October 31, 2006
More And More Again
New acting police chief in Desert Hot Springs. Meaning, of course, old acting police chief gone. Fired. Full story yet untold. Head spinning.
A very interesting website on The Schvitz Health Club, a traditional bathhouse in Detroit. You tell me if it's NSFW, I haven't seen it all yet.
Here is a list of things to do in attempting to save your cellphone which you have dropped into a toilet or other body of water. I can't vouch for any of it, but look, you're going to lose your cellphone, right, so you can't make it worse.
October 30, 2006
Israeli Wins Mr. Gay
Same as last year, information on the Mr. Gay International competition in Palm Springs this weekend is spotty. Certainly, the website for the competition can't be bothered with posting any up to date information...nor even photos of those from outside North America. There is a large photo gallery, but there are no captions, and I think they are actually from last year's competition.
But The Desert Sun fills the gap, sort of. Nathan Shaked from Tel Aviv won the title Mr. Gay International. They don't say if he was Mr. Gay Israel or Mr. Gay Tel Aviv or what. The shepherd from Chico, Grant Ermis who we posted about earlier, won Mr. Gay USA. And our favorite, Jared Watson from Anchorage won Mr. Gay Congeniality USA. Yes, indeed, a lot of hard work went into that victory. But the International title for Mr. Gay Congeniality went to Robert Tarroza of the Phillipines. I'd like to see a final one-on-one competition between those two for Universal Mr. Gay Congeniality.
Meanwhile, Hungarians are proud that Nándor Gyöngyösi (who is Mr. Gay Hungary and Mr. Gay Europe) won the audience prize at this weekend's competition. "Gyöngyösi's spokesperson noted that the American ideal of beauty was completely different from the typical Hungarian's, and that is why his audience prize was so noteworthy." I guess that means the Hungarian gay beauty industry has learned to pander to the American audience. I'd like to see a page of photos of what is considered typically beautiful in Hungary. Maybe several pages. And some video might help, too.
October 29, 2006
De Anza Springs Resort
This weekend David and I went camping at De Anza Springs Resort which is California's largest naturist resort. It's located [Google Map here] just off of I-8 at the Jacumba exit, very near the Mexican border, and surrounded by the southern parts of Anza-Borrego State Park. More info on Anza-Borrego here.
The resort is an open and friendly place. There are no rules against single men, and gay people are welcome. The place certainly needs more gay people, if for no other reason than to do some decorating. Other than bear statues (which seemed very popular), a few other lawn ornaments, and little 12-inch high picket fences, the place is a bit dismal. No pink flamingoes, no pinwheels, no strings of colored lights. Not a single disco ball or crystal chandelier in sight. But it's got all the usual amenities: outdoor pool, indoor heated pool, jacuzzi, tennis courts, gym, restaurant, TV room, internet connections and a sauna. But that sauna is a small thing, sort of like this one. It could fit four average naturist adults, or six young ones who exercise. Gotta be the smallest sauna I've ever been in.
David and I camped in a tent (his first time ever!), but most people are in RVs or trailers. Quite a few are year-round residents and live in manufactured homes. I'm pretty sure we were the only gay people there this weekend. Saturday was the Halloween party, which was just about like any adult Halloween party I suppose, except you could be naked.
So I didn't fall passionately in love with the resort itself, but everything surrounding the resort is as beautiful as Joshua Tree National Park. There are a couple of trailheads in the resort. The first day we took the eastern one which opens into Anza-Borrego State Park, a huge, area inviting extended exploration. The second day we explored west, where after crossing a railroad track (with remains of an Amtrak wreck on a spur), and a dry creek, we explored a jumbo rock area where there are pictographs...although we didn't find any.
The resort is up at 2,700 feet. Day temperatures were quite comfortable, but the evening was chilly. But no chillier than many nights at GNI in Pennsylvania in August. One of the staff of the resort claimed that it had been 30°(F) at dawn on Saturday, but I'm dubious about that. It was probably in the 50s before dawn on Sunday. Summer there might be brutal. There isn't a lot of shade, except around the homes of the permanent residents who have planted trees — deciduous trees at that! So we got to see some trees changing color.
The photos are in this Flickr set. As usual, if you are a Flickr "friend" you will see more photos. Some samples:
October 28, 2006
Newark Airport Wide Open, Come On In!
TSA screeners at Newark airport failed 20 of 22 recent tests, overlooking guns, explosive devices and even bottles of water(!!) being smuggled by undercover U.S. agents.
Reward Up To $500,000
Tom Blixseth kicked in another $100,000 to the reward fund for information on the arsonist that started the Esperanza fire. Blixseth is the fabulously wealthy (you might have guessed) guy who has his own private golf course in Rancho Mirage that I've hiked around the edges of a few times.
On the subject of the fire, I've been surprised to get two phone calls from the east coast to ask if I'm burning up. Nobody called me during the Sawmill fire when the smoke was actually drifting right through Desert Hot Springs. I'm in no danger from the Esperanza fire, as the wind is blowing it away from me. Here, from The Desert Sun:
October 27, 10:08 p.m.
