Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Descanso Lives Again!

In Albuquerque, Ed Candelaria and Marq Smith took advantage of Old Town's shutdown and moved their Breaking Bad Store ABQ into a bigger space. Ed just sent a photo of the descanso display in its new space. They did an AWESOME job!

Of all the examples of "Breaking Bad" fan culture, Magician Jordan Jonas' photo at the Walter White descanso (which my sister made, with the assistance of myself and her son, and which we placed near the site of Walter White's demise) is my favorite.

The descanso was once listed as a curious attraction in Roadside America, but their post was retired after the memorial was destroyed in December 2013. I'm hoping to have it listed there once again.

RIP, Fran Padilla

Daughter Joanne Quintana with her mother, Fran Padilla, being interviewed by a Netflix crew, November 9, 2014.

I just learned that Fran Padilla died on May 8th in Albuquerque, of cancer. She was the real owner of Breaking Bad's White family residence in Albuquerque, and a Facebook friend. So surprised. I didn't even know she was sick.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Community Mobility Reports from Google

A very useful link in these Covid days.

Great ABBA Video!

Just the fun and energy!

They made many great tunes - like this one!

Mount St. Helens Isn't Where It Should Be

Mount St. Helens, on the 40th anniversary! A high school friend was in Idaho at the time, and was wonderstruck as the Dark Cloud of Mordor swept overhead and turned day into night:
The frosty volcanic peaks of the Pacific Northwest stand in a remarkably straight line, rising from the crumpled landscape east of Interstate 5. But one volcano is conspicuously out of place. More than 25 miles to the west of the other explosive peaks, in the southwest corner of Washington State, sits Mount St. Helens.

It’s been 40 years since Mount St. Helens famously roared to life, sending ash and gas 15 miles high, flattening 135 square miles of forest, and killing 57 people in the country’s deadliest eruption. Today, the volcano is still one of the most dangerous in the United States, and the most active of the Cascade Range.

Where all this firepower comes from, however, has been an enduring mystery. The volcano’s defiant position out of line perches it atop a zone of rock too cold to produce the magma necessary to feed its furious blasts.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Selena Gomez - Bad Liar

Clever pop song! Haven't paid any attention to Selena Gomez before.

Covid-19 is a Stubborn Beast

I was curious about Covid-19 hospitalizations, separating out New York area cases from cases in the rest of the U.S., so I sat down with the data.

The NYC hot spot (state data for NY/NJ/CT) is slowly coming under control, but the number of cases elsewhere in the country hasn't budged for the last month.

I don't know why there's a bit of glitchiness in the data, but basically hasn't budged in a month.

Intrigued By "Head Over Heels"

Thinking this might be a really fun musical.

Maybe Some Dodgy Numbers Out There

Securitization again, but with commercial real estate:
Whereas the fraud during the last crisis was in residential mortgages, the complaint claims this time it’s happening in commercial properties like office buildings, apartment complexes and retail centers. The complaint focuses on the loans that are gathered into pools whose worth can exceed $1 billion and turned into bonds sold to investors, known as CMBS (for commercial mortgage-backed securities).

Lenders and securities issuers have regularly altered financial data for commercial properties “without justification,” the complaint asserts, in ways that make the properties appear more valuable, and borrowers more creditworthy, than they actually are. As a result, it alleges, borrowers have qualified for commercial loans they normally would not have, with the investors who bought securities birthed from those loans none the wiser.

Things A'Comin'

In 1962 an Italian magazine did a story about what the world would look like in 2022.

Earthquake near Mina, NV

Wow! Highway 95 closed by an earthquake, of all things, near Mina, NV! That's the main route between Reno and Las Vegas!:
A magnitude 6.5 earthquake was recorded Friday morning in remote western Nevada, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The temblor was reported at 4:03 a.m. about 35 miles outside Tonopah, just east of the Sierra Nevada range.

The quake was felt all the way to the California coast. (Erlynda felt it; I slept through it.)

Cats and Covid

Cats like a bit of order.


Talking Heads - Love For Sale

A Matter of Trust

Amusing video!

