October 31, 2011
DHS Police Still Seeking Man On Hacienda
CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
UPDATED PRESS RELEASE
INCIDENT: Sexual Assaults
LOCATION: HACIENDA AVENUE / VERBENA TO HACIENDA HEIGHTS DRIVE
SUSPECT DESCRIPTION: Male Hispanic, 25-35 years of age, 5’-05” to 5’-10”, 150-180 lbs., unshaven. Suspect conceals his face with a hooded sweatshirt, ski mask or bandana.
DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:
The City of Desert Hot Springs Police Department is seeking the community’s assistance in identifying and locating a suspect, described above, who has assaulted females walking on Hacienda Avenue between Verbena and Hacienda Heights Drive. The suspect walks up from behind his victims and gropes or fondles them. The suspect then walks off on foot. All of these assaults have occurred during the evening hours. The department is asking anyone with information related to these incidents to contact the Desert Hot Springs Police Department.
October 30, 2011
Fiction, but only for a little while longer
I think I can safely say this is fiction predicting reality, even though the reality hasn't happened yet. Probably in less than a year.
First iPads In Space
And they will travel on a Russian ship launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station "for entertainment purposes only." This article says they will send a "stuffed toy doll of the red bird from Rovio Mobile's 'Angry Birds'" on a later launch.
Old Palm Springs
Visit Scenic Calico!
An ad for vactioning in southern California in the March 1958 issue of National Geographic. There is some of the usual and expected stuff, but I'm amazed at the three recommended tourist attractions outside of Los Angeles:
- Calico, a ghost mining town about half way to Las Vegas.
- The Devil's Postpile (now a national monument), which is in the eastern Sierra as far north as San Jose! Of course, if you can hitch a free ride on an LADWP vehicle, it might make sense.
- And then Rainbow Farms, which I know nothing about.
Soroptimists' Food & Wine Experience
At Cabot's Pueblo Museum yesterday to benefit the House of Hope.
Bruce Barrett, Dot Reed and Chef André.
Auctioning a copy of True You by Janet Jackson, autographed by Chef André. It includes something like 30 of his recipes.
Mayor Parks as warrior. Watch out!
Evanston Police To Tweet 911 Calls
In an attempt to educate the public on the use (and mis-use) of 911, Evanston, Illinois, police dispatch will be tweeting the essence of most 911 calls on Friday, November 4. They will not tweet calls about domestic violence, child abuse or sex crimes. They will tweet calls about violent crimes, but will be vague about the location in order to avoid drawing a crowd. "The tweets can be found at www.twitter.com/CityofEvanston with a hash tag of tweetathon, or online at www.cityofevanston.org."
Along Palm Drive
Tennessee is one of those border states where this sort of behavior would be tolerated for a while, but the neighbors would think it strange.
Go here to see the news video. I would embed it here, but I can't get it not to autostart, and that's a pain.
Taken individually, none of the details would necessarily be incriminating:
- Having a barbecue.
- At night.
- In the parking lot of your apartment building.
- Barbecuing a raccoon. This is not such an uncommon thing, and it beats cooking it in your kitchen!
- Large knives. They had to cut up that raccoon, didn't they?
- Futon mattress next to the barbecue. You've got air those things and fluff them occassionally.
- Buckets of unknown material. Maybe it was clean up week.
- Smiley face crudely spraypainted on the beat up front door of your apartment. Folk art.
- A record of purchasing pseudoephedrine "nearly three dozen times" in the last year. You can get bad cases of the sniffles running around out in the woods trying to catch a raccoon.
But put it all together and somebody goes to jail for manufacturing meth. No final word on the raccoon. Maybe it was given to one of the less fortunate neighbors.
October 29, 2011
Two More Movie Recommendations
And the good deal about these two is that they come together on the same disc.
Act of Violence is very noir, with only one or two brief daylight scenes. Two really interesting things about this movie. Despite being a film noir, it doesn't involve sex or romance, and there is no murder mystery, no missing person, no police. But justice is served (in a 1948 way) at the end. The other interesting thing to me was the generous use of the Glendale train depot which was easy for me to recognize because it hasn't changed one iota from 1948 to today, except it was pretending to be "Santa Lisa" in the movie. There were lots of shots from lots of different angles at that station. The only thing missing was Fred MacMurray.
