January 2, 2017

Tecopa Update

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.

DHS Aquifer
(hot)
Tecopa
Aluminum Oxide ND0.2
Bicarbonate 39668
Calcium 317.2
Chloride 120371
Fluoride 6.22.4
Hydrogen-ion Activity (ph) 8.47.5
Iron Oxide ND0.094
Magnesium ND9.7
Silica 0.53 
Sodium 300725
Sulphate 470497.5
Lithium 0.24 
Lead4
Boron9.2
Selenium8
Potassium22.3
Arsenic0.24
CarbonatesND45.2

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.

The county-owned campground and hot tubs use this website: tecopahotspringscampground.com which is not to be confused with the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort (tecopahotsprings.org) next door.

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.

permalink | January 2, 2017 at 09:54 PM | Comments (3)

September 16, 2016

Rats

Using dry ice to exterminate rats in their burrows in Boston, Chicago and New York.

permalink | September 16, 2016 at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 8, 2016

Finally!

For those young men who are confused by demonstrations using bananas, zucchinis or sausages, Ellis Lacy uses the best sort of phallus: his own erect penis. No ambiguity there.

permalink | July 8, 2016 at 01:42 PM | Comments (2)

April 23, 2016

Seeing Clearly Underwater

Here's an article about the children in a Thailand tribe who can see clearly while swimming underwater. The researchers ruled out genetics and have determined that the children learn to voluntarily contract their pupils to their smallest size and change the shape of their lenses. A group of Swedish children learned to do it in one month. The ability disappears in adults.

permalink | April 23, 2016 at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2016

The Desert Hot Springs Marijuana Meeting

Everything you missed at last night's meeting. For the most part, a very interesting couple of hours. That is I, in the red t-shirt on the left of the screen as the video starts.

And this:

"I am a very conservative individual. I have totally done a 180 on my opinion" regarding marijuana, said [Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott] Matas, who describes himself as a right-of-center registered Republican.

permalink | April 21, 2016 at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2016

Three Cultivations Sites And One Dispensary Approved

I listened to last night's meeting of the Planning Commission from my private personal health facility, where I can exercise my right shoulder and hack up my left lung without disturbing the general public. Got to keep track of which marijuana facility is going where.

Last night the commission approved three more cultivation sites and one more dispensary.

Desert's Finest Patient's Cooperative

The dispensary (Lawrence Bynum - Desert's Finest Patient's Cooperative) is going to occupy the long-former location of Thai Palms on the northeast corner of Palm and Acoma. FINALLY, something to fill that blank in a prominent corner location. This is certainly going to be the most visible dispensary right here in the city. The site, which the dispensary will be renting, is connected also to the empty lot just east across the alley. There will be parking in that lot and quite a bit of discussion was about how MUCH of it would be used. There also was a general lamentation about the planning standards of the 1940s and '50s in this town. Yup. That's our legacy.

The site will have no more than one green cross displayed, and that will be painted on the south-facing Acoma side of the building. There will be potted plants along Acoma as well, including a few palm trees.

Desert's Finest Patient's Cooperative-interior plan
You can see on this interior plan
that the dispenary's space includes the area behind the barber shop next door. More than half of the space can be used for cultivation. This is, as far as I can recall, a larger space than at other dispensaries in town, but all the dispensaries are limited to 99 mature plants.

Approved unanimously.

After the approval, there was some discussion about a billboard on Palm that can be seen as you are coming into the city that is promoting a low price at some dispensary. I don't recall seeing that sign, but there did used to be a sign that you could see as you headed south on Palm Drive that advertised "Home of the $5 Gram," but that was for PSA Organica, which is one of the newer dispensaries in Palm Springs. The city attorney explained to the commission what the city was able to control and NOT able to control in public advertising. At least one commissioner thought advertising like that could sully the image of the city as "Dime bag DHS. While it did look like the low class sort of advertising you can find in Los Angeles, I think some price competition between dispensaries could be beneficial to the patients.

DHS Diversified

The first cultivation site on the agenda last night was by Ryan Po of DHS Diversified located at 65441 Two Bunch Palms Trail. That building has been used as a recycling center up to now.

One thing I have not heard is where are the tenants of these industrial buildings that are being snapped up for marijuana cultivation, relocating to? The Pentecostal church surely has enough money from its sale to relocate into a residential area of the city, but the industrial businesses must be leaving town. There are no spare buildings in our industrial zone now, and anyone who tried to buy a site to put up a new building would be competing with the marijuana industry. I hope all these cultivation sites become fully developed and employ as many people has they have been saying they will.

An advantage to going into an existing building, is that electric service is already there. Mr. Po said he has 400 amps, which was plenty.

Approved unanimously

Blue Mango

Kamran Amirianfar for Blue Mango was there last night for two different sites, each requiring a separate CUP. The Planning Commission handled them separately. The first will be at 65118 San Jacinto Lane; the second at 65265 San Jacinto Lane.

