December 31, 2008
236 Quakes In Yellowstone
Discussion With Pallotta
A discussion (via comments) between blogger Sean Stannard-Stockton, Dan Pallotta and others about Pallotta's book Uncharitable and how lucrative the charity business should be.
Me and Dan Pallotta at the first Texas AIDS Ride in 1998.
Neighborhood Watch Training in DHS
I know some people who are interested in this:
EVENT: Community Training
SUBJECT: Neighborhood Watch
LOCATION: Carl May Center, 11711 West Drive, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
DATE: January 17, 2009
The Desert Hot Springs Police Department will host a one day Neighborhood Watch Class on Saturday January 17, 2009 from nine a.m. to three p.m. at the Carl May Center located at 11711 West Drive, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240. Pre-registration is required, however there is no cost to residents.
Neighborhood Watch is a crime prevention program which enlists the active participation of citizens in cooperation with law enforcement to reduce crime and the perception of crime in their neighborhoods. Participants will be taught techniques that will help reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Topics will include observation skills, reporting suspicious activities, target hardening, property identification, and how to organize and lead a group in their neighborhood.
Class size is limited. To register and for more information please contact Community Resource Specialist Jim Knabb at 760-329-2904 ext. 340.
Queerty has picked its homophobe and homo hero of the year. You can maybe guess which is which.
Thomas S. Monson, President of the LDS church.
William Bratton, Chief of Los Angeles Police.
(via) According to a Gallup poll, 32% of Americans say Barack Obama is the living American man they most admire. Three percent said McCain, which puts him behind even George Bush, who got 5%.
Balancing things out, Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman with 20%, while Michelle Obama gets only 3%, putting her in the #5 spot.
Informational Open House For New County Jail
January 8, Thursday, 6 to 8 PM at the James Venable Community Center in Cabazon there will be an "open house" to provide information to the public about the proposed new jail to be built in Whitewater. The address of the community center is 50390 Carmen Ave [link to Google map].
Green Path North Category
I've added a new Green Path North category for Ron's Log postings, since I expect this subject will be continuing for a long time.
Am I the only person who thinks that those long, pre-recorded documentaries or music marathons broadcast by some public radio stations on holidays (in order to allow some of their staff to take the day off) are actually better than their usual fare? Today, for example, KCRW is re-broadcasting their documentary on McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. [McCabe's own website, if you want.] If a station had programming like this all (or most) of the time I'd be happy to send a check.
December 29, 2008
1000 Best Movies Of All Time
The list is here. I don't know if it's in any particular order, but Citizen Kane is in the number one position, while number 1,000 is The Unknown, a 1927 film starring Lon Chaney as Alonzo the Armless who is a knife thrower!
Nuclear Power From Thorium
A 55-minute video (YouTube) of a lecture by Dr. Joe Bonometti on the potential and history of the liquid fluoride thorium reactor to generate power. It's supposed to be aimed at laymen, and was a Google tech talk, but I think you'll get more out of it if you're already very informed about nuclear power. The lecturer speaks quickly and informally, and assumes you know what he's talking about.
I wish there was a written transcript where I could peruse the several graphics at leisure (and with more clarity). In one of the graphs he compared nuclear, gas turbine, coal and wind in terms of how many megawatts of power you get out in relation to the tons of steel and concrete you put in. Wind comes in a distant last place.
The advantages to thorium are that it's smaller, inherently safer and does not produce weapons material. You could put several of these in Los Angeles, for example, and you'd need no power lines out to the desert for solar or geothermal.
They've got a weblog on the subject here.
Seismicity in Yellowstone
In the last two days there have been 26 small earthquakes (the largest was 3.8) in Yellowstone National Park epicentered at this location under Yellowstone Lake. Here's a Google map showing the location a little more clearly.
Art For Desert Hot Springs?
A page of works of air, sky and wind art including this piece by Anthony Howe which responds to the wind but "does not over-rotate under severe wind conditions." Ha! Send us a copy on loan so we can test it!
"People will soon 'start to thank this president for what he's done.'"
So says Condoleezza, and I expect she's right. On January 21 many of us will be thanking him for leaving office without having suspended the Constitution or burning down the Capitol...but I'm waiting until the 21st to do that. Not counting my chickens.
