Severe subsidence in some parts of California Central Valley

Two piers, with hydraulic jacks installed. The red box is the compressor

Two piers, with hydraulic jacks installed. The red box is the compressor

Subsidence occurs when land drops and doesn’t come back. For example, one side of a house drops an inch or so and the rest stays where it is. This will cause drywall cracks, malfunctioning doors and windows, and cracked cement in driveways. More than a couple of inches and there easily could be serious structural damage.

There has been so much groundwater pumping in the Central Valley of California that some areas are having severe, quite possibly dangerous subsidence. Arbuckle, a small town on I-15 in the Sacramento Valley, has had 4-8 inches of subsidence in eight years. That’s enough to endanger water mains, gas lines, canals for water, electric lines, as well as buildings. Unremediated, a house with areas that drop 8 inches in eight years might well be deemed unsafe to live in.

It is possible to save homes by fastening them to piers that go down 30-40 feet into bedrock. We did this on a rental property we owned in southern Utah. There was no choice. And it saved the house. The photo shows part of the operation. The piers are connected to each other by hydraulic jacks. That little red box connects to a GPS inside the house telling the jacks what to do.

Now imagine subsidence like this happenings on roads, canals, lowering some phone poles but not others, and you get an idea what the problem is!

Inelastic subsidence occurs when the structure of a clay is compromised during compaction, to the point where it is unable to expand to its original thickness even when groundwater levels rise. When that layer of clay, or silt, in the underground compresses, ground levels drop.

Subsidence is not uniform. There are certain areas that can drop due to subsidence while the surrounding area stays the same.

You get a lumpy type of dropping going on,” Hull said. “Slumping on roads, stuff like that.”

Hull said this can occur in California from three different factors: tectonic movement, oil and gas extractions, and groundwater extractions.

The drought and accompanying drilling ever-deeper for agricultural water is almost certainly the cause of the subsidence.

Continue Reading

Downtown San Jose. Transitional, going the right way?

We lived near downtown San Jose recently. It’s a weird mix of pricey new apartments, empty storefronts, and bars and restaurants servicing nearby San Jose State University. We’re back here on business. The downtown area, if anything, seems to be going a bit the wrong way. There are more vacant storefronts, a big independent movie theater shut down, and while some blocks have lots of perky students, other streets aren’t particularly safe late at night. A nearby park next to the Post Office is dangerous at night.

A downtown Walgreen’s almost always has homeless, drug dealers, and transients outside of it while two blocks away a large new apartment building features a 1,121 sq ft, 2 bdr 1 ba, corner unit for a mere $4,529 a month! A Ross Dress For Less closed and there is just one market in the area, a mini Safeway.

Also, and I got to say this, there are a number of little businesses who never seem to have customers yet stay open for years. How very curious… Those businesses, and the bars and restaurants for students are about the only stores around. And two blocks the other way is their Museum of Modern Art, The Tech Museum, and a four-star hotel.

It’s hard to tell if downtown San Jose is coming or going.

San Jose Musuem of Modern Art

Expensive new apartments in a really ugly building

Bedraggled Walgreens’s

Good Karma restaurant. Excellent vegan food. They thrive.

Continue Reading

Salton Sea imperiled by smart water usage. Say what?

Salton Sea fish kill

Salton Sea fish kill

The Salton Sea, a huge salt water lake in southern California has been fed in modern times primarily by polluted agricultural run off. This causes fish kills. The Sea is also a major migratory stop for birds. Decreased water usage by surrounding farms means less water flows into the Salton Sea. This could lead to an environmental catastrophe as it dries up, nasty toxins are released, and dust storms carry them for miles.

If more water is released into the Salton Sea, then less Colorado River water is available for California, which puts more pressure on the Sacramento Delta, which doesn’t need more stress, thanks for asking.

There are no easy, painless answers here. The State of California or maybe the feds will have to intervene and it will be expensive. There really is no other option.

The problems of the Salton Sea, an inland water body fed by agricultural drainage from the Imperial Valley, are an integral part of the Colorado River story. As we pursue efficiency, agricultural drainage shrinks. And so, therefore, does the Sea.

The most significant problem caused by a dwindling Salton Sea may be a public health issue. As the Sea shrinks, exposed shoreline flats are dust storms waiting to happen, creating filthy air and a public health risk. Importantly, the most vulnerable population here is poor.

The current scheme for reducing water use in Imperial includes a trigger point that would lead to significant reduction in ag runoff and a shrinking sea beginning Dec. 31, 2017. That’s not far away. The water use piece is crucial to balancing California’s water books. Without those Imperial reductions, less Colorado River water would be available to municipal Southern California. A loss of water supply reliability there would increase pressure on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the other source of Southern California’s water.

So this is a statewide problem, but the poor folk of Imperial are being asked to bear a disproportionate burden in its solution.

Continue Reading

Dinosaur computers in IRS and federal government

cobol programmer

The IRS has the oldest computers in use by the federal government. Before you go “haw, haw, why don’t they just upgrade”, well, it’s complicated.

1) Congress thinks itself oh so clever by slashing the IRS budget then complaining their systems are antiquated.

2) This is not news. The Commissioner of the IRS recently said they have systems written when JFK was president.

3) Upgrading dinosaur systems is seriously complicated. California has tried to upgrade their similarly antiquated state payroll systems twice and it was a massive failure both times.

4) Imagine if you will, fifty year old computer systems that have been added onto, modified, and dozens maybe hundreds of subsidiary systems created that feed data in and out of it and no one really knows how it works, the original programmers are dead or retired and documentation, don’t make me laugh. They probably don’t even have source code for some of the systems.

5) Now imagine that such systems handle vital financial information and that tens of millions would be pissed it the upgrade went wrong and they didn’t get their refund checks.

PS Lots of other federal agencies also have wheezingly old computer systems too.

Continue Reading

Canadian leftists vow move to US if Trump wins because Glorious Revolution

underpants gnomes

Finally, a brave and enlightened group of radicals in Canada understands what a wonderful opportunity a Trump victory would be for true revolution in the US!

Step 1. Trump creates chaos. U.S. rips apart. There might even be a constitutional crisis and riots in the streets. Woo-hoo!
Step 2. …
Step 3. Workers emerge victorious after smashing Trump and capitalism.

What’s that you ask, what is Step 2 and why does this sounds like the South Park underpants gnomes? Gosh, do I have to explain everything. Trump creates such repression that millions of people of color suffer, financial interests decide the US has gone bonkers and bail out, causing a stock market crash. Supply chains become disrupted. People starve and riot. Would not the opportunities for class warfare then be wondrous indeed? I mean millions may suffer so a few self-appointed lefties can lead the revolution, but hey, you gotta break eggs to make an omelet.

Fear not, the cadres at Worker’s Spatula in Canada are ready!

You see, in our analysis, a Trump victory would be a gift—a historical, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to undermine the great Satan and drastically reconstitute the very world in which we live. Yes, if Trump is elected, I call on all Canadians to move to the United States.

But after a Trump victory, how long can it possibly take before the contradictions of capitalism force radical change in one direction or other?

Oh, some might opine it could take years or decades and maybe never happen at all. And there might be lots of dead bodies in the meanwhile Clearly, such mockers are blind sheeple.

Continue Reading

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes