December 30, 2010
N.Y. Times Does Kodachrome
The New York Times goes to Parsons, Kansas. They're getting some interesting last-minute Kodachrome customers:
The first was a railroad worker who had driven from Arkansas to pick up 1,580 rolls of film that he had just paid $15,798 to develop. The second was an artist who had driven directly here after flying from London to Wichita, Kan., on her first trip to the United States to turn in three rolls of film and shoot five more before the processing deadline.
Whose film will be the last Kodachrome to go through their processors?
In the end, it was determined that a roll belonging to Dwayne Steinle, the owner, would be last. It took three tries to find a camera that worked. And over the course of the week he fired off shots of his house, his family and downtown Parsons. The last frame is already planned for Thursday, a picture of all the employees standing in front of Dwayne's wearing shirts with the epitaph: "The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010."
CBS News Does Kodachrome
Kodachrome - It's Done
Kodachrome group slide show.
Photo by e_pics. Only hours of processing remain at Dwayne's in Parsons, Kansas.
December 28, 2010
Palm Springs Police Chief Dominguez Apologizes For Calling Gay Men
"Cocksuckers" "Filthy Motherfuckers"
The longest journeys begin with a single step.
Maybe Chief Dominguez will eventually explain why he lied about saying that, and why he accused his accusers of being liars.
UPDATE: The Desert Sun has clarified that what Chief Dominguez said was "filthy motherfuckers." It was another officer who used the word "cocksuckers." The Palm Springs City Manager David Ready said this is an essential difference, and Chief Dominguez should keep his job.
Benjamin Zander is a unique and powerful figure who, among other things, conducts the Boston Philharmonic. The Boston Philharmonic is not the Boston Symphony. The Boston Symphony is that more-than-a-century old organization with James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Erich Leinsdorf, Charles Munch, Serge Koussevitzky, Pierre Monteux and Symphony Hall.
The Boston Philharmonic, OTOH, was formed in 1979, owns no hall, and is made up of amateurs, students, and professionals who are dedicated to the love of music. (Not that the Symphony players aren't dedicated or don't love music; but the Symphony players get an adequate salary as well). If you buy a ticket to a Philharmonic concert, you get to attend the pre-concert lecture by Mr. Zander himself. His lectures are several steps above the standard sort of pre-concert lecture you might get from an established, mainstream orchestra. A Ben Zander lecture could work you into a fevered frenzy in anticipation of watching paint dry, if drying paint was going to be the theme of the evening.
Somebody paid him to fly out to California and give a TED talk on music and passion. You can watch it here.
If you want really cheap wind power, you can't just keep making a smaller and smaller turbine. At a certain point, the price simply won't go lower due to the technology required. Possible answer: the Windbelt, a small device with no rotary which can be 10 to 30 times as efficient as a microturbine. The goal is only to make enough electricity to power some LEDs and charge up a radio battery - just enough to replace kerosene lighting in third world countries.
Farmers vs. Rail
The multi-billion dollar effort to relieve congestion on route 99 between metropolitan centers Fresno and Bakersfield is running into some resistance. Diana Peck, executive director of the Kings County Farm Bureau, says Central Valley farmers will not stand for high speed rail taking agricultural land "as the path of least resistance."
As anyone who has driven on highway 99 knows, the only thing between Fresno and Bakersfield is agricultural land. Well, that and farm roads, some small farm towns, some grain elevators, and maybe a couple of small wetlands. The only route between Fresno and Bakersfield that would avoid agricultural land would be an elevated track above highway 99 itself, which would be pretty damn ridiculous since there's all that agricultural land along both sides of the highway that could be bought up.
I suspect we will see more beating of chests and teary-eyed old farm families until the price offered for that agricultural land reaches the magic sweet point.
Disneyland and California Adventure sold out two days in a row. Disneyland was at capacity at 10 AM today. California Adventure at 1 PM. Ticket sales were halted yesterday and today.
How Your Watch Works
Pedestrian Hit & Killed On Palm Drive By DHS Police
Desert Sun article here. The accident is being investigated by CHP. The article says the scene was "Palm Drive between Cahuilla and Desert View avenues," NOT at an intersection. The victim was a man in dark clothing. The accident occurred at 10:05 PM.
We've seen this before but jaywalking continues here in DHS and in Palm Springs despite pedestrian deaths. Just a couple of days ago I was approaching the intersection of Ramon and Sunrise in Palm Springs, where three jaywalkers have recently died. It was dusk and two men in dark clothes nearly walked in front of me as they were jaywalking.
December 27, 2010
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" Not #1
The seventh Harry Potter novel was supplanted as the best-selling product at Amazon by the $139 Kindle. On December 25 a new record was set in the number of Kindle initations, although they don't give us a firm number.
