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May 31, 2010

Cactus Springs Lodge - Desert Hot Springs, California

Cactus Springs Lodge - Desert Hot Springs, California
Postcard scan by What Makes The Pie Shops Tick?. Now part of the Tuscan Springs Hotel & Spa Hope Springs.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 31, 2010 at 08:33 PM | Comments (0)

Oil Spill Questions Answered - by Bill Nye!

Bill Nye was online last Friday answering questions from the public about the oil spill in the Gulf, including one about them good ol' boys and their hay solution.

Louisville, Ky.: I did just tweet this. There is a video suggesting the use of hay or straw to sop up (not stop) the oil spill. It is so simple--it sounds like a joke, but watch the video at How to clean up the oil spill (YouTube) I'd love your comment.

Bill Nye: Hay soaks up oil; so does hair. You just need such enormous quantities here. And, they have to be spread over enormous ares of the sea. It's a big ol' job.

Filed under Science | permalink | May 31, 2010 at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

Potentially Denser, Cheaper Data Storage

A crystal form of titanium oxide is "promising as a material for a next-generation optical storage device." A disc using the material could hold 1,000 times as much data as a Blu-ray disc (which holds five times as much as a DVD which holds about 6.7 times as much as a CD which holds 486 times as much as your standard high density 3½-inch floppy - shall we continue?).

Also, the market price of titanium oxide is only 1% of the price of the germanium-antimony-tellurium which is used in DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

Filed under Technology | permalink | May 31, 2010 at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2010

Potential Anti-Virus Breakthrough

So far it's been used only against Ebola and only in four rhesus monkeys, but the success rate was 100%. Each monkey was given a dose of Ebola virus 30,000 times the size of a fatal dose. Then they were given this "small interfering RNA" (siRNA) treatment. All survived "with no long-term effects."

The scientists, led by Thomas Geisbert at Boston University, used a relatively new genomics technique called RNA interference to defeat the virus. Here's how it works. First, a little background: the Ebola virus is made of RNA, just like the influenza virus. And just like influenza, Ebola has very few genes - only 8. One of its genes, called L protein, is responsible for copying the virus itself. Two others, called VP24 and VP35, interfere with the human immune response, making it difficult for our immune system to defeat the virus.

Geisbert and his colleagues (including scientists from Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and USAMRIID) designed and synthesized RNA sequences that would stick to these 3 genes like glue. How did they do that? We know the Ebola genome's sequence – it was sequenced way back in 1993. And we know that RNA sticks to itself using the same rules that DNA uses. This knowledge allowed Geisbert and colleagues to design a total of 10 pieces of RNA (called "small interfering RNA" or siRNA) that they knew would stick to the 3 Ebola genes. They also took care to make sure that their sticky RNA would not stick to any human genes, which might be harmful. They packaged these RNAs for delivery by inserting them into nanoparticles that were only 81-85 nanometers across.

The abstract of the source Lancet article says there were two groups of rhesus monkeys, one group getting four treatments, the other group getting seven. The success rate was 2 out of 3 in the group that got four treatments. The group getting seven treatments was the group with a 100% success rate.

Filed under Health,Science | permalink | May 30, 2010 at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

64:1 Scale Model Of Dodge Powerwagon

Yes, 64:1, not 1:64.

It probably was unique at the time that video was made, but look what I found in the Black Rock Desert in 2008:
Bummer (0556)

Filed under Automotive,Burning Man | permalink | May 30, 2010 at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

An opportunity for you to make a difference AND save money

This opportunity is for everyone who lives in the Mission Springs Water District, everyone who lives downstream from the MSWD (that is, the whole Coachella Valley), and everyone who visits, hopes to visit or plans to move here to enjoy our water, hot, cold, either, or, both, all of the above.

Senator Barbara Boxer is sponsoring a bill in Congress that would appropriate $35 million in matching funds to finish up the sewers in the Mission Springs Water District. Now, we know that $35 million is less than chicken feed in Washington, but even so, everybody else in the country has their little project too, and they will try to nip off a few million for this and another few million for that and before you know it our $35 million is whittled down to the size of a band-aid.

