Saturday, March 10, 2018

Current Status

It’s been 24 days since I was hospitalized for a surprise heart attack, apparently caused by a myocardial infection, perhaps from the flu or a common cold virus. Since then, I’ve had to adjust to a new low-sodium, low-cholesterol diet. Farewell the good life. Farewell pizza!

Friday, March 9th was doctor day - the first time I had seen my cardiologist since I left the hospital.

Thursday a week ago (May 1st), Karen Mo discussed my EKGs with me, and showed me just how jazzy and irregular my heartbeat had been while I was in the hospital. Nevertheless, she was optimistic about my eventual recovery.

Later that evening, I began suffering chest pain, for which the nitroglycerine seemed ineffective. I was also retaining fluid. Symptoms worsened on Friday. I felt terrorized; afraid even to go outside.

I probably should have sought help, but instead I treated myself with small doses of my previous, diuretic blood pressure medication, which at least helped ease the fluid buildup. By Monday, I began feeling much better and more energetic.

The cardiologist wasn’t pleased I was medicating myself. Oh well. He changed my medication list to include Eliquis, one of these new, absurdly-expensive blood thinners for which there is apparently no generic equivalent. He disagreed with calling my chest pain angina. Instead, maybe it was fluid buildup along the pleural membrane. At least my EKG showed a normal, sinus rhythm.

One good thing about my cardiologist: he’s very particular about terminology. I was grateful how he changed one emergency-room doctor’s assessment that I had had a “major heart attack” to something more technical and far-less-ominous sounding. “Heart attack” apparently are layman words. Doctors have to be clear and get the terms right!

I have hopes of resuming some exercise soon. I found that I had to drop exercise entirely these last few weeks – a full, complete, dead stop. No activity AT ALL. Starting over from scratch will be hard.

I tried checking on my hospital bill. It’s not finalized, but the bill sent to the insurance company apparently totaled $91,000. So, I’m wondering what the final bill will be when it returns?

One thing I did accomplish these last few weeks was to overcome my hesitations and write a working draft of a second "Breaking Bad" book. As I dig deeper on filming locations I'm finding more and more strange stuff - symbolic stuff, messages encoded in the background of the shows, and the like. I've been putting some of this stuff into my Locations book, but the book is getting too big, and there are more locations coming when Season 4 of "Better Call Saul" premieres in September. So, I'm spinning the speculative, interpretive stuff into a new book, and will keep the original Locations book mostly about just locations. I'll release this new book maybe by next November. When life hands you a lemon, time to make (no sodium or cholesterol) lemonade.

RIP, Relinda Anderson

The news is truly shocking. Such a sweet soul. Condolences to her family and friends.

NRG Etiwanda To Close

Ah, the Etiwanda power plant will finally close!. Ormond Beach too:
The NRG Etiwanda Generating Station in Rancho Cucamonga, which began operations in 1962, will be retired as of June 1. The NRG Ormond Beach Generating Station in Oxnard, which started operations in the early 1970s, will close on Oct. 1, and the NRG Ellwood Generating Station in Goleta will close on Jan. 1 after about 45 years of operations.
People familiar with recent California electrical-generation history will recognize Etiwanda. That power plant was a key player in the 2000/2001 electricity crisis. Many plants were shut down for no particular reason, and despite the fact that it was very hard on the equipment, Texas traders ramped the turbines at places like Etiwanda up and down several times an hour in order to rig electricity prices statewide:
"They were basically ramping up as fast as they can, and then slamming the brakes on," said one of the operators. "They were increasing the fatigue on the units."

ISO officials say they changed market operations last fall to crack down on gaming tactics, including instituting a so-called 10-minute market, rather than the hourly market, so that it could be more easily detected when companies were withholding power.

But the ISO says generator outages have now become the primary tactic in driving up energy prices.

A computer analysis by The Chronicle of shutdown data over a recent 39-day period shows Reliant and three other generating companies topped the list of plant shutdowns. Reliant also represented the largest amount of wattage lost among those companies.

Plants owned by Reliant, AES, Mirant Corp. and Duke Energy Inc. accounted for more than half of the state's unplanned shutdowns, even though their generating capacity was no more than 25 percent of the state's total capacity from all sources.

Ah, corporate criminality! How we will miss thee!

Ice Seven!

Naturally-formed Ice Seven finally observed on the Earth!:
Scientists believe that ice-VII may be found in great abundance in the solar system, perhaps in the interior of ice moons like Enceladus and Europa, or as part of the ocean floor of Titan. But they did not think it could naturally occur on Earth.

The pressures ice-VII requires to form can be found on our planet, but they exist only deep in the mantle where the temperature is too warm for this form of ice to be stable.

...What's special about inclusions in diamonds is that the material entrapped within them remains under the same pressure as it was during the time it was encapsulated.

"The diamond lattice doesn't relax much, so the volume of the inclusion remains almost constant whether it's in the Earth's mantle or in your hand," Tschauner said.

...However, as the authors discovered, diamonds can trap small bubbles of extremely dense pressurized water when they form. Then, as the diamond moves up through the mantle, the water inclusion is subjected to cooler temperatures while remaining under the same pressurized conditions. In that very specific case, ice-VII can occur.

Friday, March 09, 2018

‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli Gets Seven Years In Prison For Securities Fraud

A bit of justice:
Shkreli, his cocky persona nowhere to be found, cried as he told U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto he made many mistakes and apologized to investors.

“I want the people who came here today to support me to understand one thing, the only person to blame for me being here today is me,” he said. “I took down Martin Shkreli.”

He said that he hopes to make amends and learn from his mistakes and apologized to his investors.

“I am terribly sorry I lost your trust,” he said. “You deserve far better.”

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Ayşecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde

Since DMTC's YPT is opening "The Wizard of Oz" Saturday afternoon, I decided to watch the Turkish version of the story.

"Ayşecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde (Little Ayşe and the Magic Dwarfs in the Land of Dreams) is a 1971 film by Turkish film director Tunç Başaran. One of the late films of a cycle of nearly forty films featuring Zeynep Değirmencioğlu (b. 1954; ret. 1974) as Ayşecik (Little Ayşe)."

I particularly like the China Dolls, the Hammerheads, and how the Cowardly Lion looks like Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Here's the plot summary:

"A little girl named Ayşa lives with her parents on a farm, where they often feed the chickens or harvest crops. One day, however, there is a terrible tornado. Her dog is locked inside, so she rushes back to the house. But at that moment, strong winds blow the cottage off its foundation and into the sky. When the house lands, she opens the front door and peeks outside. Given a protective kiss and a pair of silver shoes by the Northern Sorceress and promised aid by seven munchkins, she sets out to find the Great Wizard. Through the grasslands and forests, she encounters Korkuluk (the Scarecrow) and in the forest she meets Teneke Koruadam (the Tin Woodman), and Korkak Aslan (the Cowardly Lion). Keşkin Zeka demands that they kill the Wicked Witch (Kötü Cadı) of the South (Suna Selen) in order to receive their wishes. But Ayşecik and Korkak Aslan are imprisoned in the witch's jail-house after their friends are destroyed by her army of soldiers. Aysecik comes into the jail-house, carrying a heavy, tin bucket but the sets it down as the wicked witch orders her to wash the floor. The girl trips over a string and her left shoe lands on the floor, the wicked witch picks up the shoe and teases Ayşecik. Ayşecik picks up her bucket of water and throws it at her, the witch screams as her servants run away but then she begins to tremble, then she finally evaporates into thin air. The witch's former subjects willingly restore Korkuluk and Teneke Koruadam. Back at the Emerald City, Keşkin Zeka admits to being a fraud, delivers trinkets to Ayşecik's friends, and accidentally leaves her behind in his balloon escape, so they set off on their journey again, meeting again the china dolls, the hammer-wielding cavemen (loosely based on Baum's Hammerheads) and then start to dance, then, after the Good Sorceress tells her how to use her shoes, Aysecik bids farewell to her friends, clicks her heels, and ends up home."

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Good Review For "Carousel"

Bev liked it!
Mitchell Worrell-Olson plays Billy Bigelow, the charismatic carnival barker in charge of the carousel, where he meets Julie Jordan (Jori Gonzales). Julie lives in a home for young women and is very naive in the ways of the world. Billy is a player with flirtations with many women, though somehow he is captivated by Julie and the two, against the wishes of everyone, marry.

Worrell-Olson, though only 19, has a voice that needs no augmentation as he fills the theater. He’s a bit wobbly on the higher notes, but that in no way detracts from his performance. He has the uneasy attitude of a man unsure about the proper young woman with whom he has become infatuated.

Gonzales, who has now portrayed many DMTC heroines, simply shines as Julie, in her feelings for Billy, her heartbreak at his death and her quiet, lonely dignity as she raises their daughter alone. She’s a real gem.

Laura M. Smith provides comic relief as Carrie Pipperidge, swooning over “Mr. Snow.” Like Gonzales she is also a gem — beautiful voice, great comic timing and a wonderful companion to Julie.

As for Brian McCann as Enoch Snow, he’s a great combination of quiet and expression and could not be more perfect. He’s great fun to watch on stage, especially leading the parade of little Snows.

Marguerite Morris is Mrs. Mullin, Billy’s employer, who owns the carousel and who tries to break up Billy’s marriage to Julie. With her copper-red wig and outlandish costume (by Jean Henderson), she lights up the stage in each of her scenes.

Kasper Cummins has the small role of Nettie Fowler, but hers may be one of the more memorable scenes in the show, as she sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” following Billy’s death.

Katie Smith-Induni plays Louise, Billy and Julie’s 15-year-old daughter, dancing on the beach when Billy returns to life for one day. She’s lovely and earnest in talking to her mother about the father she never had a chance to meet.

