Saturday, December 28, 2013

Snowboarding Crow

Crows and jays are way smart!

Breaking Bad - Cinematography

"Breaking Bad" placed heavy emphasis on point-of-view (POV) shots and stunning time-lapse panoramas, and it's fun to watch them together.

Interactive Property Taxes Map

Full of interesting surprises here.

Nearly Got Side-Swiped On The Freeway Last Night

I was slowly passing a car on the left, and was momentarily in the driver's blind spot, just when the driver decided to make a lane change. We almost collided.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Northern New Mexican Accent

Students from Las Vegas give examples of the accent. The funniest part is the accented disembodied voice who takes the fast food order.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

JP Brought The Final Breaking Bad DVD

Binge-watched it in two sittings. Need to look at the Commentaries too. Lots of information there.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

If Bolivia Has A Satellite In Orbit, Why Don't You?

The Chinese had their recent lunar triumph, and now they help Bolivia into space:
A Chinese Long March 3B rocket on Dec. 21 inaugurated the Bolivian space program by successfully placing Bolivia’s Tupac Katari (TKSat)-1 telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit, Chinese and Bolivian officials said.

Bolivian President Evo Morales traveled to China to witness the launch, from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, indicating the project’s political importance in Bolivia.

...The satellite will operate at 87.5 degrees west longitude to provide Internet and telecommunications connectivity to the estimated 3.3 million Bolivians in rural areas that are currently not connected to the telecommunications grid, according to the Bolivian Space Agency (ABE), which was created to manage the TKSat-1 project.

ABE said the entire program cost $295.4 million, of which $251.1 million was financed with a loan from the China Development Bank. ABE said the loan is payable over 15 years, with no principal payments due until the fourth year after an initial payment of 0.75 percent of the loan.

The annual interest payment is the London Interbank Offered Rate plus 2.7 percent.

The remaining $44.3 million in project funding came from Bolivia’s general treasury, ABE said.

ABE said TKSat-1 services will generate sufficient revenue to fully cover the project’s cost, which includes the satellite’s construction and launch, insurance and a satellite ground station in Bolivia that Morales recently inaugurated.

Hari Kari With Kashkari

The very essence of our dilemmas. The manager of TARP (which I reluctantly supported, but which many people, especially the Tea-Partiers, did not). But, hey, if the GOP wants him for Governor, who am I to complain?:
“Oh, give me a break,” said Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. Treasury Department official. “You’re comparing this to Meg? Give me a break.”

Kashkari, 40, is expected to join a small field of Republicans bidding to unseat Brown next year. ... Kashkari, who ran the $700 billion bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program during former President George W. Bush's administration, has not yet said if he will run for governor. But he has been laying the foundation for such an effort for nearly a year. He left his job at Newport Beach-based Pacific Investment Management Co. in January, assembled a team of advisers and started visiting food banks, schools and businesses throughout the state.

Kashkari said these experiences, which he has promoted on Twitter and, most recently, a series of newspaper interviews, have both inspired him and aided his understanding of poverty and education. His emphasis on poverty isn’t typical for a Republican candidate, but he said he wants to make it the focus of his campaign.

“I genuinely want to learn what people are facing,” Kashkari said. “I would want to be the candidate fighting for the poor.”

I Hate It When Arts Projects Suffer Setbacks

(From earlier this month.) I don't want Sacramento Ballet to be thrown under the bus:
The California Musical Theatre notified city officials it would not take part in the Studio for the Performing Arts, leaving 25 percent of the project’s ongoing budget unaccounted for. The theater group did not provide an explanation for its sudden departure from the project.

The City Council has pledged $5 million to help renovate the former Fremont School for Adults on N Street into a space for the California Musical Theatre, the Sacramento Ballet and the Sacramento Region Performing Arts Alliance, a combination of the Sacramento Opera and Sacramento Philharmonic. The city’s contribution would come from the $2.5 million it generates for maintaining the Cal-EPA building next to City Hall and another $2.5 million in future loan repayments by the Crocker Art Museum.

...Without the California Musical Theatre’s role in the project, city officials are scrambling to find $67,000 in annual operating income to keep the 49,000-square-foot facility going.

...Still, the city and the arts groups are up against a tight timeline to find a replacement. The Sacramento Ballet’s lease at its current space on K Street expires in August. “We need to be open next fall,” Rich said.

...However, Ron Cunningham, the co-artistic director of the Sacramento Ballet, said he was confident his group could make up the difference. He said the new space will provide the ballet with at least two more studios, allowing the group to expand its class facilities and generate thousands of dollars more each year in tuition.

The Drought That Has Seized Central California Scares Me Like No Other

And today is no different - a record high:
Unseasonably warm weather has made this a Christmas for the record books, pushing the temperature at Sacramento Executive Airport to an unprecedented 64 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

That broke the previous Christmas day high-mercury mark of 63 degrees, set in 1965, as a trend of clear and dry weather continued across the state.

The record high for downtown Sacramento on Christmas Day is 64 degrees, reached three times: 1892, 1955 and 1967.

While the weather downtown fell just short of that record on Wednesday, topping out at 63 degrees, that temperature still exceeds the historical average for the day, which is 51.8 degrees based on records dating back to 1877.

