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May 25, 2014

Wingsuits & GoPros Over Manhattan

Filed under GoPro,Photography | permalink | May 25, 2014 at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

"A responsible end"

Does that sound like an echo of "peace with honor?"

| permalink | May 25, 2014 at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

Technical Point Resolved

Plant and harvest your crops for six years, but let the land rest during the seventh year. The poor are to eat what they want from your fields, vineyards, and olive trees during that year, and when they have all they want from your fields, leave the rest for wild animals.

That's the rule for shmita and the coming year will be a shmita year. Seven years ago the Israeli medical marijuana program was small with only a single physician in charge of the whole thing. Since then the program has expanded to include nine physicians with about 9,000 patients. There are seven licensed growing facilities. IOW, it's grown a lot in the past seven years, so it draws more attention, thus leading to the question...from an IDF veteran yet:

"I receive grass as a medication," explained M., a religious man who suffers from shell shock, in a letter to the Rabbinate. "The shmita year will begin in four months, and observant IDF disabled veterans have been asking themselves whether the grass should be grown differently like fruits and vegetables."

The official answer is that it's medicine, not food, so no problem. Grow. Consume. But not recreationally. In addition, raised-bed greenhouses and hydroponic farming do not fall under the shmita rule because it's not a "field." Since all Israeli marijuana is grown under those conditions, then it's doubly-cleared.

Filed under Health,Marijuana,Religion | permalink | May 25, 2014 at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2014

Probably Not A Coincidence

Patrick Bateman (NSFW)

Elliot Rodger - boring, except for that music.

Filed under Film/Movies,Public Safety | permalink | May 24, 2014 at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

Scribd for eBooks

Until this morning I knew Scribd only as that service that allows one to embed a readable PDF document within a web page. But they sent me some commercial email this morning to let me know they have added the entire For Dummies series to their collection (how's that for some pinpoint marketing!). And I'm all like "your collection, what?" I thought maybe somebody had gone bankrupt and now the Dummy books were magically public domain.

But no! It turns out Scribd has a subscription eBook service. They started it in October 2013 (had to find that on Wikipedia - Scribd ain't gonna tell ya), so maybe I can excuse myself for not hearing about it until now.

For $9/month you get to read as many of their eBooks as you want. This is not Project Gutenberg. Scribd is offering current books with living authors who get real royalties (if they negotiated the right deal). Browse here. They claim 100,160 titles in Fiction & Literature, their biggest category.

They've got apps for iOS and Android, but you can also read books in any browser. Offline or on.

If you have used the eBook service offered by Riverside County Public Library you may have found the selection disappointing and the unavailability of most books (because there's a limit on the number of copies of any one title that can be checked out simultaneously) frustrating. If you have a library card with the Rancho Mirage Public Library feel free to leave a comment telling us about how rich their eBook collection is.

For $9/month you get past the public library limitations and you spend a lot less than if you bought all your eBooks.

Filed under Books | permalink | May 24, 2014 at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2014

George & Tony's Wedding

Yesterday was George and Tony's wedding. They had a commitment ceremony 10 years ago, but now it's all legal. The wedding took place in Francis Stevens Park in Palm Springs and then we took over a nearby restaurant.

Tony & George's Wedding (2298)

Tony & George's Wedding (2327)

Tony & George's Wedding (2323)
Tony & George

The Priest Making It Legal (2317)
Gil, a priest, makes it official
. I saw that he gave his title as "Rev," so I'll have to call him that now.

More photos from the wedding here.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Gay Issues,Photography | permalink | May 23, 2014 at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

Whitewater Metal Thief Arrested

From the Riverside County Sheriff's Department:

Press Release: Grand Theft
Agency: Palm Desert Police
Station Area: Palm Desert
Incident Date: May 23, 2014 Time: 2:30 AM
Incident Location: Haskell Rd. and Monterey Avenue, Thousand Palms


The Palm Desert Special Enforcement Team (SET) continued their investigation into numerous back flow valve thefts occurring within the jurisdiction of the Palm Desert Station. Information obtained from witnesses during recent thefts, led officers to focus on a suspect identified as Daniel Casillas, age 53 of Whitewater. Following a lengthy surveillance operation, Casillas was arrested during the commission of another back flow valve theft. Further investigation was able to link Casillas to numerous thefts within the cities of Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage including at least five thefts of back flow valves.

