Saturday, December 18, 2004

Best Wishes

To Arthur Vassar, upon his graduation from CSU (Dec. 18)
To Jan Issacson, on her birthday (Dec. 23)
To my sister, Marra Newman, upon HER birthday (Dec. 22)
To E. & M. - good recoveries!

Jammin' to Echo and the Bunnymen: an 80's reprise (thanks, Noel!) It's a grim Saturday night: everyone's partying like it's 1999, and I'm trying to shovel work out the door like it's Y2K, to prevent various work-related calamities :(

Which reminds me: New Year's Eve will be the tenth-year anniversary that Sparky and I were first at the scene of a fatal drunk-driving accident (15 minutes before midnight). Last fatality in Albuquerque in 1994, by my accounting, or the first in 1995, by KOAT TV-7's accounting. I had just returned from a rare visit to a strip club, so New Year's Eve 1994 became, for me, the Night of Sex and Death. Better to have one than the other. Be careful while driving, always!
Strange Stories

Australian gardeners goof.

Conservative Phoenician flips out.

Labbrosaurs, and other exotic, amateur, Italian cosmetic surgery fauna.

Plus, let's commemorate Dec. 17, 1997:
An episode of the animated TV show Pokemon induces seizures in at least 750 Japanese children. The convulsive sequence contains the depiction of a "vaccine bomb," followed by the flashing red eyes of a rat monster. Of those afflicted, 200 remain hospitalized the next day.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Good Advice

From Michael Moore.
Fog Crashes

Another example of cascading car crashes in the Sacramento area, due to poor visibility in the fog. Once again, the accident scene is the I-5 Bridge over the Sacramento River, between Woodland and Sacramento (a bridge I frequent).

When I lived in Salt Lake City, we tried liquid CO2 seeding of supercooled fogs, to alleviate visibility near highways. Unfortunately, the winter of 1988-89 wasn't very foggy, so the method didn't get a good workout at that time, but it did seem to show some promise. In any event, since the temperature has to be below freezing for the method to work, it won't work in balmy Sacramento. I'll have to post more on this strange project....

Here is a sketchy list I assembled of other fog crashes:

Too Hot!

Despite the global warming naysayers, the Earth continues to warm.
Kerry Campaign Autopsy

Looks to me that the main reason for Kerry's defeat was simply a badly-run campaign organization. No number of Republican outrages will suffice to alienate the public if the Democratic camp can't run anything but an amateurish operation. How pathetic is it that even I noticed?:
While certain offices seemed to have more resources and people than they knew what to do with, other crucial areas were inexplicably undercut. In Las Cruces, N.M., one of largest cities in the state and a key to Kerry's chances there (he ended up losing New Mexico by a superable 6,000 votes), there was only a skeleton crew, and key staff were arriving just weeks before the election.
On July 20th, I wrote:
For example, despite large TV ad buys in New Mexico (my home state), there appears to be nothing happening in the Las Cruces area (second-largest city in the state).

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Lost in the Sands

Buried with a donkey (funky Tut)
He's my favorite honkey!
Born in Arizona,
Moved to Babylonia (king Tut)

And why did he get buried?
DMTC Loan Request

By a margin of 5 to 0, the Davis City Council tonight approved extending DMTC a $50,000 loan to help with construction of the New Theater. This unanimous vote is very welcome, not only because of the infusion of much-needed money, but because it signals solid civic support to DMTC at its moment of need.

Potential donors can now step forward with greater confidence. Stepping forward individually is always a risk, but there is safety in numbers. If we all pitch in and work together, we CAN get this New Theater finished, and soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Recent News Articles of Interest

I haven't blogged much on current affairs since Bush got elected. With Bush in charge, the immediate future is grim, dark, and evil, as black as the inside of an Iraqi burqa.

Today, for example, the Wall Street Journal editorial page lambasted laws - any laws, that is, that may be inconvenient to the Administration, or to Wall Street, or to anyone they agree with. It's nice to know the Masters of the Universe feel secure enough that the serious law-breaking can get underway now without delay.

Nevertheless, law-breaking or law-abiding, society rolls on regardless, so it's time to look around:
  • Troubles with Accutane: USA Today reported on how marketing strategies led Hoffmann-La Roche to downplay Accutane's role in causing suicidal depression. The anti-acne drug first hit the market in 1982. I remember in 1986, or '87, the Univ. of AZ hospital in Tucson absolutely rejected my effort to get Accutane for my serious acne. Liver problems were already being reported, and they were clamping down on the drug's use. In addition, Univ. of AZ absolutely-positively wouldn't put women on the drug, for any reason, because too many birth defects were already being reported. I'm shocked that Univ. of AZ's foresightful in-house ban wasn't part of a nationwide ban: birth defects attributable to Accutane occurred through the 90's, and still occur today! Such a shame, and all that tragedy totally preventable!
  • San Francisco viola player recovers her stolen instrument (though not yet the bow), through investigative determination. Terrible crime, but hard work succeeds in the end!
  • Honeybee mites just get worse and worse, threatening the pollination of many plants in California, including almond trees.
  • Shabby but classic, even emblematic, exploitation of illegal janitors by supermarkets: the lawsuit gets settled.
  • Tavis Smiley leaves NPR. Smiley is an excellent interviewer. Even better than Charlie Rose (Rose flatters his guests too much: instead, Smiley methodically skins trophies and nails them to the wall). I hope I see more of him, and more interviewers like him!
  • Hilmar Cheese in Merced County flouts clean water laws with impunity, because of its excellent political connections in the Davis/Schwarzenegger administrations.
  • Strom Thurmond's African-American daughter's new book is out, with tales of a remote, loving, and seriously hypocritical father.
  • Davis is having trouble opening a new elementary school in Mace Ranch, because of an unexpected drop in the number of students (I wonder if it's all those home-schoolers having an impact: a lot of people like to home-school these days).
  • Oregon's Measure 37 may sound the death knell for aggressive efforts to saddle property-owners with the costs of maintaining greenbelts and other amenities for urbanites. Much as I sympathize with the environmentalists, the property owners have a point too. I hope society can come to a reasonable compromise between preservation and use, for the sake of all of us!