Tiny Beads

I use facial products with zillions of these tiny beads. Target has useful, environmentally-friendly substitutes at a tenth the cost, but like many consumers, I tend to get the sexier products that smell better:
Tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of toiletries like facial scrubs and toothpastes are slipping through water treatment plants and turning up by the tens of millions in the Great Lakes. There, fish and other aquatic life eat them along with the pollutants they carry — which scientists fear could be working their way back up the food chain to humans.

Scientists have worried about plastic debris in the oceans for decades, but focused on enormous accumulations of floating junk. More recently, the question of smaller bits has gained attention, because plastics degrade so slowly and become coated with poisons in the water like the cancer-causing chemicals known as PCBs.

“Unfortunately, they look like fish food,” said Marcus Eriksen, executive director of the 5 Gyres organization, speaking of the beads found in the oceans and, now, the lakes. His group works to eliminate plastic pollution.

Legs & Co. 1977 Christmas Special

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"And They Never Did Find The Other Shoe"

If it was December 23rd, it was time to take E. to Arden Fair Mall. Adding to the urgency was a huge waft of skunk: somewhere nearby.

I was so addled from insomnia that the experience was strangely pleasant. Like being on some sort of drug. I had an unusual amount of patience this year, which was useful. Endless meandering through the aisles, as usual.

As she gets older, and poorer, E. gets pickier and pickier about what she likes. She wanted to be at Sunrise Mall, but who has time to drive over there? I didn't. Besides, was Arden Fair so bad? Yet, an entire mall full of ensembles and there didn't seem to be any suitable clothes in the entire place. Find a more appealing selection over at Goodwill, apparently. Finally, she settled on a dress on sale, but then we had to fight with her long-standing desire to never, ever try on clothes in the stores. She insists on trying clothes on at home, and returning them if they are unsuitable, but then the odds of making a correct initial choice are low, of course. Plus, no returns for these dresses. Store policy. Still, we made a purchase.

Then it was time to find appropriate shoes. At Macy's, we found one suitable shoe, but its match was nowhere to be found in the entire store, and so a purchase was not made.

Ate at the Food Court.

All said, I really like malls. Too bad people buy so much on the Internet these days.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Queen - Somebody To Love

This song made a big impression on me in 1976, during the days I lived in Englewood, Denver's southern suburb. I remember it running through my head on an endless loop, during a long, interminable walk from the end of the bus line, in vicinity of Southglenn shopping center, along Arapahoe Road, to a birthday party held at a restaurant near Interstate 25, near today's Arapahoe Marketplace shopping center. I wonder if the buses go all the way out there these days?

Approaching Penury, But At Least The Car Is Running

Took my car in for yet more repair. In the last two months, I've slammed $3,000 onto the credit card trying to improve auto function. I think it is running better and smoother, with a new radiator, motor mounts, and coil. And not car repair alone: $540 to purchase a used, roto-rooter-type mechanical snake for the chronic, ever-disgorging sewer issue. I can't keep this pace up. I could peg the credit card if I'm not careful.

And I haven't even started Christmas shopping yet....

Politics Is Not Charity

Politics is a civic responsibility we all have, as citizens. Donations to politics, and the "spreading of ideas" should never, ever be tax deductible. To do so establishes a formal privilege to those who politic, and sets them aside in a special, tax-free class. The amorphousness of the 501(c)4 regulations is so unfortunate, because it encourages political hacks and their 'think tanks' to hide among the birdwatchers, community theaters, disease-preventers, and other fine folks whom we do set aside for special treatment with 501(c)3 regulations.

The best to those who want better policing here. The hell with tax deductibility for any and all think tanks. The waters are real toxic.  This Ben Boychuk is a real tool:
Without a doubt, Americans are the most generous people on earth. Even in a sluggish economy, people are willing to dig deep for a good cause – or just about any cause, come to think of it. Americans’ charitable giving underscores a truth as old as the republic: Government cannot, and should not, do everything. There are a whole host of social functions in this relatively free, mostly open, more or less self-governing society simply better left to private associations – or put more simply, you and me.

Government encourages people to be charitable by letting them deduct their contributions from their taxes. Here’s where things get unpleasantly political, because some nonprofit groups engage not so much in feeding the poor or curing disease, but spreading ideas. And ideas are nothing if not controversial.

...Some self-styled liberals would do away with such nonprofits altogether. Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s former secretary of labor, groused recently how America’s wealthiest 20 percent benefited from $33 billion of nearly $40 billion in charitable deductions last year. Those rich folks aren’t just giving to think tanks. They’re also underwriting colleges and universities, hospitals, and the arts.

...Oh, but it gets worse. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who has set progressive populists’ hearts aflutter, would very much like to intimidate businesses into cutting back their contributions to think tanks whose work she dislikes. Warren earlier this month sent a letter to six of the largest banks in the country, suggesting they “disclose” their contributions voluntarily – or else.

...In the face of charitable persuasion, coercion seems to be all they have left.

Giorgio Moroder Interview And "I Feel Love"

Public radio had a CBC interview with Giorgio Moroder on Thursday night. This is a different interview, a BBC interview, but he discusses the same topic, how he came about making the music of the future. He felt the 'Star Wars' Cantina example was inadequate, so he tried something different, specifically "I Feel Love", which was, in many ways, the point of detonation of Electronica.

The amazing Donna Summer:

And like the best of Electronica, the song is infinitely elastic and adaptable:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Flamenco Arts Studio Burns Down

Very disturbing news from Albuquerque. Plus, it's so close to several Breaking Bad locations:
"Shortly after firefighters pulled out ... the roof did collapse on the flamenco business," said Albuquerque Fire Department spokeswoman Melissa Romero.

Firefighters were able to get a handle on the blaze and prevented it from spreading to nearby businesses.

Excerpts From Fun Review Of Sarah Palin's Book

Yelling back at a book rather than a TV set:
Who holds Christmas in contempt? Who? Where are these people? I'm a secular humanist—there's an award from the Freedom from Religion Foundation on my mantel just inches from my Christmas tree—and here I am, at home on a Saturday morning, baking Christmas cookies for my family. Not holiday cookies. Christmas cookies. I'll be taking some across the street to share with my Jewish neighbors later today. They love Christmas. And no one is trying to "save" Christmas from its heritage.

...I was never a "happy holidays" guy. Christmas was a big deal in my home growing up, and it's a big deal in the home I share with Terry. December is Christmas. I've always wished people "merry Christmas" without really giving it a thought. Ho-ho-ho.

But that's over now.

Sarah Palin and Bill O'Reilly and Fox News and the Family Research Council and the woman who allegedly punched another woman outside Walmart earlier this week for saying "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas" managed to break me of the "merry Christmas" habit. I suspect I'm not alone. This constant bitching from the right about "happy holidays"—a perfectly lovely expression that embraces Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Pancha Ganapati, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Hanukkah, the Epiphany, Saint Nicholas's Day, Hogmanay, Twelfth Night, and Kwanzaa—has made one thing clear. Not that there is now, or ever was, a war on Christmas. But that saying "merry Christmas" is an asshole move. Just as conservatives made patriotism toxic during the Vietnam War by conflating it with blind obedience to authority ("My country, right or wrong!"), modern conservatives have made "merry Christmas" toxic by associating it with Christian fundamentalism, religious intolerance, and the politics of imagined persecution.

Unfortunately, the war on Christmas is a game Palin and O'Reilly and Fox News and the Family Research Council can't lose. The more they complain about people saying "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas," the fewer people will say "merry Christmas." This will be held up as proof that the war on Christmas is real. But people like me aren't replacing "merry Christmas" with "happy holidays" to be "politically correct," as Palin insists in the introduction to her stupid book, we're doing it because we don't want people to think we're assholes.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Breaking Bad - Jingle Bells

Doing His Damndest To Make A Martyr

I tuned in briefly to conservative talk radio's Mike Gallagher, talking about the perils of illegal immigration, as exemplified by Officer Brian Jackson of the Dallas Police Department, who was killed in the line of duty by an illegal alien.

Eight years ago.

Yes, eight years ago. I can understand Officer Jackson's friends and family burning candles to his memory, and arguing that we must not forget him, but why is Gallagher trying so hard to expand that circle? To make Officer Jackson a martyr to immigration issues? Or did Gallagher run out of material today for outrage? Reaching back eight years is a stretch....

Conservatives like Gallagher I'm sure would find no connection between the weaponry sold at Texas gun shows and the mass slaughters across the river in northern Mexico. Not their department, I'd gather. No sense of connection or responsibility. Yet, for every slain Officer Jackson there are one hundred anonymous Mexicans who have lost their lives.

Silent martyrs stacked like firewood. Their families don't want us to forget them either.

The Folks At B3ta Didn't Know What To Make Of My Story

So they put it on the 'Best' page anyway.

Politics Is All About Making Bridges

Plus, the enemy of my enemy is my friend:
Kilgore, who legally changed his middle name to SECEDE last year, hopes that gay voters will support him and his bid to make Texas its own country to avoid what he says are the US Federal Government’s oppressive taxes and promises that he won’t try to introduce anything like the death penalty until Texas is independent.

...‘I am a Christian, and I have lots of Christian beliefs. However, I am trying to build a coalition of all different types of people. I look at the lesbians and the homosexual folks and I say, “Hey, DC is stealing my money just like they’re stealing your money.” After we get our freedom, then we can decide all that stuff — hopefully at a county level.

‘Right now, lesbians and homosexuals and Christians may have differences with each other, but we’ve got a bigger enemy.’

In 2007 in the lead up to a bid for the US Senate Kilgore told the Houston Chronicle that he supported the death penalty for adultery with a married woman and flogging for people who used profanity in public - while transvestites should be flogged even more severely.

However he told Lone Star Q that flogging transvestites was no longer part of his platform.

...‘I would very much approve of a biblical law that prevented homosexual behavior in the new nation,’ Kilgore said.

‘According to the Bible, it should be execution, if anyone participates in that activity.’

However Kilgore said he was open to the idea of different areas of Texas having different laws on homosexuality and would support candidates who were gay as long as they wanted to make Texas its own country.

...Kilgore last ran for governor of Texas in 2006 where he received nearly 8% of the vote - coming second behind Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Ancient Mesa Verde Pottery Of Unknown Purpose

It's all rather mysterious:
The vessel dates back to the Pueblo III period, an era from about 1150 to 1300 CE when ancestral puebloans began to establish big, sophisticated multi-family communities. This was when Mesa Verde was built, for example, and when Pueblo populations peaked in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, before people moved south to settle what’s now Arizona and New Mexico.

Those who know their artifacts can tell all that just by looking at this mug: Its pattern of repeating triangles and horizontal lines are known as Mesa Verde Black-on-White, a style preferred around Sand Canyon in the 13th century.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Video - Davis Vocal Art Ensemble

Featuring the talented Barbieri family! Go Ashlyn!

Interesting Speculation About Cultural Conservatism, As Expressed By Pottery

So, the Jornada Mogollon peoples moved to Gran Quivira from the south and adopted the Puebloan ways among the Jumanos living there, but appear to have resisted new innovations from their crazy Puebloan cousins in the Rio Grande Valley. Or so I understand.

Now, what are the differences between Chupadero and Socorro Black-on-White pottery, and all other Black-on-White styles? I bet they are subtle things:
But the mingling of diverse elements does not necessarily produce a virile strain. From a cultural background similar to that of other Tanoan speakers in the Rio Grande valley, the Jumano had developed a direction, a "slant," or cultural personality that was akin to that of the Rio Grande up to 1300. During this same period the people of the northern Jornada had become increasingly Puebloan in some aspects. The mingling of these two groups resulted in stagnation of the Jumano. The Jumano were henceforth Pueblo in material culture and architecture and largely Pueblo in the socioreligious use of the kiva. On the other hand, they contained regressive factors—traits that had limited the Mogollon to transmitters of culture, however important these may have been; traits that led them to adopt an increasingly Pueblo aspect and which finally permitted their disappearance as a cultural entity.

After the development of Chupadero Black-on-white, a fairly widespread and long-lived local pottery type, the Jumano failed to participate in further ceramic developments spreading from the Rio Grande. At about the time Chupadero Black-on-white came into vogue, a widespread change from mineral paints to carbon paint—a change that had slowly diffused eastward from the San Juan region of the Pueblo area—reached the Rio Grande drainage. The new paint type was adopted there in all but the extreme north and east sections in the vicinity of Taos, and along the tributaries of the Canadian (Wendorf and Reed, 1955: 144). The use of carbon paint, however, was not adopted by the Jumano, nor was it adopted in the Saline area farther north or on the east side of the Manzano Mountains. Also neglected in this general region was the slightly later influence of Mesa Verde decorative style—the employment of heavier design, less use of hatched elements, a tendency toward panel layout, and ticked rims.

By 1300 early glaze paint pottery was making its appearance in the Rio Grande, and while its use spread to the Jumano area, it was not made there; the actual source of Glaze I Red was probably the Rio Grande, and of Glaze I Yellow, the Galisteo region (Shepard, 1942). We cannot date the point at which glaze-paint ware was first made locally in the Jumano area, but it was probably not until the advent of what Shepard calls the Late Group—typical Glaze IV and later, from about 1550. The Jumano were not only slow to adopt glaze-paint ware, but, more important, they also clung to the production of black-on-white pottery as long as they existed as a group. This is in marked contrast to the Rio Grande, where black-on-whites were abandoned with the advent of glaze paint in all areas except Jemez on the western frontier, and among the Tewa north of Santa Fe, where Biscuit Ware was followed by a matte-paint polychrome in historic times.
Here's a cool Chupadero Black-on-White olla. One of the potsherds whose picture I posted has a pattern that looks like this:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Skyler As Godzilla

Breaking Bad fan video, using an animated view of the actual Albuquerque skyline (Hyatt Hotel) too! Spoilers galore. Don't view unless you have seen Season 4.

Nadia - Its Gonna Take Time

Nostalgic for 2005 today. What a great year for hurricanes that was! The best ever!

Here's a nice Trance tune from 2005.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Always Like Toles Cartoons

The Ground In Merced County Is Sinking As Fast As One Foot A Year

Ground-water pumping:
Parts of Merced south of El Nido dropped more than 21 inches in just two years. That area – often called Red Top by locals – appears to be continuing to sink at a rate of nearly 1 foot per year.

Researchers warn that the area that’s sinking is gradually spreading across 1,200 square miles – from the cities of Merced on the north, to Los Banos on the west, Madera on the east and Mendota on the south.

...USGS officials said they fear sinking ground levels will wreak havoc on economically vital man-made structures like the Delta-Mendota Canal, the California Aqueduct and irrigation canals that serve Merced and Madera counties.

...“A foot a year of subsidence (near El Nido) is a very rapid rate,” said Michelle Sneed, the USGS hydrologist who was the lead author of the new report. “I think that’s alarming.”

Sneed said that’s “among the fastest subsidence rates ever measured in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Appalled By The Pointless Slaughter Of The Monarchs

All in the Name of Progress:
Last year’s low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.

...“There’s no question that the loss of habitat is huge,” said Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, who has long warned of the perils of disappearing insects. “We notice the monarch and bees because they are iconic insects,” he said. “But what do you think is happening to everything else?”

A big part of it is the way the United States farms. As the price of corn has soared in recent years, driven by federal subsidies for biofuels, farmers have expanded their fields. That has meant plowing every scrap of earth that can grow a corn plant, including millions of acres of land once reserved in a federal program for conservation purposes.

Another major cause is farming with Roundup, a herbicide that kills virtually all plants except crops that are genetically modified to survive it.

As a result, millions of acres of native plants, especially milkweed, an important source of nectar for many species, and vital for monarch butterfly larvae, have been wiped out. One study showed that Iowa has lost almost 60 percent of its milkweed, and another found 90 percent was gone. “The agricultural landscape has been sterilized,” said Dr. Brower.

Wondered About The Trails Hit Piece

Trails is so close to my house. The things the food reviewer highlights as weaknesses strike me as quirky strengths:
With its dated aluminum awnings, the fading and peeling paint, cowboy wallpaper, velvet paintings and those Formica tables, it’s in serious need of an update....

...Trails is not a good restaurant, but neither is it a terrible one. It’s a place stuck in purgatory, anchored unceremoniously in a Sacramento food scene that no longer really exists.

...The menu is dated and lacks a coherent vision....  There are combinations that scream 1980s, like ribs and prawns or shish kebab and ribs or shish kebab and chicken. The salads, all iceberg lettuce and faded-red, flavorless tomatoes, make clear that Trails has yet to sign on with the farm-to-fork movement.

...The disconnect is all too obvious at Trails. The vegetables that came with our steak? Our skewers of desiccated chicken? Our decent roast chicken? There weren’t any. We got a sad baked potato or some competent French fries. When we asked about vegetables, our server plunked down our side salads and said, “You’re looking’ at ’em.”

...The beer list is stuck in 1979.

...Charming as it may be, Trails lost its way by refusing to set foot in the new and much more dynamic Sacramento, where we expect better food and know where to find it. There once was a time, many years ago, where Western-themed restaurants were all the rage in Sacramento, probably because Westerns were all the rage in movies and on TV. Folks even got dressed up in Western garb when they went out to eat here.

That Sacramento, cute as a button, no longer exists.

Annual Sierra Christmas Party

Impressive flock of crows at dusk.

The spread.

Allen from Michigan does the honors.

Almost Forgot To Post Recent 'Good Day, Sacramento' DMTC Videos

Thanks be, Mike Mechanick!

Holiday Theme

Sugar-Free Gummy Bears

Curtis Mayfield ~ Fred Is Dead

Early Seventies vibe.

Joe The Plumber Has A Web Site

Trying to get those elusive customers.

A Good Day At Work

So rare these days! Feeling like Motel the Tailor:
"A perfect fit. Like a glove. This match was made exactly to measure."

Black Rock, Featuring Debra Andrew - Blue Water

Trance favorite.

Night Wear

Last winter, I completely wore out my Dr. Seuss night cap, so I replaced it with another sort of cap, but this winter I can't find it. So, I cobbled together an Arab-looking assembly to replace it. It uses an extra scarf I've never used before, plus a headband. Oddly-enough, my mom assembled this headband, about 1980. She was going for the Jane Fonda/Olivia Newton John Aerobics look, which was trendy then and which she nailed, but that look isn't so trendy these days. At 2:30 a.m., though, trendy takes a back seat to comfort.

Pipers Piping

Sitting at my desk, I heard the wail of bagpipes, so I went outside to see what was up. I don't know who these folks are, but they were wailing away with gusto.

Quibbling With The Exterior Decorator

On Wednesday, after the garbage was picked up, the Garbage Toter soon disappeared from the alley. Where did it go? In addition, another Greens Recycling Toter showed up in its place. It's nice to have an extra one, but I already had a surfeit of Greens Recycling Toters - certainly more than enough for the leaves that fall in the immediate neighborhood.

I remember when the fellow that E. fondly calls 'Psycho One' used to be here. When he was descending into homelessness, Psycho One stole a Toter, because it made a pretty good cart for belongings. Did someone steal mine? But why would they do that? There were still traces of Squashed Pigeon smeared on the inside walls. The Greens Recycling Toters are newer and cleaner.

Today, I found the Garbage Toter. It was hiding in plain sight among the other Greens Recycling Toters. So, I moved it back to where I wanted it, where it had always been, at the end of the line of Toters. Then, within minutes, someone moved it back into its anonymous location and took away one of the Greens Recycling Toters. WTF? Yet, I have no idea who is doing this. It's almost as if I have a fussy exterior decorator who wants to line up the Toters in the alley just so.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Retailers Flailing

Another Christmas season dies aborning:
In an attempt to keep shoppers coming, retailers are extending their Black Friday promotions into December — a tactic rarely employed to this extent. To avoid being caught in January with excess inventory from 2013, many are choosing to sacrifice profit margins by preemptively discounting this month.

Cohen said the type of bargains normally reserved for the week after Christmas are "now available a month in advance."

"This is the drowning man phenomenon — some retailers appear to be flailing around desperately trying to keep their heads above water," he said.

Meeting John Wright In Concord

John Wright, wearing his Fuji-brand bicycle windbreaker.  Along with the mythical Mr. Farouk, John owns the Pro Bike shop in Oklahoma City.  He was in San Francisco for business, and to visit family.  He came out to Concord on BART, and I drove down from Sacramento to meet him.

We had some pastries at Alpine Pastry in Concord.  Later, we ended up at a diner, and shared conversation about old times, and new. 

I remember coming to Concord in 2003, during the Gubernatorial Recall Election, and saw the massive demonstrations of IT workers outraged that their jobs had been outsourced en masse to the Philippines.  Today, the glass towers where those IT workers worked appear mostly empty, and downtown Concord has edged towards ghost-town status.  Thank you, Masters of the Universe.

Nearby was the Command Center.  'For Lease' signs festooned the building.  The Command Center seems to have been abandoned.  Which probably explains a lot.

Passing through Fairfield on the way back to Sacramento on Interstate-80, there was a fire in a neighborhood near the freeway.  Was this?  Yes it was!  The very same neighborhood that saw a massive fire on August 31st! Why is this neighborhood always on fire?  Does Katniss Everdeen, the 'Girl on Fire' live here?

Monday, December 09, 2013

It's Cold Outside

(Phone rings at 7:30 a.m. Outside temperature at Sacramento Executive Airport National Weather Service station: 25 degrees F.)

M.: Mmmphello?

E.: MMMMMAAAAARRRRCCCCC! It's Erlynda! The pipes here are FROZEN! It's so cold! I flush the toilet, and there's no water coming through the pipes! Chris says use the Hair Dryer to warm up the pipes!

M.: It's colder where you are than it is here. I'm not too worried. And besides, that's a trailer you guys are in, which is vulnerable to frozen pipes, and....

E.: MMMMAAAARRRRCCCC! Chris says it's a mobile home, and not a trailer. Anyway, be careful with the Hair Dryer and don't electrocute yourself! Bye!

Amusing Video Of Tyehimba Serving Food On A Train

Tyehimba has training as a clown, and it shows in Richard's amusing video from Old Sacramento.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Archaeology By Internet - Socorro Example

I recently contacted an archaeologist named Michael Bletzer. Back when we were young college students at New Mexico Tech in Socorro, about 1975, we visited two places of archaeological interest. The first site was a short distance from Socorro; the second site was considerably farther away. (Site names have been redacted to preserve antiquities.)

We collected pottery shards and related debris. I always wanted to find someone who might have a better understanding of what we were looking at. I wondered whether the first site was a remnant of the Piro Indians, who were once common in the Socorro area.

There was an interesting recent article in New Mexico Historical Review ("The First Province of that Kingdom": Notes on the Colonial History of the Piro Area) written by Michael Bletzer, whose specialty is the archaeology of Piro Indian ruins in Socorro. It sounded like he might be the guy to contact.

Bletzer looked at my photos of pottery shards and thinks they are older than what he was looking at near Socorro: pre-1300, for sure.

I thought it was an interesting exchange (enclosed below):
Dear Mr. Bletzer:

I read with interest your article on the Piros in NMHR, and was curious whether you had any information regarding (the ruins at site 1). Do they date from the chaotic times of the 1690's, or are they older?
He replied:

The main structures at (Socorro) appear to be much older than the Revolt Period. Some of the ceramics indicate at least a 14th-century occupation. Doubtless, however, the area was used until the abandonment, in 1680, of Pilabo/Socorro Pueblo.

There are also scattered about the foothills small sites with slag, 17th-century ceramics, and Spanish artifacts, which indicate prospecting by the Spanish. Nothing big came of this; there was never any large-scale mining during the colonial period.

I replied:

Thanks, Michael!

It's fun revisiting memories of when I was a freshman at NM Tech (1974-1976).

I'm attaching a few photos of some of the stuff we gathered (at Site 1).

Ceramic fragments, plus projectile point.

Closeup of projectile point.

Take a look at the ceramic fragments picture and see if you can make anything from them.

The ruins of these structures seemed strange to me. They didn't look like Puebloan structures, and so I thought maybe they were seasonal shelters of some sort, whether by Piro Indians, or others.

We also visited another interesting site (Site 2). An arroyo was actively eating through what had been a buried pit. It was a perfect, pre-cut profile, custom-made for the archaeologist in mind, but unfortunately it was in the process of being destroyed by the arroyo. Who knows how much of it lingers? There was also ruins of a European house on a nearby hilltop there.

Carbonized wood (around 1982, I gave these to the Tree Ring Lab at U of A in Tucson to see if they could date them, but they returned them, I think without looking at them).

Collected debris, including glass bottle debris.

He replied:
Hello Marc,

It seems I misread your original question - somehow I was thinking of (another location) - an interesting site in itself but not the one you are referring to.

Now, the site you actually describe I haven't seen. I'll look at the ceramics and let you know what I think (whatever that may be worth, haha...)

And indeed, he rendered a verdict:

As far as I can tell from the photos, your ceramics are old, pre-1300s definitely. Older by at least 200 years than most of the glazewares I'm dealing with on the sites I'm working on around Socorro.

(Regarding site 2) I did a site inventory with some colleagues, but other than limited survey no work has ever been done on any of those sites. They are out in the middle of nowhere, very cool locations! No wonder people are seeing aliens down there....

That's great!

The trouble with archaeology, of course, is that there is so much work to do, and the ruins are so vulnerable to damage.

Meanwhile, to learn more about the later history of the area, I'm starting to read more about the consolidation of Comanche power in the mid-18th Century, and their explusion of the Apache, which hit Spanish colonial New Mexico so very, very hard.

10th Annual Nuts And Berries Fundraiser For The Wildlife Care Association (WCA)

Special guests included the Leucistic (albino) Crow.

Screech Owl.

Barn Owl.

Lots of silent auction bidding for gift baskets.  My damage: $107 + $20 for bicycle raffle (which I missed winning by one) + $10 entrance fee = $137.00.


Great Horned Owl.

Yellow-Billed Magpie

Burrowing Owl.

"Schoolhouse Rock, Live!" - DMTC YPT

"A Christmas Carol" - Stockton Civic Theatre

On Saturday evening, we went down to Stockton to see the musical version of "A Christmas Carol" (the same version we performed last year at DMTC), and to cheer on Scott Minor, who was playing Scrooge.

Scott played the lead role well, with lots of character, as did Vince Peralta (Ghost of Christmas Past), and Jesse Beltran (Ghost of Christmas Past).

Liked the costumes.

Puzzled by the multiplatform set, which didn't remind me of Victorian London, but instead reminded me of the Mayan-inspired, neo-Egyptian-looking set of The Time Machine (1960). Then again, Scrooge is a kind of time traveler, so maybe it's apropos.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Awesome show, as expected for the second part of the trilogy. Maybe not quite as good as the first part - it starts in the middle and ends in the middle - but still, awesome. It reminds me in a way of "Dune", but aimed at teenage girls rather than boys.

Jennifer Lawrence is the quintessential Katniss Everdeen: the role of a lifetime!

Friday, December 06, 2013

The Emu Tango

New Mexico 1940s

Things that influenced my mother to move to New Mexico in the early 50's.

Crazy People Talk To Me

C.P.: (looking wistful) I just saw my daughter on the street! She walked right past! She was with her boyfriend. She's pregnant too. She didn't look well. Put on too much weight. She should go to the gym. You know how people begin to look like the people they hang around with? She looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger! I said 'hello!' from across the street, but she didn't respond. (with a pixie-like shoulder-shrug) Maybe she didn't hear me? She walked right past! I'm her mother. It's good she's pregnant. She should get married. She just walked right past!

M.: Maybe you should follow her?

C.P.: Maybe I should!

Trying To Get A Better Sense Of Gran Quivira

This week, I've been thinking about Indian ruins in New Mexico. Among my thoughts has been - why Gran Quivira? I mean, why is it there? It was a salt trading center, true, but it's a little removed from the salt itself. There's very limited irrigation potential in the area - like, nearly zero - and it's cold too, at 6,500 ft. above sea level. Reminds me of other unlikely places for settlement, like Chaco Canyon, but that was a religious center of great overarching importance. Gran Quivira's religious function was important to the Spanish, but I don't think anyone has argued it had similar religious importance to the Jumanos and others who lived there.

The geography is odd. Was it astride a trade route to the south? Would turquoise traders have passed through? How about trade routes east and west? Not immediately evident. (Then again, the function of modern trading centers like Albuquerque aren't evident either. Albuquerque's importance resulted partly by historical accident).

Gran Quivira appears to have been a polyglot kind of place, mixing Pueblo and Plains Indians, among others. Was it tolerant too? Or just the opposite?

Gran Quivira just strikes me as detached from the world in some way. Like an Indian Pueblo designed by Star Wars fans.

Why was it there? Why was it as important as it was? What did it do? And most importantly to me, who lived AROUND it?

SCAQMD Near-Road Mitigation Measures and Technologies Forum

Frank went down to LA and made our presentation to the SCAQMD Near-Road Mitigation Measures and Technologies Forum on November 21, 2013. The presentations and video recording of the symposium are now available. Frank writes:
My 15 minute presentation for Sierra starts at 3hr:25min:15sec, and the short Q/A for this session begins immediately after my presentation at 3:40:24.
Fun! Thanks for Frank's kudos at 3:45:20!

Baby A.K.A Birdman - Do That (feat. P. Diddy)

Part of the Aerobics soundtrack over at Pepper Von's. Infectious dance tune.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Can't Get Enough Of 2003 House Music!

I've never listened to this Remix (I usually listen to the Gabriel & Dresden Remix), but the photos in this video are beautiful, and comes with lyrics.

And for a song that is likely to be about marriage!

The Car Is Vibrating So Violently Now I Need Ear Protection To Drive It

I wonder when it will fail?

Made This Week's Best QOTW Page

I'm surprised the B3ta folks liked my story! This week's question:
Self-Inflicted injuries

Spanishfly asks: Ever injured yourself in a moment of frustration? When have you ever done something stupid or sensible that has ended up with you injured? Punched an Asda sign because they didn't have tiger bread? Yeah, us too
My answer:
Tiny cable car across the river

Driving along, we noticed a cable across a river. There was a little cable car too. I guess they used it to measure water depth. We stopped and found it wasn't secured. We sat in the two tiny seats below the two wheels that rode on the cable, and rolled down the cable until we were halfway across the river. Then we stopped. It was uphill on both sides now, so if we wanted to get back to safety, we'd have to do some work. So, we put our hands on the cable to pull ourselves along. And one of the wheels promptly rode into my hand and ripped the skin off my thumb and fingertips, thrashing every sensitive nerve. Hurt like crazy, and we still had the entire distance to haul ourselves. Bled all over that cable on the journey back. Left unique scars on the fingertips too, so goodbye to any hope of a life of crime.

Fefe Dobson - Legacy

Your face is all I ever see on this crowded street
Like no one's watching you don't care to act a fool with me
You made me dance in public trippin' on my own two feet
Just like a drum my heart is jumping like a trampoline
No where to wash away my worries like the angry sea
Having a good old time never been on the edge of my seat

It's raining lava got me sweating I can feel the heat
the fires ragging no telling what's bout to come for me

If I die tonight at least I left a legacy
If I die tonight at least I left a legacy
If the lights go out I'm forever in your memory
If I die tonight at least I left a legacy

It's true the eyes are the windows of a person's soul
It's like I'm staring in the mirror when I look at you
I turn the heavens down if the devil came for you
I'd rather go through hell or high waters
Yeah it's true

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Hats For Hipsters

I can't believe I didn't post this before.

