June 27, 2008
If You're Visiting San Diego...Never Mind
June 26, 2008
I Didn't Think Nader Could Get Worse
But he seems to be quite happy to explain his racist analysis of Barack Obama's popularity. Apparently Obama "wants to talk white." Nader says a black politician should "candidly describe the plight of the poor." I am dying to know what specific tasks Nader would assign to politicians of other races.
The Fork Has Been Put In It: CVMVCD vs DHS
Word is in that the final settlement between the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District and the City of Desert Hot Springs has been signed, carved in stone, and finally finalized. CVMVCD will be paying DHS something on the order of $77,000 for legal fees.
Bear In The High Desert
A black bear has been seen wandering around the areas of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms for the last 1½ to 2 months. It has shown no signs of aggression so neither Fish and Game nor National Park rangers are going to do anything about it. If we're lucky, there will be no vacationing police officers from Clayburg, Pennsylvania, in the area until the bear moves along.
Raymond Burr - Gay
Maybe everybody else already got the word, but it's news to me. Despite the fact that Burr's official biography claimed he had had three wives and one son, in reality he had only a single, brief marriage in 1948. Burr met his longtime partner Robert Benevides in 1960. Benevides is working on a book about his relationship with Burr, while Michael Starr has published Hiding In Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr without the cooperation of Benevides, which is why the story has popped up in the news.
Roberrt Benevides currently lives at and operates Raymond Burr Vineyards in Healdsburg, California.
June 25, 2008
Burning Man Arsonist Gets His Justice
Acorrding to the the burning blog, Paul Addis, who burned the Man a little early last year, has pleaded guilty and been sentenced by a judge in Pershing County, Nevada, to 12 to 48 months in prison PLUS $25,000 in restitution.
$40,600 For Goodwill
This painting, "Marche aux fleurs" by Edouard-Leon Cortes, was dropped off at Goodwill in Easton, Maryland, in March of this year. It has been auctioned off at Sotheby's for $40,600.
A little more than two years ago I told you that construction work on the High Line in the Chelsea section of Manhattan had begun. This is a short (less than 1½ miles) elevated rail line that has sat unused since 1980. The city is converting it to an elevated park. When I was in New York this past April I walked over there thinking that surely by now it was at least partly ready for public access. But, no. All I saw was wrapped construction stairways to it and the sound of heavy work going on. The stairways seemed to be completely unsecure, however, and if I was one of those risk-taking people I would have tried going up to see what could be seen - but I'm not.
Now comes word that only today have the proposals for the final design been made public. You can go here to view a slide show of the design proposals, but here are a couple of grabs showing part of it by day and night:
Here's a good video on the High Line that would be a lot better if it had some music!
Jane Fonda Urinal Target
Interesting story of
Ramon Reyes Demetrios Leontaris of Union City, New Jersey, who makes house calls to repair iPods. He says he can complete 80% of the repairs on the spot. The doc's own website is here and you can ship him your iPods (and other broken devices).
I couldn't help but notice that in the photos and videos in the news article Mr. Leontaris is using a plain white laptop that appears to have no visible logo at all. Is there such a thing, or do you suppose the Fortune photo editors removed the Apple logo?
The Heinz Kiss
It is reported that Heinz (Heinz UK, that is) pulled a TV ad showing two men chastely kissing because they received "200 complaints that it was offensive and inappropriate." I find this a bit hard to believe, since it was a UK commercial, not US. More believable, I think, is that Heinz caved in order to generate more publicity -- and here I am pointing you to their ad, which they haven't pulled from the internet, have they? Doubtless you will now rush out to buy a big supply of delicious Heinz Deli Mayo. Marketing slogan: "It's so gay!"
Interestingly, the ad was already barred from being shown "in or around children's programming" because it's high in fat, salt and/or sugar! Did I mention delicious?
Bill Gates's Opinion
Todd Bishop has published a Microsoft internal email written by Bill Gates 5½ years ago regarding the remarkable UNusability of Windows. Microsoft should publish more stuff like this. If I had ever suspected that Bill Gates had actually gone face-to-face with Windows's frustrating failures and suffered the very same pain the rest of us have, my opinion of him and his company would be much higher.
