Saturday, May 29, 2010

We don’t need no “teacher-in-chief”!

Folks, no matter your politics, I’m liberal, don’t you sometimes wish we had a
leader in the white house? I mean a real, honest to God leader, who doesn’t
give a damn about the polls, but does something because it is the right thing,
based on morals and values from their upbringing. Don’t you ever wonder what
it would be like to have a Congress and state houses where the members work
on behalf of their constituents, all of them, and not just powerful and wealthy ones?

And it’s not just in the government- how about some corporate types actually for
once, showing some leadership and responsibility, instead of doing just what
the lawyers, handlers, and public relations folks suggest. We see it all the time,
everyone fighting to get in front of the cameras when times are good and nowhere
to be found when the bottom drops out, it’s always the same old thing, different
s---, different day. I, for one, am sick of it.

While on the subject of what I am sick of, our “teacher-in-chief” comes right to mind.
It seems like he’s on the tube, talking to us like a school marm all the time. I’ve had
it, I’m done with him. It’s bad enough, he’s hell bent on paving or windmilling over
every desert vista his minions can find and now is presiding over the worst environmental
disaster I believe this country has ever had. I believe we are only seeing the “tip of the
iceberg here, and another shoe is absolutely going to be dropping soon, you heard it
here on the backporch first. The oil leak flow rate is an absolutely perfect example of
what I am talking about here. My prediction is, whatever the highest rate you’ve heard,
add about 25% or so upwards to it, that’s how bad I think it is.

This gargantuan oil slick, whether dispersed downward toward the sea floor or spread
far and wide on the surface of the gulf, is moving inexorably closer and closer to the
shores and to that current they talk about, that could send it around Florida to the Atlantic
Ocean and beyond. This genie has popped out of the bottle and is proving exceedingly
difficult to put back in, it may never be. What if this is beyond our capability at this
time to fix? What if we can’t shut it off? I don’t have the answers and guess what,
neither does anyone else evidently. How do you mitigate this situation?

But fear not, our “teacher-in-chief” was Johnnie on the spot yesterday, there at that
”Potemkin Village like” press conference where from news reports I saw, BP bused in
crowds of workers for the time he was there and as soon as he left, they were bused back
to whatever place they came from, yes he was there taking “full responsibility”, forgive
me I haven’t had time to have my lawyers check his statement for any “weasel words”-
a little bit late if you ask this blogger- a lesson in leadership such as I have never seen
nor want to see again. I am done with this professor-in-chief and if something
doesn’t change, I believe he’ll be bounced out of office after one term. Of course,
the politico’s could care less, they’ll still have perks, influence, and money no
matter which side wins.

I remember reading a biography of Washington where when as a young officer, I believe
during the French and Indian wars, in one engagement , some of his men broke in battle
and started running for the rear, and from horseback, wielding the flat edge of his sword
applied liberally to their backsides, he broke the panic gripping his men, and by sheer bravery under fire and with his will stopped their headlong flight and won the battle.

That was leadership, shown at the moment required and with decisive action taken.
And it got results.

Who’s going to step forward now at this decisive moment? Will it be our president or perhaps someone in the Congress? Maybe someone in one of the executive branch
agencies involved with the cleanup? Perhaps at one of the oil firms?

Somebody better come up with some ideas quick, because hurricane season is just around the corner and in this case as the song goes, “Time waits for no one”.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Change- this blog, ourselves, and our government.

The first change made today is that I am dropping out of the nature blog network.
After thinking about it for a long time, it seems to me that this blog, while having a
little nature in it, is more in the green category and that direction really seems to
be what I have mostly posted about and that I am interested in.

After the latest drilling debacle down off Louisiana, it should be as clear as a bell
to all concerned that something has to change. We are not going to be able to
”drill,baby,drill” our way out of this mess we are in. On the other hand, we just can’t
cover every square foot of desert with mirrors and windmills either.

I don’t have the answer, and I’ll let you in on a little secret, neither do our masters
in the government(s) nor their masters at the corporations! The answer is out there
somewhere, we just haven’t found it or we have the answer at hand and don’t have
the will to do what it takes to get out of this mess.

Maybe a lot of pain, is just the prescription needed, to get ourselves as a people and
a nation back on track. Some real sacrifice, not the self indulgent sacrifice we have
made so far. Perhaps if the lights were turned off for a while that might be enough to
get our attention as a nation.

A little historical perspective here, just to illustrate a past example of sacrifice. Around
two thousand years ago, Rome was under attack from the Carthaginian forces led by
Hannibal, who had crossed the Alps and was making his way down the peninsula.
The armies did battle at Cannae and when the dust settled that night, the Romans
had suffered around 50,000 dead. That was in one afternoon. Including this battle, Rome
in around 20 months lost 1/5th of the entire population over 17 years of age. Rome
was in real danger of being wiped out. Yet history shows years later that they completely
wiped out the city of Carthage.

I think that the people fought for their homes and farms, their way of life, and for the republic that they believed in at that time. They endured many years of unending sacrifice
and loss, losing battle after battle, but never stopped believing in themselves or, as
hard as it is to believe in this cynical times, their government.

I am not suggesting that we need to make this kind of sacrifice. But we definitely need
to do more than we are currently doing, and we need to do it smarter. What kind of sense
does it make, after this unbelievable awful debacle in the Gulf of Mexico, to put a 6 month
moratorium on future offshore drilling, and yes I am thinking the Arctic drilling proposal,
I mean use some common sense here, just imagine how much more difficult it would be
to try to shut down a runaway offshore deepwater well, when you are dodging huge
ice floes! It’s patently ridiculous on its’ face.

