Thursday, May 19, 2022

Bad Picture of the Recent Lunar Eclipse

It was pretty cloudy, so I only got a good look at the moonwhen the eclipse was ending.

Bring An Euler's Disk To The Students at Thomas Edison

I was a guest-speaker for an Elective class (6th through 8th graders) at Thomas Edison Elementary School. I talked about the physics of spinning objects, particularly phenomena like precession, and brought an Euler's Disk for a classroom demonstration. Euler's Disks are interesting because precession accelerates as the disk spins down and rotation slows.

Working Hard on "Better Call Saul"

Determined three minor locations tonight. Minor they might be, but they were driving me crazy. First half-season finale next Monday. Second half starts in July. By the beginning of September, I'd like to be close to finishing the updates to my two books. But first, I'll have to visit Albuquerque to chase down a mind-numbing number of photos!

Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Thought About Buffalo

After years of “reporting” on this supposed Great Replacement theory that the shooter cites in his manifesto, it’s as clear as it ever gets that FOX News is to blame for today’s massacre in Buffalo. 

You put the Theory out there and wait for someone to bit. Someone always does! 

Rupert Murdoch may as well have fired the bullets himself.

A Dream

One of the last things I do before bed is to take a last look at Facebook. 

Several nights ago, I recall reading about Donald Trump’s “hurricane gun” idea, a friend’s hospital stay, and Route 66. Then I slept, and my brain tried to make sense of what I had read. 

I dreamt that five hurricanes were approaching the U.S. coast, and that I had to get back to Albuquerque as soon as possible. Barefoot and wearing a hospital gown, I was pushing a walker and running at highway speeds, through Nevada and Arizona, trying to get home. As I awoke, after a 900-mile run, I was approaching the Sandia Mountains on Paseo del Norte at sunset, watching a rising crescent moon over the mountains as the rains closed in. Very pretty, but I was getting very weary. 

(I know, I know, you can't have a rising crescent moon at sunset. My bad.) 

Making sense of Facebook is hard for the brain.

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Fire Eating New Mexico is Still Eating New Mexico

So large! And not even including the fire in the San Mateo Mountains southwest of Magdalena.

A Different Idea About Coronado's Path

Here is an interesting video about one of those understudied, enduring mysteries: Coronado's exact path on his way to Cibola in 1540. The Arizona-New Mexico landscape can be interpreted in different ways, as can the original Spanish documents, which are a bit vague anyway because the Spanish explorers were in a new, unfamiliar land. This fellow mentions Nugent Brasher, so he is familiar with Brasher's work, but he places his path farther east than Brasher does. Which is all good for the purpose of debate. For me, for now, I stay faithful to Brasher's interpretation, which places Chichilticale west, not east, of the Chiricahuas.


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

"The Duke"

I saw this delightful film with Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren last Friday at The Tower Theater.


Sunday, May 08, 2022

Yung L & Wizkid - Eve Bounce (Remix)

I'm still going and still liking LaToya's Dancehall Power Up (DHPU) on Thursday nights.

Here's one of the better recent Jamaican Dancehall songs we dance to.


Thomas Edison Elementary School Showcase and Family Night - May 6, 2022

These New Mexico Fires Are Huge

And it's not even really fire season. New Mexico is no different than Colorado or California with these off-season fires. People and forests have a hard time mixing.

Neighborhood Century Plant Stalk is a Year Old Now!

I had no idea they could last this long. I thought they are supposed to collapse after a few months. It looks blackened, battered, and weather-beaten, but there's no sign it'll collapse anytime soon.

"Mother And Child Reunion" - Paul Simon

A 1972 memory:


Half-Barrel Vaults in "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul"

In Vince Gilligan's universe, architecture may be used for humor. 

For example, after Ted and Skyler's tryst in BrBa "Green Light," we see a drawing on the wall of a half-barrel vault in a gallery such as you might find in a Romanesque church. Skyler complains that Walt is frustrating her efforts to throw him out of the house. 

In BCS "Hit and Run," we get a view of Gus' tunnel to his neighbors' house. We see a small-scale half-barrel vault. The message seems to be that, unlike that lunatic Walt, Gus knows best when and how to leave his house. 

Half-barrel vaults are rarely-used in either television series. Why they seem to be related to leaving the house is a mystery to me.

