Saturday, July 09, 2005

Sparky's Visit to "Canine Cottage"


Passing Tampa

So close to the beast! Hope things are OK in Tampa!

The ETA model forecast shows Dennis taking a sharp jog west on Sunday night, perfectly aimed to bring the storm into Lake Ponchartrain, LA. Could get ugly there.
Dennis Inches Westwards

Dennis looks like it's inching westwards. The National Hurricane Center discussion sounds confused. The NOGAPS and ETA models are looking at landfall in the Gulfport, Mississippi area: still, the GFS model thinks the Alabama coast will receive landfall.

You may have already seen the most intense rain you are likely to get in Tampa, FL, but there are many more hours of steady rain ahead. And the heaviest winds so far look like they were 21 mph or so, with gusts to 30 mph.

So, it's another rainy night in Tampa. It could have been so much worse, of course. New Orleans and vicinity tomorrow night will not be a happy place.

Here is the confused portion of that NHC discussion:

Friday, July 08, 2005

Children's Hospital

Kylie makes her first public appearance in nearly two months, and in Melbourne, of all places.
Close Call

Ye gods! I recognize the names of long-time DMTC enthusiasts in this passenger list. Good thing harm was avoided!
Diane Peters doesn't consider herself a hero.

But the Davis resident was in the minority Thursday at Atria Covell Gardens, where the senior facility's activity assistant was the recipient of numerous hugs for her role in avoiding a head-on collision the day before.

Peters, who turns 40 today, was driving a passenger-filled tour bus that narrowly missed striking a wrong-way driver on County Road 102 near Woodland.

Starting July 15th at the Woodland Opera House, featuring Kelly Daniells, Nancy Agee, and Beth Nilsen (and Pam Kay Lourentzos' choreography)!
Dennis Update

The eye of Dennis is now over water again. Most of the forecasts are nudging the storm track eastwards again, with landfall forecast to be near the Alabama Gulf Coast.

I'm mystified why the storm shouldn't head towards Louisiana rather than towards Pensacola, but I'm increasingly isolated on this point. I'm still hoping the hurricane will see reason and behave.

What got to the sheep? Cognitive dissonance? Did they watch too much Fox News? Cloudy would have told them not to bother....
Knock Three Times...

and I'll tell you that I love you.... (this bear learns the ways of people).
Latest Dennis Ruminations

It's still going to be an uncomfortable Saturday night in Tampa, but some of the forecasting nuances have changed, with the forecasting camps switching sides. The NOGAPS and ETA models show Dennis heading farther west (NOGAPS with a Mississippi landfall: ETA with a Louisiana landfall). On the other hand, the GFS model shows the storm hugging the west Florida coast, with a panhandle Florida landfall. The National Hurricane Center is switching sides and going with the Florida coast huggers, but I suspect they may be wrong.

Much depends on whether the trough passing through the eastern U.S. can steer the storm along the western Florida coast, as they so frequently are capable of doing. At the moment, though, the northern and southern parts of the trough are desynchronizing in their eastward movement (the northern part moves faster than the southern part, which tends to leave the southern part an orphan trough). There is also, as part of the southern trough, a weak mid-level trough over eastern Texas, which isn't much, may be weakening, may hardly be there at all (kind of an artifact). It's not moving much, though, and I'm thinking the storm will be drawn westwards towards that, rather than slavishly following the northern trough, or will try to split the difference.

So, that's the good news at the moment (for west coast Floridians south of Tallahassee, but not for Louisianans, Mississippians, etc.)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

24th Street Theater Story

In today's Sacramento Bee, featuring Michael McElroy (and even a shot of BBG himself!):

Runaway Stage Productions' rendition of Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" opened last weekend in Curtis Park's newly remodeled 24th Street Theatre. Since 2004, the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association has been raising funds for a $50,000 upgrade to the 290-seat theater. Besides newly restored seats, fresh paint on the walls and new carpeting, officials said work will continue on lighting and sound improvements. Sacramento Bee/Carl Costas

Michael McElroy portrays Harold Hill, a phony traveling salesman who plans to flimflam an Iowa town in 1912. Sacramento Bee/Carl Costas

Cast and crew prepare for last Saturday's show. The shows continue at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through July 24. Sacramento Bee/Carl Costas
Fox News Ghouls

Euphoric over the London attacks.
British Bombings

Recall that the Bush White House prematurely exposed an Al Qaeda double agent in London last August, most likely in order to improve its own electoral popularity. Could today's bombings have been prevented if Scotland Yard had been allowed to finish its investigation?
Dennis Update

Today's forecast shows Hurricane Dennis moving a little faster than yesterday's forecast did, and passing a little closer to Florida's west coast, heading towards an Alabama Gulf Coast landfall. 70 mph winds, Saturday night - Sunday morning in Tampa, so there's some potential for damage from flying debris. The heaviest rains will still be offshore, but it still looks like an unpleasant weekend.
Cave Balls

Yee-hah! Made it onto B3ta's Best page for this week's Question of the Week: "What hidden treasures have you uncovered?"