We need our politicians and so called policy makers to lay off the “rubber chicken
banquet circuit” for a while and get their behinds out from behind their rolodexes which
are set up on the big donor pages, and put on a hard hat and go out to the scene of the
crime, so to speak, maybe even do as a friend and fellow blogger suggests, clean a few
oil drenched birds, maybe then it’ll finally sink in, the devastation that has occurred to
this region, devastation I fear is just unfolding and will continue doing so long after we
have died and left the scene.

It’s just an absolute disgrace what has happened to this region and others affected by
”big oil”.

Let me close by mentioning that BP used to say that stood for beyond petroleum, I just
hope, like for the big bankers and investment banking houses, it doesn’t stand for
beyond prosecution”.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wore out today, maybe a little depressed.

Sorry for not posting much lately, I have some ideas but seem to be lacking
energy and motivation. About the only thing I have written lately was this
little blurb I posted on Facebook the other day:

I have been feeling very pessimistic lately, in particular about the state of the world economy, and am throwing this out there- if you feel a great big urge to go into debt big time for something you really must have, think two or three times about it. The last thing you need to accumulate in a deflationary time is more debt which will be repaid with hard to earn dollars.

I am sorry to say that I feel we will be in the second dip of the recession this
time next year and/or will realize that were in an actual depression all this time.
I felt the same way prior to the housing collapse while the pundits were denying
there was even a bubble and that prices would always go up, easy to say in
hindsight but my friends will back me up on this, that’s one of the main things
I talked about then, I am sure that got sick of hearing it from me.

Long time readers know I never talk about my job as a bus driver, I will today to only
mention lately I have been doing airport related runs, which are tiring me out until I
build up my strength, it’s frustrating to be thinking all day during work about ideas to
talk about here and then forget them by day’s end or just be too tired to do anything but surf the web!

So feel free to look through the archives, dear readers, I am sure there’s something there
of interest. Those of you ending up here out of the blue, if you want to see and here me,
feel free to watch any of my videos here in these pages, just don’t expect to see any
great video work. I admit I don’t know much about it, and even asked for help on these
pages, now I am begging for help from any knowledgeable reader familiar with
video production and film making, to recommend a good book or two, please,
on the subject.

I guess I’m just going through a dry spell and hope everyone will stick around for the ride to come.

Hope to see you again soon.



Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekend reading list--- relax it’s a short one.

This first link will educate you on this whole desert solar farm issue.
This is a “must read” if you have an interest in seeing what all the fuss
is about or if you really care about our deserts. Surf over to Coyote
Crossing for the article here:

This next article was written in mid-summer 2009 and is tough sledding
but the conclusions seem right on, and the author obviously understands
this whole renewable energy gig, especially from the macro perspective.
Surf over here and you better eat your wheaties before you tackle this
one, and may I suggest that you bookmark both of these fine sites.

The title of the article is “Renewable power? Not in your lifetime”

Have a nice weekend folks, there may be a pop quiz next time we meet up
here at the backporch.


Friday, May 21, 2010

They laughed when we said this “Solar licensing process was rigged…

Then it was proven in the most Kafkaesque way possible.(My apologies to the
writers of one of the most successful direct marketing campaigns in history as I
shamelessly crib their idea, you know the one”they laughed when I sat down to
play the piano.”)

This is the tale of two different players in the large solar camp, Abengoa and Bright
Source Energy, both having made the news this month in a big way and for different
reasons. Out of concern I feel from friends and associates who may think that I might
have been “picking or even piling on BrightSource” I will talk about them last.

So what was the big deal with Abengoa you ask, aren’t they just another one of those
giant solar conglomerates that would like to build a super- sized solar farm on a huge
tract of desert land? Yes, they plan to do that. But with a difference. They propose
to build theirs on used up, depleted farm land in an area where water is scarce and
you’d have a hard time growing a prickly pear cactus there without irrigation. And they plan to invest
$1.2 BILLION of their own money in this deal, and hope to qualify for $300Million
from the taxpayers as a subsidy. This project, and apologies to some, is an environmentalists wet dream. No pristine animal and plant habitat to be sacrificed,
no major transmission lines, lies very close to an existing solar farm, and within 50
miles or so from the existing plant at Kramer Junction. A win- win all around.

Oh ye backporchians, sit down for this next. Never doubt the ability of the California
state bureaucracy to snatch defeat right out of the jaws of victory! I refer you
to these links for the whole disgusting story.

Here is the next story, I saved it to my desktop and  I don’t have the link. This story is
from the Riverside Press Enterprise:

Lauded solar plan in San Bernardino County hits a snag

&ltlink rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="" /> &lttable cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="background:url(;width:200;height:15px" onclick="javascript:window.location.href=''">&lttr>&lttd class="player-control"></td>&lttd class="player-center" style="width:114px">&ampnbsp;&lta href=""&gtListen to Story</a>&ampnbsp;</td>&lttd class="player-volume"></td></tr></table> &amplt;link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="" /&ampgt; &amplt;table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="background:url(;width:200;height:15px" onclick="javascript:window.location.href=''"&ampgt;&amplt;tr&ampgt;&amplt;td class="player-control"&ampgt;&amplt;/td&ampgt;&amplt;td class="player-center" style="width:114px"&ampgt;&ampamp;nbsp;&amplt;a href=""&ampgt;Listen to Story&amplt;/a&ampgt;&ampamp;nbsp;&amplt;/td&ampgt;&amplt;td class="player-volume"&ampgt;&amplt;/td&ampgt;&amplt;/tr&ampgt;&amplt;/table&ampgt;

Download story podcast

10:19 PM PDT on Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

A 1,700-acre solar power development planned on former alfalfa fields west of Barstow is considered ideal by environmentalists and San Bernardino County officials because it would create jobs and provide clean power without destroying pristine wildlife habitat.

But Abengoa Solar Inc. faces a big hurdle: The California Energy Commission staff has recommended that the company acquire and protect 1,588 acres of farmland elsewhere in California, along with water rights so it can be irrigated.

The requirement is in keeping with the state's farm-preservation policies, which aim to protect farming and food supplies as agricultural land is lost to development.

Supporters of the solar project say the policies make no sense in areas already abandoned by farmers.

Abengoa's project manager, Scott Frier, said he was shocked by the recommendation, though he did not say it would kill the company's plans for vast rows of mirrors and a generating system that would produce enough electricity for more than 90,000 homes. The company is asking the state to reconsider, he said.

San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said he may push for new county zoning policies that would qualify abandoned farms for renewable-energy development, so that companies wouldn't have to replace the land.

Using former desert farms to meet California alternative-energy needs has many pluses, county officials and environmentalists say.

Renewable-energy development pumps economic life into land that has been vacant for years, if not decades, mostly because of scarce water, said Mitzelfelt, whose district includes the solar property. Abengoa's $1.2 billion investment could bring needed jobs to residents of the Victorville and Barstow areas, he said.

The company estimates its Mojave project would create 1,200 construction jobs and 80 permanent positions.

"This is exactly the kind of project I want to the see more of," Mitzelfelt said.

It also avoids destruction of undisturbed public land inhabited by desert tortoises, which are threatened with extinction, and other wildlife.

"We already have more desert farmland than we have water for," said Elden Hughes, a Sierra Club member who has fought for decades to preserve unspoiled desert land.

Frier said the company now irrigates 128 of its 1,765 acres near Harper Lake. The rest hasn't been farmed for 10 to 20 years, he said.

Frier said acquiring 1,588 acres of farmland would cost the company more than $11 million -- several times the cost of buying the same amount of wildlife habitat. Renewable-energy developers who build on public land are required to protect habitat elsewhere. Abengoa also would have to pay for water rights at a cost yet to be determined.

"The state's farm policy (is) misplaced," he said.

Hughes said the replacement requirement for abandoned farm land is a disincentive for developers. "It forces the use of pristine land, which is an absurdity," he said.

Saving farmland

Craig Hoffman, an energy commission project manager, said state officials are evaluating a proposal from Abengoa to replace only the 128 acres currently farmed at the company's site.

The state's original recommendation was based on several factors, he said. Asked in its application how the land would be used if the solar project wasn't approved, the company indicated that it would be farmed, Hoffman said by telephone.

The state analysis also found that the land has enough groundwater and sufficient soil quality to support farming and that the area has a long agricultural history, Hoffman said.

Charles Tyson, manager of California Farmland Conservancy Program, said the state had been trying since the 1960s to preserve agricultural jobs and secure food sources as farmland has been developed for homes and businesses.

From 1982 to 2006, California lost more than 1.2 million acres of farms to urban uses, Tyson said. From 2004 to 2006, Riverside and San Bernardino counties lost 23,268 and 9,419 acres, respectively, he said.

Carrie Hyke, a principal planner for San Bernardino County, said past farming at the Abengoa site was limited to growing alfalfa for cattle ranches that have mostly left the area.

Environmental documents submitted to the energy commission say the first cattle ranch in the area was established in 1872 and that a succession of land owners raised cattle and alfalfa near Harper Lake into the 1980s.

Lester Lockhart, who acquired the land with a partner in 1925, became a prominent farmer. In 1953, he set up a gas station and general store with a sign that boasted, "We sell everything."


Part of the former Lockhart ranch already is producing solar energy.

A solar plant built there in the early 1990s is now operated by NextEra Energy Resources. The operation produces 160 megawatts with mirrors that concentrate the sun's energy. On a tour in March, state officials said it is the world's largest operating solar plant.

Abengoa, which is based in Spain and has local offices in Victorville and U.S. headquarters in Denver, wants to use similar thermal-concentration technology, in which curved mirrors focus heat on a liquid that creates steam to power turbines.

The Abengoa plant would be larger, with a capacity of 250 megawatts, and would cover other sections of the former ranch, including the ruins of Lockhart's store.

During the March tour, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the store ruins, where Frier had displayed a map of Abengoa's plan.

At the NextEra plant up the road, the governor signed a bill to help speed up alternative-energy developments on public land. The new law allows energy companies to pay into a fund to compensate for lost wildlife habitat. No one talked about compensating for lost farmland.

Reach David Danelski at 951-368-9471 or

Mojave Solar Project

Developer: Abengoa Solar Inc., based in Spain

Location: 15 miles northwest of Barstow

Size: 1,765 acres

Investment: $1.2 billion

Technology: thermal concentration using mirrors

Capacity: 250 megawatts, enough for more than 90,000 homes
----end of quoted text---

So do you get it now? Land that was historically farmed only to grow alfalfa for the ranch
which no longer exists as a ranch, and part of which has already become a solar field,
and has not been farmed in almost 20 years, that is the basis for stopping this needed
solar project. You can’t make this kind of stuff up folks! Whatever the CEC has been
smoking lately, I want some. Don’t Bogart it all guys.(I err, 128 acres is still being farmed)

This requirement that they acquire all this acreage to mitigate and offset the valuable
farm land is just so much hogwash, or I can’t help myself, just so much:
ivanpahfieldtrip 011
A crude analogy but appropriate to make my point with succinctness.