Anyone with information on this case or similar cases is encouraged to call Deputy Mushinskie at the Palm Desert Sheriff's Station by calling (760) 836-1689

Filed under Coachella Valley,Public Safety | permalink | May 23, 2014 at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

What This Town Needs

I mean in addition to a truckload of legal tender, one thing it needs is as simple one-way communication system from the city government that can reach every resident.

Right now the current hot "I never heard nothing about that" issue is the canvassing for dog licenses, vaccinations, microchips, de-sexing; but there's always something. Perennial issues are "Nobody told me I couldn't park in my front yard" and "Whadda ya talking about, the city is full of wooden fences."

There is that Time Warner Cable channel, of course. But that goes only to TWC customers and what percentage of the city's residents is that? Judging from the number of satellite dishes, a minority are on TWC. And then, of course, you've got to know what channel it is. One ought to be able to find information about that channel on the city's website. It's such a tiny bit of data, I don't know why it isn't just on the front page: "Time Warner community channel: 17" with a link to the show times, but you've got to go down a couple of menus to get to it.

Or there's the Desert Sun. If you've finished laughing/choking at that one, what I mean is the city could pay for (well, there's your problem) a quarter page on a regular basis in which one or two city matters might be explained or announced. Beyond the cash issue, DS readership is low in DHS and there's no Spanish-language edition. Is it necessary for me to explicitly state that the DS can never be trusted to get an accurate message across? That's why it would have to be a paid ad.

A few years ago there was a little discussion about mounting an electronic message sign somewhere along Palm Drive, but that would be way too expensive at this time.

A dedicated website or a greatly revised city website could work. The front of our city's website is fairly business-like, which is good, but if you look around at some other city websites the front page may be indistinguishable from a good commercial website, focusing mostly on promoting the city to out-of-towners, whether tourists or investors. The serious city website (like ours) is one click away from the very pretty front page. That front page can be used to announce upcoming policy changes (like the animal canvassing) or remind people of code matters...and explain why it is the way it is. The drawback to this method is that we probably have a fair number of residences with zero internet access. Even if the family has kids with smartphones who could access the city website, that probably does little good for the parents.

I'm working my way down to saying that I think a plain, old-fashioned mailer (postal-wise) might be the most efficient way to reach every household with an English and Spanish message that can be read at any time by a resident of the household. Before you tell me about the expense involved, there are a couple of less expensive ways this could be piggybacked on other mailings. Mission Springs Water District sends out monthly bills. The city could pay them to insert a one-page item occasionally. The drawback to that is the district includes county areas and areas in Palm Springs, so there would be additional expense keeping the DHS mailing separate from non-DHS. Also, some bills go to owners, some to renters, meaning some households would not get the information.

But way better than MSWD would be Desert Valley Disposal. Their quarterly mailings go to every residence AND they go to every property owner! This would mean everybody who needs to know would get the info.

I'm talking no more than one sheet of paper, English one side, Spanish the other, just like the info DVD sends out. If it doesn't push the weight of the mailing over 1 ounce, then the only expense is paper and labor. The info sheet would have to be brief and to the point - probably no more than one or two matters of concern. And it needs to be written in clear language understandable by a 6th grader. And it needs to explain the why of the matter. It wouldn't do any good to say something like "Animal Control officers will be knocking on doors, and if they hear a dog barking and you're not home you can count on getting a $400 per dog citation."