So Hard On The Dancers, Who Have To Choose

When ballet dancers are described as God's athletes, well, you could offer up Olga Smirnova as supporting evidence. She treads on air, coming in on little cat feet. She's a Russian prima ballerina—one of the world's leading dancers. But days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Smirnova pirouetted and stepped off her stage at the renowned Bolshoi Theater, with dramatic flourish. She took to social media to express her outrage. And then fled the country, the modern-day version of Nureyev or Baryshnikov defecting.
Jon Wertheim: When you sat down to write that social media post, what did you want to communicate? What did you want to say?
Olga Smirnova: I just couldn't keep it inside. I was so ashamed of Russia. This is the true. I'm not ashamed that I'm Russian, but I'm ashamed because of Russia started this action.
Jon Wertheim: I want to read what you wrote. You said you were against this war with every fiber of your being." But I now feel that a line has been drawn that separates the before and the after." 
Olga Smirnova: It's how I felt. 24th of February, this is, was the line, Because it's all changed. All changed. The reputation of Russia and Russian people, even if you are not a soldier, you're just Russian. It, it's all, it still make a shadow on you.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Signs of the Times

A Las Vegas Jigsaw Puzzle

I picked up this puzzle at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas when I was there for Ira's funeral at the beginning of February, 2022. 999 pieces (the last piece in the upper-left corner was unaccountably missing).  Classic Vegas!

Walking Jasper Around the Neighborhood

Tomorrow is Jasper's fourth birthday, and so he's getting more walks than usual. We walk all over the neighborhood. 

Here's an oddly-specific sticker on a car that was parked in front of the Sierra II theater. 

I'm constantly amazed at the number of people who approach us and tell me what a handsome dog Jasper is: at least three groups of people in front of Gunther's ice cream parlor, plus a homeless man passing by on a bicycle. A woman carrying a dog in her lap stopped driving for a moment on Fourth Avenue in order to point out Jasper to her canine. Jasper's a rock star! 

There have been a few odd moments in the neighborhood too. Jasper and I were walking along Freeport Blvd. when a vehicle stopped. Windows rolled down on the passenger side of the vehicle. "Please help us," the heavy-set driver said, pointing to a woman, his wife, sitting in the back seat. "We are from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, and we are low on fuel. Please, if you would, buy this ring so we can get gasoline." He removed a big, heavy, expensive-looking ring from his finger. Nevertheless, I never carry any money on our walks, so couldn't oblige. The disappointed folks rolled on. 

Then there was a punkish-looking young woman, with razor cuts embellishing her short hair, riding a bicycle. She stopped at the corner of 24th and X Street and started ripping the tips of limbs from a ornamental, succulent-looking shrub growing at the corner, and throwing the debris into the street. This plant attack looked all-wrong to me, so I approached her and asked her what she was doing. She smiled - apparently I looked harmless - and said it was time to prune the shrub. I couldn't tell if she belonged there, or not - I thought not, but I could be wrong - so Jasper and I kept on walking. Passing by the next day, it looked like the shrub is still intact, despite the abrupt pruning. Maybe it was time to prune the shrub?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Orrin Hatch Shuffles Off His Mortal Coil

What a dreadful man. Glad he's gone:
In any case, Hatch could routinely be the worst during Supreme Court nominations. He was outraged that Bork didn’t get confirmed. Moreover, he was on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings, where he read from The Exorcist to “prove” that Anita Hill had stolen her (obviously false natch) sexual harassment allegations from that book. 

In fact, few did more than Hatch to push the Republican Party toward extremism in the judiciary. He was a huge supporter of the nomination of Mr. Torture Memos himself, Jay Bybee, to the Ninth Circuit Court.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Father/Daughter Dance - Corina Bianca and Pepper Von

Lots of wonderful people here! Pepper Von, acclaimed fitness instructor, together with his daughter, Corina Bianca (former Sacramento Kings dancer and Assistant Director of Respiratory Care at a hospital in LA), at her recent wedding in Los Angeles. Tyehimba Kokayi plays Djembe drum. One of Pepper's other daughters appears to lead the group in dance too (possibly Gabrielle Perez).

Friday, April 22, 2022

Thinking I'll Wait

On Thursday, I talked with a surgeon about having an ablation procedure (via catheter from the groin to the heart) to address my heartbeat irregularity problems. It was an interesting discussion. 

There are at least two different types of irregularities that are affecting me - SVT and atrial fibrillation. The surgeon was keen to go after SVT principally. Nevertheless, there is a big element of trial-and-error in a SVT ablation procedure, and if their attempts to stimulate irregularities (in order to identify the areas that need to be ablated) fail during the procedure, they might not ablate anything at all. So, I could have all the risks of a procedure, and none of the benefits. They could instead go after the atrial fibrillation, of course, but there are possible risks to nerves and the esophagus that could leave me with permanent shortness of breath, even as the "problem" is technically "fixed." 

I have some shortness of breath now, but I can deal with it. I'm still doing ballet without much problem.  If the heart races out of control, I have medication to bring it back under control.  And there is always the ER.  And strange as it seems, there is also the possibility the SVT problem might disappear altogether. Heartbeat issues are strange like that.

