Thursday, December 31, 2015

"The Producers" - DMTC - 'Springtime for Hitler' - Dec. 30, 2015 Rehearsal

A few photos from rehearsal for tonight's preview of "The Producers" at DMTC - specifically, 'Springtime for Hitler':

Monday, December 28, 2015

All The Ways To Be Wrong

Everyone did a face plant:
The one consistently correct prediction about the Republican primaries this year was that your best guess as to what happens next was probably wrong.

While the Democratic race largely fell into line with early expectations – Hillary Clinton fending off a challenge from the left – the Republican primary has been chaos from its first moments. It feels like every time polls, fundraising, and news coverage start to point one direction, things swerve in another: Front-runners turn into underdogs and then disappear entirely; candidates branded as novelties turn into political powerhouses; and broad theories of how modern American politics work are tested to their limits.

We compiled a sampling of once-popular assumptions about the GOP race that have been overtaken by events in 2015. As you might expect, one candidate in particular tends to dominate the list.

Some People Talk; Other People Do

Instead of getting gifts for Christmas, this little girl delivered them -- to the homeless in Downtown Denver.
DENVER - An 8-year-old autistic girl from Denver told her family she didn't want any Christmas gifts this year. Instead, she wanted to celebrate the holiday by doing something else: give back to those who need it most.

MaryBella Rose, 8, told her family she simply wanted to celebrate Christmas with the homeless by giving them presents. On Christmas Day, that's exactly what she did.

"I told Santa I didn't want any Christmas presents this year because, you know what? I'm hanging out with my homeless friends and that means more to me than a gift from Santa," Rose told Denver7 reporter Jason Foster.

Setting up shop at the corner of Larimer Street and Park Avenue in Five Points, she handed out 100 thermal blankets, 100 ponchos, 150 cupcakes, socks, gloves and water.

This Extremely Powerful North Atlantic Storm Will Destabilize the Weather of the Entire Northern Hemisphere

Warm Arctic Storm To Hurl Hurricane Force Winds at UK and Iceland, Push Temps to 72+ Degrees (F) Above Normal at North Pole

We’ve probably never seen weather like what’s being predicted for a vast region stretching from the North Atlantic to the North Pole and on into the broader Arctic this coming week. But it’s all in the forecast — an Icelandic low that’s stronger than most hurricanes featuring a wind field stretching over hundreds and hundreds of miles. One that taps warm tropical air and hurls it all the way to the North Pole and beyond during Winter time. And it all just reeks of a human-forced warming of the Earth’s climate…

...Regardless of peak strength, the expected storm is predicted to be both very intense and wide-ranging as both model forecasts feature numerous lows linked in chain with a much deeper storm center near Iceland. Among these and further north, two more strong lows in the range of 965 to 975 mb will round out this daisy chain of what is now shaping up to be a truly extreme storm system. The Icelandic coast and near off-shore regions are expected to see heavy precipitation hurled over the island by 90 to 100 mile per hour or stronger winds raging out of 35-40 foot seas. Meanwhile, the UK will find itself in the grips of an extraordinarily strong southerly gale running over the backs of 30 foot swells.

...(By early Wednesday, temperatures at the North Pole are expected to exceed 1 degree Celsius readings. Such temperatures are in the range of more than 40 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

All along the eastern side of this storm, powerful warm winds are expected to funnel northward. Originating along the 35 degree North Latitude line west of Spain, these winds will force a train of warm air and moisture pole-ward ahead of our storm. The winds will rush up over a very riled North Sea, they will howl into a far warmer than normal Barents, and they will roar on past Svalbard — finally turning as they pass beyond the North Pole.

These winds will bring with them extraordinarily warm temperatures for the High Arctic region during Winter time. By Wednesday, the North Pole is expected to see temperatures in the range of 1-2 degrees Celsius or 41-42 degrees C above average (73-75 degrees Fahrenheit above the normal daily temperature of -40 F for a typical Winter day). Such an extreme departure would be like seeing a 120 degree (Fahrenheit) December day in my hometown of Gaithersburg, MD. Needless to say, a 1-2 C reading at the North Pole during late December is about as odd as witnessing Hell freezing over. But, in this case, the latest wave of warmth issuing from a human-driven shift toward climatological hell appears to be on schedule to arrive at the North Pole in just a few more days.

