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November 30, 2005

Better Butter

The ButterWizard is a device designed just to hold your butter at your favorite temperature, allowing you to spread it with ease. £35 in Britain. May not be available in the U.S. yet.

Filed under Shopping | permalink | November 30, 2005 at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)


Every time I shop at Clark's they throw one of their ad fliers into my shopping bag which I never notice until I get home, where it goes directly into recycling. Today they also threw in a cassette tape with a title that said something about Progesterone! What marketing genius puts an ad on a cassette tape? Coincidentally, a few days ago when I was digging through some boxes I have yet to unpack I was surprised to find a forgotten electronic appliance. "What's this?" I wondered as I pulled it out, only to discover that it was my old cassette player. I hadn't used it for years back in Boston, but, you know, I thought I just might need a tape player some day (hey, I've got a record player too), so I brought it out to California with me. Did I go grab that tape player and hook it up my stereo to listen to something about progesterone? Hell no, the tape went right into the trash. Too bad you can't recycle those things.

My point being, however, I wonder why they didn't put this on a CD? Maybe they thought the market for whatever product they were selling were more likely to have cassette players in their cars.

Filed under Shopping | permalink | November 30, 2005 at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

Contra Costa Bestiality

Bestiality is only a misdemeanor in California. But sitting at your government job and using your office computer to disseminate photos and messages about your eager willingness to engage in sex with dogs can bring some real consequences. The as yet unnamed woman was working in the Richmond branch of the state Department of Health Services.

| permalink | November 30, 2005 at 10:44 PM | Comments (0)

Public Urination in Fond du Lac

If you're caught publicly urinating in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and are hauled up in front of Judge Jerry Jaye you may be required to write a public letter of apology to be published in The Reporter, the local newspaper. For instance:

I am so terribly sorry for urinating outside of a public place in your city. It was not a very intelligent thing to do. I hope that I did not do anything to slow down business in your town. I know whoever reads this loves Fond du Lac and I dishonored your town and myself in the process. What I did was intolerable and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I'm really sorry for having to waste space in The Reporter so you can read this. Once again I am very sorry for my conduct.

Michael Huebner

| permalink | November 30, 2005 at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

Apple R-r-r-r-r-rumors!

That the Mac Mini will get an Intel chip and DVR-functionality.

Filed under Technology | permalink | November 30, 2005 at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

Cleopatra Movie Set

Shadowplay is posting some very interesting photos from the set for Cleopatra in Morocco. A sample:
Cleopatra set

Filed under Photography | permalink | November 30, 2005 at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

PSSST Online

The old boys at the Palm Springs Social Suntanners have finally given in and allowed a website for the group to be created. There's not much there but contact info right now, but if you're looking for some naked hiking or socializing in the Coachella Valley, it's a start.

Filed under Gay Issues,Naturism-Nudism | permalink | November 30, 2005 at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2005

New Mac Advice

"10 Things Every New Mac Owner Should Know," it's titled.

Hmm, I dunno. Some of it's good. Like the Force Quit command, which keystroke should be engraved in an obvious spot on any Mac, but it's not, so I use a post-it. CMD-OPTION-ESC.

Filed under Technology | permalink | November 29, 2005 at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)

Check Out This Big Dude

Shravanabelagola - lord gomateshwara, a photo by mikefranklin.

Filed under Photography | permalink | November 29, 2005 at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

Rancho Mirage Historical Preservation

The Desert Sun rises above its usual standards and provides a list of addresses of historical structures in Rancho Mirage. The oldest on the list is 1934, but most are from 1970.

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | November 29, 2005 at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

Nuclear Steers?

Here's a curious headline: World watches Britain for nuclear energy steer. What?! Corn, beans and grass not good enough anymore? Now we're going to have nuclear powered cattle?

| permalink | November 29, 2005 at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Apples in Fullerton

The Fullerton school district in Orange County has a program in four schools requiring students to have an Apple laptop. The school district buys them from Apple for $1500 (including software and insurance) and resells them to parents. An installment payment plan is available at the rate of $50 per month for three years. "Financial aid and loaner laptops are available to families with demonstrable needs ... No child is denied a laptop if the family can't afford one, said Supt. Cameron McCune." The parents also have the choice of transferring their child to a classroom or even a different school where the laptops are not [yet] required.

This program has generated some significant resistance from parents who consider $1500 rather onerous. Even the ACLU is getting involved. Some of the poorer families objected to the financial disclosure required for assistance, but most of the complaints run along the lines of this: "We're an average family, not rich, but not destitute by any means…. We moved into an excellent school district knowing it was a public school system, and public schools are free."

When was the last time free public schools were actually free? Even when I was going to Troglodyte Elementary money had to be shelled out for a list of standard extras, mostly art supplies at first, but then phys. ed. outfits as we got older. Unless there's a state law limiting total extra expenses or maybe even guaranteeing a truly free education, it's not at all clear where the line is between the box of crayons and the Apple laptop.

