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July 23, 2014

Why We Need A Walmart

This is gonna bring everybody over to the pro-Walmart side: their ice cream sandwiches never melt. Never! Think of what a great relief that would be to the kids (and adults) of hot, hot Desert Hot Springs. (Didn't that 114° bring a smile to your face?!)

What I visualize is, after the Walmart has been approved, built and opened, we the residents of DHS celebrate summer by using Great Value Ice Cream Sandwiches to build a scale replica of the Washington Monument in the parking lot of the Walmart. Leave it for days. I think this would be good to do starting about July 1, so we could then blow it up with fireworks on July 4 (or 5 or whatever).

Ingredients for Great Value Chocolate & Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream Sandwiches from Walmart:

Ice Cream (Milk, Cream, Buttermilk, Sugar, Whey, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Contains 1% Or Less of Natural And Artificial Flavors, Mono & Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Calcium Sulfate, Carob Bean Gum, Cellulose Gum, Polysorbate 80, Carrageenan, Annatto (For Color). Wafers (Wheat Flour, Sugar, Soybean And Palm Oil, Cocoa, Dextrose, Caramel Color, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Flour, Food Starch-Modified, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Baking Soda, Artificial Flavor).

One customer tells us that besides not melting, they don't freeze either!

I am avid shopper for good deals and decided to get these instead of my usual, which is Mayfield. Now, granted that the name Great Value should mean just that, but by no stretch of the imagination or taste buds are they as great of a value than spending a little more to get your favorite. The ice cream was extremely soft, bland tasting and the cookies were bland as well. I mean I kept them in the freezer for about a day or two to see if the sandwiches would harden and I have to say, I was extremely disappointed with the ice cream still being soft and the cookie wafer did not improve the overall taste of the sandwich. I will not be purchasing these or any of the ice cream products from Great Value again. I have some right now that I have not touched.

Ingredients for their Great Value 97% Fat Free Sugar Free Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream Sandwiches:

Fat Free Ice Cream: Fat Free Milk, Sorbitol, Polydextrose, Maltodextrin, Whey Protein Concentrate, Contains 1% Or Less of Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Carrageenan, Mono-And Diglycerides*, Carob Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Polysorbate 80, Vanilla Extract, Vanillin, Sucralose, Calcium Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate. Wafers: Bleached Wheat Flour, Isomalt, Sorbitol, Caramel Color, Palm Oil, Cocoa, Corn Flour, Food Starch-Modified, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Sucralose. *Adds A Dietarily Insignificant Amount of Fat.

A customer review makes me wonder if perhaps Walmart sells a vanilla flavored bleach.

Previously I purchased the Great Value Ice Cream Sandwich with both Chocolate and Vanilla ice cream mixed together. Now that one was really good.

However, the store sold out of that particular flavor, so I figured the original flavor would be just as good, right? Haha, NOPE.

Best I can describe the ice cream taste is Bleach. It literally tastes like frozen bleach cream, with no resemblance to vanilla whatsoever. What's worse is the chocolate wafers, which turned out to be completely tasteless, like cardboard. I could have asked for a small favor for the darn thing to actually taste like chocolate so that it can mask out the bleach taste, but oh well.

It's a shame I bought two boxes of this stuff, since the other flavor left a really good impression on me. If you want to get any ice cream sandwich, definitely don't get this one. Get the one with chocolate ice cream mixed in.

P.S. The packaging is shoddy, too. It takes a long time to peel off the wrapper.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Food and Drink | permalink | July 23, 2014 at 10:15 PM | Comments (1)

81-Year Old Virgin At Burning Man

A Burning Man virgin, that is, a birgin/burgin (debate the spelling amongst yourselves). He wears a media tag and is either a professional videographer or accompanied by one, so the video quality is good. There is some sort of filtering applied to the daytime outdoors scenes that I think is supposed to make it look like Kodachrome colors. Maybe.

A little bit of nudity, he describes the burning of the Man as a celebration of death:

Filed under Burning Man,Photography | permalink | July 23, 2014 at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

SCAQMD Monitoring Station

SCAQMD Monitoring Station In Desert Hot Springs (2344)
The new monitoring station in Desert Hot Springs

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Science | permalink | July 23, 2014 at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

Mistitled GoPro Video

The title is "Fox Kills and Eats My GoPro, but, as you will see, the the camera is far from dead. It records everything up to the moment the owner retrieves it.

