Toe stuck back in the water

Hey all. I’ve been more quiet than usual around these parts for a couple weeks for a couple reasons, so I thought I’d re-enter Hordespace by giving an update on a few things that have happened since I last said something substantive around here. (That last straight line is my gift to you.)

To be honest, it’s been hard to write. The last few weeks have actually kind of sucked. The two biggest reasons have been an approaching anniversary that dropped today: six years on and it still takes the wind out of my sails for a few weeks beforehand, often without my really realizing what’s going on. I’ve been pretty much here for the last week or so.

The other reason is financial: my income is supporting two of us, which means  certain purchases are out of reach, which means the Wellbutrin I’ve used to control my ADD for the last decade or so has been unaffordable since August or so, which means it’s much harder to get the paid work done, which is a merry little maelström of suckage. My usual habit since I started blogging is to spend time writing about the problems I have, which helps me work them out in my head and every once in a while helps other people. But as warm and fuzzy and supportive as you hordelings are, the notion of  giving the s’pitters a chance to fap over my admittedly minor problems? There isn’t a steel brush sturdy enough for the Silkwood shower I’d need after that.  So instead I haven’t written about it. Which makes it easier on the readers but not so much on me.

I have managed to get some stuff done, though. We enticed Meera Lee Sethi, a wonderful science writer, to join us over at the Network with a new blog Dispersal Range, joining Charlie and Madhu and Aunt Ron and Shaun and BRW and myself . Once we add a couple more bio-eco-radical type bloggers we’ll have ourselves a formal launch party. (If you think you’d fit there, let me know.)

Work at KCET proceeds. My editor there formalized my natural history writing into a blog called The Hidden Desert, now graced with a painting by Carl Buell of myself and two other extinct mammals, and after a few more months I’ll be compiling essays there into a book. My sociopolitical writing there is becoming a blog called “East CA,” which with The Hidden Desert and ReWire (my renewable energy work at KCET) and Coyote Crossing and here amounts to five blogs I write for, likely a violation of some Anti-Trust law or other.

Bobcats Belong in Joshua Tree


Off the internet, my little town here has been abuzz with anti-trapping sentiment. A local friend found a bobcat trap on his land, publicized the find, and people here are outraged. There are three people around here who trap the cats — legally in season — and dismantle them to sell the parts. It gave me an opportunity to do something non-verbal, shown at left, which was a small side benefit for that part of my brian that doesn’t word. The linked Flickr page has a version big enough to print at poster size, should you be interested.

I’ve also had a couple speaking engagements, mainly here in the Morongo Basin, and another coming up for those of you who might be nearby: on February 15, I’ll be giving my “old growth desert plants” lecture at the Black Rock Visitor Center in Joshua Tree National Park as part of the Joshua Tree National Park Association’s community lecture series. It’s free, so come on by if you’re in the desert.

Lastly for now: In October, after years of writing a whole lot of scathing things about BrightSource — the solar company that killed the valley I loved most in the Mojave — my editor at KCET and I were asked to meet with a couple high-level execs from that company who had “concerns about my fairness” in advocating for cheaper, faster, more efficient and more democratic rooftop solar over the business as usual utility-scale long-distance transmission kind. The execs — including the firm’s VP for government and public relations —  brought a document along with them to our friendly little meeting. They’d had an intern find everything I’d written about the company for the last four years, put it into a Word document, and then highlighted what they didn’t like. Those highlighted things they didn’t like, oddly, included some of my favorite things I’ve ever written, including this paragraph on a solar lobbying group’s donors:

BrightSource and SolarReserve and First Solar are some of the worst actors in the rush to destroy the desert for solar energy installations. Not all the firms on the list are bad actors necessarily. Some of those firms just build PV cells. Some are service providers of various kinds: accountants, trade associations, law firms and such that serve the big solar industry. On first glance that last is distasteful, I agree. But in the United States, we’ve long held that even the most scurrilous people — confidence men, Nazi synagogue vandals, pedophiles and serial cannibal murderers — have a right to legal consultation, and thus it’s only a little bit of a stretch to decide that desert solar contractors probably ought to have that right as well.

The BrightSource people really didn’t like that at all. Some people have no senses of humor. Anyway, I decided to regard BrightSource’s annotations as a metatextual gift to me:  I’m cleaning it up a little bit and will be offering a PDF for sale for a couple dollars. All proceeds will go to getting me some fucking Ritalin. I’ll let you know when it’s up.

Enough about me. How’ve you been?


  1. says

    You’ve been busy. I hope the anniversary brings some sweet memories your way.

    Write about whatever will put pennies in your pocket and is helpful to you! We’re a protective horde, you know.

  2. Lofty says

    Pssst. Wanna buy some cheap drugs?
    Put up a donate button, people here have donated for less pressing needs. You could even buy yourself some nice boots if you needed them.

  3. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    For goodness’ sake, Chris. Psych meds aren’t optional. Sounds like we need to round up the Horde Fund.

  4. stevenbrown says

    @2: Need them? He could buy them if he WANTED them.
    Heck the exchange rate is good enough at the moment that if you had a donate button the tiny amount I could afford to send you wouldn’t entirely vanish.

    Keep on trucking Chris. As someone who has bailed out of doing what he loves because it’s financially unsound, and too much hard work for someone as weak willed as me, I respect you immensely for sticking with it.

  5. teejaykay says

    How have I been? Wondering where you have been, and just now been chastised for reading in my apartment block’s staircase by a drunk. Not as sucky as your status, but enough to feel annoyed to the point where I’m livid for what’s going on with you, Chris.

    NB, I’m just reading and not blocking anyone’s access to or fro.

  6. stevenbrown says

    Oh. Is the donate button on for you personally or the network? I don’t mind supporting the network but it sounds like you need the support right now.
    I agree firmly with Josh. Psych meds are a need not a want.

  7. says

    I’m reluctant to ask, because people were so generous already during the “replace the Jeep” thing — and the Jeep isn’t yet replaced, because our household lost half its income a couple months later. But yes, that PayPal button does go to my own account. And thank you for asking.

    Can I just say how angry I was during the “Greta’s boots” thing? A twerpish, class-privileged little shit saying “most of us put money away for emergencies and don’t beg” by way of hitting Greta over the head with getting on with her life? I wondered whether I needed to send Gary Farber a note saying “for gawd’s sake, don’t take any of that money the Horde donated to you to buy shoes and spend it on cancer.”

  8. says

    I wondered whether I needed to send Gary Farber a note saying “for gawd’s sake, don’t take any of that money the Horde donated to you to buy shoes and spend it on cancer.”

    That alone is good enough reason to donate. ;)


  9. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I snicker at the concept every dollar had to go toward just treatment. Often due to the treatment/disease, adjustment in shoe/clothing sizes resulting in wardrobe changes are needed. Just ask the Redhead.

  10. says

    I’m reluctant to ask, because people were so generous already during the “replace the Jeep” thing

    I wish I could send you some of my tax dollars that are being dropped on Afghanistan in the form of high explosive. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    Off to paypal…

  11. says

    Yeah, fuck you Chris. Don’t play the martyr, ask for help.

    I just threw one of my effects pedals on Craigslist for sale, and as soon as I get the cash you’ll get the cash. I’d like to get back on Wellbutrin myself, since I think it helps with my ability to focus… but no one is depending on me for income, so you first.

    … and then if it works for you, you tell the doc that it could work a little better on an extra 100mg, and send me the extra? :) j/k

  12. otrame says

    If your problem is ADD and not depression, please have your Doc try you on Provigil. It was developed to help with narcolepsy but also serves very well to help ADD people stay a little better focused. I’ve used it for years. There is a generic version now, but I admit it is probably more expensive than Wellbutrin. Still, once you get yourself together, please consider it. It makes a huge difference for me. I find myself able to push past boredom to get things done when I need to.

    And, yeah, the Greta’s shoes incident pissed me off royally. I rarely find myself thinking violent things about stupid commenters, but that one made me want to slap a face.

    And I have to say that every time I drive by a Walmart or other warehouse-sized building, all I can think of the is sunlight being wasted on those metal roofs and the electricity being wasted cooling those buildings when a solar panel array would not only make electricity, it would also insulate the roof from some of the heat. Why the hell don’t power companies, especially here in the southwest, lease space on roofs and put their panels up there?

  13. Holms says

    Believe it or not, I had actually noticed a certain lack of one of the grey-furred faces that frequent these parts… you left us with the craky one. Oh and on the Greta silliness, what an absolute surprise it was when absolutely no one took her up on her offer to refund their donation! Here, let me show you my surprise face:

  14. says

    Chris, I am so sorry you are struggling with grief, with mental health, with finances. I’m off to Paypal – and I’m throwing in some extra just for new shoes (if you want them).

  15. smhll says

    Can I just say how angry I was during the “Greta’s boots” thing? A twerpish, class-privileged little shit saying “most of us put money away for emergencies and don’t beg” by way of hitting Greta over the head with getting on with her life?

    I think many, many people were very angry. The comment thread was a thing of beauty, though, with many, many people piling on to show their support for Greta. The wit, the flair, the humanity crying out against cruelty, it was effing magnificent.

  16. says

    Oh and on the Greta silliness, what an absolute surprise it was when absolutely no one took her up on her offer to refund their donation!

    I actually used the opportunity to donate more!

    My comment on that was kind of drowned out by all the people saying gifts don’t come with strings, so I don’t mind repeating it here: Greta earns her living by writing for us. Giving her money is not a gift, it’s paying her salary, which she can spend on as many shoes as she likes. Off now to pay Chris for all the good work he’s doing.

  17. Usernames are smart says

    Be wary of generic-branded Wellbutrin XL 300mg
    —themadkansan (#21)

    Ah, thank you for that link; I’m going to send it to my shrink. Years ago, I found out the hard way that generic Welbutrin didn’t work. I felt like I cad a case of the DTs. Since then, I make sure my shrink writes BNMN (brand name medically necessary) on EVERY scrip I get.

    Chris, as others have said, head meds aren’t optional. Seriously. Fuck America and the health insurance cartels. A 30-days supply of three meds (including 300 & 150mg of Welbutrin XL) ran me $1,600. Did I say, PER MONTH, with “insurance.”

    Now I get a 90-day supply for $500, from a Socialist country up North. No insurance involved. I’ll never buy from an American robber-barron until we get single payer (i.e., never).

    Do your research and get your meds so you can be productive.

  18. nybgrus says

    Hi Chris,

    I lurk these parts frequently and registered just to post this comment. You can check out <a href=""NeedyMeds – they have all the deals you can get for being a low income person in need of medications. Pretty much any med has at least a discounted rate and many have ways to get it free or very cheap. It looks like bupropion has a potential option for $20 for a 180 day supply.

    I recommend this to a lot of my patients. Hopefully it managed to help you. Feel free to spread it around – it is a free third party service that is pretty regularly updated and features all the forms and instructions for getting the meds on the website itself.

    Best of luck and thanks for the great writing.

  19. didgen says

    Sorry I can’t give more right now, but sent some your way. I too have a love of the Mojave.

  20. Aratina Cage says

    Argh, that sounds terrible, Chris. Being forced to abruptly stop taking medications like that due to shortages can be brutal. I hope things start to go better for you soon.

  21. Amblebury says

    Well, I wasn’t around for helping with the Jeep, so I’m sending something your way now.

    Can’t afford medication that enables functioning. Has been a tax-paying citizen all his adult life. There’s no point me saying that shouldn’t happen in a civilized society, is there?

  22. says

    Urgh, Chris, I’m sorry to hear.
    Somthing will be coming along as soon as my new debit card arrives.

    Fuck a system where people don’t earn enough to pay for the meds they need to work.
    This, dear USA, is the reason you spend more than any other western nation on healthcare and still get less.

  23. says

    As someone who works 9 and 12 hour shifts, fulltime not earning enough to support the family without state assistance, I say you damn well deserve the help people are offering. I’m glad you’re not squirming and tiptoeing around accepting help. It’s a sucky system, most paces on both sides of the pond. Best wishes.

  24. PatrickG says

    Be wary of generic-branded Wellbutrin XL 300mg

    Well, that’s my quota of blind rage today. That’s the medication I was on when I had to leave doctoral studies due to crippling depression. The citalopram these days is working nicely, though.

  25. PatrickG says

    Also: glad to see you back, Chris. Can’t afford to donate, but hopefully the generous efforts of others will get you the meds you need!

  26. bbgunn says

    It’s not a donation. It’s an investment. (I only wish I could have invested more than pizza and beer money.)

  27. says

    Years ago before I got on OHP my Primary Care Provider introduced me to a program the drug companies run to make them seem a little less dickishly greedy. They send you a 3 month supply, at a time, of meds through your provider for free. You have to request each shipment, they don’t do auto refill. I had the good fortune of going to a clinic where everybody aggressively pursued these options for their clients, and the meds kept me from going off the deep end until I got organized health care. Maybe I just got lucky but the program is nationwide so hit up your friendly sawbones.

  28. hotshoe says

    Oh, I was so excited to hear that you’re speaking that I planned my route to Joshua Tree, which hike I wanted to do on Friday afternoon, and how much time I could spend on Saturday morning before I had to drive 400 miles back home … but today at work I found out that I’ve been put on the schedule for that Friday to cover for a coworker who’s going to court that day. Too bad for me.

    Hope you have a great evening; here’s to a successful talk with an appreciative audience. Maybe I’ll be able to make it next time.

  29. says

    I don’t understand why PV installations require them to plow the desert crust to plop down the arrays. It’s like… You could choose bobcats with balloon tires, to dig narrow cable channels between the arrays, to set the arrays in a scatterplot around the pre-existing plants. There’s no reason it needs to be a big square that’s been dug from the desert with plants scraped from it and high chain-link fences around.

    It’s not like a chain-link fence would stop someone with a truck who wants to steal your array, or that plants and critters in the desert will do less damage to it or stop the sun from shining down.

    I don’t get it.

  30. says

    All: I’ve made a doc’s appointment to get my scrip renewed. Thank you.

    Crissa: BrightSource, in particular, doesn’t do PV. They do concentrating solar thermal with hundreds of thousands of heliostats surrounding power towers that, depending on the design, are between 500 and 750 feet tall.

    But for PV, the reason they don’t do as you suggest is that it costs money, and cuts into income. And honestly, if you were going to do that for more than an acre or so, it just becomes more cost-effective to stick to areas where you can cover every square meter with PV: landfill caps, old mines, rooftops.