The Esperanza Fire has caused smoke over and ash to fall onto Orange and San Diego counties, according to the National Weather Service.
"(Smoke) has been thick enough to reduce visibility," Meteorologist Steve Vanderburg said.
The smoke is also visible on the weather service's satellites, he said.
Smoke and ash is blowing out to see, over coastal islands, like the Catalina Islands.
Although the fire is close enough for me to be able to evaluate the smoke by just stepping out the back door, last night the air was so clean and clear in Desert Hot Springs the barely-quarter moon cast a quite visible shadow.
Sean Penn To Mess With Traffic
On Tuesday (Halloween!), Sean Penn will be filming on north Indian Canyon, so it will be shut down for something like three hours. The Dessert Sun article initially describes it as "a portion of Indian Canyon Drive on the north end of Palm Springs." Sound like no big deal, we can just drive around it. But further down we see that it is the "portion" between Tramview and the railroad, that loan stretch of road in the desert that connects Palm Springs directly to I-10. A much bigger deal since simply driving around it will mean miles of extra travel. Remind me not to try to get to Palm Springs on Tuesday.
October 27, 2006
Reward For Murderer Up to $400,000
With $100,000 contributions from Riverside County, San Bernardino County, the state of California and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians the reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the arsonist who started the Esperanza fire totals $400,000.
Photos of three of the four firefighters killed in action:
The Press-Entrprise provides information on a Yahoo Group where you can get the news overheard by scanners almost instantly. I learned there that the DC-10 is in use. I thought I saw it west of here about an hour ago. The usual firefighting airplanes are too small to see at this distance. Go here to read the messages.
Fire Safety at K-Mart
There are two public, front entrances to the K-Mart in Desert Hot Springs. One is the usual big entrance with automatic doors and a "greeter." The other is a smaller door into the garden section. That door has been broken since I moved to DHS. It opens, but the handles and hinges are in bad shape. It's hard to open, it doesn't clolse properly, and the plastic door glass is hazed with small scratches.
Earlier this week I entered through that door and headed over to the electronics section. After my purchase, when I tried to exit through the garden door I was surprised to find it padlocked. There had been a couple of employees at the nearby cash register when I entered, but they were gone now, and no employees were in sight. It was 4:30 in the afternoon, and the store wouldn't close for hours. There were plenty of customers in the store. It certainly wasn't quite as crowded as a nightclub on Saturday night, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal to padlock a fire exit on a place that is open for business.
My suggestion for K-Mart shoppers is that when you enter the store you immediately head for the hardware section and pick up a fire extinguisher. Keep it with you as you shop, and then leave it at the cash register after you pay for your items.
10 First Aid Myths
At the top of the list, of course, is the myth that you should suck the venom out of a snake bite. Everybody should know by now not to do this, but the sales of snakebite kits continue to rise. Who knows why.
Next on the list is an assertion that urinating on jellyfish stings will not help at all. A so-called expert says vinegar is the thing to use. However, in my informal surveys on beaches, NO ONE had any vinegar with them, while urine seemed to be available in abundance. The expert acknowledges anecdotal evidence in favor of urine.
Additional residents were evacuated from the path of the Cabazon fire overnight. The firefighters have great faith in fire barriers at the Silent Valley RV Park:
The Silent Valley RV Park was not cleared in time, trapping hundreds of people behind walls of flames.
"They didn’t tell us that there was any reason to evacuate until the roads had already been shut," Lydia Conrad said as she stood in line with her 7-year-old son, Shaun, waiting to use a pay phone to call home.
"We were watching the fire just hop and spread," said Cathie Meyer. She tried to evacuate two separate times before holing up at the RV park.
"There was like a 15-minute window where you could get out of here. It’s just really scary."
Those at the RV park were safer riding it out there than trying to leave, said Riverside County Fire Department Capt. Julie Hutchinson.
"It may be a bit smoky, but they are fine," she said Thursday afternoon. "They are not in harm’s way."
An unintentionally ambiguous message was delivered in reference to the four firefighters who died yesterday:
"You don’t kill four federal employees," Bill Peters, public information officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said. "Whoever did this has incurred the wrath of the federal government."
Much more info and good photos are available in the Press-Enterprise article, as might be expected.
October 26, 2006
Arson, Wildfire, 4 Dead
Due to the wind, the smoke from the fires in the Cabazon Pass traveled down the west side of the San Jacinto range and then blew east, high across the valley. This made the fire appear to be up in the Santa Rosas or beyond. But as we headed north and past Desert Hot Springs, we could see the fires were along I-10. I immediately considered arson, since it obviously had several separate starting points and the only natural cause of that would be lightning, and we've had none of that for months. (Map of the fire area here.)
Now, tonight we learn that the fires have spread very quickly to 24,000 acres, 4 National Forest Service have died, and the county is treating it as arson. The county may offer a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the arsonist(s).
The fire is now 5% contained, but it has also destroyed 10 homes.
