March 13, 2017
Joshua Tree Moonrise
I shot this in Joshua Tree National Park this past Saturday. When you buy (and register) a GoPro camera, you get access to GoPro's library of royalty-free music, including the over-wrought stuff you hear in a lot of GoPro videos. So I thought it might be fun to waste some of that here.
March 9, 2017
The End Of Medbox
Faithful readers will surely recall my earlier posting about the marijuana vending machine by Medbox. Now it seems it was all a stock scam. They settled with the SEC for $12 million. Now the litigants are in line for their take.
March 8, 2017
The IKEA $500 Bicycle
The author, who doesn't sound real handy, finished assembly in only 67 minutes. One presumes he did this without yelling at his kids or kicking the dog.
- 33 pounds
- Has a kickstand
- Disc brake on the front!!
- Coaster brake on the rear!!
- Belt drive
- Two speeds, but that doesn't matter because it shifts automatically and the rider has no control over it
- Rear rack is $25 extra
- Front basket (partly made with bamboo) is $35
- All the prices are lower if you have an IKEA Family card, which you can get from a vending machine near the entrance. Bike $399, rear rack $20, front basket $25
- They will also sell you a pannier (one) for $30 ($20) in either brilliant yellow, black or purple.
Looks like it should be a good Burner bike.
Tesloop - Palm Springs to Las Vegas
March 7, 2017
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
The recent weekend that I was camping at Tecopa with Great Outdoors, some of us took a trip to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, which is in Nevada, not far from Death Valley Junction, California. My goal was to see the (somewhat) famous Devil's Hole. While the refuge is managed by US Fish and Wildlife Service, Devil's Hole, which was protected well before the refuge was created, is managed by the National Park Service. Devil's Hole is the only place to find Devil's Hole pupfish. There are less than 200 of them living there. There are other isolated bodies of water in the refuge that also host their own unique varieties of pupfish.
No one has found the bottom of Devil's Hole, if there is one. Divers have disappeared down there. The natives believed that Devil's Hole created earthquakes all around the world. Today's science has shown that in reality Devil's Hole is super-sensitive to earthquakes around the world. A well known instance of this was demonstrated in 2012 when there was an earthquake in Oaxaca, 1900 miles away, on March 20. Here's a video of what happened at Devil's hole 13 minutes after the quake (the shockwave had to travel at 8,770 MPH - the speed of sound in air is only 767 MPH):
Devil's Hole was most recently in the news due to a few people trespassing and vandalizing it in April 2016. Here's the security video. According to our docent at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, the men attempted to disable all the security cameras, but obviously missed some. Once the reward for information was increased to $25,000 a friend of the men came forward to identify them. DNA left by the men in their vomit, on their beer cans and discarded underwear(!) cinched identification. Besides all their damage to the habitat, they did kill at least one pupfish which is a federal felony. One of the men was an ex-felon, so he could also be charged for possessing a firearm. I haven't been able to find any information on what they were finally convicted of and the sentences given, so maybe the case is still not completely settled.
To my complete surprise, rather than being isolated on a barren desert, Ash Meadows NWR is a wet and almost lush landscape where the Devil's Hole is located. I never heard the word "endemic" used so often with this meaning: "restricted or peculiar to a locality or region endemic diseases an endemic species." From Wikipedia:
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was established to provide and protect habitat for at least twenty-six endemic plants and animals, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. Four fish and one plant are currently listed as endangered species.
The concentration of locally exclusive flora and fauna distinguishes Ash Meadows is the greatest concentration of endemic biota in any local area within the United States. It has the second greatest local endemism concentration in all of North America.
A new city that was proposed for development in what is now Ash Meadows NWR. The predicted population of the city would have drained the aquifer there, destroying all of the springs and killing most of those endemic species, including pupfish.
A video of one of several streams that flow continuously in the Ash Meadows NWR. Water from the refuge drains to the Amargosa River which drains into Death Valley, where it goes no further, of course.
March 6, 2017
P-45: The Studly Mountain Lion King of Malibu
Here's a really interesting New Yorker article about the mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountains which run from Malibu to Griffith Park. The highways have isolated this area, in terms of mountain lions traveling. P-45, however, was able to cross a highway to get into this genetic island and sow his genes. The article describes the isolation of the mountain lions which may result in their extinction (in the Santa Monica Mountains) within 50 years...which is why a land bridge is going to be built in Agoura Hills.
On this map you can see the underpass at Liberty Canyon that they believe P-45 may have used to get across the 101 and into the Santa Monica Mountains. You can see there are gaps in the residential developments there that would allow a mountain lion to pass through without having to deal directly with humans. This is where the land bridge will be built.
February 28, 2017
Amargosa Opera House & Death Valley Junction
I was camping with Great Outdoors at Tecopa Hot Springs this past weekend. One day we took a little drive up to Death Valley Junction to see the Amargosa Opera House. My first visit there. Read all about the opera house and hotel here. Marta Becket died January 30, 2017, at age 92.
February 19, 2017
OMG! OMG! OMG!
The Broad Museum
The Nazis by Piotr Uklański
These are photographs of actors who played Nazi officers.
The Broad Museum Lobby. The stack of giant plates is simply No Title by Robert Therrien. I think I could come up with a name easily.
The Broad provides two windows through which you can view their storage area. I've never heard of something like this before. This is the first time I've seen museum storage. I overbrightened this photo to bring out details in the shadows.
February 16, 2017
Can You Find The SpaceX Building?
Put on your spectacles!
February 6, 2017
Carjacked 1,200 Pounds Of Marijuana
In Pomona! They were caught when they were spotted from the police helicopter unloading the weed in the "700 block of Washington." So I went to Google maps to look at the aerial view to see if possibly there were other indications.
Planning Commission - January 31, 2017
This was a special meeting of the Planning Commission to deal with the heavy marijuana workload. There are currently only four Planning Commissioners. Those two statements aren't directly connected. It's city staff that has a heavy marijuana workload and, coincidentally, there are only four commissioners for now.
Basement Cultivation at Green Leaf Wellness
This item was the agenda for the January 10 Planning Commission meeting, but was continued because the owner of the dispensary didn't show up. Now, on January 31, the owner was present.
Commissioner De La Torre asked if the cultivation area in the basement extended under any neighboring business, such as the nail salon. City staff said it did not. Aw, too bad, because when I first saw these plans I could tell that it would extend under the nail salon. When the owner came to the podium he explained that the basement did, in fact, go under the nail spa. The point of that question was to determine whether an additional fire alarm should be installed in the nail salon, in case of a fire in the basement. The owner went on to list security measures he was putting in place, such as hardening the exit doors and installing card readers so he can track every employee who goes into a cultivation room.
Commissioner Cirner asked about ADA compliance. The plans show only two ways to access the basement and both of them are stairways. Rather than answer that question, the owner described more security measures he was putting in place. Mr. Cirner seemed to accept that as an answer. At the end of the meeting I asked Community Development Director Rangel about ADA requirements. His answer was, basically, that full ADA access in this space would be cost prohibitive. Yes, of course, but I didn't know you could compromise on ADA improvements solely because of their cost.
Someone (I could neither see nor hear who) moved to approve with the addition of an alarm in the nail salon connected to the fire detection system in the basement, Mr. Cirner seconded. Approved 4-0.
Tentative Parcel Map by DHS Properties, LLC
This is an empty 14.9 acre lot on Little Morongo Road north of Two Bunch Palms Trail. This tentative parcel map is for condominium purposes for marijuana cultivation. The agenda packet showed the applicant to be DHS Properties, LLC, but staff said the applicant was David Snyder.
The CUP for this parcel was approved in November 2015.
With no discussion or public comments, Commissioner Romero moved for approval, Mr. Cirner seconded, approved 4-0.
Four Parcels on Cabot Road
These four parcels are all adjacent and all will be used for cultivation. But there are two owners and some differences between each parcel, so this item includes FOUR CUPs, two development agreements and one mitigated negative declaration. (No partridges.) The two owners are Cabot Building Partners and DHS Therapeutics. It's on the east side of Cabot Road, a couple of empty lots south of Two Bunch Palms Trail. 6.29 empty acres.
Commissioner Cirner moved for approval with the addition of two lights on poles, seconded by Commissioner De La Torre, approved 4-0.
The entire meeting wrapped up in only 35 minutes.
February 3, 2017
Finnish Motorcycle Chase
Here’s a rare video. It's a police chase (ho hum) but it's motorcycle chasing motorcycle in Finland! With no cuts, this video is almost 34 minutes long, but the first 8 minutes and 15 seconds is nothing but what the cop happened to be doing for the 8 minutes and 15 seconds before he leaped into action. I assume it was a radio call that got him going. I can't see any motorcyclist breaking any obvious traffic rules that would have triggered him. So this video starts at the 8:15 point.
I wish I knew why this guy was being chased. The chase pushes him to make a lot of dangerous maneuvers and the chasing cop copies him in almost every move. Obviously, other people on the road were endangered. But there doesn't seem to be the sort of congestion I'm used to seeing in an American city - neither people nor traffic.
In the video you won't hear the cop relaying his location and direction to dispatch, as you would in America. I don't know of any maneuvers that can be performed by a chasing motorcycle cop to force the other one to stop. Can't do a pit maneuver. So it would seem his only hopes of catching this guy were either he'd run out of gasoline, or he'd make a mistake and crash, or the chased would simply give up, or other police would get ahead of the chase to try to block him off. But help never arrives. At least three times a police van appears ahead of him, sitting in the road. Once it looks like that cop is there only to control traffic while the chase goes through. In the other two appearances, the cops with the vans appear to be doing nothing, but if the chased man wanted to surrender and get a nice ride back to jail, they were there to serve.
Notice the one surprising scene where our cop gets well ahead of the chased, who had stopped in order to avoid an accident. The chased hurriedly gets back into his usual position, even though he had the opportunity there to turn right and go the wrong way on the entrance ramp. That might have given him enough head start to get away.
This is the cop who did the chasing. We don't see him until seconds before the video ends.
I don't want to spoil the ending, but I'll tell you I was surprised at how fast the chased person could run on two legs! He did way better than Americans who try to run from the cops.
February 2, 2017
Investigation of Dan Love
Dan Love, you may have forgotten, was the BLM agent who was "Utah's former Special Agent in Charge...who oversaw law enforcement at Burning Man for several years." He was the man behind the request for a million dollars worth of luxury for the BLM agents at Burning Man in 2015. Well, he had that position until he was removed from that position for that request...among other things. He was the Choco-taco man.
And those other things are coming out now, according to this article in the Reno Gazette-Journal. The official report can be found here. The BLM investigation revealed many of Love's abuses of the system, including buying three regular priced tickets after the point where all of those were supposed to have been sold out. He also brought family into the event and had on-duty BLM agents transport them around the playa in official vehicles. Love also created and placed a memorial at the Temple while on duty.
Love had been the BLM agent in charge at the 2014 Bundy standoff. After that he was transferred to a position in Utah where he seems to have managed to piss off just about everybody in Utah. And then he came to Burning Man and embarrassed the BLM there, after which he was transferred away, in time to get him out of there before the 2015 Burn.
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."