We need to put steel in the backs of our Congressional delegation so they can and will resist encroachments and fight to make sure our $35 million gets approved so we can finally rid ourselves once and for all of septic systems. Nothing puts steel in the back of a Senator or Representative like hearing the opinions of constituents. Well, yes, other things might put steel in their backs, but we are limiting ourselves to LEGAL means of steel-into-back insertions.

Go over to the W.O.W. - Write for Our Water website and see how it easy it is. There are messages there prepared for Senator Feinstein, Representative Lewis and Representative Bono Mack, plus a thank you letter for Senator Boxer. Postal mailing addresses are included, but you can send email if you prefer. If you like to talk on the phone, call their offices and talk to their staff. Put it into your own words or take the pre-written text verbatim. Congressional staffs DO keep track of opinions and members of Congress pay attention to what we say.

After you've done that for yourself, contact your friends, family and enemies who visit Desert Hot Springs and enjoy our unique water. Even if they don't live here, they should write to our two Senators and two Representatives. That's like stainless steel in a Congressperson's back.

This is something to do NOW. In August the appropriation will come before the appropriations committees. It's very helpful to us that Senator Feinstein chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee and Representative Lewis is the ranking minority member on the House Appropriations Committee. We really need the $35 million to be approved in THIS session of Congress. If Senator Boxer is not re-elected, then we'll have a lost a strong leader in the Senate. Approval in future sessions would be more difficult.

Even more critical is that Assessment District 12, approved by the voters in 2004 to provide our matching funds for the $35 million, will expire in 2014. With AD 12 in place, each single-family residential parcel in AD 12 will pay $4,214 for sewer construction. That can be paid over a period of 20 years (plus interest) or paid all at once. Multi-family residences will be assessed $3,093 per residential unit. Trailer parks are something else entirely, and I don't have the details on that. Commercial property will be assessed based on front footage and the number of toilets and sinks. IOW, for most of you voters without sewers, $4,214 is the number you are looking at, which probably sounds like a considerable chunk of change.

If AD 12 is allowed to expire in 2014 without sewers being built, then things will go one of two ways:

  1. A new Assessment District will be proposed and created by a vote of the residents and the individual assessment will be recalculated based on costs in 2015 or 2016. Undoubtedly, this will be higher. The $4,214 assessment that currently exists was nailed down at 2004 prices and has NOT been increased to reflect any rise in the consumer price index.
  2. Do nothing, leaving each resident responsible for 100% of the cost of building sewers. (Oh, man, you do not want choice #2.)

Whether it's Door #1 or #2, the cost goes up. There is no Door #3 with a new car.

There may be a few people who want to do nothing but keep using their septic tank forever. That ain't gonna happen. Your septic effluent is inexorably moving down toward our aquifer. There's a line in a MSWD pamphlet that I really like, but before you read it I want you get a glass of tap water and take a drink.

"Fecal matter of humans can contain organisms responsible for poliomyelitis, meningitis and severe central nervous system disorders."

Yes, polite word can cause polysyllabic diseases. MSWD does not employ me as a writer because I would have said "There will be shit in your drinking water." And when that happens there will no magic money fairy from Washington or Sacramento to fly down and relieve us of our troubles. No, there will be court orders mandating US to fix it at OUR own expense, 100%.

These are your real choices for the future: either write to Congress to push for that $35 million this year, or pay a lot, LOT more in the future.

And remember to ask, plead, threaten and cajole your neighbors and friends to write too! Give them this link: writeforourwater.org

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 30, 2010 at 01:03 PM | Comments (4)

Southern California's Glorious Civil War History

The strongest connection seems to be 10,000 Union veterans buried in Los Angeles National Cemetery. But I'm pretty sure there isn't a single state that doesn't have at least one Civil War veteran's grave, including even Hawaii and Alaska. The L.A. Times article says secession supporters may have been in the majority in the period before the Civil War.

"In the 1850s, there was talk of the southern half of California splitting off to form its own state. (Few protests were heard from San Francisco.)" We should change the state motto to "Eureka: Still Not Two States."

Even so, there is the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands, built more than 70 years after the war.

