Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bizarre January Weather News, Courtesy of the Tropics

In bizarre weather news, Hurricane Alex in the Atlantic struck the Azores, and Hurricane Pali in the Pacific dissipated. Hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere in January. It's now a thing.

"The Northeast Atlantic is a challenging location for hurricane development thanks in large part to its relatively cool water. ... However, upper-level temperatures near Alex were unusually cold for the latitude, which meant that instability--driven by the contrast between warm, moist lower levels and cold, drier upper levels--was higher than it would otherwise be.

...Peaking at Category 2 strength during its eight-day life, Pali was the earliest tropical storm and earliest hurricane to develop between the International Date Line and the Americas, and it was closer to the equator than all but two other hurricanes in global records. Only two other tropical cyclones have been observed in January in the Central Pacific."

Prescient Song From 1997

Mad TV predicted the 2016 campaign! This could be a Trump campaign song.

Rainiest Week of the Year

It's the rainiest week of the year. These are the light, misty rains that climatologist Bill Patzert at JPL in Pasadena has described as the classic sign of El Niño in California (and not, as most people assumed, heavy Pineapple Express type storms). The unfortunate irony is that we are experiencing these misty rains pretty much only in Northern California, and not in Southern California, as many climatologists predicted this winter. Weather is twisted like that.

Nevertheless, during Bella's walk in the rain tonight, there were a surprising number of people on the street. These include 1.) the friendly black man in a black jacket riding a black bike into the darkness; 2.) an elderly man in golf course wear wandering down by the freeway entrance; 3.) the suspicious young man in camouflaged gear lurking by the back door of the Donut Shop (give him a friendly neighborly wave); and 4.) a driveway parking ballet adjacent to a mysterious limousine. The dead cat in the gutter we noticed a week ago is still there, and looking the worse for wear.

"The Danish Girl"

After Zumba, I decided to sit in a dark room and eat an obscene amount of popcorn, but figured a movie would go well with that too. I had seen all of the movies I wanted to, however, so decided to take a chance and see "The Danish Girl" with Eddie Redmayne. I didn't know a single thing about the movie, but knew Redmayne is up for Best Actor at the Academy Awards in March. Is he as good as Leonardo diCaprio?

The movie is about transgender issues. I didn't know! Big surprise!

Beautiful cinematography. Lovely Northern European light. Same director as for "Les Miserables".

As the movie veered into identity issues, I was having more and more problems with it. Too much jumping of gender sharks.

Redmayne has more expressive possibilities here than he did as Stephen Hawking, but his range still struck me as narrow.

The movie has editing issues. Scenes start half a second too early - you can practically see the actors inhale as they prepare to emote - lending the movie a curious stilted feel.

Something bugged me about Alicia Vikander's acting too. Alone of the cast, she pronounces the name "Hans" with a flat American accent, which is all the more baffling and unnecessary, since she's Swedish. All she has to do is say the name the way a Swede would say it. It's not just gender that's mixed up here. She's more expressive here than as the AI robot in "Ex Machina", however.

Still, Redmayne does a pretty good job. He's good with roles that feature physical distress. But he has competition. So, in March, we will find out if it's better to be dismembered by a pioneering surgeon or a grizzly bear.

Gun Nuts Lie

Badtux on George Washington:

“A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
Yep, it turns out that’s a fake quote invented by gun nuts.

The actual George Washington quote:

“A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined; to which end a Uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies.”

George Washington’s disdain for the militia was famous back in the day. They had let him down far too many times by running when the British charged with bayonets.

...As a result, Washington got the following written into the Constitution as a power of the new Congress, Article I, Section 8 Clause 16, where Congress is given the power to regulate the state militias....

The hope was that by having the Federal government in charge of arming the militias and setting standards of training and discipline, the militias could be brought up to the point of being militarily useful, rather than a useless armed rabble.

Restless Dog Syndrome

Some people have Restless Leg Syndrome; I have Restless Dog Syndrome. Usually it means a cat is creeping around somewhere outside, but she's already made her feline patrol, and it's manifesting itself as an insatiable demand for attention - at 3 a.m.

In A 1980's Mood

Pantages Theater, LA, December, 1983.

"Good Day Sacramento" Dance Fitness Exhibition

Six different dance fitness formats from all over California were featured this morning on "Good Day, Sacramento", broadcasting from Step One Health and Fitness Studio at 19th and T Streets. Not only was the broadcast good for publicity (New Year's resolutions, and all), it was also an opportunity to see what other folks do, and to try out different formats.

"Good Day Sacramento" hosts three videos of the broadcast, and I wedged my way into all three. I get the most air time here, dancing "Cize" for the first time ever.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It's Almost Time For "Better Call Saul", Season 2!

The Embarrassment Of International Incidents

My relatives were freaking out. Was Cousin Jim safe? He is a Riverine, plying the waters between Iran and the Arabian peninsula.

I misunderstood, thought he had been taken prisoner, and started telling everyone that. Turned out, he wasn't one of the people. He's safe, but I'm embarrassed:
TEHRAN, Iran -- All 10 U.S. Navy sailors detained by Iran after drifting into its territorial waters a day earlier have been freed, the U.S. and Iran said Wednesday.

The Navy said the American crewmembers returned safely and there were no indications they had been harmed while in custody.

The nine men and one woman were held at an Iranian base on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf after they were detained nearby on Tuesday. The tiny outpost has been used as a base for Revolutionary Guard speedboats as far back as the 1980s.

The sailors departed the island at 0843 GMT aboard the boats they were detained with, the Navy said. They were picked up by Navy aircraft and other sailors took control of their boats for the return voyage to Bahrain, where the U.S. 5th Fleet is based.

The Navy added that it "will investigate the circumstances that led to the sailors' presence in Iran."

Brad Paisley's "Two Feet Of Topsoil"

For some reason here at Marc Valdez Weblog, people are suddenly clamoring en masse to get their hands on Brad Paisley's "Geology", From The Album "Your Substratum Makes My Lava Flow", about which I posted in 2014. I've taken a look myself for the song, and so far haven't found anything, but since Brad Paisley seems to be the go-to guy for Country Western Songs about Geology, there are a few more out there. Here's one:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Job Interviews

Overheard part of an interview for Chipotle job applicants:

"You don't have to have experience to work here, but if you know how to use a knife, that helps. And we cross-train, of course. Now, if you had to be some kind of animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?"

David Bowie - "Heroes"

My favorite video of my favorite David Bowie song:

The Price Of Being An Asshole

Ted Cruz:
Back in 2008, Republican and Democratic Senators came together to pass a sense of the Senate resolution affirming that John McCain was a natural born citizen. Claire McCaskill says today that she won't be doing any similar favors for purported American Ted Cruz. But it's not just a Democrat. The silence of Senate Republicans is positively deafening. Mitch McConnell also says he's not getting involved. Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney have both tried to put the kibosh on the growing Cruz-birther movement. But in the Senate, where people know Ted Cruz, virtually no one is coming to his aid. McCain himself is suggesting he's at least Cruz-birther-curious if not coming out as a full-blown Cruz birther.
Donald Trump has started playing Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" before campaign rallies, according to reports in The Weekly Standard and the Texas Tribune.

Recognizing The Image

Bella sometimes shows glimmers of a higher level of intelligence.

On our December 23rd trip to San Francisco, I bought a door hanger - a placard to hang from the kitchen door knob - with a picture of a Black Labrador Retriever's face on it (with a happy, alert face, perked ears, and tongue hanging out) that says "A spoiled rotten Black Lab lives here!"

On the return from tonight's walk, the placard was swaying ever so slightly on the door knob. I noticed Bella stop to stare at it. She was wagging her tail too. I'm sure she recognized the picture as that of a dog; maybe even a Black Lab like herself. Somehow, she KNOWS!

Looking For A Way Out

The journalists are irate about Sean Penn's article in Rolling Stone, with Mexican journalists the most livid of all. Have to agree with them: the magazine completely compromised its integrity.

Yet, what was El Chapo's motivation for doing an interview? As it turned out, the interview led to his rearrest, so it was definitely risky. Was it to sound out the possibility of a business deal? What kind of deal? What does Hollywood offer? A reality TV show? Better drug connections? Film cameos? It's all tinsel, and El Chapo knows it, but there's also the matter of respect, and maybe he feels he doesn't get enough.

Perhaps El Chapo is getting weary. He's been on top an unusually long time for a drug lord. All he's trying to do is run western Mexico as a drug empire, and he has to deal with ungrateful and psychotic Zetas all day long, along with Federales, Mexican marines, DEA, and a few journalists too. Maybe he's looking for a way out.
"Allowing any source control over a story’s content is inexcusable," Seaman, who is also a reporter with Reuters, wrote. "The practice of pre-approval discredits the entire story – whether the subject requests changes or not. The writer, who in this case is an actor and activist, may write the story in a more favorable light and omit unflattering facts in an attempt to not to be rejected."

Alfredo Corchado, who critiqued the piece on Twitter, shared his ethical concerns with the BBC's Newshour on Sunday. Corchado is the Mexico City bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News.

He called it an "epic insult" to journalists "seeking the truth" in Mexico.

"I'm saying it's not journalism," Corchado said. "And to call it journalism is an epic insult to journalists in Mexico and beyond who have paid the ultimate price seeking the truth."

Corchado said the conditions Penn agreed to—no follow-up questions, avoiding certain issues—were unheard of.

California Weather Transition

The California winter is now making a gradual transition. The circulation that's been previously in place over the western North Pacific is now sliding east over the eastern North Pacific. The storms that will start passing through, beginning tomorrow, will have more-solid connections with the tropics east of Hawaii than we've seen previously, and thus we will start feeling the effects of El Niño more-directly. The storms will be wetter than heretofore, warmer, and more frequent.

Sad About The Transition On Maui

They buttered many a slice of my bread:
Honolulu (January 6, 2016) – Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. (NYSE:ALEX) (“A&B” or “Company”) today announced that it is transitioning out of farming sugar and will instead pursue a diversified agricultural model for its 36,000-acre Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (“HC&S”) plantation on Maui. Sugar operations will be phased out by the end of 2016, and the transition to a new model will occur over a multi- year period. ... Under the new diversified model, the plantation is planned to be divided up into smaller farms with varied agricultural uses, potentially including energy crops, food crops, support for the local cattle industry, and the development of an agriculture park.

“A&B’s roots literally began with the planting of sugar cane on 570 acres in Makawao, Maui, 145 years ago,” said Stanley M. Kuriyama, A&B executive chairman. “Much of the state’s population would not be in Hawaii today, myself included, if our grandparents or great-grandparents had not had the opportunity to work on the sugar plantations. A&B has demonstrated incredible support for HC&S over these many years, keeping our operation running for 16 years after the last sugar company on Maui closed its doors. We have made every effort to avoid having to take this action. However, the roughly $30 million Agribusiness operating loss we expect to incur in 2015, and the forecast for continued significant losses, clearly are not sustainable, and we must now move forward with a new concept for our lands that allows us to keep them in productive agricultural use.”

“This is a sad day for A&B, and it is with great regret that we have reached this decision,” said Christopher J. Benjamin, A&B president and chief executive officer, who ran HC&S as its general manager from 2009 to 2011.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company is the state’s largest farm, with 36,000 acres under cultivation. The Company also generates enough electricity, primarily from renewable sources, to be 100% energy self-sufficient. For more information, please visit

Monday, January 11, 2016

"The Man Who Fell To Earth" - Talking Heads - 'Once In A Lifetime' (II)

Time To repost this. Much of "The Man Who Fell To Earth" was filmed in New Mexico:
Filming began on 6 July 1975. The film was primarily shot in New Mexico, with additional filming locations in Albuquerque, White Sands, Artesia and Fenton Lake.

...New Mexico was chosen primarily because it had recently passed new labor laws which allowed the producers to import an all-British crew. But ultimately these changes were used by Nicolas Roeg for more interpretive and artistic purposes; the use of local sand dunes to depict Newton's home world was very useful.
The movie had an outsized effect on popular culture.
  • The film was used as one of the key elements of the novel VALIS by Philip K. Dick, with David Bowie appearing in the novel as "Mother Goose" and the film represented by the titular film "VALIS", although plot elements were changed dramatically, so that the film became something very different in Dick's novel. The novel also incorporates a - fictional - incident in which Dick visits David Bowie and Brian Eno, who turn out to be harbouring a small child who may be the messiah.
  • The music video to Guns N' Roses's 1987 "Welcome to the Jungle" was partially based on The Man Who Fell to Earth.[20]
  • The music video to Scott Weiland's 1998 song "Barbarella" uses themes from The Man Who Fell to Earth.[21]
  • The music video to Marilyn Manson's 1998 song "The Dope Show" uses themes from The Man Who Fell to Earth.
  • The film is referenced both lyrically and visually in the video for the song "E=MC2" by the British band Big Audio Dynamite.[22]
  • In 2001, David Bowie starred in an XM Radio commercial where he fell through the roof of a motel. Upon standing, he looks up and states "I'll never get used to that." [23]
  • Dr. Manhattan’s apartment and Ozymandias' Antarctic retreat in the 2009 film Watchmen were mainly based on the set of The Man Who Fell to Earth.[24]
  • The 2009 song "ATX" by Alberta Cross is based on David Bowie's character in The Man Who Fell to Earth.[25]
  • The television series Fringe features a recurring character who uses the alias Thomas Jerome Newton. The series had previously used a character named David Robert Jones, which is David Bowie's real name.[26]
  • In Bret Easton Ellis's 2010 novel Imperial Bedrooms, the main character mentions that he is involved with writing the script for a remake of The Man Who Fell to Earth.[27]
  • A movie poster for The Man Who Fell to Earth can be seen in the 2011 film Green Lantern.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ashes To Ashes; Stardust To Stardust

RIP David Robert Jones, aka David Bowie (January 8, 1947 - January 10, 2016).

I became so obsessed with "Fame" back in 1975 I became something of a joke with my friends. It was that sense that change was in the wind, and the song somehow captured that feeling, and I couldn't articulate it.

The Oregon Story, Explained

Oregon militia standoff: Y'all Qaeda declares YeeHawd by storm...

Oregon militia standoff: Y'all Qaeda declares YeeHawd by storming federal wildlife refuge | Taiwanese AnimatorsBURNS, OREGON — A group of armed self-proclaimed militia members have stormed into a federal building in Oregon, saying they're prepared to stay there for years and are ready to go out guns blazing. #OregonUnderAttack Like:

Posted by Las Vegas Democrat Examiner at on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

RIP, Cousin Olie

Eulogio Aragon and Senaida Valdez Aragon (Photo by Monica Aragon).

California sunny days seem to last forever, but they always end with nightfall.

Kind of a cautionary tale. Small town NM kid attracted to the bright lights of California, but found he didn't want to return when times got hard, and met a bitter end. Similar to my story (but I haven't crashed yet).

An Australian Chain of Super-Volcanoes

[N]ew research reveals a hidden hotspot once churned beneath regions with no signs of surface volcanism, connecting these separate strings of volcanoes into one megachain.

That 1,240-mile-long (2,000 kilometers) chain of fire spanned most of eastern Australia, from Hillsborough in the north, where rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef, to the island of Tasmania in the south.

"The track is nearly three times the length of the famous Yellowstone hotspot track on the North American continent," Rhodri Davies, an earth scientist at Australian National University, said in a statement.

The Revenant

Went trudging through the Canadian winter with Leonardo diCaprio. Beautifully filmed, with great makeup and music.

Apparently some scenes were filmed in Argentina, of all places. I didn't see anything that looked like Argentina, except maybe the Andes, but puzzled why Canada wouldn't suffice (unless it was a scheduling issue, and they needed to have a year-long winter).

A sad story nonetheless.

And now, I'm cold.

Arrested Again

Whose job is it to watch El Chapo this week? Remember, El Chapo is the smartest of all the narcos. Managing him is a full-time job:
The interviews were held in a jungle clearing atop a mountain at an undisclosed location in Mexico. Surrounded by more than 100 cartel troops, and wearing a silk shirt and pressed black jeans, Mr. Guzmán sat down to dinner with Mr. Penn and Kate del Castillo, a Mexican actress who once played a drug kingpin in the soap opera “La Reina del Sur,” according to Rolling Stone.

Even though Mexican troops attacked his hide-out in the days after the meeting, necessitating a narrow escape, Mr. Guzmán continued the interview by BlackBerry Messenger and in a video delivered by courier to the pair later.

Exasperating Sewage Line

Come on sweet baby, we've been through a lot together. Just give Daddy what he wants!

You stupid piece of worthless junk! I'm telling you the way it's going to be! My way or the highway!

(Trying to clear the Ultimate Blockage from a troubled sewage line, and clearly losing my grip.)

Struggling To Get To Normal

Storm #3 wasn't nearly as rainy as I had hoped (0.45" at Sac Exec). But January is only one quarter finished, so here's hoping!

Here is a map of percentage of normal rainfall since the start of the water year (October 1, 2015). There are four persistent trouble spots, mostly reflecting rain shadows provided by mountain ranges:

1.) NorCal in general, and particularly Yolo County. (Is the Winters Gyre sabotaging things somehow?);
2.) Los Angeles and Ventura/Oxnard area;
3.) Imperial Valley;
4.) Inland Empire, and out near Bishop.

Da Bears

Loud Pop

Bella is staring at me. She wants to play. It's 3:20 am. Jeez.

So, I let her out in the yard. Apparently play wasn't her only objective. She softly barked at a cat or some other small animal there, but not at the 2 homeless men rifling noisily through the garbage cans in the alley.

A little spooked this evening. Returning from our walk at 2:10 am, I heard a single loud pop. Turning to look behind us, I saw a pedestrian crossing our street, half a block away, and not coming our way. Which was fine with me.

NM Is Now Tied At Fourth Place

New Mexico isn't #1!:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The number of babies born to teens in New Mexico in 2014 was low enough to finally drop the state out of first place for the state with the highest teen birthrate.

The Department of Health said Wednesday that the state dropped to fourth place, tying with Texas, with 37.8 births per 1,000 teens. Arkansas, Oklahoma and Mississippi now hold the top three spots.

“We are very excited about this. It does mean we are moving in the right direction,” said Retta Ward, secretary of the state Department of Health.

She said that’s about a 45 percent drop over the past 15 years.

She credits years of emphasis on giving teens access to free or low-cost birth control at public health locations, on educating teens about intentional parenthood and on how to find information about healthy sexuality.

Starving Artist

I went out the front door of my workplace on the way to lunch. A passing skateboarder shouted, "Hey, do you need a starving artist?" Before I could answer "Like a hole in the head" the skateboarder had rolled out of voice range.

Inappropriate Sticker

Ah, a Bernie Sanders sticker in an inappropriate place (Target). Makes me nostalgic for 1976, when I hung a Jimmy Carter poster in an inappropriate place (my workplace). In both cases, management disapproved. As you can see, someone has tried to remove the sticker. Makes me smile. This is a good omen.


I'm at the pizza place, and see a woman I know but don't particularly like. Fortunately, I've perfected the method of hiding in plain sight - not attracting attention, downcast eyes, looking away - and I think I'm invisible.

"The Wizard of Oz" - the Alphabetic Order Edit