Posts Tagged With: Boron

A morning with a gun

Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and a day where you are supposed to wear orange if you are against gun violence. Though most people I see promoting the day are more anti gun than anti gun violence. There is a difference, though some would disagree.

Anyway, I am not here to change anyone minds, to argue, etc. I am here to tell a story and ask a question. If at the end you want to respond but cannot do so in a respectful manner, no matter what your views are, please depart now.

First, a little background.

As I have stated before I am originally from the small town (2,000 people or less) of Boron in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Boron is located pretty much half way between Mojave and Barstow, on Highway 58. The closest police (unless things have recently changed) are the Kern County Sheriff’s Department (KCSD) substation and Highway Patrol, both located in Mojave. Mojave is 30 miles away.

A while back the Borax Mine in Boron was going through a lock out, sort of a reverse strike. The union and management couldn’t come to terms; but instead of the workers going on strike the management locked them out of the mine and brought in scabs. The scabs were all bussed in from out of town hotels, and by out of town a mean places like Ridgecrest that are an hour away from Boron. It would be stupid to house a scab in Boron unless you wanted them dead, which brings me to my story.

I went to Boron one morning to visit my grandparents. I arrived earlier than I had originally told them, mainly because I couldn’t sleep. Instead of interrupting their morning and eating them out of house and home, as I was starving, I decided to have breakfast at the local diner, sip coffee, and read a book. I did notice that there were three good ol boys at a booth a ways down from me, but I didn’t give them much thought. In hindsight, they did look over at me an awful lot. I was there maybe an hour drinking coffee and reading, when the waitress came over and asked me if I wanted another cup of coffee, I politely declined telling her that I would finish the mug I was working on and go. I noticed the good ol boys got up and went outside at that point, but didn’t think anything of it.

See where this is heading?

I paid, went outside, and immediately found two of the good ol boys between me and my car. The third was behind me, evidently he was around the corner of the diner, waiting to see if I would come out that door. They started threatening me, telling me that they were going to kick my ass, accusing me of being a scab at the mine and taking their jobs. I tried to protest and I tried to head back in the diner, but I was cut off from that avenue of escape by the guy behind me. As they all started advancing I drew my .357 and yelled at them to stop. The two in front of me immediately began backing up and a quick glance behind me showed that the one in back was also backing up. It was at this point that I reiterated to the men that I was in fact not a scab, I did not work at the mine, and that actually worked for the DoD. They backed away further with one giving me a half assed apology and telling me I looked like one of the scabs they had watched come in to the mine on a bus. My response “If I was getting bussed in, why would I be here in my own Explorer and why would I be stupid enough to just come in here alone to eat?” They had no answer, but did immediately leave. I sat in my Explorer after that, just trying to calm down. I am man enough to admit I was unnerved by the situation after it was over. I’m also man enough to admit that I screwed up and did not call the KCSD afterwards. Potentially a big screw up.

So….Yes, I had my 357 concealed on my person. I have a legal California Concealed Carry Weapons Permit which allows me to carry a gun, concealed, on my person, in to most places within California. I had to pass a firearms safety class, and show that when I shot my 357 I could hit my target. If at anytime anyone was unsafe with their gun during the class, they automatically failed.

Now, here is my question: If I hadn’t had my 357, what do you think would have happened?

Categories: Guns, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Los Angeles, Owens Valley, and Water

My Maternal family came to the upper Mojave Desert in the 1950’s. During that time my grandfather started talking to the “old timers” as he called them. These were men and women that were in their 50’s -80’s back in the 1950’s. My grandfather tells one story in particular about a man who came to the Antelope Valley and Mojave area with his father when he was a young boy, sometime around the late 1890’s or 1900. The old man said that at the time this part of the Mojave Desert was a very different type of Desert, almost a grassland. There were still some antelope in the Antelope Valley (Lancaster/Palmdale area), and the area was lush with wildlife. The old man, as a boy, had to ride on a mule that his father led. His father wouldn’t let him walk across this high desert/grassland because their were so many rattlesnakes, it was dangerous. These days you have to try to find a snake.

When the Death Valley 49’ers eventually struggled out of Death Valley and Panamint Valley, they came to the Indian Wells Valley. The springs they found there, down along what is now Highway 14 and in to the Antelope Valley is what kept them alive long enough to reach Los Angeles. If you go out on remote parts of what is now Edwards Air Force Base you will find remnants of duck blinds, springs, and artesian wells. That area and in to the Antelope Valley was prime duck hunting through the 1920’s. The whole area had spread out farms and ranches that were irrigated with groundwater. Up through the late 1960′ and early 1970’s there was still just enough groundwater to have a large alfalfa ranch between Boron and California City.

What is now the upper Mojave Desert, from the Antelope Valley to Mojave, to Boron, North to around Ridgecrest, and even some ways east of Boron, wasn’t the desert we know today. Wondering what happened to it? What made it the way it is now? The easiest and most direct answer is this; Los Angeles.

LA was a small and dirty city at the turn of the last century, desperately in need of water. In contrast, the Owens Valley was a farming community and was becoming the fastest growing area in California. The Owens River flowed in to Owens Lake, which was 20 miles long, pretty darn wide, and had steam paddle boats that ferried people and mining products across. There were large farms and ranches in the area, all of which used irrigation farming, and wildlife, especially birds, were abundant. In 1904, two men, Fred Eaton and J.B. Lippincott traveled through the Owens Valley on a camping trip and marveled at the available water.  Fred Eaton was the former mayor of Los Angeles and had also worked as a supervisor for the water company. J.B. Lippincott worked for the Bureau of Reclamation, which was at the time looking at a public irrigation project in the Owens Valley which would have greatly helped out the farmers.

Eaton went back to LA and convinced William Mulholland, the head engineer for the water company, that the answer to LA’s water problem was the Owens Valley, over 250 miles away. Lippincott, working for the Bureau of Reclamation, went out and surveyed the Owens Valley, found out where the water flowed, how it flowed, how much of it their was, and where the key water rights and ranches were. Instead of giving this info to the Bureau, he gave it to Eaton and Mulholland. Eaton and other LA officials were able to pass a bond in LA to get enough cash to buy the key ranches to gain the water rights in the Owens Valley. In these days, news did not travel like it does now, and the Owens Valley had no clue LA was out for its water.

After the bond was passed,at the end of 1905, Eaton and Mulholland, using Eaton’s extensive political contacts, as well as dubious tactics such as bribery and deception, to acquire enough land and water rights in Owens Valley to block the irrigation project. Eaton posed as a rancher that was working for the Bureau of Reclamation. The Owens Valley thought that he was buying land for himself, to be a rancher, and buying land for the irrigation project. By the time they found out the truth, it was too late. by 1907 LA owned the key water rights and the irrigation project was blocked. At this point the rest of the water rights were obtained through bribery and coercion. In 1908 the LA aqueduct began to take life.

When the aqueduct was completed in 1913, the all of the water that had once flowed in to the lower Owens Valley, and Owens Lake, began to flow in to LA. A substantial portion of it was diverted in to the San Fernando Valley, a agricultural community that was not yet part of LA. It just so happens that all of the key players in the purchasing of water right in the Owens Valley and various high powered political and public figures had all recently purchased land in the SFV. The land values skyrocketed, surpassing the purchase prices.

After the aqueduct was completed in 1913, Lippincott immediately quit his job at the Bureau of Reclamation and went to work for the LA Water Department.

In the 1920s, the Owens Valley farmers that had not sold out were watching their farms drained of water, nearly every drop of which was pumped into the steadily growing San Fernando Valley. By the mid 1920’s the Owens Lake had become prematurely and totally dry. In 1924 and again in 1927, protesters blew up parts of the aqueduct. This period of time is known as the California Water Wars.

In the late 1930’s LA again needed more water, so the aqueduct was extended North through the rest of the Owens Valley, Long Valley, and in to the Mono Basin. It was completed by 1940.

It was also during this time that the Antelope Valley and the upper Mojave Desert started to become the desert that it is today. The Owens River and Owens Lake fed a multitude of underground rivers and streams and traveled many many miles South. When the river was diverted, and the lake dried up, the desert took on the form we know now.

What of the Owens Valley? With its giant lake drying up faster than nature intended, their was nothing to hold down the lake bottom and it became a giant unnatural salt flat. For many years it became the single worst source of dust pollution in the United States, it still may be. The wind will create alkali dust storms that that carry away as much as four million tons (3.6 million metric tons) of dust from the lakebed each year. The dust plumes can at times be seen from space, and will travel as far South as LA, can’t say I feel sorry for them though.

A decades long court battle ensued because of these dust storms, with the Owens Valley finally winning in the end. LA has to now put back just enough water to stop the dust storms and create some bird habitat.Not enough to restore Owens Valley. LA wasn’t exactly happy about having to give back water. Last year, they devised a way to till the land and cover it with giant dirt clods. In theory, the clods will hold the dust down and LA will only have to give 1/3  as much water as before. Only time will tell if this method actually works.

Today, NASA says that California only has one year left of water. It seems that in the end, LA raping the Owens Valley didn’t help it. Karma is coming, just too late to actually affect the men who legally stole the water in the first place.

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Boron Bobcats

I lived in the town of Boron from the day I was born until one month before my 16th birthday. My mom was married and the stepfather had a house in Ridgecrest, an hour away, so we had to move. I have lived in Ridgecrest the last 17.5 years, longer than I lived in Boron. However, when people ask me where I am from, my hometown, where I grew up…I tell them Boron. Don’t get me wrong, Boron isn’t a treasure. In fact, at the moment, I wouldn’t live there unless I absolutely had to. Just something about growing up in that tiny mining town of 2,000 people worms its way in to your psyche and you will forever be from there.

Growing up in Boron it is pretty much expected you will be a Boron Bobcat and play some sort of sport. If you are a boy it is pretty much a given you will play football. Not many of us didn’t. Boron was a football legacy town. My moms generation won all kinds of football championships, and the graduating classes of 94 through about 2000 were the sons of that generation. Those years were full of powerhouse football teams. My moms generation were all the sons and daughters of transplanted Texans and Oklahomans. When I went to school, many of my friends would go back to Texas and Oklahoma to visit grandparents. The town basically had a Varsity Blues/Friday Night Lights feel to it when I was in Jr. High and High School.

Coming home from my senior trip towards the last couple weeks of High School, the Burroughs High School bus stopped in Kramer Junction (just outside of Boron) for gas, snacks, and a pee break. I got off the bus and ran in to a few friends a had gone to high school with. We chatted for about five or ten minutes and then I got back on the bus. When I sat down I noticed that a bunch of the Burroughs football players were staring at me. I of course thought I was about to get my butt kicked. I ended up becoming a minor celebrity for the next hour on the drive home, just because one of my friends was the guy that almost broke the California Interscholastic Federations High School Football Interception Record. Boron football was known outside of Boron.

I was never able to play football like most of my friends. I was never an athletic kid and I grew up pretty poor, so my mom didn’t have money to put me in youth sports. I didn’t have a dad to teach me to play football like most of the other kids. So, I watched from the sidelines and ended up getting teased and bullied. Until I joined wrestling and most of the football team watched me pin a kid. That’s another story though.

These days Boron can barely field a football team. The town has shrunk and is more impoverished than ever, resulting in low school enrollment and attendance. They are  currently the smallest 11 man football team in the state. However, they just accomplished something huge; they won a national contest to go to the Super Bowl. Articles about the team going to this years Super Bowl have been written in various sources and far more eloquently than I can manages Here are two:

Some  good videos:–284277651.html

And finally an article that was written in a paper, that I can’t find online, except reprinted on a facebook page. I will copy and paste it here:

By Brian Golden, Antelope Valley Press

It’s simply the most famous bus ride in Boron history.

No, it’s not “Selma” in shoulder pads.

No schools are being desegregated.

No new employees are being militarily escorted to work at the Borax plant.

But make no mistake. The whole nation will be watching.

They’re the ones who demanded it.

Boron didn’t just win a national competition when its saga won the “Together We Make Football” contest on in conjunction with Super Bowl XLIX a week from today in Glendale, Arizona.

It won a nation’s heart.

Truth is, everyone in Boron, and the rest of us in the Valley, could have stuffed the electronic ballot box 24/7, and it would have been fewer votes than could be cast on the westside of New York City, or in any ballot-stuffing operation in Chicago, or along the 610 Loop in Houston.

From the shores of New England to Puget Sound, from the frozen lakes of Minnesota to the Rio Grande River in south Texas, Americans of every background rallied to Boron’s cause.

Of course, the brilliant cinematography of NFL films played no small part.

The aerial shot of seemingly endless miles of scrub suddenly transforming into an emerald meadow of manhood was one of the most powerful visuals in America in 2014.

But Boron’s “Together We Make Football” mantra wasn’t as much a statement of where, or how, or why, as who.

It is who Boron is.

America met a people that has virtually none of the superficialities that allegedly confer sophistication on a community; no mall, no movie theater, no skateboard shop.

And it’s no big deal.

Maybe Boron clutched America’s imagination to its bosom like a football squeezed to his chest by a cannonballing Bobcats running back over the goal line, it was because the USA needed to know there are still places like Boron.

Places where the superficial, rightly, still defers to the sturdy. In privileged precincts across the fruited plain, they no doubt pity Boron for what it doesn’t have.

It feels so superior to what they really feel – envy for generations seeking excellence, not excuses.

Which brings us to the greatest irony of all on this Super Bowl week unlike any in the Valley’s history.

This week, it’s the effete, the privileged, the condescending quarters of the republic who truly DO envy Boron for something that it has.

Thanks to “Together We Make Football,” the Boron Bobcats make this the first Super Bowl with three teams in it.

Courtesy of the NFL, they’re being transported to the Phoenix area on a luxury bus and being put up in a five-star hotel for their Arizona stay.

They’ll meet both teams. They’ll meet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. They’ll be stunned, absolutely stunned, by the people they’ve seen on television for years who will be lining up to meet them.

They’ll have an entire hour devoted to their story on national television Sunday.

Not because of a killing spree.

Not because of an alleged UFO encounter.

If football is America, and Boron is Football, Boron is America.
On what has long been described as America’s “Midwinter Fourth of July,” they may be the most Americana phenomenon of all in this celebration of America.

The late Gerald Small of Desert (1983-84 Miami Dolphins) and de-Shawn Shead of Highland (2013-14 Seattle Seahawks) are the Valley football sons ever to play on the field at the Super Bowl.

Next Sunday in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, the Boron Bobcats will become the first Valley TEAM to walk on the field at the Super Bowl.

Don’t be surprised if Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll comes over to say hello.

He was the only one who knew that a rickety old school bus, not the luxury coachliner headed east this week, wound its lonely way west across the desert prairie to Isabella for a game against Kern Valley in September, 2008.

The stunned Bobcats had lost teammate Vinny Rodriguez to fatal head trauma the week before.

They voted to play the Kern Valley game to honor their fallen teammate.

The news got back to Carroll, then coaching the top-ranked USC Trojans, through a Valley Press story shown to him by one of his secretaries, who happened to live in Palmdale.

In the middle of nowhere, 185 miles north of Heritage Hall, Boron coach Todd Fink’s cellphone rang up in the front of the bus. He walked back to talk to his players a few minutes later.

“Do you know who that was?” Fink asked. “That was the coach of the No. 1-ranked team in College Football, Pete Carroll at USC, and he wanted you to know how proud he is of you, how much he admires you for honoring Vinny this way.”

So much has changed since 2008. Carroll can become just the seventh coach ever to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

This time, he’s not only the only one proud of that bus departing Boron.

And obviously, Boron’s not in the middle of nowhere anymore.

No longer is it a distant place on a map.

This week, it’s also a place in the heart.


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You can’t go home again

The other evening I walked the silent streets of the neighborhood I grew up in. The streetlights gave a dull yellow light, throwing small anemic pools of light on each corner that brought the shadows in instead of driving them back. A few porch light’s tried to drive back the night that the street lights wouldn’t. They were fighting a losing battle, most of the houses stood dark and silent. Some families were away to celebrate the Thanksgiving weekend with family in other places, but most houses just sit empty. The former residents have either died or moved away. The only living things that I saw were a few dogs, guarding their owner’s yards from the increasing crime. The night was still and silent, no cars passed by, no television sets or radio’s carried their sounds from houses where there used to be life, to train rumble or horn; just an almost malevolent silence that followed me back to the warmth and glow of my grandparent’s home. A shrinking oasis of light in an ever increasing desert of dark.

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My Family and Me

When I signed up for WordPress I was supposed to give an introduction and tell a little bit about me, and I responded to that by basically saying “No.” Well I was challenged today to talk about my life, and my family. So, I figured I would put it on here, so here I go.

I can’t talk about me without giving you a little back story on my family, you can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you came from. I’ll actually start at my maternal great grandfather. He grew up on the panhandle of Texas, and would have to hide behind the door with a shotgun when the Apache Indians would ride up and demand food from his mother. This guy was brilliant, he had a law degree, a chemical engineering degree, a mechanical engineering degree, and was an Army Officer and artillery instructor in World War One. He was asked to be a part of the Idaho Supreme Court, moved to California during the Great Depression (South gate area), and practiced law there, as well as doing some other things. He eventually moved up to what is now Edwards AFB, worked in a machine shop, and built houses in Boron. He was a very cold and stubborn man, detached father. My Grandfather had very little love for his father and never learned to be a dad. I do not know much about my great grandmother. 

My grandpa was in the Korean war, went through hell, and was tore up by, of all things, an artillery round. He raised two daughters, one became my mom. Both he and my grandma are good people, but really bad parents. My grandfather is also a insanely intelligent man, but does not recognize it. He thinks he is average, and everyone should be able to learn what he can, know what he knows, etc. If you don’t, then you are just stupid. Sadly, this is the attitude he took raising his daughters, and took with me when he tried to tutor me in math. 

My grandma is just cold, money grubbing, and a liar. She has her good points, but she should have never been a mother. She doesn’t like kids, never wanted kids, and admitted to my mom that she tried to lose her. 

They moved from the LA area to North Edwards, just out side of Edwards AFB, when my mom was three. My grandpa got a job on the Air Force Base, and they lived in a house that my great grandfather had built.They were cold, hard, and harsh parents. They didn’t raise my mom and my aunt to be self sufficient, they raised them to be housewives. My mom barely made it through school and married young to get away from them, ended up in a bad marriage, and then later had to leave. She basically became homeless because my grandparents wouldn’t take her back in. She was working as a waitress in Whites restaurant and bar in Mojave when she met my dad. My dad was a regular in the bar. They dated for a short time, and then were married. 

My dad is 18 years older than my mom, was raised by two Jehovah Witnesses that bounced back and forth across the country. His dad was a musician, and so my dad spent most of his life moving back and forth between Detroit and the Riverside/Highland area down by San Bernardino. Route 66 plays a big part in my family history. When he met my mom he was newly divorced from his crazy first wife, was paying child support on four kids (the oldest only ten years younger than my mom), working at a cement plant in Mojave, and was a raging alcoholic. 

Things were not the best, and quickly became worse. He was an abusive alcoholic that would spend his whole paycheck in the bar, beat the shit out of her, throw plates of food against the wall, etc. They were already separated when my mom found out she was pregnant with me. I have more stories, but they are bad. 

My mom worked pregnant as a waitress until she could no longer physically work any more. Shortly thereafter I was born, and shortly after that we moved in to a house in Boron that my great grandfather had built, and that my grandparents owned. 

Now, we did not live there rent free. My mom ended up on welfare, food stamps, and after a few years was able to get child support from my dad. This all totaled to about 600.00 a month, half of that was rent to my grandparents. Now, Boron does not have any job opportunities. The only real employer is the Borax Mine, and that does not employ a whole lot of people these days. When I was about six she had a chance to get a job there and get off of welfare. She asked my grandparents to babysit me while she worked, my grandma look at her and said “I raised my kids, you raise yours.” Boron does not have any day cares, after school programs, or anything at all of that nature. My mom was forced to choose between working, or raising her son, she chose to stay home and raise me. She did briefly get a part time job later on to try and save up some money, however welfare made her claim that money and took it out of her check. I have a whole rant about the welfare system I will post later. 

My mom was a very loving, but strict and over protective parent. I hardly saw my dad until about 5th grade, and didn’t see my grandparents much until about that same time (even though they only lived 15 miles away). We received little to no help from anyone else. 

When I was in 9th grade, my mom had to call the Kern County Sherriff’s department on her abusive ex boyfriend. She ended up marrying the deputy that responded to her call, on the first day of school of my 10th grade year. He moved us in to his house here in Ridgecrest, and became very mentally and physically abusive. The week before my 18th birthday, which was just a couple weeks away from high school graduation, he was arrested for physically abusing her. However, all charges were dropped and he kept his job as a Sherriff. 

I grew up very poor but mostly happy until high school, Just prior to Jr. High I started becoming close to my grandpa. He taught me to camp, shoot, drive, some back packing, map and compass, carpentry, etc. He became more of a dad than my actual dad. Not so close to my grandma. Around the same time, my dad and I formed a friendship, He also taought me how to drive, and after high school he taught me how to work on cars.

in high school I had to deal with my step dad, a new school full of unfriendly people, a mom that was going through a slow mental breakdown, and no freedom. I had no car, no money, and only one friend; djmatticus. I looked in to joining the military after high school, but I had tore the cartilage in my right knee up in a wrestling tournament, and also have Mitral Valve Prolapse. The military would not take me. After high school I ended up with my step dads 1987 Bronco  II, which is one of the reasons my dad taught me how to work on cars. This and a few part time jobs, or working for my dad, gave me gas money and helped pay for the Junior College I was going to. While doing that, I had to take care of my mom and her continuously worsening mental condition because of my step dad. 

I had a chance to go to college in San Diego after I received my AA, I even lined up a job. However, I was afraid to leave my mom alone with my step dad. He was getting worse, and so was she. She ended up having an affair, it broke her heart when it ended, but inspired her to get some job training, get a job, and leave my step dad. When we finally moved out I was working for minimum wage at a daycare that is located on the local military base, spending a lot of time partying, and blowing my money. I had one bad night in a bar when I was 24. It made me realize I was 24, living in an apartment with my crazy mom, no career, a worthless AA degree, and had to do something with my life. I took out some student loans, and went to school at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, World Wide Campus. I took classes on line and on the local military base where I was working.

I ended up graduating Cum Laude with my B.S. in Technical Management with an OSHA specialty, and with a Security and Intelligence minor. I shortly thereafter found a job with the bases Safety Office. I was still living with my mom at this point, as I had been taking car of her and she was letting me live there rent free while I went to school. After getting the job with the Safety Office my student loans kicked in, so I lived with my mom until I got a promotion kicked in, at which point I moved out in to the little apartment I am in now. I don’t make much money, but I can pay my student loan payments, and my car payment. 

My mom is better than she used to be, but is really not totally self sufficient. When I was in high school she began relying on me to get the littlest things done, and it only got worse as time went on. By the time I moved out, she was the child and I was the parent. Over the last couple of years she has learned to be a bit more normal. She doesn’t make much money and has virtually no retirement. She will either work herself to death, or just work until she is no longer able, at which point I will probably have to take care of her again. 

My dad is 74, and showing it. He had a stroke when I was 18, you can see it in him now. We have breakfast most every Sunday. 

My grandma wonders why I don’t call her grandma. She did learned how to hug me, kiss me on the cheek, and tell me she loved me though. So maybe I can learn to think of her as grandma.

My grandpa is now 84, and has mellowed out a lot. Him and I are very close and I am one of the few people that can really get along with him. he told me he was proud of me about six months ago, that meant the world to me.
My mom says I am just like him.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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