Friday, July 27, 2007

GOP Prez Candidates Should Fret

Like Josh says:
But if they can't face Youtube how can they defeat the terrorists?

Lost YowTubby Dinosaurs

Teenage girls from Brisbane mimicking dinosaurs have difficulty blending into local society, but they always have each other.

Would they have better luck finding acceptance if they mimicked kookaburras instead?

Helicopters Collide

News choppers down in a Phoenix park (video).
Megacryometers

You know how a microwave-oven sized chunk of ice gets suspended in the atmosphere in the absence of a mighty powerful thunderstorm to give it birth and keep it aloft?

Someone puts it there.....

Megacryometers my ass. Right up there with unicorns and elves and WMD in Iraq....
Vanishing Musical

Hard to believe it could be so hard to reassemble a Lerner and Loewe musical, but if people don't make an effort to keep records together, stuff vanishes:
In February, Jim Morgan, the producing artistic director of the York Theater Company, was having a casual lunch with Floria V. Lasky, the president of the Frederick Loewe Foundation and the lawyer representing the Loewe estate. Talk turned to “Musicals in Mufti,” the York’s series in which rarely produced musicals are presented as concert performances. They pondered possible shows, and both hit upon “The Day Before Spring,” a lesser-known Lerner and Loewe musical that played on Broadway in 1945.

Mr. Morgan received permission to produce it, brought on the creative people, and all was well. Then he discovered a problem: nobody had the music.

...Moving ahead to 2007: It was not until Mr. Morgan had brought on Aaron Gandy as his musical director and David Glenn Armstrong as director that he discovered how little music there was to work with. Mr. Gross gave Mr. Morgan the score from the 1990 production, but everyone involved decided that it was so sketchy as to be essentially unusable.

“There was a point where I thought we may have to come up with something else because it was sort of dead end after dead end,” Mr. Morgan said.

Mr. Gandy called someone whom he thought might be able to help: Mark Horowitz, a senior music specialist at the Library of Congress. Mr. Gandy and Mr. Horowitz go back to the 1990s, having met when Mr. Gandy was doing research in the library’s Vincent Youmans collection.

Mr. Horowitz has been at the library since 1991 and specializes in its extensive music theater holdings; if anyone would know where to look, Mr. Gandy figured, Mr. Horowitz would.

And he did. As it happened, in November 1999, nine years after Mr. Bell’s production of “Spring,” the library bought a trove of Loewe documents at a Christie’s auction in Los Angeles. The material, which included additional songs for “Brigadoon,” songs written but unused for “My Fair Lady” and songs and sketches written for “Spring,” was described in the Christie’s catalog as having been a bequest from Mr. Loewe to “John Morris, artist and friend,” then a bequest from Mr. Morris to the unnamed owner who had put it up for auction.

Mr. Gandy went to Washington and combed through documents, sometimes solving puzzles that the library itself had yet to figure out: this page belongs with this song; this section goes here.

“Every song had a different set of materials that survived,” Mr. Gandy said. There were scores intended for rehearsal pianists, lead sheets and scribbled notes in pencil, songs that were missing lyrics but had stage directions. After five or six weeks of painstaking restoration work, Mr. Gandy was able to come up with what he said was nearly the entire original score.

And that is what people will hear tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at the York.
Why Was Steve Wynn So Quick To Toss Britney On The Street?

(left: picture from That Nikon Fella on B3ta)


Is she a bad influence? I mean, come on, what's a little scuffle between the paparazzi and the bodyguard?
N2O Explosion Kills Three

Private sector spacefaring appears just as dangerous as government spacefaring:
Authorities today identified three workers who were killed in an explosion on the edge of Kern County's Mojave airport during the test of a propellant system for a pioneering private spaceship.

The dead, all employees of Scaled Composites, were Eric Dean Blackwell, 38, of Randsburg; Charles Glenn May, 45, of Mojave; and Todd Ivens, 33, of Tehachapi.

...Three others also were badly injured in Thursday's blast at a private test site run by Scaled Composites, which was founded by high-profile aviation entrepreneur Burt Rutan.

In June 2004, the firm became the first business to launch a reusable manned rocket into space, a craft known as SpaceShip One.

Thursday's explosion — which sounded like a 500-pound bomb to a mechanic working several hundred yards away — is believed to have been caused by an undetermined operating flaw that ignited a tank of nitrous oxide.

Authorities said the blast occurred about 2:30 p.m. at a remote site on the northeastern fringe of Mojave airport, a small, county-run commercial facility about 95 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Rutan, looking tired and disheveled, appeared at a 20-minute evening news conference at the desert airport. He told reporters that the blast occurred as the company was testing the propellent flow system for SpaceShip Two, the intended successor to the pioneering SpaceShip One and a project whose details had been closely guarded by Scaled Composites.

"We felt it was completely safe. We had done a lot of these [tests] with SpaceShip One," said Rutan, who added that "we just don't know" why the explosion occurred.

Rutan said the suspected culprit, nitrous oxide, normally is "not considered a hazardous material." Commonly called laughing gas, it is found in dental offices and is used by hot-rodders to boost the horsepower on their vehicles' engines.

According to Rutan, company employees were examining the rate at which the propellant flows through an opening. He emphasized that the test, conducted at room temperatures, did not involve igniting the rocket motor or sparking any fire.

...Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic, and Paul Allen, a co founder of Microsoft, were backing the SpaceShip Two project. The craft, about three times larger than SpaceShip One, is to be powered by much more powerful rocket engines and is supposed to carry six passengers and two pilots.

...Scaled Composites' engineers are considered experts in designing unmanned airplanes and aircraft made of lightweight composite materials. The company also works on secret projects for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon's advanced research arm.

..."This whole program for Richard Branson's company is a program that's clumsy for us, because it's announced but not unveiled," Rutan said. "So we have for a year and a half here been not answering any questions at all about the program," he said, becoming visibly agitated as he spoke to reporters.

Rutan said he formed Scaled Composites 25 years ago. This was the first time anyone has been injured in a company test, he said. Thursday's tragedy at the Mojave airport — formally known as the Mojave Air and Space Port — was the second explosion at the site in recent weeks. A June 3 blast, which caused no serious injuries, was sparked in an explosives-storage facility.

In recent years, the airport, while remote, has been a hotbed of aviation activity and has been pushing hard to be the commercial spaceport for privately funded rocket projects.
TNR Schadenfreude

I love it when TNR reaps what it has sown. As Matthew Yglesias writes:
I feel like a bit of an idiot needing to defend a not-anti-war publication's decision to publish a not-anti-war article against an onrushing tide of idiots, but that's apparently what the world's come to.
I like what Digby writes too:
After a tremendous amount of wingnut pressure on TNR to prove they hadn't been duped by an imposter, now that they know he does in fact exist, they are working their way into a complete frenzy going after this soldier as if he were al Qaeda and acting as though the hawkish New Republic has just endorsed Cindy Sheehan for president. It's like watching a bunch of piranhas attack some kids who accidentally fell into the water.

This soldier certainly had no idea what he was dealing with, and I suspect TNR didn't either. (Up until now, the right has been sympathetic with their editorial line on the war, after all. For all the disdain for the blogofascists of the left, this is undoubtedly the first time TNR's felt the full force of the wingnutosphere, which makes our little ideological disagreements look like kisses on the cheek. )
TNR has been flaying liberals and courting wingnuts for years. I hope they are happy with the trade! Piranhas they wanted, and piranhas they got!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Flaming Hot

Especially when the Internet is involved:
A Navy man who got mad at being mocked as a "nerd" over the Internet drove from Virginia to Texas to teach the other guy a lesson.

Authorities say Fire Controlman 2nd Class Petty Officer Russell Tavares burned the other man's trailer.

Tavares this week was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading no contest to arson.