Now let’s finally get down to my old fave, BrightSource Energy. You know the company
whose CEO, Mr. John Woolard, in an award winning performance that was first noted
here at the backporch, he of “we move slowly” fame, the company that now has plastered
surveyor flags and markers all over the Ivanpah site, and even driven a bulldozer through
there already, even though the project still has not been approved, in a blitzkrieg move
worthy of Generals Rommel and Guderian, and dare I say of Patton, has lined
up even more millions of venture capital dollars, all designed to make them world
leaders in solar development, without having built a single large scale

Here are the details at these links:

Man, this ole bus driver thought these kind of speculative moves ended with the collapse
of the housing bubble. Guess I’d better not quit my day job, huh? And according to one of
the articles, this is their 4th round of venture capital raising. Oh, I almost forgot and how
could I, I’m one of the saps whose future taxes went to their $1.37BILLION loan guarantee!

But here’s the real thing that may be going on and I am quoting from one of the articles:
many analysts consider it a likely candidate to go public.”

Let’s see if we all get this now. A successful company putting up over a billion$ of its’
own money gets a king sized monkey wrench thrown into its’ plans at the last minute
by the pointy headed paper pushers in Sacramento and the other which hat in hand
has now stooped to taking the retired teachers money and has never met a VC it
didn’t like, gets the red carpet treatment from the prez’s right- hand man at interior
on down to the Governator and his myriad minions, with nary a care or concern in
the world, already laying dozer tracks down at Ivanpah, despite all their care and concern
as scripted by their handlers, who knows how many tortoises or burrowing owls or gila
monsters, etc were crushed in the burrows---

It’s true what they say, life really isn’t fair sometimes, is it?


p.s. sorry folks, another glitch in this blogging software, this whole article was
in this font and size as you read here, with the exception of the quoted article, and
you see what happened, it came out in small font from the newspaper article to
the end. I am too tired to retype the whole thing.

One of these days, I’ll come across blogging software that isn’t chock full of bugs.
Please keep reading on and keep stopping in here at the backporch!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Welcome to the backporch- Barstow Desert Dispatch readers!

May I be the first to say come on in and sit a spell out here on the backporch. You
are welcome anytime here, we’ll even get the hot joe percolating for you, or some-
thing a little stronger perhaps.

I would like to give you my bonafides to allay any concerns out your way that perhaps
I might be a carpetbagger, and not really care about the desert area. For about 5 years,
from around 2000-2005 I lived in Morongo Valley and Joshua Tree in houses I bought.
Unfortunately, financial reverses forced me to move back to the OC, where I still reside
unto this day. But my heart is still in the Mojave and probably always will, till I check out.

Here are links to previous posts about this:

Here is one of my all time favorite net videos and my post about it. I just wish I lived this
lifestyle and on a personal note, I wish I was as articulate as this gentleman is. Truly a
”must see”!

Folks, I just wanted to give you a little idea of whose site you’re visiting and to say just
how much I appreciate that you took your time to surf over to my little, obscure part of
the net. And to remind you that comments are welcomed and encouraged here, but as
the disclaimer goes, to pretend like we’re sitting out on the backporch, face to face, and
to be nice. I mention this only because of the “warm welcome” I received from one of
the folks at the DD forums.

There is quite a bit of information about the Mojave National Preserve on the blog, including this trip report of the Teutonia Peak Trail” hike I did recently, which includes
a video I took at Sunrise Rock, when the Mojave Cross, was still up. Sorry for the extreme
wind noise in the video.

One last thing while you’re here. If anyone has any information on the whereabouts of
the missing cross or who might have taken it, please let the authorities know, contact the
Mojave National Preserve @ 760-252-6120.

Thanks again for visiting, hope to see you again soon!


Monday, May 17, 2010

The lockout by Rio Tinto in Boron- finally over.

Earlier last week while driving the trolley in and out of the theme park, I met one of the locked out union workers from Boron, the former U.S. Borax mine, known for decades
for the 20 mule borax teams. We had a very interesting but brief discussion about the
lockout, note that is not the same as a strike and the employees can draw unemployment,
and among the things we talked about was this radio interview on Democracy Now which I heard a couple of months ago. I will link to the site page below and to the video and
mp-3 feed as well.

I am pleased to report the morale is pretty good amongst the workers and there is talk that the Rio Tinto conglomerate may be about to make a real contract offer finally. Even though
I was cleared to release the worker’s name I choose to keep it private as I still have concerns after hearing and reading about this English corporations’ labor practices and
the way it goes in and makes wholesale changes. The person I talked to, I will say, was
very strong in the belief the workers will prevail, along with the union. Evidently in the
old glory days when it was U.S. Borax, things were more family oriented then, as in you
were like part of the family. As someone who has been bought more times in corporate
takeovers, so many that sometimes I feel like Kunta Kinte in Roots, I know what they
are talking about.

news flash- the lockout is over and workers have ratified the
new offer from the company!

Well folks, turns out that info was in fact excellent, I am taking a break from driving my bus
right now and just found it out, excellent news.

Here is the original link from Democracy Now’s broadcast which I recommend anyway
to pickup background knowledge on this issue.

And the video then from the show:
Just click on the video on the page or there is a mpeg audio available.



