Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Coyote Spirit

In Navajo culture, Coyote is an “ancient deity” — essential to maintaining the order, balance, and harmony of the world. He is the creative force that created the world and provided the first humans with the basic essentials of food, plants, medicine, animals, fire, and light. As a multi-dimensional character, he is both good and evil; human and god; unpredictable and ambivalent — traveling easily between the human, animal, and sacred worlds.

Coyote is the embodiment of human consciousness and the reservoir for all knowledge. As the original sacred Being, he initiated chaos and death, disrupted the positioning of the stars, and acted to ensure the survival of the human race.

As the trickster, his adventures test the boundaries of the cosmic order, reaffirm the harmony of the world, and expand the possibilities for human interventions and activities in the world. His characteristics of egoism, greed, excessive sexual lust, gluttony, rudeness, interference, and unrestrained curiosity, playfulness, and restlessness mirror his human counterparts. He is intelligent, perceptive, adaptable, flexible, and cunning, all characteristics necessary for survival. Coyote trickster stories are told to children and adults alike to impart important moral lessons.

When the Navajo depended on hunting, Coyote was the powerful, positive impetus that brought success in war, hunting, and running. But when agriculture became the main means of subsistence, Coyote became an evil force that prowled around in the darkness of night, destroying crops and livestock.

Coyoteway is an ancient healing ceremony that is sometimes performed by Shamans to heal illness. While Coyote is capable of healing disease, he is also the one who sends disease when the Coyote People (coyotes, foxes, and wolves) are displeased.

The most frightening entities in Navajo culture are the Skinwalkers — witches who pray to Coyote, shapeshift into coyotes, and enchant people by throwing coyote skins over them. In this regard, Coyote is considered a negative and evil entity. On the other hand, Coyote sends helpful messages to humans through dreams, omens, and signs. His malleable nature allows him to align himself with both good and evil forces.

~

The Coyote and the Giant

“Once a giant was terrorizing the land, and eating people, especially small children. Coyote convinced the giant that if he allowed Coyote to break his leg and then heal it by spitting on it, he would be able to run as fast as Coyote. However, this was one of Coyote’s tricks, and the giant thereafter found it much more difficult to outrun anything, even small children.” ( from Coyote Stories of the Navajo People, 1974)

In this story, Coyote uses his tricks to help humans and becomes a hero.

According to Coyote storytellers in the Navajo tribe, Coyote stories can only be told during the winter, from October to February.

Coyote Superstition

A coyote traveling in any direction but north that crosses your path can be a good omen. However, many Navajos believe that ANY coyote crossing your path means trouble ahead. Beware of the trickster!

Thanks for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 24, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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History of Chevron Corporation

(Standard Oil Company of California gas station)

       In September 1876, oil driller Alex Mentry struck oil at Pico No. 4 in Pico Canyon, California.  This set off a new “gold rush” in search of oil, the “black gold.”  At the time, Mentry worked for California Star Oil.  A few years later, on September 10, 1879, Pacific Coast Oil Company, which had incorporated in San Francisco, California on February 19, 1879, acquired California Star Oil – and this is where the history of Chevron begins (Chevron, 2020).

       Pacific Coast built the largest refinery in California at Point Alameda on San Francisco Bay, with the capacity to produce 600 barrels a day.  The company built a pipeline from Pico Canyon to the Southern Pacific Railroad train station at Elayon in southern California. By 1895, they had acquired the first steel tanker in California, the George Loomis, which could hold 6,500 barrels of crude oil (Chevron, 2020).

       In 1878, competition appeared in the form of Standard Oil Company (Iowa).  Known for its marketing skills, quality products, effective advertising campaigns, and rich financial backing, it set up shop in San Francisco, California with the goal of dominating the West Coast’s oil market.  By 1885, Standard Oil had distribution centers throughout the West Coast.  By contrast, Pacific Coast Oil Company was struggling to survive. Finally, in 1900, Standard Oil purchased the struggling company in order to increase its own production, transportation, and refining operations. In 1906, consolidation between Pacific Coast Oil and Standard Oil (Iowa) produced a new company – Standard Oil of California (Chevron, 2020).

       In 1911, Standard Oil of California established the California Natural Gas Company at its El Segundo plant in southern California in order to explore for natural gas in the San Joaquin Valley.  A second pipeline was built, linking the Richmond refinery, which was built in 1902, and the Kern River Field (Chevron, 2020).

       In an effort to conserve energy resources, the Starke gas trap – invented by engineer C.C. Scharpenberg and geologist Eric Starke — was invented and implemented for capturing natural gas from a well (Chevron, 2020).

