Monday, August 31, 2009

Is the IE surrendering its technological lead in the meth industry?

I read an Anthony Citrano share in FriendFeed and followed it to this San Francisco Chronicle article:

This is the new formula for methamphetamine: a 2-liter soda bottle, a few handfuls of cold pills and some noxious chemicals. Shake the bottle and the volatile reaction produces one of the world's most addictive drugs.

Only a few years ago, making meth required an elaborate lab....

Go here to read more. It turns out that the "shake and bake" method has some advantages:

  • It needs less pseudoephedrine, which potentially means that users can obtain the drug in small quantities and not run into legal limits.

  • You don't need to depend upon a dealer, because you can make your own small personal batch.

  • You need less room to create the drug. The article states that some people have even mixed up a batch while driving. (Now that's a scary thought.)
However, this method ISN'T any less dangerous than the old meth lab method.

One little mistake, such as unscrewing the bottle cap too fast, can result in a huge blast, and police in Alabama, Oklahoma and other states have linked dozens of flash fires this year - some of them fatal - to meth manufacturing.

Oh, and the bottle used to mix up the meth is toxic. Imagine running across one of those while scavenging for recyclables.

This is gonna be REALLY fun, because you know it's gonna hit here if it hasn't already.

Legislation won't necessarily help casinos if the overall economy is sour

Last year, the initiative process was used to increase the number of slot machines at various Inland Empire casinos. (As I previously noted in my mrontemp blog, Inland Empire tribes often depend upon casino revenue to improve atrocious living conditions.) But this increase in slot machine authorizations didn't necessarily help these casinos against their competition.

[Las Vegas] has slashed room rates and is using promotions to make clear that a bargain vacation is possible, even if it's a five- to six-hour drive away from most Inland residents.

And what happened?

In the first half of the year, the number of people driving from Southern California to Las Vegas via Interstate 15 was up 3.5 percent -- 37,882 cars on average each day, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

But what about the extra slot machines?

No tribal casinos have maxed out the amount of slot machines they're allowed because local housing markets collapsed and the unemployment rate rose....

More information here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Empoprise-IE News - 30 August 2009

Empoprise-IE News

The news letter for Empoprise-IE - An Empoprises vertical information service for Inland Empire (California) news.

Welcome to Empoprise-IE News

And I'll understand if you've forgotten about Empoprise-IE News. I don't necessarily run it every weekend, but I just discovered that I haven't published one since July 12. To be fair, I didn't have a lot of Empoprise-IE News in late July and early August because I was in Illinois and Wisconsin. But now I'm back, and things are continuing to roll along.

Behind the Scenes

A few days after writing about the upcoming Second Spin store at Ontario Mills, I happened to be at Ontario Mills and saw the site where the store will be. Another interesting tidbit - the former site of the Virgin Megastore has now become an H&M - a very, very large H&M. By the way, I wrote about my Ontario Mills visit in a post in my Empoprise-MU music blog - not because of the Virgin Megastore or Second Spin, but because of the Akoo service that they had in the food court.


I can't really say what will be coming up, other than the fact that I have a casino post coming, and I'm revisiting the Stater Brothers Route 66 Rendezvous.

Good news and good news for Ontario Mills music lovers (or, a post dedicated to Susan Rodriguez)

While I made it to Ontario Mills a few days after writing my previous post Good news and bad news for Ontario Mills music lovers, I was still two days too early to see the August 27 opening of Second Spin.

You'll recall that in my August 21 post, I said:

(Incidentally, I had to edit the last two paragraphs, which initially contained the word "record." I have no idea if Second Spin will sell vinyl records.)

Well, Susan Rodriguez made it to Second Spin after the opening, and she commented:

You need to edit your posting again as the Second Spin location in Ontario Mills mall has a HUGE selection of music, movies and games just like the other Second Spin locations and yes they DO sell vinyl!

Thanks Susan for the update!

