Friday, October 29, 2010

Martin Solveig & Dragonette - Hello (SMASH Edit)

Cute! Strange, but cute!

Or this version....

Nancy Pelosi's Opponent

Interesting profile:
Republicans are so rare in San Francisco that they would all fit comfortably into Candlestick Park. Even though Pelosi is vilified in elections across America this campaign season, the district she represents is so solidly left-leaning that in 11 elections she has never won less than 72% of the vote. She hasn't run a single TV, radio or newspaper ad in her reelection bid. Most of her critics here think her problem is that she's not liberal enough.

Pelosi's Republican opponent this time is a real estate investor with two first names, a dreamer on a journey that everyone calls Quixotic. He's a Ron Paul acolyte with a libertarian bent who supports legalizing marijuana and same-sex marriage, wants to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and thinks the Patriot Act is an assault on individual freedom. He's also a fiscal conservative who wants to pay down the federal debt and slash government spending.

...Choosing this particular race was easy. "This is a huge platform — a chance to run against this very polarizing figure who also is speaker of the House," he said.

He also thought he would "connect with San Francisco voters on social issues in a way that a traditional Republican wouldn't," and in the primary he defeated a more traditional and well-funded Republican who had been the party's choice in 2008 and had argued that Dennis was a liberal in disguise.

...The first hints that Dennis is not your ordinary Republican are on the office windows, which are covered with rainbow-themed campaign placards, including one featuring a marijuana leaf and another with a peace sign. (Dennis hands out T-shirts with the marijuana leaf insignia in cannabis-friendly nooks of the city.)

The pot poster recently caught the eye of two vacationers who paused to take a photograph. "It's sure not something you see very often on a Republican campaign poster," said Michael van Kleeck of Portland, Ore.

Another sign on the window urges passersby to volunteer. "Come say hi," it says. "We won't bite."

Our Next Benefactor

Money talks?:
Nicolas Berggruen will give at least $20 million to a group of Californians who long to restructure state government so it is more responsive to voters, more responsible with public funds and ready to reposition the state to meet the challenges of today's economy.

...Berggruen, 49, says he envisions a California government that is competent, flexible and efficient — able to close the innovation and entrepreneurship gap that is emerging between California and places such as Singapore and China.

..."We need to be able to think much more long term," Berggruen said in an interview. "We need to be able to prioritize things that may not be popular in the short term but are really helpful in the long term and have an administrative branch that is competitive and meritocratic."

...Berggruen was a virtual unknown in California politics until recently. Then he contributed $250,000 to oppose the measure on next week's statewide ballot that would suspend California's landmark global warming law, Proposition 23. He travels the world acquiring controlling stakes in companies including Spain's largest newspaper publishing firm, a major German retail chain and a renewable-energy interest in Turkey.

...Berggruen's cash is key. A shortage of funds forced the organizers of a state constitutional convention to abandon their plan, which had drawn a lot of attention and enthusiasm. The think tank California Forward lost momentum when lawmakers balked at its plans and nobody stepped forward with funds to put the group's proposals before voters.

...The Wall Street Journal dubbed Berggruen the "homeless billionaire," because he has no residence or car. "I am at home wherever I am," he told The Times. "I am at home as a human being on this Earth. That is home. I don't have a house."

Flying in his private jet, staying at luxury hotels and hosting parties at the Chateau Marmont with guests such as Paris Hilton and Leonardo DiCaprio are part of his lifestyle. Forbes magazine pegs Berggruen as America's 164th-richest person, worth $2.2 billion.

My Voting Predispositions

Here is what I'm thinking about for the upcoming Election Day. Be sure to vote this coming Tuesday! Elections are decided by those who turn out to vote!

As evident below, I'm virtually a straight-ticket Democrat:

Governor: Jerry Brown (Dem)
Lt. Governor: Either Gavin Newsom (Dem) or C.T. Weber (P&F: met Weber in 2003; liked him)
Secty of State: Debra Bowen (Dem)
Controller: John Chiang (Dem)
Treasurer: Bill Lockyer (Dem)
Atty General: Kamala Harris (Dem)
Insurance Comm.: Dave Jones (Dem)
State Board of Equaliz., Dist. 2: Chris Parker (Dem)
U.S. Senator: Barbara Boxer (Dem)
Congress. Dist. 5: Either Doris Matsui (Dem) or Gerald Frink (P&F: we need more boas)
State Senator Dist. 6: Darrell Steinberg (Dem)
Assembly Dist. 9: Probably Roger Dickinson (Dem)
Retain all judges.