       Between 1912 and 1919, Standard Oil of California expanded its operations until it saturated the market in a five-state area.  “Petroleum and natural gas are by far the major fuels used on the Pacific Coast” (Miller, 1936, p. 86).  But its market share had dropped by 1926 due to increased competition.  With the re-opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, Standard Oil of California ventured into the international market and expanded its market share in the Eastern United States and Europe (Chevron, 2020).  Natural gas use, however, continued to grow, from 72,000 cubic feet consumed on the West Coast in 1921 to 258,000 cubic feet consumed in 1933 (Miller, 1936, p. 86).

       Standard Oil of California continued to expand its operations through subsidiaries, mergers, and partnerships.  It opened operations in the Middle East, Canada, Mexico, and Central America.  In September 1950, the company completed the Trans-Arabian Pipeline.  Company revenues reached 1 billion dollars in 1951.  A merger with Standard Oil of Kentucky in 1961 expanded its markets in five southeastern states.  In 1977, Chevron USA was formed with the merger of six domestic oil and gas operations.  In 1979, Chevron celebrated 100 years of operations (Chevron, 2020).

       In March 1984, Chevron merged with Gulf Oil Corporation.  This merger increased their reserves of oil, gas, and natural gas liquids.  In the 1990s, Chevron developed the Escruvos

Natural Gas project in Nigeria, converting natural gas to liquids.  In 1996, “Chevron transferred its natural gas gathering, operating, and marketing operation to NGC Corporation (later Dynergy) in exchange for a roughly 25% equity stake in NGC” (Chevron, 2020). Through its merger with Texaco, Chevron acquired 11 million oil-equivalents of natural gas reserves.  Using 3-D imaging signals, Chevron discovered one of the largest crude oil and natural gas fields in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in May 2009.  In 2005, Chevron changed its name to Chevron Corporation, acquired Unocal, and increased its natural gas reserves by 15 per cent.  The Gorgon Project and Wheatstone Project in Western Australia are boosting Chevron’s liquefied natural gas reserves. Gorgon, which will supply the Asia-Pacific market, had a daily production of 2.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 6,000 barrels of condensate in 2019.  Production is projected to last 40 or more years, with 15.6 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas produced per year (Chevron, 2020).

       “Chevron’s development of oil and natural gas from shale and tight rock formations has intensified since the company entered the Marcellus Shale through its acquisition of Atlas Energy in 2011” (Chevron, 2020).  The company’s policy of partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions has paid off handsomely for its bottom line and future success.

       Likewise, experts say that energy demand could increase by 33% by the year 2040, making all sources of energy important: natural gas, crude oil, coal, renewables, and nuclear (Chevron, 2020).  California alone “produced more than 200 million cubic feet of natural gas in 2017 used for heating and cooking in homes and businesses and to generate electricity” (Powering California, 2019).  Chevron has expanded into geothermal, solar, wind, biofuel, fuel cells, and hydrogen energy.  It recently invested in Carbon Clean Solutions, a company which is developing technology that “removes carbon dioxide at a price of $30.00 per ton” (Houston Chronicle, 2020.)  The prototype is expected to come out in 2021.

       The demand for natural gas and liquefied natural gas has intensified as companies and consumers look for cleaner, cheaper sources of energy.  Liquefied natural gas (LNG) can be easily shipped and stored because cooling the gas at temperatures of -260 degrees Fahrenheit shrinks the gas into 600 times smaller its normal volume.  LNG can be re-gasified and transmitted through natural gas pipelines to power plants fueled by natural gas, as well as industrial, residential and commercial consumers.  Markets for both natural gas and LNG have increased in the U.S. since 2007, and Asian countries are demanding more imported product (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2020).  Chevron Shipping Company has a large fleet of crude oil tankers and LNG carriers to meet this demand (Chevron, 2020).

       Chevron has crude oil and natural gas fields in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. In 2018, they produced 651 million cubic feet of natural gas and 77,000 barrels of natural gas liquids (NGL).  In 2018, Chevron’s holdings in the Gulf of Mexico produced 105 million cubic feet of natural gas and 13,000 barrels of NGLs. Its Jack and St. Malo fields produced 139,000 barrels of liquids and 21 million cubic feet of natural gas. Its Big Foot Project produced 25 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. Its Tahiti field in the Gulf produced 22 million cubic feet of natural gas and 3,000 barrels of NGLs.  Its Mad Dog Field yielded 8,000 barrels of liquids and 1 million cubic feet of natural gas.  The Stampede Field produced 4 million cubic feet of natural gas. In California, 25 million cubic feet of natural gas and 400 barrels of NGLs were produced.  In the Appalachian Basin, 240 million cubic feet of natural gas, 4,000 barrels of NGLs, and 1,000 barrels of condensate were produced (Chevron, 2020).