Cost could be kept very low, and it would sure cut down on the number of people taking up city staff time leaving phone messages and then follow-up phone messages and then finally complaining at a public meeting. You know, that stuff costs the city money too, but it doesn't get itemized in the budget. Even Finance Director Amy Aguer couldn't be so precise as to say that last year the city spent an extra $150,000 (or whatever) because it didn't explain things to the residents in advance.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 23, 2014 at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

If You Steal Something Big, Where Do You Hide It?

In your front yard, if you're these guys.

Press Release: Burglary Investigation
Agency: Palm Desert Burglary Suppression Unit
Station Area: Palm Desert
Incident Date: May 22, 2014 Time: 4:00 PM
Incident Location: 13000 block of Via Real, Desert Hot Springs


On May 22, 2014, members of the Palm Desert Burglary Suppression Unit conducted an investigation related to a series of residential burglaries that occurred in the area of Pinyon Pines on May 21, 2014. Stolen property was removed from the victim’s homes to include: firearms, ammunition, electronics, jewelry and a Chevrolet Truck.

On May 22, 2014, The Burglary Suppression Unit received information, which led them to the 13000 block of Via Real, Desert Hot Springs and they observed a camper shell belonging to the victim’s stolen truck in the front yard of a residence in addition to a secondary victim’s check book. A search warrant was obtained and served at the premises and additional stolen property, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were seized. The recovered stolen property was linked to all three burglaries and a suspect was identified, who resided at the Via Real premises. Additionally, the stolen Chevrolet Silverado Truck was located in a parking lot of a nearby shopping center.

Members of the Riverside Auto Theft Interdiction Detail and the Coachella Valley Task Force assisted in the recovery of the stolen vehicle, which led to the arrest of two additional suspects. During the apprehension of the two suspects a foot pursuit ensued and one of the suspects discarded a loaded firearm in a citizens backyard, while the second suspect entered a business and secreted a loaded firearm under clothing items for sale. Both firearms were recovered at the scene in addition to the stolen truck.

The investigation led to the recovery of four firearms, ammunition, jewelry, electronics, computers, personal checks, travelers checks, personal property and a vehicle. The combined estimated value of recovered stolen property was valued at $30,000.00.

18 year old, Desert Hot Springs resident, Jose Ulloa, was arrested for possession of stolen property, possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

18 year old, Desert Hot Springs resident, Aaron Schoolfield, who was on parole was arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property, felon in possession of a loaded firearm, resisting arrest, and violation of parole.

17 year old, Desert Hot Springs resident, was arrested for an outstanding felony arrest warrant for burglary, possession of stolen property and weapons possession violations. Charges related to the investigation included: burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of a loaded firearm and vehicle theft.

Ulloi and Schoolfield were booked into the Riverside County Jail, located in the city of Indio. The juvenile was booked into the Riverside County Juvenile Hall, located in the city of Indio.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call Deputy Rubio at the Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station by calling (760) 836-1746

All of those charges are "catch & release" now, as I understand it, so they were home in time for dinner...or at least bedtime; so lock your doors, windows, vehicles, whatever.

Aaron Schoolfield Aaron SchoolfieldJose Ulloa Jose Ulloa

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Public Safety | permalink | May 23, 2014 at 01:54 PM | Comments (2)

North Dakota Stands Alone

In 49 states plus the District of Columbia same-sex marriage is either legal, undergoing court challenge, or has been found unconstitutional and the decision appealed.

Yesterday four couples filed a federal lawsuit to overturn Montana's ban on same-sex marriage.

Only North Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage remains unchallenged. But Friday is another day.

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | May 23, 2014 at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2014

GoPro Tours NYPL

A DJI Phantom and a GoPro Hero3 are used to video the interior of the New York Public Library:

Filed under Architecture,GoPro,History,Photography | permalink | May 22, 2014 at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

West Fork Oak Creek - Followup

Remember my photos from beautiful Oak Creek just a couple of weeks ago?
0502 150618 West Fork Oak Creek

Well, it's all gone. The Slide Fire, which started at famous Slide Rock in Oak Canyon, spread right up the canyon and wiped it out. Firefighters say the fire was human-caused. Here's today's map of the fire.

In this video they describe the fire as burning 500 acres. By now (Friday) it has burned 11½ square miles.

| permalink | May 22, 2014 at 10:44 PM | Comments (1)

Supporters Of The Inland Empire Taxpayers Association

One man making a public comment at the most recent City Council meeting had obtained the Form 496 that had been submitted by the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association, the group that's behind the No On Measure F campaign signs. Form 496 is used to report expenditures of $1000 or more to support or oppose a candidate or measuring the 16 days immediately prior to an election. There have been two Forms 496 filed. One by the DHS Police Officers Association and the one from the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association. It appears the IETA used an old Form 496 that also asked for donor identity. They listed three donors:

Date Donor Amount
4/4/2014 AMH V LLC
45200 Club Drive
Palm Desert CA 92210
5/2/2014 Bible Baptist Church
27620 Landau Blvd, Ste 5
Cathedral City CA 92234
1/14/2014 Chris Mann for State Assembly
4201 Brockton St, Ste 100
Riverside CA 92501

The total is $5447.27.

I don't know what AMH V LLC is, but maybe somebody who's down in Palm Desert could go by that address to see what's there. There seem to be a family law practice in the same building.

Chris Mann is the founder of the IETA and was running for the seat in the 42nd Assembly District until he dropped out in November 2013. The 42nd District is currently Brian Nestande's district. The district includes much of the Coachella Valley (south of I-10), the towns in the high desert, and cities in the Banning Pass and just west of it. But it excludes Desert Hot Springs. At the time he dropped out of the race he said he had support from Marion Ashley and John Benoit.

The address 4201 Brockton St, Ste 100 in Riverside is the address for Teaman, Ramirez & Smith, Inc., Certified Public Accountants. The current partners are Richard Teaman, David Ramirez and Javier Carrillo.

Here's the website for the IETA. It contains no information about Measure F. It's leaders include Chris Mann and Richard Teaman. At the bottom of that page they include a quote from Thomas Jefferson without attribution. Maybe they can fix that next time they edit that page.

Here you can find documents filed by the IETA with the Secretary of State.

Their Form 460 filed May 20 includes more information. It lists Mr. Teaman as Treasurer and Mr. Carrillo as Assistant Treasurer. Scroll down to page 10 where they list expenditures of $34,870.72 opposing Measure F. The document lists more donors, too, starting on page 4:

  • AMH V LLC; $2,956
  • Bible Baptist Church; $300
  • Chris Mann for State Assembly; $2,191.27
  • Camden Holdings LLC, Beverly Hills; $120
  • Tami Campbell, Las Vegas; $100
  • Courtney Moe, DHS; $1,500
  • Palm Investment Group, El Monte; $5,000
  • PER-PAP LLC, San Jose; $150
  • Sheryl L. Poe, Los Alamitos; $100
  • Dr. David J. Wallerstein, Brentwood; $2,000
  • Wallace Whigam, DHS; $150

Total donations are given as $14,567.27. They've also got a loan of $20,000 from Ed Adkison of Riverside and a $2,000 loan from Patriot Ventures, Inc. of Banning.

The IETA has also spent $625 to support Nathan Miller who is a Trustee for Riverside Community College.

Documents filed with the Secretary of State for the Chris Mann for State Assembly campaign can be found here. His Form 460 filed in January 2014 lists his donors including Benoit For Supervisor ($1,000), Fred Noble ($250), and Harold Matzner ($3,000) among several others.

Filed under California,Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Politics | permalink | May 22, 2014 at 05:19 PM | Comments (1)

May 21, 2014

GoPro Over PCH

GoPro on a DJI Phantom 2 shoots Amgen Tour of California crossing Big Sur Bixby Bridge. Full-screen is best.

