Friday, June 24, 2005

Occult Thunderstorms

Phoenix, Arizona and vicinity have been hit by lots of thunderstorms in the last two days, but the storms have been studiously avoiding the rain gauges. Deborah reports:

It rained for almost an hour and now this morning at dawn it smells like Georgia--+ it's over laden with heavy clouds!
Definitely a flux of moisture into the area. But from where exactly?
not caring--rain!!!
Interestingly, the moisture is flowing faster than the storms: moisture is passing THROUGH the storms...
it's heaviest cloud layer is north east right now.
Strange. But if it works, so be it!
did I mention--whoo hoo!! : )

I went to art walk early and left when lots of people showed up at 7:30 just as it started to thunder. Before we even got south enough to the zoo gale force rains hit. Couldn't see 10 feet ahead. I haven't seen that much water hit at once in years. It seemed to hit everything in the valley east of Central. Wow. As if that weren't enough it did it again at 2 AM.

AMAZING! The black swath in the sky was almost frightening looking-- so much water!!!
Peculiar: Sky Harbor is showing only a trace of rainfall = Tucson too....sometimes these storms have intense impact over very short distances....

A dry band is passing through Phoenix right now, and it's beginning to get humid again. Today may see similar rainfall events to the last two days.

These quasi-monsoonal storms baffle me, though. Something about them is eluding my understanding....

On the radio this morning, I caught a snippet of "Science Friday" by Ira Flatow, on NPR. He was talking with an earthquake expert, who relayed a story by a friend of his about the recent cautionary tsunami alert that accompanied the large earthquake off the northern California coast, near Eureka. Apparently, at Newport Beach, Oregon, when people heard about the tsunami alert, they gathered at the beach to watch for it.

This is what you might call a failure in public safety education!
Manna From Heaven

I found $22 in the alley last night, near the garbage cans. I hope the homeless dumpster diver, or whoever dropped it, doesn't miss it too much......

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm Not a Baby Boomer, Dammit!

(10,001st installment of a long-running disagreement between Friend Gabe, an inexperienced and unworldly young Gen-Xer in his early 30's, and myself):

Gabe cites the Wikipedia on the definition of a Baby Boomer, which purports to show my 1956 birth date as falling squarely within the Baby Boom period (1946 - 1964).

I disagree. There is a divide between those born from 1945-1953 (Boomers), and those born from 1954-1960 (Space Age Couch Potatoes).

It's the divide between those whose earliest childhood years were the first to be molded by TV, and the last not to be so molded.
Space Age Couch Potatoes? Where did that term come from? The Marcepedia?
I thought about using the term "The New Frontier", but "Space Age Couch Potatoes" is more accurate.

This unremarked story has had me wondering for a couple of days now. Is it wishful thinking? Advance notice of a decision? Telling the Aussies what they want to hear?:
The US military will probably begin withdrawing some forces from Iraq by March 2006, a top US commander said overnight, predicting the insurgency will be defeated if the country's political factions come together.

Lieutenant General John Vines, the number two US commander in Iraq, said any drawdown would depend on conditions on the ground.

He predicted the insurgency would decline rapidly if the country's Sunnis, Shia and Kurds can agree on a constitution and elect a government that has broad support.

But he said as many as four or five US brigades probably would be withdrawn in March.
Savage Conservative Attack

Dick Durbin's disastrous and unnecessary apology and Mayor Daley's unnecessary counterattack have given the conservatives heart to attack with ugliest, most vile, slashing, evil attack they have ever mounted. It's time for Democrats - past time, really - to stand together and attack back. Conservatives like Rove must be defeated!