Lincoln Memorial Shrine (5666)
Lincoln Shrine in Redlands.
Jefferson Davis Highway New Mexico - I-10 (5632)
OTOH, in New Mexico.

Filed under California | permalink | May 30, 2010 at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair (if you got any)



Filed under Music | permalink | May 30, 2010 at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper Dead At 74

Dennis Hopper as a young man
Dennis Hopper died today of complications from prostate cancer. His filmography.

He was born May 17, 1936, in Dodge City, Kan., and spent most of his childhood living on his grandparents' farm. His father served in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and his mother managed an outdoor swimming pool in Dodge City.

After the war, the family moved first to Kansas City, Mo., and then to San Diego County.

A 1954 graduate of Helix High School in La Mesa, he had acted in school productions and had won a scholarship to the National Shakespeare Festival at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

His debut TV role as an epileptic in the TV medical drama "Medic" aired in early 1955 and led to the 18-year-old Hopper being signed to a contract with Warner Bros., where he was cast in the role of Goon in "Rebel Without a Cause."

The N.Y. Times obituary.

Filed under Film/Movies,Television | permalink | May 29, 2010 at 05:30 PM | Comments (1)

Job Motivation

An interesting and well animated 11 minute lecture on what motivates people to do creative work. The animator makes one signifcant error. The lecturer says Skype wants to be "disruptive" but the animator writes "destructive."

It's noteworthy that Google is never mentioned in this video.

| permalink | May 29, 2010 at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

Black Bear Killed In Pioneertown

This Press-Enterprise article says the number of black bears in California increased from 5,000 in 1984 to more than 35,000 in 2008. Recently Fish & Game proposed increasing the hunting limit from 300 per year to 2,000. Approval of that proposal has been delayed due to thousands of public comments received.

The Pioneertown bear, for example, had been marauding desert homes for weeks before it was killed.

While running from residents of the desert community, it charged headlong into a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle. The rider wasn't hurt.

Steve Schroeder, who lives north of Pioneertown, had more than one visit from the bear.

When the shaggy animal first showed up, it took a 50-pound bag of dog food from an outdoor metal storage container, Schroeder said.

Another time, the bear broke several chairs while searching for food at an outdoor kitchen area, he said.

Schroeder said he tried to shoo the bear away by shining bright lights at it and by shooting it with harmless paintballs.

Then, late Monday night, it ripped through Schroeder's chain-link dog kennel and met up with his dog, Bandit, a medium-size mixed-breed.

"The dog was charging, and he (the bear) was swatting the dog," Schroeder said the next day at his property just east of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Schroeder said his friend, Octavino Cebrera, shot and killed the bear with a .308 rifle.

Standing near the carcass the next day, Schroeder said he felt sad.

"The only good thing is it was a one-shot kill," he said. "I'm not happy to do it."

The article includes information about many other bear encounters in Inland Empire.

Filed under California | permalink | May 29, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2010

French McDonald's Ad

Filed under Food and Drink,Gay Issues | permalink | May 28, 2010 at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

The Sex Spa Brouhaha (part 2 of let's hope it's only 2)

Part 1 was a couple of days ago.

Today the subject is reportage, but we'll touch on grandstanding too. We've got five local news videos for you. These first two are the ones I linked on my earlier post.

First KESQ video.
Reporter Mike Daniels takes a hidden camera into the reception area of Sea Mountain Inn. Later, City Manager Rick Daniels refuses to speak to him on camera. Councilmember Karl Baker gets caught mouthing off on camera.
Second KESQ video.
Councilmember Russell Betts is willing to go on camera. Everything else is a rehashing of stuff from the first video.

KESQ has had at least one more report since then, and KMIR has tossed a couple of reports into the mix as well. If KPSP has done anything, I can't find it and, like I said, I don't watch local TV news, so if you have seen something on KPSP, let me know and I'll try to get the video.

Third KESQ video.
They go to Areolas Tantric Spa, which had an open house this week. Official opening of Areolas will be June 24.
KMIR video which they call "Part 2."
In real time it was shot before Part 1, but I assume they broadcast what they call "Part 1" first. They interview Gus, a neighbor. They call it the "Spa Mountain Resort." Interviews resort staff via the intercom. They interview Mayor Parks about Areolas. Reporter Anthony Alvarez struggles to pronounce the word "intimacy."
KMIR video, Part 1, I guess.
An ad for Honey Bunches of Oats! They have more of the interview with Mayor Parks who says the Sea Mountain Resort is a "swingers place." The video seems to be cut short as they begin to talk to Gus again.

