Saturday, September 08, 2007

"High School Musical" - Woodland Opera House

Left: I recognize several of the people in the front line....Chad Danforth (Erik Catalan) on the left....Troy Bolton (Justin Kelley) together with Gabriella Montez (Kayla Sheehan) in the middle, Ryan and Sharpay Evans (Tyler Warren and Emily Jo Seminoff) on the right. There is Ms. Darbus (Patricia Glass). Kennedy Wenning in the middle, near Spenser Micetich, and Rebecca Rudy, back right. Bridget Eagan, Amanda Salmon and Matt Taloff are here somewhere too.

Left: Emily Jo Seminoff.

Emily Jo has all the right theater skills, and makes a wonderfully flamboyant Sharpay Evans.

Left: Kayla Sheehan.

Kayla has a wonderful voice. I last saw her in DMTC's "West Side Story", a year ago: it's good to see her again.

The show had a bit of trouble with lighting. I believe it was in the reprise to "Start Of Something New": Troy and Gabriella should be in pools of light, but were left rather in the dark.

Left: Jabriel Shelton and Meghan Vanderford

Erik Catalan. Looking at the bio board, his name rang a bell, but I couldn't place it.

I admired Erik's ball-handling skills during the show.

Afterwards, he saw me and said, "Marc, don't you recognize me?" I looked carefully at him, but as sometimes happens with young people, time had quickly changed his appearance, to the point where I could no longer recognize him. Turns out, we were both in Sally Forment's Woodland Dance Academy's production of "Giselle", featuring Megan Holyfield in the lead role, on Memorial Day weekend, nine years ago, in 1998. Amazing! And the program says he was in Yuba College's 1998 production of "Bye, Bye Birdie"? As Albert Petersen? Well, shoot, I was a Shriner in that show! Where is my brain? "Get'cha Head In The Game", Marc!

Erik said he may try out for DMTC's "Brigadoon." It will be nice to see him there! (no Scottish basketball, though...)

Left: Cast at bows, with Justin Kelley and Kayla Sheehan at the front.

I worried before the show about how some numbers would turn out, like "Get'cha Head In The Game". It's one thing when you have all of Disney's resources behind you, but it's altogether different when it's just five players dribbling basketballs and quickly running out of breath.

One saving effect is that Justin Kelley can do standing flips (!) and these skills are very helpful for this show!

Patricia Glass (Ms. Darbus) takes a bow with cast . Patricia was great in this role! She said some people had remarked that her portrayal had reminded them of a local drama teacher, and I wondered if they had Lenore Heinson in mind.

The Woodland Opera House stage
PLH Reception

Pleasant evening in Carmichael with co-workers, discussing, among other things, with K.D., the theater program at Sac State.

K.M. relayed an amazing story his daughter told him. On Thursday, Sept. 6th, she was jogging on a rural road west of Paso Robles, California, when she heard a tremendous clatter and noise behind her. She looked back, and saw an attacking mountain lion bring down a terrified deer onto the road immediately behind her. She decided not to flee by running (under the circumstances, that might be fatal to herself), but rather, by walking away as fast as she dared. She sought help at the nearest house. When she and her help arrived back at the scene, both the deer and lion were gone. Presumably the lion had stolen off with its supper (or maybe the deer had escaped???)

A sobering story! It makes the rural California idyll seem rather more hazardous than one might at first assume!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Failing Southwest Airlines Fashion

Left: A Southwest employee asked Kyla Ebbert, wearing this outfit, to change or leave the plane. (CRISSY PASCUAL / Union-Tribune)

"Luv" Airlines forgets how hot the Southwest gets in the summer!:
As the mercury climbed over 100 on Labor Day, I called Southwest Airlines with a not entirely hypothetical question:

Could a young woman board a flight to Tucson today wearing a bikini top?

Angelique, the agent who took my call, assured me that a young woman could.

“We don't have a problem with it if she's covered up in all the right spots,” she said. “We don't have a dress code.”

Tell that to Kyla Ebbert, who was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight two months ago for wearing an outfit far less revealing than a bikini top.

Ebbert, a Mesa College student and Hooters waitress, was allowed to stay on the plane, but only after she put up a fight and, she says, was lectured on how to dress properly.

...Southwest explained its treatment of Ebbert in a letter to her mother, saying it could remove any passenger “whose clothing is lewd, obscene or patently offensive” to ensure the comfort of children and “adults with heightened sensitivities.”

Ebbert, 23, says she was judged unfairly by the airline and humiliated by the experience. Who wouldn't be?

She had a doctor's appointment that afternoon in Tucson, where temperatures had topped 106 all week. She arrived at Lindbergh Field wearing a white denim miniskirt, high-heel sandals, and a turquoise summer sweater over a tank top over a bra.

After the plane filled, and the flight attendants began their safety spiel, Ebbert was asked to step off the plane by a customer service supervisor, identified by the airline only as “Keith.”

They walked out onto the jet bridge, where Keith told Ebbert her clothing was inappropriate and asked her to change. She explained she was flying to Tucson for only a few hours and had brought no luggage.

“I asked him what part of my outfit was offensive,” she said. “The shirt? The skirt? And he said, 'The whole thing.' ”

Keith asked her to go home, change and take a later flight. She refused, citing her appointment. The plane was ready to leave, so Keith relented. He had her pull up her tank top a bit, pull down her skirt a bit, and return to her seat.

Ebbert says several flight attendants overheard the conversation and, after an embarrassing walk down the aisle, she took her seat and spread a blanket over her lap. She kept her composure until the plane landed, when she called her mother and broke down.

She took a photo of herself with her cell phone so her mother could see her clothes. That's when mom became livid.

“My daughter is young, tall, blond and beautiful,” Michele Ebbert told me, “and she is both envied and complimented on her appearance. She dresses provocatively, as do 99 percent of 23-year-old girls who can. But they were out of line.”
Picking Up The Pieces In Guaymas

Left: Jose Alberto Salvedra cleans up the water-filled San Francisco Javier Church in Guaymas after Hurricane Henriette hit. The church's pastor joked that "When hurricanes hit here, even the saints get a bath." The storm filled the streets of the city of 250,000 with several feet of mud. (Dean Knuth / Arizona Daily Star )

Maybe not as bad as I feared:
"We've been cleaning practically nonstop since Wednesday night and probably will continue through Friday. We've been picking up trees, billboards, stranded cars and trash," said Manuel Avitia, a public-works department truck driver. "I estimate that we have hauled off 50 tons of mud alone," Avitia said.

Business owners and their workers swept sidewalks and shops — clearing away debris and water that reached 4 feet deep on the main thoroughfares Wednesday night.

"A lot of businesses are cleaning up mud that entered their shops because of mudslides from the hills that surround us," said Ana Cecilia Dena, owner of ice cream shop Paletería y Nevería La Flora de Michoacan.

"This storm was a small one compared to past storms. It rained hard for about three hours on Wednesday and then it stopped. Other storms have caused havoc throughout the entire night," said Dena.

Two men died during the storm, and about 70 houses were destroyed in the Rio Yaqui Valley, according to city officials and representatives of Mexico's family-services agency, Desarrollo Integral de la Familia or DIF.

Sonora Gov. Eduardo Bours Castelo and Guaymas Mayor Antonio Francisco Astiazaran Gutierrez traveled to Yaqui communities to assess damages caused by the hurricane, which was downgraded to a tropical storm as it made its way through the state.

...Downed trees and power lines cut off electricity to 300 households on the city's west side in Colonia Sahuaripa.

Ramon Paz Cervantes, a private security guard who said he has had no electricity since Wednesday, stared at a 30-foot-tall tree that crashed into a house, taking electrical lines with it.

"It is hot and humid, and no one has responded to our pleas," said Cervantes of his telephone calls to the Federal Electrical Commission. "The electrical lines are active and we are scared to remove the tree."

Damian Martinez, 23, a plant worker, said the tree is blocking the entrance to his mother's house. He said his mother is staying with him and his family.

"We are desperate. We need food and we are buying ice to try to keep our food from spoiling," said Agripino Escobedo García, 51, a federal government worker.

Blocks away the Rev. Jorge Figueroa Valenzuela and parishioners were sweeping water and mud out of San Francisco Javier Church.

"We received about a foot of water. We have a saying that goes 'When hurricanes hit here, even the saints get a bath,' " said the priest.

Nearly all 1,840 people who were evacuated and taken to shelters returned to their homes Thursday to assess damage. Most of the 21 shelters were shutting down, except for five in the Rio Yaqui Valley.

...Nurse Maria de los Angeles Leyva Cervón said the public-health department is expected to begin a vaccination campaign, going to homes to educate and prevent the spread of respiratory and intestinal infections that are common after flooding occurs.
Thanking Our Ally

Let Bush be Bush:
Talking about Howard's visit to Iraq last year to thank his country's soldiers serving there, Bush called them "Austrian troops."

That one was fixed for him. Though tapes of the speech clearly show Bush saying "Austrian," the official text released by the White House switched it to "Australian."
Some Aussie commentary:
GEORGE W.Bush is the kind of guy you can't help but like, and not just because he has a nice car. The US President visited Sydney with the sort of security detail the Germans took with them when they visited Poland in 1939.

Sure, the nuclear bomb-proof plane and armour-plated limousines can make him seem a bit remote and stand-offish, but up close he seems like your average knockabout bloke with a personal army of trained assassins.

The juxtaposition was evident literally from the first second he arrived in Sydney.

For more than two years the APEC task force had been planning the summit and preparing, in large part, for his arrival.

Then a few weeks before he was due, George decided he was going to drop into Iraq and would it be too much of an inconvenience if he popped by Sydney a couple of days early?

No, not at all, said somewhere in the vicinity of 5000 police, security officers, government officials and organisers, who turned around half the APEC security program.

Admittedly, his early arrival did cost taxpayers an extra $4 million but, when you look at that figure in the context of the $500-odd million APEC is already costing Australia in security measures and lost business revenue, it's just a drop in the ocean.

...Two days earlier a pair of Hercules C-130 transport planes, so huge they could carry Malcolm Turnbull's ego and still offer him legroom, had landed at RAAF Richmond and dropped off half the presidential convoy and a couple of military helicopters for good measure.

...So, with all the power and menace of a John Wayne walk, the world's most impressive jumbo jet rolled heavily into position before a freezing media and official welcoming party.

And then, as the engines died down and the chopper noise became part of the ambience and the police officers and secret service stood to attention, the front door opened and out stepped this average-sized bloke in a suit, with a big, goofy smile.

Never had a man looked so small and so powerful at the same time.

"Hey," he seemed to be saying. "I'm the leader of the free world. What do you do for a living?"

Throughout the next 24 hours Sydney was - sometimes literally - turned inside out to ensure the absolute safety of the closest thing the mortal world has to a god.

And what was this deity doing? He was contemplating steakburgers and mountain bike riding and bringing freedom to murderous regimes in the Middle East. He seemed like a fun guy.

And, like most fun guys, he has the attention span of Willie Mason at the Easter Show.

...In fact, the President resembled more a comedian than a commander-in-chief. Virtually everything he said ended with a punchline, even if that punchline was rarely grammatically correct.

Indeed, the thing people don't acknowledge about Mr Bush is that he is an excellent speaker, even though much of what he says either doesn't actually make sense or is so simplistic it could have fallen from the mouth of a five-year-old.

For example: "It's important for our trading partners to be wealthy enough to have something to trade."

He takes to the stage like an evangelical lay preacher, speaking emotively with strong and clear body language and perfect cadences - throw in a few jokes and the rest of the words hardly even matter. By the end, half the journos in the room weren't sure whether to file or applaud.

Yes, you might not want George W.Bush running the most powerful country in the world but you can't help feeling it would be great to have a beer with the bloke.

A shame he doesn't drink any more.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


The British seem to do disdain better than we do. Examples:

...To people determined never to forgive her for being an ex-dancer from Michigan she’s only ever as good as her collaborators....


The concept of “Kylie” – the logo, the all-conquering hits package with feathers on its head, the brand of nice pants – can occasionally appear so synthetic it’s easy to forget that there’s a human being at the centre of the phenomenon.


...Obviously, her ongoing refusal to wear underwear while exiting cars hasn’t helped her cause, but there have been enough mental-health red flags – the head-shaving, her crying jags while filming the video for new single Gimme More – to leave you wondering whether she really needs the pressure of releasing a career-saving album right now....
Arizona Idyll

Friend Dyer Lytle went on a trip and took some pictures. He writes:

Over the Labor Day weekend I drove up to Springerville, AZ to take a look around and to try my hand at making some panoramic images of the landscape. The area has gotten quite a bit of rain in August and the fields are green and the wild flowers blooming.

I photographed near Springerville and Eager, up near the Sunrise ski resort area, and along the road to and at the trailhead of the Mount Baldy trail. Mount Baldy is where the headwaters of the Little Colorado river are and the trail near the base of the mountain follows the river and is a beautiful place.

Also, there is a fairly new wildlife area managed by Arizona Game and Fish called the "Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area" south of Springerville along route 191. It is about 10 years old and features a restored ranch house that once belonged to the Sipe family and is now a museum. I didn't see any large wildlife there but they had quite a few hummingbird feeders hanging out on the porch and these were surrounded by swarms of hummingbirds. I took a few photos of them.


Regarding job interviews, Thelma Domenici recommends:

When you meet the interviewer, put out your hand, make eye contact and say his or her name. It's better to be formal rather than casual: "Ms. Jones, thank you for taking the time to see me."

During your handshake, firmly clasp the interviewer's hand, touching the web between your thumb and index finger to that of the person you're greeting. Hold for 3 or 4 seconds while you pump from the elbow two or three times. Avoid a bone-crushing squeeze or an indifferent pinch with the fingers. Remember to smile.