And yet, revenge is a dish best served cold. Rove is doing his best to spark an overheated liberal response. As Publius says:
Which is why, however perverse this may sound, the absence of an antiwar movement is proving to be a huge political problem for the Bush administration, and why the Republicans are reduced to trying to turn Dick Durbin, who criticized our policies at Guantanamo Bay, into some enemy of the people.
And it seems maybe Democrats are responding appropriately, at last. It's possible that Daley's fumble may have caused the Republicans to spring their trap prematurely, so they can't recover the moral high ground:
Democrats are demanding that White House adviser Karl Rove immediately retract and apologize for comments that liberals responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes by wanting to "prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

"The one thing New York has had since Sept. 11 is unity," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "To inject politics into this and to defame a large number of people" is outrageous, he said. "It's not what New York and America is all about."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Rain in Phoenix

Deborah in Phoenix reports:
At 10:12 PM on June 22 a monsoon storm hit Phoenix with high winds and buckets of rain. whoo hoo!
Interesting! And puzzling!

The dew point is now considerably higher than it was earlier today, and so there is definitely a flux of moisture into the area. But from where exactly? I remember seeing a paper several years ago that stressed the importance of a low-level nighttime southerly jet along the western slope of the Sierra Madre for bringing moisture into AZ. That jet must be active. Interestingly, the moisture is flowing faster than the storms: the storms are staying in mostly place, centered in the Nogales-Tucson area, almost like a mesoscale convective complex (MCC), and moving north rather slowly, but the moisture is passing THROUGH the storms, headed for points north. Strange. But if it works, so be it!
Close-Packed Melons

How about a cube-shaped watermelon for $100?
Godot Is In The Lobby

June 21st, Steve reminded me, was the 21st anniversary of Davis Musical Theatre Company's (DMTC's) first performance ("Peter Pan" was the first show!)

In commemoration of the anniversary, today, DMTC implemented "Plan B" for finishing construction of the New Theater. Construction had been at a halt for almost seven months, since November 1, 2004, in the absence of either large donations or secured loans adequate to finish construction. $120,000 of money borrowed from River City Bank was delivered today to Steve Harrison Construction, in order to accelerate construction of the New Theater. Additional financing? Stay tuned for "Plan C"!

Harrison Construction will start working again ASAP: a building inspection focused on the orchestra pit has already been done. The theater will be finished from the front to the back, in order to be audience-ready just as soon as practicable. Still, I wonder if there's enough time to finish the New Theater before the start of the new season?
U-2 Crash

A U-2 crashed in "Southwest Asia." Hmmm.... Iran is in Southwest Asia.... I wonder?
A Crusade

Loitering in front of the AM/PM convenience market during the graveyard shift, you see all sorts of people: construction workers, bureaucrats, tweakers, stoners, and grifters of all sorts and varieties. Last night was the first time that I met an earnest man on a political crusade, however.

I have a lot of sympathy for people on political crusades - I wouldn't have run for Governor in 2003 unless I did. So, for informational purposes only (meaning I neither support or disdain the crusade), here is the bulletin:

Frank "Hemp" Boone Allen, Sacramento's "Hemp Czar," is securing a permit today to lead a march from the west steps of the State Capitol, to Pyramid Park in West Sacramento, from noon to 5:30 p.m. on the 4th of July, on behalf of marijuana legalization, and in honor of the millions who died defending this country. After this first march, similar marches will be scheduled henceforth on the first Saturday of every month. Mr. Allen says that the money gained from legal marijuana sales will be dedicated to education, and that legal marijuana "will be the biggest thing for California since the discovery of gold." Mr. Allen said he could be reached through the people at the Compassionate Coalition.
Tuesday Night Rehearsal: "The King and I"

This is tech week for DMTC's "The King and I" (opens Friday). The company rehearsed Act II tonight.

The beating of Tuptim (Anna, Marguerite Morris; The King, Juan Ramos; lying prostrate, Tuptim, Chelsea Beatty)

Farewell (The King, Juan Ramos; seated around bed, left to right, Louis, Andrew Lampinen; Prince Chululongkorn, John Ramos; Kralahome, Ryan Adame; Anna, Marguerite Morris)

Juan Ramos has done truly amazing things, creating marvelously large sculptures and elaborate set pieces. What a gifted guy!
"Despite Descartes, The Tower of Pisa Leans Into Art"

Tonight, Gilberto Rodriguez, and his wife Sherri, performed at the HQ, 25th and R, at 7:30 p.m. in Sacramento. No Artaud, but some nice poetry nonetheless. This is the first time I've been to this compound, of which the HQ is just a part.