So, I think I'll wait for awhile. If you do surgery, it helps to be 100% committed to doing it. Totally freakin' gung ho.  Right now, I'm at 50%.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Worried About the Tunnel Fire

Wow, Sunset Crater was completely burned over. Flagstaff forests are pretty dry, but despite their scattered nature, they have lots of underbrush:
(CNN) Hundreds of homes near Flagstaff, Arizona, have been evacuated as a fast-moving wildfire threatened hundreds of structures Wednesday after destroying at least two dozen buildings, officials said. 
The Tunnel Fire in northern Arizona's Coconino County had burned more than 19,700 acres as of Wednesday afternoon, according to InciWeb, a US clearinghouse for wildfire information. It was first reported Sunday afternoon.
The fire, about 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff, was rapidly moving to the northeast, pushed by significant winds, officials said. It had no containment as of Wednesday afternoon.
"I cannot stress enough how rapidly this fire is moving," fire management officer True Brown said.
Here's the Inciweb link.

Double Ridges

I just love reading stuff like this:
Ridges that criss-cross the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa indicate there are shallow pockets of water beneath, boosting hopes in the search for extra-terrestrial life, scientists said Tuesday. 
Europa has long been a candidate for finding life in our solar system due to its vast ocean, which is widely thought to contain liquid water -- a key ingredient for life.
There is a problem: the ocean is predicted to be buried 25-30 kilometers (15-17 miles) beneath the moon's icy shell. 
However water could be closer to the surface than previously thought, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications.
The finding came partly by chance, when geophysicists studying an ice sheet in Greenland watched a presentation about Europa and spotted a feature they recognized.
"We were working on something totally different related to climate change and its impact on the surface of Greenland when we saw these tiny double ridges," said the study's senior author Dustin Schroeder, a geophysics professor at Stanford University.
They realised that the M-shaped icy crests on Greenland looked like smaller versions of double ridges on Europa, which are the most common feature on the moon.
...The scientists used ice-penetrating radar to observe that Greenland's ridges were formed when water pockets around 30 meters (100 feet) below the ice sheet's surface refroze and fractured.
"This is particularly exciting, because scientists have been studying double ridges on Europa for more than 20 years and have not yet come to a definitive answer for how double ridges form," said lead study author Riley Culberg, an electrical engineering PhD student at Stanford.
"This was the first time that we were able to watch something similar happen on Earth and actually observe the subsurface processes that led to the formation of the ridges," he told AFP. 
"If Europa's double ridges also form in this way, it suggests that shallow water pockets must have been (or maybe still are) extremely common."

NASA's Perseverance Rover Sees Solar Eclipse on Mars

Green Bud Holiday

You know it’s 4/20 when they’re lining up to break down the doors to the local marijuana dispensary. One fellow came out and said “It’s a f*n nightmare in there!” He didn’t look too scared, though.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Finally Getting Some Details on the Sacramento Mass Shooting