Don't take a seat until the interviewer motions you to sit. Sit up straight and attentively, don't cross your legs or your arms, and keep your legs still. Use active listening techniques like eye contact, head nods, an appropriate "Hmmm," and ask questions when the opportunity arises.

Stay positive about previous employment and prior supervisors. Don't be afraid to assert yourself. Tell the interviewer you have great respect for the company and would be very proud to join the team, or that you are a very hard worker and are enthusiastic about the company's future.

Madonna's Impact On Science

Hadn't J.H., a student at New Mexico Tech when I was there, or his brother, already discovered several species of cactus by the time he was eighteen? I guess it's not that hard, if you know what you are looking at.

In any event, this was a nice gesture:
In 2006 a new water bear species (Latin: Tardigrada), Echiniscus madonnae Michalczyk & Kaczmarek, 2006[102] was named after Madonna. It is the first and the only (so far) species named in honour of the artist. The paper with the description of E. madonnae was published in the international journal of animal taxonomy Zootaxa in March 2006 (Vol. 1154, pages: 1-36). The authors' justification for the name of the new species was: "We take great pleasure in dedicating this species to one of the most significant artists of our times, Madonna Louise Veronica Ritchie". The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) number of the species is 711164.
Not Enough Mental Preparation

What's a central government for, after all?:
Last June the Chinese Education Ministry, concerned over rising obesity among the nation's children, ordered compulsory dance exercises including waltzes at all primary and secondary schools.

The ministry later clarified its instructions, saying the exercises must take place in large groups, after parents complained that having boys and girls dance hand in hand could lead to puppy love and neglect of their studies.

Teachers at a middle school in the central province of Hunan found puppy love was far from pupils' minds when a well-meaning attempt to add panache to a waltz backfired, the Beijing News reported, citing a local newspaper.

A finishing flourish, where girls fell back into their male partners' arms, was deemed too risque by the student body.

"When he touches my waist, I feel really ticklish and can't complete the move," the paper quoted Ding Wei as saying.

"I'm simply too embarrassed to hold her waist," said Ding's sweaty-browed partner, Zhang Wei.

Teachers conceded that the dance move had been ill-advised, and subsequently cancelled it.

"We would have to give them mental preparation before each exercise," the paper quoted one teacher as saying.
Hurricane Henriette Recap, And Looking Forward to Dread Permanent Hurricane Felix

Life in the Arizona desert is so danged frustrating! Last night, I tried to offer solace to Friend Deborah:
Many consolations on Henriette almost making it to Phoenix, but not quite.....
Deborah chooses to look on the bright side:
There is cloud cover--that helps. : (
The irony, of course, is that even in many places Henriette has reached, it's not raining either, because it's so humid and cloudy that convection is being suppressed.

Currently, what remains of the center of the storm is out near Carrizozo, NM, heading NE.

One remarkable thing about Henriette is how it stalled directly over the Mexican coastal city of Guaymas, Sonora. The storm resisted getting pulled away from its life sustenance, the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez. For hours, the storm clung to the shores of Guaymas Bay, and clung to the shores, and when the upper level winds finally yanked it free, it surrendered to fate all at once. Heroic! But disastrous, of course, to the many people directly below, who probably wonder today what they did to deserve such a punishment. Today, the western slopes of the Sonoran Sierra Madre are a sopping mess.

There is a thunderstorm out near Prescott, AZ, right now that has started up. The extra water vapor left behind is a lot of ammunition for adventurous new thunderstorms, should they wish to fire up.

The next chance is Hurricane Felix. Rare among storms, it is likely to redevelop into a new, improved hurricane, after having survived this week's Central American passage. Current forecasts place it a little too far south to affect Arizona, but you never know. Instead, Felix might head west, and, in several weeks, harass Japan, or the Philippines, or Vietnam.

I think it would be a grand thing to have a Permanent Hurricane always trolling the vast, empty expanses of Earth's tropical oceans, taking leave every week or so to meet a colorful land mass, terrorize the inhabitants, and blast their possessions into smithereens. Felix is the best approximation we're likely to see in a long time to this dread Permanent Hurricane.

But maybe it would be a nobler thing to find a way to bring Felix into western Arizona instead, without Hurricane Nora's exhausted entry from a few years back, or Henriette's disappointing feint this year.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cry, The Desert

Guyamas, Sonora looks like it got really pounded today. There will be some horror stories from there, for sure.

I almost forgot, a cold front will pass into AZ tonight, which is capable all by itself of stirring up storms. So, cold front from the west, hurricane marching up the Yaqui River Valley from the south, Phoenix in-between....

So, the immovable object and the irresistible force might meet tonight, over Phoenix.

(Or not. It's so hard to tell for sure.....)
Despair And Longing In Phoenix

Deborah in Phoenix quotes my Arizona forecast:
But if rains can be triggered despite the storm’s distance, that may help.
Then responds:
Henriette is thoughts of heat lightning
And of steam on the panes
And of Midsummer Night flares
With the movements of clockwork and despair
Of a tryst in the very bed of the torrent
That passes by here.
And of the drop of a glass where one has just been drinking
No eyes on water-level of air earth and fire, just thirst.
Despair! I'm going to cry!

On the other hand, Henriette's farthest influence is just on the other side of Picacho Peak - you might even be able to see it!

Which, of course, just deepens the despair, if the influence never, quite arrives.....
Mulling Over Henriette

One good thing about Henriette so far is that it is triggering rains on the very edge of its influence. It’s raining right now SW of Tucson, and south of Willcox as a result of Henriette, yet the storm is still quite a distance away from Arizona.

The eye is now ashore in Sonora. The high pressure system over the Four Corners that I thought might help push the storm west crumpled like a house of cards in the face of the onslaught of the trough now pushing through the northern Rockies. None of the computer models show the slightest hesitation in blowing the storm over the Sierra Madre, into Chihuahua and NM. Yet, on most days, there are southerly winds along the west flank of the mountains that would tend to guide the storm into AZ.

Today is not most days, however. The Sierra Madre may seem like a sidewalk curb to the storm, and the storm is an 800-lb gorilla that may not care a whit about the fair and gentle breezes of Mexico. But if rains can be triggered despite the storm’s distance, that may help. And those low-lying winds might help too.
Good Money After Bad

So what do the credit card companies see in the sub-prime meltdown? An opportunity!:
"Direct mail credit card offers to subprime customers in the United States jumped 41 percent in the first half of this year, compared with the first half in 2006, according to Mintel International Group. Direct mail offers targeted at customers with the best credit fell more than 13 percent."

...So what happens when you reduce their exposure to bad credit risks by passing a bill that makes it all but impossible for people to declare bankruptcy and stop paying their credit card bills? The answer is obvious: banks start pitching their cards even more aggressively to consumers who are even worse credit risks. This was an easily predictable consequence of tilting the playing field in favor of credit card issuers by passing the egregious 2005 bankruptcy bill, and it's exactly what's happened. Thanks, Congress.

...Lew Ranieri, the so-called father of mortgage backed securities, has stated that the overheated phase of subprime lending started at the end of the third quarter of 2005 and extended through most of 2006. When did the new bankruptcy law take effect? October 24, 2005. There is no ready way to prove a connection between the new law and the explosion phase of subprime growth, but consumers became much more cautious in taking on credit card debt after the law became effective. And the ones that had above median incomes which would force them into a Chapter 13 (meaning they'd have to repay their debts) might be even more eager to tap home equity if they saw themselves at risk.

I don't know how likely this explanation is, but it certainly has a lovely circular viciousness to it. Credit card companies lobby Congress to pass a bank-friendly bankruptcy bill. Consumers in financial trouble respond by avoiding extra card debt and instead tapping the subprime lending market. When that turns sour, credit card companies turn around and offer yet more card debt to desperate subprime borrowers, secure in the knowledge that their shiny new bill protects them from default. It's almost too beautiful a theory to not be true.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

DMTC's "Pirates Of Penzance", In Rehearsal

Mabel (Allyson Paris), with her pleasant smile (and amazing voice!)

Ruth (Lenore Sebastian), Frederick (Travis Nagler), and Pirate King (Brian McCann) rehearse, with Sergeant of Police (Richard Spierto) looking on.
Las Vegas May Regulate Nits

Just too many bright, flashing nits:
Clark County officials are considering a law that could dim lights on Strip marquees and other signs that blind or dazzle motorists — once someone figures out when bright is too bright.

Critics point to a Mandalay Bay marquee that floods I-15 with flashing — and some say blinding — light.

..."We're looking to establish a more concrete ordinance," Pulsipher said, noting that the county has received complaints about marquees near I-15, particularly the Mandalay Bay marquee that was built without a brightness control sensor by a company that no longer is in business. "This is about getting better light pollution control," he said.

The county still is determining what the brightness standards should be, based on a measurement called "nits" — the amount of candle power emitted in 1 square meter at the source of the light. The numbers being bandied about are a maximum output of 5,000 to 6,000 nits during daylight and 2,500 to 4,000 nits at night.

Bob Klausmeier, electronics specialist for Yesco, the oldest local lighting company and which has about 70 percent of the electronic-marquee market on the Strip, says most local resorts could easily meet such standards.

Klausmeier said he also is critical of harsh-light signs because they give his business a bad name.

"That sign (behind the Mandalay Bay) is a hazard," Klausmeier said. "It lacks sufficient brightness controls and does harm to our industry because people think that a high level of brightness is what we are about. But it's not. We want people to look at our signs and read the messages, not turn away because they are too distracting."

This is what will do me in:
Consumers, not just factory workers, may be in danger from fumes from buttery flavoring in microwave popcorn, according to a warning letter to federal regulators from a doctor at a leading lung research hospital.

A pulmonary specialist at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center has written to federal agencies to say doctors there believe they have the first case of a consumer who developed lung disease from the fumes of microwaving popcorn several times a day for years.
Wide Stance

Larry Craig is reconsidering his resignation. Publius comments:
So that brings us to Larry Craig. It’s clear that Craig’s de-resignation would be very bad news for the national party. The question I’m struggling with is why Craig should give a damn. Watching decades-long friends turn on you in a day has a way of clarifying things. (See also Joe Lieberman). The national leadership acted fast to strip him of power and push him out. But . . . there’s one power they can’t strip – they can’t force him out of the Senate. Only the people of Idaho can do that. And only in 2008. If he resigns now, it would basically be for the good of the GOP. But again, if they’ve written him off and turned on him and denounced him, why should he care? The GOP's efforts to push him out have re-aligned pre-party incentives (i.e., structural incentives that predated the rise of political parties). Craig’s calculation now has nothing to do with the national party and everything to do with the people of his state (see also Joe Lieberman). And even if his state doesn't support him, why shouldn't he stay just for meanness? What exactly does he owe the GOP these days, anyway?
Did Lindsay Graham Really Say This?

Sounds like the stupidest rubbish ever. As if Sunni politicians quake before Shiite constituencies (who never voted for them anyway), or vice-versa:
I'll make a prediction on your show. In a matter of weeks, we're going to have a major breakthrough in Baghdad on items of political reconciliation -- the benchmarks -- because the Iraqi people are putting pressure on their politicians. That's the best pressure that could be applied where people vote is have the people themselves, frustrated with their own elected representatives, having their say. And I saw that all over Iraq.
Hypotheticals And Possibilities

Quick Notes:

Felix is farther south than most people anticipated, still in Nicaragua, and is likely to cross completely to the Pacific side, regenerate, and rake the Mexican coast near Acapulco.

Henriette is inscrutable – currently in the southern Sea of Cortez. It will hit Sonora for sure, and it is adhering to a path likely to take it to NM’s boot heel, rather than to AZ. But we’ll see…. I have some hope still…

According to the most recent NOGAPS forecast, the system off Georgia, named 99L (and may get named Gabrielle) might NOT jog north along the Atlantic seaboard. Instead, it might plow right into Charleston, SC, next Sunday. This bears watching…..

And there might be another storm boiling off the African mainland right now, and starting the long trek west….
Try To Keep It Challenging

Hard for some people:
Hong Kong's youngest ever university student said he was already bored with his "very easy" classes as he started his mathematics course on Tuesday.

The nine-year-old maths genius gained two grade As and a B in his A-levels in England -- normally taken by 18-year-olds.

March Boedihardjo told reporters gathered at Hong Kong Baptist University he was excited about starting school, but the classes were not stimulating.

Too Many Maladies For The Computer Literate

Funny confessional:

  • Blog streaking - Revealing secrets or personal information online, which for everybody's sake would be best kept private
  • Crackberry - The curse of the modern executive, not being able to stop checking your BlackBerry even at you grandmother's funeral
  • Cyberchondria - A headache and a particular rash at the same time? Extensive online research tells you it must be cancer
  • Egosurfing - When "just checking" gets out of control
  • Infornography - You're beyond being a healthy "infovore": acquiring and sharing information has become an addiction for you
  • You Tube narcissism - Not even your closest family want to see hours of your holiday videos
  • Google-stalking - Snooping online on old friends, colleagues or first dates
  • MySpace impersonation - Many of us pretend to be someone we're not when we are online, but some will pretend to be a well-known figure
  • Powerpointlessness - One too many flashy slides
  • Photolurking - Flicking through a photo album of someone you've never met
  • Wikipediholism - Excessive devotion to a certain online collaborative encyclopedia. You can test whether you're an addict at
Caged Heat

Convict comedy:
PARIS Hilton is set to go back to prison – for a West End musical.

The hotel heiress, who recently served 23 days in jail for driving with a suspended licence, is to appear in a London stage version of cult Australian TV show Prisoner: Cell Block H.

A source said: "Everyone is very excited.

"There was a real buzz around the show when we thought we would get some well-known Australian soap actors but Paris is a major coup.

"The casting agents never thought she'd be interested, but before meeting with the directors she researched the show by watching DVDs of the original series.

"She absolutely loved it and thought it was brilliantly camp."

Paris, who is said to have been keen to tread the boards in the West End for some time, is to star as an inmate in the production set in a women-only prison.

It is believed her character will be involved in a lesbian romp.

The source added: "Paris is keen to stretch herself as an actress so she's happy to kiss another girl for the audience and actually thinks it'll be fun to play a lesbian.
Keeping Up With The Hurricanes

Felix is now ashore in northern Nicaragua, causing who knows what mayhem.

Henriette is near the southern tip of Baja. Right now, it looks like it will come ashore in Sonora and clip SE AZ, leaving Phoenix high and dry. Nevertheless, I don’t quite trust the forecast, because I think the strength of the high pressure system over the Colorado Plateau is being underestimated. I think the system will come further up the Gulf of Cortez and enter AZ farther west. But we’ll see. (I apologize in advance for Henriette’s bait-and-switch if the storm does not make it to SW AZ).

NOGAPS can’t quite decide whether it wants to have a tropical storm off of Georgia, or not, but if it does, by the weekend, the storm will be approaching the SC coast, before jogging north and up the Atlantic seaboard.

After that, it looks like things will calm down in the tropics for a week, or so.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Looking West

Japanese housewives can't get enough of Asian pop culture:
Erimo Tsurui has watched a movie 13 times mainly because of its Hong Kong-born co-star and once viewed Chinese television dramas for 40 straight hours in a marathon session.

The mother of two daughters also learned to play the erhu, a traditional two-stringed Chinese instrument, and mastered the lyrics of Chinese songs from a variety of genres.

Tsurui's obsession with Chinese pop culture helped to propel her to victory in the 10th Japan-China Karaoke Meet in May. There, she crooned a chanson-style, slow Chinese song while strumming on the erhu.

"Chinese pop music is cooler than that from the United States," the 39-year-old Tokyo resident said. "Fast and hot numbers like rap and hip-hop are particularly good."

Music, dramas and movies from China and Taiwan have caught on in Japan, particularly among women in their 30s through 50s. The trend, known as hualiu, comes on the heels of hanryu, the boom of Korean pop culture.

In both booms, good-looking young men have played important roles.

"I like slit-eyed men like Chinese and Koreans," said Tsurui, who carries with her a scrapbook filled with pictures of her idols, including Van Ness Wu of Taiwan's four-member group F4, and Wang Lee-hom, a Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter and actor.
One Less Evildoer In The Axis

Make a deal, now we're buddies:
The United States has decided to remove North Korea from a list of terrorism-sponsoring states and lift sanctions against it, a spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry said Monday. A State Department spokeswoman said she did not have confirmation of the report, carried by the North's official news agency.
[Update: The U.S. denies we're buddies, which must disappoint the North Koreans.
Nice Work, If You Can Get It

Britney at Luxor:
Spears showed up after midnight, said less than 10 words to the crowd during her 40 minutes to open LAX nightclub at the Luxor and an hour at sister club Noir Bar and earned a quick $250,000 for her time.

That's $2,500 a minute, a far cry from what it cost to bring in a celebrity less than three years ago, when a private plane ride, a nice room and some incidentals did the trick.

"Nomar" is "Ramon", backwards:
Over and over and over again, a man calling himself "Nomar" has phoned the 911 emergency dispatch center in Vallejo. He sounds desperate, often slurring his speech as he reports that he has overdosed on drugs, engaged in a suicide try, or been involved in a serious traffic accident.

But he doesn't need help - at least not the kind he asks for.

The man is a serial crank caller, police say, and over the past few months he has phoned in some 2,000 alleged emergencies to the dispatch center run by the California Highway Patrol, tying up lines and summoning cops and firefighters to locations where they find no one to help or rescue.
Tropical Troubles

The tropics are fully active now, and require full attention.

NOGAPS takes very powerful Hurricane Felix further south than the current National Hurricane Center consensus path, and brings the storm into the border area of northern Nicaragua/NE Honduras, scraping all along the Honduran coast, into Belize. What I find interesting is that, a week from now, after several days of having passed lengthwise through the unsupportive Mexican highlands, the storm will arrive at the Pacific coast of Puerto Vallarta still a recognizable system. Indeed, Felix might even regenerate in the Pacific.

After having crossed Baja California, Hurricane Henriette may bring heavy rains to parts of SE Arizona, particularly border areas like Nogales and Bisbee. So far, desert areas farther west do not appear to be the target, and Phoenix may be on the fringe. But we’ll see. Much depends on how quickly the storm reacts to the trough passing through the Rockies and how effectively the storm catches up. The longer the storm dallies down south, the more likely the trough will pass it by, and the farther west the storm will enter Arizona.

NOGAPS calls for the stormy area off the coast of Georgia to become a tropical storm, or hurricane. The forecast path is quite erratic, with the storm heading NE at first, stopping, reversing direction and heading for the South Carolina coast, stopping again, then heading north, clipping North Carolina’s Outer Banks, then causing havoc along the entire Atlantic coast, clipping Cape Cod and hitting Nova Scotia, among other places. As mentioned before, NOGAPS tends to overestimate the likelihood of hurricanes ‘nucleating’: I hope that is the case here too…..
That Ol' Black Magic

E. has been getting increasingly agitated about lack of news about who wins Mega Millions, plus newspaper stories about thieving convenience store clerks who must be cheating her out her just lottery ticket winnings, plus casinos who rip out old, winning slot machines and install new slot machines that simply hold on to their cash: in fact, everything that gets in the way of her achieving her dream of instant wealth.

Well, here's some news about Mega Millions anyway. Sounds like E. needs to abandon her religion and adopt a new one:
NOTTINGHAM, Md. – Elwood "Bunky" Bartlett says a New Age book store made it possible for him to become an overnight multimillionaire.

He and his wife, Denise, were on their way to the shop where he occasionally teaches Wicca and Reiki (RAY'kee) healing when they stopped at a liquor store and bought two $5 Mega Millions tickets for Friday night's estimated $330 million jackpot. On Sunday, he said one ticket was a winner.
How does E. react to the news?
There is something really flaky about it. They either know the person, like that woman I know whose husband is in charge of California SuperLotto. You know, if they know someone who are friends, then maybe friendship is more important than money. You know what I mean? Let's make them win the California SuperLotto! Then that stupid young 21-year old punk who won at Thunder Valley. Remember? Then no one suspects. A witchcraft teacher who hocus-pocuses the numbers? No way! No, I don't belive in witchcraft, no hocus-pocus, something like that. They have an inside help! One person win $330 million? Don't be ridiculous! People are so evil in money, they probably - politics or something like that, they probably know someone who runs the Mega Millions. Politics, friendship - maybe they are relatives to the people handling Mega Millions. They can make you win if they want to, or that guy would be in jail. Just like that kid who turned 21 that day and walked into Thunder Valley with $20 on the $3 machine and won $12 million? No way! That's full of baloney! People are stupid to believe that was the case. Friends or relatives....they can bail themselves out of jail with $330 million....
Larrikin Watch

Ever since MikeMac posted about the rarely-used word 'larrikin', I've kept a lookout for any news items using the word.

Here's one about Steve Irwin.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Big Trouble Coming For Belize

Apparently one of the hurricane reconnaissance flights was turned back, a rare event, because of the extreme violence of this Category 5 storm.

Felix is heading straight for Belize.
Where Is That Bird?

Heading to the State Fair yesterday, I saw a bird hopping across the DMV parking lot behind my house. The bird looked like it couldn't fly. Concerned, I circled back to the house, got some water and some bird seed, and returned to where I had seen the bird, but it had disappeared. I left the food where I had last seen the bird, and worried about its fate.....
Henriette Update

Today's forecast suggests Tucson & SE AZ may be more the target than Phoenix, but we'll see by week's end....
Loyalty In The Beltway

“He had to evaluate what it would be like to go back into that environment”:
In Idaho, a person close to Mr. Craig did not say exactly what drove Mr. Craig’s decision, but said that the veteran lawmaker had been stunned by the party’s response to his predicament.

“Larry was shocked by the deafening silence by some and rush to judgment by others, even in his own leadership,” said the person, who is a confidant and adviser to Mr. Craig and asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the behind-scenes deliberations. “He had to evaluate what it would be like to go back into that environment.”

The adviser said that none of the Republican senators who called for his resignation, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, sought out Mr. Craig’s version of events, and said, “If you served in Congress a long time, you’d think you’d make that call before you ask for someone’s resignation, but that didn’t happen.”

In the end, the adviser said, “It may have been the silence rather than the noise that was the tipping point.”

Left: First and third-place ribbons grace the enclosure of this llama.

Left: On a hot summer afternoon, no llama should be caught without an electric fan!

Judging Sheep

Animals are really what the State Fair is all about. I passed by the livestock pavilion when the Dorset Sheep ewes were being judged. I've never seen them do this before, and know absolutely nothing about the process.

The sheep were carefully lined up, and the judges carefully squeezed and felt the animals, like they were judging fruit at the Farmer's Market. The winning sheep (#3945?), in the foreground, was praised for her "width and consistency."

These sheep were beautiful! Congratulations to their hard-working owners!