January 16, 2017
You may recall that a year or two ago Toyota was promoting one of their vehicles as "GoPro ready" because they had simply built in a standard GoPro attachment point somewhere. Pffft! Now Jaguar has come up with a car that really is "GoPro ready." You attach your smartphone to the car via USB (they skip over the part about how iPhone users will handle this) and attach the phone to your camera via Wi-Fi, and then let your camera record your driving. While that goes on, the Jaguar is recording all sorts of details about what the car is doing (speed, RPM, which gear, etc) which is then synched perfectly to the GoPro video. This will be excellent for professional drivers or those who just like to race illegally. Also, you could use it to monitor a teenager.
January 14, 2017
SpaceX Launch And Landing This Morning
If you don't want to watch the whole thing, start it at 22:25 which may seem a bit early, but I think you'll find it entertaining. There's some great photography on this 100% successful mission that launched from Vandenburg. Cameras on the first stage give you a few glimpses of much of the coast of California (mostly clear everywhere, it seems) as it ascends. You also get to watch the perfect descent from the POV of the first stage. The second stage gets screen time too.
Maybe I've just missed it before, but the speedometer constantly displayed in the upper right is new to me. I notice that the speedometer and the altimeter both have red lines. What happens if it red lines? It's not going to throw a rod. Does it mean it's overreached and achieved escape velocity? Milky Way here we come?
January 13, 2017
Photospots is supposed to point out popular photography spots. It does this using only the photos at 500px. Do you know anyone who uses that site? I don't. It seems to me that the mapping is based on some inaccurate data. For instance, the photo below is alleged to have been shot in City Hall Plaza in Boston. Some photos are tagged with the location of the subject rather than the location of the photographer.
The map has no search function that I can find. The only way to navigate is to zoom out and scroll. Continuing to look around in Massachusetts, there are no photos at Tanglewood. No photos from Provincetown. All of the photos shot on Cape Cod seem to have been taken in East Barnstable, except for one in Chatham. In New York City, only two photos were taken in Times Square. In Washington DC there are only three photos of the Washington Monument, one of which is located just a half block east of Dupont Circle! And the Jefferson Memorial is in the same place! No photos of the Lincoln Memorial. Zero photos of the Jefferson Memorial in the right location.
Moving on to the Coachella Valley, only one photo has been taken there and it's of the windmills along Indian north of Palm Springs. There are no photos of Coachella and only one photo of the Salton Sea, which is mislocated.
There are no photos of anything in Hollywood. None of the Griffith Observatory. There are four pictures of the Santa Monica pier, but only one of them is tagged on the pier. The others indicate the pier is at the intersection of Lincoln and Santa Monica Boulevards! No photos in or within a 3-mile radius of Disneyland, including Angel Stadium. No photos of the Hearst Castle. There are many photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, but almost all of them put the location of the bridge in the Civic Center. There are no photos of the UC Berkeley campus.
Maybe it works better in Europe where an entire 10 photos of the Eiffel Tower are identified, and all of them in the correct location! There are only eight photos shot at the Louvre and they include one of the Mona Lisa.
In Rio there are no photos of the Christ The Redeemer statue. In Egypt there is only one photo of a pyramid (but it's got a camel in it too!). In Jerusalem there are only five photos and none of them are of any landmark that I recognize. One photo in Bethlehem of men walking down the street. In Japan there are three photos of Mt. Fuji.
IOW, not ready.
January 11, 2017
Planning Commission January 10, 2017 - Cultivation, Cultivation, Cultivation, Cultivation
Commissioner Terifaj is no longer with the Planning Commission. Here's the form to fill out if you want to be part of shaping the future of DHS. Mayor Pro Tem Joe McKee is the one to make the appointment to fill this seat. Present tonight were Andrew Cirner, Scott De la Torre, Dirk Voss (Chair) and Cathy Romero.
The agenda this night consisted of four public hearings:
- A marijuana cultivator's tentative parcel map
- A CUP for a marijuana cultivation facility
- Amending a CUP to allow for marijuana cultivation in a dispensary
- Subdivision of land to be used for marijuana cultivation
Tentative Parcel Map for We Care DHS
The CUP for this grow facility got final approval back in August. The location is vacant land on Two Bunch Palms just west of the only cultivation site that is currently operational.
Conditional Use Permit and Development Agreement for A Green Culture DHS, Inc.
This location is the northeast corner of 15th Avenue and Little Morongo Road. 15th Avenue is just a dirt road there.