Microbes Deep Beneath The Ocean Floor

Radiolysis, anyone?:
Last month, a team of scientists in Japan reported life in basalts collected by a 2010 drilling expedition that had reached 120 meters into the crust beneath the ocean, to rocks that were from 33 million to 104 million years old. The age of the rocks alone was exciting, according to Lloyd, who did not participate in the study. “When it formed, dinosaurs were walking the Earth,” she says.

But even more tantalizing were the densities at which the microbes were growing in the rocks. The researchers, using a new technique to precisely enumerate the cells in their samples, found that the microbes were concentrated in a particular subset of the basalt’s mineral-filled fissures. There, they formed something resembling a biofilm, reaching counts of 10 billion cells per cubic centimeter. “[We] didn’t think that there [would be] so many cells in old, cold, hard rocks,” Yohey Suzuki, a geoscientist at the University of Tokyo and the lead author of the study, says.

The researchers were also able to map which types of minerals the cells did and did not associate with. They posit that the bacteria survived by living off of organic matter trapped in those minerals.

...They’ve also found evidence that those microbes persist by getting energy from an abiotic process called radiolysis, during which radiation released by the rocks reacts with water in the system to release hydrogen, which the cells can then use in various forms as fuel. That’s posed an intriguing question for scientists: Could radiolysis be an alternative process driving much of subsurface life?

Given that radiolysis occurs everywhere, “it could also be supporting the ocean deep life,” Orsi, from the University of Munich, says. “No one knows.”

...That is, it’s possible that life might have gotten its start on the surface of the Earth, where it found creative ways to survive and spread, including to deeper environments. But it’s also possible that life began underground, at some fortuitous juncture of rock and water—eventually also making its way to the surface and figuring out how to harness the sun’s energy. (On that note, photosynthesis-dependent surface life and radiolysis-dependent subsurface life have so far been found to have an ancient, shared ancestry—but some researchers are intrigued by the possibility that life could have evolved more than once on Earth, in a “second genesis.”)

That, in turn, has significant implications for the search for life on Mars, Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and exoplanets beyond our solar system. Given the prevalence of water and volcanic rock throughout the universe, “life could have started anywhere,” Fisk says.

The Failed Venezuelan Coup

The failed Venezuelan coup attempt was a real mess, and complicated too, but it shares with "Breaking Bad" roots in out-of-control medical bills. Our medical system is destabilizing our society:
The story begins with the Canadian-born 43-year-old Goudreau. After first serving in the Canadian military in the 1990s, he went on to serve as a medical sergeant and indirect fire infantry member in the US military from 2001 to 2016, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. He opted to retire after a parachuting accident resulted in a concussion and back injuries.

Such danger comes with the territory of serving as a Green Beret, the colloquial name for Army Special Forces, who are the service’s best for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency missions. When Goudreau finally retired from the military, he had received three Bronze Stars, which are awarded for valor or combat service.

By nearly all accounts, he was an exemplary soldier. “He was incredible. He was who you wanted in the trenches with you,” Drew White, who served with Goudreau in Iraq and was formerly a partner at Silvercorp USA, told the Globe and Mail.

But even special forces operatives need to make money once they retire. Goudreau especially needed the funds, as a friend told the New York Post he had more than $100,000 in debts in 2018.

Searching for an opportunity, Goudreau found one after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017. He got a job at a private security firm, which made him realize those in need would pay good money to have a former soldier do tough work for them.

Better Buzz Barr

A Meditation on Birds

Good article:
In all this struggling to imagine, I encounter a certain irony: The more I know about birds, the more inaccessible their perceptual world seems to me. From Jennifer Ackerman’s "The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think," I learned that birds such as the vinous-throated parrotbill and the black Jacobin hummingbird make sounds beyond our range of hearing, while the mating displays of male black manakins feature a “high-speed somersault” so fast that humans can see it only in slowed-down video. Birds see colors that we never will, and distinguish among colors that look the same to us. Writing about how they interpret a wall of foliage as “a detailed three-dimensional world of highly contrasting individual leaves,” Ackerman laments that she has tried to see what birds see, but humans just can’t differentiate among the greens.