I've found myself wondering why KESQ decided to focus on this one, heterosexual resort. There are a few gay resorts in Palm Springs and Cathedral City where the same thing goes on. But then I recalled that in the past the local media have tried to make some hay at the expense of gay resorts, and they've been especially inept at it. So inept that I decided they were trying to walk on both sides of the line. On the one hand, they would raise their voices in alarm at the shocking discovery that somebody somewhere was having fun outside the confines of the marriage law. They would rush their cameras up to the doors of a few resorts (or gay bars), but they would never actually penetrate the property, never actually catch anyone doing anything illegal. Then they would let the noise fade away. No one would be harmed. No business interrupted. No one embarrassed or arrested. The TV station would have boosted ratings for a few days and the tax-paying business with a nice payroll is allowed to continue to serve the tourists who flock here with their bucks.

So maybe that's why the reporting on Sea Mountain Inn seems so inept. They don't REALLY want to find anything illegal that might scare away a visitor, shut down a business or put anyone out of a job; but they would like their ratings to bump up a few notches.

On the positive side, these local TV news reports make The Desert Sun look as venerable and respected as the N.Y. Times.

Let's start at the beginning with the first KESQ video. They start out claiming that there is no other place in Coachella Valley like the Sea Mountain Inn. That might be true, if you ignore those few gay resorts that are similar. Reporter Mike Daniels goes to the effort of driving to Desert Hot Springs and toting some kind of hidden camera into the reception area only to ask questions that simply confirm what's already public information on their website. That's the first clue this is all for ratings. If he really wanted to "go undercover" (as he described it) he would have gone there with a woman and bought a day pass so he could go inside. It's not nude mandatory, so he could have protected his modesty with some Speedos. If he'd had the nerve to actually go inside he might have discovered more. Maybe they have a retired Mexican donkey entertaining the crowd or, more seriously, there might be open drug use. But we'll never find out about that now.

They go on to show and quote some outdated city code. I wonder if they have that archived on their own computers, because the city only has the updated city code available. They misinterpret their out of context quote to mean that what goes on at Sea Mountain Inn is illegal.

Then the reporter goes to city hall. You can tell from the conversation with City Manager Rick Daniels that the reporter called ahead, Rick Daniels agreed to talk off camera, the reporter showed up with the camera, Rick Daniels again said he would talk off camera and invited the reporter into his office. Then Karl Baker interrupts, so we don't really know how it might have played out. But Rick Daniels never refused to talk to the reporter. It was the reporter that refused to go into his office. I can understand a TV reporter wants to get as much on video as possible, but with that possibility ruled out, he could still have pursued that part of the job of being reporter that requires him to gather information. He could have gotten background from Rick Daniels. He could have quoted him. Instead, the reporter chose to get no information at all from the one person who can speak authoritatively for the city.

Finally, reporter Mike Daniels says they used the federal Freedom of Information Act to request city records. Of course, that federal law doesn't apply to a California city. What he's thinking of is the California Public Records Act. But he's just a reporter, a reporter who refused to talk to the city manager, so why should be know anything about how to get public records.

In his wrap-up the reporter refers to "another sex spa" without giving any further info. He also says that because Rick Daniels won't speak on camera, the reporter thinks he may not be "concerned for the public's health." He doesn't explain how he makes that great leap of logic, and this is the first time in his report that he's brought up public health. He never explains what he thinks is a public health risk, or how the presence of a video camera would somehow prove concern. And finally the reporter says that the activities described by the SMI employee are illegal, which we know is not correct.

On to the second KESQ video. Councilmember Betts comes on camera and says "this is not something that should be operating in the city if, indeed, that's what's taking place." So he's going to feign ignorance of the business while opposing it. The reporter says Councilmember Betts "was shocked" by the news story. Thank goodness, they don't actually show video of him saying that, so we can assume he didn't literally say that and the reporter was only sloppily paraphrasing. Otherwise, we would have to haul in the famous clip from Casablanca.

