August 31, 2005
Yes, We Have No Geraniums
My big pot of geraniums in front of the house, partly sheltered from the sun and provided with tremendous amounts of water, flourished wonderfully — until we got the superheat in July. In a matter of just a couple of days, they crumpled to blackness. I continued to water them, and 2 or 3 of them showed signs of stressed life. They grew WHITE leaves! When I returned home earlier this week they were all totally and completely baked dead. Their appearance could make you think they had been dead for a hundred years. Right next to them, the cactus I bought at Moorten's was thriving, having grown a few inches since I planted it, and shooting out a new branch.
I can take a hint. So today I stopped at "Dig Your Own Cactus" in Morongo Valley. The sign says "39¢" but I didn't notice any that low. Cactuses in 2-inch pots, however, were only 59¢ each. Check it out, here's a photo of all the cactuses I got for only $14.40.
Today, there was a GOPS walk (hardly a hike) in the Big Morongo Valley Preserve (or is it Big Morongo CANYON Preserve?). We couldn't do our usual hike because so much of the preserve was damaged by the "Paradise Fire" back in June. Here are some photos from the pleasant walk:
I've started to receive city election campaign information in the mail. First into the box was, of course, Gary Bosworth who is running for re-election to the city council. Now today I've gotten a mailer from Alex Bias who is running for mayor. Both of them afflict the reader with text that WordPerfect calls "Full Justification." That is, even left and right margins, with varying space within a line. That makes the text look good from a distance, but makes it difficult to read. I despise its use anywhere other than a memorial plaque.
Alex Bias has an election website which has the same text as the mailer I got. You can see that he likes to abuse quotation marks and capital letters. He is also pretty free with his punctuation and spelling. I especially enjoy that he gives us "City Hall," "city hall," and "city-hall." Have you EVER seen it hyphenated before?!
Gary Bosworth's text is, as expected, much more literate, but he still succumbs to the tempation to throw in some extra capital letters and boldfacing. "Being Fiscally Responsible" is always presented just like that. I note that in Gary's long, long list of public service credits he does not mention his involvement in the Stonewall Democrats (which is a gay organization), but this election is non-partisan, so he's probably not allowed to mention party affiliation. He does list, however, his involvement with the "Desert Sun Diversity Committee."
Future election materials will be presented here for your amusement and edification.
New Orleans Time-Picayune is now publishing solely on the web. Their "Breaking News" section is especially informative.
The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport will become the primary airport in Louisiana for the foreseeable future.
Hospitals are NOT being looted, however "the hospital association has been unable to make contact with Chalmette Medical Center in hard-hit St. Bernard Parish, which is surrounded by water. But she said the association has received accounts from citizens that emergency workers have been depositing people on the roof of the hospital who have been rescued from their homes."
The Orleans Parish Prison on Broad Street has been taken over by the 1500 prisoners in it. Some prisoners have escaped.
"At one [of the police command posts] set up at the limousine entrance to the Harrah’s Casino, officers said they fed more than 400 police on Tuesday, and they have enough supplies to keep police fed for only another four or five days."
"Johnny White’s Sport Bar on Bourbon Street at Orleans Avenue didn’t close Tuesday night, and had six patrons at 8 a.m. drinking at the bar."
"Looters commandered a fork lift, which they used to ram into the metal and peel open the protective covering to get inside the [Rite Aid] store. That allowed a steady stream of looters, many wheeling shopping carts, to stock up, primarily with food, candy, any soft drink or water or alcohol, and cigarettes."
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway lost power for about three hours last night. The article says a fuse blew after a power outage in DHS (oh, yeah, blame DHS!). I was on the phone with Darrel (also in DHS) at the time, and we simultaneously observed two significant power drops (but Darrel says his UPS performed admirably). About 100 people were stranded on top of Mt. San Jacinto until power was restored.
August 30, 2005
New Orleans Flood Caused by Iraq War?
According to this article in Editor & Publisher, federal funding for flood control and levee repairs along the Lousiana coast has been cut repeatedly and substantially beginning in 2003, despite numerous pleas from the Louisiana Congressional delegation.
The Subway Flasher Story
At the GNI Gathering, a small supply of newspapers from NYC were provided every morning. At least our cabinmate Bill treated them as free, and would run up and get the Times and maybe one other paper every morning. If we owe somebody a few bucks for that, let me know and I'll have Bill on the carpet in a nonce.
