Friday, February 03, 2006


Sacramento would be a perfect place for this illness:
Nearly 2,000 people in the Seychelles have been infected with an incurable mosquito-borne disease that has spread to three Indian Ocean islands prompting health alerts, officials said.
Owl Vengeance

Terror in the skies for canines in an English village:
"It is very frightening for Heidi to have this giant bird trying to eat her all the time. I have no doubt that it wants to make her into its next meal. I guess Heidi looks like a rabbit or a tasty snack.

"It is a magnificent looking bird but I am getting a bit fed up with it and I wish its owner would come and get it. Poor Heidi can't stand it being around. She is spending her days at the moment trying to hide in our house curled up by a chair."
Mystery Marshmallow

So, Congress is already undermining Bush's unusually-focused physical sciences initiative (no surprise here) but what really bothers me is how enough heat can be transferred fast enough to a tossed marshmallow so it can be eaten straightaway:
President Bush urged employees at a computer chip factory to take their math and science skills into the schools to help the United States keep its technological edge in a global market.

..."America has to make a choice: Are we going to lead or are we going to fear the future?'' Bush said.

...Bush's plan would double over 10 years the physical science research budgets at three agencies: the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.

To encourage private investment in research and development, a research tax credit for business should be made permanent, Bush said.

He also has proposed training 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science and bringing 30,000 math and science professionals into the classrooms to teach.

...Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said he doubts Bush can get enough funding for his proposals because the Republican-led Congress already has cut funding to the National Science Foundation and has not fully funded No Child Left Behind.

...Martin, a volunteer at Starbase La Luz Academy at the base, received the president's Volunteer Service Award.

Martin volunteers more than 100 hours per year during lunch hours and some weekends to teach students in the program, designed to encourage New Mexico students to pursue careers as scientists and engineers.

...A lot of Martin's work with children involves a hands-on approach to teaching thermal dynamics. For example, he said he will freeze a marshmallow, then throw it to children, and before it hits their hands, it will be warm enough to eat.

But he doesn't tell the children how that happens.

"I want them to tell me how it happened,'' he said.
"Slow - Children" as the traffic signs say......

I will neither lead the future, nor fear it. But I do want to know more about this rapid-heating marshmallow.

OK, I give up. I'm slow. Real slow. How does it happen? Foams like marshmallows are bound to have low thermal conductivities. There isn't nearly enough time available to heat the marshmallow fast enough to avoid broken molars.

So, what's the answer? They may as well outsource me if I can't puzzle this one out. I must have an answer. I NEED an answer! Aaarrrgghhh!
I Like Green Chili; He Likes Red

George W. Bush visits El Pinto Restaurant in the North Valley (north of Albuquerque, NM):
Owner John Thomas had some special guests Thursday. But one of his managers had a problem.

"Do you have the keys for the white house?" one manager asked another.

No, not that White House. This one is just an old house out back where they store cases of salsa.

Thomas wanted seven cases of 32-ounce salsa bottles sent back to Washington, D.C., with his special guest.
Bring It On

So, are you threatening violence for publishing a representation of Muhammed? If so, then you've got a fight on your hands:
Thumbnail Chavez

Digby wondered about the Bush Administration's growing belligerence towards Venezuela's controversial leader Hugo Chavez. Here's my comment:
My understanding was that Chavez captured people's imagination with his original coup attempt (1992). Afterwards he gave a very brief televised statement ACCEPTING BLAME for the episode and went to jail for it: no one in Venezuelan politics had ever accepted BLAME for anything as long as anyone could remember! Startled Venezuelans were intrigued by the guy.

Chavez understands television well. He has a gonzo call-in TV show where he accepts calls in his sweats from just about anyone - kind-of like Rush, but much more intelligent, and with more clout. I call it highly-effective.

The left-right divide in Venezuela is like the red-blue divide in the U.S., except even starker. Some of his enemies were just made to hate by any feeling person. Many of Chavez' enemies are South American allies of Bush. If you hate Bush, it's hard not to like Chavez.

Like the other commenters say, and despite all its embarrassingly hagiographic simplicities, 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' is really an eye-opening movie. It's Bush v. Gore, but with guns. See it if you can...
Echoes of the Titanic

Not quite a glorious floating city, and certainly not an iceberg, but the death toll may be as high, or even higher:
An Egyptian passenger ferry carrying nearly 1,500 people sank in the Red Sea early Friday during bad weather, and rescue ships and helicopters pulled dozens of survivors and bodies from the water. Egypt's transport minister said 203 survivors have been rescued.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Will It Ever Rain Again in Arizona?

Maybe around Valentine's Day.....The Insufferable, Inpenetrable High Pressure Wall shows signs of getting rotten in that time frame. Still a ways off, though.....
Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking

Walt sent an academic-type document called "Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking" and posed the question:
Is it a serious manuscript? Is it a hoax? YOU DECIDE.
I responded:
Boy, this reads like utter dreck. Therefore it must be a serious manuscript.
Here are excerpts - let me know if you'd like a copy of this. Is it better than William Shatner singing 'Rocket Man,' or worse?:
We sense joint enthusiasm to restate sensemaking in ways that make it more future oriented, more action oriented, more macro, more closely tied to organizing, meshed more boldly with identity, more visible, more behaviorally defined, less sedentary and backward looking, more infused with emotion and with issues of sensegiving and persuasion.

....The emerging picture is one of sensemaking as a process that is ongoing, instrumental, subtle, swift, social, and easily taken for granted. The seemingly transient nature of sensemaking (“a way station”) belies its central role in the determination of human behavior. Sensemaking is central because it is the primary site where meanings materialize that inform and constrain identity and action (Mills 2002, p. 35). When we say that meanings materialize, we mean that sensemaking is importantly an issue of language, talk, and communication. Situations, organizations, and environments are talked into existence.
Etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum. But I do like the last paragraph - it reminds me of community theater!:
Taken together these properties suggest that increased skill at sensemaking should occur when people are socialized to make do, be resilient, treat constraints as self-imposed, strive for plausibility, keep showing up, use retrospect to get a sense of direction, and articulate descriptions that energize. These are micro-level actions. They are small actions. But they are small actions with large consequences.
Erik Reports

Erik Daniells is back from Las Vegas. He reports that Kelly is doing well and that she's doing great as Sophie in "Mamma Mia." He saw the show one night: the rest of the Daniells family saw it twice. He got a back stage tour, met lots of people, and stressed just how nice everyone in the cast and crew is. He also said the three-year anniversary of the show is coming up shortly, and there will be something like a re-grand opening, with press releases focusing on the new cast.

Gotta get reservations!
Humor, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Joint Chiefs of Staff recently sent a letter to the Washington Post protesting the tastefulness of a political cartoon by Tom Toles lampooning Donald Rumsfeld's recent denials that the Iraq war has damaged military readiness.

I think the cartoon is ironic and funny, and not distasteful. Indeed, I wondered about the sense of humor of the Joint Chiefs (the target is Rumsfeld, after all, not the veteran soldier).

Military commanders have often been known for their rather dour demeanor. Some commanders who did have a dark and savage sense of humor (e.g., William Tecumseh Sherman; Curtis LeMay) found themselves roundly (and justifiably) condemned for it. There are a few commanders (Tommy Franks seems to be one) who are genuinely funny. Maybe the cartoon cuts too 'close to the bone,' so to speak.

Or is the cartoon some kind of ideological Rorschach test: liberals laugh, but conservatives frown?

So, how do you feel? Funny, or not funny?

Roadkill Chili

Hey, it's there for the taking! Bon apetit!:
Mr. Boyt has spent the last 50 years scraping carcasses from the side of the road and chucking them, together with a few herbs and spices, into his cooking pot.

The retired civil servant has sampled the delights of weasel, rat and cat. His most unusual meal was a greater horseshoe bat, which he reckons is not dissimilar in taste to grey squirrel, if the comparison helps. Fox tends to repeat on him. He has tucked into labrador, nibbled at otter and could not resist trying porcupine when he came across a spiky corpse while on holiday in Canada.

...He said: "It's good meat for free and I know nobody has been messing with it and feeding it with hormones. By writing a book I hope to show people it's perfectly normal and healthy to eat."

...Mr Boyt has no regrets about eating the labrador, which he emphasises was without a collar when he found it. "There was nothing on it to show who its owner was even though it was in good condition, so I took it home and ate it. It was just like a nice piece of lamb."

Don't you love the Internet? Today, an investigative service in Tucson is apparently doing a Google search on my name. I wonder what they want? Am I the one they really want? They specialize in:
  • pre-trial civil & criminal investigations;
  • narcotics;
  • industrial intelligence;
  • white collar crime;
  • paternity suits;
  • missing persons;
  • skip tracing,

or, as the Beggar Woman from 'Sweeney Todd' would say, 'mischief.'

No mischief here, just opinions!

Study Your Spam

At last, some interesting information from spam:
Q: What is Hoodia?

A: A type of cactus. Hoodia Gordonii is a succulent in the family Asclepiadaceae. It forms multi-stemmed clumps 45cm (18in) high and bears unpleasant-smelling, pale purple disc-shaped flowers 7.5-10cm (3-4in) in diameter. Hoodia Gordonii grows in semi-arid areas of South Africa. The San people, formerly known as bushmen, of the Kalahari eat the bitter-tasting plant on long hunting expeditions.
Jennifer's Mission

(Sacramento Bee caption) Jennifer Fearing founded the Sacramento Area Animal Coalition. Her criticism of Sacramento's Animal Care Services helped bring about an audit by the Humane Society and many changes. Sacramento Bee file, 2005/Anne Chadwick Williams.

[Update: Apparently I've made an error here. Jennifer Fearing looks somewhat like Jennifer Jackson, a ballet student with Pam Kay Lourentzos (on Sundays, over at the Cisneros studio) and I got the two of them confused. Nevertheless, Jennifer Fearing does worthy things, so I'll let the post stand]:
In 1997, picking up a stray dog in Del Paso Heights changed the course of Jennifer Fearing's life.

She took the canine to what was then a night drop-off at the city's animal shelter. What she saw there transformed her into an animal advocate.

"It was such a bizarre thing putting it in this shed and not knowing what was going to happen to it," Fearing said "I went back the next day, and then I became a volunteer at the shelter. That's when I really learned what was going on."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Dance Tune Rollout

(left: Roger Sanchez)

I guess it takes about a year to whip up a dance tune and move it into wide circulation. It was early January when I first heard the Axwell remix of 'Turn Up The Music' by Roger Sanchez, featuring GTO on excellent vocals. Here is advance notice from July, 2005 that no doubt alerted the cognoscenti. I like the urgency of the paragraph:
A monster brewing! Roger S returns to the studio and creates one dirty, writhing, jacking piece of floor burning infectious dance. It kicks off tribal beats style and un-folds with a ferocious dirty musical barrage into an electro bassline that leads to GTO's full character gospel style vocal. Now it feels like DJ International meets latter day Ibiza. An original, that is strong in all departments, and grew out of Winter Music 2005. With future mixes from Axwell, Superchumbo and Sueno Soul, this promises huge things! Already being championed by heavyweights Morillo, Haji, Rampling and Morales and that's only the start! An anthem of the highest order from one of the best in the business and it's just waiting to break!
From 'The Onion'

Damn, this is me. I can't even work sleep into the schedule anymore:
Ted Henson, a copywriter at Green/Allium Advertising and notoriously disorganized procrastinator, is awestruck by his coworkers' ability to manage multiple aspects of their lives. "I'm surrounded by, like, these amazing super-multitasking rock stars," said Henson as he watched creative director Kyle Peters put some layouts in a metal file cabinet. "How do you deal with all this lame bureaucratic bullshit? You have to tell me your secret kung-fu organization system." Henson remained in Peters' office for over an hour, talking about Peters' filing system, the filing system in the film Brazil, and other Terry Gilliam films, causing him to miss a 2:30 assignment deadline.
Cindy Sheehan's Arrest

For wearing a T-Shirt.
Patriot Search

A search engine for our times.
Another Nut Makes A New Mexico Sojourn

The pig-man obsessive comes to the Intel plant this Friday in Rio Rancho, NM, disturbingly close to my hometown of Corrales:
New Mexico's congressional delegation agrees with President Bush's goals for energy independence and boosting math and science education, while still waiting on the details, more of which could come when he visits the Intel plant in Rio Rancho on Friday.
Radical, Militant....