Filed under California,GoPro,Photography | permalink | May 21, 2014 at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

GoPro and Google Glass in Pyongyang

Not together, but separately. The Google Glass user was Kenny Zhu and I wish I could find out what his citizenship is. He seems to be based in San Francisco.

The GoPro video is by Aram Pan, a Singaporean. He was permitted to stick his GoPro on the front of his tour bus for a 22-minute drive around Pyongyang. You'll see a lot of the city's landmarks on that drive. The overall appearance is weirdly unreal, sort of like an idealized CGI city created by a city planner. No clutter, little traffic, no overhead power lines. People will mention the lack of public advertising, but they rarely point out that there are almost no signs on the roads at all. No speed limit signs. No signs about parking. I was able to identify warning signs for pedestrian crosswalks, but that was all. Vehicles do not yield to pedestrians in Pyongyang, even if the vehicle is running a red light and the cross walk is full of people walking there. I don't even see signs identifying the roads.

Filed under Cities/Urbanism,GoPro,Photography | permalink | May 21, 2014 at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2014

Adam Smith and Prop 13

Tonight at the City Council meeting someone making a public comment quoted Adam Smith. It sounded like it might be a misquote, so I checked. While the City Council debated the issue of whether the budget situation is very bad or really bad and who said it was really and who said it was very bad (you know, the really important stuff), I downloaded the Kindle version of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (it was free) and searched it. Turns out the quote was correct. Here's the full quote:

The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expense of government to the individuals of a great nation, is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate. In the observation or neglect of this maxim, consists what is called the equality or inequality of taxation. Every tax, it must be observed once for all, which falls finally upon one only of the three sorts of revenue above mentioned [rent, profit and wages], is necessarily unequal, in so far as it does not affect the other two.

Later in the meeting several descriptions of Prop 13 were offered, because the opponents of Measure F are claiming the measure somehow threatens Prop 13...as if we had such grand powers here in little Desert Hot Springs. The descriptions of Prop 13 were all different from each other and none were completely accurate, as far as I'm concerned. I don't know why it would fall to me explain Prop 13 to Californians who all have lived here longer than I, but here we go.

Prop 13 is now Article 13A of the California Constitution and it's not hard to understand. Right at the top, first thing:

SECTION 1. (a) The maximum amount of any ad valorem tax on real property shall not exceed One percent (1%) of the full cash value of such property.

You really don't need to read any further than that. There are details about paying off bonds issued before 1978 and special rules for school districts. Section 2 defines "Full Cash Value." Section 3 is the provision that requires a two-thirds vote in the Legislature for any tax increase, but no new ad valorem property taxes can be imposed.

The ad valorem property tax is the one that is tied to the value of the property. Prop 13 doesn't bar any other taxes. It says nothing about sales taxes, utility taxes, income tax or parcel taxes. The opponents of Measure F who are using the phrase "Protect Prop 13" to try to scare the voters are just lying.

Filed under California,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 20, 2014 at 09:43 PM | Comments (1)

#20: Pennsylvania

Judge John E. Jones wrote this today: "we hold that Pennsylvania's Marriage Laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because these laws are unconstitutional, we shall enter an order permanently enjoining their enforcement. By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth." Judge Jones was appointed to his seat by President G.W. Bush in 2002, upon a recommendation from Senator Rick Santorum. He is a Republican. He ruled in 2005 that a mandate to teach intelligent design in a public school was unconstitutional.

According to the Washington Post same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states plus DC (total of 20) now; there are 21 states where lawsuits are in process but have not yet reached the inevitable declaration that the state's laws are unconstitutional. There are 7 states where the laws have been declared unconstitutional, but there is an appeal ongoing. There are still three states that ban same-sex marriage where no lawsuit is yet underway (Montana and both Dakotas). See map here.

Read the full decision here. There is no stay. It is effective immediately and people are getting married in Pennsylvania as you read this.

The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of "separate but equal." See Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), overruling Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896). In the sixty years since Brown was decided, "separate" has thankfully faded into history, and only "equal" remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.