Sunday, May 16, 2010

Trying to reach one of my followers.

Folks, for privacy concerns, I won’t give out too much information.
I was on one of my followers’ google blogs, making a comment to
one of the comments to their post, and out of the blue, blogger
came up and said no such blog found!

This is a heads-up to my followers to check your google blog and see
if it is the one in question. It has been well known by this blogger for
some time that google has some issues with their site hosting and
software and this isn’t the first time that I have heard of this happening.

Check out your blogs please. I tried to contact the blogger in question
but can’t get any information from Google Blogger.

The lesson here, besides migrating to another blog host, is to archive
your work often, something I confess I have not done.

I sure hope this is just a momentary glitch in the system.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Folks here’s a good video worth watching!

From the “Campaign for the California Desert” website.

This film was made by noted graphic artist and film-maker Peter
Rhalter, he of the desert wildflower video fame, okay, I know about the
other work but this is my site, and I just love the wildflower shows from
the desert, so there!

I also recommend you check out this website which is just chock full of
good information about the Mojave and issues facing it today and into the future.

A request from Morongobill to his dear readers:
I am looking for a good book on “how to video desert wildflowers,etc”.
I am fully aware of the amateur quality of my video efforts so far and am
hopeful someone reading this can point me in the right direction. Plus any
videocam recommendations, say under 400-500$? Thanks for any help.
Send info via email to:

While I am on a roll, any ideas for blogging software that isn’t buggy would
be appreciated, I can’t get this Windows Live Writer to respond to my
command to de-bold this type so I’ll finish it “like the software wants me to.”

Morongobill, fighting the battle against buggy software!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Widening the horizons at the backporch.

For a while now, I have been thinking of heading off in another direction,
toward what goal, I haven’t a clue. Maybe no goal, maybe just in any
way that interests me.

It has become obvious to me that I would be perfectly happy and even content
to write and travel exclusively about the Mojave National Preserve, like the low
power radio am1610 that airs close to Baker says “you could spend several
lifetimes exploring the MNP” or words similar to that. Perhaps in a few years
after retirement kicks in, that might be my fate.

But for now, I haven’t had the time or funds due to economic reasons to indulge
myself in that particular fantasy, and must change directions and start visiting
other subjects, as yet undetermined, that I can write about, and that won’t
require the traveling involved.

You see, I love this preserve and desert, it’s as necessary to me as oxygen to breathe
but it also is hard to write about it so much and not be able to head out whenever
I want to, which under ideal circumstances, would probably be weekly! But as
I discovered by my day trip yesterday to Sunrise Rock, this requires more resources
of a financial nature than I can bring to bear at this time.

I will be blogging about other things, commenting on events, as I have been,
including the industrialization of the deserts, as before, but not exclusively the Mojave
or just the deserts for that matter. Broadening the horizons some might say.
I am open to any ideas my readers might have, those that feel inclined to share
those with me. I am also open to volunteering in any way I can to help in the cause,
and by now, loyal readers know my cause. Feel free to email me if so desired.

My followers, thank you for signing on publicly, it means a lot to me and I hope
you stick around for the journey which continues, albeit in another direction perhaps.
Toward this end, I again wish to thank each
and everyone of you for coming along for the ride so far and hope you will hang around.

You know I was re-reading an archived post from one of my first followers site’s, tonight,
a post that described sitting by a campfire somewhere near Cima Dome, smelling
the incense-like smell of the smoke and watching the stars above, thank you Chris
for that wonderful post, and I realized at that moment, that is what I need to do, and
soon, just get away from this civilization thing for a while, this dreary pursuit of
Mammon and keeping up with everyone else, to just chill, brother, as they used to
say and maybe still do somewhere. I need to do it, because at some point, I fear, the
decision is going to come out on Ivanpah and it may be a bad one, and on a personal
level, it may be devastating, so time is of the essence, for me.

If nothing else, just another ride up, maybe do a post on the Bert Smith rockhouse off
Cedar Canyon Road, where discerning and knowledgeable readers know that I cribbed
the idea for my “virtual backporch”! They say confessions good for the soul, I feel
better already. Or maybe a post on the history of that rustic house, whatever suits
my fancy at the moment. Or perhaps take that new hiking trail down from there to Rock Springs and see if they are flowing at this time of year.

Folks I never tried to use this blog as some sort of get rich scheme. I said on more than
one occasion that the plan for the ads was to supplement my eventual retirement and to allow travel around to see things to blog about. So at some point, I may bring them
back, but only a little at a time, and only things I care about and that I think my readers
won’t mind. If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll pass the hat around if necessary, we’ll see.

After I drove away from Sunrise Rock yesterday afternoon, I stopped for a little visit at
Kelso Depot and the new Beanery, which is the reincarnation of the old lunch counter.
I had a cup of coffee and chatted a bit with the staff there. I found out again for the
umpteenth time just how friendly and knowledgeable the folks there are, if the rest of the
government workers were this way, we wouldn’t hear all the belly aching that goes on
in the media and in our daily lives about them. These folks there are great! And by the
way, so are the volunteers that help out there and throughout the park service. One
day I hope to be among that group of volunteers, it would be a privilege to be associated
with them in that way.

As I headed down toward the I-40 junction and my return trip back to the big city, I thought
about visiting the Vulcan Mine area again and heading over to the Kelso Dunes and
the Granite Mountains, and what an honor it would be to perhaps be able to visit the
Sweeny Granite Mountains Research Center one day, if I knew someone which I don’t,
but if they by some chance read this, I’m willing to volunteer! I’ll be happy to come up on an off work day to help out in anyway I can!
teutonia peak hike-mnp 050

You see, it  really is true, you could spend a lifetime at the preserve, making a difference
in your own life and maybe in others’ as well. Please consider it or some other place you really care about, for a visit or more, and there’s a standing invitation to tell us about it here at the backporch, publicly or just privately to me.

Vaya con dios, my friends.



An unbelievable development in the Mojave Cross case!

From this link:

Folks here are the letter contents from the Desert Dispatch verbatim:

"1. The cross in question was not vandalized. It was simply moved. This was done lovingly and with great care.

2. The cross has been carefully preserved. It has not been destroyed as many have assumed.

3. I am a Veteran.

4. A small non-sectarian monument was brought to place at the site but technical difficulties prevented this from happening at the time the cross was moved to its new location.

5. The cross was erected illegally on public land in 1998 by a private individual named Henry Sandoz. Since then the government has actively worked to promote the continued existence of the cross, even as it excluded other monuments from differing religions. This favoritism and exclusion clearly violates the establishment clause of the US Constitution.

6. Anthony Kennedy desecrated and marginalized the memory and sacrifice of all those non-Christians that died in WWI when he wrote: 'Here one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles — battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.' The irony and tragedy of that statement is unique.

7. Justice Kennedy’s words in particular and others like them from the other Justices caused me to act.

8. At the time of its removal there was nothing to identify the cross as a memorial of any kind, and the simple fact of the matter is that the only thing it represented was an oddly placed tribute to Christ. This cross evoked nothing of the sort that Justice Kennedy writes of, it was in the end simply a cross in the desert.

9. Discrimination in any form is intolerable, as is hatred.

10. Discrimination or hatred based upon religion should be despised by all Americans, and offering that this event was caused by hatred or malice is simply ignorance of the actual intent.

11. Despite what many people are saying, this act was definitively not anti-Christian. It was instead anti-discrimination. If this act was anti-Christian, the cross would not have been cared for so reverently. An anti-Christian response would have been to simply destroy the cross and leave the pieces in the desert.

12. We as a nation need to change the dialogue and stop pretending that this is about a war memorial. If it is a memorial, then we need to stop arguing about the cross and instead place a proper memorial on that site, one that respects Christians and non-Christians alike, and one that is actually recognizable as a war memorial.

13. If an appropriate and permanent non-sectarian memorial is placed at the site the cross will be immediately returned to Mr. Sandoz.

14. Alternatively, if a place can be found that memorializes the Christian Veterans of WWI that is not on public land the Cross will promptly be forwarded with care and reverence for installation at the private site.

15. In short this has happened because as Abraham Lincoln said: 'To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men.' Perhaps this was an inappropriate form of protest  if so I humbly request your forgiveness and understanding for the actions that I have taken here."

End of letter above.

Wow, I certainly didn’t expect this twist and turn in the case. This has the sound and feel
of a real development, has the ring of truth about it.

I personally stood atop Sunrise Rock a couple of days ago and it does appear that this act
was done with care. I say that because there appeared to be no pry marks, the bolts were
cut smoothly, and there were no scrape marks down the front of the huge rocks, my understanding was this iron cross would be quite heavy and would’ve made big skid
marks on its’ way down to the ground, if not done carefully.
mojavecross 002

I am going to just stand by and take a “wait and see” attitude until more information
comes in.

An amazing development for sure.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Interviewed by the news media at Sunrise Rock 5/11/2010.

After making my post in the morning, I felt compelled to see for myself that the
cross was, in fact, gone. So I gassed up the morongomobile, grabbed my camera
and desert hat and off I went up to the Mojave National Preserve and Sunrise
Rock, where the Mojave Cross was located until Sunday night. I arrived at the
site of the cross sometime after one in the afternoon where I was greeted by this sight.
mojavecross 004

And the view on the other side of the road.
mojavecross 006

In the top photograph you can see that the cross is missing from atop Sunrise Rock.
Here is a photograph showing the evidence of the crime.
mojavecross 002

I believe the thieves used a battery powered sawzall to cut through those steel bolts.
Below is a photo of the news media down below, this was after I was interviewed by
KCAL 9, KABC 7, and KNBC 4 and before I spent about 15 minutes with the staff
photographer and staff writer for the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Here I photographed
them on top of the Sunrise Rock.
mojavecross 008

Below I will have links to the local news reports and to the two stories and podcasts
for the newspaper.

(A note to my readers. I am typing this at about 10:45 pm and after driving about 450
miles round trip, I think I’ll pick this back up in the morning. Good night.)

Well it’s about 0754 so before I forget or they take down the video’s here are the before
mentioned Morongobill and media encounters. A warning, I know I have joked that I
might possibly be an ounce or two overweight but it appears the tv cameras make me
look pounds over the scale ;-)
the knbc4 video is not up but below is the link to the Riverside Press Enterprise story
Late edit done on 11/20/2011. The 3 press enterprise links are no longer good. Dug Begley, the reporter advised me that when they changed their web setup, some of the stories did not carry forward, here are
links to his personal site where the text of the stories is available via .pdf form.
 Also the KNBC video is available on my youtube page here.

Scroll down about halfway down page to article
"Visitors lament loss of Mojave Cross
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
You have to have been to Sunrise Rock many times over the years, always seeing
the cross standing up top, to fully appreciate its’ loss now. It really is a different place
without it. Just doesn’t seem the same or have quite the same feeling about it somehow.