My story below concerns an occasional destination back in early college days: Ojo del Diablo Cave, in the broken foothills of the Jemez Mountains, a few miles west of San Ysidro, New Mexico:
The four of us had nearly finished scrambling through a New Mexico cave when we came across a clear pool blocking our path: we were forced to wade to the exit. We noticed the bottom of the pool was littered with numerous white balls.

The mystery began to gnaw on us: what were these ghostly, golfball-like spheres? We touched one ball, and the white coating suddenly popped and drifted away, leaving a central mudball-like core with what appeared to be little sticks poking out. In the flickering light, we could see there was some kind of strange gas streaming away from the mudball, which just deepened the mystery. We combined our brainpower to decipher the mudball's mystery.

It took a long, long time, passing the mudball back and forth from hand to hand, sniffing the gas, and reaching into the waters to gather other popping mudballs, to finally realize that THIS is what ultimately happens to bats that die and fall into limpid cave waters.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Next season, DMTC is doing "Titanic." We are doing the London West End version.
Why Not a Subsription Fund?

Ranchers really pull their hair out about environmentalists. The reintroduction of the Mexican Gray Wolf onto wild lands and ranching lands in western New Mexico/eastern Arizona has many ranchers upset.
The public must keep in mind that an entire rural county and several small towns depend on the dollars that ranchers pump into the local economy. They are now spending production time managing wolves. They are being forced out of business, while feeding an animal that has been shown historically to be a major depredator and a danger - an animal pushed into their midst by an agency that says the public is happy to have this occurring in its name.
Wolves eat ranch animals, inflicting direct losses on ranchers. Why not have an insurance fund, subscribed to by environmentalists and governments, that ranchers can get reimbursed from for their losses?
Loathsome Kondracke

I can't help but note this ugly column by Morton Kondracke, who sounds more and more like a broken record, claiming Democrats must not criticize Bush, because they turn into traitors in the process. I remember Wacky Kondracke in 1980, when every single one of his predictions regarding the presidential campaign turned out to be wrong. Now, he's just an ugly character assassin:
So why should some Democrats now be acting as though they want to see their country lose a war? Why should they say things that may undermine the morale of U.S. forces and our Iraqi allies and contribute to a U.S. defeat?

And why should they reinforce the image of their party as being so hopelessly force-averse that it can't be trusted to lead on foreign policy?

It's one thing for a Democrat like Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.) to harshly criticize the way the Bush administration is conducting the war and then recommend constructive steps for winning it.
Well, Mort, constructive criticism doesn't do much good. Just ask Joe Wilson and his critique of the Niger uranium claim. A lot of good that did!

What undermines morale is when you realize your leaders are clueless. It's not pointing out the cluelessness: it's the cluelessness itself.
Bush's policies may fail on their own because they were misconceived or badly executed. What shouldn't happen is for U.S. policy to fail because Americans lose their will. Bush's critics, the Democrats, should tell him how to win, not declare that the cause is lost.
What does "win" mean, Mort? If it means a very provocative, indefinite, high-profile American military presence in Iraq, a presence that permanently inflames the Middle East, defeat might well be the best option for our security.
Vacuous Nonsense - or Common Sense?

Dwelling too much on the limitations of the Kyoto Treaty doesn't do a thing about Global Warming, but it's still useful having the treaty around to use as a cudgel against governments and businesses. Still, if George W. Bush is actually doing this, I'd be impressed (and the operative word is IF):
"Listen, I recognize that the surface of the Earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem," Bush said during an appearance in Denmark before arriving in Scotland for the annual summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations.

"I think there's a better way forward," Bush said, citing his administration's emphasis on government-assisted technological innovation. "I would call it the post-Kyoto era, where we can work together to share technologies, to control greenhouse gases as best as possible."
Australian Home Prices

Like in many other places, Australian home prices soared over the last decade, but over the last two years, prices have plateaued - perhaps a harbinger of what awaits us? Still, the Australian experience may not be directly applicable - they have almost no fixed-rate mortgages there and they have a Central Bank willing to slow the bubble's rise.
Albuquerque Ballroom

Things have changed in Albuquerque, for the better, from the days (1979-1980) when I was Vice-President of the University of New Mexico Ballroom Dance Club (whose responsibilities consisted mostly of spinning the records and playing the tapes).
Malibu Trailer Park

I like mobile homes, but not this much:
A two-bedroom, two-bathroom mobile home perched on a lot in Malibu is selling for $1.4 million. This isn't a greedy seller asking a ridiculous amount no one will pay. Two others sold in the area recently for $1.3 million and $1.1 million. Another, at $1.8 million, is in escrow. Nearby, another lists for $2.7 million.
Education Makes the Difference, Not Incentives

Here's a blow to the desperate Southern politicos (or anyone else who thinks along those lines) who think that if the incentives are sweet enough, industry will come flocking:
Ontario workers are well-trained. That simple explanation was cited as a main reason why Toyota turned its back on hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies offered from several American states in favour of building a second Ontario plant.