       “The Chevron Pipe Line Company transports crude oil, refined petroleum products, liquefied petroleum (LPG), natural gas, NGLs, and chemicals within the U.S.” (Chevron, 2020).  It manages pipelines for Chevron Phillips Chemical and has financial interests in other U.S. and international pipelines.  Chevron Power and Energy Management Company handles gas-fired and renewable energy power generation.  Cogeneration facilities fueled by natural gas produce electricity and steam and re-use recovered waste heat to optimize oil operations.  Chevron’s Supply and Trading branches in Houston, Texas, London, Singapore, and San Ramon, California provide support for crude oil and natural gas production operations, refining, and marketing. Approximately 5 million barrels of liquids and 5 billion cubic feet of natural gas are traded on the commodities exchange every day.  Chevron’s Gas Supply and Trading group “markets and manages transportation for Chevron’s equity natural gas production.  It also manages all LPG and NGL trading, including supplying refineries and marketing NGLs produced by Chevron’s refineries and Upstream assets” (Chevron, 2020).

       In order to ensure a qualified work force for the future, Chevron invests in education to teach high school students science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  Geologists, chemists, IT specialists, healthcare workers, engineers, and other specialists working for Chevron must be experienced professionals in their fields.  They actively encourage girls to become proficient in STEM.  And they support programs to help low-income men and women get the skills they need to get high-paying jobs in the global energy industry (Chevron, 2020).

       More than 100 years later, Chevron is exploring, researching, developing, and utilizing new technologies in order to meet increasing demands for energy.  It continues to be a leader in the global energy industry.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 16, 2020

Copyright 2020-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

References

Chevron. (2020). History: see where we’ve been and where we’re going. Retrieved from

https://www.chevron.com.

Chevron. (2020). Operations: driving human progress. Retrieved from

https://www.chevron.com.

Chevron. (2020). Project portfolio: delivering energy worldwide. Retrieved from

https://www.chevron.com.

Houston Chronicle. (2020). Chevron invests in carbon capture technology company. Retrieved

       from https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Chevron-invests-in-carbon-

       capture-technology-15063229.php.

Miller, W. (1936). Pacific Coast Oil and Natural Gas. Economic Geography, 12 (1), 86-90.

       doi: 10.2307/140266.

Powering California. (2019). The history of oil and natural gas in california. Retrieved from

https://www.poweringcalifornia.com/the-history-of-oil-and-natural-gas-in-california-2/

U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2020). Natural gas explained. Retrieved from

https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas.

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Mario Savio and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement

(Mario Savio, University of California, Berkeley)

Anybody who was alive, breathing, conscious, and living in California during the 1960s remembers Mario Savio and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Savio’s energy and passionate speeches helped to bring the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Vietnam war protests to college campuses all across America. He was a fierce champion of both FREE SPEECH and DEBATE. Plaques dedicated to his memory still grace the University of California, Berkeley campus.

He is best known for his speech called “The Bodies on the Gears” and his explicit description of the federal government as violent, intolerant, overbearing, over-reaching, authoritarian, paternalistic, and out of control. He believed that speaking out and refusing to comply with unreasonable government demands was a legitimate form of protest. The interesting thing is that, despite Berkeley’s loving remembrance of Savio and the Free Speech Movement, UC Berkeley does not currently practice what Savio preached. Berkeley may still have the appearance of an enlightened, left-wing, politically active college campus, but the administration has squelched lectures and debates sponsored by political moderates and conservatives under the guise of “security concerns” and appears to have no interest in providing a forum for free speech for ALL AMERICANS and ALL POINTS OF VIEW. In the same vein, Antifa memberships and violence have flourished with the support of intolerant, closed-minded teachers and students alike.

Savio and the Free Speech Movement were not about violence and censorship. They were about speaking up, carrying on healthy debates, discussing the issues, and solving social justice issues through reasonable and intelligent channels. All young people, who have the energy, optimism, and idealism, have the option to engage in social activism without the use of violence and bullying. But it takes a certain amount of critical thinking skills, common sense, self-confidence, and mental agility to debate your opponent, listen to his or her views, and offer a rational and intelligent response. It requires patience and a thoughtful formulation of your personal ideas. The American educational system in the 1960s still taught those skills. I cannot say the same thing for our current educational institutions.

Dawn Pisturino

January 8, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Reprise: Bigfoot!

(Still photo from Bigfoot film by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin, October 1967)

Crack! The bullet zings past my ear, hitting an old oak tree.

I drop the salmon wiggling in my hands and run along the bank of the Mokelumne River, propelling my long, hairy arms for speed. Behind me, the hunters move carefully through the dense underbrush, tracking my movements.