While I'm certainly not in favor of such an anti-libertarian idea, having the state pay for an Apple laptop for every student would be a much better investment in California's future than some of the crap we pay for. Gov. Schwarzenegger's recent vanity election is said to have cost us $80 million. At $1500 a pop, that would have bought 53,333 laptops. Not enough for a big city school district, but it would help some.

Filed under Technology | permalink | November 29, 2005 at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)

November 28, 2005

Closure of Tecopa "Wild Spa"

Well, it looks like I got to Tecopa just in time. Here's the press release:

For Release: November 22, 2005
Contact: Doran Sanchez (951) 697-5220; E-mail: [email protected]

Health Concerns Prompt Temporary Emergency Closure of Wild Hot Springs Near Tecopa

In response to concerns expressed by the Inyo County Department of Environmental Health Services regarding potential threats to public health and safety, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today implemented an emergency closure of the Wild Hot Springs, located near the town of Tecopa.

The closure affects an unpermitted, improved hot spring facility on public lands within the Amargosa River Area of Critical Environmental Concern in southern Inyo County. The facility is believed to have been constructed in conjunction with exploratory mining in the area, prior to the availability of private and leased hot spring facilities nearby.

The temporary closure will remain in effect until BLM completes an environmental assessment (EA) that addresses public health and safety concerns and complies with State law, and implements a decision regarding management of the facilities and hot springs. The document also will analyze and the proper functioning condition requirements of the spring.

BLM is soliciting public comments to assist in the development of the EA. Alternatives being considered include no action, closure with removal of trespass facilities and restoration of the site to its natural state, or lease of the facilities if an appropriate party shows interest and can provide financial assurance. The site, including structures, covers less than .1 acres.

Public comments must be postmarked by Wednesday, January 11, 2006. Written comments should be mailed to the Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Office, 2601 Barstow Road, Barstow, CA 92311, Attn: Wild Hot Springs Project. Submit email comments to [email protected].

Contact Rich Rotte or Edy Seehafer of the Barstow field office at (760) 252-6000 for additional information or to request a printed copy of the EA, when completed, which also will be posted at www.ca.blm.gov/barstow.

The state regulations governing oversight of improved springs are CCR (California Code of Regulations) Title 22, 65501. These regulations were determined to apply to mineral springs and therapeutic baths and like facilities in 1969 by the California attorney general (52 Ops. Atty. Gen. 63, 4-15-1969).

Closure and compliance with the emergency closure is governed by 43 CFR 8360. Anyone violating the temporary closure may be fined up to $1,000, receive up to one year in jail or both.

Filed under Naturism-Nudism | permalink | November 28, 2005 at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

Naked Rowers

"Bristol University Officer Cadets Charles Bairsto and Tom Bright aim to become the youngest rowers ever to take part in and win the Atlantic Rowing Challenge in November this year, and they'll be doing it naked!" The race will be (was?) 2900 miles, from Tenerife in the Canary Islands to Antigua, West Indies. Here's a longer article about the boys which makes no mention of nudity. The race will start on November 30. And here's their official website.

Hmm. I'm thinking the reference to nudity was some sort of joke.

Filed under Naturism-Nudism | permalink | November 28, 2005 at 10:01 PM | Comments (4)

Winter Coming

Yeah, it's getting cold here! Here in DHS my overnight low was about 43° even though we should, in theory, have been cooler than Palm Desert's 39°. Even so, when the sun is up, shorts and a t-shirt are perfectly comfortable. And only moments ago I went out into the night, barefoot in my jammies to replace a burned out light without any excruciating pain. With calm, very dry air and no moon, the stars have just been tremendous the last couple of nights!

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | November 28, 2005 at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

Fresh Satellite Image of Burning Man

Go here to download an image taken by the IKONOS satellite on September 3, 2005, of the Burning Man city.

Filed under Burning Man,Photography | permalink | November 28, 2005 at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)

Eugene O'Neill's Tao House

It seems that this unique treasure is little known in the San Francisco Bay Area. Certainly the National Park Service who maintains it as a National Historic Site doesn't do much to attract visitors. Here's the website for the facility. It doesn't seem to have been updated for about two years. I picked up the official pamphlet at the site. It includes quite a bit of info, but it takes some hard looking to discover how to visit the site.

I, however, will make it all clear for you. Eugene O'Neill's Tao House is in Danville, California, not far from I-680. There is no charge at all to visit the site, however you must make reservations by phoning 925-838-0249. Then, at the appointed hour, you just have to get yourself to the Park & Ride lot at the Sycamore Valley exit on I-680. Bill & Emrys made our arrangements and we drove over there, but there must be some mass transit to the spot, or there wouldn't be a a Park & Ride lot. A National Park Service van driven by a courteous and helpful NPS ranger will appear to whisk you a couple of miles up into the hills to the Tao House itself.

O'Neill lived there from 1937 to 1943 with his wife Carlotta. While there, he wrote "The Iceman Cometh," "Long Day’s Journey Into Night," "A Moon for the Misbegotten," and "Hughie." The place is being maintained in excellent conditon by the NPS and underwent a complete seismic refitting a few years ago. O'Neill's study, where he wrote his plays, contains his two desks and other pieces that were his. Other rooms throughout the estate are less filled. You will find O'Neill's player piano, radio set, his opium bed, a colorful carpet and some other decorative elements from his residency. A few other pieces have been reproduced.