..."The level of the workforce in general is so high that the training program you need for people, even for people who have not worked in a Toyota plant before, is minimal compared to what you have to go through in the southeastern United States," said Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, whose members will see increased business with the new plant.

...The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.

Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.

He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.

"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.

In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

"Most people don't think of our health-care system as being a competitive advantage," he said.
Dennis the Menace

Looks like an uncomfortable weekend coming up for folks in the Tampa/St. Petersburg Florida area. Tropical Storm Dennis is reaching Hurricane strength at this moment.

The NOGAPS forecast (generally the most reliable) shows Dennis crossing western Cuba, coming into the Gulf of Mexico, passing very close to Tampa, but passing by nevertheless, and crashing into the Alabama Gulf Coast, in a path reminiscent of last year's Hurricane Ivan (but a bit closer to the coast this time). Closest approach to Tampa will be mid-morning on Sunday. Winds are forecast to reach the 45 - 50 mph range, with higher gusts possible, but no direct hit forecast. Heaviest rains are forecast to be just offshore. There's always a chance for tornadoes, of course.

On the other hand, the GFS model shows a more powerful Dennis than NOGAPS forecasts, but passing farther off the coast, and crashing into the Mississippi Delta of Louisiana.

Let's hope the storm stays away from the coast.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Right Brain - Left Brain

Science appealed to me more than art did when I was young. Easier to get into.

But maybe I should have just tried harder. Certainly music is good for learning and brain development:
Overall, findings to date indicate that music has a biological basis and that the brain has a functional organization for music. It seems fairly clear, even at this early stage of inquiry, that many brain regions participate in specific aspects of music processing, whether supporting perception (such as apprehending a melody) or evoking emotional reactions. Musicians appear to have additional specializations, particularly hyperdevelopment of some brain structures. These effects demonstrate that learning retunes the brain, increasing both the responses of individual cells and the number of cells that react strongly to sounds that become important to an individual.
Satellite Picture of Iraq

Their sand - our oil! Photo courtesy B3ta Aeronautics and Space Administration:

Tiefster Winter

I was curious what the translation might be to the German lyrics of "Tiefster Winter" (Deepest Winter), performed by L'Ame Immortelle, a dance mix of which is featured on CD3 (Mix by DJ RiB - Razed in Black) of the "This Is Neo-Goth" album. It's a little clunky, but what else can one expect from the translation tools at Google?

Pretty bleak song, but, then, bleak and Goth go together:

Deepest Winter

Constantly gently, but by force
Your sword penetrates into me
Hope, it is dead
No more you, a shape
As coldly as bright steel
Without a feeling

Night fulfills now this area
Your light, it dazzles me
You speak as dead to me
Torn from the life dream
Of a strange power
In this area

Everything which I believed
Which gave me my hope
Went with you on this day
As for me the love died
My faith in the love
That there were it ever
Went with you on this day
As for me the love died

Deepest winter creates itself area
Where once spring buds flowered
In eternity, the dream destroys
A lake freezes to ice

It lives nothing more at this place
Which I mean soul called
The strength, hope, it is away
And returns never more

With my blood at your hands
You speak as dead to me
Lets end me here bitterlich
Without a feeling
Gold Medal Class of Aught-Five (Redux)

From the Sacramento Bee: Runaway Stage Productions presents "The Music Man," featuring, from left, Buffee Ann Gillihan, Michael McElroy, Kyle Hadley, Karen Day and Christian Salmon. Continuing through July 24 at the 24th Street Theatre, 2791 24th St. (Runaway Stage Productions)

From the lack of response so far by the technical crew at, it seems hardly anyone there is particularly bothered by the abrupt disappearance of my original July 3rd "Music Man" post. It's not clear what happened:

  1. Did I somehow delete the post accidentally (like Rose Mary Woods suggested she did with the 18 1/2 minute gap in the Watergate tapes?)
  2. Did Independence Day at mean releasing blogposts from their pages, to wander cyberspace like lost comets?
  3. Can some angry reader bend HTML to their will, like Uri Geller does with spoons?
  4. Didn't I sacrifice the fatted calf correctly?
In any event, I'll post my thoughts again (backing up the post in the event Satan's minions return). The only trouble, of course, is that I don't quite remember what I wrote. But I'll try...