Jennifer Sanmarco's New Mexico Sojourn

Just another face in the crowd in western New Mexico:
"We weren't sure what she was going to do next," said Terri Gallegos, deputy clerk for the city of Milan, N.M., where Sanmarco applied for a business license in 2004 for a publication called "The Racist Press" that she said she planned to launch. Another time she said she wanted to register a cat food business.

During one meeting, Gallegos said, Sanmarco carried on a conversation with herself "like she was arguing with someone but there was no one there."

Last March, office workers called authorities after the 44-year-old woman made what Gallegos described as a rude allegation. Other times, Gallegos said, Sanmarco would come in and simply stare at one employee in particular.

In June, police in nearby Grants talked to her after someone at a gas station called to complain of nudity, Police Chief Marty Vigil said. Sanmarco was dressed when officers arrived.
Thrill-Junkie Moose

Driven bonkers by a tedious Scandanavian winter:
Whatever, Kjell Grannes happened to be watching the river and ice action from his kitchen window near Overhalla on Monday when the moose came surfing down the river.

Grannes told Trondheim newspaper Adresseavisen that the ice was clear, "so it almost looked like the moose was walking on water."
Would Have Been Run-of-the-Mill in California

Recent arrival in Minnesota apparently has a past:
Self-described vampire and Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Jonathan "The Impaler" Sharkey has been arrested on Indiana charges of stalking and escape.

...Sharkey gained the limelight earlier this month with his Friday the 13th announcement of his candidacy for Minnesota governor under the Vampires, Witches and Pagans Party banner.

Among his proposals was one that would use impalement to execute murderers, rapists and terrorists.

"As governor," Sharkey said, "terrorists and criminals will live in fear of me, while the people of this state will be able to live fear free."

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

'Spirit of New Mexico' Mission to Planet California

One of my favorite activities in an airliner is to point a camera out the window and snap pictures. The geomorphologist and map fiend in me thrills at seeing the various landscapes whip by in life-like detail. It's almost like a spaceship travelling above the surface of another planet!

The recent trip from Las Vegas to Sacramento, through San Diego, was in a Southwest Airlines spaceship christened 'Spirit of New Mexico.' The craft had a pretty, yellow 'Land of Enchantment' paint job that, unfortunately, I couldn't appreciate (because I was inside the airliner). Photos taken Sunday afternoon and evening, January 22, 2006.

Boulder City, NV. Boulder City sits at the edge of the mesa overlooking Boulder Canyon, where Hoover Dam was built in the 1930's (towards the upper left of the photo). The construction workers were housed here. Most construction camps are dens of gambling and iniquity, but since this was Nevada, and Las Vegas wasn't very far away, Boulder City became instead a family-focused construction camp where high moral rectitude was practiced (and a deadly dull place on Saturday night).

Eagle Mountain Open Pit Iron Mine (the gray gash just left of center), located just south of Joshua Tree National Park (to the left of the photo). Wispy clouds marred this shot of the Eagle Mountain open pit mine, where virtually all of the iron used to build ships for the Pacific theater was mined during World War II.

In the 90's, a large garbage dump meant to receive Los Angeles trash was proposed to fill the now inactive open pit. A decade later, the dump isn't there (probably too controversial). In general, there is an absence of environmental data for facilities like this: no one had ever contemplated building a dump this large in a place so dry before.

Ludlow Crow. Here is a Mojave Desert crow, a clever and intelligent bird that would nevertheless swiftly die, if not for the nearby Dairy Queen, located along Interstate 40 at Ludlow, CA. The Fish and Wildlife people worried a lot about crows like this one being attracted to a large garbage dump in the desert (next to cake cones and parfaits, crows like nothing better to eat than rare desert tortoises).

Salton Sea, and the fertile Imperial Valley beyond. Looking south, towards Mexico. On the right, San Felipe Creek flows into the Salton Sea. So much of our lettuce comes from here!

The Salton Sea was formed by a massive irrigation accident in 1905. Colorado River water poured for several years into this desert basin. Today, the Salton Sea continues to be sustained by Imperial Valley irrigation runoff. There is lots of wildlife in the area, but the area is susceptible to pollution and salinization problems.

Fish Creek Mountains. Deceptive name! I wonder why it got that name? This place is so arid it seems to resemble Mars more than Earth. What a contrast between dark rock and light sand! The Imperial Valley is in the background.

High plateaus NE of San Diego abruptly end with a dizzying drop. Amazing - it's like a wall! A dry-looking Cuyamaca Reservoir is evident at right. The reservoir is in the vicinity of Harrison Park, amongst the pines of the Cleveland National Forest.

San Miguel Mountain, at the end of Millar Ranch Road, west of Jamul, and SE of San Diego. Looks like you can almost reach out and touch these radio and TV antennas! In the background, the San Ysidro Mountains form a backdrop behind Lower Otay Lake, just north of the international border. The mountains on the horizon are south of Tijuana, in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Familiar San Diego Bay! Lindbergh Field is in the foreground, with San Diego Bay and marina (and a hotel) in the middle, Coronado Island in the left background, and the rocky Point Loma peninsula in the right background.

San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta, looking SSW. Hoo boy, the Central Valley sure looks soggy in wintertime!

The Sacramento River flows in a narrow band from right to left, past flooded fields in the foreground, turns right at Walnut Grove in the lower-left corner, turns left at Ryde, and then wiggles towards a triple-junction. At the triple junction, the river (left stream) meets Steamboat Slough (middle stream), and overflow from the Yolo Bypass (right stream).

Water from the fortified Sacramento River then flows past Sherman Island and meets the San Joaquin River (flowing from the left). Both rivers together flow towards Suisun Bay. From Suisun Bay (off the photo), water flows westwards towards San Francisco Bay. In the sunset, Mt. Diablo (which is east of the San Francisco Bay area) can be seen.

Yolo Causeway - Interstate 80, between Davis and Sacramento. I practically live on this bridge! Davis is to the left, and Sacramento is to the right. The freeway is the lower path; the railroad more-or-less parallels above.

The Yolo Bypass is an alternate path for Sacramento River water to flow past Sacramento during wet winters. Sometimes, so much water pours from the Sierra Nevada, down the American River and into the Sacramento River (at downtown Sacramento) that the flow of the Sacramento River backs up, reverses, and flows north. Disaster is averted when the overflow spills into the Yolo Bypass, and flows harmlessly southwards again. Without this relief from raging floodwaters, life in Sacramento and vicinity would be very precarious indeed!

Monday, January 30, 2006

A 'Chicken' In Every Pot

Let's hear it for Progress! At last, two clear-thinking intellectuals have a bold plan to defeat injustice! Instead of quailing and whining like many of our so-called leaders, and thus accomplishing nothing, the team of Todd and Lovett plans to 'turn the tables', so to speak (excerpt from the lyrics to "A Little Priest"):
TODD: The history of the world, my love --
LOVETT: Save a lot of graves, Do a lot of relatives favors!
TODD: Is those below serving those up above!
LOVETT: Ev'rybody shaves, So there should be plenty of flavors!
TODD: How gratifying for once to know
BOTH: That those above will serve those down below!
"Joseph..." Closes

Nice finish to "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at DMTC. Andrea, Ryan, and the rest of the cast and crew did a fine job.

Strike finished unusually early, partly because Joseph is a short show, but also because, now that we have a unitary facility, we don't have to transport sets and scatter materials all over Davis to various storage units. I do regret, however, that we will soon have to stop using the rest of Buzz Oates' facility (within which the new Hoblit Performing Arts Center is housed) as a warehouse, and learn to carefully compact and store what we do have into our allotted storage space.

Many of the Joseph cast will be joining us in "Titanic," which helps ease that pained anguish of separation: maintain, and no pain!

Hoping Dian's daughter Casey gets better soon from her recent accident. We are all so fragile....
Two Embarrassments

Marc behaving badly again.....