Damned Slippery Artificial Fibers

(Around dawn, about 6:30 a.m., at Casa Valdez in Sacramento.....)


E.: (tentatively, faraway in the dark) MMMAAARRRRCCC? Are you OK? I heard some big boom....

M.: (slowly getting up) Ugh! I fell out of bed!

E.: You did? Why?

M.: I was thinking about going to the restroom, so I rolled to the left, but the blanket was there, and it's made from artificial fibers, and because it was cold I was wearing a sweater also made from artificial fibers, and those fibers have a low coefficient of kinetic friction, so I slipped off the bed into the nightstand, but it skidded over too, and so I went BOOM on the floor!

E.: Maybe you were dreaming....

M.: I WAS dreaming! I dreamt you were leading an aerobics class right here in my bedroom, and you all were trying to be real quiet, so as not to wake me up. There were twenty people here. Jenny Plasse was here. Everyone was here!

E.: (giggling)

M.: And where are my mouth guards? It's e-dumb! Maybe I swallowed them. No, wait a minute, here they are! I sometimes take them out in the middle of the night. I don't know why...

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Comin' Soon

Nearly Got Rear-Ended Last Night

Traffic was moving slowly, as it often does on 19th St. just south of J St. The van approached way close before it stopped, and rocked back and forth from the braking. Close call!

I Like "Cornered" Cartoons

Mike Baldwin:

South Park's "A History Channel Thanksgiving"

It hurts my ribs!:
"Does the appearance of stuffing at the first Thanksgiving table suggest a kind of alien technology?"
Stop! Make it stop!

Time To Resume The Annual Homeless Battle In The Alley

I drove to work this evening, and as I was pulling out of the driveway, I noticed a homeless guy sleeping under the hedge, behind the garbage cans. I drove a short distance and pulled to the curb to call E. and alert her to that fact, since I knew she might go out to her car, and inadvertently startle him, or vice versa.

It's always hard to know the best course of action in these situations. Leave him alone, for the sake of peace, or confront him, for the sake of peace? Leaving E. to her own devices could be tricky, though. Would it be garden shears, or rocks, or a club?

Upon returning, the homeless guy was gone, the garbage cans had been moved, and two long trails of pee trailed away into the alley. I knew from the evidence what had happened:
M.: EEERRRRLLLYYYYNNNNDDDAAAAA! Oh, sorry to wake you up!

E.: mmmmmmm

M.: So, did you call the police?

E.: Yes. The non-emergency number. I told them there was a homeless guy sleeping next to the house. They asked me if I wanted them to knock on the door, and I said no, because I didn't want him to know who called.

M.: So, you saw the police arrive?

E.: Yes.

M.: I wonder if he's angry? He peed twice out there.

E.: He's the same guy who attacked you last year! I saw the dog!

M.: That weird little dog? So it's THAT guy again! I wonder if we'll start having problems again? I made peace with him, but who knows?

Monday, December 02, 2013

So, It's Mostly About The Plastic Ball

John flags Badtux's article regarding why too much ethanol is a problem in American gasoline:
...So, here’s something that started happening around 2008 or so, as the percentage of ethanol started creeping upwards and in some cases passing the E10 boundary: Those check valves started swelling up. And once swelled up, they blocked the inlet to the fuel tank.

...There’s 20 years of cars out on the road with that check valve that swells up if exposed to too much ethanol.

Twenty years. And if it happens to a car, the only way to fix it is to replace the gas tank.

And there aren’t enough gas tanks in parts depots to do that.

And there isn’t enough gas tank manufacturing capability to do that.

And even if there was, there aren’t enough mechanics in America to change the gas tank in basically *every car sold in America over the past twenty years*.

Twenty years. That’s a lot of frickin’ cars that would be disabled by one stupid little plastic ball if we went past E10 nation-wide. And even E10 is somewhat iffy with these check valves.

Amazing, how one stupid $1.50 rubberized-plastic ball can derail an entire policy initiative. But that’s reality. Going past E10 would basically bring America to a halt.

Tony Hoffarth's Breaking Bad Flickr Stream

Tony Hoffarth from Los Angeles likes filming locations of all sorts, and he was recently in Albuquerque.

"Breaking Bad" Phoenix

My sister Michelle was appalled that someone stole our descanso. While hunting through Uncle Jack's compound and discovering broken descanso bits in the weeds, she kept encountering visitors, such as the fellows from Roadside America, or Amy and her friend from Kentucky (who are headed to Washington State in a week), who were equally crestfallen to discover it stolen.

My sister is a "No Half Measures" kind of person. Something had to be done. Descanso 2.0 will be in place by the weekend.

Breaking Bad Bastardo Watch

My sister, nephew, and I continue to fume about our descanso being stolen.

While trying to recover broken pieces of the descanso, my sister met two interesting people who had apparently heard of it. They had wanted to feature it on a Web Site called 'Roadway America', or something like that. She had an interesting adventure with them trying to take pictures of the more-secure Walter White headstone at Vernon's. Sounded like, when finally written up, it could make an interesting story!

I'm wondering if 'Roadway America' refers to this Pinterest PinBoard, or is associated with it?