Predictions From The Clueless
A Wall Street Journal article about the predictions of Igor Panarin that in 2010 the U.S. will collapse into civil war and break up. While there have been many times I thought it would be good for California to free itself of the deadweight in the middle of this country, Professor Panarin's predictions show an embarrassing lack of knowledge about America.
Go to the link above and scroll down to his future map of the U.S. He predicts a "Texas Republic" reaching from New Mexico to to Georgia and Florida. That Texas Republic, he says, would either become part of Mexico or exist under Mexico's influence. I find it hard to believe that Texans would willingly return to Mexico. I don't think it would be such a popular idea in any of those states. And how would the Cubans in Florida react?
The western states, including Idaho and Utah, would become part of China or go under Chinese influence! The western states are the core of the LDS church. I find it completely unbelievable that the Mormons would just roll over for the Chinese communists.
His eastern states would join the European Union, he predicts. That's a slimly plausible prediction for the northeastern states, but his eastern states include South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky, states that I suspect would prefer not to be part of Europe.
As for the vast midwestern area, that would become part of Canada. Sure, why not. And Alaska would, of course, become part of Russia. Yes, Governor Palin would sign on to that in a heartbeat. Hawaii could go to either Japan or China, he predicts. Uh-huh. Why not Australia or New Zealand, or even independent? He has no prediction for Puerto Rico. Why not sign it over to Cuba?
GPS in California
Not long ago I purchased a Garmin Nuvi 750 GPS device from Costco.com where it is still available at the bargain price of only $200 (sale ends January 4). My handheld Garmin that I've had for a few years is set up with topo maps for hiking, and doesn't have the software installed that would allow it to calculate a route. Its screen is way too small and dim to use in a car, too.
Before I got this Nuvi 750 I would go to Google maps to get a route, copy and paste the last few crucial steps into my word processor and then print them out at about 24 points so I could read them while driving. A moderately acceptable solution, so long as I was driving in the daytime and there was little traffic. That drive to UCLA a couple of days after the election was a great example of a trip where my technique wouldn't have worked at all. In the dark on Sunset Boulevard at rush hour is no place to try to read and drive at the same time. Fortunately, I had Andy along who could act as a live GPS device.
Scott has a Garmin Nuvi 750 in his Jeep and while watching him use it I was always impressed with its easy intuitive interface and surprising accuracy. It would calculate good routes even on old mining roads way out in the desert. So, not seeing any real need to be the last living person not to use GPS in the car, I got this deal.
Garmin claimed that the Nuvi 750 was Mac-compatible, but I was dubious, since they had lied to me repeatedly about making Mac software for my handheld Garmin (GPSmap 60CS), so the first thing I did when I got it was to plug it into my Mac. Lo and behold, it mounted! Looks like a drive to the Mac. The Garmin website hosts a web-updater for Mac (along with one for Windows, too, of course). After downloading and installing the updater, it updated the firmware with no glitches at all. In the process it added an additional voice for American English: Jack. Without the update, the only American English voice was Jill.
I've been using and experimenting with it for a couple of weeks and am really happy with it. One benefit that I didn't foresee is that it allows me to drive without having to look for any directional or street signs. I didn't realize until now how much time my eyes are OFF of traffic checking signs and landmarks to make sure I'm where I mean to be. I've only got to watch traffic. So, it's a benefit even when I use it locally. Here, Fred Zahradnik lays out some of the benefits of using GPS, and I agree with all of them - especially "4: You know which lane to be in." The GPS does a lot better than CalTrans at telling me which side of the road I need to be on to get on a freeway entrance ramp. And, if there are two turns close together, it will tell me about both of them, so that after I make the first turn I know which lane to head to for the second turn.
An extra benefit on the Nuvi 750 that I didn't expect to use, is the MP3 player. Load up an SD card with MP3s and insert it. Run a wire from the GPS's headphone output to my stereo's input jack and I'm set. The advantage to this is that the GPS will pause the music when it wants to give me a direction so that Jack doesn't have to shout over the music.
It's also got Bluetooth built in, so that if my cellphone had Bluetooth I could synch the two together and use the GPS as my legal cellphone talking device thingy in California. I don't know if you can use the Garmin's keyboard input to send text messages via the cellphone. The keyboard display on the Garmin can be configured as either alphabetical or Qwerty.
I've noticed only a couple of glitches on the device. The location of the Desert Hot Springs post office is not in its database. It still shows the old Pierson Boulevard address. I don't know how long ago the post office moved, but it can't have been too many years. I was willing to forgive the error, since updating government offices on that database can't be a super high priority. But then I was very surprised to see that it doesn't have the location of the Palm Springs post office either, and I'm sure it's been at its late-mid-century modern location for a few decades at least.
Here in DHS it has sometimes given me weird out-of-the-way directions, but I just ignore them.
The only serious problem I've had came when it lost all voices. It could still calculate a route and display written directions (and it could play music), but it was otherwise mute. I think this may have happened because in my Ford the power is always on to the cigarette lighters. When I try to snap the GPS device into its cradle (the cradle is plugged into the cigarette lighter), it always takes me a few attempts before I get a good solid click. During this trial and error, the GPS device occasionally touches the power contacts and starts its bootup. With multiple power-ups and downs over a few seconds, I'm surprised all I lost were the voices. Simply plugging it into my Mac again and running the web-updater fixed it, even though nothing was downloaded. Now I unplug the cradle from the power supply before remounting the GPS.
Once, while I was riding with Scott he had muted Jill's voice. When a phone call came in, he pressed "answer," but that did not automatically un-mute it. You'd think Garmin would have realized that when you answer the phone you pretty much always want to be able to hear the other person.
When I bought it I also bought a mounting device that would attach to an air vent, because I knew it was illegal to mount it to the windshield in California. The vent thing works okay, but on Thursday California SB 1567 goes into effect. This will allow you to stick your GPS device to your windshield BUT NOT IN THE MIDDLE. It allows the GPS to be stuck onto only those areas of the windshield where you can already stick other minor stuff: the lower left and lower right corners. This, of course, is bullshit, as Fred Zahradnik explains here. The lower right corner is useless for a GPS, unless you're driving a really tiny car (or a right-hand drive car). Using the lower left corner would require you to run wiring in front of the driver (in most cars) to plug it into a cigarette lighter. So I'm going to keep using my vent mount.
P.S.: The Nuvi 750 gives street names in its directions. Some of the other Garmins don't. IOW, mine says "Turn right on Palm Drive," while another unit will say only "Turn right." Pronunciation is slightly odd, but that provides some entertainment.
Also, while you can buy additional maps for other parts of the world for the Garmin, I don't believe you can buy topo maps like I have on my handheld. The Nuvi 750's database may not include all the mines that I can find on my GPSmap 60CS.
Upon reading of the death of sculptor Robert Graham I did a Google search on his name. Down in the list of results I spotted a timeline and a link to 'Timeline results for "robert graham".' Clicking on it brought me to a page that began like this:
The results are listed in chronological order. You can click on any of the half-century blocks on the graphic to zoom in to just that half-century. Very useful! I've never seen this before and wonder how new it is.
December 28, 2008
Drug of Choice: Caffeine
The Caffeine Examiner is a weblog on the S.F. Examiner's site that reviews (what else) anything that contains caffeine; including vodka, Meth Coffee, Hot D bloody mary mix, a non-caffeinated energy drink, and a couple of enticingly named products: Booty Sweat and Sum Poosie.
One energy shot that he rates a "10" for Buzz is Stay Alert Energy drink with 150 to 200 mg of caffeine.
He also reviews Sparks, an alocholic caffeine beverage which mystified me when I first spotted it at the supermarket. Some people are quite pleased that this product, which has been heavily marketed to young people, has been made "safer" by removing the caffeine! Meanwhile, the alcohol content stays right there.
I don't find a review of plain old caffeine tablets which you can combine with any drink or beverage that pleases you. He does, however, review Enerjets Wake Up! Energy Boosters, which he theorizes are made from burned instant coffee with Sweet & Low.
I look forward to his review of Sumseeds Caffeinated Sunflower Seeds.
December 27, 2008
I drove down to Salton City today, to explore the area a bit. Mostly I was looking to see if there were any remains of this building:
Here's a little more romantic view:
I guessed that it was here [Google map]. And I was right, but all that remains are chunks of concrete rubble along the shoreline.
Here are pictures of that site and other stuff I saw nearby:
About half a mile south of the yacht club site. This road has locked gates at both ends. The middle section is gone, having sunk into the sea.
The town is a bizarre mix of never-developed lots, old paved roads, new power lines, rotting structures, mobile homes, and brand new homes; but mostly those never-developed lots.