The reporter says Mr. Betts is going to "do what we couldn't", and that's to get the city manager to investigate. Until now there was nothing in the KESQ reports saying that they wanted to ask Rick Daniels to investigate, nor any indication that he refused. We only know that the KESQ reporter declined to talk to Rick Daniels. If he had followed up on the invitation to talk to City Manager Daniels, then maybe the reporter could have asked him about a city investigation of the business.

Then we launch into repetition of video from the night before. The reporter states that Sea Mountain admits only single women and straight couples, which is not entirely correct. They may admit gay couples as well. They run more of the encounter with Councilmember Karl Baker and he says he's been inside the resort. The reporter repeats his error about the Freedom of Information Act. He acknowledges that The Desert Star broke the issues of parking and noise complaints. Actually The Desert Star articles covered more than just that, but obviously KESQ wants to own the sex angle. One anchor reporter refers to "a wall the city has put up" to keep him from asking questions. Again the reporter says KESQ's concern is "only for the public health." Yet there has been no public health information presented. They have talked to no one in any public health department. Not called on anyone from the CDC to talk about STDs. He says city staff said "We're not going to comment and we don't care." Of course no one said that, or he would have named the name of the staffer who said it. He's just spinning stuff out of his head now, like that reporter for the Baltimore Sun in season 5 of The Wire.

The third KESQ video opens up with a reference to "another possible sex spa" which they now name as Areolas Tantric Spa and Resort. They interviewed Jim Bendis, the owner, at the spa's open house. Says he spent more than $500,000 fixing the place up. He says that they won't condone any public sex and doesn't understand why some people always make that mental leap from "clothing optional" to sex. Mr. Bendis says the emphasis at Areolas will be on sensuality in the broad sense, not sex. They include a lot of nice video of the new spa. They get a brief interview with Johnny Coladonato, from the Convention and Visitors Authority who was at the open house. He talks about how Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs are a destination resort. Areolas will not serve liquor.

Reporter Mike Daniels said he had learned that Councilmember Betts had asked City Manger Daniels and City Attorney Duran to draft an ordinance that would ban adult spas in DHS. In the real world, it takes money to draft an ordinance and I'm really, really sure that it is not the practice of city staff to draft up an ordinance every time a single city council member asks for one. Take the tattoo ordinance, which would be a change to the zoning code. First, before any substantial legal money is spent, staff gauges the sentiment of the whole council. Since that first positive expression from the city council, the tattoo proposal has been before the planning commission two or three times and come back to the city council to ask if they should continue to work on this. So, the process of getting to any actual ordinance is one of consensus building. It's not just one guy sending the attorney off to do his bidding.

Now, as to Councilmember Betts's sincere concern for this matter, it was brought up in The Desert Valley Star in the April 8 issue and again in the April 22 issue. Mr. Betts may have missed my earlier postings about Sea Mountain Inn, but I am really, REALLY sure he reads The Desert Valley Star. Even so, he remained publicly quiet about this. But put a TV camera in front of him and it suddenly becomes a matter to be dealt with and gotten rid of. This'd be great if he were running to be elected as the Chief Morals Officer for Coachella Valley, but there is no such position.

Reporter Mike Daniels now interprets the law to say that a resort cannot have "a specific area that they provide," like common areas, for sexual encounters. This is different from his legal interpretations in the two earlier reports, and also still wrong. It's worthwhile to note that in addition to not interviewing public health officials, they have not interviewed any lawyers for their reports. Do you have to pay an attorney to offer an opinion on a TV news report like this? If so, then that's probably why we haven't seen it.

KMIR is late to the party but that doesn't mean they spent their time making better preparations. First, they get Gus on camera saying there are condoms out in the street. Gus lives across the street from Sea Mountain. I don't know Gus, never saw him before, so I'm forced to assume he always speaks the complete truth. But I would like a little more information or evidence to support his condom assertion. Why are there condoms on the street? It's a sex club. People are having sex inside. Does he suggest that they finish up their business, get dressed, come out to the street, only then to realize that somehow they have foolishly neglected to remove the condom. So they whip it off and toss it down in the street. Or, are people inside Sea Mountain so very elated that they take their used condoms and throw them high in the air, with some inevitably dropping outside the walls. Or are there people who have paid good money to be inside a safe, comfortable resort who are excited about the idea of putting on their clothes to go outside and do it in the backseat of a car, or maybe a van with shag carpeting? This is not, after all, a Lovers Lane for high school students. How are condoms getting out there?

