December 31, 2005
New Year's Eve, DHS
Dr. Tad Lonergan had a long history in Desert Hot Springs until he died in a car accident this past July 4. Here's info from Gabriel King's website:
Tad Lonergan passed away in a car accident
This information verified with his office. Unconfirmed word has it that he fell asleep driving back from his ranch. Will post more information as it comes available. Below is a portion of Gabriel's e-mail to Mary regarding his passing. He was a major gem for our city and many will miss him dearly.
Todd Lonergan, M.D. was my doctor also. He was a great individual on so many levels. I remember when I would ask a question that he was contemplating making fun of. He would look at you and you could see his lips curl up into a grin just before he would speak, then he would tease you with one of his wonderfully sarcastic witty answers. I actually asked those type of questions often on purpose just to hear him speak. I would spend my 35 bucks sometimes just to visit him. It was worth the conversation. And what doctor would you know of that always had a NRA magazine to read in the waiting area. He was a free spirit. He was not afraid to be a bold (often un PC) thinker. He was the only doctor I actually looked forward to going to.
Just almost across the street from the doctor's office is the simple building of the Seventh Day Adventist congregation which is very conveniently located cheek by jowl with South Of The Border, one of the most popular restaurants in the area.
Some Californian recently tried to tell me that Jaws was all filmed on a soundstage in Los Angeles. Jaws is on TCM right now, and it sure doesn't look like any soundstage. So I checked IMDB and, just as I had always thought, it was filmed right where everybody thinks it was filmed: Martha's Vineyard. Now, who was it that spouted that foolishness about a soundstage??
I wish I'd known about this a bit earlier than today. It comes from Francis Coppola.
Coppola rejected on aesthetic grounds the scaled-down glass or plastic bottles in which European vintners sell their products, Martin said. But he was drawn to cans by their untapped advantages: "They're lighter. They're less expensive. They cool faster and they're easier to dispose of," [Erle Martin, the president of Niebaum-Coppola, the filmmaker's wine business] said.
Moreover, cans are welcome in several potentially lucrative settings where bottles are not, he added: "At poolside, at sporting events and at campsites."
End Of Stroud's
The famous Stroud's restaurant in Kansas City closes today. If you aren't already standing in line as you read this, then it's too late. Their branch location north of the Missouri River will remain open, but I'm sure it lacks the unmatchable charm of dining in an improved shack almost underneath the Troost Avenue bridge, and between an old railroad right of way and a very unremarkable but busy street.
They say they are closing due to a roadwork project. Are they finally widening 85th? Rebuilding the bridge? Putting in modern ramps to Troost? I shall have to inquire with my man on the ground in Kansas City to learn more.
December 30, 2005
You might enjoy this long ad made by Saab. It's a Google Video, 8 minutes, 39 seconds. It's a ballet for Saab 9000 Turbos "in three acts," plus prelude and encore.
After watching that, download this old ad for the Isuzu Gemini, Windows Media file, 17.8 Mb. Yes, you have to watch them in this order; Saab, then Isuzu. If you make the mistake of watching the Isuzu video first, don't waste your time going back to watch the Saab ad, because you'll just put yourself to sleep.
It is alleged that the Isuzu ad was made "without special effects," by which I'm sure "without DIGITAL special effects" is meant, as there are obviously special effects, in the classic sense.
San Diego Drowning
The interesting thing about the story about a man drowning in the hot tub at Club San Diego, is that the San Diego Union-Tribune exhibits some self-restraint in not mentioning that it's a gay club, and more of a sex club, actually; a remnant of the old Club Bath chain.
Various Photos From The Mecca Hills
Irritating TV Ads
Two that are saturating the air (and by "air" I mean cable) these days: the ad for the Tom Tom in-car GPS device. If I'm your passenger and you try that game with me, I'm popping your door open and out you go. We'll see what happens to your car after that.
The other is the AOL broadband ads in which an annoying spokesperson for AOL assures a crowd of brainless twits that AOL has NO spam, NO viruses and NO popups; all of which are still impossible with today's technology...well, impossible short of simply disconnecting from the internet. Maybe that's how AOL does it.
December 29, 2005
Some California Photos
Jury Duty: Riverside vs. Suffolk
Nothing makes ya want to engage in some DUI more than a long day day of sitting in a windowless courtroom for jury selection on a DUI case.
This year, the infrastructure for getting me into the courtroom seemed to work better, but maybe that's just due to my broadband connection. Last year it was a bitch to reach the jury system by 800 number, and the web access didn't work at all. This year the online system works. I get a free pass on Tuesday and Wednesday, but today I had to report to Indio.