State Super. of Public Instruction: (uncertain)

Regarding local Sacramento races:

School Board, Area 1: Ellyne Bell, all the way!

Sheriff: Both candidates edge into corruption - I'm hoping Scott Jones is the lesser of evils.

City Council, Dist. 5: Very hard to decide: both candidates are competent. I like Jay Schenirer, but I'm wary about connections with Mayor Kevin Johnson, and teacher union opposition. At the March 20th public forum, Patrick Kennedy responded to my question about utility rates in a smart-ass way, but Kennedy's campaign has been the most vigorous. So, a hard choice coming up!

SMUD Ward 4: Genevieve Shiroma.


Prop. 19: (Dems: no position) I'm waffling on this. I suppose I need a bong hit first to ease the decision-making process about legalized marijuana. Maybe some brownies too.
Prop. 20: No. Transfer of redistricting authority is premature.
Prop. 21: Yes. Support State Parks!
Prop. 22: Uncertain. Local control is long-overdue, and best, but I'm worried about the status of redevelopment agencies.
Prop. 23: No. The employment threshold for allowing AB32 to proceed is absurdly high. We need to start trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Prop. 24: Yes. No shielded tax liabilities.
Prop. 25: Yes! A 2/3 requirement for passing a budget is undemocratic, and corrupting. I just wish a simple majority extended to tax increases too.
Prop. 26: No. These fees are important societal safeguards.
Prop. 27: No. Democratic Party urges a 'Yes', but I say 'No'. Keep redistricting as far from meddling politicians as possible!

Measure B: My big crusade. Yes! Cap out-of-control Sacramento utility rate increases!
Measure C: Yes. Marijuana business taxes need to be ready should Prop. 19 pass.

Old Naval Log Readers Needed

Earl writes:
When I saw this article, I though of you for some reason.
That sounds just wonderful! These folks took their duties seriously and there’s tons of data there!:
It might be hard to believe, but this page from an old British Royal Navy logbook contains the kind of raw data that climate scientists crave. See the wind, barometric pressure and temperature readings there in the middle of the page? That's exactly the kind of historical data that scientists need to put into their climate modeling software in an effort to get a better grip on what the earth's weather was in the past, why it is the way it is today, and what it might do tomorrow. And now, scientists are asking for your help in unlocking all these potential climate clues.

It's a project called, and it's a collaboration between Britain's Meteorological Office and the University of Oxford folks behind such other "citizen science" projects as Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo. A word of warning: this isn't just a piece of software you download onto your computer. You have to actively go and scour the digitized versions of these old logbooks and record the data online.

Why? Because handwriting recognition software just isn't good enough yet to do it automatically.

Now, why logbooks? Well, they are a treasure trove of information. Every Royal Navy ship was required to keep a daily log, and six times a day -- no matter what was happening -- someone had to note the required weather information. Oxford's Chris Lintott puts it this way: "Every four hours, no matter what else was going on, whether they were in battle, whether they were busy dealing with horrible weather conditions, they would record the temperature, the pressures, and make a note of the weather."

Considering that Royal Navy ships have been doing this for centuries, you can imagine that's a LOT of data. The Old Weather project has started with 280 ships from around the World War I era, but there are logbooks that go back into the 18th and 17th centuries.

Lintott adds that the World War I logs can make for exciting reading. "There are places in the logs where you see, enemy ship sighted, battle engaged, and then there’s a pause while they go and read the temperature."

Community Theater I

This is all rather fun, making these animated movies.

Here is my first effort, loosely-based on community theater experience.

Rent Is Too Damn High Party

Bruce urged this video on me last week, and I'm only getting around to it today.

Yes, the rent is too damn high!

Doesn't Everyone Talk To Their Compact?

Roger Ebert flagged this video about the 1928 Time Traveller.

So, What's The State Of La Niña?

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is WAY positive! Those are La Niña conditions for sure, and currently we seem to be pegged into a really strong La Niña state!

La Niña generally means above normal rain for eastern Australia, and that definitely seems to be the case at the moment. The major exception to a wet Australia, as ever, is southwestern Australia, particularly in and around the city of Perth, which seems locked, in a terrible way, into major, major drought, no matter what happens in eastern Australia.

So, what is the likely effect here in the good, ol' USA? According to the feds:
Likely La Niña impacts during October-December 2010 include suppressed convection over the central tropical Pacific Ocean, and enhanced convection over Indonesia. The transition into the Northern Hemisphere fall means that La Niña will begin to exert an increasing influence on the weather and climate of the United States. Expected U.S. impacts include an enhanced chance of above-average precipitation in the Pacific Northwest, and below-average precipitation across the southern tier of the country. Also, La Niña can contribute to increased Atlantic hurricane activity by decreasing the vertical wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Ocean (see the August 5th update of the NOAA Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Outlook). Conversely, La Niña is associated with suppressed hurricane activity across the central and eastern tropical North Pacific.
Given last week's storm across the Southwest, I'm a bit skeptical about all this. So what does the precipitation across the southern tier of states look like right now? The feds think it looks like it's drying out, or, to be more specific, that it's already dry across the South and that the dryness is creeping into the Southwest.

The NOGAPS model suggests next week will indeed by dry across the southern tier of states, with the exception of eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas, where rain is likely, so maybe there is something to all this.

Maybe Trouble For Haiti In A Few Days

There is a region of low pressure east of the Leeward Islands that the NOGAPS model suggests could become a tropical storm that will move into the vicinity of Haiti in about five days. Even though it probably won't be a massive hurricane, conditions in Haiti are so grim that even a weak tropical storm could be a killer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keeping One's Priorities Straight

I understand the harvest is important, but...
A north Florida mother has pleaded guilty to shaking her baby to death after the boy's crying interrupted her game on Facebook.

Alexandra V. Tobias pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Wednesday and remains jailed.

The Florida Times-Union reports that she told investigators she was angered because the boy was crying while she was playing the game FarmVille.

Who's To Blame For The Cholera In Haiti?

Things are moving awful slow in Haiti:
People are taking to the streets in the Haitian city of Saint Marc to protest the construction of a cholera clinic by Doctors Without Borders. Around 300 students and other people gathered to complain (and throw rocks), voicing fears that the clinic would bring more of the disease into the area. More than 280 people have died from cholera so far in the recent outbreak, according to U.N. figures.

...It was more than nine months ago that a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, killing a quarter of a million people, leveling the capital, and setting back the country's infrastructure and economic development for years. More than 100 countries pledged about $15 billion to repair Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake. But so far Haitians have seen little improvement in their conditions. There are still 1.3 million people living in displaced persons camps, where hunger, rape, malnutrition, and now cholera are common. So far only $300 million of the $1.15 billion the United States appropriated to Haiti has reached the country.
So what's the hold-up? Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn is the chief roadblock:
The AP conducted its own investigation of why the Senate has failed to pass the authorization bill, and it discovered that a single senator “pulled it for further study.” After calling dozens of senators’ offices, the AP discovered that the senator holding up the bill is Tom Coburn (R-OK). Coburn spokeswoman Becky Berhardt explained that the reason he is holding up the bill is because he objects to the creation of a senior Haiti coordinator — a position that would cost a paltry $5 million over five years — when the United States currently has an ambassador to the country.
I hope the Senator is pleased with his objection, because it's killing people every day. Coburn himself is trying to weasel his way out of responsibility:
At the beginning of each session, Senator Coburn notifies every senator through a letter (posted on this website), that he intends to block any bill from being hotlined that adds to the deficit.
It's good to be a deficit hawk, of course, but human life takes precedence. The writings of Hippocrates urge that doctors, "first, do no harm...." Dr. Coburn violates his Oath every day he keeps his hold on the Kerry bill.

Strange Dream About The Passage Of Time

I spent yesterday evening doing some light housekeeping, which included putting away several watches. I had also glanced at a magazine article that suggested the wrist watch is becoming obsolescent (here is an example of such an article).

Once I fell asleep, I dreamt that I donated a broken watch wristband to Goodwill Industries. Then, I went to Goodwill's 'kitchen' and ordered Chinese takeout food, including an eggroll.

The taste was all wrong when I bit into the eggroll. The filling was boiled watch wristband! I spat the wristband onto the floor. A large wasp swooped down, picked it up, and flew away with it.

Then I looked out my bedroom window and saw time speed up. Trees and hedges grew to full height in several seconds, and disappeared. Buildings came and went. My house was H. G. Well's 'Time Machine'! Then the California Delta rose enough due to global-warming-caused sea level rise to sweep into Sacramento and wash the house away completely.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cult Worries Spook Jemez Pueblo Leaders

There are few groups in the world as conservative as the Pueblo Indians when it comes to alien religious practices, so no trick-or-treat, at least for now:
Jemez Pueblo has banned trick-or-treating this Halloween over fears that a grisly killing there last month was caused by cult activity.

Jemez Pueblo Gov. Joshua Madalena said Tuesday that the ban was ordered "because of the violence that happened."

"That really made me and my Tribal Council and my religious leaders step back and take a look at where are we now," he said. "The religious leaders had told me that this (Halloween) is not a part of our culture. Many of them are older men and stated that, 'When I was young, we didn't have this. When did it start? And look at now, you know. We've lost control.' "

...Asked if cult activity was involved in the homicide, Madalena said, "We don't know, and that's something that we're still investigating. Because the way the whole event happened, I'm suspicious. This type of activity is very prominent right now. ... It's not just Jemez, but other tribes ... other communities are dealing with these types of issues. We just want to make sure that our community is safe."

"Charlie Wilson's War"

Rainy Sunday, I watched "Charlie Wilson's War", with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, on DVD. I was first struck by the deadpan, witty dialogue, which reminded me of *something* else. I remembered the same style of dialogue in "The Social Network". And, of course, Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay for both movies! It's impressive what a vivid stamp just one person can make on the movies!

There were many amusing sequences, such as when Wilson juggles a developing ethics scandal while also engaging in a foreign affairs discussion with Gust Avrakotos. Gotta keep these things in compartments!

The movie covers the halcyon days when U.S. involvement in Afghanistan was just starting, and things seemed much simpler. The tone of the movie is practically hagiographic. I don't know whether that's a Bush days hangover, but it bothers me: it's not always "Morning In America".

Despite the 2007 date of the movie, there are only the slightest indirect references to 9/11, and all that came after. I am particularly disappointed that no mention of Osama bin Laden was made. It is likely that there were many, many direct U.S. contacts with bin Laden at this time, and having that highlighted in the cinema would be very useful for educational purposes. For all I know, Wilson may have met with bin Laden. There was a time when we were all on the same side!

So, too simplistic for my tastes, but entertaining nonetheless.

Rain, Tomorrow Evening?

I'm not ready to let summer go yet!

"The Wiz" - Runaway Stage Productions - Tuesday Night Rehearsal

"The Wiz" opens this Friday!

I was over at RSP last night to help Sherrika with the lights. We tweaked those lights until 2:30 a.m., or so (Sherrika programmed even later).

It was fun to see Erik Catalan (Tin Man) and Jenny Stallard-Lillge (both from Woodland) in what I believe is their first RSP show!

Shanta Robinson as Dorothy.

Dorothy and Glinda The Good Witch.

Is that Lorraine d'Arco up there?

Grow Up, Mr. Profitt

Classic blame-the-victim
Tim Profitt -- the former Rand Paul volunteer who stomped on the head of a MoveOn activist -- told told local CBS station WKYT that he wants an apology from the woman he stomped and that she started the whole thing.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Profitt said. "I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you."

"She's a professional at what she does," Profitt added, "and I think when all the facts come out, I think people will see that she was the one that initiated the whole thing."

Profitt also blamed the incident on his back pain. Footage shows that Profitt stomped down on Lauren Valle's head, neck and shoulder while she was being restrained by another man with her shoulder on the street and her head on the curb.

After Profitt was identified as Paul's Bourbon County coordinator, he was fired by the campaign. Police issued a criminal summons for him yesterday.

Drill, Baby, Drill - For What?

Let's get real:
The U.S. Geological Survey says a revised estimate for the amount of conventional, undiscovered oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a fraction of a previous estimate.

The group estimates about 896 million barrels of such oil are in the reserve, about 90 percent less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.

The new estimate is mainly due to the incorporation of new data from recent exploration drilling revealing gas occurrence rather than oil in much of the area, the geological survey said.

"These new findings underscore the challenge of predicting whether oil or gas will be found in frontier areas," USGS Director Dr. Marcia McNutt said in a statement. "It is important to re-evaluate the petroleum potential of an area as new data becomes available."

Sylvia Tosun - Above All (Alex M.O.R.P.H. Club Mix)

Of course, I'm still waiting for the Sylvia Tosun video. She makes the BEST videos!

Michael Jackson - Beat It (Communist Version)

(h/t Wei). Notes from the video:
The video was edited from a Chinese masterpiece, the Long March Song Cycle (长征组歌) which was made in Feb 1976.

The Long March was a massive military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Chinese Communist Party, escaped in a circling retreat to the west and north, which reportedly traversed some 12,500 kilometers (8,000 miles) over 370 days.

Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Long March has been glorified as an example of the Communist Party's strength and resilience.

The Long March Song Cycle was first performed in 1966.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crushing Old-Age Debt

These older people just keep getting into trouble! Glad I'm not in their shoes. I'm almost 54! I have forever to pay down my crushing debts!:
A growing number of Americans age 55 and older have put their retirement dreams on hold as they face a dismal financial reality: The recession has forced many into unemployment, stripped away years of their savings or dramatically reduced incomes during what they had hoped would be their final high-earning years.

...Even before the recession, older Americans were piling on debt. From 2000 to 2008, the average debt for households headed by people 55 or older nearly doubled to $66,000, according to Strategic Business Insights, a consumer behavior research firm.

The ranks of older bankruptcy filers also have been swelling rapidly. From 1991 to 2007, bankruptcy filings by those 65 and older increased by 150%, while filings in the 75-to-84 age group soared 433%, according to the Consumer Bankruptcy Project.

Older Americans are staggering under debt because of a variety of problems — from unexpected job losses late in life and underemployment to overwhelming medical bills and providing financial help to their children and grandchildren, analysts say. Making the issue even more serious: They have little time to climb out of debt, says Matthew Beatman, bankruptcy lawyer at Zeisler & Zeisler in Bridgeport, Conn.

...More than two-thirds of older Americans who have filed for bankruptcy say credit cards are the reason, according to "The Rise in Elder Bankruptcy Filings and the Failure of U.S. Bankruptcy Law," a study released in August by John Pottow, a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School.

Although young Americans grew up in a world of easy credit, older bankruptcy filers have 50% more credit card debt, according to Pottow's study. The median credit card debt of older bankruptcy filers in 2007 was $22,562, compared with $13,615 for younger filers, the study said.

...Many elderly couples offer their children or grandchildren financial aid, even when it's to their own detriment, says Christina Davitt, a bankruptcy lawyer in Wenatchee, Wash.

...Also, many parents in their 50s and 60s are supporting children who have graduated from college and haven't found jobs. "Quite a few individuals still pay for their kids' apartment rental and car insurance," Grogg says. As a result, they don't have as much to save for their retirement, or have used their emergency savings accounts.

...Among the senior bankruptcy filers, 39.1% said a medical problem of the debtor or spouse was the reason, while 32.5% said that medical bills were the cause, Pottow said in congressional testimony last year. And 30.2% said that they had incurred more than $5,000 or 10% of their annual income in out-of-pocket medical bills.

When unable to pay for rising medical bills, debtors can use credit cards, complicating the issues even more. There may be better ways to cope with problems than credit cards, financial experts say. For example, they may be able to get a low-interest loan from a credit union or ask for assistance from family or friends. But it's possible that they prefer the anonymity of credit cards, Pottow says.

...Like Cirinos, many have been willing to use their retirement savings to pay down debt. But that's a bad idea, experts say. With very limited exceptions, retirement money is beyond the reach of creditors, attorney Buckingham says.

Besides relying on credit cards, Froehlich used her retirement savings to delay the inevitable. Her bankruptcy was completed in July, and her credit card debt has been wiped out. But her retirement money has been depleted, and she now has to keep working much longer.

Having A Crisis With My i-Phone Today

The display is frozen and the phone is unresponsive.

Update: Ah, the Hard Reset! (Posted from my I-Phone).

RIP, Paul The Octopus

The German oracle and Spanish hero:
Paul had reached the octopus old age of 2 1/2 years and died in his tank Tuesday morning in an aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen, spokeswoman Ariane Vieregge said.

...He rose to global prominence during the World Cup in South Africa in June and July, but Paul retired from the predictions business after the final between Spain and the Netherlands -- the result of which he also forecast correctly -- and returned to his prime role of making children happy.

...Paul correctly tipped the outcome of all seven of Germany's games. He made his predictions by opening the lid of one of two clear plastic boxes, each containing a mussel and bearing a team flag.

After his World Cup soothsaying skills were revealed, the English-born Paul was appointed as an ambassador to England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup. He had English roots, having been hatched at Weymouth Sea Life Center on England's south coast in 2008.

Imitators sprang up all over the world, including Mani the Parakeet in Singapore and Lorenzo the Parrot in Hannover, Germany.

The latest was a saltwater crocodile named Dirty Harry, who predicted Spain's World Cup final win and called the result of Australia's general election by snatching a chicken carcass dangling beneath a caricature of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

"El Pulpo Paul" became so popular in Spain that the northwestern Spanish town of O Carballino tried to borrow him and made him an "honorary friend."

In response to hundreds of requests to bring Paul to Spain, the Madrid Zoo asked Sea Life if it would be willing to make a deal to bring him in as a tribute to the Spanish football team's victory, either temporarily or for good. But the German aquarium turned down the offer.

Paul also had an agent and Paul's name will live on the Greek island of Zakynthos, where a permanent sea turtle rescue center funded in part by donations generated by the famous octopus is being established.

Jail Time, Coming Up Soon

Lady has a concussion, and it's on video:
The Rand Paul campaign has just severed ties with their Bourbon County coordinator -- a man by the name of Tim Profitt -- who has identified himself as the supporter who stomped on the head and neck of a MoveOn activist outside of the Senate debate in Lexington, KY last night, according to Fox News.

Profitt apologized for the scuffle to the Associated Press this afternoon, and apparently told them that the camera angle made the incident appear worse than it really was.

Jetta Returns Home From "America's Got Talent"

Jetta arrived at the Sacramento Amtrak station last night on her journey home from "America's Got Talent". She decompressed over coffee at Denny's.

The nighttime ride from Sacramento to LA on the Greyhound Bus was predictably bad (a baby cried seemingly the entire way). The people she stayed with in LA were - unrestful - from the sounds of it. She lost her folding chair and neck brace along the way. Even before she started standing in the long lines at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA at 6:15 a.m., she was trending towards exhaustion. In other words, all pretty predictable events if you are trying to rein in expenses, and worrisome, if you are preparing for an audition.

She sang for a first panel of judges, along with several other singers she described as unprepared and untalented. Her group was dismissed. Nevertheless, after her group left, the judges called her back into the room, referring to some disparity with her paperwork. The complaint was a ruse: they had her sing several more songs, gave advice to move around a lot more if rock-and-roll was her forte, and passed her on to a second panel of judges. Jetta was beaming, and ecstatic!

Since it was now late afternoon, before she sang, the second panel of judges went out for a long lunch. Waiting on a bench for their return, fatigue rolled over Jetta, and she fell asleep. The judges returned and they called her up first. Struggling to wake up, Jetta had to fend off what she thought were inappropriate questions (the judges no doubt were testing her ability to think on her feet). Jetta sang, and turned in what she described as a weak performance, without much of the recommended movement. One judge wondered if she had ever done any Heavy Metal (answer: no). Weak performance, or not, the judges suggested she send them some videos for their perusal. Decisions will be made by April.

So, a small chink in the imposing edifice of Hollywood! More taping ahead....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Veronica's Anti-Fur Campaign

Nocturnal Painting

I like the way seasons change in Sacramento. There are no easy transitions between seasons. Instead, it's like someone throws a light switch, and you're abruptly in a completely different place!

The amount of rainfall at Sacramento Executive Airport from the weekend storm was apparently about 1.35 inches. The storm altered the weekend considerably.

I've been a little disappointed that water continues to pool on my new front porch. The slope isn't quite right - not a surprise when it comes to my wonkily-sloped house. I was glad that no water was penetrating the basement, however, but the pooling meant I had to get a mop and push accumulated water off the side. C'est la vie.

Sunday morning, I was jolted awake by a pebble against the window screen . Joe the Plumber, the new porch's developer, was outside in the rain and eager to talk. When I opened the door, Joe went off on a verbal tear. He was so agitated I thought he might be on caffeine, or some other stimulant. The essence was he wants to come back and fix the porch (interesting that his first thought when it started raining heavily was the porch). I guess I have a guarantee of workmanship, or something. Fixing the slope might be a little hard, but we'll see what can be done.