The fact that KMIR repeatedly misstates the name of the place as "Spa Mountain Inn Resort" is incredible. They get it right once. The KMIR reporter makes himself look ridiculous by trying interview the manager at Sea Mountain via the intercom. Of course, after getting burned by tricky Mike Daniels from KESQ, Sea Mountain isn't letting just anybody get past that door. Hard hitting questions from reporter Anthony Alvarez to the intercom: "Is this a sex spa or not?" "Is this a swingers club?" Great questions Anthony. As long as you're trying to trip them up so ingeniously why not ask what we really want to know: "Are there any donkeys, mules or Clydesdales in there?" or "How much do you sell a gram of meth for?"

The Sea Mountain manager answered both of his questions in the negative. No hemming or hawing. Apparently they do not employ a public relations firm who would have advised them to mealy mouth something about the privacy of their guests who make their own adult choices. Instead, she chose simply to lie. Not gonna win any friends that way.

The camera crew scared away one potential visitor in a bit of video nicely edited so that her license plate did not show.

Gus complains about the noise and says he wants the city to "shut 'em down."

They ask Mayor Parks about Areolas and she says she has no idea about the nature of that business, but that she would be at the 5 o'clock ribbon cutting where she will find out. Reporter Alvarez reads the information from Areolas' website saying they are open only to couples and single women "and that means no men are allowed." Obviously Mr. Alvarez's analytic capabilities are a bit weak, since many (probably a majority) of couples include at least one man. In fact, the websites for both Areolas and Sea Mountain say they are open to gay couples. I have gotten email from at least one gay couple that says they have gone to Sea Mountain Inn more than once and enjoy the place. I suppose it's possible for two straight men to pose as a gay couple in order to gain admittance, but maybe that's just too big a challenge for most straight guys.

Lastly, KMIR's second video, which I think they broadcast first. KMIR claims they have discovered that one spa in Desert Hot Springs is allegedly operating as a sex club. Tomorrow they may discover gravity or the direction from which the sun appears to rise. They've got more from that interview with Mayor Parks which they promise will surprise us. She says, in response to the question about Sea Mountain, "I think they're making a mountain out of a molehill." She goes on to say "It's a swingers place...If you go on the website it's advertised as a swingers [place]. It's not a violation of any... You know, these are all over the world." She said staff has looked into it and it is not in violation of city code. The city has received noise complaints, she said. That's why Yvonne Parks is such a popular mayor. Grounded in reality, she speaks the truth without any pretense.

We go back to Gus who doesn't like "ratting" but has made a noise complaint, and doesn't seem reluctant to speak to KMIR's cameras. Then the video cuts off. KMIR seems to have edited these in a sort of circular fashion. If you go back to the other KMIR video it seems to pick up at about the same place this one breaks off, then it goes to the Areolas Resort which segues back to this video which goes on about Areolas Resort and returns to Gus.

There ya go. No news crew interviewing the city manager or any attorney or any public health official. It's just a couple of lightweight, small market TV reporters offering up their unsubstantiated, contradictory opinions. Not even doing any decent investigative reporting.

I'd like to think that the Desert Sun has been quiet about this because they are working on their own genuinely undercover report. They may have a couple of reporters inside right now. When was the last time anyone saw Keith Matheny?

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 28, 2010 at 03:59 PM | Comments (9)

Unincorporated Los Angeles County

There's a discussion of the pros and cons of buying in unincorporated Los Angeles County on Curbed LA. I did not know, until I read this, that East L.A. is unincorporated. The discussion included a link to a nicely detailed map of Los Angeles County showing the unincorporated areas in white. It was a little too subtle for me, so edited it, making the unincorporated areas red, all other areas gray or white. In the image below I've cropped off the vast areas north of the San Gabriels that are obviously unincorporated, but if you want my full edited version just click this one.
Unincorporated Los Angeles County

I'm surrpised how many little pockets of unincorporated county are still around. Marina Del Ray! Altadena and La Crescenta! Universal City! Well, I guess I can understand Universal City.

