Friday, January 20, 2006

Kylie Collage

Here is some Kylie collage fan art (available at this site). In general, some of the world's most-interesting pop-idol art comes from Mexico (after all, it's the land of black velvet John Travolta and Elvis paintings).
Beginning Xcode

Courtesy of Deborah, here is James' book-jacket blurb. The book can be ordered from Amazon:
  • Bringing together the ease of use of Mac OS X, the power of Unix, and a mix of high-performance development technologies, Xcode is Apple's hottest new integrated development environment. This book shows you how Xcode is the fastest and easiest way for developers to create Mac OS X applications.

    Covering the basic fundamentals of Xcode development, veteran programmer and developer James Bucanek explains how Xcode coordinates development in various languages supported by Mac and he offers an in-depth look at the Xcode Developer Tools package. Ultimately, you'll see how Xcode makes it easier for you to develop and maintain applications, and how it can help you achieve a seamless, comfortable, and productive working environment.

    What you will learn from this book:
  • How to set up and control your working environment, create a project, and add source files to it;
  • Ways to edit source files and alter the structure of the project itself;
  • Techniques to starting and controlling the building the process;
  • Various options for running, debugging, and constructing automated test suites for your application;
  • A variety of editing, documentation, design, and analysis aides.

    Who this book is for:

    This book is for C, C++, Objective-C, AppleScript, or Java developers who want to learn to use Xcode so they can write, build, and test programs to run on Mac OS X.

    Wrox Beginning guides are crafted to make learning programming languages and technologies easier than you think, providing a structured, tutorial format that will guide you through all the techniques involved.
Mystery Photo From The Far North

Frank has lately been doing smog checks and related automotive tests in sunny, balmy (-30 degrees) Fairbanks, Alaska. He took a photo of these mysterious formations. Take a guess what caused them (and it wasn't Richard Dreyfuss working over mashed potatoes as in 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind!') My own guess proved wrong. I'll reveal the motive force, as revealed by Frank, next week, when I return from Las Vegas.
'Rocket Man'

Performed by William Shatner (accompanied by ... is that Bernie Taupin?).

For once, Gabe, I must agree. As you say, "from the bad to the truly awful." Where are the Klingons when you need them?

And, courtesy of MikeMac, Stewie Griffin's 'Rocketman.' Lyrics from LetsSingIt

She packed my bags last night, preflight
Zero hour, nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high
As a kite by then

I miss the earth so much
I miss my wife
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time
'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no no no...
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin' out his fuse
Up there alone

And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time
'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no no no...
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin' out his fuse
Up there alone

Mars ain't the kind of place
To raise your kids
In fact, it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them
If you did

And all this science
I don't understand
It's just my job
Five days a week

A Rocket Man
Rocket Man

And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time
'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no no no...
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin' out his fuse
Up there alone

And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time
'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no no no...
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin' out his fuse
Up there alone

And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time(7x)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Operation Sierra Storm

Josh Marshall, among others, are aghast that Michael Brown, the late, unlamented director of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will be the keynote speaker at Operation Sierra Storm (OSS), up at Lake Tahoe.

Just looking at the conference description, it seems Operation Sierra Storm is aimed at television meteorologists. OSS seems a little light in the science department, and so most professional meteorologists would pass it up, but there is no question that the visuals in the snowy Sierra Nevada would be exceptional. It's all about weather as theater, not as science, and it may be that Michael Brown is as well-qualified as anyone, given his recent experience, to be the keynote speaker at such a conference.
Out On A Limb

Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease. May it be so here:
A man who believes his brother disappeared four decades ago while on a secret anti-Castro mission climbed a radio tower behind the Miami Herald building Thursday and demanded the U.S. government release information about his sibling.

The man, who identified himself as Robert Annable, left a written statement at the base of the tower pleading with federal officials for any information about his brother Harrison, who disappeared from a fishing boat on Nov. 17, 1962, The Miami Herald reported on its Web site Thursday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Throw It At The Wall - Does Anything Stick?

Republican accusations regarding Nevada Senator Harry Reid get lamer by the day:
“The fact that Senator Reid is using his tax payer funded “War Room” to create and distribute political documents in order to attack Republicans on ethics issues is absolutely hypocritical and absurd. Does Mr. Reid think that using an official government office for political purposes is ethical?” – Brian Nick, NRSC Spokesman
Changes on the (Distant) Horizon

There are signs that in about a week, the general pattern of westerlies will start to change. With more southwesterly flow, in about two weeks, some precipitation might head for AZ. Still a ways off, but better than what Arizonans have experienced lately!
Davis Enterprise Review of DMTC's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

No sign that The Davis Enterprise will put this on the Web, even for a fee, so I'll go ahead and post it. Just copy and save the JPEG on your computer, and contrive to blow it up in size.

Ray's List

I'm hiring Adam Taylor to do some work (a la Craig's List), based upon the recommendation Ray Fisher left on his blog. Adam's going to be helping with drainage issues (not too far removed from Adam's landscaping specialty), and, if everything works well, he'll be jacking up a part of my house that has settled too much over the years (weight horrors!)

Adam seems competent. But I worry about Ray. I mean, ever since Ray took up barbering and meat pies, he's seemed - well - maybe a little unstable .....
Your Cheating Heart

In time for Valentine's Day, more scientific studies. But I wonder if the conclusion is correct?:
Bill Clinton said he felt others' pain. But a new brain-scanning study suggests that when guys see a cheater get a mild electric shock, they don't feel his pain much at all. In fact, they rather enjoy it.

In contrast, women's brains showed they do empathize with the cheater's pain and don't get a kick out it.
Dead Body Guy

Gabe is very excited by Dead Body Guy. I'm mostly just jealous. I mean, does Dead Body Guy have to do aerobics or attend musical theater rehearsal? Come on! Dead Body Guy is a very ironic, postmodern symbol of our vain dreams of fame. And as Andrew Sullivan tiresomely opined, after September 11th, irony is dead!

But Dead Body Guy is going to get on 'Conan O'Brien'? Damn! All I ever got was 'The Daily Show':
Lamb became Dead Body Guy on Dec. 5, when he put up his Web site, The site features photos of Lamb playing dead in various scenes around his house. Crushed by his garage door. Electrocuted in the bathtub. One series shows Lamb lying face-down in a bowl of chicken soup, above a caption that reads "Dying from bird flu."

...His dream was stalled until last month, when he realized that anybody could play dead. By posing as a corpse on the Internet, he thought, perhaps he could win a role as a lifeless extra on "CSI: Miami." He took two days to build the Web site, then waited for someone to notice.

It was a short wait. It received 300,000 hits in its first three weeks. There were 530 hits from Uruguay, six from Iran. In two hours, the site received 2,000 hits from Spain. "I'm huge in Spain," he said.

...Meanwhile, he is waiting to hear back from a producer at the Conan O'Brien show. He has booked a flight to New York to meet with an agent. "I want to leave a little legacy," Lamb said. "I'd like to have a bridge named after me."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Too bad you have to pay for this strange article, but the Sunday NY Times featured the brewing battle between the brothel owners of Nevada, who believe a low profile is vital for their future, and publicity lightning rod Heidi Fleiss, who is starting up a brothel that will exclusively offer men for female customers. I especially liked the interview with Heidi's first employee, an unemployed actor who easily admitted he has no relevant experience for his new career direction (which I'm sure the stoic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius would have said, sotto voce, also applied to his first choice of a career).

The brothel owners may be right: in some ways, despite all the newfound 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' hoopla, Nevada is probably less-welcoming towards vice than ever, which is a function of population growth. For decades, in order to put together barely-adequate annual budgets, some underpopulated counties in Nevada have depended heavily on income from taxes on brothel traffic. As vulnerable rural economies broaden and strengthen, vice automatically weakens. And rural Nevada, like the rest of the Great Basin, with its many churchgoers, Mormon and Catholic, is basically a pretty conservative place. If rural taxpayers can bear the punch in the wallet, prostitution will likely become illegal everywhere in Nevada.

When I first started travelling through Nevada by car, back-and-forth between in Albuquerque and Sacramento in the early 90's, you'd sometimes see isolated, homely trailers and cottages sporting signs advertising massages. I looked askance at these signs as I drove past. I mean, who would come out here for a massage, even granting steering-wheel fatigue? These businesses were located in empty, desolate places, even by Nevada standards. In any event, these roadside businesses have vanished, usually to be replaced by nothing, or occasionally, by trailer park ranchettes glued together by small churches.

On my recent trip, I noticed an oddity: there's an adult book store strip between the city limits of Needles, CA, and Bullhead City, AZ. The strip is almost entirely in AZ, and the number of stores seems way out-of-proportion to the population. No such strip exists in neighboring Laughlin, NV, that I'm aware of.

So ... why? Are these kinds of businesses unwelcome in Nevada these days, or just unwelcome in Clark County, where Laughlin is located? Clark County is less forgiving than many realize. All appearances to the contrary, prostitution is illegal in Clark County, including Las Vegas, which forces the traffic there (barely) underground. I've read that Nevada's Democratic Senator Harry Reid, a Clark County Mormon who grew up in the town of Searchlight, traces his opposition to abortion to the sad side effects of the brothel traffic that used to occur in his hometown, before the ban.

Or is it some sort of zoning thing that makes the Arizona location particularly inviting for adult book stores? Depending on where the city limits are drawn, it may be the presence of 'rez' in-between Needles and Bullhead City. Well, whatever happens in Vegas apparently stays on Arizona's Fort Mohave Indian Reservation, these days.