The building will have 22,479 square feet of cultivation area and greenhouse roofs, so their electric bill will be a bit lower. The design of the building includes two 9 x 12 feet rollup doors that the cultivators don't need, but the city has started adding requirements to the cultivators' CUPs that will make the building more likely to be useful for other purposes when the day comes that they decide not to cultivate there anymore.
CUP Amendment for Greenleaf Wellness
All marijuana dispensaries are permitted to grow up to 99 plants in Desert Hot Springs. When the CUP for Greenleaf Wellness was approved, however, the dispensary did not include any plans for the 1,315 s.f. basement. Now, they've got plans and they've come back for this amendment. The owner, Thom Miller was not present at the hearing.
Ted Mayerhofen commented that he had worked on this building before it was a dispensary. He thought there were security issues. He also said that delivery would have to be from the alley, and an ordinary truck would block that alley. OTOH, any delivery to any business in that little shopping center on the southwest corner of Buena Vista and Palm Drive could block an alley. Plus, I thought the main reason for alleys was using them to load and unload, because then the trucks are not blocking the main streets or taking up parking lot space. So what if it blocks a short alley for a short time? Later, the discussion of the Commission indicated that they understood a dispensary would have no large deliveries or shipments, so no big trucks would be in that alley anyway.
Commissioner Cirner raised the question of ADA access to the basement. In the floor plan above you can see there is a stairway coming down from the first floor and one door that exits to the exterior. It looks to me like that's the door that opens onto the stairway that goes up to Palm Drive. That would mean this basement space is not 100% beneath the dispensary, as it seems to extend to the eastmost end of the building.
The stairway from the one exterior door is on the left side of the building.
This would certainly not seem to be ADA compliant. Do small business have to conform to ADA when doing major renovations? I think they do. Installing an elevator in this building would, it seems to me, be very cost prohibitive. This cultivation space may never come to be.
The vote was 2-2, making it a denial. Commissioners Cirner and De la Torre voted against. Mr. Cirner had brought up the ADA issue, but Mr. De la Torre never expressed his concerns about the project. Then a motion was made to continue the hearing to next month's hearing (February 14) so some of their questions could get answered and to give the owner the opportunity to show up and explain. That motion was approved 4-0.
Coachillin Holdings Tentative Parcel Map
Before discussion started on this one Charles Rangel introduced himself as the new Interim Community Development Director.
Coachillin Holdings propose to build the biggest cultivation site in the city on Indian Canyon between 18th and 19th. You may have already noticed that there has been some grading there. The land is vacant, but the Google satellite view below is recent enough to show some of the grading.
The site is 150 acres and the developer proposes to subdivide it into 40 parcels. Mr. Rangel said that staff recommended this item be continued...again. This is not the first time this has come before the Commission and been continued. Part of the reason this time is that the developer handed a new map to the city on the very day of this meeting. That map would need to be reviewed by both the planning department and fire department before the staff could make any recommendation on that.
Another, bigger reason for the continuance is that the property has on it what the Army Corps of Engineers calls a blue-line stream. Here's the definition of blue-line stream as given by the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District:
Blue Line Stream - Any stream shown as a solid or broken blue line on 7.5 Minute Series quadrangle maps prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey (USGS). A blue line stream may be any creek, stream or other flowing water feature, perennial or ephemeral, indicated on USGS quadrangle maps, with the exception of man-made watercourses. The United States Army Corps of Engineers uses USGS blue line stream markings as a preliminary indicator of “Waters of the United States”. Streams identified on USGS maps in such a manner are therefore generally subject to federal environmental regulations.
A USGS map of the site. That's I-10 at the bottom. Dillon Road runs across the top of the map. It shows that "blue-line stream" coming down from the north, crossing Dillon and then Indian, then parallelling Indian as it crosses Coachillin's property. You can make it out in a regular Google satellite view, but it's also been used by off roaders, which somewhat obscures it. Before they can do anything on that site they need a sign off from the Army Corps of Engineers which will state, in effect, that they don't expect to be sending any ships up that stream, nor do they plan to dam it for hydropower or irrigation. BUT, the guy who does that at the Army Corps of Engineers retired in November and it seems he has not been replaced. Kenny Dickerson who represented Coachillin Holdings at this meeting, suggested that if both he and Interim Community Development Director Rangel went together to the Army Corps, they would get some action.
Coachillin Holdings disagrees with the requirement to put sidewalks on the streets around the project (except along Indian Canyon - there will be a sidewalk there). They also object to sidewalks inside their property. Their reasoning is that sidewalks make it easier for nefarious people to get closer to their valuable product. What a lot of nonsense. If your security plans are overwhelmed by simply providing evil doers a level path to walk on, then your security plans need a lot of beefing up. Every dispensary, every cultivator, everybody actually, puts in sidewalks. Never have I heard an argument that sidewalks attract crime. That sort of non-logic is usually used when a city is planning to extend a subway line or bike path, because everyone knows most stolen TVs are transported by either bicycle or mass transit. Crooks never have cars.