June 24, 2008
Free Gasoline (Up To $20)
All you have to do is go get an HIV test this Friday, June 27, at the Desert AIDS Project locations in either Indio or Palm Springs. You've also got to wait 20 minutes for the results. "The Palm Springs location is at 1695 N. Sunrise and the Indio location is at 82-365 Highway 111, Suite 100." Hours are 9 AM to 4 PM.
DHS City Council Study Session
I dropped in at this evening's Desert Hot Springs city council study session (technically, it was called a "Special Meeting" so they could vote to approve the minutes from the last regular city council meeting). The big news came at the end of the meeting when Karl Baker announced he is now an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church, and could be properly address as Reverend Mr. Karl Baker, Jr. Allah be praised. He can now perform marriages.
The meeting commenced with a public comment from Ted Mayrhofen who was there to tell the city council that if they wanted to buy his place they could have it. Having spent 5 seconds of his allotted time, he turned and left the building. Whether this was some sort of a political comment or the city council had actually been pursuing his property, I have no idea.
The first item on the agenda was the Skyborne development. Councilmember Betts moved that the subject should be tabled indefinitely because they had not had sufficient time to study the subject. Others reminded him that that was the very purpose of a study session and the motion died without a second.
Before the discussion got really rolling, city attorney Ruben Duran interrupted to say that a lot of the issues around Skyborne should only be discussed in closed session, and he would interrupt any discussion tonight that seemed to be treading into the closed session zone.
When the Skyborne project was approved, the developers agreed to build a 5-acre park with facilities worth at least $1.2 million (the agreement requires certain specific facilities as well). When complete, the park would be given to the city. That park was to have been completed by June 30, 2007. Oh, my. Nothing has been done to build a park yet. D.R. Horton, the developer, asks the city to accept a $1.2 million bond that the park will be built.
In addition, through some oversight, the developer has been paying Quimby fees (which go to parks and recreation) when each building permit was issued. The $1.2 million park was to be in lieu of Quimby fees, so no Quimby fees should have been paid. D.R. Horton is asking that the city refund all of the mispaid Quimby fees ($300-thousand-something, I neglected to write down the exact figure). [The figure is $354,240 according to the Desert Local News.]
In the course of discussion the representative of D.R. Horton told us that repair and repaving of Pierson Boulevard out there would commence in July. I hope this is to correct the unevenness in the pavement that makes my truck ride like a boat at sea. She also went on to say that Skyborne is their single biggest asset, their "most prized possession," and that D.R. Horton has a personal interest in Desert Hot Springs.
Several members of the city council expressed their pleasure at the cooperation they have had with D.R. Horton so far, and hope that it continues. The D.R. Horton representative told them that they are prepared to begin to move ahead with "Village Two" at the development. Yes, actual home construction — sometime.
Next on the agenda was "City Council Goals and Objectives Implementation," which was basically a fleshing out of previously expressed goals and objectives. The report provided by City Manager Rick Daniels listed several items under each goal and objective with optimistic dates of achievement. I'll list the goals and objectives, and if there is some demand for it, I suppose I could scan the page of subitems for a particular goal:
- Increase revenue including, for example, a review of franchise agreements. Most businesses that use the city's rights of way, like Time Warner Cable, pay a franchise fee for that privilege, but Verizon does not.
- Economic Development and Opportunities like implementing the pavement management system.
- The Medical Center, including fasttracking any development project that includes healthcare facilities.
- Develop Community Safety Programs, such as continuing to increase the number of police officers.
- Beautification of the City, including developing school/club adopt-a-lot and adopt-a-street programs.
- Bring Businesses Back Up To Code which would include, of course, pursuing code enforcement aggressively.
- Youth Program Development including park improvements and developing an expanded Boys and Girls Club.
- Improve City Wide Image which includes lots of PR initiatives.
- Educate Our Community including getting some COD classes here.
Last item on the agenda was City Council Polices and Procedures, which has been a project of Councilmembers Al Schmidt and Karl Baker to put all the known rules, practices, policies and procedures together in one great big effing notebook, to make some corrections, to make some changes, and be all legal and consistent. Any changes will have to be voted on by the city council in regular session. The adoption of the whole damn thing is scheduled for the August 5 city council meeting, but bits may be pulled out for further discussion, revision, later adoption, whatever.
Some of the changes proposed include:
Specifying that the Mayor Pro Tem is to be chosen by a vote of the entire city council annually.
Starting regular city council sessions at 5 PM. That got a lot of discussion. Surveys had been made of other cities in the valley and around California. They're all across the board, but I think that when the city council takes up this issue they should bear in mind that Desert Hot Springs has a MUCH higher percentage of regular working people than most of the other cities in the valley, that most of our citizens are earning modest incomes, and we have a much higher percentage of homes with children than other cities in the valley. Choosing to take time off from work or leaving the kids home alone for an hour just so you can go to a city council meeting can be a daunting decision for some people.
Study sessions (or special meetings) would be scheduled for the Monday following the regular city council meetings - from 4 PM to 6PM.
Public comments would be broken into two segments at city council meetings, if necessary. The first segment would come at the usual point in the meeting and would be restricted to TEN speakers. The remainder of those wishing to make public comments would be able to do so in a final segment immediately before adjournement. This is not as radical a change as it may sound. Currently, public comments are limited to 30 minutes, but that's rarely, if ever, enforced. This current city council has never had ten public commenters at any meeting yet. But they haven't had meetings where they discussed the marijuana dispensary or the adoption of MSHCP, which subjects brought out tons of people to make public comments at the previous city council. Here's the proposed overall agenda revision:
- Call to order
- Roll call
- Pledge of Allegiance
- Moment of Inspiration
- Approval of the agenda
- Commission updates (all the commissions, second meeting of the month)
- Closed session report
- Public comments (limited to 10)
- Public hearings
- Administrative calendar
- Consent calendar
- Mayor and Council comments
- City Manager report
- Public comments (those after the first 10)
The primary goal in this revision is to get to the public hearings earlier in the meetings. Currently they land in last place. Anyone who attends a city council meeting is aware there are always at least a couple of well-dressed out-of-towners who are there to handle their proposed development. It'd be nice to get to their item so they can go catch their flight and we can let our hair down.
This is the composite sketch of the suspect, based on witness' accounts of the shooting that occurred at 11:30 PM on Monday, June 23. The Desert Hot Springs police press release:
CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
DATE: 6-23-2008 DAY: MONDAY / TIME: 11:30 PM
INCIDENT: PC 187(a) / MURDER
LOCATION: 66000 BLOCK OF GRANADA AVE, DESERT HOT SPRINGS
DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:
On 06/23/08, at approximately 11:30 PM, Desert Hot Springs Police Department officers responded to the 66000 block of Granada Ave in regards to a "shots fired / subject down" call. On arrival, officers located a male subject, discovered to be the victim of the shooting. The victim had sustained gun shot wounds to the upper torso and was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.
The suspect in this incident is described as a male Hispanic subject, in his late teens or early twenties. Further described as being between 5'-7" and 5'-9" tall, thin build with a medium complexion. The suspect was wearing a dark colored beanie [knit cap] and dark baggie clothing. The suspect exited from the passenger side of a charcoal, metallic colored newer pick-up truck (No Further Description), approached the victim and fired multiple rounds at the victim, striking him about the upper torso. The suspect re-entered the pick-up, which was driven away, westbound on Granada Ave, towards West Drive.
The victim is identified as 26-year-old Ricardo Lora of Desert Hot Springs. The motive for the shooting is unknown at this time.
The Desert Hot Springs Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in this on-going investigation. Any leads would be appreciated and may be made anonymously through Valley Crime Stoppers [760-341-7867] or We-Tip.
Any questions regarding this press release should be directed to the Desert Hot Springs Police Department. Anyone with any information regarding this crime should also contact the Desert Hot Springs Police Department and ask to speak with Detective Weigle or Detective Sergeant Gil.