Two weeks of wondering what the hell happened:
At 1:57:02 a.m. April 3, surveillance cameras at 10th and K streets caught a crowd of 70 to 80 people gathering on the northeast corner of the intersection.
Eight seconds later, the crowd began to run. Some drove away in cars. A hot dog vendor ran away from their cart.
But Smiley Martin, his brother Dandrae and Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi stayed. They stood near Sharif Jewelers as a man dressed in black and standing next to Smiley Martin pointed north toward two other men: Mtula Payton and DeVazia Turner.
In less than three minutes, the shooting in downtown Sacramento began, with Smiley Martin reportedly firing 28 rounds from a fully automatic Glock 19 handgun and others returning fire until more than 100 shell casings littered the streets and 18 people were shot — six of them dead including Hoye-Lucchesi and Turner. Twelve others, including Smiley Martin, were wounded.
This description of how one of the largest shootouts in Sacramento history unfolded is contained in newly filed Sacramento Superior Court documents, which are based on homicide detectives scouring numerous video files and studying the events second by second as they search for the five people they say were involved in the gang battle.
The documents, filed Friday afternoon by Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office, are largely focused on Smiley Martin, a recent parolee officials say they will charge with being a felon in possession of a handgun and of carrying a machine gun — the Glock with aftermarket auto sear — that night.
Martin is recovering at a Sacramento hospital. Deputy District Attorney Brad Ng filed the documents in a bid to see that Martin does not win his release on bail once he is booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail, where his brother Dandrae, 26, is being held on a weapons charge.
The court documents outline the gang affiliations attributed to five men at the scene that night, including the three who were killed, and provide a glimpse at how police came to decide the incident resulted from a gang dispute involving five shooters. Besides Turner and Hoye-Lucchesi, the four others killed in the melee were Sergio Harris, 38; Johntaya Alexander, 21; Yamile “Yami” Martinez-Andrade, 21; and Melinda Davis, 57.
The documents do not reveal the precise nature of the dispute, but note that three men — the Martin brothers and Hoye-Lucchesi — were seen together on an Instagram video posted hours before the shooting several miles away on Traction Avenue in Old North Sacramento.
The three were seen posing with two black handguns, one equipped with a high-capacity magazine, as well as a rifle, the documents say.
“In the video, filmed while the three men were in north Sacramento (territory claimed by the Del Paso Heights Bloods), both Joshua Hoye and defendant Smiley Martin discuss going to downtown Sacramento while armed to loiter outside nightclubs, display gang hand signs to the camera, point firearms at the camera, openly and repeatedly state their allegiance to the Garden Blocc Crips (“GBC”) and boast about shooting rival gang members,” the 13-page document says.
In the video, Smiley Martin can also be seen saying he cannot go into any downtown nightclubs because he is not carrying identification. The document identifies Smiley Martin, 27, and Hoye-Lucchesi, 32, of Salinas, as validated members of the Garden Blocc Crip, a gang that includes the 29th Street Crips.
After posting the video, the three made their way downtown, where cameras picked them up near Sharif Jewelers just before 2 a.m., the documents say.
“At 1:57:28 a.m., an individual in all black clothing, standing next to Smiley Martin, raised their right arm parallel to the ground while pointing northbound on 10th Street in the direction of Mtula Payton and Devazia Turner,” the documents say.
Payton, 27, is being sought by Sacramento police as one of the shooters and is identified in court papers as once having been a Garden Blocc Crip but later being validated as a G-Mobb member, which the documents say includes the Starz or Guttah Gas gang.
Turner, 29, of Carmichael, also is named in court papers as a G-Mobb member.
Five seconds after the man in black is seen pointing toward Payton and Turner, Payton turns to face the northeast corner of 10th and K and reaches toward his waistband, the documents say.
Then, Payton, Turner and two other people start approaching the corner where the Martin brorthers and Hoye-Lucchesi are standing, the court papers say.
At 1:58:36 a.m., Sergio Harris joins Payton, Turner and the other two men. Smiley Martin turns to face them, the documents say.
Harris, a father of three, is identified in the documents as a Del Paso Heights Blood, an ally of the G-Mobb gang.
One of the female victims pulls up in her car as the groups face off. Alexander, of Elk Grove, parks her car and walks to get her sister, who is standing near Harris by the jewelry store, the documents say.
“At 2:00:21 a.m., detectives observe that Smiley Martin is holding a handgun with an extended magazine in his left hand beside his leg,” the court papers say. “Three seconds later, Smiley Martin moves west toward the corner of the intersection.
“At 2:00:38 a.m., Devazia Turner and Smiley Martin are observed exchanging gunfire. During this exchange of gunfire, detectives were able to observe that Johntaya Alexander, Sergio Harris, Joshua Hoye, Yamile Martinez-Andrade (who was walking along K Street at the time of the confrontation between the two groups of men), and Devazia Turner were all struck by gunfire.”
The documents continue: “In the video surveillance footage, detectives observed that Smiley Martin fired multiple rounds from his firearm. A preliminary ballistics analysis indicated that the defendant Smiley Martin fired approximately 28 rounds.”
After the shooting, the Martin brothers ran toward the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and detectives saw Smiley Martin on video tossing his handgun away in front of 1029 K St. just before officers stopped him in front of the cathedral, court papers say.
“While securing the scene, officers located the firearm that defendant Smiley Martin discarded: a Glock 19 handgun with an extended 30-round magazine, a tactical laser sight, and a full-automatic selector switch, making the firearm an illegal machine gun.”
The court filing is aimed at convincing a judge that Smiley Martin should not be released on bail once he recovers enough to be booked, and notes that another man arrested after being seen carrying a handgun near the scene was released before arraignment on $500,000 bail. Police have said they do not believe the man was involved in the shootings.
The court papers note that Smiley Martin “has demonstrated a life-time commitment to violence” and cannot be safely released into the public.
Judge Michael Savage agreed, signing an order Friday that says Smiley Martin cannot be released before he is arraigned and a hearing on the motion by the District Attorney’s Office to deny bail is heard
The DA’s filing contends Smiley Martin was not going downtown to visit a nightclub, but to commit crimes.
“As the defendant told his social media audience, he had no intention of going to nightclubs or bars that evening,” the documents say. “Instead, based on his lack of identification, his clothing, his prior gang-related statements, and his decision to come to downtown Sacramento with a loaded, illegal full-automatic machine gun equipped with an illegal high-capacity magazine, there is clear and convincing evidence that defendant Smiley Martin intended to engage in armed criminal action with an illegal firearm.
“Inevitably, when a conflict presented itself at the intersection of 10th Street and K Street, the defendant did not leave the scene. Instead, with a full-automatic Glock 19 drawn out in his left hand, the defendant stayed in front of the Sharif Jewelers, waiting for a confrontation with Mtula Payton, Devazia Turner, Sergio Harris and the other men they were with.”