We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | May 20, 2014 at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

GoPro Lens Project

So you think you've got all the GoPro accessories you could ever need? Pish-posh, all accessories up to now have been mere dollhouse tea parties compared to the very manly Ribcage from Back-Bone. This allows you to use a whole range of lenses on your Hero 3 or 3+ Black Edition. It uses a C-Mount, which Back-Bone says is "hugely popular." So "hugely popular," in fact, I had to go look it up. When I first searched at B&H I found none, but it turns out that's because the C-Mount is used for motion picture cameras. B&H has a lot of those starting at $800 and going up to $15,224.95 (for that price you get a fully manual lens). The Ribcage also supports CS-Mount and M12. From those you can add any kind of adapter you need so you can use whatever lenses you already own. No automatic features of any lens will work, though. There are no electronic connections between the lens and camera.

I think anyone who would be seriously interested in this has already thought it through and realized that most (all) the GoPro housings for the camera will no longer work. The kit includes a tripod mount, so with that almost all your mounts should be theoretically usable, but when you take into account the extra weight of a bigger lens, a lot of the standard GoPro uses become impractical. It would not be advisable to fasten this on top of your helmet with a long zoom lens and then go do some trick riding. But the people at Back-Bone say it can still be used on a DJI Phantom 2 with M12 lenses that weigh less than 9 grams. Yeah, 9 grams! Turns out M12 lenses are tiny little things like this one that weighs only 6.8 grams.

One might reasonably ask, then, why would anyone want to do this? Sure, the Black edition has 4K, but only at 15 fps (that's NTSC; I had never noticed before that it's only 12.5 in PAL). Why not go buy a better camera with a bigger sensor? Part of the reason would be cost. The cheapest "pro" video camera with 4K at B&H is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 which is $1,700, weighs 560 grams and will give you 3840x2160 at 30fps or 4096x2160 at 24fps. The naked GoPro weighs 74 grams.

If you are already hot for this item, then you will want to go here to order your kit which costs only $249. But, if you would like those young people with good eyes and steady hands at Back-Bone do the labor for you, then you can order a GoPro Hero3+ Black with Ribcage already built in. The total cost for that is $849. The camera alone is supposed to be $400, $849 minus $400 for the camera minus $249 for the kit, leaves you with $200 labor for installing the kit. And why wouldn't any red-blooded adventurous photographer want to just do this for him or herself?

Here's one reason:
Disassembly Of Hero3 To Install Ribcage
Ignore those first four parts
, because those are the LCD back, battery, battery cover and microSD card - all things all GoPro owners remove routinely. But then you've got to gather together some tiny screwdrivers and other tools and start to take your precious Black apart piece by piece. The image above is less than one-third of the way through the modification video, which means there are still about 17 more minutes of tiny screws and delicate electronics.

Here is the exciting mod video itself which shows a Hero 3, but they point out when there are differences between the two models. At each step I wondered, hopefully, if we could stop now. But no, there seemed always to be another step where some part smaller than the previous part is removed with greater difficulty than the previous part, until you are finally left with 12 screws, a couple of pieces of tape and assorted internal camera parts.

Or you can pay them $200 to do it for you.

The Ribcage, once installed, also makes it fairly easy to remove the IR filter, allowing you to either shoot at night with an IR light source or shoot infrared by daylight. You should get an appropriate filter to remove most of the visible light frequencies for the best effect in daylight shots.

Back-Bone features 9 videos shot with Ribcage, but none are in 4K.

Here's a product review where the reviewer does NOT recommend the kit for anyone who does not already have experience in taking apart and repairing electronics, which is most of us. He says he has experience, but his palms got sweaty during the modification process.