In the wee hours of Saturday morning (July 2nd) I walked my dog Sparky past the 24th Street Theater, three blocks from our house. I picked up a discarded pamphlet, which was a "Music Man" program. Aha - the show is finally open!

Reading the program in the uncertain half-light, I was impressed, not only by how many friends and acquaintances were in the show (Kyle Hadley, Karen Day, Camille Totah, Chloe Condon, Amanda Salmon, Hailee Ketchum-Wiggins), but also by how many had also been in DMTC's last staging of "The Music Man" in October, 2003 (Michael McElroy, Rick Price, Rick Wennstrom, and Lauren Miller). A lot of "Music Man" experience on the 24th Street stage!

Later that afternoon, I saw Ron Cisneros, and told him I was pleasantly surprised that he was choreographing the show. He said he had been asked to step in as choreographer after the original choreographer departed the show. But later, in Davis, I heard a rumor, third-hand, that the original choreographer had been Pam Kay Lourentzos (my ballet instructor). That seemed quite surprising, especially after she successfully choreographed Runaway Stage's last show, "Pirates of Penzance." So, was the rumor based on fact, or was it hearsay, or just simple misinformation? I had to find out, so off I went on Saturday evening to the 24th Street Theater.

Turned out, the rumor was just misinformation. Coincidentally, Pam Kay Lourentzos came to the Saturday night show, and was warmly greeted by everyone. In the Musical Theater world, rumor can be an important conduit of information, but just as in *Real Life*, rumor can be, simply, dead wrong.

The first musical number was "Rock Island", a patter kind of 19th-Century rap song that can be devilishly difficult at times, especially since it's the first number of the show. I remembered being among DMTC's fraternity of travelling salesmen in October 2003, and recalled how we finally had to settle on practicing the number EVERY night before curtain, without fail, to be assured of getting it right. RSP's "Rock Island" had a few minor problems, of the exact sort we had. The solution, of course, will be the same: practicing the number EVERY night before curtain, without fail! The second number, "Iowa Stubborn" looked a little uncomfortable: the first number with the entire cast crowded onto the small stage. Microphone problems clouded the first two numbers.

The show finally hit its stride with its third number, "Ya Got Trouble," which introduces River City, Iowa to the spellbinding trickery of Harold Hill. I've noticed how attentive Michael McElroy is, both onstage and off, to the intricacies and history of Musical Theater, and that attentiveness came shining through. Nothing could throw Michael off his rhythm in this difficult song.

I don't know Buffee Ann Gillihan, and so I was curious to see how she would do as Marion Paroo. She's great! Very nice voice and manner. Even better, both Michael and Buffee Ann work well as a leading couple - a tribute to Bob Baxter's excellent casting.

Ron Cisneros did a good job with Runaway Stage's excellent corps of dancers. I especially liked the circle of inwardly-facing men, carrying the outwardly-facing women on their interlocked arms. There's a lot of potential comedy in the Pickalittle Ladies' 'Grecian Urn,' mostly related to the dawn of Modern Dance, and Ron did a good job exploiting the possibilities there.

Chloe Condon really has perfected the Zaneeta Shinn squeak - she's great! She looked a little uncomfortable in the big dance numbers (e.g., Marion the Librarian), which will pass with time. Part of her challenge is that she is frequently downstage center in the dance numbers: the sweetest spot on stage, of course, but where no dance help can be had. Tristan Rumery played Tommy Djilas well.

Kyle Hadley was very funny as Marcellus Washburn, Harold Hill's sidekick, particularly during the energetic "Shipoopi" number. I didn't realize Karen Day does accents: she does a good Irish accent. And now, another member of the Salmon clan hits the stage: Christian!

Camille Totah played Amaryllis very well, but I was more impressed how she shone in the dance ensemble: no one did a better job of energetically 'selling' their performance than Camille did - the smile, the spark. I hope she keeps that up over the coming years!

The Quartet was really good. After the show, Rick Price described to me how the local barber-shop singing community works various stagings of "The Music Man" into their rehearsal and performance schedules. They greatly appreciate the exposure that these shows give to their talents.

It was great to see lots of friends and acquaintances at the show: Ray Fisher, Laurent Lazard (but not Amber or Juliette, for some reason), Tyler Daum, Amy Salmon, and Robin Weiner.

Go see it!

Monday, July 04, 2005


OK, here's a real mystery....a blog hacker who seems interested in deleting all references to "Michael McElroy." My post regarding "The Music Man" was removed without my permission.

Time to fight fire with fire!

Michael McElroy, Michael McElroy, Michael McElroy, Michael McElroy, Michael McElroy!
Deep Impact

Comet Tempel meets NASA on July 4th eve.

Here is a movie of the event.
Cowardly Capitol Hill Democrats

Prepare to sell out progressives again.
Road Rage

Even the most powerful succumb to the temptation.