Anyway, one morning he brings in the New York Daily News with the subway flasher story on the front page. I didn't notice in my quick read then, that the female victim had originally posted her photo on Flickr where it has generated a tremendous body of comments along with 222,325 views (as I write this). [I am SO jealous!]
Now, in today's New York Daily News, they report that they may have identified the flasher as Dan Hoyt co-owner of restaurants called Quintessence. Hoyt was nabbed for flashing back in 1994. Six other people have come forward to report that the same man flashed them in the subway too.
Your Lucky Day
Today only, because it is the 10th anniversary of the Opera browser (which puts all other browsers to shame), you can get a FREE (as in beer) registration code! After you get your registration code, you'll need to download the software from here, unless you already have it. A list of Opera features can be found here.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Remember the time when our music stars used to get busted in little towns for minor traffic violations while in possession of such nearly innocent stuff as one marijuana joint? Well, it still happens! Art Garfunkel was cited in Woodstock (WOODSTOCK!). New York for having a joint in the ashtray of his car while running a stop sign. No one was hurt. No one got popped in the ass. The police did not use excessive force. Ah, if only LBJ were still president!
"Touchdowns" for kids
I'd be in favor of giving "touchdowns" (Jägermeister and Red Bull) to minors if it meant they would stop playing this deadly game: "I just do it because it's really fun. There's nothing else to do but pass out," he said.
Operation Yellow Elephant
Don't know how I missed hearing about this before now. Operation Yellow Elephant is a project to encourage (or, perhaps pressure) young Republicans to enlist and put their war-mongering asses on the line in Iraq, in order that the future of the world might be more gloriously Republican. This is an issue that came up last week (we talk about a lot of things while nekkid): why aren't the Bush twins over there fighting the - uh, who ARE we fighting? Anyway, why aren't the girls in uniform? Are they afraid they couldn't pass the urine testing? Even more reason, I say. They need a drying out period.
Providence, Rhode Island
Especially for our Little Rhodie readers, a photo by threshold.
Notifyr is a little service that sends you an e-mail when any Flickr page that you have specified gets updated. Useful for me to keep track of groups. The Flickr RSS feed for groups sends you messages when the DISCUSSION area of the group gets updated, but not when a photo gets added. I can use Notifyr to keep track of both.
California Topo Maps
I was recently pointed to this site which provides huge, high-res scans of various topo maps for the entire state of California. Save yourself a trip to the map store.
We get the names of the three men who started the fire on Mt. San Jacinto in this article in The Desert Sun: Brandon Smith, Philip Diperna and Er Antolovic, who are (not necessarily respectively) ages 19, 19, and 28. California has a very sensible (and libertarian) law: you start a wildfire, you pay for it - ALL of it. Expenses at this point are up to $1.7 million.
According to [Law Enforcement Officer Deborah] Wutzke, the three men hiked into Blaisdell Canyon Friday evening and built a fire in a flat, grassy area on top of a knoll. "It wasn't a very smart place to build a campfire in the best of circumstances, but when the fire engines arrived on scene, the three men approached the firefighters and told them what happened. They have been extremely cooperative from the beginning," she said in a statement released Monday night.
Do you suppose wildfires could be reduced if this law were advertised and announced on all highways coming into the state, at all airports and seaports, plus along routes into popular wilderness areas? Or would it just come across like Massachusett's one-time effort to advertise its anti-gun laws via billboards on the major highways coming into the state?
I was catching up reading a big backlog of issues of Science News while traveling last week. I ran across an article about the environmental effects of wind turbines in the October 16, 2004, issue and have scanned it for you all:
Change in the weather?
Wind farms might affect local climates
Large groups of power-generating windmills could have a small but detectable influence on a region's climate, new analyses suggest.
Windmills once were quaint several-story-high mechanisms that pumped water or ground grain. They've since evolved into sky-scraping behemoths that can each generate electrical power for more than 100 homes.
Some modern turbines are 72 meters tall and have rotor blades that are about 25 m long, says S. Baidya Roy of Duke University in Durham, N.C. Future windmills may reach higher than 100 m, and their rotor blades may measure 50 m long, he notes.
All such turbines disrupt natural airflow to extract energy from wind. To investigate potential effects of a wind farm that includes thousands of windmills, Roy and his colleagues used a detailed climate model based on wind speeds, temperatures, and ground-level evaporation in north-central Oklahoma during a 2-week period in July 1995. In their scenario, the researchers considered a 100-by-l00 array of windmills spaced 1 kilometer apart.