When I departed, there was a lot of frightening moaning coming from a nearby building, but since California Stage is located there, and I could see actors through a doorway, I chalked up the groaning to a rehearsal in progress.

On Friday evening at 7:30 p.m., the HQ will feature art work done by some of their favorite artists when they were in junior high school. Sounds like fun!

Paraphrasing Gil: 'Poetry is about transformation, not just observation!'

Sherri and her wondrous instruments.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Sometimes Republicans state a little too clearly what they really think (from today's Wall Street Journal lead editorial):
If the American dream means anything, it means finding a plot of land where you can shape your destiny and raise your children. Those pragmatic dreamers look ever more Republican. Mr. Bush walloped Mr. Kerry among people who were married with children. He also carried 25 of the top 26 cities in terms of white fertility. Mr. Kerry carried the bottom 16. San Francisco, the citadel of liberalism, has the lowest proportion of people under 18 in the country (14.5%).
"Diesel Death Zone", 1; Los Angeles, 0

Mayor Hahn's task force wraps up work, with many questions unanswered:
But implementing the clean-air plan could take up to 20 years and cost at least $11 billion, which would be shared by industry, the port and government, officials said. At the same time, industry concerns have mounted over the ballooning costs of the plan and its effectiveness.

...When the port's clean-air plan was released last July, it was immediately criticized as narrow and simplistic by residents and Hahn. The mayor responded by creating the task force, which includes representatives from the EPA, the state air board and the regional air district.

But since the team crafted its 68 potential clean-air initiatives in March, opposition has been slowly building among industry representatives. Issues range from the cost of implementing the plan to the effectiveness of new technology.

Concerns that the panel may be overstating future air pollution have been repeatedly raised by the Pacific Maritime Shipping Assn., which represents shippers and terminal operators. If future pollution levels are inflated, all other findings built upon those estimates are unreliable, said Vice President Michele Grubbs.

"I don't think the task force is going to be able to achieve the goals of Mayor Hahn," Grubbs said.

"Right now, we can't see how this document in its current form can be used by policymakers.

"Meanwhile, the biggest fight on the port issue is expected to center on who should pay for cutting pollution.

The Port of Los Angeles cannot afford to foot that bill alone, said Charles Turner, a port finance officer. Even if the port were to commit all of its net revenue to the effort for 20 years, it would still fall short, he said.

But Wilmington activist Jesse Marquez and other area residents believe that the shipping companies, railroads, retailers and others profiting from port trade should shoulder much of the costs.
Here Comes The Knife!

Robert Bennett's plan to turn Social Security into a welfare program gets the frustrated President's blessing:
"I've decided that the Democrats have made it clear that they will not back personal accounts," Bennett said outside the White House. "And in response to the president's position that let's try to get something done, I will be proposing a bill that does not include personal accounts."

Bennett said some Democrats have told him privately that they would support such a bill, but he is not sure how many will be on board publicly now that he's introducing the legislation. He said he is looking for Democrats to co-sponsor the bill, but he didn't have any to announce Tuesday.

"We've had a lot of interest," he said. "We have a lot of hope that we can use this bill to break the logjam and move forward on Social Security. We'll find out in the weeks to come."

Bennett said when he told Bush of his plans, "He just said, 'I like your bill.' Period."
Godot Arrives

June 21st, Steve reminds me, is the 21st anniversary of Davis Musical Theatre Company's (DMTC's) first performance ("Peter Pan" was the first show!)

In commemoration, today, DMTC implemented "Plan B" for finishing construction of the New Theater. Construction had been at a halt for almost seven months, since November 1, 2004, in the absence of either large donations or secured loans adequate to finish construction. $100,000 of money borrowed from River City Bank was delivered today to Steve Harrison Construction, in order to accelerate construction of the New Theater: an additional $20,000 will be used to pay construction-related bills. Additional financing is in the works.