Too bad I had to cut my recent trip short a day or two. As a result, I missed dropping by the AVN Convention in Las Vegas. I hope a million geeks showed up! No substitute for being in Vegas to see what happens in Vegas (even if it is all sizzle, and no steak).
Utes Rule

As they might say in "My Cousin Vinny":
Ballet is a young person's game. If you reach 40 and are still dancing principal roles, you're considered some kind of quirk of nature - or resented by younger dancers for blocking their potential career paths.
Getting Into that Bat Mitzvah Frame of Mind Again

This weekend, I'll be flying off to Las Vegas, to be a guest at Beth Gershin's bat mitzvah. It's been two years since her sister Rachel's bat mitzvah. That ceremony was held in a stopgap synagogue: a converted branch bank. They had made some changes to the old bank, but it still looked like a bank. It was hard getting used to using the emergency exit rather than the blocked front doors (despite all the dire posted warnings about multiple alarms and armed guards), and sitting in chairs, rather than standing, in front of the teller windows. The buffet worked pretty well, though, with different dishes available in different teller windows.

On my recent pass through Las Vegas, the Gershins pulled out a cleverly-made DVD with highlights of the previous ceremony and party. Rachel's party was held at the off-Strip Suncoast Hotel and Casino, and it was a blast: two DJs, a videographer, a blizzard of party favors, and enough food to choke a stable of horses. I laughed at the screen when a doofus with big Elton John glasses fell on his back while doing the limbo (until I realized that was me!)

This time, apparently, both the ceremony and the party will be at the Suncoast. I will do the limbo right this time - I WILL! (or else smile while falling!) Once again, Steve Zaintz will be there (an old high-school friend and classmate).

The previous visit was notable for a colossal blackjack win ($14,600.00) This time - can lightning strike twice? Dare I find out?

I also want to see how Home-Girl Kelly Daniells is doing, but I can't take up any of her time: this is probably the most intense month of her life, preparing her debut as 'Sophie,' in "Mamma Mia," at the Mandalay Bay Hotel Resort and Casino, starting January 30th.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Really Dry!

Arizona and the Southwest are experiencing an ominous winter 'rainy season', and there's nothing on the horizon to indicate anything will change:
As much of Arizona enters an 11th year of drought conditions, the state could experience its driest winter season in centuries. ... Arizona's mountains are virtually bare, with snowpack conditions worse than they were at the same time in 2002 — a year that set records as one of the driest in five centuries.

... But a stubborn weather pattern has been steering every storm north of Arizona so far this winter.

The Salt and Verde rivers' watersheds received just 0.14 of an inch of rain in November and December, and none has fallen in Phoenix since Oct. 18.

...The main effect of the dry winter in the Phoenix metropolitan area is an increase in water consumption, say city water departments. Mesa increased its use of Central Arizona Project water by 17% in November and 26% in December.

Went out Sunday morning to see what the Star Dust re-entry would look like. Based on the story in the Sacramento Bee, I expected a fireball in the northern sky, crossing from west to east 20 degrees above the horizon, and visible for about 20 seconds, at 1:58 a.m., January 15th.

Visibility wasn't the best. I looked across the chain link fence surrounding St. Joseph's graveyard, looking directly above the lights of downtown Sacramento (and the environs beyond) on a bright night just past full moon. On the other hand, the heavy, broken cloud deck had yielded an hour before, to a fairly clear night, so it could have been worst.

StarDust wasn't very bright: about magnitude 2, and so I didn't notice it until it had already crossed half my field of vision. I first mistook it for an aircraft (since Sacramento International Airport is also in that direction). StarDust moved purposely across the sky, faster than an aircraft, but slower than a typical 'shooting star', and angled noticeably towards the ground (about 1 or 2 dgerees from horizontal). By the time I saw it, it was lower than 20 degrees above the horizon, and I saw it for only ten seconds or so.

I've severely tweaked this photo, trying to bring out the speck I think is StarDust, but it may just be my imagination.
A DMTC Weekend

Time to put all our eggs in one basket! Volunteers work Saturday afternoon to move remaining items, including the hundreds of clothes in the costume shop, over to the new Hoblit Performing Arts Center.

The nearly empty rehearsal space - freaky weird!

Gazing into the orchestra pit: On Keyboard II, Celeste Hammon (right) mirrors Erik Daniells (left) on Keyboard I as they jam through 'Pinball Wizard', from "Tommy," immediately following Sunday afternoon's performance of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at DMTC's New Theater.

A nice, but busy weekend: Moving clothes, seeing performances, and first musical rehearsal for "Titanic" Sunday evening. Saw "Joseph..." on Saturday night, together with Sally Forment. Liked it much! There were fewer mike problems compared to first Friday (I saw Act II that night), and the performances were more-assured.