Overall, my experience was different from what it was in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, except for the deputies working building security at the front door. At the Larsen Justice Center in Indio, they were just as brain dead as at any courthouse in Suffolk County. Twice the deputy waved his wand across my left pocket, where my keys were, and said "Pocket." That's all he said. I assumed that since he was a uniformed county deputy, he was not retarded, and that when he needed to state a full sentence he would be able to put one together. I was wrong. Apparently what he meant by "pocket" was something like "My heavens, Citizen Gilbert, something metallic in your left pocket is giving my wand the heeby-jeebies. Would you please show me the contents of that pocket?" But another deputy sheriff had to give me that translation. I can't be the only innocent civilian to have been mystified by his economical speech, so I wonder why he hasn't figured out a better request before now.
Having got through that, I was introduced to the jury pool waiting room, which is much smaller than the one in Suffolk County. I was going to look up the population of Riverside County and compare it to Suffolk County and then consider that Riverside has four courthouses, I believe, while Suffolk has just one. But I've decided that is best left to the individual user to investigate and calculate.
The Indio waiting area includes a smoking balcony, free coffee and tea, a small fridge and a small microwave. I believe there may have been another waiting area with cable TV, but I never saw it. None of those amenities were available in Suffolk County.
A woman who was in charge of the waiting area made long, rushed, difficult to understand announcements that were mostly about where parking was legal and not. In Boston a court officer would also make a difficult to understand announcement, but his accent was Boston, while in Indio it was a Mexican accent, and in Boston they don't tell you where you should have parked because only the greatest fool would have driven in for jury duty.
They started to show us the video tape which would, I guess, explain our responsibilities as jurors. It looked a lot like a tourism ad, with footage of California mountains, seashores, whatever. I think the Suffolk County videotape avoided that. But before we could get into any substance, the California tape was stopped because the judge wanted us double-quick. Recently I had read that the Riverside County judiciary was so backlogged, they had suspended civil trials so they could work the criminal cases down.
Instead of having us pre-assigned to "panels" as they would in Suffolk, allowing them to quickly send "Panel 1 and 2" (for example) to a courtroom, they had to call us each individually to courtroom 3P, which was our own responsibility to find. In Suffolk County, you are constantly encircled and escorted by court officers. Of course, if you sent a bunch of jurors out on their own in the Suffolk County Courthouse, you'd probably not see half of them ever again. That building is so big and labyrinthine in its 19th century design, that one would not be surprised to open the wrong courtroom door and find a few girls on trial for witchcraft. [BTW, I want to clarify that those trials happened in Salem which is either Essex or Middlesex county, so don't blame me.]
So there we were, 40-or-so of us, in courtroom 3P. Jury selection here is exactly the reverse of how they do it in Massachusetts. In both states you get a bunch of people up in the jury box. In Massachusetts they have already had me fill in a moderately lengthy questionnaire that gives both attornies considerable information about me. So in Massachusetts the first thing they do is go to the peremptory challenges. Each side in Massachusetts has a limited number of those, but by using them up front they spare a few poor jurors the misery of sitting through a lengthy session of questioning only to be eventually excluded because they are too black, too white, too educated, or too something.
Not in California. All they knew about us was our name, our employers (if any) and that we had not (yet) been convicted of a felony. BTW, they never check out IDs, at least not up to the point I got to, so if you want to pay somebody to go in and serve your jury time, I think you could get away with it. Usual Nixon disclaimer here ("But it would be wrong," spoken clearly into the vase of flowers).
First they select 18 of our number to sit up in the jury box. Then the judge runs through a lot of questions about things that might reveal prejudice or lack of fairness. That goes on a long time, in our case, because a lot of people seem to think that because they think drunk driving is bad, they could not be fair. The judge points out that based on that reasoning, no one accused of murder would ever get a trial. One person got excused immediately because the sister of the defendant was her best friend. Wow! That's as good as a dead grandmother.
After the judge gets through his questions, the potential jurors go through 16 questions that we've got on a sheet of paper. One juror at a time. Then we get the defense attorney who is originally from England and has a charming accent and pleasant appearance. It's interesting how he gets us to begin doubting the prosecution already, even though we haven't heard a shred of evidence. There are suggestions that the defendant was merely sitting in a parked car, motor off, no keys, waiting for a ride home. Suggestions that careless driving can be caused by using a cellphone or eating while driving (why didn't he mention make up). Suggestions that many of us have had speeding tickets, and almost all of us have been guilty of a rolling stop. I was interested in actually getting to the case to find out if any that was really relevant.