Coachillin is paying to build the roads around its facility. The sidewalks are a only a small part of that. Why would the city want to force people to walk in the street in an industrial zone?
Mr. Dickerson said that he would redo his proposal so that it only dealt with the parcels to the rear, which the blue-line stream doesn't cross. Mr. Rangel said that wouldn't help, because the Army Corps of Engineers would also have to sign off on a decision that the blue-line stream doesn't cross those parcels.
These are the remaining issues that still must be resolved before the Planning Commission can make a decision. Rather than bringing this proposal back month after month simply to approve a continuance, the Planning Commission voted to table it, meaning it hasn't been rejected and it isn't scheduled for a decision. Whenever Coachillin can get all their ducks in a row, they'll come back to the Commission.
Special Meeting, Tuesday, January 31
Mr. Rangel said there is a bit of a backlog of proposed cultivation facilities that are ready for the Commission, so the Commission agreed to a special meeting on the 31st to review some of those.
January 10, 2017
At CES "The Kodakery" spoke with several representatives from Kodak. Most of the discussion is about their Super 8 camera, but near the end Steven Overman discussed the return of Ektachrome and tosses off the comment that they are also "investigating" what it would take to bring back Kodachrome.
Here's the part with the "iconic films" discussion:
The television series Trackdown really did produce an episode featuring a "Trump" character who came to town claiming that only he could prevent the end of the world by building a wall (and also sold special force propelling umbrellas to deflect meteorites). The episode (S1, E30) aired on CBS in 1958 and was titled "The End of the World," featuring actor Lawrence Dobkin playing the role of "Walter Trump."
January 3, 2017
Live Like Howard Hughes
This, yes this, was a residence of Howard Hughes. It’s on the market now for only $1.2 million. The real estate company has much nicer photos.
January 2, 2017
I'm just home from three nights of camping at Tecopa Hot Springs. The water there is as odorless as the hot water in Desert Hot Springs. Below is a comparison of the minerals between DHS and Tecopa.
Information on the Desert Hot Springs Aquifer came from Two Bunch Palms Resort. The numbers for Tecopa's hot mineral water came from Delight's. Units are PPM. ND = "Not Detected." I would appreciate it if anyone who can fill in a blank spot would leave a comment with the data.
|Hydrogen-ion Activity (ph)||8.4||7.5|
Another difference that I only noticed this time (although it's never changed) is that in Tecopa, they are pumping a LOT of water into the hot tubs, 24 hours a day. I couldn't give you an objective estimate of gallons per minute, but I'll say that in DHS the flow of the water into and out of any particular hot tub is pretty subtle. The owner of the place could tell you if the water is flowing, otherwise you'd probably never notice. At the county baths in Tecopa the water is gushing into the first tub and roaring as it pours out of the second tub on its journey back into the ground. You have to really speak up to be heard over the water.
I counted the cinder blocks so I can tell you that the second tub at Tecopa is 16 feet long...and after that I forgot to do any more counting. I'd estimate the width at 10 feet. I didn't count any cinder blocks in the first tub, but it's roughly the same volume. One night when I was there, someone slapped what looked like a plastic bucket lid over the drain (which is just a 6-inch hole) in the second pool. This completely stopped the outflow and made it possible to talk at a normal volume. Over a period of about half an hour I watched the water level rise about six inches. With another couple of inches it would have started to run out into the dressing area. They pulled that plug off when they left.
Tecopa is showing astounding (for Tecopa) signs of prosperity for such a tiny, remote, and harsh town. There's a brewery. My big question was: What is the source of their water? There is no drinking water aquifer there. All the springs are hot mineral springs. Here's what I found on their website: "Now, we hearken back to the days when miners lived there and brewed their own beer with the same artesian water which flows daily from the natural springs." Maybe they run it through reverse osmosis to bring it closer to potability...or maybe not! For those Tecopans who drink more beer than water, this could be a risk.