Filed under GoPro,Photography | permalink | May 20, 2014 at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

Pacific Plate Meets North American Plate

Last week Russ Augustine invited a few of us to go on an extra-special deluxe Desert Adventures tour with him. Russ let me stick my GoPro out on the hood of his Jeep so I could get some interesting video. But first to set the scene:
San Andreas Fault
The green area is roughly where Wilhelm's Metate Ranch is located
, and that's where our tour took place. The red line is the Banning branch of the San Andreas fault while the blue line is the Mission Creek branch. One cannot imagine the tremendous geological pressures that occur with the subduction of the Pacific plate under the North American plate, but that doesn't stop anyone from talking about it. The Indio Hills that are formed between the two branches are part of the evidence on the surface of the San Andreas fault underneath.

0510 131842 Wilhelm's Metate Ranch
Not an ordinary sand dune
, those are tailings from the Granite Construction quarry.

0510 103206 Russ Augustine
Russ and his Jeep

0510 114136 Wilhelm's Metate Ranch

0510 105250 Wilhelm's Metate Ranch

The complete set of photos is here.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Photography | permalink | May 20, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Comments (1)

Interesting Marijuana Decision

In New Mexico yesterday the state Court of Appeals upheld a Worker's Compensation Judge's decision that a worker's employer and its insurer must pay for medical marijuana for an injured employee's severe back pain. I think we can be pretty sure the insurance industry will be appealing this somehow. It's much more informative than the news articles I could find. But before we go any further, you may be wondering what hippie-dippie judge made this decision. The decision was written by Judge James J. Wechsler who has been on the Court of Appeals for 20 years. He was an Assistant Attorney General for the state from 1976 to 1983. He served two terms as a State Bar Commissioner. He got his law degree at New York University 1969. If he goes to Burning Man, they left that out of his official bio.

The worker, Gregory Vialpando, was injured in 2000. He has "a combined whole body impairment rating of 43 percent to 46 percent, and the parties agreed that he had a 99 percent permanent partial disability." One doctor wrote that Mr. Vialpando suffered "from some of the most extremely high intensity, frequency, and duration of pain, out of all of the thousands of patients I've treated within my 7 years practicing medicine." Mr. Vialpando was taking "multiple narcotic based pain relievers [and] multiple anti-depressant medications."

The WC Act requires the employer to pay for "reasonable and necessary health care services from a health care provider." The definitive list of health care providers in the act does not specifically include "dispenser of medical marijuana" but it does include "any person or facility that provides health-related services in the health care industry, as approved by the director." "Services" are defined as "health care services, . . . procedures, drugs, products or items provided to a worker by an HCP [health care provider], pharmacy, supplier, caregiver, or freestanding ambulatory surgical center which are reasonable and necessary for the evaluation and treatment of a worker with an injury or occupational disease covered under [the Act] or the New Mexico Occupational Disease Disablement Law." The Judge says that the inclusion in the definition of "services" "items provided to a worker by" a "supplier" makes it broad enough to include medical marijuana if it is reasonable and necessary. He says that even though this would be sufficient, the Act can also be interpreted to include medical marijuana as a "prescription drug." Prescription drug is defined as "any drug, generic or brand name, which requires a written order from an authorized HCP [health care provider] for dispensing by a licensed pharmacist or authorized HCP."

The employer and insurance company argued that paying for medical marijuana would mean committing a federal crime. However, Judge Wechsler writes, "Employer does not cite to any federal statute it would be forced to violate, and we will not search for such a statute." We know that it violates federal law to possess, use or distribute marijuana, but is there a federal law against enabling a medical marijuana patient by paying for the drug? I dunno either. The Judge does include the federal Department of Justice's list of 8 areas where the federal government will continue to enforce its marijuana laws, none of which are legitimate medical uses such as this one. The Judge leaves it unstated that we are supposed to pretend that the DEA actually adheres to that tissue-thin policy.

This is the official DOJ list of areas in which federal law will be enforced,as provided in Judge Wechsler's decision:

  1. Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  2. Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
  3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
  4. Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
  5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
  6. Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
  8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

Filed under Marijuana | permalink | May 20, 2014 at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)