John G. Anderson of Elm Mott suffered smoke inhalation in the 2005 blaze.

The feud started when Anderson, who runs a haunted house near Waco, joined a picture-sharing Web site and posted his political views.

An attorney for Tavares says his stop in the Waco area was a last-minute decision during a trip to visit his parents in Arizona -- and he never meant to hurt Anderson.

Tavares was discharged last year from the Navy, where he worked in Dahlgren, Virginia.
Cat Ghoul

Or maybe he likes the electric blanket:
Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. ....Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.

Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill

She was convinced of Oscar's talent when he made his 13th correct call. While observing one patient, Teno said she noticed the woman wasn't eating, was breathing with difficulty and that her legs had a bluish tinge, signs that often mean death is near.

Oscar wouldn't stay inside the room though, so Teno thought his streak was broken. Instead, it turned out the doctor's prediction was roughly 10 hours too early. Sure enough, during the patient's final two hours, nurses told Teno that Oscar joined the woman at her bedside.

...If Oscar really is a furry grim reaper, it's also possible his behavior could be driven by self-centered pleasures like a heated blanket placed on a dying person, Dodman said.
Fun Facts About Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Particularly since compact fluorescents are the rage (thanks, Jerry!):
Fluorescent lamps are relatively sensitive to ambient temperature because they are low pressure lamps. Optimum lamp operating temperature is 5-25 degrees Celsius. Above this limit the efficacy falls by approx. 1 % for every degree rise. Below this limit the efficacy fails by approx. 5% for every degree fall. Fluorescent lamps should be protected from draughts that can reduce lamp wall temperature and light output.

Overvoltage to the ballast will cause high tube current shortens lamp and ballast life. It also causes preheat lamps to start like instant start lamps - shortens lamp life.

Undervoltage to the ballast causes low tube current - makes lamps flicker, causes uncertain starting and reduces light output. Undervoltage to the ballast can cause preheat starters to recycle - shortens starter and lamp life.

Fluorescent lamps are affected by extremes in ambient temperature. They operate best in the range 5-25 (35 for High Output T5) degrees Celsius. Below this there is a rapid drop in light output and difficulty in starting.

High humidity causes electrical leakage along the lamp surface - lowers the starting voltage provided by the ballast. Lamps are pre-coated with silicone to break up the moisture film and prevent such leakage.

Fluorescent Lamp Advantages:
  • Fluorescent lamps are 3-7 times more efficient than incandescent lamps.
  • Power consumption for equal light output is much less than for an incandescent lamp.
  • Rated lamp life is between 5,000 and 18,000 hours, depending on style, approximately five to eighteen times longer than typical incandescent lamp life.
  • Lamps can be selected for desired colour rendering purpose e.g. aquaria.
  • Available with wattage ratings from 4 to 125W. (There are 215W High Output and Powergroove lamps but these will not operate on conventional European control gear.)
  • Low surface brightness provides better visual comfort and diffused lighting.
  • Optional dimmable ballasts are available. Lamp colour does not significantly change when dimmed. Power consumed is proportional to light output.

    Fluorescent Lamp Disadvantages:
  • Variations in supply voltage affect lamp light output and starting.
  • Required external equipment (ballast) consumes energy, adds to equipment cost. For retro-fits, establishes lamp size and wattages that can be used.
  • Lamp frequency flicker can cause discomfort to some people.
  • Operation on a range of supply voltages requires different control gear components or more expensive tapped ballasts.
  • Ballasts may produce irritating 100HZ humming sound - only reliable solution is to replace ballast.
  • Lamps are large for the amount of light produced - HID and incandescent lamps are much more compact.
  • Radio frequency interference from lamps may disturb communications equipment at close range. Note there are new EMC (Electro Magnetic Compatibility) Regulations due to come into force for the EU.
  • Distracting lamp flashing can occur with a glow starter attempting to strike a failed lamp.
  • Stroboscopic effects can make rotating machinery appear stationary which could be a potentially dangerous situation.
      • Rocky Road To Retinal Recovery

        Steve Isaacson went back to the UCD Medical Center for the more-radical retinal reattachment surgical procedure I mentioned in the previous post, after it seemed that Steve might be among the 15% of the patients for whom the less-radical procedure fails, but at the last minute, the surgeons changed their minds. The surgeons now diagnose the new shadow Steve was seeing last night as a liquid puddle behind the retina, a common post-surgical phenomenon that can be managed. So, Steve now has eye exercises to make the air bubble injected into his eye on Monday work more-effectively for his recovery, by diminishing the puddle.

        If it helps, Steve, we can get an eye aerobics team together. Maybe call on Richard Simmons to officiate....

        Wednesday, July 25, 2007

        Older Than Pharoah, But Still Singing

        Porter Wagoner opened for White Stripes at Madison Square Garden? Porter Wagoner? Wow!

        He was old in the Sixties, when I used to choose to watch him on Saturday afternoon TV, together with his very young protege, Dolly Parton, rather than those boring old golf shows.

        But the White Stripes are probably younger than his grandchildren. Probably a lot younger....

        That's what good health care gets you. You just don't pass on. Or maybe it's those miraculous Egyptian unguents....
        Madonna's "The Confessions Tour" DVD


        San Jose concert photo by "Pera" from fansite, AllAboutMadonna.com.


        I asked the pharmacist, "If I take these potash capsules to cure the potassium deficiency diagnosed my the doctor, will I feel more energetic?" He smiled, and shook his head in a silent "No!" Fair enough. So I took a capsule and waited to see what would happen.....

        Boy was he wrong! It was 2 a.m., and I was wide-awake! I put Madonna's "The Confessions Tour" on the DVD player, and everyone came running to see what the fuss was all about. Even Cloudy, the paraplegic Bunny, dragged her broken body into the living room, in order to see Madonna (and maybe get some overdue massaging as well from her indulgent master).

        I saw "The Confessions Tour" live last year, in San Jose. I thought it was great concert then, but it's hard in a concert setting to see all the details. With the crisp cinematography and camera close-ups of the DVD, it's altogether a different experience. What a great DVD! Is there a better rock concert DVD anywhere? For the photo work, featuring the best dancers in the business, it's in a league all of its own. Yes, it's better than Kylie's DVDs!

        Of course, it's not for everyone. After a while, E. (who is also Catholic) began to get a different impression. I don't whether it was the controversial appearance of Madonna on the Cross, the egregious use of the f-word, all the hip-thrusting, or the cumulative impact of all of it, but E. ultimately compared Madonna to Kylie thusly: "Madonna's nasty; Kylie's benign." Perhaps an oversimplification, but a predictable reaction.

        I was actually surprised, watching the DVD, to see that Madonna was more at ease, more spontaneous, in front of a live audience than I expected. Maybe it's the difference between the HP Pavilion in San Jose and Wembley Arena in London. Whatever it was, it further dents Camille Paglia's criticisms of a year-and-a-half ago.

        In any event, Madonna is a goddess! Madonna and Kylie: twin goddesses in my corner of the universe!
        Be Very Afraid

        Headline: "Voracious Jumbo Squid Invade California"

        Hmmm..... I look out the window, and it looks pretty quiet. Are the squid in the basement? Out by the garbage cans? On the roof?

        Dunno......
        Best Wishes To Kelly Daniells

        I was just listening to Madonna's "I Love New York" from her "Confessions Tour" album, and thinking about how Andrea St. Clair wrote how the Big Apple brought her to tears, it's such a great place, when I remembered that Erik Daniells said sister Kelly is finishing her run in "Mamma Mia" in Las Vegas this Sunday. What a great experience she had in Las Vegas! May there be many, many more great experiences in NYC, for Kelly, and for all Sacramentans who head east!
        Bad Choices

        Copper thieves lose:
        It's a bad idea to burglarize a place marked "K-9 training facility."

        Police dog handlers arriving Wednesday at the abandoned nursing home where they hold training sessions discovered two men and a woman dismantling the building's copper pipes and wiring, Hall County Sheriff's Sgt. Kiley Sargent said.

        When the officers arrived, the three dropped their tools and ran. That was their second mistake.

        "For anyone to try to run from a whole unit of canines, it's just a no-win situation," Sargent said.

        Tuesday, July 24, 2007

        Monday, July 23, 2007

        Detached Retina

        DMTC Co-Producer Steve Isaacson called just now and said the retina in his right eye had to be reattached today. He had noticed a shadow in his field of vision last week, but it had worsened today. Surgery was done immediately today, on an outpatient basis. As a result, "Tommy" will likely be cancelled this coming weekend, since the show can't be done without a drummer, Steve can't do it (or at least shouldn't do it), and there is little time to find someone who knows the show.

        When I was 38 years old, in 1994, the retina in my left eye detached. I had been having a little trouble negotiating around darkened rooms all summer long, and when I went to the optometrist they caught the problem, using that test where you click a trigger every time you see a flash of light (there were big, awkward spans of time when I didn't click the trigger at all).

        My blindness was in the left eye's field of vision occupied by the nose, and usually-covered anyway by the right eye - hence my slowness in catching the problem. I talked to the optometrist, and he said that I didn't have a retinal detachment, since he knew what that looked like, and referred me to a glaucoma specialist instead. The glaucoma specialist said my eye looked fine, except for the obvious retinal detachment. So, off to surgery....

        Talking to Steve, it sounds like he had a less-radical reattachment procedure than I did. In both cases, reattachment is done by cryogenic freezing, using liquid nitrogen, applied to the outside of the eyeball.

        In my case, they put me under using sodium pentothal (truth serum). They then more-or-less removed the eyeball from its socket, put a silicone rubber band around the outside to squeeze it more elongate, then applied the liquid nitrogen to the outside of the eyeball. When I awoke, the whole operating room was laughing. I asked why they were all laughing, and they all said, "oh, nothing!" (damned truth serum must have been all too effective - what was I talking about in my unconcious state?) Indeed, the silicone band remains around my eyeball to this day.

        In Steve's case, they didn't remove the eyeball from its socket, or mess around with a silicone band, and instead injected an air bubble into the eyeball to help pin the retina against the shell of the eyeball prior to the cryogenic freezing.

        In any event, Steve will need to recover and for the time being probably shouldn't do things like drive, drum, dance around on stage, or undertake any activity where depth perception will be an issue. If his recovery is like mine, for a short span of time of about a week, he'll have a 'dead-eye' look that is disconcerting, but potentially useful in situations like negotiating contracts, wheedling suppliers, or menacing rivals. But maybe he'll be luckier - it was a less-radical procedure after all.

        On behalf of all of us at DMTC, and in the Sacramento-area constellation of community theaters, here's wishing Steve and Jan the best regarding this new challenge.
        Mountain Unicycling

        Looks like fun! Looks like a way to get into serious trouble too! Just depends on how you use the technology:
        Mountain unicyclists -- they call their sport "MUni" -- are a rare and dedicated breed. Worldwide there are probably no more than 1,000 riders pedaling trails on one wheel and fewer than 40 in Southern California, according to Josh Schoolcraft, a unicyclist from Pasadena. Riding local mountain bike trails, they get the occasional "Awesome, dude" and a thumbs up from conventional mountain bikers.

        ...Although unicycles strong enough to be ridden off-road have been expensive and hard to come by in recent years (early ones were custom-built), several manufacturers now offer complete unicycles designed for rough trails.

        ...Unicycle pedals are connected directly to the wheel -- there are no gears -- so going uphill requires extra effort, and going downhill demands fast pedaling. Because many unicycles don't have brakes, leg pressure alone is usually used to slow them. And because the unicycles don't have shock absorbers like mountain bikes (the only cushioning is in the fat tires and seats), riders absorb bumps by standing on the pedals and using their legs as shock absorbers.

        ...For some, the appeal of riding a unicycle is meeting a big challenge with an uncomplicated device. "You have to solve problems with this simple machinery," Schoolcraft says. MUni riders have to pick a careful line around obstacles too big to roll over, and when riding off ledges they often have to stick a landing in tight spots to avoid a crash.

        Schoolcraft began unicycling five years ago as a college student after his bicycle was stolen. "You can bring a unicycle to class with you -- you just throw it over your shoulder," he says. Several months after learning to ride, he saw a video of MUni pioneer Kris Holm and decided to try riding off-road.

        ...Practicing an hour a day, the average person can learn to ride 50 feet on flat ground in two weeks to a month, Aharoni says. Learning to ride on rough terrain takes much longer. "It might take a few months to become comfortable on trails -- though, depending on your goals, it can be a lifelong learning process," Aharoni says.
        "Hairspray"

        I went with the DMTC crew to see the new movie musical at the Regal Cinema in Davis. Since I know little about musicals, in general, I was quite curious about this movie, in particular, since it was clear from events like last year's Flying Monkeys Benefit that it had seized the affections of all the young musical theater aficionados.....

        "Hairspray" made me get all teary. Movies rarely do that to me. The last time I remember getting all teary at a movie was seeing "Room With A View", in 1985. Really, "Hairspray" is one of the best - perhaps the best - movie musical, ever! A classic!

        Superb casting! No weaknesses, anywhere! Michelle Pfeiffer seemed to me to be the best player, but really, everyone was at their very best here.

        America was giddily optimistic in the brief 'New Frontier' period, lasting from 1961 to 1963 - two and a half years, max. The optimism was so strong it almost qualified as a collective delusion. This movie caught the halcyon spirit of that strange, fleeting time remarkably well.

        It is very difficult to deal adequately with racial politics in any movie, without getting all didactic, or heavy, or without offending anyone, or patronizing anyone, or getting hopelessly entangled with difficulties. To handle such matters in a musical (could there be a less-suitable art form?) would seem to be almost impossible - easier to grab a wheelchair and roll up Mt. Everest instead. This movie musical does the trick, though, assisted by all kinds of clever writing, energy, spirit, and skill.

        Two quotes from imdb (except I adjust the last one according to my memory):
        Motormouth Maybelle: If we get any more white people in here this is gonna be a suburb.
        ------------------

        Motormouth Maybelle: [to Seaweed and Penny] You two better brace yourselves for a whole lotta ugly coming from a whole lotta stupid.
        Penny Pingleton: Oh, so you've met my mom.
        ------------------
        Go check it out for yourself!
        "Tommy" - Sunday Afternoon Pictures

        Left: Young Tommy (Maya Rothman) and Uncle Ernie (Steve Ross).


        Everyone sure sounded good on Sunday afternoon! This show has really come together!






        "Christmas": Chris Petersen, Helen Spangler, Paul Fearn, Ben Wormeli, Sabrina Schloss, Kat DeLapp, Abram Stein Freer, Bob Tootle, Scott Suwabe, Steven Ross, Emily Clark, Sarah Illig, Hal Wright, and Erik Daniells.









        Bailiff Bob Tootle looks askance at Young Tommy (Maya Rothman).












        Abram Stein Freer, Bob Tootle, Scott Suwabe, Steven Ross, Kat DeLapp, Emily Clark, Sabrina Schloss, and Sarah Illig.











        Captain Walker (Paul Fearn) and Mrs. Walker (Kat DeLapp).












        Teen Tommy (Sabrina Schloss).













        Teen Tommy (Sabrina Schloss) and the Hawkers (Helen Spangler and Chris Petersen).












        Tommy (Jon Jackson).













        Dannette Vassar, Jan Isaacson, Maya Rothman, Chris Petersen, Kat DeLapp, Emily Clark.












        Abram Stein Freer, Bob Tootle, Scott Suwabe, and Steven Ross.












        Kat DeLapp, Emily Clark, Sabrina Schloss, and Sarah Illig.












        Tommy (Jon Jackson).













        Mrs. Walker (Kat DeLapp), together with (left to right), Paul Fearn, Bob Tootle, and Steven Ross.

        Sunday, July 22, 2007

        Roadkill Rapid Response Reaction Team, In Action

        Left: Post-Impact +14.5 hours.


        E. was agitated:
        "M-A-A-A-A-A-R-R-R-R-R-R-C-C-C-C-C-C! I've been calling you and I've been calling you! Coming back from the VFW, the car in front of me on the Capitol City Freeway hit an animal! I had to swerve! It was struggling and it was struggling! Marc! I almost cried!

        I don't know if it was a cat or a dog. It was grey, and hard to tell in the dark. The car that hit the animal took an exit - I don't know if it was E Street or J street. Why was the animal even there? I don't like cats but I don't like to see them suffer. Do you know what I mean? M-A-A-A-A-A-R-R-R-R-R-R-C-C-C-C-C-C! Do you know what I mean? We must go find it!

        I remember once travelling on a rainy night with George, and I saw a cat crossing the road, but he didn't see it. And I said 'George, slow down, slow down, there is a cat trying to cross the road. George! Slow down! There is a cat trying to cross the road! The cat is running! George, he is running! Slow down! But it was raining and George didn't see the cat...."
        (Hmmm - even if George had been freight train engineer, he could have stopped, it's taking so long to tell this story....)

        Anyway, nothing better at 2:30 on Sunday morning than to closely examine the edge of Sacramento's busiest freeway for wounded animals in the dark - half an hour after the bars closed! So, off we went!

        Access to the southbound Capitol City freeway as it approaches downtown is notoriously difficult. I drove several miles north, to the Cal Expo exit, and returned south, in order to get access. Once I reached the J Street exit, I realized I had gone too far. I tried to back in reverse, northwards on the freeway shoulder, but eventually gave up - extraordinarily dangerous on the fairly-narrow elevated freeway segment! So, I took the J Street exit, crossed under the freeway, and headed north again, to the Cal Expo exit, and south again, this time parking off the E Street off-ramp. Then off we went on foot, stumbling along the edge of the elevated freeway with a flashlight, trying to reach the site of the accident.

        Freeway roadsides can sometimes look rather pleasant, even idyllic, when gazing at them while safely cocooned inside a fast-moving automobile. In fact, freeway roadsides are howling wildernesses, festooned with garbage and metal shards broken off passing trucks. The semi-truck trailers, in particular, shake your very soul with their roar as they pass by. And things you thought were stable and reliable, like bridges, you discover shake and bounce, when you have to traverse them on foot.

        The footing was treacherous, but as we approached the J Street exit in the available half light, we didn't find any animal, just two strange discarded mufflers that looked like swollen hot water bottles. We returned to the car, relieved that someone had likely picked up the wounded animal. We departed......

        ...............

        Sunday afternoon, about 1:45 p.m., driving southbound along the same stretch of freeway, I finally saw the animal, lying lifeless roadside on a bridge just north of the J Street exit. Dang! How could we have missed it last night? I guess we didn't quite travel far enough on foot, and somehow we also missed seeing it as we drove slowly past. I wondered if the animal might have a tag that could help me alert its owners to its death. But as J. and I were heading to see DMTC's "Tommy", I couldn't stop at that instant......

        ...............

        Finally, at about 5:30 p.m., I returned to the same vicinity. I parked on H Street near 29th Street, jumped a chain-link fence, and scrambled up the vine-covered embankment, headed north along the freeway, crossed the G Street bridge (to the evident discomfort of the passing motorists surprised to see a pedestrian), and finally reached the animal. No pet. The unfortunate animal was a raccoon......