Harrison Construction had started working again on a small scale last week, in anticipation of funding coming through, started with a building inspection focused on the orchestra pit. The theater will be finished from the front to the back, so that the theater will be audience-ready just as soon as practicable. Still, I wonder if there's enough time to finish the New Theater before the start of the new season?
Farewell TNR

After 25 years of being a faithful subscriber to The New Republic (TNR) magazine, I let my subscription run out this week, in objection to its new, more conservative editorial direction, under Martin Peretz and Peter Beinart. Too bad: it was once a great magazine!

Gil Rodriguez came over this morning to say he's doing a show tonight at the HQ, 25th and R, at 7:30 p.m. in Sacramento. Several other poets are on the program as well. Gil's portrayal of the French poet Artaud is wonderful: it'll be a good evening of performance poetry!
A Flock of Nazguls

Deborah in Phoenix observes:
outside, weird oppressive feel almost like before tornados.
Several days ago, the forecast looked like we'd have another one of those faux-quasi-monsoonal periods in AZ: lots of afternoon thunderstorms for several days, but not exactly the REAL monsoon, because there is definitely a trough off the coast of the western U.S., and the REAL monsoon doesn't occur until all that springtime mid-latitude trough fluff migrates north.

Today's reality is that there is a weak front passing through AZ. There is a band of convection and rainfall that is remarkably long and thin. What is even more interesting is the front is expressing itself as a long, long, filament, extending from way, way down Baja, halfway down the Sea of Cortez, all the way up into Utah and even into the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho and Montana. It almost looks like a flock of birds streaming northwards from the tropics towards Salt Lake City, as if from (or towards) Mordor.

Don't panic, though: these are sparrows, not Nazguls.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Damage Control

I wonder, what's up?
KYLIE Minogue's tour chief has denied reports the pop princess will stage her comeback in the summer of 2007.

A report said Minogue would resume Showgirl performances in 18 months, but Frontier Touring Company says the matter has not been discussed.

A previously issued statement by Frontier boss, Michael Gudinski, repeated the company line yesterday.

"A definitive answer on Showgirl's rescheduling is still a few weeks away," it said. "Kylie's health is our main concern . . . and we're sure you'll understand when we say none of us wants her back on tour prematurely."

Minogue, 37, is recovering from breast cancer treatment at a hideaway near Melbourne and leaves soon for Europe.

Twisted, amoral Palestinian woman:
A badly burned Palestinian woman was alternately defiant and tearful Monday after Israeli soldiers caught her trying to enter Israel with 22 pounds of explosives hidden on her body.

The woman, who suffered serious burns on her hands, feet and neck in a kitchen explosion five months ago, had been granted permission to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment when she raised the suspicion of soldiers at the Erez checkpoint.
Run, Joe, Run!

MBNA has systematically raped millions from coast to coast. Putting a human face on the Beast will do wonders for Joe Biden's popularity:
Cool Spring

Sacramento has had a pretty cool spring. Blame seems to lie with a ridge parked over the middle of the country, forcing troughs onto both coasts, and not the usual suspects (like El Nino):

A temperature map compiled by the climate center shows that most regions of California, especially the northern three-quarters, have been cooler than normal since March 18.

In Sacramento, it's telling to count the number of days reaching or exceeding 100 degrees so far: Zero.

According to Don Noxon, a National Weather Service forecaster in Sacramento, we usually hit the century mark five times by the end of June.

We're behind on 90-degree days, too. April, May and June usually produce 22 days of 90 or above. We've had nine.

As for rain, this was California's 21st-wettest spring since 1895, said Anne Waple, a research climatologist at the National Climatic Data Center in North Carolina. "I think it might be especially noticeable because last spring was the fourth-driest," she said.

Average rainfall for the state in March, April and May this year was 7.78 inches, compared with 1.94 inches for the same period in 2004. Normal is 5.61 inches.