Filed under GoPro,Photography | permalink | July 23, 2014 at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

Medical Marijuana in San Bernardino

The County of San Bernardino and every city in it, including the City of San Bernardino, ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The result has been something like this:
Weedmaps view of San Bernardino

That's the Weedmaps view of San Bernardino. Weedmaps is fairly inaccurate, but it's more accurate than any of the other online marijuana guides. Each marijuana leaf icon on that map is supposed to be a medical marijuana dispensary. The little trucks represent delivery services.

So their city attorney has made a study and he's written a report.

"We will present a plan which essentially acknowledges the futility and high cost of attempting to completely eradicate marijuana dispensaries with our current system, by which we will continue to spend hundreds of thousands and eventually millions but will never significantly achieve success," Saenz said, reading from a prepared statement on Monday. "Instead, by conceding to California's policy of allowing marijuana use for medical purposes, and permitting dispensaries that are highly regulated, we can move the distribution of medical marijuana from the black market to the regulated market."

He promised aggressive enforcement against landlords and property owners.

"Civil injunctions have been used effectively to end dispensary operations at specific locations," he said. "However, the injunction process is the most costly for the city to pursue, and therefore, can have little effect on the entire city unless we are willing to commit substantial resources in an extensive city-wide pursuit. We continue to expend valuable and limited police, code enforcement and attorney resources with frustratingly insignificant results."

Beginning on page 4 of his written report the City Attorney describes the difficulty of enforcing the law against illegal dispensaries. In an administrative process, "Administrative Civil Penalties" are issued against both the operators and the landlord of a dispensary. The most effective ones are those issued to landlords.

In a criminal process, misdemeanor criminal citations are issued to the operators of a dispensary. Although jail time is unlikely (thanks to AB109), the prospect of a misdemeanor criminal record gets some dispensary operators to comply.

The civil injunction process is the most expensive for the city, but can be very effective in shutting down a dispensary at a specific location (which to me sounds like spending a lot of money just to get the dispensary to move a few blocks). The attorney estimated that one of these injunctions would consume 40 hours of attorney time.

The City Attorney's recommendation, then, is to form a committee! The committee might discuss spending more money on more law enforcement; or discuss engaging in focused enforcement in certain areas; or study SB1262; or study the possibility of creating zones where dispensaries would be permitted; or research possible rules for the operation of dispensaries; or do some research into collecting taxes and fees from the dispensaries.

The report seems to be suggesting that the city needs to back down from its total ban, while not actually saying that. It was written by an attorney, you know.

Filed under California,Marijuana | permalink | July 23, 2014 at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2014

Leica T Mirrorless

For its 100th anniversary Leica has released the mirrorless T camera system. The body starts at $1,850. it has a new lens mount and there are only two lenses. The cheaper one, the 27-84mm equivalent (18-56mm actual) zoom, f3.5, is $1,750. You can get an adaptor for $395 allowing you to use Leica M mount lenses. The usual extras you buy with a new camera will set you back a bit as well. Spare battery $140; detachable electronic viewfinder $595; camera bag $275; or a really nice camera strap (it's actually a holster) $225.

The camera has some very nice features. 16 megapixel. Built-in 16GB of memory and uses SDXC cards. The body is machined from a single block of aluminum, like a MacBook Pro. There is no battery door - the battery is designed to mount flush with the body. Most of the controls are accessed via the touchscreen. In Auto ISO you can set a maximum acceptable ISO and you can specify a minimum shutter speed. In addition to the usual choices for white balance, you can specify a color temperature in one of 20 increments from 2,000 to 11,500. You can set an "acoustic signal" to trigger for certain events including touch, full SD card, and autofocus. I don't know if by "acoustic signal" they necessarily mean something audible. It might be a vibration you feel.

On the downside, it's got a very slow start up...as long as 3 seconds.