At "Sweeney Todd" Saturday night, Erin Jones asked, "So, are you coming?"

I didn't know what she was talking about.

"The wedding invitation," she elaborated. Uh.... I replied that I'd thought that was a Christmas card that had arrived over the holidays while I was out, and in the rush after returning from NM, still hadn't opened it.

"Didn't you think it strange that we'd put personalized stamps on a Christmas card?" Tev asked. (Well, no, but that would be assuming there is a thought process going on at all...)

Then, yesterday, near the end of the final performance of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at DMTC in Davis, during the Megamix and final bows, I tried to sneak a photograph in from a doorway without first checking to see whether the flash was on or off. Whoops! The flash effect was muted due to the presence of curtains in the doorway, but still, an embarrassment.
Magical Mandalay "Mamma Mia" Moments

Begin tonight!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

"I Am Entirely At Your Disposal"

Oh, it's you Sweeney! If you would, just a bit off the top, a clean neckline behind, and a liberal dusting with talcum powder.
"Sweeney Todd" at Runaway Stage Productions

Ruth Phillips as Mrs. Lovett.

Saturday night, I finally caught Runaway Stage's "Sweeney Todd," starring Ray Fisher as Sweeney Todd, and Ruth Phillips as Mrs. Lovett (their last performance was this afternoon). An excellent show overall, with strong performances by Margaret Hollinbeck as the Beggar Woman, Craig Howard as Pirelli, and Kevin Caravalho as Tobias.

In most musicals, I much prefer Act I to Act II. In Act I, you are exposed some exotic new locale, fresh and happy people, and novel circumstances. The tedious stuff, like wrapping up unsatisfactory romances and burying the dead, is usually left to Act II. No doubt because "Sweeney Todd" is a thriller, it is one of the few, rare musicals where Act II is more interesting than Act I.

For years, DMTC tended to consider "Sweeney Todd" as a company specialty, since no one else in the area would produce this dark musical: it's good to see RSP try their hand. I was part of the ensemble in DMTC's 2002 show, and there were interesting deviations between DMTC's 2002 show and RSP's version. At least two people in the Saturday night audience had also been in DMTC's 2002 version: Lenore Sebastian (Mrs. Lovett) and Richard Spierto (Judge Turpin).

As usual, RSP miked their actors, which was a good decision here: the rapid-fire dialogue could be understood despite the English accents. At DMTC in 2002, I suspect we were sometimes unable to convey our dialogue across clearly.

Judge Turpin's disturbing self-flagellation song was omitted from RSP's version. The song doesn't add that much by itself, except to creep people out further, but by and large, I support keeping any show's integrity by keeping all the songs. People act very strangely to some songs. One friend described how she and a friend had had a shock revelation upon seeing and hearing Judge Turpin's song in DMTC's version: the twisted Judge reminded them of a close mutual acquaintance, and despite the hideous nature of the song, they were reduced to hysterical fits of amused laughter.

One oversight: as a friend pointed out, RSP tended to de-emphasize the importance of Mrs. Lovett cadging not only Pirelli's money, but the purse as well, from Pirelli's lifeless body. The sudden revelation of the purse's existence triggers a cascade of events later on in the show, and emphasis on the purse's theft should have been emphasized as much as possible.

It was awesome how well Kevin Caravalho seized the spotlight in the final scene. What a fine actor he is! Joel Porter made a fine (meaning a bad) Judge Turpin, and Chris Scarberry was smooth and evil as Beadle Bamford.

The ensemble did a fine job as well. I remember how difficult 'City on Fire' was in Act II ('Look! There! Great black crows, etc.'), and the ensemble did well here. In 2002, I was lucky, because I was blocked to stand more or less behind Kelly Daniells: life on stage is always so much easier if you always end up standing behind Kelly Daniells.

An interesting thing began to happen as I listened to Sweeney expound upon his ugly philosophy - he began to persuade me that murder was not only a logical reaction to life's travails, but actually the best overall path in life. It's funny how musicals grab your emotions and play with them. It's a good thing that Sweeney overreaches: otherwise, we might all hurtle over the precipice with him.

"The Worst Pies in London"