...A final ingredient to this highly altered weather pattern appears to be a cooling of the sea surface in the North Atlantic just south of Greenland. This cooling has been set off by an increase in fresh water melt outflows from Greenland as glacial melt there has accelerated concordant with human-forced warming. The cool pool of glacial melt water south of Greenland has aided in the generation of a dipole featuring cool air to the west, warm air to the east. This year, warm air has tended to flow northward over Spain, the UK, and along a region between Iceland and Scandinavia. During the Winter of 2015-2016, this warm air slot has also been the breeding ground for very unstable weather and a number of powerful storm systems.

Polar Vortex Ripped in Half Late Dec 2015

(It’s an El Nino year. But despite a climate feature that would typically strengthen the Jet Stream, what we see is another Arctic warm air invasion reminiscent of the recent polar vortex collapse events of Winters 2012 through 2014-2015. Note that the region of coldest air, which would typically tend to center over the North Pole has been driven south toward Greenland and Baffin Bay. A pattern that we’d expect concordant with world ocean warming and Greenland melt as a result of human-forced climate change. Image source: ECMWF.)
That storm complex in the North Atlantic near Iceland is so powerful! So much warm air is being pumped into the polar regions that surface temperatures at the North Pole might approach freezing! At the end of December! Amazing!

These figures show the forecast distribution of temperature (colored diagram at the surface; the other diagram at 850 mb, above the surface). These patterns should reflect the Polar Vortex and should be circularly symmetric. They aren't. It's as if the Earth has been kicked, hard, right off its axis.

Because everything is connected, we are going to see weird weather things all over the Northern Hemisphere. All that cold air kicked off the pole is going to make eastern Siberia miserable, afflict the Chinese, and will contribute to the extreme storminess we see now near the Aleutian Islands. Central Canada and the northern Plains of the U.S. are going to dry right out. California might escape the Northern Hemisphere chaos, but barely.
I'm exaggerating a bit. It looks like 850 mb temperatures will approach freezing near the pole, but surface temperatures will still be below. Nevertheless, a temperature inversion for the ages. Likely incredibly foggy. The North Atlantic will be a terrible place for polar bears and other polar mammals. And once that cold air reaches China, the air pollution will be so bad that even more people will die.

Hypothermia in Gallup

That wintertime situation in Gallup is tragic. Alcoholic Native Americans roam near highway exits and liquor stores, bundled against the intense cold and walking so stiffly that I called them Morlochs (after the ponderous cannibals in H.G. Well's "The Time Machine"). Yet they never bundled enough, somehow. That frigid Colorado Plateau can kill anyone. A great uncle of mine died in the Flagstaff, Arizona rail yard in January, 1960. No one is safe in the Great, Wide Open:
GALLUP – Carl Smith found his son’s body in a cold, open field not far from the Route 66 saloon where the 24-year-old had gone to drink. He was wearing a pair of lace-up boots, jeans and a familiar gray jacket.

Carl Smith, 51, stands in the parking lot of a now-shuttered saloon in Gallup, where he says his son had been drinking before his death from exposure in October 2009 in a field across the highway. (Mary Hudetz/The Associated Press)

“He and I were like one,” said the 51-year-old social worker and recovering alcoholic. “When I found him, I knelt down and I said, ‘Son, I’m really sorry.'”

The death of Calvin Smith, a Navajo jeweler, in October 2009 was part of a familiar pattern in the high-desert city of 22,000 people, where alcoholism and frigid winter temperatures produce a high number of deaths each year.

Fourteen people succumbed to the cold between October 2014 and April, setting the city’s hypothermia death rate at 64 deaths for every 100,000 people last year, authorities said. The rate far outpaced the national average of about 0.5 hypothermia deaths per 100,000 people.

Eastern New Mexico Pummeled

Hmmm. They shut down Interstate 40 at Eubank in Albuquerque because the travel east across the Killer Plains just ain't gonna happen tonight. It wouldn't be prudent, Dana Carvey's George H.W. Bush might say.

This news bring back memories. Driving home with my dog Christmas Eve 1993, there was a brief period of snow on I-40 near Grants, which melted and refroze and became very slick. At one point, traffic stopped. We got out of the vehicle and tried to walk a short distance, but the pavement was too icy, so we got back in and kept driving. Apparently authorities closed the highway, but through some inefficiency we never got word - Californians never pay attention anyway - so soon we were driving alone through a misty wilderness of abandoned and jackknifed semi-trailer trucks. All human beings had somehow vanished. It was as if The Rapture had happened. It was all very spooky.