Garmin on Macintosh
In response to a recent inquiry to Garmin about the current state of development of Mac software for Garmin's GPS devices:
Thank you for contacting Garmin International. I will be happy to assist you today. We are all very excited about the news that Garmin will be Mac compatible real soon. We are working hard to make our line of GPS and mobile electronics devices compatible with Mac OS X version 10.4 "Tiger." This makes Garmin the first major GPS designer and manufacturer to announce direct support for Mac OS X.
By the end of 2006, Garmin intends to have made all its popular hardware and software applications Mac OS X compatible. This includes the ability to load MapSource map data to Garmin units via a Mac, as well as waypoint and trip planning applications. Additionally, the Garmin nRoute application will allow Powerbook and iBook users to turn their laptop into a powerful street navigation tool with Garmin's GPS 10 or GPS 18 sensors.
Please keep an eye on our website at www.Garmin.com for more information regarding Mac OS X version 10.4 "Tiger." Please let me know if you have any further questions. Thank you for using Garmin products and have a great day!
Thank goodness I've still got my trusty Win2000 PC! I'm posting this information here to try to save some other users lengthy, fruitless searching on Garmin's website for any kind of information on this subject. You'd think they might want to announce this publicly, since the astute potential customer with a Mac would consider this to be favorable news.
DHS City Council
I haven't been making any attempt to provide running commentary on the current state of the Desert Hot Springs city council because it would be like trying to keep track of a cat fight in a barrel going over Niagara Falls. It started with the Gang Of Three removing all of Mayor Bias's ceremonial functions. In response, rather than rising above their narrow behavior, Bias has retreated into a bizarre childishness that simply seems to confirm the other three fools might have been right! Then the Gang Of Three appointed eternally cheerful Dot Reed to fill the council seat of the late Gary Bosworth. That made no difference one way or the other except, I suppose, to show that it could be done.
Then at a planning meeting on Tuesday night the shit hit the fan...not quite literally, but I don't think that's ruled out for future council meetings. Besides the linked news article, I also recommend this MP3 (SFW) of the central blow-up of the meeting and this PDF of a letter Mayor Bias wrote in which we are very disappointed to observe that despite the fact that he speaks well (mostly) his writing skills show all of the problems that seem to be shared by all the political leaders in this town.
Another description of the meeting can be read here on the Desert Local News where we learn that Yvonne Parks (#3 of Gang Of Three) invented a new word: "Parliamental." At least I think that's a new word, although I can imagine a new member of the British Parliament might have to ask for directions to the "Parliamental Lavatory," or something like that.
The worst of it all is that we are so embarrassed this had to happen on an evening when two representatives from the esteemed Cal Poly SLO were there to speak.
UPDATE: "We've had several people - two or three - who have pulled papers for a recall [of Mayor Bias]," according to Ann Marie Gallant, City Manager.
FURTHER UPDATE: Mayor Bias apologizes.
October 25, 2006
New Alternative Health Therapy
Just in time for our new Republican war on terror or fellow Americans or whatever it is, scientists from Novosibirsk have announced tremendous benefits from whippings. Whether it's alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, suicidal thoughts or psychosomatic disorders, the prescribed treatment is the same: 30 sessions of 60 whips on the buttocks. One presumes bare buttocks, as Siberians are not known for unnecessary modesty. The linked article also cites impressive results from another therapy used at mental hospitals during the enlightened Soviet period:
They made injections of brimstone and peach oil mixture to inspire mentally unbalanced patience with a will to live. A patient would suffer from horrible pain in the body after such an injection, but he or she would change their attitude to life for the better afterwards.
I'm sure many people regard peaches as one of the many good reasons to live.
Recycling In The Bay Area
This press release from UC Davis says that October 24 was the first day that their Biogas Energy Project began to process scrap food into hydrogen and methane which can be burned to make electricity. But I clearly recall an episode on Dirty Jobs not long ago in which Mike Rowe worked in a scrap food recycling facility in the San Francisco area where the food was used to generate methane and they said it was the only such facility in the U.S.
So, is this one at UC Davis yet another of these, and is it an improvement in that it generates hydrogen as well as methane? I know that San Francisco is supposed to have more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S., so is that what makes food recyclers financially feasible there...or is no one claiming they make any financial sense?
This just in: in Tully, Queensland, a pilot facility will be built to convert banana waste to methane. In a normal year, 10% to 30% of the bananas are waste.
Palm Springs Stoops
Via Friday Fishwrap we learn that Palm Springs has stooped to unconstitutional levels to try to clear homeless people out of Sunrise Park. They've put up signs saying "WARNING This area is closed to the public by order of the city manager. Standing, sitting, lying or moving on or through this area is prohibited and punishable as a misdemeanor. PSMC Section 11-44.030." This is in the public park that surrounds the city library.
Visiting The Area
An article at Budget Travel Online in which two guys take four days to tour our desert area. They start in Desert Hot Springs, spend a couple of days visiting Joshua Tree, and then wrap up with a day down towards the Salton Sea. Their route seems rather inefficient at points, but they do get to see a lot of the best stuff here...and they never visited a casino or Village Fest.
October 24, 2006
Griffith Observatory (2)