Cultivation Sites at April 12 2016 Planning Commission
This map shows all three cultivation sites that the Planning Commission addressed last night
. Here's a live map link.

The interior of 65118 is divided into 18 separate units which have been rented out to industrial tenants. The interior will be redone to create space for four large cultivation rooms and five smaller rooms for curing, processing, shipping, etc. Chair Romero encouraged them to removed the ficus and palm trees that decorate the street frontage, to be replaced with more drought tolerant plants.

65265 San Jacinto Lane will not require nearly as much work to re-arrange the interior. They'll keep most of the existing interior partitions and have two large, interconnected, double-deck growing rooms. The interior features a mezzanine from which, I imagine, one could gaze across the big spread of green leafy plants, as any farmer likes to do. They will also be cultivating up on the mezzanine.

Both sites were approved unanimously.

Vinyl Fencing

The single non-marijuana item the Planning Commission considered was a request to be permitted to erect vinyl fencing on top of existing "retaining walls" between new homes in the Gallery Vista Santa Fe homes at the northern end of Sonora Drive. The agenda packet describes them as "retaining walls," but it seems unlikely there would be an actual retaining wall between each house, unless they were built on a fairly steep hillside. Nevertheless, the fencing was proposed only between the newest homes (which I think are Coachella Valley Housing Coalition sweat equity homes). There would be no vinyl fencing facing the street.

The Planning Commission rejected the request.

permalink | April 13, 2016 at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2016

DHS Planning Commission - March 8, 2016

Box Score
Dispensaries approved: 3
Total dispensaries approved: 12
Dispensaries open: 5
Dispensaries denied: 1 (technically a continuation, but it's going to be denied)
Cultivation facilities approved: 1
____

Dirk Voss presiding at first, as Chair Cathy Romero was late, but Ms. Romero arrived before the Commission had even approved the agenda.

City Manager Magaña and Financial Director Tanner spoke at length about the budget and taxes. After years of underspending and cutbacks, whaddayaknow, there's a lot of critical stuff that's going to start failing. Like staff, even. And some taxes are going to expire. [My editorial: meanwhile the City Council (well, three of 'em) have voted not to even study new or revised taxes.] But I'll spare you the really bad news.

As with last month's report, just the marijuana:

Benno Pabst and Valley Compassionate Care

This is a proposed CUP for a medical marijuana dispensary at 11522 Palm Drive, which is the southeast corner of 4th and Palm, the old chiropractor's office which is 1,207 square feet. Parking for 6 vehicles is proposed to be on the south side of the building (where there may also be a mural) with access via the alley. Four head-in parking spaces on 4th will be eliminated.

Commissioner Cirner recused himself due to a possible conflict of interest.

Benno Pabst was not present this night for health reasons, but his representative was there and spoke. Pabst owns the building outright.

There was a lot of discussion about the parking. Staff had first laid it out with diagonal parking so that patients would drive in from the alley and exit on Palm Drive. The Commission thought it would seem more sensible to drivers coming up Palm Drive to reversed that. Now, the thing I wonder about is left turns from southbound traffic. That entrance on Palm Drive is only 25 feet away from 4th Street.

Approved 4-0.

Yes, there will be two dispensaries directly across the street from each, so there will be no need to run across Palm Drive at night wearing dark clothes, right? And that ought to solve the problem of left turns too.


Lisa Lozano and Stephanie Bodde and Desert Hot Springs Dispensary

Another proposed CUP for a medical marijuana dispensary. This one was continued from last month. You may recall that potential neighbor Rose Mortuary raised objections about inadequate parking. There were other issues as well.

Proposed Location for Lisa Lozano and Stephanie Bodde and Desert Hot Springs Dispensary (0390

Chair Romero said that she could see all of the issues she had with this CUP had been addressed.

Thomas Moen, manager of Rose Mortuary, said he was concerned a dispensary could conflict with his business. Parking only in the street is still an issue.

Michelle and Michael Lally both expressed their support for medical marijuana generally, and spoke well of Stephanie Bodde. Mr. Lally also criticized Rose Mortuary, saying they both serve the same community, one in life and one in death.

David Lally (son of Michelle and Michael, if you hadn't guessed) talked about the tax benefits to the city. He described the personal experience with medical marijuana by a friend.

Jordan Bratonburg, owner of Rose Mortuary, also shared a personal experience in his family. He was concerned that some of his clientele would be offended by the proximity of the dispensary.

The applicant said that her security guard would not let her clients park in the Rose Mortuary parking lot.

Vice Chair Voss said that he, too, was concerned about the parking situation, especially the lack of a designated handicapped parking space. He also wanted to clarify what will happen with the small house in the rear of the property. He said this is the wrong location for a dispensary.

Commissioner De La Torre said he agreed with Mr. Voss.