I spent a large part of Sunday dealing with accumulated paper. Some of it was for frantic appeals for magazines I no longer wish to subscribe to, because I don't have enough time to read them. Some of the paper was for newspaper clippings (I maintain files of all sorts of theater-and-politics-related stuff). The saddest part, however, was dealing with the year-long accumulation of charity mail. Since I donate to charities, my name has been passed around to many, many charities, many of whom I have no interest in, and so I get an unceasing flood of heart-wrenching appeals. I can't bear to throw the appeals away, but the charities engage in papering their donors, so the flood continues unabated. Once a year, I get hard-hearted and throw the majority of the appeals away (three sacks on Sunday). There just isn't enough money in the world for all the needs!

I started preparing the outside east wall for painting again. I've been fussing over peeling and scraping paint for three weekends. Every time I go out there, the temperature and humidity is different, which means even more paint is peeling. I continued priming the surface again with Kilz, but then the sun set. The neighbor's security light allowed me to continue (you don't have to see well to brush on primer), so I continued priming until 8 p.m. I ran out of Kilz, but got 95% of the surface covered. Next, the actual painting!

Obsessed With McRib

This fellow does have a point: McDonald's McRib Sandwich is good. But he's going a bit far.

Oxford Comma

Interesting discussion about the Oxford comma:

What is an Oxford comma? The 'Oxford comma' is an optional comma before the word 'and' at the end of a list:
We sell books, videos, and magazines.
It's known as the Oxford comma because it was traditionally used by printers, readers, and editors at Oxford University Press. Not all writers and publishers use it, but it can clarify the meaning of a sentence when the items in a list are not single words:
These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.
The Oxford comma is also known as the 'serial comma'.

Which just leads to:

Figuring Out The Money Connections

Text of the online petition:
Robert Rowling, the CEO of TRT Holdings (the owners of Gold's Gym), is spending quite a bit of money this election cycle. Using both his corporate and personal bank accounts, Rowling has given upwards of $2 million to Karl Rove's new organization, American Crossroads. In turn, that money has been used to support some of the most virulently anti-gay politicians in the country.

These politicians include Nevada's Sharron Angle, who once said that gay people should be banned from adopting children and that homosexuality would lead to the downfall of the United States, and Roy Blunt, who wants to rewrite the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Meanwhile, Gold's Gym, a company which continues to make Robert Rowling a very rich man, markets and caters to LGBT customers. Should company executives really be giving money to candidates, from corporate accounts no less, who want to take away civil rights for LGBT Americans? Send Gold's Gym a message now, urging them to respond to Rowling's anti-gay political work.

Let Gold's Gym know that you expect better from their company, and that you're tired of corporate executives taking money from customers and spending it in order to elect anti-gay politicians.

Bitter Taste

This information was in the Bee this morning, and I thought it - odd:
Most people aren't wild about things that taste bitter, and there may be an evolutionary reason for that: bitter taste receptors on the tongue may have developed to help warn people away from eating toxic plants. So imagine the surprise when a group of researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine discovered bitter taste receptors on human lungs. What's more, rather than causing prompt constriction of the airway when exposed to bitter substances, these taste receptors resulted in a swift and thorough relaxation of lung muscles allowing for freer breathing.

...The Boston Globe reported:
When they exposed the receptors to bitter tastes, the lungs relaxed instead of tightening. Working with mice engineered to have a human form of asthma, they found that aerosolized bitter substances, such as quinine and saccharin (for its bitter aftertaste), opened up airways much more than the asthma medication albuterol did in similar mice.
It was the opposite of what the researchers expected; they assumed the bitter aerosols would lead to airway constriction in order to prevent the inhalation of potentially toxic substances. But in tests in mice and in sections of human airways taken from cancer patients, the team found that stimulation of the bitter receptors caused airways to expand to 90% of their original volume. (More on Survey —

Liggett and his team theorize in their paper that humans could have evolved this response to ease recovery from upper respiratory conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis. The bacteria associated with these conditions secrete bitter compounds; in response, lung muscles relax and open airways, which allows people to cough up and expel mucus and other bacteria-containing fluid, speeding recovery.