Saturday, June 30, 2007

Illegal Campfire

So much anguish from that:
Evacuated residents prepared to return to their burned-out streets as officials announced that an illegal campfire caused the inferno that destroyed more than 200 homes and charred 3,100 acres.

...Donna Deaton, an investigator for the U.S. Forest Service, said Friday the fire was built about a quarter-mile south of Seneca Pond, a popular recreation area south of Lake Tahoe. There were no suspects, she said.

Residents did not seem surprised by the news.

"Apparently kids hang out there," said Donna Barker, a 21-year resident of Tahoe Keys who evacuated on Tuesday, although her home was spared. "I don't think people think. It's a sad reality."
A Couple Of Recent Local Musical Theater Stories

Role model - Katina Aitkens, actress, shoots down misconceptions about what kids with Down syndrome can do (featuring Bob Baxter).

Dance fever - The Sac Allstars Street Team.

Friday, June 29, 2007

First Pictures Of Arizona Trip

Available further down the page!

wirebreakers krumping with the cheerleaders

Cheerleader liberation!

Getting Ragged Going To The Vet

I'm ragged, playing bunny nurse, but not nearly as ragged as poor Cloudy the Rabbit, dragging her hind legs around in a paralyzed state. She stayed at the vet's while I was in Arizona. One vet suggests euthanasia; the other is not as sanguine.

With Cloudy, the hard part is figuring out exactly when to pull the plug. How much suffering is too much suffering? Is there the possibility of reaching a plateau of stability, or is it just a chimera?

Took Sparky the Dog to the vet twice this week, and went a third time for pills. His heart is now so enlarged that it is actually pressing on his trachea, and thus is one source of his chronic cough (the other two sources are fluid buildup in the lungs and bronchitis). Time to get more aggressive with the diet and the medication! At least he is his happy, amiable self, though.

Still, last night, upon returning from our walk, he made a mistake. Normally he runs straight up the steps to the back porch, but last night, he didn't go straight. He veered off the side of the steps, launched himself into thin air right under the porch, and landed in the big pile of leaves below the porch (thankfully the leaves were there, or otherwise he would have been hurt). I guess he can't see all THAT well anymore (or hear, for that matter)!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Michael Wallis' "Billy the Kid-The Endless Ride"

Even though I read snippets from lots of magazines, these days, it's hard to find the time to read books. I took advantage of my recent weekend in Arizona to read Michael Wallis's new book, "Billy the Kid-The Endless Ride".

Billy The Kid's short life has been treated in a number of books and movies, many quite lurid, exploitative, and often quite wrong. The extremely-thin written record of his shady life has given license to many Western History aficionados to speculate on his genealogy and the various contradictions in oral accounts of the people who knew him.

In contrast, Wallis' book is curiously schematic, and almost deliberately dry. Just the facts ma'am, even if those facts are nearly bare.

Several impressions linger. One observation is how the bare-bones population of the Old West was often pressed to carry out several functions, nearly at once, depending on necessity. For example, Miles Wood was the owner of the Hotel de Luna near Camp Grant in Arizona (the new Camp Grant, opened in 1872, after the unfortunate massacre at the old Camp Grant on Aravaipa Creek scandalized the posse composed of the leading citizens of Tucson and forced the Camp's closure). Wood was also the justice of the peace and waited tables in his restaurant. He served Billy the Kid food, hired him as a cook, arrested him, and even introduced the Kid to his first victim, 'Windy' Cahill, the man who made Billy's shackles. Wood had also been a cattle herder, a butcher, and a notary public. A jack of all trades!

I wish Wallis had put a little more 'color' in his book. In the 80's, I remember standing on the summit of Mt. Graham, high above the ruins of new Camp Grant. I gazed down the steep mountainside at the bare foundations far below and wondered what it must have been like in the old days. This book helps a little, but really, one needs a filmmaker - a John Ford - to tell the story. More maps would have helped.

