Here are some things we learned from Introduction to Water In California by David Carle:
- manufacturing 28 million water bottles a year for US sales required 17 million barrels of oil.
- making one-time, plastic water bottles takes three times as much water as went inside each container (and produced a lot of carbon dioxide, 2.5 million tons)
- an acre-foot of water, a standard measurement, is equal to 325,851 gallons, “which would cover a football field one foot deep.” A common estimate is that an acre-foot meets the domestic needs of five to eight people
- snow that falls when it’s extra cold can contain significantly less water per cubic foot as snow that falls closer to 32 degrees
- about seven million acre-feet make it to the state aquifers each year. About 400,000 acre feet come off the Eastern Sierra, averaging enough water per year for about 3.2 million people
- “coastal redwoods specialize in growing massive on long, slow drinks of harvested summer fog”
- 55% of all the country’s produce is grown in California
- almost all of the eared grebes in North America use the Salton Sea at some point
- There are an estimated 6.9 million dogs and 7.7 million cats in California
Great book, I’d recommend it. The topic of water in California is so complex, involving so many agencies and mandated plans and districts and projects and regulatory commissions. The most alarming fact in this book is that the twentieth century was California’s third or fourth wettest century of the past four thousand years. So all our plans, desperate as they often are, may be built on rosy assumptions that are unlikely to hold.
Since I got to California in 2004 and read Cadillac Desert, I’ve been trying to understand California’s water system. In the far north of the state, roaring rivers run through redwood forests and down to the sea, and it’s wet almost every day. In the southeast of the state, there are places where it hardly ever rains. A big feature on present day maps of the state is the Salton Sea, a “new” lake (though it’s been flooding there on and off for thousands of years). A big feature on old maps of the state is the Tulare Lake, which has now vanished. The Tulare aquifer is still used to grow cotton, one of the most water intensive crops you can plant. Across the center of the state runs a mountain system that traps huge amounts of moisture as snow, and still has at least one glacier. The central valley of the state was once an intermittent wetland, there were times when you could’ve almost paddled a boat from Bakersfield to Sacramento.
There’s not nearly enough water for southern California in southern California, that’s why our tap water has to travel three hundred miles. Despite that, through our produce and bottled water like Arrowhead, we export water. Yet turn on your tap, and out comes the water. It’s a miracle (and maybe some kind of crime, as the movie Chinatown suggests).
I see Slate Star Codex wrote a piece in 2015 about how much water goes to alfalfa, for feeding cows. California also exports water in the form of meat, which I guess is not ideal.
Word went out on the community message board that people were finding dead jackrabbits. Healthy looking jackrabbits that appeared to have just dropped dead. There was a plague going around. A jackrabbit plague. RHD2. Rabbit hemorrhagic disease two. The two distinguishes it from original RHD. Bad news, a plague of any kind. Sure enough, a few days later, I saw on the remote camera on the back porch of my cabin out in the Mojave a bird picking at what looked like the muscles and bones of what used to be a jackrabbit.
I drove out there, and found that yes indeed, this had been a jackrabbit. Whether it had died of plague, I don’t know, it seemed possible. I bagged it for disposal, and poured some disinfectant on the ground, as recommended by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The next day, I found another dead jackrabbit. This jackrabbit did not appear to have been hurt in any way. Her eye was open to me. This jackrabbit appeared to have gone into the shade and died. There was no visible trauma and no blood. I didn’t want to get too close, but this was the best chance to examine a jackrabbit, up close and at rest, that I’d ever had. Usually the jackrabbits are fast and on the move. Once they sense you seeing them, they take off.
I won’t put a picture of it here, in case a picture of a dead jackrabbit would upset you. In a way the lack of damage and the animal’s beauty made it much more sad and eerie. It reminded me of Dürer’s drawing of a young hare. I read the Wikipedia page about Dürer’s drawing, which departs from the usual impartial tone to quote praise for the drawing’s mastery:
it is acknowledged as a masterpiece of observational art alongside his Great Piece of Turf from the following year. The subject is rendered with almost photographic accuracy, and although the piece is normally given the title Young Hare, the portrait is sufficiently detailed for the hare to be identified as a mature specimen — the German title translates as “Field Hare” and the work is often referred to in English as the Hare or Wild Hare.
Dürer’s drawing of a walrus is less acclaimed:
The drawing is generally considered as not successful; and is viewed as curious attempted depiction that is neither aesthetically pleasing nor anatomically true to life. Art historians assume the artist drew it from memory having viewed a dead example during a 1520 visit to Zeeland to see a stranded whale which had decomposed before his arrival. Referring to the depiction departure for nature, Durer’s animal has been described as “amusing…it looks more like a hairless puppy with tusks. When Dürer drew from life his accuracy was unquestionable, but he had only briefly seen a walrus, and had only fleeting memory and an elaborate verbal description from which to reconstruct the image”.
The jackrabbit is very similar to the European hare. The suggestion of the magical power of hares is a common theme in Celtic literature and the literature and folklore of the British Isles. We all remember the March Hare.
Most Americans are confused as to just what hares are, chiefly because we are accustomed to calling some of them jackrabbits. Biologically, the chief differences between hares and rabbits are that hares are born with hair and open eyes and can hop about immediately, while rabbits are naked, blind and helpless as birth.
I learned from this book:
which contains recipes for hares, including jugged hare, hasenpfeffer, and hare civit.
Of all the game animals you can hunt in California: elk, wild big, bear, turkey, bighorn sheep, deer, duck, chukar, dove, quail, the jackrabbit alone can be hunted all year round*. There is no season, and there’s no limit. On one of my first trips to California, I was taken out to the desert with the Gamez boys on a jackrabbit hunt. We only saw a few jackrabbits. Nobody got off a good shot at one. I doubt we really wanted to kill one, we just wanted to drive around the desert, shoot guns, and have fun, which we did very successfully.
During the pandemic I got my California hunting license, you could do it entirely online due to Covid restrictions. But I don’t intend to hunt jackrabbits, I don’t want to be like Elmer Fudd.
The meat is said to be quite dry, tough, and gamey. Most recipes call for long simmerings.
If you ever find out in the desert where you must hunt a jackrabbit for food, here’s the Arizona Game and Fish Department telling you how to butcher one.
Earlier this year, you moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco. How is the transition going?
It felt like the opening minute of Randy Newman’s song “I Love L.A.” Looking back on the twentieth century, I recall it was Los Angeles that was always the city of the future, and the city of craft and guilds. Every movie was essentially a six-month startup that brought together know-how and expertise from so many different areas: art, set design, costume, carpentry—and all the weirdly named professions like grips, gaffers, and boom operators. That ethos still lives on in the spirit of the place. With SpaceX and other aerospace companies making headway, I wouldn’t discount Southern California in the race to become the next big creative cluster. Of course, Sacramento may ruin the entire state before that happens. But that’s another story.
Michael Gibson (had never heard of) in City Journal. Gibson wrote a piece for City Journal where he called San Francisco “America’s Havana.” He pointed out inarguable problems with San Francisco, which is a shocking mess.
But, like Havana, San Francisco is also magical. There’s just something about it. Maybe it’s the drastic geography, set on hillsides over a bay that’s both perfect and hidden. The sea air is part of it, for sure, and the lushness of the flora. In both Havana and San Francisco, the very air is magical.
When you read the history of San Francisco, a certain tolerance of criminality always seems to have been part of the mix. Stepping over a druggie passed out on the street wouldn’t’ve been unfamiliar to a resident of Gold Rush-era San Francisco or Barbary Coast San Francisco, or the 1940s San Francisco that inspired all the noir movies.
I’ve had in my files this bit by Lillian Symes from a 1932 Harper’s, reprinted from the archive:
The city of cheap yet superb living:
When I got to LA in 2004, I found the living superb. It was cheaper than New York City, but I’m not sure it could really be called cheap. And it’s gotten less cheap. Readers, where would you say, these days, the living is cheap yet superb?
San Francisco scenes:
Sunday morning four weeks ago on the streets of the Beverly – Fairfax district was a bonanza for us collectors of non-lethal shells and projectiles.
The Honus Wagner card of this kind of collection is the LAPD stamped bean bag shell
A key guide for the hobbyist is the LAPD’s equipment page.
I hope I don’t have any more opportunities to add to my collection.
(Always remember the scene in The Last Castle (2001) where James Gandolfini, a military history buff, hears Redford, a real veteran, assess his collection of Civil War bullets and Minié balls: “it’s just something that caused some poor bastard a whole lotta pain.”
Couple real good scenes in that movie. When Redford teaches Ruffalo the meaning of a salute!)
At swimming pools at hotels and apartment complexes here in California you’ll see this sign. Sometimes it causes quite a stir from people who’ve never seen it before, as it does summon up some graphic imagery, and violates the traditional taboo on not printing the word “diarrhea” on large public signs.
I’ve been pondering this sign for years. It’s not a choice to put it up. The uniform wording and ubiquity suggests there must be a rule. So that means there must’ve been some kind of meeting at a regulatory agency or the legislature where they discussed the diarrhea danger, and agreed to the diarrhea sign rule. Sometimes I’ve idly wondered if the sign were some kind of prank on pool owners, to force them to make all lucky pool users ponder the word “diarrhea” Did a bureaucrat harboring long-felt resentment against pool enjoyers push this through? Punishment for exclusion from a pool party, years ago?
Well, finally I decided to look into it, and quickly found the answer, in this Conejo Valley Guide post, “What’s The Deal With All of Those Signs Posted At The Swimming Pool.”
The requirement for this and other community pool signs comes from California Building Code Chapter 31B “Public Pools,” Section 3120B “Required Signs.”
Section 3120B.11 “Diarrhea” indicates the sign must have letters at least 1 inch high, clearly states what is noted above, and is posted at the entrance area of a public pool. Public pools include municipal/park district pools, hotel pools, water parks, swim schools, homeowner shared pools, apartment pools, campground pools, etc. One is thus not required to post this sign at your home pool (unless you really want to).
As the post notes, there have been outbreaks of waterborne disease from pools.
I’m inclined to give some benefit to common sense in the case of pool diarrhea. I think the California Building Code may have gone too far, living up to California’s reputation as a bit of a ninny when it comes to regulations. From a brief review, it seems like localities could make local amendments to the building code, and make themselves diarrhea-sign free zones. I would support that in my neighborhood. But it’s work to do that, and we can agree it’s not the most pressing problem.
What about the 14 days part? Must our language always be so bureaucratic? Do we just need a simpler sign that says: Be Cool About The Pool? Should the sign also be in Spanish?
Do we have a case study here in how rules, once made, tend to stay just through inertia? Is this a case of an annoying nanny state, or a reasonable public health measure? I suppose if it gives an occasional chuckle and a helpful reminder, it’s not so bad. Just a bit of local color.
or something more? Let’s get a more detailed atlas…
Lotta shakin’ and quakin’ going on at Naval Weapons Center China Lake (Restricted Area).
I’m prepared to conclude this was no earthquake, but the escape or an attempted escape of a captured UFO.
Interesting thing about this area: though desolate it’s dotted with petroglyphs, some alleged to be 10,000 years old.
The chukar partridge is the national bird of Pakistan and Iraq.
A taxidermied specimen in the Auckland museum.
There’s also a population in the United States.
The chukar population extends to eastern California.
Originally native to southern Eurasia, the chukar (also known as partridge) was brought from Pakistan in 1932 to be a game bird. It is now plentiful in northeastern California (east of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range) and the Mojave Desert. It can be found below sea level in Death Valley, and as high as 12,000 feet in elevation in the White Mountains. A chukar range map is available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website.
source: CDFW News. More:
Their call is a distinctive chuck-chuck-chuck, from which their name is derived. Skilled hunters who can replicate the call will find this tactic useful.
Gotta get into the desert uplands and try to find one of these guys.
If anyone needs to borrow this one you can. Picked up in San Luis Obispo.
Two Mojave Indian women playing a game (fortune-telling with bones?), ca.1900:
More, by Molhansen, 1856:
Timothy O’Sullivan photographed these guys:
Panambona and Mitiwara are these guys names, apparently.
The inhabitants known for their bloodthirstiness would’ve killed me if I approached any further than the Unholy Gate.
Santa Anita racetrack is a beautiful place. There’s history. Seabiscuit raced there, a statue honors him. It’s good to sit in the stands, look at the mountains, and drink a beer, watch the horses race. Read the little horse newspaper.
Santa Anita’s been having problems though. Horses keep dying there.
Since December 36 (!) horses have died.
On Saturday at Santa Anita they had the Breeders’ Cup, a nationally televised race.
Santa Anita! This is your big moment. All eyes on you. You’re on TV, time to shine.
Don’t let any horses die.
They had ONE job. And what happened?
A green screen was rushed onto the track to block Mongolian Groom from the view of 67,811 fans and a prime-time television audience. He was loaded onto an equine ambulance and taken to a hospital on the backstretch.
Cup officials said in a statement about two hours after the race that Mongolian Groom had been euthanized after suffering a serious fracture to his left hind leg.
Couldn’t we pretend we were giving him tender care? euthanize him later?!
I’ll be sad if Santa Anita closes down. It’s like some enchanted time capsule of southern California. But, if you’re in the horse business, you can’t get me excited about horses and then keep killing them.
Just a small street scene. I like when cities look like themselves.
“ There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge. ” — Raymond Chandler, “Red Wind”
If you’re a reader of Helytimes you’ve probably come across these quotes about the dry, spooky winds that originate in the desert and blow into Los Angeles.
The definition of these winds in common use gets kind of loose. Any wind that’s blowing not the cooling, perfume air of the Pacifc, but the dry, harsh air off the desert, can get counted as a Santa Ana wind.
One of the oldest references to the Santa Ana winds appears to be in a January, 1943 issue of California Folklore Quarterly. Luckily we have that issue handy, and present it here for any interested California scholars.
Maybe next week we’ll look into The Vanishing Hitchhiker
Down in Manhattan Beach on a small mission, I stopped into Brothers Burritos, recommended as a Beach Cities lunch spot by Travis of El Segundo / Hood River. “You get two mini burritos.” Sold.
At Brothers, the Pacific just a few streets down, they have a rack of old issues of surfing mags, including Surfer’s Journal. This magazine has gripped me before, it’s really impressive, almost as much a journal of travel and philosophy as it is of waves.
In this issue was a piece by Jamie Brisick where he walks a stretch of Hawaii’s North Shore, “from Velzyland to Log Cabins,” a stretch he’s visited and lived in, on and off, for something like thirty-five years. He remembers legends, has encounters, studies the changes to the beach, shares memories.
This struck me:
Blacksmiths. Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia began as a blacksmith. How about Primitive Technologies guy?
Primitive technology is a hobby where you make things in the wild completely from scratch using no modern tools or materials. This is the strict rule. If you want a fire- use fire sticks, an axe- pick up a stone and shape it, a hut- build one from trees, mud, rocks etc. The challenge is seeing how far you can go without modern technology. If this hobby interests you then this blog might be what you are looking for.
Also It should be noted that I don’t live in the wild but just practice this as a hobby. I live in a modern house and eat modern food. I just like to see how people in ancient times built and made things. It is a good hobby that keeps you fit and doesn’t cost anything apart from time and effort.
from his website.
Out in the Mojave there are pockets of people into permaculture, imagining perhaps that the future may be primitive.
I’m not sure how primitive the future will be. Some skills and trades are ancient and seem to endure. The future may not be as futuristic as we once, collectively, seemed to dream. Maybe the primitive sense is just an adjustment of expectation. Does technology have to move forward all the time? The primitive future. Could there be a world where the past seems futuristic? The language of backwards and forwards almost suggests a direction History moves. But History also tells of times when life became more primitive, even for centuries. How dark were the Dark Ages is a good debate, too big for this space. Leave that out and there are still times where civilizations dissolve or collapse or just kinda retreat or fade out.
No matter how primitive the future gets, there’s something soothing about practicing ancient arts and crafts and trades. Simple, without being primitive — could that be a future to hope for?
Very satisfying burritos. I’ve since been to the Brothers in Hermosa Beach, which I also liked but just not quite as much.
The Manhattan Beach Public Library has got to be, real estate wise, one of the best public libraries in the nation. You can sit in a nice chair and stare at the ocean.
walked through the restored park area – “Beverly Gardens Park” – along Santa Monica Boulevard as it enters Beverly Hills.
This statue is called The Hunter and Hounds, by A. Jacourmat. The plaque tells me “This shell-torn statue stood guard above a subterranean chamber in which Signal Corps. 3rd Division American Army maintained headquarters communications during bombardment of Chateau Thierry Second Battle of the Marne.” Wow.
More info at publicartinla.com
a true “lucky duck.” Here’s another look at this guy:
“What’re they gonna have at the San Diego Museum of Art?” I said, sneering. “A statue of a fish taco? An exhibit of craft IPA labels? A fluorescent Jeep Wrangler? A Tony Gwynn jersey?*”
This had been my scoffer’s attitude. But on the website of SDMA I learnt that they have a painting by Hieronymous Bosch, The Arrest of Christ.
Seeing a close to 500 year old painting by a weirdo master seemed worth a short Uber.
I was really impressed with SDMA! Small, but packed with wonders. Something good everywhere. There was an exhibit of “Golden Age of Spain” art that I didn’t even bother with. (Usually I find I like the art that came right before the golden age?)
The wall placard attributes Christ Arrested to the Workshop of Hieronymous Bosch, not Bosch himself. And how about Madonna of the Roses, by Pseudo-Pier Francesco Fiorentino?
Or Portrait of a Man by an unknown Flemish artist (once attributed to Hans Memling):
Goya, You Who Cannot. (They must have a bunch more Goyas in storage).
11th century Sambander.
George Inness, Farm Landscape, Cattle in Pasture—Sunset, Nantucket
Thomas Hart Benton, After Many Days.
An untitled work by George Copeland Ault.
Giotto, God The Father with Angels.
Sunday Afternoon, Hughie Lee Smith.
In The Patio by Georgia O’Keefe.
Anyway. This was all a nice break from Comic-Con.
At Comic-Con I heard that the X-Men are coming back.
* cheers to Jeff K. for this last punchline.
was trying to capture the stark steepness of the street across the lake, and the special but unrelenting quality of afternoon sun in LA, and also how LA can look very lush and inviting while also having a kind of washed down, contained, prison-like aspect.
Thought this Vox piece about Antelope Canyon by Rebecca Jacobs was insightful on the meanings of photography in Instagram Age.
What’s the meaning of a tour where they tell you how to photograph it?
first see the rocks early the next morning with a tour group, which is the only way you are allowed to visit them. Before our guide tells us his name, which we find out is Anthony, he asks us the most crucial question of the day: “Do you all have iPhones?”
Anthony instructs all of us except the kid with the Samsung to open our camera apps, click the icon in the top right corner, and swipe to a setting called “Vivid Warm.”
a non-industry friend asked me to summarize the current dispute between the WGA and the ATA. I did my best:
Anyway. We welcome comment!
For the purposes of this exercise, let’s rule out Amtrak. It’s “public transportation” in a way but that’s another level. Let’s talk about traveling, by public transit only, no Greyhound, connecting network to network, and see how far you could get.
Worked on this problem briefly and here’s what I came up with.
The key is really Lancaster. From LA you could take an 785 Antelope Valley Transit Authority Bus to Lancaster.
From Lancaster, you could connect on Kern Valley Transit and go as far as Lost Hills or Delano, or even out to Ridgecrest.
You’ll be dropped off around here:
But, you could also hop on the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority’s Mammoth Express, go out to Lone Pine, change there for a bus that will take you to Reno, Nevada.
You could even hop off early, in Carson City, Nevada. It’s thus easier to travel in this method to Nevada’s state capitol than it is to California’s.
Far as I can tell, closest you can get to Sacramento without resorting to Amtrak or Greyhound from Los Angeles is Delano or Lost Hills.
Along the coast I don’t see how you get farther than Santa Barbara.
If you’re heading east, I could see you getting to Hemet with some help from the Riverside Transit Authority, or you could work your way all the way to the east side of the Salton Sea with some help from the Sunline Transit Agency.
We welcome corrections from our transit-minded readers!