The simulation suggests that during the day, while sun-induced convection handily mixes the lower layers of the atmosphere, such a wind farm wouldn't have important climatic effects.
In predawn hours, however, when the atmosphere typically is less turbulent, a large windmill array could influence the local climate. For example, at 3 a.m., the average wind speed at ground level was 3.5 meters per second(m/s) in the absence of windmills. Adding the wind farm would increase the average wind speed to 5 m/s. Also, the 10,000 windmills would increase the temperature across the area by about 2°C for several hours.
Averaged over an entire day, the wind speed at ground level would go up about 0.6 m/s and the temperature would jump 0.7°C.
Turbulence caused by the rotating blades would shunt some of the high-speed winds typically found 100 m off the ground down to Earth's surface, says Roy. Those surface winds would boost evaporation of soil moisture by as much as 0.3 millimeter per day.
The researchers describe their simulation in the Oct. 16 Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres).
The findings may stimulate scientists to validate the analysis with real-world tests, says Neil Kelley, a meteorologist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. In general, says Kelley, the simulation agrees with atmospheric data he gathered at a wind farm in California. — S. PERKINS
It's fairly counter-intuitive, don't you think, that windmills could actually INCREASE windspeed. It reminds me of breeder reactors which, very early in the nuclear age, were promised to be the solution to the world's energy problems because while producing electricity they also produced more radioactive fuel which could be used to generate more power! People were so optimistic in those golden days. Do you suppose we could build one huge, continuous windfarm from Palm Springs all the way to, say, Phoenix which while generating massive amounts of power from its own increased windspeed would also bring our locally cleansing winds to the smoggy skies of Phoenix? Of course, there would be some problems initially as the Phoenicians adjusted to a breeze that never dropped below 60 MPH, but if we can do it here in DHS, then I'm sure they can too.
August 29, 2005
Thomas Keller is one of the world’s most respected chefs, a best-selling cookbook author, and the owner of four successful high-end restaurants. Until a few weeks ago, he seemed a model of entrepreneurial rigor. Then news broke that Keller had decided to abolish tipping at his New York restaurant Per Se, starting this month, and replace it with the kind of fixed service charge that’s common in Europe. Now some people are calling him un-American for scrapping a system in which waiters are rewarded on the basis of their individual performance.
And separately, here is a discussion of tipping at Starbucks. I probably have tipped at Starbucks, but at my usual store in Cathedral City, they are going to have to get a bit better than the mumbling, disinterested guy who takes orders and the woman who's job is NOT to refill the vanilla shaker.
Be My Neighbor, Now For Less Money!
Besides the brand new house directly across the street (did I say here that they are asking $395,000 for it?), the house immediately west of me has finally gone on the market. You get all the proximity benefits of living across the street from me, plus you can look over the wall into my backyard. What a treat!
Good news for you: it's only $290,000. Bad news: no garage! 4 bedrooms, though, and 3 baths. Like my house, it was a total rebuild of an old house. The MLS listing includes some well-Photoshopped photos where they made the power lines disappear in the view of Mt. San Jacinto.
Kansas City History
An article in the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World about Kansas City native Whitney Terrell’s novel, The King of Kings County which is a fictionalized story of real estate development in Kansas City from the 1950s to 70s. It includes a character "Prudential Bowen, the filthy rich developer who built the city’s central shopping plaza and most of its residential neighborhoods." Obviously, that's J.C. Nichols.
[The author] attended Pembroke-Country Day, now Pembroke Hill, a private school near the Country Club Plaza. He returned to Kansas City after getting creative writing degrees at Princeton University and the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and living for a year in New York. He already had begun his first novel, "The Huntsman," also set in Kansas City. Published in 2001, it was named a New York Times Notable Book.So not your average Kansas City working boy.
The San Bernardino Sun says it was a campfire that started the fire on Mt. San Jacinto. No more details on that.
After yesterday's late posting I noticed another large flare-up on the mountain, further west (I think) than the one that was near the tram. By 5 AM I could see no fires from here and now I see no smoke, but the official report is that it is still only 10% contained.
Here's today's update from The Desert Sun. They say the three people who started the campfire have been identified and cited. They also mention that the film crew for Mission Impossible: 3 saw the fire begin, but managed to wrap it up and get out safely.