A local perspective on ethanol

Whatever you may say about the macroeconomics of ethanol, and whether or not government encouragement of ethanol leads to poverty via rising food prices as agricultural operations quit growing food, you do have to admit that ethanol can make a difference in a microeconomic sense.

When I rode the train out East and back, I passed through the San Bernardino-Rialto-Colton area. Because of the Cajon pass, the area is a hub of sorts for moving all sorts of things. Now, it's a hub for ethanol also:

Officials of U.S. Development Group LLC, involved nationwide in the handling and distribution of ethanol, said construction has started on the first phase in Rialto, consisting of a pipeline transfer system that will begin receiving and off-loading fuel from railcars this fall.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Heman G. Stark Califonia Youth Authority facility will become an adult prison

This is a followup to something I posted earlier, after the Chino prison riots. Some of the inmates were housed at the Heman G. Stark facility, which seemed to worry people who were concerned for the poor kids at Stark. Never mind that one of those poor kids once murdered a worker and sent her body to a trash dump. You're probably safer at the grownup prison.

Well, hot on the heels of the Chino prison riot is the news that the Heman G. Stark facility will undergo a change.

Bernie Warner, the director of the state Department of Juvenile Justice, said Thursday that Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility will be outfitted to handle adults from the state's overcrowded system.

The 400 youth wards at Stark will be moved to other facilities in Southern California, Warner said.

And the mayors of neighboring Chino and Chino Hills are worried. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This is why I don't watch movies unless I have to

David Allen ate at Some Crust one day, and overheard a conversation between two people.

"What are you in?" the writer asked.

"I'm in plastics," the man said.

"Plastics?" the writer said, smiling. "That was the big joke in the '60s after 'The Graduate.'"

Nodding, the plastics man said sagely: "I know a lot of people who got into plastics because of it."

Great, people are modeling their lives after movies. Is someone going to become a dancer because of "Dirty Dancing" or "Footloose"?

Or I have a more worrisome prospect. What if my home computer - or, heaven forbid, my work computer - happens to catch 2001?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fountain at the courthouse in Rancho Cucamonga

One nice thing about jury duty.

Mary Petit's letter

I've mentioned Mary Petit's gardening efforts in this blog before, and have contrasted the negative reaction to her efforts vs. the positive reaction in Rancho Cucamonga to gardening efforts there. I haven't mentioned Petit lately, but Sandra Emerson of Upland Now has printed a letter from Petit. Go to Upland Now to read the entire letter; here are some excerpts.

The meeting on August 12th held at the Senior Center centered around the beautiful property at the end of 24th Street. This meeting was the subject of a recent article in the Daily Bulletin. This meeting was remarkable in that several residents who reside in the Upland Summit Private Development community, which is adjacent to the proposed garden site, are adamantly opposed to anything being done on the privately owned property which was offered for this project. This includes a private garden club at the invitation of the landowner which would have the added benefit of mitigating some of the concerns the residents have about this property. This is in stark contrast to the Upland Red Hill North complex and many other communities in the state and nation, where homeowners eagerly embrace the creation of community gardens in their neighborhood.

More here>

Monday, August 24, 2009

Are home sales doing better, or worse - part two


Monica Gagnier links to a post by Chris Palmeri that includes the following:

A couple of weeks ago I put in an offer on a three-bedroom, bank-owned home in Pomona, California, which is about a half hour east of Los Angeles. The house was listed at $144,500. I offered $145,000. My offer was accepted this week. I was told there were two offers above mine, including one at $180,000. How did I win? I offered to pay cash.

But there was a little wrinkle - Palmeri (and Gagnier) work for BusinessWeek.

A week ago I would have been happy as a clam my offer was accepted. Every bit of analysis I did showed this was just a screaming deal. But on Monday I learned that our parent company, McGraw-Hill, might sell BusinessWeek. Suddenly my future job prospects looked less certain. From an investment standpoint this purchase made perfect sense, from an emotional one? I withdrew my offer. Time will tell if I was prudent or just chicken. You can be both, I believe.

Consumer confidence won't be that high when your own job is on the line.