Filed under California | permalink | May 28, 2010 at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

New Batch of Library Of Congress Photos

The photos on the Library of Congress' Flickr site are admirably un-photoshopped. I, however, am not so admirable. Here I've polished up a couple. If you want to see how they looked before photoshop, just click them.

Bat Levinsky
Bat Levinsky
Mullins & Sullivan
Mullins & Sullivan

Filed under Photography | permalink | May 28, 2010 at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

Boston Common for Memorial Day

Photo by historygradguy. A flag for every soldier and sailor from Massachusetts who has died in combat. I wonder if the counting goes back to 1776, 1775 or even earlier.

Filed under Photography | permalink | May 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

At The Museum

Buckaroo, Sage County Cowboy by Pat Haptonstall (7105)
By Pat Haptonstall

Fragmented Shadow of Time by Clifford Rainey (7101)
By Clifford Rainey

Pianist's Dress Impression by Karen LaMonte (7097)
By Karen LaMonte

More photos here.

I toured the Lautner exhibit (closing on Sunday) as well. In the text accompanying the plans for the Desert Hot Springs Motel it was described as being in the Mojave. There was nothing to say who wrote that. If it was Lautner's own writing, then I can forgive it. Anybody else should have done their research.

I went there to see Dead Man, part of their free films series (on Thursdays, when admission to the museum is free as well). While waiting for the film to start they projected a description of each film in the series (including those that are now past). In the plot summary for Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (coming on September 2) it said that Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart stumble across an "assignation plot." Oops. Somebody is relying too heavily on their spellchecker. Then, when someone from the museum got up to speak briefly before the movie actually rolled, he said that in Dead Man we would see Burt Lancaster in his last film role. Actually, it was Robert Mitchum, not Burt Lancaster. Mr. Lancaster died the year before this film was released.

Very good film, but I have a question for the experts. Do saguaro cactus grow naturally anywhere in Oregon? The film opens with Johnny Depp on a long, long train ride west. Occasionally he looks out the window so we see the gradually changing landscape. Finally he arrives at his destination: Machine. There we see saguaro cactus, so I felt pretty secure thinking this was meant to be Arizona, although the train had been filled with mountain men dressed for a much colder climate. But then his subsequent journey on horse and foot takes him into changing terrain until he winds up on the northwest coast - Oregon or Washington. Now, sure, people could travel from Arizona to Oregon by horse, but could they do it while dying from a gunshot wound?

Or is it just one of those standard Hollywood errors: if you want them to know it's a desert, show them either saguaros or Joshua Trees, even if they can't really grow in that particular desert.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Photography | permalink | May 28, 2010 at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

Oakland Marijuana Workers Unionize

They are just getting all adult about their marijuana up in Oakland with taxes, regulations, zoning and now unions. 100 employees of subsidiaries of Oaksterdam voted this week to join Local #5 of the United Food and Commercial Workers. In this L.A. Times article it's clear that besides getting into a potentially very lucrative new business, some in the union hope this will help gain a labor endorsement of the proposition to fully legalize marijuana that will be on the California ballot in November.

The UFCW is the union that led Vons workers on their strike in 2003 that triggered to a lockout by Albertsons and Ralphs in southern California. Remember that one? You needed to schedule an appointment 24 hours in advance just to shop at Trader Joe's. They are also leading the current strike against Shaw's in Massachusetts. Local #5, the one the Oaksterdam employees joined, represents 26,000 members.

Reverend Billy organizes the the Life After Shopping Gospel Choir. I think that means you get to go shopping and then go sing in the choir. Win-win!

The Dangers Of Bottled Water

While poking around on the website of Local 5 of the UFCW I found yet another reason not to buy bottled water. Besides being lower quality than tap water, expensive, and wasteful, palletized cases of bottled water are dangerous to move! In March pallets of water fell on a worker in Indiana, crushing him. It took him five days to die. There ya go, next time you pick up a plastic bottle of drinking water visualize it covered in worker's blood. That faucet in your kitchen never killed nobody.

