both support ruinously high levels of spending, huge deficits and increasing debt.
September 20, 2004
And now we bring you...
Eddie Adams Dead
Photojournalist Eddie Adams has died at age 71. The photo above is probably his most well-known.
CMEN Photos (2)
Bill & Joseph in the dining tent. We have been having very cool nights. The locals say that the Santa Ana winds began yesterday, so we can expect a warming today. That would be nice.
I've met several more tons of Palm Springers (we RULE this place!).
There seems to be a problem with the coffee at breakfast. I think there is no heating element in the coffee urn. Yet somehow they make coffee in it. Black stuff comes out the spigot, but it's only about 70°(F). Californians (who never complain) suggest that it is an easy thing to walk a cup of that across the dining tent and put it in the microwave. I have not tried that, fearing what it might taste like.
There are 3 or 4 large dogs that live in camp. They hang around at meals, but don't really beg. Despite their presence, the night scene here is dominated by racoons. They run freely. None of the trash cans close tightly. One camper recounted his experience with racoons who unzipped his tent fly, came in and unzipped his soft-sided cooler so they could enjoy the contents. Apparently they have not yet learned to open a beer can...or maybe they don't like our choices. A nice thing about the racoons, one guy said, is they don't shit where they eat.
September 19, 2004
For those who have been following along for awhile, you may remember Mel Stoler who has helped out on both the Boston-NY AIDS Ride and the late California AIDS Ride. Mel has not stopped doing good things.