Feeling blue about trusted ticket agents (or, why Chris Brogan won't go to Ontario)

Yes, a Chris Brogan story belongs in my Inland Empire blog (Empoprise-IE) rather than my business blog (Empoprise-BI).

You see, Brogan has just released a book and is on a book tour. Since his sales don't quite rival those of Jackie Collins, the book tour isn't as extravagant as other tours. And, in true social media fashion, he's crowdsourcing some of the details.

I’m plotting how best to use my JetBlue All-You-Can-Fly pass. Are you near any of these cities? Think you could get a bunch of people together in any of those cities to buy 100 or so books and show up for a signing at a local Barnes & Noble or Borders or Books-A-Million?

Well, we know one airport that won't be on Brogan's tour. You'll recall from a previous blog post that JetBlue pulled out of Ontario International Airport last summer.

Wonder if Southwest has an all-you-can-fly pass....

If you're interested in the book, go to the Barnes and Noble site (note: NOT an affiliate link) to not only learn about the book, but also read a review of the book Chris Brogan. He kind of likes the book:

I think it's a decent book. It's not exactly scholarly. It's not a step-by-step manual, although there are tons and tons of actionable moves to take.

I'm proud of my work on it. I hope you like it, too.

Are home sales doing better, or worse?

I've seen several articles on home sales over the past few days. Here's one:

High affordability continued attracting first-time buyers and investors into Inland Southern California's housing market last month, bumping home sales to their highest level in about three years and preventing home prices from falling further.

And in a less tangible measure, consumer confidence is also up:

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo confidence index increased to 18 in August, the highest level since June 2008.

But don't break out the champagne yet:

[A] reading below 50 means most builders surveyed viewed conditions as poor. The gauge reached a record low of 8 in January.

The two articles above were from the Riverside Press-Enterprise. And it's probably no surprise that Housing Kaboom isn't breaking out the champagne either.

26% The number of underwater mortgages in the US (estimated to hit nearly 50% by late 2010)

42% The number of underwater mortgages in California. And yes, it's higher here in the IE!

And a recent survey showed that Riverside is the tenth worst housing market in the United States. The worst was Detroit, and if Inland Empire residents are feeling sorry for themselves, check out Detroit housing prices. Because it's an Associated Press article, I have to be careful about how much I quote, so I'll restrict myself to a few numbers to keep the AP happy:


Yes, those are actual home prices.

Inland airport (almost) rusts

I've found that the Riverside Press-Enterprise tends to have the best coverage of issues related to Ontario International Airport (I refuse to use the name "LA/Ontario International Airport" - call it bullheaded 909 pride or something).

Recently I found that the Press-Enterprise covered another local Inland Empire international airport - one that I bet many IE residents haven't heard about.

Remember the Cold War? Well, after the Cold War ended, March Air Force Base was downgraded, and Norton Air Force Base was outright closed in 1994, resulting in the formation of the grandly-named San Bernardino International Airport. I drove by the airport a few years ago, but couldn't find much of anything. The Press-Enterprise updated me on the airport's status:

Counters and kiosks are in place, ready to sell tickets and check in travelers at San Bernardino International Airport's newly refurbished passenger terminal.

High-definition TV monitors display place-holder arrivals and departures, escalators and decorative water sculptures are in motion, and a high-tech security room monitors for suspicious activity. A booming recorded voice tells visitors not to leave bags unattended.

Only one problem - that pesky recession. Actually, two problems - 9/11 didn't help either.

One thing is missing from this picture: The airport has yet to land a commercial airline to bring revenue-generating passenger service to the terminal.

More here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Good news and bad news for Ontario Mills music lovers

For those who miss the Virgin Megastore at Ontario Mills, David Allen has some good news and bad news.

The good news? Ontario Mills will get a new music store, Second Spin, at the old Vans Skate Park location.

The bad news? As you can probably deduce by its name, Second Spin will only sell used music.