Sharp green thorns snag on my hair and tear at my flesh as I struggle through the blackberry briars and wild grapevines. I hike deeper into the wilderness on two strong legs, climbing skillfully around granite boulders barring my way. In the distance, the jagged outline of Deadwood Peak rises above the trees. If I can only get there, I will be safe.

Rounding a bend I see her, tearing meat from a rabbit carcass with big, sharp teeth. Mama! Her shaggy brown head turns in my direction. With a low growl, she opens her long, hairy arms as if to embrace me.

And then she smells it, the distinct odor of musky sweat. The hunters are near!

We run, ignoring the stones piercing our feet, causing us to stumble. Behind us, the humans call back and forth, “Bigfoot!”

Together, we melt into the shade of a thick stand of pines, hoping to slow down and catch our breath. But our feet become tangled in nets concealed by pine needles, and suddenly, we are swinging up, up into the air, and dangling from the limbs of a sturdy pine tree.

Mama struggles inside her net, growling with rage. I struggle, too, yelping helplessly as the net swings back and forth above the hard ground.

“We’ve got them now,” says a bearded hunter to his companions. “Bigfoot! That TV show, Monster Search, will pay us big bucks for these babies.”

“We’ll be famous,” cries a husky hunter with red hair. “Scientists won’t laugh at us anymore. Finally! Proof that Bigfoot exists!”

“How are we going to get them back to San Francisco?” asks an old man with spectacles. “I mean, we weren’t really expecting to find anything.”

The bearded hunter pulls out his camera. “I’m taking plenty of pictures, just in case something goes wrong. They can’t call it a hoax this time!”

While the camera clicks and the three men argue over the best way to get us back to the city, I turn my head from view and gnaw on the net’s thick webbing with my teeth. Pretty soon I’ve made a small opening, large enough to stick my fingers through. I wiggle them at Mama, and she understands what to do.

The red-haired hunter chuckles as he pokes me in the back with a long stick. I give him a warning growl, but he keeps it up. My powerful jaws chew faster on the netting.

“We need some of that fur,” says the old man with spectacles. “We can send it to a lab for analysis.”

“Good idea!” says the red-haired hunter. “Then, if they get away, we’ll still have proof.”

The three men stand under the nets, looking up at our shaggy brown bodies hanging in the air. Suddenly the nets give way, and Mama and I find ourselves lying on top of the three men on the ground.

We howl victory cries and scramble to our feet. The men, tangled in the nets, shout curses at us as we run away.

The Miwok Indians tell stories about us — great hairy beasts roaming these desolate mountains. They fear us and protect our sacred habitat on Deadwood Peak. We are going there now, secure in the knowledge that we cannot be followed. Men from the city will continue to hunt us. But, with help from the Miwoks, they will never find us. And we will never let them capture us alive.

Dawn Pisturino

©2014-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Reprise: The Woman with the Blue Tattoo

Olive Oatman, Library of Congress

Olive Oatman became famous in the 1850s for the blue perpendicular lines tattooed onto her chin. She called them “slave marks,” and people all across America wanted to know how and why she had acquired them.

On the afternoon of February 18, 1851, while camped along the Gila River in Arizona, Olive and her younger sister, Mary Ann, watched in horror as a band of Western Yavapai Indians massacred their mother, father, two sisters, and three brothers. Held back as captives, the two girls, fourteen and seven, were forced to walk barefoot through the rugged desert to the isolated Yavapai camp. For a year they lived there as slaves, fetching wood, hauling water, and gathering food, until traded to the Mohave tribe for two horses, three blankets, vegetables, and beads.

The Mohaves (Aha Macav, “along the river,”) inhabited a lush, fertile valley along the banks of the Colorado River, the traditional boundary between Arizona and California.

Chief Espaniole and his wife, Aespaneo, welcomed the girls into the tribe and adopted them into their own family. They were proud to have rescued the girls from the cruel Yavapai and vowed to treat them well.

The girls worked alongside the other women of the tribe, gathering wood, fetching water, and planting seeds. They soon learned the Mohave language and developed close friendships with other members of the tribe.

Olive was variously called “Ali,” “Aliutman,” “Olivino,” and “Owich (cloud),” the clan name of Chief Espaniole’s family. Mohave women inherited clan names passed down from their fathers, and bearing a clan name meant Olive was considered a full member of the tribe.

Facial tattoos were common among the Mohave Indians because they believed the permanent marks guaranteed a place in “Sil’aid,” the land of the dead. Tribal members who died without tattoos would spend eternity in a desert rat hole. Since Olive and Mary Ann belonged to the tribe, they were expected to undergo the tattooing process.

