Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alaskan Storm

Oooh, nature's power!:
The storm, which began hitting Alaska late on Tuesday after building over the northern Pacific Ocean, brought winds measured at up to 89 miles an hour and flooded parts of some Native villages along the coastline.

...“This is a storm of epic proportions as it’s being described,” said Jeff Osiensky, a meteorologist and regional warning coordinator for the National Weather Service. “This is kind of ratcheted up to a level much higher than we’ve been accustomed to.”

“I think this would probably be about a category 3 type hurricane if we were to do some sort of a similar comparison,” he said. “It’s on the line of a pretty destructive hurricane.”

...Powerful storms of this magnitude are common at this time of year in the Bering Sea and North Pacific, but this storm was unusual because of its northward trajectory and the lack of sea ice in near-shore areas like Norton Sound off Nome, National Weather Service and other agency officials said.

The last time a storm of a similar magnitude was sent in the same northward direction was in November of 1974, but the sea surface was much more frozen then.

Arctic sea ice this year reached the second-lowest coverage since satellite records began in 1979, and current ice coverage in Norton Sound and Kotzebue Sound off Alaska’s western coast is sparse compared to past years at this time, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

“Forty years ago, a big storm like this would come through and the sea ice would act as sort of a buffer,” said Mark Serreze, director of the Snow and Ice Data Center.

“The Bering Sea has and always will have these strong storms. What is different now is their potential destructiveness as you lose the sea ice cover,” he added.

Boy If You Only Knew - Kelsey B (Live Acoustic Performance)

Works for Lady Gaga: works for Kelsey B too!

Curtains Close On Rick Perry

The pundits hurl the Texan Knight in Shining Armor into a Texan-sized outhouse pit.

Caught Behind The Curve In Oregon

When events are in the driver's seat:
Nike has no plans to change the name of the Joe Paterno Center, a child day care facility on the World Headquarters Campus near Beaverton....

Sinking Ship

E.: MMMMMMAAAAARRRRRCCCC! They gave me a five-page letter. Now they are saying I abandoned my post, even though I just did what they said, and they are using words like inept. And it looks like they also talked to the people where I used to work.

M.: Have you talked to your union representative?

E.: I called her. I think she's scared of them, though.

M.: You'll need all the help you can get.

E.: I'm not afraid of them. Let them say their lies. I'll give them a little bit of my 'sweet talk'.

M.: (sigh)

Motorcycle - As The Rush Comes

Probably my favorite dance tune of the last jam-packed decade.

Yelle - Je Veux Te Voir

Lyrics translated

Watching The Watcher

Parking at work this morning, I immediately noticed a security guard squatting at the street corner across the street, carefully studying - nothing in particular, or so it seemed. I went inside and carefully watched him from behind a glass window, until he got up and walked away.

It's interesting how alert we get on the street if we are under the impression we are being watched. I remember when I was first employed here at work, we needed to get some statistics on how much time people typically require once they have started their cars to start moving out of their parking spaces. So, we sent a well-dressed employee with a stop watch and a notebook into random downtown Sacramento parking lots to gather that data.

Turns out, people radically change their behavior when being watched. Many peeled out of their parking spaces in no time flat. Others sullenly idled and stared back. No one behaved 'normally'. They were all on their guard.

And that's one reason street cameras are all the rage.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Jes Brieden Has A New Album Coming Out

I didn't realize that Jes Brieden was the vocalist for Motorcycle's "As The Rush Comes": in my book, the very best dance tune of all of 2003!

One of my favorite memories from the 2003 California Recall Gubernatorial race was driving through the streets of Hollywood with "As The Rush Comes" cranked up on the rent-a-car's CD player.

In any event, she has a new tune out, with Ronski Speed: "Can't Stop", from her album "Unleash The Beat". I forsee an album purchase soon!

A Good Night For The Dems

With a big bag of salt tossed over the shoulder, seeing how fickle voters can be:
Union-busting? No thanks.

Voter suppression? No thanks.

Define birth control as murder? No thanks.

Turn the Iowa State Senate over to the GOP? No thanks.

Recall Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the Republican author of his state's "paper's please" law? You betcha'.
But while the news was good for liberals, it was only so-so news for Democrats running for office. So the glass is half-empty too:
While the night was generally good for progressive policies at the ballot box, it was not as good a night for Democrats running for office.

On net Democrats lost state legislative seats and may have lost control of two important state legislative chambers. That’s significant given that only four states (Mississippi, Virginia, New Jersey and Louisiana) held regular legislative elections this year.

In Virginia Democrats lost seats in the lower chamber. Depending on the results of a recount, Democrats may end up losing two Senate seats, putting the balance of power at 20 D – 20 R with the Republican Lt. Gov giving the GOP a working majority.

In Mississippi the results are still being counted, but it looks like the Republicans may have barely netted enough seats to take control of the House of Representatives for the first time since reconstruction.

In New Jersey Democrats did about as well as they did in 2009, gaining only a single state legislative seat.

Some national Democrats may be talking heart in how completely the anti-union law was defeated in Ohio, but they should be more worried about the fact that in the state legislative races Democrats did only as well as or worse than they did in the 2009 election, and 2009 was not a good year for Democrats.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Cover Of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"

Via Erin, on Facebook:
On China's most popular satellite channel Hunan TV, playing to an audience of hundreds of millions of Chinese people worldwide, a group of retired senior citizens (over)cheerfully beat out a version of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" in Changsha's local dialect, accompanied by miniskirted Chinese musicians playing glass traditional Chinese instruments.

They Are Everywhere

I like Google. It refers people to my Weblog, where I can serve as an all-seeing oracle, dispensing all sorts of advice, good and bad.

Today, my Weblog referrer's log alerts me that someone in LA wants to know "locations of Mexicans."

That is a hard question. Some of them are no doubt located in Mexico, but some aren't. I was watching the Mexicans last week, but I slacked off over the weekend, forgot to shut the gate, and they all slipped away. Who knows where they are this week? Especially in LA, where it's hard just to establish where the freeways are, much less all the Mexicans. They could be anywhere, and everywhere!

OK, all you Mexicans, send me your Google Earth waypoints, stat, so we can help this poor person out!

Monday, November 07, 2011

A Late-Forming Tropical Storm East Of Florida?

We're still in the season:
[UPDATE: And today, they are calling it Tropical Storm Sean.]


In the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall campaign, one of the most-effective and well-spoken of the 135 candidates running was Libertarian Ned Roscoe. Regardless of political affiliation, everyone liked Ned.

Well, almost everyone. At the same time Ned was running for office, he was making representations to Comerica Bank that were later found wanting.

And now, despite our letters of support, hard time in a Federal prison is almost here:
This week, I expect to see a "Probation Sentencing Report" from Mr. Flores, my Probation officer. I expect it to recommend that I be sentenced to 14-17 years in prison based upon the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In the federal system, prisoners serve 85% of the time sentenced. There's no parole in the federal system.

On December 14, I'm scheduled to be sentenced in San Jose in the Federal Court building.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons rules say that a prisoner ought to be assigned to a facility within 600 miles of home. The BOP determines where a prisoner serves.

On December 14, I'll have an opportunity, if that date holds, to speak in what's called an "Allocution" before sentencing. Also, victims, which I think means just Comerica Bank, will have an opportunity to speak. Then, the judge will decide on a sentence. I expect to receive 15 years.

Frankly, those letters you all wrote haven't factored into the equation at all. Yet, I hope. I have mentioned them a time or two or three or four. Or more.

I think I've told you that I'm represented by Vicki Young, the former Federal Defender in this district. She's on the board of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. She's very well respected. My case was the first trial she's had in 10 years.

On Saturday, I was on Mt. Tamalpais, hiking. On Sunday, we went to church and I sat between two young, high-energy twins who started off whapping each other with fans while their grandmother sang in the choir. My dog is still friendly and the cats are still fat. Family is fine. What I really think is ... that if you want to know more, you'll ask me.


"Bye, Bye Birdie" - DMTC - Opening Weekend

Bows, on Sunday afternoon November 6, 2011.

Opening weekend is accomplished!

There were a few light-board glitches from yours truly. We discovered during dress rehearsal that the light cues needed to be sharper on "The Telephone Hour"; in time for sharpening them on opening Friday night. On Saturday night, I kept the lights on too long at the end of Act I, Scene I. I also brought the lights down too fast at the end of Act I. Also, Dannette wanted the lights down faster at the end of "Normal American Boy", so I incorporated that desire into my notes.

Saturday night, the 'Sweet Apple' sign seemed to come down prematurely.

Sunday afternoon went well, but then glitches started occurring. H. jumped a line in the "Normal American Boy" scene, which ultimately stranded her fellow cast members, leaving them mute and grasping for straws, and so she had to repeat her line, this time at the correct time.

In Act II, a fellow sitting in the back of the hall was trying to multitask, so as he juggled his young daughter in the seat next to him, he opened up a laptop computer and held it over his head for better visibility. I could see he was writing an E-Mail message, since he was holding the laptop directly in my line-of-sight, seated as I was in the light booth. I left my post, went out and politely tapped him on the shoulder, and got him to put away the laptop.

In the Shriner's number, the audience gasped when Greg, who was cradling Danielle in his arms, appeared to trip, and then fell, dropping Danielle (Rosie Alvarez) into the stage left wing in full view of the audience. (When the Shriners get pulled under the table, sometimes they knock their chairs over, and then those fallen chairs become hazards. I'm not sure if that was the issue Sunday afternoon, however, or whether it was simply an unexpected weight shift, or some other unanticipated tripping hazard.)

Danielle jumped up and seemed OK, and I was hoping the same for Greg (with a lower level of concern for actor's health, naturally, for ensemble member vs. lead character). Still, I was apprehensive, as I'm sure everyone was.

After the number, in the next scene, it was supposed to be Noah (Hugo F. Peabody) & Danielle together in front of the closed curtain. I received an ambiguous squawk over our new wireless intercom system from Stage Manager Christina. I was expecting a 'lights' command from her any second, so I made the decision to proceed based on the ambiguous squawk and turn the lights up. Wrong decision. No doubt because of the accident, and the need to assess fitness, Danielle was late coming on stage, leaving Noah stranded in the light. But this time, I'm sure, the audience was tolerant of the misfire.

Then, after the show, there was the unfortunate incident concerning opening the stage door too rapidly, but that was an accident....

In general, however, it was a strong weekend!

(And Greg was OK too. Speaking as an ensemble veteran, we must keep our ensemble members strong!)

Kelsey B - Boy If You Only Knew (Live Version at Neon Blackout)

Love it!

Kelsey B premiered her new song "Boy If You Only Knew" on October 6, 2011, in a club setting (Neon Blackout) in Los Angeles, together with backup dancers Luis and Carlos.

I'm curious to hear the remixes too. Those should be out on November 16th!

The video should be out any day.

Alexis Jordan - Happiness (Live Performance on Jamie & Anna's Big Weekend)

Sometimes you get a song stuck in your head, and this one is no exception!

Fortunately, Alexis Jordan sings a very happy, upbeat song, so if she wants to stay in my head for a long time, that's OK!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

As Inevitable As Death And Taxes

Brave Venture Into The 'Hood

For several weeks, Joe The Plumber has been telling me tales about the Chaos House he's been bedding down at in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood - the drifters, the haphazard facilities, the shady activities, the things he can't talk about that he nevertheless talked about at considerable length. I was (apprehensively) looking forward to meeting some of these low-lifes (not actors; the real deal), but it looks like that is not to be anytime soon. The time had come (as it usually does) when Joe had somehow alienated everyone living in the Chaos House and thus had to resume his nomadic, rootless, homeless existence alone, living in a van parked down by the river. One trouble though: his pickup truck (his second vehicle) was still parked in front of the house. So, he asked me to give him a ride to pick it up, so he could leave it instead in a neighborhood in South Sacramento.

"You have to understand, these people know everyone in Del Paso, and they know everything that happens there. We'll have to take precautions. I'll take you a back way, so we get maximum cover. We'll drive very fast. When we get there, we need to do a hairpin U-turn, like a donut turn. I'll jump out and get in my truck, quick. We get in; we get out. That's it. Then you follow me, and we leave."

A hairpin U-turn! Back in the 70's we used to call that a "Rockford 180", in honor of the "Rockford Files": Hollywood stunt-driving, basically. Peeling rubber! Hard on transmissions! Don't do this without professional training! So, off we went!

We left Business 80 at the Marconi exit, and then started driving through the back streets of Del Paso. Parts of the neighborhood are very pretty: there were even some horses out and about on a Sunday morning. Not very 'hoodlike at all. But we were getting closer to the troubled zones.

We passed another Chaos House. Half a dozen low-lifes stood gaping in the front yard as we drove past. "You aren't driving fast enough," Joe said. "They've seen you!"

Myself, I wasn't too worried. Even if there were trained killer-ninja assassins at these Houses, they still had no idea who I was, and I had the advantage of surprise. When you expect a roaring Chevy Camaro, you are unprepared for the sedate Saturn sedan.

We arrived at the Chaos House. Instead of a Rockford 180, to Joe's exasperation, I executed a tortoise-like 3-point turn. I didn't care about the eyeballs: I was mostly concerned about not taking out any mailboxes - ninjas love their mailboxes - and besides, I wanted to look at this house. Indeed, it looked like a pretty Chaosy place: the kind of place that makes Del Paso a serious policing headache.

A half-dozen people were standing in the chaotic front yard of the Chaos House. "They're holding a meeting about me," Joe gasped in a paranoid whisper. Then he jumped out of my vehicle, into his pickup, and we roared off in tandem, before any ninjas appeared from the house.

We headed back to Business 80 at the Marconi exit, stopping briefly to put fluid into the pickup's dry clutch-fluid reservoir. I expected we would travel down Business 80 to Highway 99, since there are plenty of exits from Highway 99 into South Sacramento. Instead, Joe chose an unusually high-speed (and unusually paranoid) evasive route, traveling down Highway 160 into downtown (I had to drive through a red light on 12th Street to keep up), 15th Street, through the back streets of Land Park, Sutterville Road, and 24th Street, before ending up in South Sacramento.

Nothing like the experience of paranoid driving through Land Park. Evading all those hostile eyeballs (even if most were full of cobwebs on a Sunday morning!)

I don't know what Joe did, or didn't do, to alienate the folks at the Chaos House, but like they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe at a future time I'll meet these low-lifes after all, and, who knows, play dominoes with them, or something.

Bailey The Bunny Really Doesn't 'Get' The Concept Of Rain

He sits under the tree, hoping to escape the drops, until I chase him into shelter.

Oklahoma Earthquake

A magnitude 5.6! Like, WTF? Oklahoma?

John in Oklahoma City writes about his experiences. (And by the way, Sacramento is one of the least-seismically-active parts of California, and my experience with quakes is quite minimal by comparison):
Hey Marc,
I know this is of little interest to a Californian who is accustomed to such things but we had two earthquakes here yesterday. The first one occurred about 2:15 AM Saturday morning and, at magnitude 4.7, was felt over a fairly large area. I awoke to the sound of the bedroom door rattling. I thought perhaps that our cats were engaging in some late night wildness so when the noise stopped after about 10 seconds I went back to sleep. The second quake occurred at about 10:50 PM Saturday night and was much more dramatic. I was sitting in an easy chair when I heard a strange rumbling. After a few seconds I said to Linda, "Is that another earthquake?" The rumbling--much like the ground noises from a passing train but without the rhythmic clicking of the wheels--continued for about 20 seconds when my son, Peter, came into the room and said, "Earthquake!" At about that point the rumbling increased in intensity and the house began to creak and groan a bit. The more intense rumbling lasted about 20 seconds before it began to abate. The entire event lasted just under one minute. The magnitude of that quake was 5.6 which made it the largest quake recorded since statehood in Oklahoma. The epicenter was approximately 50 miles east of here on a fault that has been historically inactive. Both quakes yesterday appear to have been on the same fault but were separated by about 10 miles. I have been in Oklahoma just over 30 years now and for most of that time there was almost no seismic activity. During the last three years the region east of Oklahoma City has become quite active with more than 1000 measureable seismic events having occurred there so far this year (the norm for the last few decades has been around 50). In any case, after 55 years, I am happy to have experienced an earthquake.

Book Recommendation From A Nine-Year-Old

I've been a little sensitive to what kids tell me about the books they are reading ever since a rather bookish girl with glasses, one of the Indians in DMTC's 2001 production of "Peter Pan", told me about the book she was reading: a book I had never heard of, called "Harry Potter". Enthusiasms for books usually start first among schoolkids, so, in order to avoid being blindsided, it's important to pay heed to what they think is important.

Tonight, I asked a nine-year-old about what he is reading. Slowly at first, then with building excitement, he described what he likes. His attention is on Erin Hunter's "Warriors" series of books regarding cat clans in the forest:
ThunderClan is a mainly peaceful Clan, respectful of the other Clans as well. In battle, ThunderClan is fierce, courageous, and loyal. ThunderClan cats are typically known for questioning and breaking the warrior code (usually for the Clan's own good). They normally take in loners and kittypets into their Clan to either to swell their ranks or because the cat is in need of help or shelter. For this, they are at times looked down upon by other Clans and thought of as weak. The Clan's main prey are mice, voles, squirrels, shrews, and the occasional rabbit, as well as birds such as starlings, magpies, wood pigeons, sparrows, and thrushes. They have excellent stalking techniques, creeping across the forest floor. They have the sense to keep upwind of their prey in the thick bushes. ThunderClan cats are noted to be especially strong.

In the Forest, ThunderClan lived in the White Hart Woods. Their territory included Tallpines and Treecut Place, The Great Sycamore, The Owl Tree, Sunningrocks, Snakerocks, The Sandy Hollow, and parts of the Twolegplace. In the lake, the Hare Hill Woods. Their territory included the Greenleaf Twolegplace, an abandoned Twoleg Nest, the Sky Oak, an Old Thunderpath, The Clearing, and part of the Lake Shore.

ThunderClan has many rivalries with ShadowClan in particular, and these two Clans usually get into many border fights and skirmishes.