Sacramento Cool

All good things must end:
For the six months since Lady Bird first enraptured critics, then audiences, then members of the academy and other awards bodies, Sacramento has found itself riding an unprecedented surge of self-esteem. New walking tours of the city promise glimpses of landmarks and locations featured in Greta Gerwig’s love letter to her hometown. A new mural has emblazoned actress Saoirse Ronan’s face on a wall near the State Capitol. An East Sac bar featured in the film unveiled a Lady Bird cocktail. “I ♥ Lady Bird” pins are ubiquitous signifiers of local pride, and Gerwig’s Sunday night red-carpet shoutout to Sacramento dulled the sting of the film’s Oscar oh for.

It’s probably all downhill from here for my native city, as evidenced by the death that same night of 92-year-old Tower Records founder Russ Solomon—while watching the Oscars, no less, at his Sacramento home. The end came 77 years after Solomon first started selling vinyl albums in the back of his father’s drugstore on Broadway, and 14 years after his resultant music-store empire went bankrupt, crippled by the internet and ultimately doomed by corporate malignancy and ineptitude. The intervening decades at Tower Records were a wellspring of global growth, creativity, noise, glamour, and bohemian chaos. Solomon used to collect neckties that he would routinely scissor from the collars of music industry executives visiting Tower headquarters in West Sacramento. Across the river, the original Tower Records on Watt Avenue was notorious for a cocaine budget hid under a line item for “handtruck fuel.” Metallica once played a concert in that store’s parking lot, rocking out for thousands on a flatbed trailer.

Even Solomon’s demise befits his legend: According to his son’s comments to the Sacramento Bee, Solomon was drinking whiskey and snarking on Oscar fashions. His wife briefly left the room to refill his glass. Solomon was dead when she returned.

Growing up in Sacramento 25 years ago, I couldn’t conjure anything cooler about the city than Russ Solomon and Tower Records. Today, I still can’t. He and Tower were vastly cooler than anything in Lady Bird. And I loved Lady Bird! But let’s be honest: Lady Bird herself would have worked at Tower if she’d stayed in Sacramento in 2003 (at least until its last area store closed in 2006). It’s not difficult to imagine her hiding her Dave Matthews Band albums in a dorm drawer and applying to work at the Broadway store in New York City, or at least hanging out at the CD listening stations like all the other aughts-era NYU brats yet to be assimilated into downtown’s cultural fringes.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

In a Seventies Frame of Mind

Good Luck, Lady Bird!

Sacramento Antique Faire

Well-Spoken Video on Assault Rifles

A Marine veteran.


I drifted asleep listening to The Cure on YouTube, which proceeded to choose songs in my absence. I awoke listening to endless baby lullabies. YouTube algorithms understand me!

The Boomer Future - Discotheques and Raves

I'm ready!:
In March 2015, Li-Huei Tsai set up a tiny disco for some of the mice in her laboratory. For an hour each day, she placed them in a box lit only by a flickering strobe. The mice — which had been engineered to produce plaques of the peptide amyloid-β in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease — crawled about curiously. When Tsai later dissected them, those that had been to the mini dance parties had significantly lower levels of plaque than mice that had spent the same time in the dark1.

Tsai, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, says she checked the result; then checked it again. “For the longest time, I didn’t believe it,” she says. Her team had managed to clear amyloid from part of the brain with a flickering light. The strobe was tuned to 40 hertz and was designed to manipulate the rodents’ brainwaves, triggering a host of biological effects that eliminated the plaque-forming proteins. Although promising findings in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease have been notoriously difficult to replicate in humans, the experiment offered some tantalizing possibilities. “The result was so mind-boggling and so robust, it took a while for the idea to sink in, but we knew we needed to work out a way of trying out the same thing in humans,” Tsai says.

A Few Cartoons

Creepy Boomers

Creepy Boomers creep everyone out. That's why I endorse Generation Jones instead:
"We can't sit still. We don't have the time to do that," bellowed Bill Faloon, the 63-year-old former mortician addressing them from the stage. To his left and right, giant screens projecting government actuarial tables reminded the group of the "projected year of our termination." Men of Faloon's age could expect to die in 2037. Any 83-year-old women in the room? They've got until only 2026.

"Take that initiative," Faloon urged his audience of about 120 people who had flown in from as far as California, Scotland, and Spain. How? Paying to participate in a soon-to-launch clinical trial testing transfusions of young blood "offers the greatest potential for everyone in this room to add a lot of healthy years to their life," Faloon said. "Not only do you get to potentially live longer … but you're going to be healthier. And some of the chronic problems you have now may disappear."

STAT got an inside look at this $195-a-head symposium, held last month in this wealthy beachside community. It offered a striking view of how promoters aggressively market scientifically dubious elixirs to aging people desperate to defy their own mortality.

DMTC's "Carousel" - Final Rehearsal Pictures - 03/01/18 - Part 3

DMTC's "Carousel" - Final Rehearsal Pictures - 03/01/18 - Part 2