Pigs und Unheimlich

Thinking about Unheimlich's show last Saturday, with its focus on the equivalence between pigs and poets, started me thinking of a strange, recent Sacramento incident concerning flaming pigs:
  • Combustion study goes awry: National Geographic film crew loses control of a burning pig carcass at a state testing lab (while trying to debunk the idea of human spontaneous combustion, no less)!

Maybe monks know something about spontaneous combustion that poets and National Geographic don't.

Monday, December 13, 2004


(Deborah McMillion-Nering's 2004 Christmas greeting)

Last night, I had a dream, straight from DMTC's "Anything Goes": Ryan Adame (who played Billy), dressed as a chef (he dressed in a chef's hat at one point in the show), doing a cooking show, on 1920's television. The joke, of course, is that no one in the 1920's owned a television, so it was basically a vanity stunt, but at least he was on the cutting edge of innovation!
Christmas Name

Cuddly Nose-Cracker, apparently! (Thanks to Trumpy Berry-Fairy aka Cutie Berry-Fairy).
Winter Weather Forecasts

I hate it that the dry National Weather Service seasonal weather forecast looks like it's coming to pass (it's much more to fun to bitch and moan about the transparent stupidities of the feds than to grant them credit for hard work done well). Nevertheless, the December forecast of persistent high pressure is showing up in the current short-range forecasts as well, with a big ridge building soon in the West. So, no precipitation for awhile: clear skies (at least where there isn't any fog).

Time to wash the car!
More Tales of Sacramento at Night

Very late at night, spectral bicyclists course through the streets of Sacramento: people on any number of inscrutable tasks: getting off from the late shift, or visiting friends, or just out for the air.

Last night about 2:15 a.m., while I was walking Sparky, in my dark wannabe Goth trench coat, a spectral bicyclist passed by, weaving down 24th Street, laughing maniacally. To me, this humor represented progress. I thought back ten years ago, when I lived on 40th Street, near Folsom. A bicyclist passed by almost daily, shouting and growling epithets (wonder how he's doing these days?)

Laughter, no matter how malicious, is better than vented rage, any day.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

E.'s Hospital Stay Over

With the usual hospital stories of interrupted sleep and nurses hunting for invisible veins, plus mutterings about the potassium pills. Here come the big bills! But at least the staff were very nice.
28th Annual Woodland Nutcracker

Is done! Some problems, but better than I expected. The crowd pleaser this year was the Pre-Show's "Carwash," featuring Antonio Casillas doing "The Worm", as Devan Zuniga acted as 'puppetmaster.' Kelly Challender's instructional influence was felt in the better-than-usual Hip-Hop dances. Some of the kids, like Cassandra Heredia, come from families where everyone break dances for fun anyway, so the kids seemed unusually well-prepared.

Unlike the late 90's, there was mercifully little shoulder strap tugging this year, but probably only because the group this year is very young, and thus there was less need to tug on shoulder straps. Clothes tugging can be very distracting to the audience. I remember one year, one of the dancers placed herself in the wing, where many in the audience could see her, then began a meticulous examination of some fabric flaw in her crotch: I wanted to scream "no!" but I was on-stage too, and I couldn't drop character.

The 'go team' small-town sports atmosphere that previous recitals have featured, which seems so strange for ballet, but perfectly suited for these shows, was quite subdued, but probably only because most of the kids haven't hit high school yet.

After seeing her in rehearsal, I was looking forward to the blithe insouciance of 4-year-old Savannah Arias, as one of the Act III Mother Goose clowns. She was a live wire early on Friday evening, but soon tired, and when she finally hit the stage, she was in full pouting diva mode. Sunday was a bit better, but she seemed unusually interested in her elastic clown collar, and spent most of her dance time wrapping it around her mouth. So, we'll have to wait a bit longer before we can see what she is capable of as a dancer!

One of the girls asked: "when will the orientation start?" (she meant intermission.) Big words can confuse the kids. When I was her age, I was in the vicinity of my birth hospital (Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque) when I saw a sign that read "Pedestrian Crossing," and I thought it read "Presbyterian Crossing," and I suddenly had reason to doubt my father's teaching that a person's religious beliefs reflected an exclusively interior state of being.

Notable moments:

  • Friday: Ruth Krabacher's plastic sword broke unexpectedly in her Act I fight with Cleigha Gama;
  • Friday: The "Waltz of the Flowers" threatened to dissolve into the "Parliament of the Flowers," over questions of timing and whether or not someone's foot should be turned out;
  • Friday: Sally got distracted and was late on her "Snowflake" entrance;
  • Sunday: A dancer's frantic stage whisper of 'Shit!' was a bit louder than it needed to be (if it needed to be at all) - loud enough, I suspect, to be heard in the audience;
  • Friday: a girl's warm and winning smile, when the curtain opened, froze quickly into a deer-in-the headlights stare when the music (as often happens in these shows) just didn't start as quickly as it should!
  • Friday: there was a moment of frozen indecision, when action stopped because no one remembered the next step. One of the dancers shrugged her shoulders in rhythm with the music. There was a sudden gasp, and everyone fell into a hasty circle, as their memories finally began working again.

Mistakes aside (and I certainly made more than my share, especially this year), we all had a lot of fun. I wonder if Sally is serious about this being the last Woodland Nutcracker?

Old Soldiers Never Die....

They just go to Afghanistan.