Filed under Photography | permalink | July 22, 2014 at 03:11 PM | Comments (1)

Trampoline Safety

This was probably not covered in the gun safety course or the manual that came with the trampoline: "[T]he defendant's mother, said the two were in a relationship, and had been playing with the gun that killed Edwards while on a trampoline with their infant child."

| permalink | July 22, 2014 at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2014

Chicago Family May Pick Up The Joseph Wambaugh House

Maybe. Maybe not. It's in Thunderbird Estates in Rancho Mirage. The Desert Sun says it was Joseph Wambaugh's house. They also say that the original asking price was $12 million, but it sold for only $4.2 million. Joseph Wambaugh is a popular and entertaining writer who's written several famous books, but the one you want to know about is one of his less popular novels: The Secrets of Harry Bright, which is set in the desert in a little town called Mineral Springs with a small police department. Just south of Mineral Springs, across the freeway is Palm Springs. When the story's action is anywhere south of the 10, the geography is entirely accurate. But the town of Mineral Springs exists in some fictional geography with hills, canyons, roads and buildings that do not match Desert Hot Springs. Nevertheless, it's Desert Hot Springs. Sorta.

70555 Thunderbird Mesa Dr Rancho Mirage CA 92270
This is the former Wambaugh house
. The listing says an offer has been accepted on the property.

You can't get correct punctuation even with $4.2 million:

Motivated Seller! If spectacular views & privacy are important to you, look no further. Here you will find world-class living at this private, hilltop desert estate w/ ideal year round weather & over 100 nearby golf courses. Located in the exclusive gated community of Thunderbird Heights, this custom built compound with a 6100 sq ft, 4 bdrm, 4.5 bath main home & a stunning 2000 sq ft, 3 bdrm, 3 bath casita will surely please the most discriminating buyer. No expense was spared in creating this must see property. Elevators, motor court, pool, 2 spas, manicured grounds, 20' waterfall, rock formed lagoon, misting system, extensive water features & a putting green w/ sand trap are just few of the many amenities in this one-of-a-kind estate. The main home features a master retreat w/ gym, tanning & spa rooms. Perched up on its own hilltop, and nested against the bighorn sheep preserve, ensures complete privacy and security within it's gated 3.29 acres. The panoramic views are breathtaking!

Filed under Books,Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | July 21, 2014 at 07:49 PM | Comments (3)

"Truth Is Beauty"

Timelapse video of the assembly of Truth Is Beauty on the playa in 2013 before the gates opened at Burning Man.

Filed under Art,Burning Man,Photography | permalink | July 21, 2014 at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)

Airbnb Nightmare For Palm Springs Property Owner

An Airbnb traveler has stayed in a condo in Palm Springs for more than 30 days and is now exercising his right to squat.

On the last day of his reservation, still unpaid, [property owner] Tschogl says she sent him a text message telling him if he didn't vacate the property, she would have the utilities shut off.

He apparently responded with a threat of his own. "It almost sounded like blackmail. He threatened to sue me, saying his brother was there and got an ulcer to due to the tap water. He said he was legally occupying my domicile and he has rights," Tschogl says.

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | July 21, 2014 at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)


July 21:

  • 1588 - The English fleet first engaged the Spanish Armada.
  • 1846 - Mormons founded the first English-language settlement in California in San Joaquin Valley.
  • 1898 - Spain ceded Guam to USA.
  • 1899 - Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park Illinois.
  • 1925 - John Scopes found guilty of teaching Darwinism.
  • 1930 - US Veterans Administration formed.
  • 1948 - Cat Stevens and Garry Trudeau were born.
  • 1951 - Robin Williams was born in Chicago.
  • 1949 - Senate ratified North Atlantic Treaty by a vote of 82-13.
  • 1952 - 7.8 earthquake in Kern County California, 14 killed.
  • 1959 - Boston Red Sox become the last major league team to acquire a black player.
  • 1976 - First outbreak of "Legionnaire's Disease" killed 29 in Philadelphia.
  • 1989 - Greg LeMond won the Tour de France.

Filed under History | permalink | July 21, 2014 at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

Simpson's Marathon

552 episodes (25 seasons) beginning 10 AM August 21; ending at midnight on September 1. On FXX.

Filed under Television | permalink | July 21, 2014 at 01:06 PM | Comments (1)

Temple Guardians

A short (7½ minutes) video about the Burning Man Temple and its Guardians.

Filed under Burning Man,Religion | permalink | July 21, 2014 at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2014

July 20


  • 1881 - Sitting Bull, surrendered to US federal troops.
  • 1944 - President Roosevelt was nominated for an unprecedented fourth term at Democratic convention.
  • 1944 - US invaded Guam.
  • 1944 - Assassination attempt against Hitler at Wolf's Lair.
  • 1968 - Iron Butterfly's "In-a-gadda-da-vida" hit the charts at #117.
  • 1969 - Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin Jr. from Apollo 11 walked on the moon.
  • 1976 - First Martian landing: US Viking 1 at Chryse Planitia.

Filed under History | permalink | July 20, 2014 at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2014

GoPro for today

Avalanche Deaths
Snowboarders with a GoPro ride an avalanche to their deaths. The video itself will be used in the official investigation (British Columbia). The linked article which is otherwise well-written includes this strange and unclarified sentence: "Within hours rescuers tracked Mr Kerr's body through a mysterious signal, buried 4m deep at the bottom of a gully." By "mysterious signal" do they mean something like what happened in First Contact or something more like what happens in a Japanese horror flick or maybe something like a message from God ("I saw the Virgin Mary in the pattern of the snow and ice at that spot"). Or was it something mundane like a Bluetooth signal from the GoPro. Experts who know that Bluetooth cannot penetrate 4 meters of hydrogen-dioxide are welcome to rule that out for me.

Siri Not Available

At one point you will hear an iOS device respond to one of the Nebraska stormchasers with "Siri not available." Well, if Siri not available while you are driving around dodging two tornado funnels at once, then what good is she? Video shot with GoPro. Full screen viewing advised. You will think one of those funnels is about to destroy the town's water tower, and I point this out as an example of what a water tower really looks like. I'm looking at you, cellphone tower builders. These hokey water tower costumes you put on your towers are straight out of Petticoat Junction. A bit more reality would be appreciated.

Polaroid is putting its name on one of those generic Chinese action cams. Built-in battery. Jell-o effect shutter. Need we say more? $180. I repeat, $180. For only $20 more you can get the GoPro Hero3 - White Edition! You'll thank me later.

Not memory, not a Dodge, and certainly not a football team. But GoPro involved.

Filed under GoPro,Photography,Public Safety | permalink | July 19, 2014 at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

After Serving Time In Kansas, Californian Coming Home

David Smith, who grew up in San Diego County and got his BS in forestry/developmental studies at UC Berkeley, will become the new Superintendent for Joshua Tree National Park in September, after serving his time as Superintendent of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas.

Here's a TEDx talk given by Superintendent Smith. Not only is he a really good speaker, but he seems especially aware of the fact that National Parks do not attract Hispanic people or black people...at least not at the rate they attract middle-class white people, he says. His talk includes real life experiences in Mecca (California) and Joshua Tree N.P. He had worked at Joshua Tree N.P. for four years before he saw a black person visiting there. Kids in Mecca had never even heard of a "national park."

Filed under California,History | permalink | July 19, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2014

Rieman Scupture Dedication

Yesterday morning was the official dedication of the new Steven Rieman sculpture at the Health & Wellness Center/

Dedication of Steven Rieman Sculpture at DHS Health & Wellness Center (0206)

Steven Rieman (0202)
Steven Rieman

Dedication of Steven Rieman Sculpture at DHS Health & Wellness Center (0204)

John Furbee & Arden Wallum (0205)
John Furbee and Arden Wallum

More photos are here.

Filed under Art,Desert Hot Springs,Photography | permalink | July 18, 2014 at 02:50 PM | Comments (1)

July 17, 2014

July 17

  • 1717 - Handel's "Water Music" premieres on the river Thames in London.
  • 1821 - Spain cedes Florida to US.
  • 1850 - Harvard Observatory takes 1st photograph of a star (Vega, not Suzanne).
  • 1861 - US Congress authorizes paper money.
  • 1862 - US Army authorized to accept blacks as laborers.
  • 1867 - First US dental school, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, established.
  • 1917 - British Royal family changes its name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.
  • 1944 - Two ammunition ships explode at Port Chicago, California kills 322.
  • 1945 - Potsdam Conference (Truman, Stalin, Churchill) holds first meeting.
  • 1948 - Proclamation of constitution of Republic of Korea.
  • 1954 - Construction begins on Disneyland.
  • 1955 - Disneyland televises its grand opening in Anaheim, California (one year to build?!).
  • 1959 - Tibet abolishes serfdom.
  • 1967 - Monkees perform at Forest Hills, New York, Jimi Hendrix is opening act.
  • 1981 - Lobby walkways at Kansas City's Hyatt Regency collapse 114 die, 200 injured.
  • 1998 - Russia buries Tsar Nicholas II & family, 80 years after they died.

Filed under History | permalink | July 17, 2014 at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

What is this "District Of Columbia" you speak of?

TSA agent at Orlando demanded a passport from a traveler because he did not recognize his District of Columbia driver's license as American. A TSA spokesman said that all TSA agents in Orlando have now been shown copies of a DC driver's license.

| permalink | July 17, 2014 at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2014

States of California

Tim Draper speaks to the Commonwealth Club about his proposal to divide California into six states. It seems to me that he's completely dissatisfied with the obvious deficiencies of California state government, but rather than propose to completely rewrite the California constitution, because that would be really hard, his proposal is to blow it apart and write six different constitutions and have those six states negotiate compacts with each other to resolve things like water rights. That somehow seems simpler to him.

He brushes off the federal issue, saying that at some future point one of the two major political parties would both dominate the federal government and enjoy majority support in all six of the new states and when that point is reached the federal government would then approve the new states in order to add 10 new Senators who are, mostly, members of that dominant party. Ballotpedia says that the California Legislature has been dominated by the Democratic party since 1959, with only a couple of two-year exceptions. So approval of the new states would be waiting for the Democrats to control Congress and the Presidency. How many decades would that wait be? Consider that the only times that Congress has approved splitting states has been when issues of slavery or the Civil War were involved.

I think the only way to make the proposal palatable to Congress would be to simultaneously consider breaking Texas into five states, so the federal government would end up with 18 more Senators.

I think that some of those new six states would, in fact, vote Republican. California is not all Democrat, border to border. Congress can see that too, so approving six new states becomes a bit of a gamble for both parties. When was the last time Congress approved a structural change that might have shifted the partisan balance? Maybe 1913 when the U.S. Constitution was amended for the direct election of Senators.

Draper says he has some analysis that shows small states excel at some things. He interprets correlation as cause; IOW, smallness creates greater prosperity, for example, or better education. Maryland. Is Maryland a state that we want to use as a model for the new Californias?

He doesn't consider that all the small states are in the east and so they are all older than California, and all much more densely populated than California. I would think population density has a stronger effect on prosperity and good government than mere geographical size. The population density of Connecticut is 722.65 people/square mile. In California it's only 235.68/sq.mi. (WorldAtlas.com) California's population would need to rise to 118,294,914 in order to match the density of Connecticut. That would certainly be a different California than we have now. The current population is about 38 million.

San Francisco Bay was not discovered by Europeans until 1769. 149 years before that the Pilgrims landed at Provincetown, Massachusetts. Los Angeles was founded in 1777, 147 years after the founding of Boston. The first English language school in California was opened at Mission Santa Clara in 1847, the year that Harvard celebrated its 211th birthday. Those additional 150 to 200 years of history contribute a lot to what makes those little eastern states different from California.

There is one questioner in the video who seemed to be about to ask him if the differences between states might be due to something other than geographical size, but he interrupted her. In fact, he interrupts most questioners in this video.

Draper says the small states are competing with each other for businesses and population and he thinks it's a great thing that if a business doesn't get the tax treatment it wants in New York, it can move to New Jersey, perhaps. Yet, California competing with Nevada, Arizona and Texas for businesses somehow turns out bad in his opinion.

He doesn't consider that because California has this exceedingly easy initiative system combined with the fact that measures approved by popular vote can be amended only with great difficulty, means our laws, tax structure and constitution are ridden with special interest provisions. He does say that breaking up into six states would get rid of Prop 13. Somebody should say something about babies and bathwater at this point.

Getting rid of Prop 13 would obviously be a very difficult task. But a fantasy that Congress would approve dividing California into six states? Easy-peezy!

Draper says there is no one single place to lay blame for the current state of California: not the bureaucracy, not the partisanship. "It just happens." Right. California just happens because, as we know, no people are involved. But if we break up into six states then those very same people who have created problematic California will magically create six new efficient governments.

He's a bomb-tosser with unbridled optimism that the same people who created the mess will create six beautiful solutions.

Filed under California | permalink | July 16, 2014 at 07:40 PM | Comments (1)