The grounds and view are beautiful. O'Neill's original 158 acres have been trimmed to only 13, and suburban residences have closely encroached. The old barn, which pre-dates the Tao House, is still standing and is used as a playhouse by the Eugene O'Neill Foundation. The tour we went on was led by a volunteer who possesses tremendous knowledge of the estate and quite obviously loves O'Neill and his plays.

Hey, guess what! I've got photos for you:

Eugene O'Neill's Tao House GateEugene O'Neill's Tao House (1)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House (2)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House (3)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House (4)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House (5)
Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Yard OrnamentEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Study (1)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Masks (2)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Masks (1)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Living RoomEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Carpet (2)
Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, GE DishwasherEugene O'Neill's Tao House, FireplaceBill in Eugene O'Neill's Tao HouseEugene O'Neill's Tao House, GE FridgeEugene O'Neill's Tao House, BookshelvesEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Carpet (1)
Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, BathtubEugene O'Neill's Tao House, ToiletEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Master BathEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Guest Bath (2)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Guest Bath (1)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Front Yard (3)
Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Front Yard (2)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Front Yard (1)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Barn (3)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Barn (2)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Barn (1)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Butler's Pantry
Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, KitchenEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Lucky StrikesEugene O'Neill's Tao House, RadioEugene O'Neill's Tao House, ScreenEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Guardian LionEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Mt. Diablo View (1)
Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Mt. Diablo View (2)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, PatioEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Swimming PoolEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Potting ShedEugene O'Neill's Tao House, Opium Bed (3)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Opium Bed (2)
Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Opium Bed (1)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Study (2)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Study Desk (1)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Study Desk (2)Eugene O'Neill's Tao House, Study Desk (3) 

Filed under California,Photography | permalink | November 28, 2005 at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)


I haven't made it explicit here, but since I moved from Palm Springs to Desert Hot Springs more than a year ago, I dropped my broadband connection and didn't reconnect...until today. Yes, for the last 14 months or so, almost all of this weblog (including my photos at Flickr) have been loaded via (grab your jockstraps!) dial-up. It was supposed to be temporary, but when I dropped into the Adelphia office (just a short walk away) they happily handed me an understandable price sheet, but made no effort to actually sign me up. I went to their website and filled out the form ASKING their sales staff to call me to sell me unnecessary entertainment. They never called.

As time went by I found that I could perform pretty adequately with just dial-up. Using dial-up also meant that I was using the old Win 98 PC, too, because I don't want to lower my Mac to dial-up. It's true I could only receive TWO English language, non-Christian, over-the-air televison stations, but I was still able to function in most social situations and I didn't notice any severe withdrawal symptoms, even though I thought I couldn't live without The Daily Show. The only thing I really missed was the DHS city council on the community access channel.

I haven't mentioned this before because who wants to brag they're doing this all with a 3-inch penis?

Finally, though, the Win 98 machine (which was a discount machine when I bought it in 1997 or 1998 and has only a 5 Gb HD) has begun to fail. It will do dry e-mail okay, but any web browser or graphic editing software can cause an instantaneous reboot or lockup. This has been going on since about Halloween. Assistance from wise friends (new 80 Gb HD, SpinRite) has provided only temporary respite. I realized I had waited too long to get broadband, to hook up my AirPort again, to sit long into the night with cable TV and a broadband connection.

Today the Adelphia cable guys showed up. Three hours! Details are not necessary. Things were not as they expected. But tonight we are in the BarcaLounger (thank you Larry & Gary!) with the Mac, wireless and broadband, C.O.P.S. on the cable. My hips have already gained two inches, my cholesterol is out of control, blood pressure is just shy of a stroke. I wonder if Rocky's Pizza lets me order via the web?

BTW, I haven't given up on the Win 98 PC. I've got Partition Magic and a new video card waiting in the wings. Windows 98 is probably the second best OS Microsoft has produced (First place goes to DOS 3.3) and I've got my best monitor on the Win 98 machine...and that fab new 80 Gb HD.

Filed under Technology | permalink | November 28, 2005 at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

Kodak vs. Opera

Kodak vs Opera

I'm used to stupid websites that do nothing more than test for whether I have some old version of IE or Netscape and then tell me my browswer is "out of date," but this is the first one that tells me it it's out of date and then tells me to go download the very version I'm using: Opera 8..51 for Mac. I ran into it here.

Filed under Web/Tech | permalink | November 28, 2005 at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

Google Map Variations

A weblog listing some "cool" (their word) applications of Google Maps. Here's one that is supposed to show the locations of hot springs in the U.S. but the information is out of date and VERY incomplete. Desert Hot Springs is shown with zero hot springs!! At least we got desert. Perhaps more useful for everyday use is this map of urinal locations. Again, DHS has nothing! I can see that any hot spring with a urinal that's willing to publicize its location in DHS will clean up!

| permalink | November 28, 2005 at 02:09 PM | Comments (0)