The Bistro restaurant is still there, but I hear it's gone through a number of personnel changes. The food is still good (AMAZINGLY good for this outpost of civilization). I had the pork chops. All the guys said that the night before the pork chops were wonderful. Mine were dry and overcooked. They do pizza and there is no additional charge for additional toppings! Pig out! The best thing about the place, though, is the people. They are seriously understaffed (especially on New Year's Eve), but all the staff are really great. Service is slow, but very willing to customize to your pleasure. Prices are not bad at all ($21 for those pork chops). When I was there it was almost like being at a party. On their menu you will find a few dishes with scorpions in them. I asked, so I can tell you the scorpions are canned in alcohol in Thailand, so they come into the U.S. as food and it's about as safe as eating a dead Thai scorpion can be. When someone orders a scorpion dish, it's a big show...and not like those restaurants where the entire staff turns out to sing you a really bad birthday song. One of the staff comes out carrying a bullhorn and an instant camera (you know, nueva Polaroid style) along with the food. She'll ask you to hold the scorpion in front of your open mouth while she takes a picture. I was told they have no flavor, but are crunchy and fairly hard to chew, according to three local experts, ages 6, 7 and 8. They all ate scorpions that night. For some this was a repeat adventure. And then they came over and wanted to tell us their ages! There's a lot of screaming, cheering and applauding when a scorpion is successfully swallowed.
A scorpion eater is supposed to write his name on the instant photo and then it gets pinned up to their wall of fame.
There was a table of four young people, two men, two women, seated boy-girl-boy-girl, so if I were to stereotype I'd guess heterosexual dates. The men ordered a scorpion dish (ice cream and some cake in a big bowl), one took a selfie as he held it in front of his mouth—and then he put it back into the ice cream! He didn't swallow! The other guy didn't eat one either, so we got to find out what happens with failures like this. The nice lady with the bullhorn announces to the room "We've got a couple of chicken shits right here!" and the crowd goes wild.
BTW, this is a BYO alcohol place.
Further up the road, there is now a McNeal's BBQ at the entrance road to Delight's. Some of us went there this morning for breakfast. They have a very brief menu, but the waitress named off a list of other dishes they had that was longer than the menu. They should probably just print out new menus every day on plain 8½x11. The staff was great...as staff seems to be everywhere in Tecopa. Outside of Burning Man, I've never seen such a bunch of hardworking, nice, and apparently quite honest people.
But the food at McNeal's. Urgh. I had the brisket sandwich. In Kansas City a barbecue brisket sandwich is a couple of slices of white sandwich bread laid out side by side on a plate, topped with a big pile of sliced brisket with some dill chips and something like coleslaw on the side. At Gates BBQ in Kansas City that would cost you $5.75. It might be more than some people can eat. At McNeal's where all the meat is smoked for 15 hours, the brisket sandwich (their only other meat option is pulled pork - no chicken, no ribs) was a hamburger bun laid open face on top of which was shredded cabbage with no dressing at all (they called it "coleslaw") and a small amount of cubed brisket (I've never seen it cubed) that was dry and not very flavorful. Ten bucks. The pulled pork looked like a much better deal and the guys who ordered that said they thought it was very good. They got a much larger quantity of meat and sauce.
I didn't notice the most obvious lack at the table until someone asked the waitress for barbecue sauce!! She brought out one cold bottle of a thin red sauce. I put some on my brisket and it didn't seem to add flavor or moisture. At any other barbecue restaurant I would have tasted a couple of straight spoonfuls of the sauce, but I didn't even think of it, I was already so disappointed with what I had.
I'd say go there and try it. Mine was so bad it had to have been a fluke. They had been closed the day before, so my brisket may have been left from Saturday night. Order anything but the brisket (they have vegetarian choices) and just enjoy the Tecopa ambiance. They've got a big screen TV and play music (possibly satellite) and there's a large area of the floor that's clear, just about the right amount of space if some people wanted to dance.
I was there for three nights with Great Outdoors. I was the only one in a tent, my nice windtight tent, not the lightweight cool one I took to Burning Man, so I was always comfortable in there. But most of the time it was too cold (and sometimes windy) to sit outside. There was always, of course, the hot water tubs across the street. The cost of camping ($22/night for a spot with electricity) includes unlimited usage of the hot water tubs. One night we held a potluck dinner inside the RV that had the biggest popout. I brought my last package of Hydrox cookies. Most of the guys had never heard of them...and they were all of an age that the original Hydrox should have been available in their yoots. Maybe Sunshine Biscuit company was not entirely nationwide.
Neglected to mention for those new to the subject, the county hot tubs are sex-segregated with mandatory nudity. Very popular with immigrants from Korea, but it's not at all in the style of a Korean spa. Besides the group tubs, there is a third private hot tub room that is handicapped accessible and can be rented by anyone for their private enjoyment.
Here's your county campground on the west side of the roadway, and your county hot tubs on the east side and a bit to the northish. I never knew until I looked at this aerial view that the county tubs had one outdoor tub in back...or on the women's side.