Filed under California,Marijuana | permalink | May 28, 2010 at 08:04 AM | Comments (2)

May 27, 2010

Geetar Bandit Nabbed

Michael Rutledge
Michael Rutledge



INCIDENT: Guitar Burglar Caught, Most Guitars Recovered

DATE BURGLARY OCCURRED: May 17th, 2010, 3:30 PM

LOCATION OF OCCURRENCE: 66800 Blk Desert View Ave., DHS

SUSPECT: Michael Rutledge, 11-24-90, Male, White, 5'9", 165 lbs, Red, Hazel; Transient, DHS

SUSPECT STATUS: In Custody, Riverside County Jail, Charged with Burglary, Bail $25,000

DATE of PRESS RELEASE: May 27, 2010


On the above date and time, a white dually pick up truck was seen parked in front of a residence on Desert View Ave. A witness took note of the truck and later contacted us with information that led to the capture of Michael Rutledge.

It turns out Rutledge, the truck's owner, was inside a nearby home in the process of stealing nine guitars from the resident who was away at work. To get in, Rutledge pried open a metal security door. Once inside he removed and drove away with nine guitars valued in the thousands.

Two days later, a patrol officer saw the same pick up truck driving eastbound on 7th Ave. The officer stopped the truck and identified Rutledge as the driver. Further investigation led to Rutledge's arrest and the immediate recovery of four of the guitars in a nearby apartment.

Detectives continued the search for the remaining guitars. They visited several pawn shops in the area. On 5-20 they found one of the guitars at "Desert Hot Springs Jewelry and Loan". On 5-24 they found two more of the guitars at "The Exchange" in Palm Springs. As of this writing, seven of the nine guitars have been recovered and cleared for return to the victim.

The owner is ecstatic that so many of his guitars have been recovered; however, we would like to recover the last two for him. If anyone can help us do that, we would appreciate a phone call to 760-329-6411 x 314 (Detective Dave Topping), x 315 (Sgt. Dan Bressler), or Crime Stoppers at 760-341-STOP. The investigation is ongoing.


Any information regarding this press release should be directed to Desert Hot Springs Police Sergeant Dan Bressler at 760.329.6411 x315.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 27, 2010 at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)

3 Women - More Info Surfaces

A May 1977 article in Palm Springs Life about Robert Altman filming Three Women has been made available on the web.

Five locations in the Coachella Valley were used in shooting "3 Women": the Sunbeam Inn, a small Palm Springs hotel which, for the film, becomes the gaudy Purple Sage Apartments; the Joseph M. Shapiro Eye Center of Desert Hospital; Coffee's Hot Mineral Pools and Hotel in Desert Hot Springs, represented in the movie as a geriatric hospital; the Palm Springs Greyhound bus station; and the Hidden Springs Ranch Club in Thousand Palms, which was built by Charles Doyle in 1945 and has stood deserted for the past dozen years.

The information about Hidden Springs Ranch Club is new to me. That would have been the location used for the Dodge City bar/ranch/motocross hangout. If anyone has more specific info on where the Hidden Springs Ranch Club was located in Thousand Palms, then I'll go do some walking around in the desert - mountain lions be damned!

Here are some shots from the film showing exteriors at Dodge City. Of course, some of what you see was added by Altman's crew, but he has said in interviews that it was an existing ranch that he improved upon for the movie.
3 Women - Dodge City (71)

3 Women - Dodge City (65)

3 Women - Dodge City (33)

3 Women - Dodge City (70)

3 Women - Dodge City (82)

3 Women - Dodge City (66)

UPDATE: In this March 1962 issue of "Desert Magazine" (on page 13, I believe) Hidden Springs Ranch is described as being along Ramon Road: "Paved Ramon Road leads past Hidden Springs Ranch, then a graded county road swings left. Strung out along the flank of low hills is the oasis of Willis Palms."

So, somewhere between Varner Road and Willis Palms.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Film/Movies | permalink | May 27, 2010 at 12:39 PM | Comments (15)