...Over the winter, an El Nino, a pool of abnormally warm water that has the potential to influence weather around the world, formed in the Pacific Ocean. But the El Nino was very weak and is gone. "We saw very few global effects from it," Waple said.
The FBI is a Cult

Talk about bizarre stuff! The FBI admits that expertise is of no relevance for a career in the FBI: it's all about 'leadership':
"You need leadership. You don't need subject matter expertise," Executive Assistant Director Gary Bald recently testified in a little noticed employment case now catching the eye of Congress. "It is certainly not what I look for in selecting an official for a position in a counterterrorism position."

..."A bombing case is a bombing case," said Dale Watson, the FBI's terrorism chief in the two years after Sept. 11, 2001. "A crime scene in a bank robbery case is the same as a crime scene, you know, across the board."

Watson couldn't describe the difference between Shiites and Sunnis, the two major groups of Muslims. "Not technically, no," Watson answered when asked the question.

Bald, the FBI's current anti-terrorism chief, said his first training in that area came "on the job" when he moved to headquarters to oversee anti-terrorism strategy two years ago. When asked about his grasp of Middle Eastern culture and history, he replied: "I wish that I had it. It would be nice."

...The hundreds of pages of testimony obtained by The Associated Press contrast with assurances Mueller has repeatedly given Congress that he was building a new FBI, from top to bottom, with experts able to stop terrorist attacks before they occurred, not solve them afterward.

...Daniel Byman, a national security expert who worked on both congressional and presidential investigations of terrorism and intelligence failures, reviewed the Youssef case for the court. Byman concluded the FBI overall remains woefully weak in expertise on the Middle East, terrorism and intelligence liaison.

"Many of its officers, including those quite skilled in other aspects of the bureau's work, lack the skills to work with foreign governments or even their U.S. counterparts," Byman concluded.

Watson testified he could not recall a single meeting in the aftermath of Sept. 11 in which FBI leaders discussed the type of skills or training needed for counterterrorism.

Youssef's lawyer, Steve Kohn, pressed further.

"What skill sets would they need to better identify, penetrate and/or prevent a future Osama bin Laden-style terrorist attack?" Kohn asked.

Watson answered: "They would need to understand the attorney general guidelines for counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigation."

"Anything else?" the lawyer inquired.

"No," Watson answered.

...Pat D'Amuro, one of the FBI's most-experienced senior terrorism managers, testified he didn't conduct a systematic search for the bureau's most talented Middle Eastern and terrorism agents worldwide after Sept. 11. Instead, he said, he brought to Washington the agents he personally knew had worked successfully on al-Qaida and other terrorism cases.
El Dorado County Asbestos

As co-worker Earl notes, it's hard to justify studies of environmental (as opposed to occupational) exposure to asbestos air pollution, even when the need seems urgent:
The Lung Association's Withycombe speculated that a lung tissue study has yet to attract much support because there are so many competing priorities for state and federal agencies, and so many diseases that are demonstrably killing more people.
Dead Zone

They used to call them the "Taylor Lands," after the 1934 Taylor Act establishing their management: Western grazing lands so unproductive that no one wanted to buy them from the federal government. Ranches leased these lands, sometimes in a checkboard pattern intended to monopolize control over as much land as possible. The values of the leases were incorporated into the property value of the ranches, so ranchers felt they were virtually their own property. The Clinton Administration tried to improve management of these sorely abused lands, but that's now come to a halt.
"This is a whitewash. They took all of our science and reversed it 180 degrees," said Erick Campbell, a former BLM state biologist in Nevada and a 30-year bureau employee who retired this year. He was the author of sections of the report pertaining to the effect on wildlife and threatened and endangered species.

"They rewrote everything," Campbell said in an interview this week. "It's a crime.

"Campbell and the other retired bureau scientist who criticized the rules were among more than a dozen BLM specialists who contributed to the environmental impact statement. Others who worked on the original draft could not be reached or did not return calls seeking comment.