Another impression is just how hard life was in the Old West, yet how mobile, for those who owned a horse, or who could steal one. Billy The Kid traveled far and wide, as a horse thief with Mackie's gang in southern Arizona, or as part of Kinney's gang in southwestern New Mexico, or in the Lincoln County War along the Rio Hondo, or towards Ft. Sumner on the Pecos River, where Sheriff Pat Garrett finally caught up with him. These locations are all pretty-far apart, yet he hit them all and left vivid impressions in all of them in just a few years.

In the 19th Century, people were often quite mobile, pulling up stakes to follow the frontier. Billy the Kid's Irish-born mother had lived in New York City, where Billy was apparently born, then Indianapolis IN, Wichita KS, Denver CO, Santa Fe NM, the mining town of Georgetown NM for about a minute, and finally Silver City NM, before finally dying of tuberculosis.

Billy The Kid had a natural flair for picking up Spanish, and unlike nearly all norteamericanos, went native very fast. He also danced and sang remarkably well. These talents won him many Hispanic friends, and greatly aided his numerous escapes, particularly after the Kid began fighting against the oppressive Murphy House tyranny in Lincoln County.

Nevertheless, the Kid's ease in New Mexico also hobbled him. Billy The Kid would not leave the territory, period: he was too attached to the place. Too many girl friends, for one thing. But when you are a fugitive, you must relocate. He would not flee to Mexico. He would not follow when his fellow Regulators retired after the Lincoln County War and moved to Colorado, Texas, and elsewhere. After escaping from prison in Lincoln NM, in one of the West's most mythic jail breaks, he stayed in the area! Whether it was love, complacency, or stubbornness, his outlaw career was doomed to be short.

Billy The Kid died at age 21. His entire criminal career extended from September 23, 1875 to July 14, 1881: less than six years, only the last three effectively in the public eye.

Here is a portion of a favorable review of this book:
Gradually, through Wallis's deft brushstrokes, an image begins to take shape. Dime novels, he writes, particularly appealed to "working class men and boys" such as Billy and his brothers, who were "eager to read about the perils of frontier life ... the pulps featured brigands, renegades, and rogues and transformed them into heroic criminals, driven to their lawless ways by social injustice and the need to defy an oppressive and corrupt establishment."

It appears the soulful young Billy might well have been influenced by the pulp fiction of his time and, in turn, such literature may have colored his contemporaries' impressions of him.

Far from being the common outlaw of countless B movies, Billy's crimes and other killings all seem to have stemmed from personal loyalties.

Wallis finds little evidence for the psychotic killer image depicted in countless fantasies; rather, the Kid became "a convenient target for the Santa Fe Ring and the Dolan Faction," who murdered his friends.

A rather startling fact is that "among the more than fifty individuals indicted for crimes in the Lincoln County War, only the Kid was ever convicted."

That Billy the Kid, under any name, has survived in American cultural memory for so long is due in no small part to his popularity with the Hispanic population of Lincoln County:

"While the Anglo establishments ... propagated the demonic Billy the Kid, many in the Hispanic community cheered him as their hero. To them, he was not a ruthless killer but he was their El Chivato, their little Billy, a champion of the poor and oppressed. He became both the ultimate underdog and a true social bandit."
YouTube Jeopardizes Canadians

"Storm porn" and storm etiquette:
Manitobans must start heeding warnings to take shelter in severe weather — not stand around taking photos and videos as many did during last weekend's tornadoes and storms, the emergency measures minister says.

It was "a miracle" that no one was killed after tornadoes and violent thunderstorms tore through parts of southern Manitoba Friday and Saturday, Steve Ashton said Monday.

...Many images showed individuals or groups — even small children — watching the skies instead of hiding from the dangerous weather.

..."This is not about getting the best YouTube video. I really want to put forward that tornado safety comes from recognizing that they appear to move fairly slowly, but they are unpredictable."

...Ashton also asked Manitobans to have respect for people whose homes or businesses were destroyed or damaged by the storms.