The girls lay quietly on the ground while experienced tattooers drew designs on their chins. Since the tattoos were meant to be decorative, they chose designs that would enhance the girls’ faces. Using cactus needles or sharp sticks, the designs were pricked into the skin until the wounds freely bled. The sticks were dipped in the juice of a special river weed, then into a powder made from a blue river stone, and applied to the pinpricks on the girls’ chins. The process took several hours to complete and several days to heal.

With this rite of passage, Olive and Mary Ann became permanent members of the Mohave tribe and the first white females in the United States to wear tattoos.

A terrible drought in 1855 brought famine to the tribe. Many people died, including Mary Ann. Olive soon fell ill herself. Aespaneo saved her life by feeding her gruel made from cornmeal.

In January 1856, a Yuma Indian named Francisco arrived at the Mohave camp with papers from Fort Yuma ordering the release of Olive Oatman. Chief Espaniole refused to release her. But Francisco persisted, claiming that five million white soldiers were hiding in the hills, ready to attack and destroy the Mohave village. The Mohaves reluctantly gave in.

Once again, Olive was traded for two horses, blankets, and beads. She arrived at Fort Yuma ten days later, tanned, tattooed, painted, her hair dyed black, and wearing only a bark skirt. She was nineteen years old. Her brother Lorenzo, who had survived the massacre, traveled from California for a tender reunion with his long-lost sister.

Olive became an overnight sensation. Newspapers all across America printed stories about “the white Indian” and her blue tattoo. The Evansville Enquirer reported on November 9, 1859: “She will bear the marks of her captivity to her grave. Her savage masters having tattooed her after the customs of their tribes.”

In 1857 Royal B. Stratton published the first book detailing the Oatman ordeal, Life Among the Indians, which became an immediate best-seller. Olive and Lorenzo traveled to New York, where Olive promoted the book with autographed photographs and lectures. She openly displayed her tattoo while relaying the tragic story of the Oatman massacre and her life as a “slave” among the Mohave Indians.

When not delivering lectures, Olive self-consciously covered her chin with her hands to avoid the staring eyes of curious people.

Olive married wealthy cattleman John Brant Fairchild in 1865, left the lecture circuit, and eventually settled down in Sherman, Texas. She became reclusive, hid her face behind a black veil, experimented with make-up to hide her blue tattoo, and refused to discuss her life among the Indians. She died of heart failure in 1903. Afraid the Mohaves would claim her body, John Fairchild had her coffin sealed in iron and covered her grave with a thick granite tombstone.

(Mohave Indian woman with body paint and tattoos.)

Dawn Pisturino

October 17, 2012; November 25, 2021

Copyright 2012-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact author for sources.

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A Tribute to Actor Michael York

Michael York as Pip in Great Expectations (1974)

Last night, I was thinking about the 1974 movie, Great Expectations, and wondering whatever happened to British actor Michael York. Was he still alive? An Internet search showed that he is 79 years old, living in West Hollywood, and still very much alive.

In 2011, my daughter, lyric soprano Ariel Pisturino, was a member of the cast in the Long Beach Opera production of Cherubini’s Medea. She had a singing role as one of Dirce’s handmaidens. One night, after the performance, an average looking elderly couple came up to her and expressed their admiration for her performance. The man was so sickly looking, he looked like he was in the last stages of cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, or cancer. His skin was yellow and dry, his hair limp and straw-like. He seemed very familiar to me, but I could not immediately place him. But the man had a very distinctive theatrical voice, and there it was — Michael York!

(Lyric soprano Ariel Pisturino in 2011 at the furniture warehouse converted to a theater for the LBO production, Medea. Photo by Dawn Pisturino. The production garnered a lot of media coverage because former director, Andreas Mitisek, had a reputation for staging innovative opera productions in unusual locations.)

Michael York and his long-time wife, American photographer Patricia McCallum, were so kind and gracious to my daughter! He encouraged her talent and career and wished her the best for all of her future endeavors. He did not come off as arrogant or condescending, but just a real, down-to-earth person. In other words, he is not one of those Hollywood snobs who thinks he’s better than everybody else. He is not an angry, loud, foul-mouthed creep like Alec Baldwin, who was forced to go to anger management therapy. He and his wife showed up in ordinary clothes. In fact, they were under-dressed. With his obvious health problems, it looked like he had fallen on hard times. But the reality is a little different.

In 2012, York was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a rare disease in which insoluble proteins invade parts of the body and internal organs, eventually causing the organs to shut down. It took three years to get the right diagnosis. He underwent autologous stem cell transplant therapy and has been doing well since. A classically trained Shakespearean actor, York now writes books, does voiceovers, and promotes fundraising and public awareness of amyloidosis.

It just goes to show that no matter how talented you are, how important you think you are, or how rich you are, bad things happen. And it’s how you handle those challenges which determines the kind of person you are.