Amazon also reported that on their best day ever, November 29, 2010, "customers ordered more than 13.7 million items worldwide across all product categories, which is a record-breaking 158 items per second."
Los Angeles 1920s
More Detail On The MSWD Audit Report, Fiscal Year 2010
Here is the audio of just that part of the December 20 board meeting during which the auditors presented their report.
The page is entitled "Combined Statement of Net Assets" and it adds up Current Assets; Note Receivable, Long Term; Restricted Assets; and Utility Plant. At the end of FY 2009 the "Total Assets" were $138,476,578. At the end of FY 2010 they were $135,132,545 - a net decrease of $3,344,033. That's the $3.3 million Arturo Ceja spoke of. A big chunk of that was plain ol' "cash" which dropped from $4,529,181 to $603,499. "Restricted cash" increased from $3,683,101 to $5,961,642. Restricted cash "consists of customer deposits, reserves required by bond agreements, escrowed cash held for retention payments, cash held by assessment districts, debt service funds, reserves for self-insurance, and reserves for capital replacements."
Arturo then moved on to page 10 which is entitled "Combined Statement of Net Assets - Continued." Page 10 PDF.
On page 10 you'll see that "Total long-term debt" at the end of FY 2009 was $8,338,559. At the end of FY 2010 it was $6,810,622; a reduction of $1,527,937.
Accounts payable dropped from $1,496,152 to $631,934. That was described by Arturo with these words: "because construction in the prior year you still have a couple of projects where this year they're pretty minor so there was actually a decrease in overall current liabilities of about $700,000 primarily from accounts payable."
Total operating revenue in FY 2009 was $8,593,352 compared to $9,562,020 in FY 2010. This was described by Arturo as "Revenues and expenses. You basically see, on page 11, comparing revenues to last year $9.6 million to 8.6 last year, about a $969,000 increase." That was due to the rate increase, he said. Arturo went on to point to something near the bottom of the page called "Total operating income and expenses." There is no line like that. There is a line for "Total operating expenses." In FY 2009 it was $12,190,583 - in FY 2010 it was $12,576,225 - a difference of $385,642. And there's a line for "Operating income (loss)." In FY 2009 that was a loss of $3,597,231 - in FY 2010 the loss was $3,014,205. The difference is $583,026. Arturo said "Total operating income and expenses had a decrease over last year of over $300,000 primarily for the depreciation." I imagine he's talking about the line for "Total operating expenses."
At the very bottom of page 11 you'll see the "Total non-operating revenues." $4,863,728 in FY 2009; $4,913,985 in FY 2010. the main difference was "Contributed infrastructure" of $1,444,625 in FY 2010. There was none in 2009. However, property taxes declined from $2,398,732 in FY 2009 to $1,824,885 in FY 2010.
On page 12, "Total non-operating expenses" went from $945,067 (FY 2009) to $1,053,381 (FY 2010). Arturo said that's mostly due to uncollectible accounts. Look up just a couple of lines and you'll see in FY 2010 uncollectible accounts were $197,392 while in FY 2009 they were "($1,384)." I'm just a humble English major so I could be very wrong, but I'm going to guess that those parentheses mean that the district collected more past due accounts in FY 2009 than actually accumulated in FY 2009.
This is the page that, at the bottom line, shows FY 2010's "Net Assets" were $118,684,359 compared to the Net Assets for FY 2009 of $117,837,960 - a gain of $846,399. So now we can see that these "net assets" on page 41 are not at all the same as those on page 9, and that's why the numbers are entirely different. Page 41 is Revenue ($14,477,072) and Expenses ($13,630,673), a difference of $846,399. The gain in net assets in FY 2009 was $321,430.
Comparing that to FY 2009, Revenue was about a million higher while Expenses were about $500,000 higher.
The grants received in FY 2010 (which Arturo touched on lightly) were $478,000 and $100,000 from the Army Corps of Engineers for Assessment District #12 Design; $185,000 from the Bureau of Reclamation for a water reclamation study; and $245,739 from the California Department of Water Resources for the Mission Creek & Garnett Hills Water Management Plan.
The reports lists four debts that will be paid up by 2015 and 5 debts that will be fully paid between the years 2022 and 2041. The dates for the debts that will be retired by 2015 are 9/1/2011, 12/17/2013, 12/26/2013 and 7/28/2015.
Debt service requirements (principal plus interest) for the next five fiscal years go like this: 2011: $1,911,587; 2012: $1,661,360; 2013: $1,400,997; 2014: $970,910; 2015: $542,816.