Of course, after the defense attorney there was the prosecuting attorney who was shockingly young. Clearly under 30, he was still working on his acne. But he had his hair combed back in a style usually worn only by TV evangelists, and it had HIGHLIGHTS! I wondered if on weekends he combed it in some entirely different way for his buddies. I wanted to wash his greasy face and do SOMEthing with his hair.
His lengthy questioning of the potential jurors (which was shorter than the defense attorney's) was interrupted by the judge at noon, so we could go to lunch. The judge earlier had estimated we might have the jury selected before lunch, and then we'd be excused. The first day of the real trial won't be until Tuesday. But when noon came, we were still deep in the first go-round with the jury, because so many of the potential jurors were unsure of their own ability to be fair and impartial because they were MADD supporters or they had had bad experiences with drunk drivers some time. I found this a bit annoying, but maybe 26 years in the Social Security Administration had given me better than the average ability to set aside my prejudices and make decisons based on facts.
Lunch in downtown Indio when the tamale festival isn't happening is a thing best left undiscussed.
We came back from lunch and things dragged on. Finally we got people excused for hardship and for "cause." After we ran out of those, the two sides got into their "peremps," which I think is the same as a "peremptory challenge" in Massachusetts, except that there seems to be no upper limit here. Well, maybe they aren't allowed to completely empty the jury pool, but as long as they've got the potential to select 12 + 1 jurors, I guess they can just go and go.
When the dust settled, there were only 9 in the jury box, so they called another 9. I was missed again, and was still just sitting out in the audience. Then we had to repeat the whole process again with these new 9. The judge's questions. The defense attorney. The prosecuting attorney. Doubts as to the ability to be fair because someone donates money to MADD (HINT: everybody who gave money to MADD and doubted their ability to be objective was eventually excused, so consider covering your ass for future DUI cases).
Seven of those good citizens were ultimately excused, so we still didn't have 12 + 1. Another round of 7 were called, including me this time. There were only 2 from original pool still sitting uncalled. I don't have anything in my history to suggest prejudice and, when we go through our 16 questions, I can deal with them pretty quickly, so I don't seem to draw any special attention. The woman next to me who has some hearing loss, also misunderstands the defense attorney's point regarding driving being an essential element of DUI, and babbles on about having had too much champagne years ago and seeing triple, yet driving home anyway. I'm wondering if my personal experience with DUI will go unrecognized because (A) I never got caught and (B) I don't babble. But finally the prosecuting attorney asks me about me whether I have observed DUI first hand, and I say you bet, me driving, friends driving, and other drivers on the road.
It surprised me how many people (well, 2 or 3) said they had NEVER (never, ever, not even hardly ever) seen a drunk person — a drunk person in ANY capacity; driving, walking, sitting in a chair. I wonder how any adult could completely avoid seeing any drunk person at all, unless they happen to be living in some sort of a Mormon colony in the desert. But that's what they alleged, and it was accepted at face value. So when they got to asking me to explain how I'd observed drunkenness I was almost eager to admit that I'd driven drunk, that I'd ridden with friends driving drunk, and that I'd observed lots of bizarre driving that I might reasonably attribute to drunk driving. BUT, I admitted I could still be quite fair about a trial, which was quite true.
We quickly ran through the hardship and "cause" excuses and moved into the peremps. We got to the point where the prosecuting attorney said he was satisfied with the jury as it was constituted, which I thought meant he was done with his peremps. We still had about 15 people in the jury box, but I assumed the judge would finally dispense with any excess above the 12 + 1. But after the prosecution seemed to "rest," the defense attorney continued to peremp another of us. Then it was back to the prosecution who (obviously not resting) perempted ME. I guess that confession of DUI paid off! I was outta there in a flash, exchanging "Too bad for you!" smiles with those two who were still sitting uncalled.
So, my questions for those who are more informed on California judicial proceedings, what is it with "peremps?" Can they just keep going until there are no more in the pool and there are 13 people in the jury box? And (question 2) when either defense or prosecution says they are satisfied with the jury as constituted, why doesn't that stop their peremps? Is it a strategic move, sort of skipping a turn to see what the other attorney does, and then returning to the fray on the next go-round?
December 28, 2005
I think most of us are aware of the problem of drivers pissing into bottles and then tossing the bottles along the roadside. I would assume they use bottles because there aren't enough legitimate places along the highways to take a whiz, but I can't explain away the roadside tossing. Why not just carry the bottle until you get to some place with a trash can? Are the drivers just too grossed out to continue driving with a bottle of yellow liquid inside their vehicle? Or is it that they are afraid they'll be seen carrying a bottle of piss to a trash can? Who knows?