(Incidentally, I had to edit the last two paragraphs, which initially contained the word "record." I have no idea if Second Spin will sell vinyl records.)

Allen also provided the link to the store's website: The store itself officially opens on Thursday, August 27.


Inland speedway adjusts

I recently completed a cross-country train trip, that began and ended with Metrolink service (Montlclair to LA's Union Station in July, and the reverse trip in August upon our return). Metrolink is a convenient way to get to selected places - not only downtown L.A. (which allows you to go to Hollywood, or Chicago), but also to the Los Angeles County Fair via a special stop that's set up at Fair time.

But car racing enthusiasts won't get to use a special Metrolink service during the October race. Why? Economics:

"But with the current economic downturn, there is very little demand for a service, no matter how convenient, that charges between $20 and $35 per person to ride the train, especially when on-site parking is free and plentiful. It just doesn't make sense."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Inland casinos adjust

I've talked about Inland Empire casinos before (including this tangential reference), and a recent Riverside Press-Enterprise article gives me a chance to revisit them. The article mentions some things that local casinos are doing to battle the recession:

[S]ome of the tribal casinos in Inland Southern California have added features that might not pay off this year or next but will serve as permanent, long-term attractions.

Some also are offering enticements that pay off now by keeping customers excited enough to return regularly despite the lingering recession.

So how do they decide what to do? The Press-Enterprise argue that they easy stuff (i.e. build a glamorous new facility) has already been done by the local casinos. So what's next?

Randy Fine, managing partner of The Fine Point Group, a Las Vegas-based casino marketing consulting firm...sees as a third phase, one that he said takes advanced mathematical theory and a marketing plan with multiple strategies.

Read the rest of the article here, including a comparison of our casino economy with that of Las Vegas.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Forward into the past - tangerine development in the IE

Before I moved here, the Inland Empire was an agricultural area. Homebuilding and commercial pressures, however, have forced the vineyards and groves out, and people of an economic bent are waiting for the day that the Inland Empire converts itself into a technological powerhouse of white collar innovation.

Well, the University of California of Riverside is doing is part for technological innovation - in agriculture:

UCR scientists have released a new tangerine -- exceptionally sweet, nearly seedless and deep orange in color -- for commercial distribution to nurseries and then on to growers and supermarkets.

It's called Daisy SL, and while the SL stands for seedless, the suffix could pass for a cool tech name, I guess.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bathroom humor

Portillo's, Moreno Valley, California. On our vacation we went to their Schaumburg, Illinois location.

The Chino Prison Riot

I haven't written anything about the Chino Prison riot, primarily because I was out of state when it occurred, so I didn't even know about it at the time.

Luckily for you, other people were on the ball regarding this.

Chino Valley Now, August 10:

Staff continue to evaluate the extent of inmate injuries and damages to state property following the riot that occurred on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009, with inmates at the California Institution for Men, Reception Center West Facility.

Original Skrip, August 11:

While at the ArtWalk this past Saturday, I had asked why there were so many Pomona Patrol Cars around the area. They told me that there was a riot happening as we spoke, and Pomona PD was oncall waiting for the okay to go help at the prison.

Chino Valley Now, August 11:

Among the traces of mayhem from the weekend's violent prison riot, the blood on rags and mattresses at the California Institution for Men spoke volumes Tuesday.

There's also a video at the link above.

And Chino Valley Now continued with this August 12 post:

More than 700 adult inmates left with no place to stay after last weekend's prison riot are being housed near juvenile inmates at the nearby Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility....

Among public concerns is the safety of Stark's youth wards, said CIM spokesman Lt. Mark Hargrove.

Um, I seriously doubt that it's a case of poor, innocent youth potentially being terrorized by big bad adult inmates. After all, when Ineasie M. Baker was murdered and her body ended up in a Walnut landfill, the murder didn't take place at CIM - it took place at Stark. Oh, and the "kids"? The Stark inmate who murdered Baker was 24 years old.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Let me add to David Allen's recollections of Ontario Plaza

While I was away from home, David Allen was near my home:

The old Ontario Plaza was built starting in 1956 at Mountain Avenue and Fourth Street and expanded in 1959 down to I Street. The nearly six blocks of shops and services marked Ontario's transition away from the downtown core and into suburban-style shopping.

The Plaza was torn down in 1998 for a new development, also named Ontario Plaza, but with an Albertsons, Rite Aid and other shops.

Many people offered comments about the old Plaza, but no one mentioned one little factoid about how the new 1998 Plaza was constructed - it was constructed right in back of the old one. The old Plaza had a relatively small parking lot, with Thrifty on the north side near 4th Street. The new Thrifty was built literally behind the old one, and when the new Thrifty (and the rest of the new Plaza) was completed, the old Thrifty (and the rest of the old Plaza) were closed, torn down, and became an expanded parking lot.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Well, one company is thriving

Some companies do better in a recession than others. Count 7 Eleven in the category of companies that are apparently doing well, according to a July Press-Enterprise article:

Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. plans to open more than 180 new convenience stores over the next three years in Southern California, and about a quarter of those are in the Inland region.

There will be nine new stores in Riverside and San Bernardino counties by the end of this year, with another 14 planned for 2010 and 18 in 2011....

More here, but, alas, no locations. They haven't been released yet.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No trivia tonight...

A rare Empoprise-IE/Empoprise-NTN cross-post. My plans for trivia at Tequila Hoppers in Upland, California hit an unfortunate snag.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rearranging the deck chairs?

Perhaps I focus on the bad news in our state, but this seems to be an odd time for celebration:

Local Sector Superintendent John Rowe has accepted a promotion to Lake Perris as the Sector Superintendent III.

Rowe worked at the Chino Hills State Park and California Citrus State Historic Park for two years.

His new sector III includes San Timiteo Canyon, Wildwood Canyon Park and Lake Perris, where Rowe grew up.

Now I don't mean to belittle Rowe or his accomplishments, but I thought we were looking at closing a bunch of the state parks to save money. Obviously you still need people to manage parks even if no one is visiting them, but the release seems a little odd.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

There's always a critic

Previously I've linked to items from Housing Kaboom, a blog that spends its time documenting just how low housing prices can go.

Perhaps it's a sign of the recovery, but a recent Housing Kaboom post spent more time in interior decoration criticism.

The post began by printing a seller's description:

Great home in Woodcrest with almost an acre of land---remodeled kitchen, beautiful backyard with fruit trees as well as in-ground pool and spa. A joy to show. Don't miss this one!

But then the Housing Kaboomer compared the description above with an actual picture of the remodeled kitchen in question.

I'm guessing it's the addition of the Brita water filter, or possibly the addition of knobs to those 1980's cabinets. That kitchen is so dated it almost makes me want to bust out my Twisted Sister album and put on some eye shadow.

Hmm, maybe I should have posted this in my Empoprise-MU music blog instead.

Just wait, H.K. The 80s are going to be COOL some day, and that kitchen will be honored...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Citizens Business Bank plans to repay the citizens

This story ran recently:

The Ontario-based parent of Citizens Business Bank is joining several large national and regional banks in returning money to the federal government.

CVB Financial Corp. has initiated an offering of about $115 million of its common stock. Subject to approval by the U.S. Treasury and banking regulators, CVB intends to use proceeds to buy back much of the preferred stock sold late last year to the federal government, as part of a nationwide capital purchase program....

We've heard of bigger banks deciding that government financing was bad for them. Now it looks like Citizens Business Bank (formerly Chino Valley Bank) is in the same pickle as the big boys.

Michael Natzic, a community banking specialist in the Big Bear Lake office of brokerage firm Stone & Youngberg, said several banks have decided in recent months that they don't need the safety net that the program initially provided them.

Also, some banks have chafed at the dividend requirement -- initially 5 percent per year -- that came with accepting the funds.

The article goes on to note Natzic's comment that Citizens Business Bank is doing well...unlike, say, Vineyard National Bank.