Dispatch Tel: (760) 329-2904
The Home Depot To Recycle CFLs
Starting today, all The Home Depot stores will take back old compact fluorescents (any brand) for recycling. They also promise to carry more dimmable CFLs. The press release:
THE HOME DEPOT LAUNCHES NATIONAL CFL BULB RECYCLING INITIATIVE
Also Implementing In Store Energy Conservation Program
ATLANTA, June 24, 2008 – The Home Depot®, the world's largest home improvement retailer, today expanded its long-term commitment to the environment and sustainability by launching a national in-store, consumer compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb recycling program at all 1,973 The Home Depot locations. This free service is the first such offering made so widely available by a retailer in the United States and offers customers additional options for making environmentally conscious decisions from purchase to disposal. The Home Depot Canada launched a CFL recycling program in November, 2007.
At each The Home Depot store, customers can simply bring in any expired, unbroken CFL bulbs, and give them to the store associate behind the returns desk. The bulbs will then be managed responsibly by an environmental management company who will coordinate CFL packaging, transportation and recycling to maximize safety and ensure environmental compliance.
In addition to the CFL recycling program, The Home Depot has also launched an in store energy conservation program to switch Light Fixture Showrooms in U.S. stores from incandescent bulbs to CFLs by Fall 2008 and save $16 million annually in energy costs.
The CFL recycling program is an extension of The Home Depot's Eco Options program. Eco Options, launched in April 2007, is a classification that allows customers to easily identify products that have less of an impact on the environment.
"The CFL recycling program is another example of how The Home Depot is empowering customers to help make a difference in their own homes, and have less of an impact on the environment," said Ron Jarvis, senior vice president, Environmental Innovation. "With more than 75 percent of households located within 10 miles of a Home Depot store, this program is the first national solution to providing Americans with a convenient way to recycle CFLs."
Switching from traditional light bulbs to CFLs is an easy change consumers can make to reduce energy use at home. According to the EPA's ENERGY STAR® program, if every American switched out one incandescent bulb to a CFL, it would prevent more than 600 million in annual energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars. As the largest retailer of light bulbs in the country, The Home Depot sold over 75 million CFL's in 2007, which saved Americans approximately $4.8 billion in energy costs and 51.8 billon pounds in CO2 greenhouse gases over the life of the bulbs.
Other environmental initiatives The Home Depot has implemented since the launch of Eco Options in April 2007 include:
· Store recycling program in the U.S. of shrink wrap and mixed plastics, which will result in 50 million pounds of waste diverted from landfills each year.
· Internal recycling initiative at corporate headquarters that is projected to increase the amount of recycled materials from 30 percent to at least 65 percent.
· Renewed commitment to use transportation partners registered in SmartWay program and ensuring The Home Depot distribution facilities and stores further promote emission reduction.
For more information on the CFL Recycling Program or Eco Options, please visit www.homedepot.com/ecooptions.
In the '90s I couldn't help but notice that Sears, that old king of retailing, seemed to be losing its ability to perform even simple retailing. Then when it merged with/bought up/got bought out by K-Mart (whatever it was) the other major chain store that couldn't do simpe retail, I was sure they had fully committed themselves to the death spiral. Now, The Consumerist brings us this Sears customer service story that confirms Sears has a corporate-wide policy not to sell things.
A collection of beautiful National Geographic photos of wildfires and their aftermath taken by Mark Thiessen, including many in California.
Burning Man, Now 5% Larger
What they've done is increase the radius of the inner circle by 500 feet and expand the rest of the city accordingly. The out security pentagon is larger too, but not that much, so the outer road, "K-Car," approaches it more closely this year.
The circumferential street names this year are: Esplanade, Allanté, Bonneville , Corvair, Dart, Edsel, Fairlane, Gremlin, Hummer, Impala, Jeep, K-car.
The Claysburg, Pennsylvania, Bear
The most interesting part of all this, I think, is that although the police showed little restraint in dispatching the bear, their restraint toward the townsfolk is astounding. I've seen milder reactions to police (on TV and the internet, not in person, thank you very much) that resulted in immediate police violence, pepper spray dispensed, tasers crackling left and right, and camera equipment disabled on the spot. Not in Claysburg. The police just sort of mope around while the citizens call them bastards and fools.