(Ariel Pisturino [facing front] as one of Dirce’s handmaidens in the LBO production of Medea.)

I will always have the greatest respect for Michael York for encouraging my daughter in her career. His humility and graciousness touched both our hearts. And I wish him and his wife all the best. We never know how our lives are going to end up, but we can never go wrong with being kind to others, supporting others with positive affirmations, and encouraging their hopes and dreams.

Michael York’s website: http://www.michaelyork.net

Long Beach Opera website: http://www.longbeachopera.org

Ariel Pisturino website: http://www.arielpisturino.com

Dawn Pisturino

November 4, 2021

Copyright 2011-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, (866) 706-4826.

All photos by Dawn Pisturino.

The owners of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery had a vision to turn a sad, quiet place of rest into a thriving cultural and visitor center. Built in 1899, the cemetery is home to numerous Hollywood stars, directors, and other dignitaries. Visitors flock to the site to view the final resting places of famous people and walk among the beautiful gardens. At the south end of the cemetery can be seen the historic Paramount Studios on the other side of the wall.

During the summer, the cemetery features classic film screenings in association with Cinespia. People bring picnics and lawn chairs and hang out on the Fairbanks Lawn after sunset to enjoy the warm California weather. There’s usually a long line to purchase tickets and to get in.

The cemetery also hosts one of the largest Dia de Los Muertos festivals in America.

Every time I have been to Hollywood Forever Cemetery, I have enjoyed myself immensely. And walking among the headstones and mingling with the crowds is a fun experience and not scary at all – even after dark.

Did you notice the lipstick on Rudolph Valentino’s crypt? He still has a big following of swooning female fans!

Dawn Pisturino

October 6, 2021

Copyright 2008-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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A Case Study in Drought: Bullhead City, Arizona

New York Post – Lake Mead at Hoover Dam

Bullhead City, Arizona Primary Hazard: Drought

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, drought is considered a creeping natural hazard because it has no “clear beginning and end like tornadoes or hurricanes or floods” (National Drought Mitigation Center, 2019, para. 19).  It can develop over many months or years as the climate in a region changes.  This is called “natural climate variability . . . we consider drought to be a normal part of climate just like floods, hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes” (National Drought Mitigation Center, 201, para. 7).

Why Bullhead City has the Highest Probability of Drought

Bullhead City, Arizona is a desert community on the Colorado River which sits at an elevation of 566 feet above sea level.  Roughly 40,000 people call it home (City Data, 2017).  Due to an abundance of rain and snow during the 2018-2019 winter season, the U.S. Drought Monitor determined in June, 2019 that Bullhead City had graduated from drought to an abnormally dry area (Associated Press, 2019).  As of this writing, however, the monsoon season—which normally dumps a lot of rain in the area—has been sparse, and Bullhead City is in danger of falling back into drought if the 2019-2020 winter season does not produce adequate precipitation.

Lack of precipitation affects water levels in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.  Lake Mead, which is held in place by the Hoover Dam, supplies the bulk of water used by residents in Bullhead City and other populated areas along the Colorado River (Associated Press, 2019).

In April, 2019, Congress passed an updated Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan which affects Arizona, California, Nevada, and other states dependent on the Colorado River for water and hydroelectric power.  If Arizona loses its Colorado River allotment, communities will have to pump groundwater, which can be contaminated with natural nitrate and arsenic, or find other alternatives, such as the unpopular use of recycled water (Whitman, 2019).                                                                                                                                         

Removing contaminants raises the cost of water to consumers.  The ideal situation is “to pump only as much groundwater as flows back underground, a balance known as safe yield, by 2025” (Whitman, 2019, para. 13).  But that is a tough goal to implement.  Water conservation measures can stifle growth, an unpopular idea in high-growth areas.

Currently, the Colorado River supplies water to more than 30 million people in seven states, with 70% of that water used for agriculture (Zielinski, 2010).  When government officials designated water allotments to these states in 1922, there were far fewer people living in the region.  And the strain is showing: “the Colorado River no longer regularly reaches the sea” (Zielinski, 2010, para.10).  In fact, it turns into a pathetic mud puddle 50 miles north of the Pacific Ocean.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) plans to build a solar-powered pump station south of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River that would continually refill Lake Mead and produce a continuous supply of hydroelectric power to millions of people in California.  The fear is that this project would shrink water supplies to communities farther down the Colorado River—such as Bullhead City (Grossman, 2018).

Shrinking water supplies, smaller water allotments, and increased demand have fueled tensions between the states dependent on the Colorado River—especially, between Arizona and California.  And those tensions are not going away anytime soon (Runyon & Jaspers, 2019).