Last night I was talking to good friends of mine about the day’s events, trying to explain
why I dropped everything and drove almost 4 hours one way to see for myself that the
cross was gone, I still can’t get a total grasp on it except to say that it felt like I just had
to go.
It felt like it was my duty to go up. This place, Sunrise Rock and its’ Mojave
Desert Cross, this sacred place, to all Americans who honor the brave fallen
dead from our wars, no matter how you may feel about those wars, their sacrifice
for whatever reason or motivation, deserves this remembrance and place
of honor and memory, and its’ desecration cries out for the culprits to be swiftly
caught and for them to face the wrath of the people via their courts, and I mean
that, wrath, an emotion that sometimes is called for.

After leaving the Sunrise Rock area and by the way, never accomplishing what I wanted
to do which was to film a short video on location, due to obvious reasons, I decided to
head back home via Cima, Kelso Depot, and I-40 back, not I-15. Here is a short video
taken from my car as I drove off from my parking location and by Sunrise Rock.

Okay folks, I think this is a good place to stop. I will post a follow up soon, maybe later
today with the details of my visit to Kelso Depot and a neat video recorded from the
jail there!

Until then, vaya con dios, my friends. You never know where the next danger comes
from so keep your ears and eyes open please. Thanks for dropping in on the backporch.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mojave Cross Gone. Don’t read if you are afraid of expressions of outrage!

Thanks to Chris@Coyote Crossing who found the link at Scott’s site at, links below.

Evidently it was stolen in the middle of the night and is under investigation
by the National Park Service. Evidently the staff have been instructed not to
talk about this with anyone, typical bureaucracy.


What a craven act, no doubt committed by a couple of poltroons. I don’t need to
know their motivations or reason for doing such a dishonorable act. As my father
used to say, God rest his soul, and I’ll paraphrase and make this personal, something
he never did, I would like to beat their a---s until their noses bleed!
I mean it folks, I am not a violent person by nature, and I realize I may scare some
people off but there is absolutely no excuse good enough to this outraged bus
driver for pulling off this sacred cross from atop Sunrise Rock, where it has stood for
over 75 years. Some acts cry out for a response and it isn’t to turn the other cheek, after
all the Lord didn’t remove the moneychangers from the temple by talking to them, he
ran them out with the scourge, which is just the right way now to handle this. Those
idiots that stole this cross better hope they don’t get caught by anyone but the law

These brave men who the cross honored, many who came from the farm, and some
no doubt from this very desert that the cross stood over, deserve better than this. I know
it is considered old-fashioned but they gave their last measure of devotion, and laid down
their lives in that terrible war, often in inhumane conditions, left to rot in water and disease
filled trenches, never knowing when the next artillery shell or machine gun burst might
tear them limb from limb, snuffing out their hopes, dreams, lives, never to see their homes
or loved ones again. Those “dough boys” deserve better than to be dishonored in such a fashion.

This act by provocateurs needs to be commented on publicly by our elected officials
in no uncertain terms, and by law enforcement officials at the top. No namby-pamby
terms either. And the case needs to be prioritized, not just swept under the rug. But who
knows, maybe these people who did this are smarter than the average vandal and
actually get away with this crime. I hope not. Although no doubt they think they are.

Long time visitors to the backporch know I visited this cross recently, after doing the
Teutonia Peak Trail hike. It was a moving experience for me personally, I choked up
while filming a short video as I was discussing the history, about the purpose for this
cross to be affixed where it was atop Sunrise Rock, to honor the war dead of that
time so many years ago, the war to end all wars. At the time, I knew of the court fight,
but didn’t know how it would end, in my heart I never thought it would come to an end
like this…..

Here are the links:

teutonia peak hike-mnp 070


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Blown out oil well leads to”St. Paul on the road to Damascus” moment for our “Environmental Governor”

With amazement, I read the story online and heard it on the radio. Our Governator,
the Terminator, saw the images from the Gulf of Mexico and in a transcendent
moment, decided to not push for drilling off the California coast after all. In what
this blogger can only think had to do with spiritual reasons and not the more, dare
I say, crass political poll realities that would reflect Californians’ elephant-like
memories of the Santa Barbara oil spill disaster of 40 years ago, memories brought
back to life by the news from the Gulf, and sure to doom any talk of said drilling here
at this time, and for the foreseeable future.

This old bus driver almost ran off the road, so shocked and moved by such an event
of such religious import having occurred. I immediately saw the similarities to the
famed moment two millennium ago when Saul of Tarsis became Saint Paul, on that
dusty Damascus road, and could only feel my heart swelling and the sensation of
my eyes watering, I was in the moment, in the presence of an “other worldly” entity

It’s taken a few days but I have finally recovered my wits enough to try to be able to
scribble out these poor, sparse words and to be able to relay this news to my dear
readers. Our governator is now a changed man, a giant amongst us, not held down
by our brutish natures, but an Icarus spreading his wings and flying upwards toward
the sun, that same sun he so proudly serves as he leads the charge to place a solar
dish where every creosote presently exists, a transmission line corridor through each
and every last remaining unspoiled and oftentimes, protected plant and animal species
habitat area, and a wind turbine atop every mountain ridge and top throughout this
great state of Kalifornia.

But fear not, little ones. Perhaps, like in the legends of old, he will fly way up there
high above us mere mortals, and get too close to the sun, and spiral back down here
to a rocky landing, chastened by the journey. We can always hope, as some say,
hope springs eternal.

But our Arnie has shown himself, with one gaffe or misstep after another, to be singularly
blessed with an inability to learn from his self-inflicted rhetoric and action caused
mistakes. And notwithstanding the possible religious conversion, this blogger has no
doubts whatsoever, that he will learn absolutely nothing from this event now unfolding
before us.

What is it going to take to finally get us away from our cars and tv remote controls, what
massive environmental disaster will it take, before we finally see that we can’t keep on
raping this planet over and over, taking what we want at any cost, does the Gulf of Mexico
and our coastlines around it have to become “dead zones”, devoid of life, to finally get
us to say enough, let’s try another way? Does the whole Mojave desert have to be paved
over, with the loss of most of its’ plant and animal life, to wake up our consciences?

Unfortunately, my friends, I feel we will never wake up. Just like those smoking addicts
I have seen with a cigarette in their mouth while taking oxygen via a nasal cannula, we
and I mean every last one of us, including me, are hooked on cheap energy, and even
when our survival is at stake, we’ll still be looking for that electrical outlet to plug into.

It’s sad but I am sorry to say, true.



Thursday, May 6, 2010

“The desert is not a wasteland”- check out this video about a couple that are heroes to me. Fight on!

This video by Mary Moore chronicles the story of jojoba farmers Larry
and Donna Charpied who live in a trailer in the desert and who fought
and won the decades long battle to stop the Eagle Mountain landfill from 
being built in the underbelly of Joshua Tree National Park, saving the
park and their own area from what can only be described as catastrophic

In 1987, after hearing about the proposed garbage dump, the largest in the world even to this day, and after the Riverside County Supervisors approved the plan, they filed
their own lawsuit in state court, in pro per, acting as their own attorneys as they
couldn’t afford a lawyer, lost in the state courts, going into federal court, and finally
recently winning there in the appellate courts, and I believe Los Angeles finally abandoned the planned dump at that point.

The video doesn’t touch on the fact that now their area is the bullseye for several
giant solar energy developments now. So just when they thought the fight was won,
they’re pulled right back into the fray.

Fight on, we’ll support you anyway we can. One way is to let your readers of the backporch
know about it. I recommend you watch the above video and then check out these links below, viewing these items will only just scratch the surface but will give you some idea
of what the fight is about and why it is necessary.

A personal note- I consider this couple to be truly worthy of being called heroes. That
is something I don’t say everyday. But on the other hand, how often do you hear about
average people single-handedly taking on a billion$ business, and the whole government
and winning, but having to fight on for decades unsure of the outcome? I feel the word hero
is bandied about a little too much nowadays and has been cheapened in some cases, but
not here. The Charpied’s are heroes to Morongobill, end of story.

Note to those of you with satellite and can get KCET, channel 28 in Los Angeles. Tonight
at 7:30 pm or 1930 Pacific time, Huell Howser is having a story on his show,”California’s
Gold” about these folks, hope you can view it. If not, there is a link to d/l the video on their
website, here:

Here are those links, folks!
above link from our friends at Basin and Range Watch and features text and photos by Donna Charpied. This gives you an idea of the beauty and abundant plant and animal life there.

Here’s a story about why the dump must be stopped:

There you have it. A feel good story to make your day. But don’t, rephrase that, let’s
don’t rest too long, because their beautiful valley is in grave danger, let’s get ready
to do battle with them, in what is surely to be another epic struggle to come. I plan on
heading out there, it’ll be in the heat I am sure, in the un- air conditioned morongomobile,
and while out that way, I hope to run across these folks and thank them in person,
for all they have down to help save our deserts and backcountry.

By the way, I am not sure I can watch them tonight so I am downloading the file as we speak!

Send them an email folks, let the Charpied’s know you care and that we’re in their

Vaya con dios, my friends.



Monday, May 3, 2010

Very alarming articles about renewable energy.

Two articles came across this blogger’s desk today that should be required
reading for the environmental group bigwigs that seem to be siding with
the big corporate green energy firms against the desert and other wild

The first article was from the Washington Post’s Sunday 4/25/2010 edition,
entitled “Five myths about green energy” and written by Robert Bryce. Links
to the articles will be at the end of this post. The main point from the article, in my opinion,
was the huge amount of land required to produce a small amount of energy,
a phenomenon that the Nature Conservancy calls “energy sprawl”. If you
don’t believe them just go to the BLM or CEC websites and see just how big the
projects really are, or you could just go talk to Senor Tortuga.

The next was a research article co-written by some of the senior fellows at the
Nature Conservancy entitled”Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America” and published in August, 2009.
The most interesting section to me was “energy sprawl in 2030”. It states that no matter
what climate change policy is in effect then, the amount of land required for renewable
energy use will be about 206,000 square kilometers in the US, or larger than the whole state of Nebraska!

Now that’s something to think about here in my morongobilloffice.
office 001 
Yes we truly think of it all at the office. It may be in the low rent district, but we are
guaranteed to be math model and spreadsheet free. I just wish the view was like
mine from the virtual backporch.

Oh, one other thing from that second article. They say we can reduce the energy
sprawl by conserving energy and by siting plants on already disturbed land. My dear
readers who have followed this blog for a while have surely heard that last before.

Just something else to consider from here in the blogosphere.

Make your opinion count! Do like this blogger and comment on articles you find on the
New York Times, or wherever. Their opinion is no more valuable than yours or mine,
and we are not beholden to any special interests or fat cats. If you don’t like what
they say, tell them about it! For that matter, if you don’t like what I am saying or doing
here, tell us about it via your comments.

Here are the two links: