Thursday, May 24, 2018

Florida Outlook

Currently it looks like rains will start increasing in the Tampa area from the Caribbean storm about mid-afternoon Saturday - about 2 p.m.

There are indications the tropical low in the Caribbean is strengthening. The models split on how much strengthening will occur. The NVG model suggests the system will become a tropical storm by Sunday evening, and hover for awhile off the Alabama coast before either coming onshore near Pensacola on Monday evening, or sliding west towards Houston, TX. The GFS model suggests the system will remain too broad to be anything but a tropical depression, so no tropical storm. Either way, the tropical moisture superhighway will span Florida the entire time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Walter White of Wichita

He never went to college, but he became the evil genius behind fentanyl:
Fentanyl is so deadly that it’s nearly impossible to cut or create safely in a clandestine setting. But someone was doing just that: It appeared to investigators that an enterprising individual had cracked the prescription’s recipe in an illegal lab and was now selling his secret to drug dealers and other “cooks.”

They were right. Their man was a onetime science-fair champion and self-taught chemist in Wichita, Kansas, named George Marquardt.

...“I am not a pharmacist,” he said. “I am not an M.D. I'm a fellow that will manufacture a chemical compound if you have a sufficiently large quantity of money.”

More Birds, Less Evaporation

One a.m., and I was watering plants out front. A car approached and dodged around several parking barriers placed in the street for the inscrutable daily street construction. The car finally parked. A couple emerged, and the woman immediately began interrogating me with crisp directness. “Sir, why are you out here watering plants at one a.m.?” I was at a loss for words. “Why?” she persisted. I finally stuttered, “Because it seems like a good time to water plants.” She replied, “Is this when you also feed the birds?” Dun-dun-dun, she knows my daily habits! “No, that’s for the daytime,” I exclaimed, hoping to appear less daft than I act, without also explaining the embarrassing number of pigeons clogging the neighborhood telephone wires these days or the drawbacks of the nightly feeding habits of the local skunks. Her mate came to the rescue and said, “Less evaporation at night.” Yeah, like he said!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Just love this!

Commemoration Coin

I like the Korean Summit Commemoration Coin the trump administration had struck, for a summit that may not happen because the North Koreans already got pretty much all they wanted.

Oklahoma Woman Killed by Pack of Seven Small Dogs

I'm not surprised something like this can happen. I remember an unsettling incident in Tucson in 2012. My friend was showing me her 5 dogs in her back yard, when the phone rang. She went inside to take the call and closed her sliding glass door, leaving me alone outside with the 5 unfamiliar, moderately-sized dogs.

The dogs began circling me and muscling me all around, probing for weakness. I moved slowly, and tried to avoid getting pushed over, potentially setting off a pack attack. Locked in the dogs' embrace, I couldn't manage to get over to the sliding glass door.

The phone call took forever. Eventually my host came back outside, and unaware there was any issue at all, distracted the dogs from their 'play.'
ARDMORE, Okla. -- Authorities are investigating whether criminal charges should be filed after an Oklahoma woman was mauled to death by seven small dogs, most of them possibly a dachshund-terrier mix.

Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant says 52-year-old Tracy Garcia was killed last week near her home outside Ardmore, about 90 miles south of Oklahoma City.

Money Talked, And They Listened

Skyler needed to bank with these guys out of the Netherlands. I wonder if they’re a subsidiary of Madrigal?:
A Roseville subsidiary of a Dutch banking company was sentenced Friday for concealing flaws in its anti-money-laundering program and later providing misleading information about the program when investigated by federal regulators, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

As a result, the bank blocked or delayed investigations into roughly $370 million worth of suspicious transactions near the U.S.-Mexico border believed to be tied to narcotics trafficking and organized crime, the press release said.

The company, Rabobank National Association, is known as a leader in agricultural lending throughout California and employed more than 200 workers in Roseville in 2014, a Sacramento Bee story said. Its parent company, Rabobank Group, operates out of the Netherlands.

...Rabobank admitted to making the changes to its anti-money laundering polices in 2009. Over the next three years, those policies allowed transactions that were previously considered high-risk, such as high quantity cash deposits and withdrawals, check transactions, and electronic transfers, to go unreported or face delayed reporting to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Meanwhile, the bank's branches in California's Imperial County depended on cash coming from Mexico that, according to the press release, the bank likely knew was tied to drug trafficking and organized crime. The bank continued to work with the cash-heavy customers from Mexico while ignoring proper procedures that address high-risk transactions until about 2013.

Who They Callin' Shorty?

Laure Will Be Here This Weekend!

These days, she's choreographing wonderful dances, like this one for SYTYCD - Next Gen:


Friday May 25 Sacramento

Sunday May 27 Oakland

Monday, May 21, 2018

Yes, I DO Need Curtains!

Weekend Wetness in Florida

First indication that the hypothetical system exists. Currently called Disturbance #1. National Hurricane Center (NHC) says:
Special Tropical Weather Outlook
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL
830 AM EDT Mon May 21 2018

For the North Atlantic...Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico:

1. Widespread cloudiness and showers extending from the northwestern Caribbean Sea across Cuba and the Florida peninsula are associated with the interaction of a large upper-level low with a weak surface trough. While environmental conditions are expected to be unfavorable for development during the next couple of days, some gradual development is possible later this week while the system moves into the central or eastern Gulf of Mexico. Regardless of development, locally heavy rainfall is possible across western Cuba and Florida over the next several days. For more information on the heavy rain threat, please see products issued by your local weather office. The next Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system will be issued by 800 PM EDT tonight.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...near 0 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...low...20 percent.

Even though NHC believes chances of development are low, the system is a rainmaker, and there is a reasonable chance development might occur anyway. The forecasts continue to be scattershot regarding a path. Currently the GFS model brings the system directly over Tampa on the weekend, but the NVG model brings the system farther west, missing Tampa with the worst rain, and revving up to a tropical storm before crashing into the Biloxi, MS coast. So, it looks like this week will be wet in Florida, with the coming weekend particularly wet.



Ruth Bader Ginsburg went about her work very methodically, laying down markers in the law as she went. Showing now at the Tower.

Oh, Beautiful Person, Wherefore Art Thou?

Spin-Dry That Cash!

Skyler needed to bank with these guys out of the Netherlands. I wonder if they’re a subsidiary of Madrigal?:
A Roseville subsidiary of a Dutch banking company was sentenced Friday for concealing flaws in its anti-money-laundering program and later providing misleading information about the program when investigated by federal regulators, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

As a result, the bank blocked or delayed investigations into roughly $370 million worth of suspicious transactions near the U.S.-Mexico border believed to be tied to narcotics trafficking and organized crime, the press release said.

The company, Rabobank National Association, is known as a leader in agricultural lending throughout California and employed more than 200 workers in Roseville in 2014, a Sacramento Bee story said. Its parent company, Rabobank Group, operates out of the Netherlands.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Santa Fe High School Shooting

Time to roll out the conservative excuses for inaction in the face of the most dire need.

Florida Rain Event Approaches

Forecasts are beginning to moderate, and become more-predictable. Currently, the forecast is for a tropical depression to emerge from the Caribbean, not a tropical storm, with a rain event covering southern Florida (including Tampa), starting Thursday evening, May 24th, with possibly a second rain event following up in early June.

Philanthropic Greed

Silicon Valley gives big to philanthropy, but that money gets locked up, not spent. Defeats the purpose of philanthropy:
Yet Sacred Heart Community Service, a San Jose nonprofit that helps low-income families with food, clothing, heating bills, and other services, actually received less in individual donations from the community in 2017 than it did the previous year. “We’re still not sure what it could be attributed to,” Jill Mitsch, the funds development manager at Sacred Heart, told me. It’s not the only nonprofit trying to keep donations up—the United Way of Silicon Valley folded in 2016 amidst stagnant contributions.

That’s not to say that Silicon Valley’s wealthy aren’t donating their money to charity. ... But much of that money is not making its way out into the community.

There are many reasons for this, but one of them is likely the increasing popularity of a certain type of charitable account called a donor-advised fund. These funds allow donors to receive big tax breaks for giving money or stock, but have little transparency and no requirement that money put into them is actually spent.

...Donor-advised funds are categorized by law as public charities, rather than private foundations, so they have no payout requirements and few disclosure requirements. Because they’re categorized as public charities, donors can give a higher share of their income to these funds than they could to a private foundation, which can help them avoid taxes.

Starry Night

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Trump Appeases the North Koreans

Trump throws John Bolton under the bus. Probably not enough, though:
“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all,” Trump told reporters during a photo session with the visiting secretary general of NATO. “We decimated that country.” By contrast, if the U.S. reaches a deal with North Korea, Kim will “get protections that would be very strong,” Trump said. “He will have very adequate protection.”

A Good Time To Pile On

Aaron Schlossberg, POS:
On his Linkedin profile, Aaron Schlossberg says he studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, while in college. He also writes that he speaks four languages, French, Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. On his law firm’s website, Schlossberg promotes his ability to speak those languages to his clients.

“Aaron M. Schlossberg doesn’t seem to mind people who speak other languages when he can make money from them,” one Twitter user commented. Another seconded that statement, tweeting, “For the record, I’d like to point out that when the ball bag Aaron M. Schlossberg wants your money, he gladly speaks numerous languages.” And a third tweeted, “Anyone else notice Schlossberg’s website? Does he call ICE after he takes your money? #DespicableHumanBeing”

Don't Underestimate Hawaiian Volcanoes

RIP, Margaret Gidding

Many fond memories. RIP, Margaret Gidding.

A short film clip of Margaret Gidding dancing with Laure Courtellemont on December 5, 2014. (I was outside the room because I had a cold.)

Margaret was also part of this PSA (filmed November 10, 2012; choreographer Krystle Morales):

And this film clip:

Checking In With The Cardio Doctor

I’d been pleased with my tolerance of blood thinner. Turned out, I was taking only half the recommended dose. D’oh!

Nice view of historic Ft. Sutter. Thar’s gold in dem dere medical suites!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

No TV For Me, For Now

The DirecTV fellow came by, and immediately objected to using the previous DirecTV antenna. New rules specify that their workers can't stand on roofs to reach the antenna, and the old antenna was accessed by standing on the roof of the shed. He wanted instead to lean a ladder against the gutter and mount the new antenna on the roof - a considerable distance up there - but I objected to what I saw as the potential isntability of a ladder leaning against the gutter. So, I elected to cancel the installation. Sean Hannity will just have to wait....

Yanny vs. Laurel

Today's hot item. Myself, I hear Laurel.

Here's what my Echometer provides. Saying the name spans the x-axis (time) from 50 milliseconds to 450 milliseconds. The bottom display covers the full range of hearing of a young person, from 0 to 20 kilohertz. Most of the world we hear is below 4 kHz. The upper display shows overall magnitude of the sound. There do seem to be quieter frequencies (2, 6 and 9 kHz). A good portion of the sound from 4 to 6 kHz continues after the word is said, suggesting significant background noise at these frequencies. The "L" sound seems to have components up to 13 kHz frequency. Maybe these are harder to hear for older folks. The "R" sound may include that ghostly 16 kHz spike - maybe also harder to hear. Still, I doubt it's that simple. If so, older people would be unable to understand speech.

This article is most interesting. The folks here say it depends on pitch:
One of the more interesting things to come out of the yanny/laurel debate was the discovery that, by changing the pitch of the recording, you could adjust what you heard. In general, people heard yanny more consistently when the pitch was lower and laurel when the pitch was higher.

Facebook Fakes

Impressive. Nearly a third of all Facebook accounts are fake. Facebook has only recently realized it has many nemeses, and who knows if it can survive?
Meanwhile, Facebook’s rate of squashing fake accounts is decreasing. The site removed 583 million fake accounts in the first quarter of the year, roughly 100 million fewer than were removed in the last quarter of 2017. The company attributed the decline to the "variability of our detection technology's ability to find and flag" fakes. A Washington Post report this month found that the company’s facial-recognition tool, which the company says could help spot impostor accounts, reviews only a small fraction of the site’s roughly 2 billion monthly active users.

Toto's "Africa," in Gaelic


At Awesome Video’s going-out-of-business sale, I picked up a DVD of “Rubber,” a 2011 movie about a vengeful tire with psychokinetic powers wandering across the Mojave Desert. Watched it Monday night. The movie is pretty dumb, but vaguely entertaining. I like this review:
I developed a theory while watching Rubber. I honestly believe the filmmakers set out to make the most unwatchably pretentious, utterly repetetive, vile nonsense they could possibly come up with and then laugh hysterically at all of the morons who pull some kind of "unique hidden meaning" out of it. The film opens with a pointless opening monologue, followed by a three minute sequence of a tire "waking up", both of which had me scrambling for the fast forward button. Then things went sharply downhill from there. There's only about 30 minutes of actual content here, the rest is just one long shot of a tire rolling around after another after another until you want to cry. I love unique and quirky films with a passion but this film is neither, no matter how hard it tries to be. It's grating, irritating, stretched-out, inane, fatuous, embarrassing boredom on a piece of celluloid.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! Marjorie Louise Buzzell, 1941 graduate of Hirschfield High School in Chicago, IL.

More on MH370 Pilot's Motives

Four years on, experts think they are finally beginning to understand some of the motives of the pilot of doomed flight MH370 (perhaps rage at Anwar Ibrahim's sentence, delivered that day in court in a session attended by the pilot), and his evasive path along the Thai-Malaysian border. In particular, he changed course at Penang, in order to get one last look at his hometown, before vanishing forever:
There has been much speculation as to why the plane went so far off course and “dipped the wing” over Penang before making a sharp turn and heading south for the next six hours. According to Mr Hardy, it was so the pilot could see his hometown one last time.

“I spent a long time thinking about what this could be, what technical reason is there for this?” he said.

“And after two months, three months of thinking about it, I finally got the answer — somebody was looking out the window.

“It might [have been] a long, emotional goodbye or a short, emotional goodbye to his hometown.”

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Green Valley Theatre Company's "A Chorus Line"

A few photos from Green Valley's "A Chorus Line" opening night (for this show, at Hiram Johnson High School). Everyone looked fabulous, particularly Christina Castro, Kris Farhood, Elio Gutierrez-Montoya, and Stephanie Hodson. Jenny Lillge looked great too. Loved Jacob Gutierrez-Montoya's choreography (with traces of "The Doorway"), except for the finale. I couldn't put my finger on the difficulty until Ron Cisneros said "I'm glad they did the traditional finale choreography." (I never much liked that traditional finale choreography. Indeed, there are some aspects of the show I've never much liked - it's a bit juvenile - but the concept was always a winner.)

There were some opening night glitches. Sound was a bit weak at times. 'Zach' was having some opening-night jitters. All stuff that will get hammered down as the run proceeds.

Christina Castro as Cassie.

Ana Hansen was there opening night. She explained she's rehearsing for "Mamma Mia" at the Mountain Play in Marin County (opens in a little over a week).

Stephanie Hodson as Judy.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Jennifer Rubin Takes on Hateful Culture of the Trumpies

But conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin needs to understand, this is what conservatives are, and have always been:
Kelly, like Sadler, was not speaking out of school. One could imagine President Trump saying very similar things in private or even in public. Kelly’s boss, who does not want black and brown people from “shithole” countries, would no doubt applaud Kelly’s comments. Trump has yet to apologize for ridiculing McCain’s status as a POW during the campaign. Fox News’s business model is built on promoting crackpot ideas and airing hateful rhetoric that feed the anger and resentment of its base. That means tearing down genuine heroes who challenge the Great Leader Trump. They are utterly comfortable voicing obnoxious slurs, revealing a stunning lack of human decency. They are superstars in the right-wing ecosystem, not in spite of their crass, bigoted views, but because of them.

The ensuing firestorm did force the Fox host interviewing McInerney to apologize and Fox to say it wouldn’t have McInerney back on. He might be excused for thinking his rhetoric, of a piece with so much of what airs on Fox, was entirely acceptable. Indeed, why invite on a birther if not to say outrageous things?

This is the political culture blessed and cheered on by evangelical leaders — for whom nothing Trump or his cronies do (be it paying hush money to a porn star or slandering a POW or endorsing an alleged child molester) is over the line. There is something dark and twisted at the core of the Trumpian political movement and philosophy (if you can call it that). You don’t get criticized, let alone fired, for perpetuating hurtful conspiracy theories (about Seth Rich’s death, President Obama’s birth certificate or McCain’s captivity) or for voicing hateful views.

In short, not all of Trump’s followers and enablers are bad people, but in the Trump universe, bad people sure do flourish.

Khalia, TIFA - "Ride Up"

Facebook Ads From The Election

Beginning to look at Russian-Troll Facebook Ads from the 2016 election. Zipped files are here.

Keeping an Eye on Florida

Forecast still has a tropical storm in it, but it's delayed a bit: Friday May 25th - Saturday May 26th - a Memorial Day surprise. Projected path still hasn't settled down from one forecast to the next. Starts in the Caribbean and heads north. Path could easily include Tampa.

Fierce Funk Group Picture

The two us with recent health challenges kneel in a fighting pose.


It’s funny what you remember from Facebook. Several years ago, Amber Jean Moore posted about not being able to sleep because of a Mockingbird outside her window that just wouldn’t shut up. Amber’s rage against nature made me smile.

Now, there’s a Mockingbird outside my window that just won’t shut up....

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

AT&T Came Banging on My Front Door

Bang, bang, bang! Who's there? It's AT&T!

The two young salesmen at the door were desperate to sell me on getting DirecTV. They came with iPad in hand asking me for all my numbers, Social Security number too. Hope this isn't a scam. If it's a scam, it's an unusually well-done scam. Now, I used to have DirecTV, but abandoned it at least four years ago due to the cost, plus all the absurd bullshit that passes for news these days.

The reason the salesmen gave for this visit was as a customer-retention effort, given neighborhood Internet interruptions due to construction and with new, faster, fiber-optic cable now being available. Hmm.... Maybe plausible. I certainly have had lots of Internet interruptions on AT&T. I don't know about construction going on, but Xfinity and Comcast have been trying to grab my attention, with flyers in the mail, and especially when their technical people block my driveway with big trucks and are up on my utility pole after sunset. Customer-retention makes some sense, given the competition.

Still, what caught my attention was being to get DirecTV and Internet for about the same cost as getting Internet alone. I hate TV, but what's not to love about getting free TV? Plus being able to watch TV on the iPhone?

So, why are they giving me free TV?

There may be a tie-in with what's happening elsewhere:
The body isn’t even cold yet, but AT&T is wasting no time in rolling out new “features” that fly in the face of net neutrality. The company has expanded its “sponsored data” program to prepaid wireless customers, offering content companies the option to “sponsor” their data so that it doesn’t count against users’ caps.

This, in case you’re wondering, is what you find under the definition of “paid fast lanes” in the net neutrality false promises hall of fame.

As of right now, the only three services using AT&T’s sponsored data program are DirecTV, UVerse, and Fullscreen. By a huge coincidence, those are three video services owned by AT&T. “Now your plan includes sponsored data. This means, for example, that customers who have DirecTV or U-verse TV can now stream movies and shows … without it counting against their plan data,” AT&T told customers in a text message earlier today.

This flies directly in the face of a statement AT&T made just last year, when it was trying to persuade consumers that the FCC’s net neutrality repeal wouldn’t be the end of a free and open internet. “AT&T intends to operate its network the same way AT&T operates its network today: in an open and transparent manner. We will not block websites, we will not throttle or degrade internet traffic based on content, and we will not unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic,” executive Bob Quinn said at the time.

By any definition, offering paid fast lanes to companies constitutes “discriminating” against internet traffic. I’d say that only prioritizing traffic from AT&T-owned companies, or companies willing to pay up, constitutes unfair discrimination, but then again I’m not an AT&T lawyer.

The salesmen and I didn't talk about net neutrality. Instead, my effort to sign up was bollixed by an iPad upgrade not installed, and didn't succeed until the third time. Since they were on my doorstep for a long time, we started talking. They saw my "Breaking Bad" T-Shirt and talked about being fans of the TV show. I started expostulating on my theories regarding sets and filming locations. So, I went to go find a copy of my book. I couldn't find any except old copies, so I gave the old copies to them as gifts. They were pleased, and it made the tedium of waiting easier to endure.

Maybe an Early Start

Forecasts are suggesting next week will be rainy in Florida - south Florida especially.

The long-range GFS forecast suggests an early start to the hurricane season, with a tropical storm/hurricane in Florida's vicinity 12 days from now - Monday, 5/21.

The long-range forecasts are often wrong, and the forecasts vary about where in Florida a storm might strike. I notice that forecast certainty increases when back-to-back forecasts agree, and the last three back-to-back forecasts all feature this tropical storm/hurricane.

Still, it would be a surprise, maybe unprecedented, to have a storm this early in the season. Hurricane season doesn't even start until June 1st.

So, hoping for a bad forecast.

Monday, May 07, 2018


I'm plugging away on the draft of my new "Breaking Bad" book, to be released beside my fifth edition of "Guidebook to 'Breaking Bad' Filming Locations" in November, after Season 4 of "Better Call Saul" has aired.

I keep finding all kinds of mysteries and associations in "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul." I really like this one....

Judging from the large sign out in front of their new Wexler-McGill law office, Jimmy and Kim do business with Kleinfeld Commercial Brokerage, which happens to be a real business in Albuquerque owned by a fellow named David Kleinfeld (“Better Call Saul,” Season 2, episode 8, ‘Fifi’). Kleinfeld signs are extraordinarily common in Albuquerque. You'll see five Kleinfeld signs in passing while driving to the supermarket. Thus, Kleinfeld signs attract no special attention - at all!

Nevertheless, as first pointed out to me by Eabha Conal (someone from outside Albuquerque, because Burqueños are too close to see it clearly), Kleinfeld is a reference to “Carlito’s Way,” a 1993 Brian de Palma gangster film starring Sean Penn as sleazy lawyer David Kleinfeld.

Another example of Vince Gilligan and company hiding a gem in plain sight!

Mass Bat Emergence on My Third Visit to the Extreme Western End of the I-80 Yolo Causeway

These Mexican Free-Tail Bats are known for their big emergence displays in summer. I thought it was too early to expect one yesterday, but I was wrong! I got all kinds of ultrasonic bat recordings too. The supporting literature says the recordings are particularly unreliable during roost emergences, and indeed, the recording waveforms looked like static when a zillion bats appeared at once. Still the recordings I got are robust, with tons of bat signals.

I almost left too early and missed the emergence of the bats. It was amazing when it came! There were a couple of people from Concord nearby. As I walked away, the woman bid me stop. "Can you see the bats flying around under there?" she said. I thought she was nuts at first. It was more than thirty seconds before I finally saw movement. The mass emergence started less than a minute after that.

Next time, I'd like to be in a position to see the bats come out of their homes in the expansion joints under the I-80 freeway. And I wonder about all the solitary bats of other species left behind.

I like playing the bat recordings at 1/16 speed. Makes them sound like mysterious monkeys. This recording is labeled Canyon Bat, but since it was just a few minutes before the mass emergence, there are lots of other bats here too, and all very loud.

Big Day of Giving 2018 at DMTC

May the Third with Mayzie La Bird! Fun time. Lots of potatoes, and other food. I led the Yopp contest. Ella won for ages 12 and under, and Tate for the older crowd. My understanding is that DMTC got $23,500, plus an additional $3,000 in offline donations.

Underworld - Cowgirl (Footage from BBC Deep Blue)

Electronica, with fish (the crabs at 8:14 are amazing).

I'm guessing it's a mashup of BBC nature video with Underworld's House style. According to Wikipedia, the music dates to 1994. I love the music, and I especially like the hyperfocused crabs. Not sure what kind of crab they are - not the red crabs of Christmas Island, nor the Cuban crabs: