Saturday, June 23, 2012

And Now They Call It Tropical Storm Debby

And now they are calling it Tropical Storm Debby.

It looks like Tampa will get caught in a long train of advancing rain from the south, starting with the heavier rain, starting about now....

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Hairspray" - DMTC - Tuesday Night Rehearsal (II)

"Dodgeball": Link Larkin (Alex Cesena) and Amber Von Tussle (Emily Jo Seminoff).

"Dodgeball": Amber Von Tussle (Emily Jo Seminoff), Tracy Turnblad (Eimi Taormina), and Penny Pingleton (Danielle Hansen).

"Dodgeball", featuring Gym Teacher (Andrea Eve Thorpe).

"Dodgeball": Amber Von Tussle (Emily Jo Seminoff), Tracy Turnblad (Eimi Taormina), and Penny Pingleton (Danielle Hansen).

"Dodgeball": Penny Pingleton (Danielle Hansen) and Tracy Turnblad (Eimi Taormina).

"Dodgeball": Link Larkin (Alex Cesena) and Tracy Turnblad (Eimi Taormina).

"Run and Tell That": Seaweed J. Stubbs (Erik Catalan).

"Run and Tell That": Penny Pingleton (Danielle Hansen) and Seaweed J. Stubbs (Erik Catalan).

Link Larkin (Alex Cesena) and Amber Von Tussle (Emily Jo Seminoff).

Velma Von Tussle (Patricia Glass).

Penny Pingleton (Danielle Hansen), Little Inez (Megan Sandoval), Seaweed J. Stubbs (Erik Catalan), and Link Larkin (Alex Cesena).

Velma Von Tussle (Patricia Glass), and Amber Von Tussle (Emily Jo Seminoff).

Like A Palette

Image by wildyles at B3ta.

Beginning To Start Rotating

Some of the high cirrus around the system has blown away, allowing the satellite IR picture to get a deeper view into the storm. Within the last hour, I think it’s possible to see some rotation near the surface, about midway in the Strait between Mexico & Cuba. I think it’s beginning to start rotating, but so far National Hurricane Center isn’t saying anything.

Jessica Sutta - Choreography

Former Pussycat Doll Jessica Sutta is going to be featured at Sacramento's Rainbow Festival on Labor Day weekend. I like the emphasis here on choreography.

Julissa Veloz performs along Daddy Yankee at Verizon's My Fabulous Quince Event

Apparently Julissa Veloz is coming to Sacramento soon, but I don't know where and when yet.

Update On The Shape-Shifting Monster Near Cancun

The question is, what is it going to do now? It keeps changing its appearance, and the forecasts try to keep pace with its chameleon-like phases. To summarize these possibilities:

  1. Area of heavy rain morphing into a tropical storm upon fairly-quick landfall today in Tampa (what I thought likely 2 days ago; probably won’t happen now);
  2. Loosely-organized low pressure system in the central Gulf, with the area of heavy rain remaining offshore for a long period, and a tropical storm forming briefly near Mobile, AL, and with limited impacts in Tampa (what the NOGAPS model thought likely yesterday - probably won’t happen now);
  3. A compromise between 1. & 2., where Tampa gets caught in a long train of advancing storms from the direction of Cancun, from the south, all weekend long, with flooding likely (what I thought might happen last night; might still happen);
  4. Bouts of rain from thunderstorms moving across Tampa, then with a potential strike by a developing tropical storm off Cancun – today’s thinking. The NOGAPS model run that is becoming available just a few minutes ago is thinking that the storm will advance into the Gulf, form a tropical storm to the west of Tampa, with landfall near Panama City Sunday evening. Tampa would just get a lot of rain.

National Hurricane Center now thinks tropical storm development from the system near Cancun is likely, so we’ll just have to keep an eye on it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Romero Fire In Corrales

Bruce E-Mailed with the bad news this morning:
Fire crews are still battling the Romero fire burning in the Corrales bosque Thursday and say hot spots continue to pose threats to their containment.

The fire broke out Wednesday afternoon and by Thursday afternoon, officials estimated it had burned 359 acres.
I replied:
Oh no!

Well, crap, it's understandable. So dry, and all that fuel just laying around, and river access at Romero Road, so any idiot can drop a match. And the river isn't very wide there either, so the fire can easily jump the river too.

Left: The Rio Grande River at Corrales' Romero Road bosque access. The Sandia Mountains loom in the background.

Here is a picture of the river in the bosque at the end of Romero Road in August, 2010.

The river here is showing signs of retrenchment, with the water running about three feet below the bank on the opposite side. The bank has been here long enough that Russian Olive Trees have had a chance to grow to maturity in the middle distance - that has got to be at least ten years!

Note how narrow the gap across the river, and prone to spreading fire from flying sparks.

J.J. Totah As "Lil Dictator"

What to make of this news? I mean, congratulations, of course! But it's so utterly surprising that I'm left completely flummoxed. I would have expected other news first, like it's raining wombats in the Himalayas, or giraffes are swimming to America, or something.

Remember, half the population of Los Angeles is made up of unemployed actors, many of whom are kids, and everyone is completely, completely available. So, who do the producers favor?

God chooses whom he favors.

And J.J. gets the last laugh!:
Turns out the road from the Davis Musical Theatre Company to Hollywood success is shorter than you might think.

Just ask J.J. Totah, who got his start at DMTC before he was even in kindergarten and five years later is making a name for himself in television, film and stand-up comedy. He’s gone from ensemble parts in “Aladdin,” “Mulan” and “The Jungle Book” on the DMTC stage to a starring role in the “Lil’ Dictator,” a spoof of the Sasha Baron Cohen film made by the web-only channel Awesomeness TV earlier this year.

He has four stand-up comedy routines at the Hollywood Improv under his belt, supporting roles in a television pilot and upcoming film, a manager and agent that sought him out as a client and, oh yes, Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce tweeting about him.

And he’s all of 10 years old.

The third child of South Davis residents Christine and Suheil Totah, J.J. says he was drawn to the stage after watching big sister Camille performing at DMTC. But television and film quickly became the goal, and his parents began taking turns driving him to Southern California for auditions.

A year ago, during spring break, he landed a leading role in a pilot, “Sunny Time.” Though the pilot hasn’t been picked up yet, the whole experience, J.J. says, “was really fun and exciting.”

It prompted him to start taking acting lessons and he eventually ended up meeting a Disney casting director who encouraged him to give stand-up comedy a try.

Watching him on YouTube, it’s not hard to see why. This pint-size kid, all 4 1/2 feet and 50 pounds of him, shows some comedic chops in the three stand-up Hollywood Improv routines available on YouTube (search J.J. Totah).

...But in Hollywood he’s not only found his calling, J.J. says, he’s found kindred spirits as well.

In North Hollywood, he enrolled in a school full of fellow child actors. It was a far cry from his experiences at schools in Davis and Sacramento, he says, “where I never fit in.”

Now he has many close friends who share his passion and drive, he says. One even landed a role alongside him in the “Lil’ Dictator,” the role that undoubtedly has drawn the most attention.

...For her part, Christine Totah says, “We are doing what any parents would do to support their children and help them reach their dreams.”

It’s been challenging at times, she says with the family being split up.

“But we feel blessed as a family to share in this unique opportunity.”
J.J., meanwhile, is enjoying this life he’s living. He’d very much like to land a television pilot by the end of the year.

But whether he does or not, he says, “I’ve found the place where I belong.”

Not bad for a fifth-grader.

I like the second video better than the first....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Storminess Decides To Get Stormier

Just as I decided things were going to be all right down south of Tampa after all, the storminess west of Jamaica reached out and joined the storminess in the Yucatan, forming a more threatening mass of storminess.

The National Hurricane Center is beginning to get nervous:
The NOGAPS forecast shows a tropical storm forming and moving towards Panama City, FL: uncomfortably close to Tampa (but not through Tampa) by Friday evening.

So, time to take your eyes off the Caribbean is not now. We’ll see if anything develops……

Pizza Of Destiny

Courtesy of Angela.

"Hairspray" - DMTC - Tuesday Night Rehearsal

(more to be added)

Thalia - Un Alma Sentenciada (Amy Alderman & Bryan Reyes Video Mix 2008)

For some time, one of my YouTube contacts, High Voltage Mexican, has been recommending Thalia. Here is a dance mix of one of her songs.

Lyrics translation.

It's interesting how different the dance mix is from the original song.

It's also interesting how large and variable the audiences for pop music is. Kylie showed how it was possible for an English-speaking pop singer to put together a lucrative international career even without the predominant influence of the U.S. market. Other international careers are viable too, and Thalia is at the head of pack!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Changes On The Great Plains

There is a most-interesting article in the July issue of Harper's Magazine entitled: "Broken Heartland: The Looming Collapse of Agriculture on the Great Plains", by Wil S. Hylton (no link available yet), where the author argues that the imminent connection of the Texas electrical grid with the Western electrical grid will open up vast Sunbelt electricity markets and drive a vertiginous transition for Great Plains agriculture, which is already suffering from exhaustion of Oglalla Aquifer water, and ready for rapid changes anyway. Great Plains commercial agriculture (including ranching) may all but cease-to-exist (leaving just the organic farms) as the entire region is rapidly and completely converted to - wind farms! - by the year 2030! That's rapid enough that I might see it to completion in my lifetime!

Some quotes below....

For the past eight decades [the migratory exodus] has continued. ... In Kansas alone, more than 6,000 towns have vanished altogether. Nearly a million square miles of the American heartland currently meet the definition of "frontier" used by the Census Bureau more than a century ago.

"Most of us who do organic," Teske said, "are only doing it because we went bust at conventional farming. We learned the hard way."

In the dystopian future that Teske imagines, the cycle of farm dissolution and amalgamation will continue to its absurdist conclusion, with neighbors cannibalizing neighbors, until perhaps one day the whole of the American prairie will be nothing but a single bulldozed expanse of high-fructose corn patrolled by megacombines under the remote control of computer software 2,000 miles away. ... But soon the water will run out.

Until recently, most of the wind farms on the plains have been clustered below the Texas Panhandle, but not for any meteorological reason. ... That's because most of Texas is tied into a special power grid that feeds only Texan homes and, in true Texan fashion is cut off from the rest of the country. ... That situation is about to change. In August, crews in New Mexico are scheduled to break ground on the first intergrid connection to link the eastern, western and Texas grids ... promising to open not only the cities of Texas, but also the rest of the Sunbelt, from Albuquerque to Phoenix to Las Vegas. Faced with such a huge new market, developers have begun scrambling to secure wind rights throughout the region.

"You know," he said, "a lot of these farmers say they're going to keep farming after they get wind. Some of them say they'll quit row-cropping and keep cattle. My fear is, they won't do either. When you visit actual wind farms down south, most of them used to keep cattle, and most of them don't keep cattle anymore. Now, the only thing they farm is wind."

Using Kids As Political Props

An interesting video to watch in its entirety.

Myself, I hate that Lee Greenwood song. The song itself is not exclusionary, but has frequently been used as a political club, post 9/11, by supporters of George W. Bush. I don't know about the Justin Bieber song: never heard it. But I don't like it when politicians of any stripe use kids to score political points:
The backstory here began earlier this month, when a Coney Island principal decided not to allow a group of kindergarteners to sing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” at a “moving-up” ceremony at her school. The news coverage and backlash has focused on the fact that the Justin Bieber song “Baby” was kept on the program.

Fast forward to Monday, when Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY), who is running for Senate against incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), decided to hold a press event outside the school, featuring a group of kids singing the suppressed patriotic song.

Video of the event shot by Politicker’s Colin Campbell shows it did not go as planned. Turner and the kids sang the song, yes, but a group of adults showed up to protest and heckle, and things quickly devolved into a shouting match. At one point, the poor kids caught in the middle of all this start chanting “USA! USA!” to drown out one of the protestors.

A Longer Perspective Is In Order

Leaving the house to go to work, I followed my usual daily custom of putting out seed for the birds at the normal spot, adjacent to the DMV parking lot. The parking lot guard saw me, and smiled. "I like this," he said. "The birds need the food." Pointing skyward, he continued: "God will be pleased. He will give you a reward. You will see!"

As I backed my car into the alley and drove off, I turned to smile and wave at the parking lot guard. Driving distractedly, I failed to clear the garbage cans in the alley. I struck one of the garbage cans with my driver's side rear-view mirror, breaking the support, so now the mirror dangles uselessly from a cable.

No reward today, but maybe another time.

The True Bohemians

At 2 a.m. on Monday, I went out in front of my house to water some plants. I felt confident enough to go outside in my pajamas, and defy normal conventions. A passing police car slowed for the speed bumps, and to observe my activities, but then moved on. I felt invulnerable. "THAT to your normal bourgeois dress conventions!" I thought, as I hosed down the corner of the lawn.

Then, I caught a powerful whiff of a skunk. The whiff was so powerful that I knew the skunk had to be located just a short distance away. I knew they sometimes came through the neighbors' yard and into my front yard, sometimes several at a time, but couldn't see any at the moment. I looked around nervously and grew paranoid.

One thing about skunks is, much like polar bears, they fear humans not at all. They care not a whit about bourgeois dress conventions, or their defiance, or about any human convention or sense of invulnerability. They are the True Bohemians. I quickly rolled up the hose and went back inside.

Maybe An Early Start To The Southwestern Monsoon This Year

The Southwestern monsoon can be sporadic and unpredictable, but the earlier it starts, the more chances it will hang in there to do some real good. The surge of tropical moisture working its way north from Mexico this year has been quite strong so far. I'd say first signs reaching Hobbs, NM, by June 24th.

A More-Benign Outcome For Tampa

The first surge of moisture is reaching Tampa now. More will come.

It looks like this will be the best possible scenario with all this moisture. It won’t be possible for a strong storm system to organize if it approaches Florida directly from the south.

Forecasting how this surge of moisture would evolve was a pain. The forecast kept dodging around, probably because there were a number of equally-plausible possible outcomes, many of which were bad. These scenarios were:

1.) Hurricane in far western Gulf of Mexico, with tropical depression east of Florida;
2.) Hurricane in far western Gulf of Mexico, with tropical depression west of Florida;
3.) Hurricane just off shore of Tampa;
4.) Hurricane in far western Gulf of Mexico, with tropical moisture approaching Florida from the south;
5.) Tropical moisture approaches Florida from the south, then splits into two tropical storms, one each for the east and west coasts of Florida;
6.) And the more-benign case that seems to be happening: tropical moisture approaching Florida from the south, with tropical depression in far western Gulf of Mexico.


Long Live The King Of The ABQ (If He Can)

Kaskade - Full Set @ EDC 2012 (Part 2 of 2)

Nartnoside has such a wonderful camera! Best images ever!

Storminess Will Approach Tampa By Thursday

The National Hurricane Center is finally noting the area west of Jamaica as a potential trouble-spot, but they are assessing the chances of tropical development to be fairly-low. What looks like will happen is that the stormy area will advance on Florida directly from the south, but since so much of the storm will be over land most of the time, the chances of a full tropical development are fairly-low. It still looks like the stormy area will be in the vicinity of Tampa by Thursday.

"Hairspray" - DMTC - Monday Night Rehearsal

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wedding Of Jason And Grace Martinez

This wedding invitation came through Sally, who had been invited to the wedding, and wanted someone to escort her. My problem was that I knew nothing at all about either bride or groom. I asked Sally: "So, Grace is the daughter of your friend Carol; the one who was in the car accident the other day?" And Sally replied: "No, not THAT Carol! The OTHER Carol!" So that was the full extent of my knowledge regarding the family. I felt vulnerable, because, I was going to attend a wedding where I had barely-learned the bride's first name, and didn't even know her last name, or either first or last names of the groom. I was flying blind.

The first weighty question was: what to wear? For guys, the question is usually easily-answered: a suit. In this case, though, I knew it was going to be an outdoor wedding on a hot summer's day (maximum surface temperature at Sacramento Executive Airport was 105 F on Saturday, and 97 F on Sunday). And I sweat - a LOT! Even though my newest suit was a very lightweight suit, I still had to wear a shirt with it, and all my suitable suit shirts were long-sleeved.

So, I decided to wear a short-sleeved Hawaiian Shirt, and set it off with a golden Bolo tie that I traded for another Bolo tie last Christmas with E.'s boyfriend Chris. It was a loud and garish Bolo tie, and not even specifically New Mexican, but more like a Hawaiian's idea of what a genuine New Mexican Bolo tie might be like, and either would totally work as a fashion statement, or totally fail, depending on the nature of the crowd, of whom I knew next to nothing. I was thinking an outdoor wedding on a hot summer's day is going to favor less conservative wear, but who could possibly even know? But I brought a second, more-conservative shirt just in case.

The wedding was held at a cute Bed-and-Breakfast called Monte Verde, located near Foresthill, SE of Auburn, and NE of Sacramento. We arrived early and had time to explore a bit. Judging from the early arrivals, it looked like the dubious Hawaiian shirt idea was going to be fine - they were hot too - so I relaxed and started wandering the grounds with Sally.

We started talking to the DJ, and admiring his equipment. It was interesting how his business card did not have his phone number on it (a point noted by Sally), but did feature his Web Sites. So, you couldn't even contact him, except through the Internet.

Anyway, we mixed with the folks, ate hors d'oeuvres, and waited for the photographer to finish with formal photographs in the driveway of the Bed-and-Breakfast.

Dinner table seating was assigned by a curious Christmas-like tree sitting on a table that featured hanging library cards, with other library artifacts scattered about (apparently an ancient and charming family reference that flew right over my knowledge-deprived head). Each table featured a favorite novel (ours was J.D. Salinger's 'Franny and Zooey'). For dinner, we were seated with the parents of the bride, and their friends.

There was a loose cabal at the table: three of the men, including the father of the bride, had been dorm mates at UC Santa Cruz in the late Sixties. One had been the RA (residential adviser) of his dorm floor. So, college was the common theme here (Go Banana Slugs!).

After the wedding cake was cut, I went to fetch a slice. I was followed in line by the former dorm RA. I turned towards him, and he said to me: "Moss Agate". Apparently, while we were sitting at the table, he had been studying my Bolo tie from the distance, and had finally identified the pattern, or the stone. Then, I noticed he was wearing a Bolo tie too, although one with a more-recognizable New Mexico theme than the one I was wearing. Apparently, my choice of a Bolo tie for today's festivities was a success, because, if one fellow wasn't already wearing a symbolic raccoon-themed tie, and if the father of the bride hadn't been constrained by his formal role in the proceedings to wear a bow tie, that nearly all the men at the table would be wearing Bolo ties. Go figure!

We were each presented with a small handcrafted origami box as a keepsake. Inside the box was one plastic die and three specialty chocolate dice. The bride's mother explained that both bride and groom were Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) aficionados, and after much research, they had located a company that manufactured chocolate D&D dice.

Ah, that's important information! When I was in high school, D&D was just coming in to its own. One of my friends became a nationally-recognized Dungeon Master, and in the early Eighties flew to various D&D conventions around the country (before Jesus became his guiding light). Gaming has become ever-more sophisticated after the introduction of the Internet, to the point where I noticed (after being invited to a 2004 wedding, where both bride and groom met gaming on the Internet) that they now speak a kind of insider's patois that is hard for mere English-speakers to understand. So, at least I was now gaining some insight here!

I commended one of the men at my table for what appeared to be a wolf-themed tie. No, he explained, that is not a wolf, but rather, a raccoon. He was wearing the raccoon-themed tie in honor of the bride and groom's abiding interest in Sword and Sorcery novels, where talking animals play a prominent role. Ah, Sword and Sorcery AND Dungeons and Dragons! They go together! I began to feel I was getting to know both bride and groom despite never having met them.

Traditional festivities followed: Toasts, tossing the garter; tossing the bouquet; dancing, etc. The dancing featured a 'Soul-Train' type line dance (but they called it something else), plus the Electric Slide, and other participatory dances. There was couple-dancing as well, which Sally and I indulged in too.

As a special moment, many weddings these days seem to feature Journey's song "Can't Stop Believing", and we sang that as well (holding our thumbs aloft and rocking back and forth in mock imitation of holding cigarette lighters aloft at an arena rock concert).

A good time was had by all!