When Arturo wrapped up his report Gary Dack came up to discuss the "single audit" which is actually entitled "Reports on Internal Control, Compliance and Other Matters." Here is the only interesting part of that report:
There was one finding relating to internal controls for the year ended June 30, 2010
During the year, the District became aware of a $130,000 payment error to a contractor on one of the District's infrastructure projects. A forensic audit was performed to investigate this payment in error in which several deficiencies were identified affecting the District in relation to the engineering department through which the overpayment was initiated. The District employee responsible for the project oversight and payment approval is no longer employed by the District. We agree with the forensic auditor's findings and recommendations. The District received two insurance reimbursements for the entire $130,000.
We recommend that the District closely review all deficiencies as identified by the forensic auditor and implement their recommendations to strengthen internal controls and increase the District's ability to detect and prevent these types of overpayments.
Management agrees with this finding and, as of the date of this report, has implemented several recommendations as provided by the forensic auditor.
In the "Summary of Audit Results," item 2, under Financial Statements, says "Internal control over financial reporting identified one significant deficiency." Item 3 says "There were no significant deficiencies that are considered to be a material weakness." In English: There was a significant deficiency, but it wasn't a material weakness.
They define "deficiency" like this: "A deficiency in internal control exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow management or employees, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions to prevent, or detect and correct misstatements on a timely basis." I don't believe the report includes an explanation of what makes a deficiency "significant."
They define "material weakness" this way: "A material weakness is a deficiency...in internal control such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the District's financial statements will not be prevented, or detected and corrected on a timely basis."
As for the $130,000 payment error and the employee in the engineering department who is no longer employed by the district, there were, at the beginning of the year, four staff employees who might conceivably oversee an engineering project. Three of them are still with the district and Dan Patneaude is the one who left. He was overseeing the Well 37 project (and possibly other projects, too).
Jet Crash Video
Here are the quibbles: The narrator says this is a test of what would happen if a jet crashed "into the concrete walls of a nuclear power station." I don't know if by "concrete walls" they may mean the containment vessel. In common English, the "walls" are the side parts and the top part would be called a "roof." I suspect a jet aimed at a nuclear power plant would strike roof in addition to wall. Is this a test of that?
Also, most obviously, the video stops before they show us the effect on the wall - sort of missing the point of the whole thing, right?
I would add, too, that if a skilled military jet pilot were really trying to kamikaze on a nuclear power station, he would not limit himself to a snails-pace 500 MPH, but would attempt to hit it at supersonic speed. Can we see that test?
But what the video DOES show (and why I'm putting it here) is what happens when a 500 MPH aircraft strikes a hardened structure in order to answer "What happened to the airplane that hit the Pentagon?"
Safety At Carl May Center
University of Missouri Memorial Union
Photo by Notley Hawkins.
Bag o' gasoline?
EVERY BAG COUNTS
HELP US END HUNGER
EVERY BAG PURCHASED WILL HELP FEED
SOMEONE IN OUR COMMUNITY
I imagine the orders came from on high that this sign was to be displayed at every spot where a financial transaction could occur at Von's. And I suppose it makes perfect sense inside the store where there must be some sort of bags displayed with, perhaps, a range of prices and one could say to the cashier "I'd like to buy one of those bags." But out here at the gas pumps, it's just a lonely, confusing sign. There are no signs elsewhere to explain it. No display of bags. Nothing pops up on the gas pump display asking if you'd like to pay some extra bucks for a bag.
I did go inside the store for a little shopping, but the lines were so long they stretched into unincorporated Riverside County, so I didn't stick around to actually buy anything.
December 26, 2010
Some Last Love for Kodachrome 64
Photo by Weldon Godfrey. A final Kodachrome photo.
I Am Stunned!
I had never heard even a hint that technology like this was close to being available, but here it is, now, today, functioning:
The interface takes a bit of figuring out after you follow that link. You see the big main video window. Below and to the right is a map of the scene. Each of the red dots represents a camera that is recording 360° video. Click any of them. Most of those cameras will display a transparent white triangle in that map. You can grab the triangle and drag it around to change your view in the video. The + and - zoom buttons in the video itelf are obvious. The camera in the outfield, a bigger red dot, will not give you one of those transparent white triangles. For that camera you manipulate the image the way you usually do in an interactive still panorama; that is, by clicking and dragging in the video image itself. Pretty effing amazing, and if they can deliver this live over my cable while a concert is going on, I'll be even more impressed.
Here, a simpler one-camera 360° video shot in Haiti.
The technology has been around since before March 2010. Why are we not seeing this at Burning Man?!
A news article about it. It comes out of military technology developed at MIT. The software assembles the 360° panorama as it is shot, not later as is done with those huge still image panoramas. A pilot security program using these cameras was begun at Logan Airport in Boston just a year ago.
Of course, this means Google will have to upgrade Streetview to Streetvideo.