A bureau official acknowledged that changes were made in the analysis and said they were part of a standard editing and review process. Ranchers hailed the regulations as a signal of new openness from the administration.
Why We Can't Catch Bin Laden

This says it all.
Depressing Rumor

As to when the Australian Kylie tour can resume:
KYLIE fans holding on to tickets for her postponed Australian tour - prepare for a long wait.

Confidential understands a loose date for the rescheduled concerts will not be until January 2007.

The expected date is the first word of when Kylie might be well enough to return to the stage.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pictures From Trip to NM

Here are some pictures from my recent trip to NM (June 11 - 13, 2005).

Sierra Nevada (background), Owens Valley (center), White Mountains (right foreground: where the ancient Bristlecone Pines live), southern reaches of Bishop, CA (right, at wing's leading edge), and Deep Springs Lake (lower left: Deep Springs hosts one of the most innovative, and arguably best, college programs in the entire nation). Friend Jerry and hiked in this region in August, 2000.

The heart of Death Valley: Badwater Basin and Dante's View.

Verde River Valley at Fort McDowell, AZ, just east of Phoenix.

On Monday, June 13th, my sister Michelle, her son Aaron, and I travelled to Corrales, NM, to see our old childhood haunts. So strange! Many changes there. The trees are all taller, for the most part, except for the really big cottonwoods, that are now dying out. Lots of new homes and shops, and fewer open fields.

I did not recognize our childhood home, on La Entrada Road! The people who now own the adobe house (purchased in 1990) have done many things with it, to the point where we could just walk past and not feel a sense of connection to it. In a way, my father's expansive vision for the place was eventually realized, by these new people. They are to be congratulated!

Sandoval Elementary School, where I started 1st grade (school remodeled shortly after I left, in about 1967).

A view from West Ella Drive, across Corrales and the Rio Grande Valley, towards Albuquerque's iconic Sandia Mountains.

Historic Old San Ysidro Church.

We visited the San Ysidro Cemetery, located just west of the Old Church, and chased a roadrunner and a jackrabbit around. My sister and I looked at numerous graves of our childhood friends and classmates. So many school chums already slammed six feet under, with deteriorating headstones and crosses on the ground above. And here we are, still walking around!

Ernest Martinez, a good friend of my dad and the family, before he was knifed in a bar brawl, allegedly by one of the Barros.

Rudy Gonzales, and his brother Clifford, were sitting in the Blake's Lota-Burger that was once at Rio Grande Blvd. and Corrales Rd. NW, when a car barreled over the sidewalk, came crashing through the plate glass windows, and killed them both.

Sammy Perea, former next door neighbor, and ambitious politician. He was a controversial Bernalillo County Treasurer (money alleged to have been misused during his tenure). Died very young.

Reminds me of a song: "People Who Died" from the Jim Carroll Band;

teddy sniffing glue he was 12 years old
fell from the roof on east two-nine
cathy was 11 when she pulled the plug
on 26 reds and a bottle of wine
bobby got leukemia, 14 years old
he looked like 65 when he died
he was a friend of mine

those are people who died, died
those are people who died, died
those are people who died, died
those are people who died, died
they were all my friends, and they died

g-berg and georgie let their gimmicks go rotten
so they died of hepatitis in upper manhattan
sly in vietnam took a bullet in the head
bobby od'd on drano on the night that he was wed
they were two more friends of mine
two more friends that died / i miss 'em--they died

repeat chorus:

mary took a dry dive from a hotel room
bobby hung himself from a cell in the tombs
judy jumped in front of a subway train
eddie got slit in the jugular vein
and eddie, I miss you more than all the others,
and i salute you brother/ this song is for you my brother

repeat chorus:

herbie pushed tony from the boys' club roof
tony thought that his rage was just some goof
but herbie sure gave tony some bitchen proof
"hey," herbie said, "tony, can you fly?"
but tony couldn't fly . . . tony died

repeat chorus:

brian got busted on a narco rap
he beat the rap by rattin' on some bikers
he said, hey, i know it's dangerous,
but it sure beats riker's
but the next day he got offed
by the very same bikers

repeat chorus; repeat song to eddie