But here's a variation on urine tossing that is really mystifying. A trucker saved up his bottles of urine and then went out walking in a residential neighborhood with some of his bottles hidden in paper bags. Then he would toss the bottles over fences into the backyards of homes there. How effin' weird. Clearly he's trying to commit some kind of vandalism. If he was just trying to get rid of the bottles, he could shove them into any handy dumpster. But he doesn't open the bottles before tossing them, so he moderates his vandalism.
Consumer Reports on Satellite Radio
I don't think much of Consumer Reports. Long ago they reviewed bicycles and revealed that they knew almost nothing about bicycling. When checking out their ratings of pickup trucks before I bought my Ford I noticed that they downgraded ALL the pickups because they rode like pickup trucks. Did they also downgrade all sports cars for an inability to transport refrigerators? Did they downgrade SUVs because they won't get you a date when you cruise the streets?
Anyway, for those who do like CR, here are a couple of recent articles they published about satellite radio: Satellite radio: Is it worth the money? and How to Choose [a provider]. They mention the price of the service a few times ($12.95 per month), but fail to point out that both providers offer discounts for paying for multiple months in advance: $142.45 per year for both XM and Sirius. Sirius also offers a $500 lifetime subscription, which XM does not have.
Canadian Supreme Court Okays Sex Clubs
In a decision last week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled "that group sex among consenting adults is neither prostitution nor a threat to society." While the decision (and the linked article) focus solely on heterosexual swingers clubs, I don't see any reason why the ruling would not also apply to gay sex clubs.
LAPD To Sponsor Gay Games
The Los Angeles Police Department will be a sponsor of the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago. (Link to Gay Games here.) Uniformed Los Angeles Police officers will march with the athletes during the opening ceremonies. They will also be recruiting new cops from amongst the athletes.
How will the Christian right react to this? I hope they organize a boycott. Whenever a Christian right-winger visits L.A. they will refuse to accept any protection from the LAPD. Maybe fundamentalists will take their business to areas served by the L.A. County Sheriff, like West Hollywood.
New Museum In L.A.
Somehow all the jolly hubbub of the holiday season distracted me from the exciting news of the opening of a new museum in Los Angeles; that is the Psychiatry: An Industry Of Death Museum. The museum is operated by The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which is tied to the Scientology church. "The free museum is located at 6616 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90028." Contact them at
The museum features 14 documentaries with statements from a number of health professionals, attorneys, educators and other experts; both historical and modern-day footage of psychiatry's barbaric treatments; and interviews with victims of psychiatric brutalities ranging from electroshock and involuntary commitment to political torture, psychosurgery and the devastating effects of psychotropic drugs.
Hundreds of authentic photos, artifacts and documents further expose psychiatric human rights abuses inside the museum.
I'm not accustomed to museums calling their displayed items "authentic." I had thought that the very nature of being a museum meant that their displays were authentic, unless they said otherwise.
December 27, 2005
Show Them Fire
Teenage drinking trick (Google video, SFW). Happy New Year!
Photos Of And Around The Salton Sea
Penile Damage (Chinese Education Issue)
Pervscan (SFW!) points to a news item about a young man in Chongqing (I think) who damaged his penis when he attempted his first sex with a woman. Half an hour of surgery at Xinqiao Hospital put him on the road back to genital health. Pervscan's questions are exactly those that came to my mind as well.
How To Treat A Weblogger
One of my readers got the spirit and sent me a few books from my Amazon Wish List:
- Rock Art Ruins For Beginners And Old Guys by Albert B. Scholl, Jr.
- Hiking Ruins Seldom Seen by Dave Wilson, and
- Hot Springs And Hot Pools Of The Southwest by Marjorie Gersh-Young (2004 edition), which is THE reference work for finding bathable hot springs in this part of the country.
Obviously, the gift-giver (I'll let him identify himself, if he likes) wants me exploring the outdoors and, possibly, getting naked. I think I can do that with great pleasure!
This was the first time, IIRC, that anyone has bought something for me from one of my wish lists, and so I think it's a bit interesting that Amazon reveals to me the mailing address of the sender! I suppose that's so I can mail him a thank you card (Thank You!). Fortunately, my patron uses a P.O. Box, so he need not fear that some morning he'll find me waiting outside his front door so I can give him a hug.
I'm still waiting for a Mr. Big to send me one of the GPS devices I have wished for. Especially after Sunday's hike in the Mecca Hills, I'd like to be able to give more accurate directions than "the canyon 3 miles past the Coachella Canal, according to my truck's odometer."