They deserve privacy while organizing, cleaning up and rebuilding on their properties, he said.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rare White Whale

Thar she blows!:
RECORD numbers of humpback whales are on their annual migration up Australia's east coast, including the rare white whale Migaloo, scientists say.

Migaloo was spotted this week off Heron Island, on Queensland's central coast, by resort staff on a fishing trip.

...A large number of whales have been counted passing Stradbroke Island in the past week, prompting research head Dr Mike Noad to estimate as many as 10,000 humpbacks will migrate to the Whitsundays this winter.

"We can say that this population is doing extraordinarily well, it's got a very, very low death rate," Dr Noad said.

"We can infer that this population, although there is potential impact from things such as global warming, coastal development, all that sort of stuff, none of it seems to be worrying these guys at this stage.

"It seems that these whales are happy, and they're literally breeding like rabbits at the moment."
Big Penguins

Used to live on the beach:
Clarke, who studies the biodiversity of living birds, and colleagues in Peru and Argentina have described two species of extinct penguins that lived tens of millions of years ago. It was during a time when Earth was a lot warmer than it is today. The fossils were found in Peru in 2005.

The largest of the two new species, Icadyptes salasi, lived about 36 million years ago on the southern coast of Peru. The skull that was discovered includes an intriguing beak that is almost a foot long.

...The other newly discovered species, Perudyptes devriesi, is even older, inhabiting the planet 42 million years ago. It resembled one of the largest contemporary penguin species, the King penguin, standing two and a half to three feet tall. Its fossils show that its wings may have looked a little different from the very specialized "paddles" that the wings have become today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Safety In Numbers?

When do the rats jump?
The key is -- for some liminal period over the next several months -- there's still a paradoxical safety in numbers for Republicans, sticking with the president. But no one wants to be the last one to the door. If you're a Republican congressman and you've been carrying the president's water on Iraq for years you don't want to be on the losing side when the Congress finally ends the war in spite of the president. At that point, even if you flip flop and start saying we've got to change course and try to get on the right side of public opinion, then you're probably just doubly screwed. And if it's mid-2008 at that point you're really not in a good place.

...The truth is that the president is playing a very high-stakes game of chicken with his fellow Republicans. He's driving a hundred miles an hour toward the cliff, way too fast to jump out of the car without risking serious injury. But as the cliff gets closer, they'll start to jump.

Forbidden Planet

Deborah was appalled - through some unforgivable lapse in my education, I had never seen "Forbidden Planet". She sat me down, found the DVD, and urged me to watch.

Here is the engineering statistics part.....

Rained In SE Queensland

About an inch at Mt. Glorious. Nice!

People are getting optimistic again. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is at 12.3, the highest it's been in a year-and-a-half:
SEQWater operations manager Rob Drury said any downpour in the next fortnight should lead to "substantial inflows".

He said although the rain over the dams this week was not heavy, falls had occurred over the entire catchments.

..."I know it's not much, but it's more rain than we've had in a long time," Mr Drury said.
Back From Trip

Left: "Dream Traveler", by Deborah McMillion-Nering.

Returned from trip to Arizona. Tired, but glad I went.

Picked up three of Deborah's paintings relating specifically to automobile travel of the 1950's - Highway 66 nostalgia with that special DarkThirty twist ("Cactus Cool", "Here It Is!", and "Chile Dog").

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Martinis Are Your Friends

Although the savory salinicity of the olive is scary!
Summer Sunshine Stroll In Ahwatukee

It's not THAT far to Deborah, James, and Doug's house from this hotel beside the freeway. Maybe fifteen blocks. And not that hot either. Maybe 105 degrees Fahrenheit. It'll be easy!

Boy, they make these Phoenix blocks long! Two blocks, and boy, am I sweating! But it's not that hot. Just 106 degrees!

Soda all gone! So soon!

Hmmm. There goes the city bus. I didn't even think about taking the bus. But I just have 12 more blocks to go....

Purty bird. Purty bird. Issa dove! Dove! Dove! Ack! Where he come from? Crow! Bad crow!

Eeeee! Hot! Not very hot....Just 108 Farrrennnnhite! Ow! The stupid! It burns!

Must.....keep.....walking..... It's a dry heat. What does that mean?

Flower! Purty flower! Flower! Floooowwerrr......


Ah, a safe arrival!
Tooling Down To Phoenix

Left: Plunging off the plateau on the Beeline highway, heading from Payson to Phoenix.

Cousins Paul and Karen and I departed from the cabin midafternoon on Sunday and headed to Phoenix.

We stopped at the Pobrecito turnoff, on the way to Saguaro Lake, itself a turnoff from Highway 87, in order to pose for pictures near a saguaro.

Although the saguaro cactuses were common, they weren't evenly-distributed across the hillsides. We managed somehow to find the most battered-looking saguaro of them all beside which to pose.
Where's Da Elk?

Cousins Jason, Tracy, Paul, and myself clambered over the ridge south of the cabin towards the Bradshaw Meadows Watershed watering hole, on the southern outskirts of Pine, Arizona. Traces of deer and elk were everywhere. We could clearly hear the trumpet of an elk as well, but where was it? We intrepid explorers tried to find out....

Well, Jason is at the watering hole, but the elk are somewhere else.

It's late June. In two or three weeks, the summer monsoon will light up the skies, but right now, it's about as dry as it gets up here.

The elk are somewhere over this fence.

We can hear them, but we can't see them!

Oh well, it's nice knowing they are out there....

Some kind of agave. Cool looking! A century plant?
Spreading The Ashes

We gathered at 3 p.m. and formed a caravan to escort the ashes of Mildred and Marcus Buzzell to the chosen scattering point. That point, selected earlier by the cousins, was located somewhere along a dirt road (Forest Road 300) that we made exceedingly dusty with our close-packed caravan. (Note: Mildred Buzzell's obituary was printed in the April 4th issue of the Idaho Falls Post-Register).

The chosen point was located at dramatic Hi View Point Lookout, right at the Mogollon Rim, located just east of the intersection of Forest Roads 300 and 141, above Washington Park, ENE of Pine, Arizona.

Cousins John and Bruce open the boxes of ashes.

Sister Marra's turn at casting ashes.

A family gathering full of fond memories.

Bruce and Donna Buzzell, and family.

Afterwards, we gathered again at the cabin.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

What a cool place!

Looking straight up.

A new trend in the Arizona Snowbird lifestyle?
Tourists Of The Purple Sage

The replica of the Zane Grey cabin is located in Green Valley Park, in Payson.

The original cabin, built east of Payson, burned down in July, 1990.

Nevertheless, the replica was built with much love and affection.
Evening Barbeque

Left: Payson, Arizona is known as the home of the World's Oldest Most-Continuous Rodeo. Ranching is a big part of this area's history. Thus, it is most ironic that most people in Payson today purchase their meat at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter.

After securing our rooms, we took an afternoon nap. I fell asleep watching "Young Frankenstein" on cable.

The phone rang. I awoke. My sister was on the line. "Ve must obtain our flesh!" "Jah," I agreed (Ken and Marra had been watching "Young Frankenstein" too).

We traveled to the cabin, at 55 Bradshaw (also given, for some puzzling reason, as 6601 Bradshaw), on the southern fringe of the town of Pine, Arizona, where we met the rest of the Buzzell clan.

Cousins Jason and Darren were on hand to cook our meat.
Mogollon Rim Ho!

Left: Albuquerque family.

Thursday night, I stayed with my sister, Michelle.

After visiting with my Dad for an hour Friday morning, I joined sister Marra and brother-in-law Ken for an auto trip to Payson, Arizona, in Mogollon Rim country.

Left: Tourist trap. Ft. Courage, in Lupton, Arizona.