Mystery Street was filmed on location in and around Boston and on Cape Cod. In the commentary they say it may have been the first movie filmed completely on location there. It's a bit noir, and there is a murder and there are police. A very young Ricardo Montalban plays a sexy, boyish detective from Barnstable. Yeah, that's so believable. Harvard in both Cambridge and in Boston on the medical campus has not changed since 1950. I was pretty amazed to see that the bollards on Mass Ave in Harvard Square were there in 1950. There is a funny bit as the cops get the runaround looking for the "medical legal" department at Harvard. Is it at the law school or the medical school? I think today it would be called medical forensics, removing the amusing ambiguity. High end gin cost $4 a bottle then, if the alcoholic landlady is to be believed.
Yesterday's Vandenerg Launch
Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video.
October 28, 2011
1,500 Year Old Sequoias Fall
The two sequoia trees were fused at the base and lived along the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest. They were about 300 feet tall. Amazingly, a German tourist witnessed the fall and got some of it on video! But the 2 or 3 second video is being hosted by a Gannett newspaper which is so crass as to append a 15-second advertisement before you get to see the trees falling, and then the video cuts off a split second before the trees actually hit the ground, leaving them hovering mysteriously about 2 or 3 feet above the ground. Good work Gannett!
The City's Investigation of Chryss Home Automation
The City of Desert Hot Springs has posted its report on its internal investigation into the dealings with Chryss Home Automation. It's 794 pages and 38.6 MB, but I have a smaller extract available here, that is only 37 pages and 2 MB. The extract I created includes the first 15 pages, which is the report itself from Jason Simpson (Assistant City Manager) and Ruben Duran (City Attorney) to City Manager Rick Daniels and Police Chief Pat Williams. In addition to those 15 pages I included the pages that have the 22 checks that were payable from the city to "Chryss Home Automation" that were endorsed by Karl Baker. And I will clarify that Karl Baker was the first endorser. The Desert Sun left that point ambiguous in their story. IOW, the checks do not appear to have been endorsed by Pete Chryss over to Karl Baker.
Here's one. They all look pretty similar to this one.
Some of the points in the 15-page report:
On October 14, 2011, the City terminated its contract with Chryss as a result of these allegations. Prior to termination of the contract, Peter Chryss confirmed that he does not currently hold a valid contractorʼs license, but rather subcontracts all work to licensed contractors, including alarm monitoring services. Although, Mr. Chyrss contends he had all of the required approvals and licenses to install and monitor alarms, it appears he does not have licenses and registration required by the State of California. Furthermore, the Cityʼs current policies do not require background checks of City vendors. The City is presently identifying protocols to address background checks for City vendors to ensure best practices are met. The City Council will be provided with updated policies, including background screening for City vendors for its consideration in the next 30 to 45 days.
this report concludes that the contract was awarded by City staff after an informal bid process in compliance with the Cityʼs purchasing policies and the Cityʼs Municipal Code. However, it appears from copies of cancelled checks that were paid to Chryss, that some of those checks were endorsed by Council Member Karl Baker. As a result, a request for a review consistent with California Government Code Section 1090 was submitted and accepted by the Riverside County District Attorneyʼs office for further disposition.
The report lists six alarm companies the city has done business with over the last several years, including Chryss. All of them, except possibly one, did work for the city in 2011.
Under the provisions of Section 6 of the City's purchasing procedures, when acquiring professional services under $30,000.00, the City is only required to create a scope of work, obtain a minimum of 3 quotes, and execute contracts for the work. The actions to obtain a minimum of three (3) quotes prior to awarding of the contracts were prudent and are consistent with the City's purchasing procedures. City staff did seek quotes and bids and selected American Alarm Security Inc. based upon lowest cost for Monthly Monitoring and lower equipment costs.
Payments to Chryss through the date of this report were less than the $30,000.00 threshold requiring City Council approval. The total paid through October 26, 2011, was $14,768.85, with the last payment made on October 6, 2011.
The report says the allegation of excessive charges is unfounded. The allegations of inaccurate billing are not correct. Vendor payments were, indeed, made to the home address of Karl Baker. Chryss Home Automation does have a business license in Desert Hot Springs, but Chryss did not comply with the city's code requiring alarm businesses to register with the Police Chief. This is an infraction subject to a fine of not more than $500. Chryss also does not have the license required by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. This is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 and/or imprisonment. The city got conflicting opinions on whether Chryss was also required to have a state contractor's license. The allegation that Pete Chryss has a felony conviction is "not sustained." The city does not do background checks on vendors, meaning, I suppose, that they just don't know if he has a felony conviction. The EIN Pete Chryss provided on his W-9 form is invalid. This is no problem for the city, but Mr. Chryss did sign the W-9 under penalty of perjury.
October 27, 2011
Burning Man Tilt-Shifted, Speeded-Up
Another Milestone Reached
The world's first commercially available 1 terabyte solid-state drive in 2.5-inch format. No price yet, but using the $1.10/GB rate mentioned in the linked article, the price would in the neighborhood of $1,126. Some more numbers: "Octane (SATA 3.0) Read: 560MB/s; Write: 400MB/s; 45,000 random read 4K IOPS."
Street Art In San Francisco
October 26, 2011
PSUSD Board Meeting - October 25
- Bunches of awards for bunches of schools.
Victoria Diaz, a junior at Mt. San Jacinto High School gave a report on her school.
Awards were given to 17 schools that achieved their API goal. The Academic Performance Index for the district overall rose 15 points between 2010 and 2011.
- Bubbling Wells Elementary - 772
- Cathedral City Elementary - 764
- Della S. Lindley Elementary - 761
- Landau Elementary - 832
- Rio Vista Elementary - 854
- Desert Springs Middle - 677
- Raymond Cree Middle - 749
- Desert Hot Springs High - 683
Dr. Anne Kalisek, Principal of DHS High School.
- Ramon Alternative Center - 439
- Cahuilla Elementary - 798
- Cielo Vista Charter - 879
- Katherine Finchy Elementary - 891
- Rancho Mirage Elementary - 840
- Sunny Sands Elementary - 847
- James Workman Middle - 800
- Cathedral City High - 722
- Palm Springs High - 767
James Workman Middle School received another award for hitting the 800 goal for the first time.
Bubbling Wells Elementary received awards for exiting program improvement. This came after two years of meeting all targets. Only three schools in Riverside County achieved this.
Principal Steve Marlatt and some of the Bubbling Wells staff.
Katherine Finchy Elementary was presented the National Blue Ribbon School Award. "The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that are either high performing or have improved student achievement to high levels, especially among disadvantaged students." This is the first Blue Ribbon school in Coachella Valley.
Principal Mark Arnold and some of the Katherine Finchy staff.
Bev Bruecker (?) came to the podium. She handed a stack of tickets and books to the staff and board. The tickets were for a showing of American Teacher which will take place on November 6. Trailer here. The books were only for the board members and they were Drive by Daniel Pink. She said she thinks our teachers may be close to the tipping point of sheer exhaustion.
Assistant Superintendent Lisa Howell gave this report. The Director of Finance must certify by December 15 if state revenues are coming in as projected. $6.7 million is at stake for PSUSD. The state at this point is about $654 million short. But if the shortfall is less than $1 billion on December 15, there is no impact. If the impact exceeds $2 billion, then schools can lose $1.9 billion. PSUSD has set money aside, so that if the shortfall occurs, the district can cover it.
Monitoring Report - English Language Arts
This report was given by Assistant Superintendent Mike Swize. He presented data for 5th grade, 8th grade, and the high school exit exam (10th grade). 5th grades have shown an increase of 20 percentage points in the students who are proficient or advanced in English. Overall, the district is approaching 50%. 8th grades started at 27% proficient or advanced and over five years have increased to 49%. 10th grades have also shown steady growth over five years by 12 percentage points.
Then he showed a graph of "sub-groups" which are African-American [although it probably includes all black students, even if they are not American citizens], Asians, Filipinos, Hispanics, Whites, Socio-economically Disadvantage, English Learning, and Students With Disabilities. All groups except Asians showed stairstep progress over a period of years. Asians, as might be expected, had the highest scores, 69% or 70%. Filipinos were in second, and then Whites in third place.
The whole district, grades 2 through 10, the percentage of students that scored proficient or advanced in English Language Arts gained 16 percentage points over five years and is approaching 50%.
His recommendation was that the board certify the district is making reasonable progress in language arts. Moved, seconded and approved 5-0.
California Gas Tax
George Skelton is of the opinion that California needs to raise its gas tax because (A) we need the money and (B) it hasn't been increased since the 1990s. California's gas tax is 46.6¢/gallon. Arizona's 19¢. Nevada's 33.1¢. Oregon's 25.0¢. I wish people would stop using Texas as a comparison, as though we want to be Texas. If California were like Texas I'd go find some other place to live. Nevertheless, Texas collects 20¢/gallon. And Florida gets 34.4¢.
Seen on 5th Avenue. At first glance I thought it was a spider, but as you can see it has only six appendages.