This Land Is No Longer Your Land

The longer the GOP has any power at all, the more Americans will lose control of our public lands - our heritage!:
These disputed trails leading into the Crazy Mountains represent another front in the escalating battle over control of federal territory, and the fighting here is just as contentious as over the monuments. Historic settlement patterns in the American West created a checkerboard pattern of landownership: Public properties are often broken-up plots, resulting in numerous access disputes. According to a 2013 study by the Center for Western Priorities, that dynamic has effectively locked the public out of about 4 million acres of land in Western states; almost half of that blocked public land, or about 2 million acres, is in Montana, according to the study. The push to end public thoroughfare is either an overdue reassertion of private property rights or an openly cynical land snatch, depending which side of the gate you’re standing on.

...PERC’s Anderson says ranch owners serve nature better than government can.

Anderson has carved out a field for himself in something called free-market environmentalism. Along with his job at PERC, he’s a professor emeritus at Montana State University and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a libertarian-leaning think tank. In op-eds published across the country, he’s an evangelist for limited government and private property rights. He views many environmentalists with undisguised contempt, and they generally return the favor.

Like many nonprofits, PERC doesn’t disclose its funding sources, but Greenpeace International has posted records showing that they’ve included Exxon Mobil Corp. and the industrialists Charles and David Koch. Anderson probably wouldn’t worry too much about how that looks: He believes the private sector, in most cases, is a better steward of nature than the government.

...PERC’s affiliation with politically connected outfitters that stand to profit if trails are closed bolsters the sense, to Wilson and others confronting locked gates, that a void in coherent policy about public land management is being filled by cronyism that rewards wealth and connections above all else. Another co-owner of the Wonder Ranch, Frank-Paul King, a friend and former student of Anderson’s, served on PERC’s board. Hudson, the man who got Representative Sessions involved, is King’s brother-in-law, and he’s also a board member and the former president of the Dallas Safari Club, a group that made national headlines in 2014 when it auctioned off a trip to Africa to hunt an endangered rhinoceros. (The winning bidder, who paid $350,000, traveled to Namibia and shot a black rhino bull, an animal the club said had threatened the rest of the herd.) The Dallas Safari Club has granted PERC funding for, among other things, a study on “private conservation in the public interest.”

In 2016 the Dallas Safari Club hosted a fundraiser featuring the big-game hunting enthusiast Donald Trump Jr. that netted $60,000 in campaign donations to the Republican National Committee. “The candidate’s family connection to hunting and its legacy gives DSC a huge opportunity to have the right people in place as advocates for our mission,” the club’s newsletter stated.

Am I A Runner?

Kate sends this alarming link showing what the new folks have done to the building that once housed Sierra Research (where I worked from 1990 to 2016 - and worked specifically in this building from 1994 to 2016).
Collaboration with design firm SmithGroup has created a transformative workplace that will allow DPR employees and the surrounding community to re-envision how they work now and provide a snapshot on how they will want to work in the future. The space includes open office seating areas, active/addressable seating plan, meeting rooms, break rooms, open collaborative areas, focus areas, training room, lounge spaces and other special use spaces.

Ambitions for the future!

Wait a minute. I was on the cutting edge in 1994. How is it 1994 can be erased so easily? What happened to the future we imagined?

Reminds me of one of those science fiction movies where you are eliminated when you reach the age of 30. Movies like "Soylent Green."

Or better yet, "Logan's Run." Am I a Runner? Or am I like one of those poor folks on Carrousel?

Yes, working at Sierra Research all those years was kind of like this:

Hank's Table

I saw Steve Walker the other day. He owns the apartments next door, and spent many years in the immediate vicinity of my house.

Steve informed me his tenant Hank died. I had no idea!

Hank was very quiet and very private. I rarely saw him - maybe sometimes when I was watering the front lawn during summer nights. Hank would park his Saturn sedan, get out, say hi in passing, and go upstairs to his apartment. At other times, I'd see him sometimes in his kitchen when I approached my back door.

And now he's gone.

Steve suggested I take some furniture. I now have Hank's table.