Commissioner Terifaj said these were all the same issues brought up last month and that she, too, thought it was a poor location for the dispensary.

Rich Malacoff asked the Commissioners to specify which findings in the prepared CUP the Commission would determine had not been met. Then staff would use that information to craft a legal resolution of denial and bring it back next month. Staff prepared only the positive resolution of approval for the agenda packet, not wasting time on a negative just in case.

Ms. Terifaj cited the parking issue as the reason to deny.

The applicant came back to the podium to say that an elderly gentleman lives in the house in the rear and that he is a member of her collective. She does not want to kick him out so that she can tear down the house for parking. She was not aware of any problems with parking until this meeting. (It did come up as an issue the previous month, though.)

The Chair reopened the public hearing at the suggestion of the city attorney.

The applicant said she had an informal parking survey done at the Brown Dog dispensary which is east of Palm on Pierson. Over the course of a week there was only one time during the day when there were three cars there and the overlap was for only two minutes. In the evenings there would sometimes be as many as three cars there. She expects the same traffic at her dispensary. Street parking would handle that small amount.

Vice Chair Voss moved to continue this until next month at which time staff will have prepared the proper denial paperwork. Approved 5-0.


Eduardo Rivera and D.H.S. Alternative Healing Corporation

How about another CUP for a medical marijuana dispensary? This one is also continued from last month (and the month before that, IIRC). The continuance was to allow a neighbor to come in and comment on this. No changes have been made from last month. This one is going to be at 66328 Pierson Boulevard.

>Proposed Location For Eduardo Rivera and D.H.S. Alternative Healing Corporation (0388)

Unfortunately, the aggrieved neighbor did not show up. There were no public comments at all.

Vice Chair Voss moved to approve with the additional requirement that there be no neon lighting. Approved 5-0.


Dino Sogoyan - Desert Hot Springs, Collective, Ltd.

This item is a CUP for a medical marijuana dispensary to be located at 66292 Pierson Boulevard. That's just to the east of Wiefels Mortuary.

66292 Pierson Boulevard (0326)

The monument sign in front of the building will have to be upgraded to meet current sign standards. The applicant is buying the property and said he plans to tear down that monument sign.

Commissioner Cirner moved to approve with the additional requirement that they come up with a different color scheme (and no neon). Approved 5-0.


Adrian Sedlin - Canndescent, MBC

This is for a CUP for a marijuana cultivation facility at 65334 Two Bunch Palms Trail, which is currently occupied by an auto repair business and tire recycling business. The two buildings are about 4,800 square feet each.

The applicant says he hopes to be operating by June 15.

Vice Chair Voss moved to approve with the addition of a ban on neon signs. Approved 5-0.


Other Things

The Planning Commission also approved a design review and development permit for a warehouse and retail facility for Angel View on Dillon Road.

They also appointed Andrew Cirner to the Arts District Committee.

permalink | March 13, 2016 at 09:47 AM | Comments (1)

March 2, 2016

The Current State Of Tecopa Hot Springs

I stopped in at Tecopa Hot Springs briefly on my way home from Death Valley yesterday. This is my first time visiting since the change in management. Things are much better now! Open 24 hours (yay!), only $7, the new personnel are VERY friendly and helpful, they put up a really nice new website, and they've moved their point-of-sale operations to the little kiosk that you walk through to get to the bathhouses where it was intended to be, not in the building 100 feet away.

Inside the bathhouses, everything was pretty much the same. They still have a nominal rule against bottles of water that most guys ignored. Also, irrelevant to the subject, last night everyone there was (half a dozen guys) white, old and anti-Trump.

permalink | March 2, 2016 at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2016

PG-Rated Site For Sex Toys

An Israeli rabbi has started a website that sells sex toys AND is acceptable to ultra-orthodox Jews. No nudity, no profanity.

Here's the site, BeBetter2gether. Besides toys it includes a good chunk of sex education too.

permalink | January 13, 2016 at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2015

Public Health Problem or Public Safety Problem?

Here's an opinion piece in the Washington Post comparing the battle against tobacco with the "war on drugs." The ban on TV and radio ads for tobacco began under the Nixon administration, as did the war on drugs. Tobacco was treated as a public health issue. Drugs were criminalized. The end result? Tobacco use has declined by a huge percentage, especially among children. Drugs? No change.

According to the Monitoring the Future report, daily use of marijuana by 12th-graders was at 6 percent in 1975; in 2014, it was 5.8 percent. The picture with heroin has shown similar stability. In 1975, 1 percent of 12th-graders had used heroin within the year. In 2000 that figure was 1.5 percent. In 2014 it was down to 0.6 percent, but it may be climbing again.

The war on drugs has done nothing except increase the costs of law enforcement and engendered a generalized disrespect for law enforcement...just as alcohol prohibition did.

permalink | December 30, 2015 at 06:49 PM | Comments (0)