Preparedness, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery

Bullhead City has its own Drought/Water Shortage Contingency Plan.  The Arizona State Legislature passed House bill 2277 in 2005 which requires communities to develop and maintain a system water plan that includes three parts: a water supply plan, a water conservation plan, and a drought preparedness plan.  This requirement has become part of the State’s water resource management plan to develop preparedness and mitigation strategies at both the local and state level (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) also requires local communities to develop drought/water shortage contingency plans to conserve water.  These plans outline community response to reductions in the water supply due to drought, infrastructure failure, or other causes (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

Bullhead City depends solely on the Colorado River for its water supply.  Arizona’s water allotment was designated in the 1922 Colorado River Compact.  “The city of Bullhead City diverts its Colorado River surface water allocation through groundwater wells” (City of Bullhead City, 2016, p. 5).  This is possible because of the Colorado River aquifer that exists.

The Secretary of the Interior can declare a shortage of Colorado River water.  All states dependent on the Colorado River would be forced to share in the water shortage as determined  by the 2007 Record of Decision – Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.  Bullhead City’s right to Colorado River water is fourth priority, which means that communities with higher priority will get their Colorado River water first.  The Mohave County Water Authority (MCWA) has set aside 107, 239 acre-feet of long-term water credits for Bullhead City.  Bullhead City, along with other Colorado River communities, has been given until 2026 to put preparedness plans in place to respond to drought and water shortages (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

If the water credits are eventually used, Bullhead City has a contract with the Central Arizona Project water canal to use groundwater pumping to recover their allotted water.  The use of such credits would incur extra costs that would be passed on to consumers (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

Bullhead City has developed plans to respond to a 20% and a 40% reduction in water supplies.  Both plans call for the unpopular use of reclaimed (recycled) water.  The extensive use of reclaimed water would require the building of extra infrastructure (City of Bullhead City, 2016). 

The response plan for Bullhead City has been developed as a staged response with the following components: water use reduction; priority users and water reduction; water rates/financial incentives; the role of private water companies; preparedness and mitigation plans for private water companies sub-contracted by Bullhead City; voluntary versus mandatory water reduction; agricultural irrigation versus drinking water; water conservation; public education; stored water recovery and delivery; scenarios of probable water shortage conditions; the use of reclaimed water; demand versus supply evaluation.  These plans would be implemented according to the water level in Lake Mead.  The strictest water management plans would be enforced when the level in Lake Mead is at or below 1,025 feet (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

In the meantime, Bullhead City has waged a public education campaign about the use of xeriscaping using low-water plants and trees; drip irrigation; and harvesting rainwater for landscape use (Water Resources Research Center, 2019).  Tips on conserving water are freely available on the city’s website.  Water rebates are available to consumers.  Water usage reports are available for public perusal.  And water development fees have been imposed to improve water services in the city (City of Bullhead City, 2019).

Bullhead City receives an average of 3 to12 inches of rain a year (Arizona Water Facts, 2019).  Epcor, a private water company, has raised consumer water rates 25% to 35% during the drought.  This situation has prompted Bullhead City to introduce Proposition 415, which would approve a bond up to $130 million to buy out the company (City of Bullhead City, 2019).  If approved, the city will own another source of water and provide water services at a lower cost to consumers.

Identify Gaps and Suggest Expansion of Preparedness, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery Plans

Bullhead City has not done enough to control population growth.  The city advertises itself as the lowest cost of living city in the state based on a 2015 study done by the Council for Community and Economic Research (Merrill, 2015).  This draws more people on fixed incomes from within and outside of the state.  These people can ill afford to pay higher water rates and development fees.  And if water supplies are, indeed, shrinking, Bullhead City can ill afford to add more people to its population.

Furthermore, if Bullhead City plans to use reclaimed water in the future, it needs to build the infrastructure now, and not wait for an emergency situation to arise.

Initial Evaluation and Emergency Management Procedures

Drought is the main hazard facing Bullhead City, Arizona.  It is dependent on water supplied by the Colorado River and the allotment it receives based on the Colorado River Compact of 1922.  Although it has plans in place for a 20% and 40% reduction in water supplies, it has not planned for anything more severe.  At the very worst, the governor of the State of Arizona would declare a disaster and water would have to be trucked in for residential and business use.  A lack of water would lead to social chaos and fighting among citizens.  There would be a mass exodus of people out of town.  Law enforcement would be heavily involved to control the situation. EMS personnel and local hospitals would have to deal with people who were severely dehydrated.  Animals would be abandoned and left to die from thirst.  City officials would be overwhelmed by demands for water.

Interrelationships among the Core Components of the Emergency Management Phases

Drought and water shortages can vary from season to season.  Preparedness plans to deal with these problems and to mitigate the costs and impacts are essential to protect the vital resource of water.  Well-conceived plans must be in place to respond to serious shortages of water for the sake of the community.  If the problem becomes serious enough, there might not be a recovery phase.

Conclusion

The desert was never meant to support millions of people.  Water is a precious resource that has not been taken seriously enough by government officials, city planners, and members of the real estate and development professions.  Bullhead City is dependent on a river it cannot control, weather and climate it cannot control, and State politicians it cannot control.  The city must do whatever it takes to protect its water supply.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

September 24, 2019

References

Arizona Water Facts. (2019). Bullhead City, Arizona. Retrieved from

       http://www.arizonawaterfacts.com/mtw/bullhead-city.

Associated Press. (2019. June). Arizona out of short-term drought. Mohave Daily News.

       Retrieved from http://www.mohavedailynews.com/news/arizona-out-of-short-term-

       drought/article_8c36c50a-9259-11e9-ab41-9b4eacdd7bd1.html

City Data. (2017). Bullhead City, Arizona. Retrieved from

       http://www.city-data.com/city/Bullhead-City-Arizona.html

City of Bullhead City. (2019). City of Bullhead City. Retrieved from

       http://www.bullheadcity.com

City of Bullhead City. (2016). City of bullhead city drought/water shortage contingency

       plan. Retrieved fromhttp://www.bullheadcity.com/home/showdocument?id=7546

Grossman, D. (2018, July). The hoover dam changed america – And it might do it again.

       Popular Mechanics. Retrieved from

https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/922539919/the-hoover-dam-

       changed-americaand-it-might-do-it-again.

Merrill, Laurie. (2015, June). Which arizona cities will cost you the least. AZ Central.

       Retrieved from https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2015/06/17/bullhead-

       city-cheapest-arizona-city/28899239.

National Drought Mitigation Center. (2019). What is drought. Retrieved from

       http://www.drought.unl.edu/Education/Drought forKids/What is Drought.aspx.

Runyon, L. & Jaspers, B. (2019, February). What is happening with the colorado river drought

       plans. KPBS. Retrieved from

https://www.kpbs.org/news/2019/feb/07/what-is-happening-colorado-river-drought-plans.

Water Resources Research Center. (2019). Low-Water tree and plant guide. Retrieved from

       http://www.wrrc.arizona.edu

Whitman, E. (2019, April). After colorado river drought plan, what’s next for water in arizona.

       Retrieved from https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/content/print/view/11268880.

Zielinski, S. (2010, October). The colorado river runs dry. Smithsonian Magazine.

       Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-colorado-river-runs-

       dry-61427169.

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Remembering the California Camp Fire 2018

Huffington Post Photo

Around 6:30 a.m. on November 8, 2018, the deadliest fire in California history broke out near Pulga, Butte County, California after a Pacific Gas & Electric high tension power line fell to the ground. Strong winds spread the fire to Concow, Paradise, Magalia, Chico, and Centerville.

Thousands of people, pets, and livestock were forced to evacuate. Towns not touched by the fire were overwhelmed with evacuees. Community organizers set up shelters and tent cities. Representatives from insurance companies and FEMA erected stations to help people affected by the fire.

By the time the fire was extinguished three weeks later, 153,336 acres and over 18,800 structures had been destroyed. At least 86 people perished.

Pacific Gas & Electric took responsibility for the fire and immediately began the cleanup process. But the costs of the damage forced PG&E to file for bankruptcy and cleanup efforts were delayed.

The cleanup has been estimated to take two or three years. Over 1,500 people were hired to remove debris. They must be certified in Hazmat cleanup due to concerns about asbestos. PG&E moved forward with its tree removal program to help prevent future wildfires.

A major hazard after the fire was the contamination of the water supplies. Benzene, a known carcinogenic, was released into the water when water pipes melted. People were forced to drink bottled water or install huge water tanks and have water delivered by truck. This hit surviving businesses particularly hard.

Many people who lost their homes and jobs moved away to start fresh someplace else. Six months after the fire, only 1,500 residents had returned to Paradise out of a population of 27,000. Businesses supplying basic goods re-opened with limited hours. Internet, telephone, and electricity services were restored.

More than 1,000 animals were rescued and taken to shelters, an overwhelming number. Six months later, all but 200 had been placed with new or recovered families.

On August 6, 2019, the Butte County Public Health Department issued a press release indicating that many locations in the Camp Fire burn area remain under the do-not-drink water advisory. Water quality is monitored by the California State Water Resources Control Board.

Agencies which have cooperated with response and recovery include: the California Department of Fire, California Department of Transportation, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, California Office of Emergency Services, National Weather Service, California Conservation Corps, Butte County, and the City of Chico, California.

Dawn Pisturino

September 10, 2019

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact author for sources.

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