Because of the wind and blizzard whiteout, the current situation sounds much worse than that situation.
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – I-40 east of Albuquerque at Eubank was closed due to bad road conditions and a lack of accommodations outside of town.

Albuquerque police say they’ve been informed that hotels east of the city are fully booked and turning away drivers. Law enforcement is out assisting people in finding shelter.

As of Saturday night, officers had responded to nearly 200 crashes. Mayor’s chief of staff Gilbert Montano says more than 40 workers will be out salting the roads throughout the night.

Bad Math

A weak command of Mathematics - infrastructure's enemy:
On December 25, 2015, on or about 1200 hours, Mary Lambright, 23 year old female from Fredericksburg, Indiana was driving a 2015 Volvo Semi Truck with a 53 foot box trailer containing 43,000 pounds of bottled water. Ms. Lambright stated her intentions were to park her semi in the parking lot of the Paoli Wal-Mart. Lambright entered the square from East Main Street and missed the exit heading to Wal-Mart and exited onto West Main Street. Ms. Lambright then turned left onto Southwest 1st Street in an attempt to turn around. She travel down Southwest 1st and turned left onto South Gospel Street. She made several attempts to turn left on to South Oak Street but was unsuccessful. Ms. Lambright was aware of a parking lot further north on South Gospel Street and determined she could turn the truck around in the lot to get back to Southwest 1st Street. When she approached the parking lot she discovered it was full of heavy equipment and could not use it to turn around. Ms. Lambright was aware of the iron bridge stating she had driven on it several times in her personal vehicle and was also aware of the posted signage “no semis, weight limit of 6 tons”. When asked by Paoli Police why she continued through the bridge knowing the weight limit was only 6 tons she admitted to not knowing how many pounds that was. She was advised the weight of the vehicle at the time of the crash was close to 30 tons. Ms. Lambright stated she wasn’t comfortable backing the semi up and made the decision to try to go through the bridge. When the semi entered the bridge the trailer immediately began ripping open due to the trailer was taller than the top of the bridge. As the vehicle continued the weight of the vehicle caused the bridge to collapse. Ms. Lambright and her 17 year old female cousin, who was also in the vehicle, exited the vehicle and were unharmed.

Terry Gilliam - The Christmas Card

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Xenophobic Orcas

I was reading this, and was blown away:
An equally odd aspect of killer whale culture concerns food taboos and ways that whales observe them. In this they offer an extraordinary parallel with some human cultures. One clan of killer whales eats only a single species of salmon. Another kills only one species of seal. When members of a mammal-eating clan were captured for the aquarium trade in the 1970s, they starved themselves for seventy-eight days before eating the salmon being proffered, and then they ate the fish only after they had performed a strange ceremony. The two whales held gently onto either end of a dead salmon, and swam a single lap around their pool with it in their mouths, before dividing the fish between themselves and consuming it.

Killer whales are strongly xenophobic. Clans of salmon eaters never mix with mammal eaters, for example. Genetic studies show that clans with different food taboos don’t interbreed, leading to slightly different appearances and genetic makeup. Each clan has a distinctive dialect of vocalizations (perhaps we should call them languages), which facilitates coordination of their work, division of their labor, and care of one another.

At times, killer whales have developed special relationships with people. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, at Twofold Bay south of Sydney, Australia, killer whales and humans set up a mutually profitable whaling enterprise. The killer whales would notify the whalers of the presence of humpback whales by performing a ritual in the waters of the bay fronting the whaler’s cottagers. The men would harpoon the humpbacks, and the killer whales would hold on to the harpoon ropes to tire the prey.

After a humpback was lanced and killed by the men, they observed the “law of the tongue.” The whalers would leave the humpback body for twenty-four hours so that the killers could feast on the lips and tongue. Remarkable proof of this partnership persists, in the form of the skeleton of “Old Tom”—a killer whale whose teeth were worn flat on one side while holding onto harpoon ropes—which can be seen in the killer whale museum in the town of Eden, Australia.

With the exception of our species, killer whales are earth’s most capable predators. When they evolved ten million years ago, half of earth’s whales, seals, and dugong species became extinct. Because they specialize in a particular food type and are so intelligent, killer whales continue to have a huge impact on their prey. As a result of global warming, killer whales have appeared in Arctic waters. Horrified Inuit describe them as voracious and wasteful killers that have reduced populations of some Arctic mammals by a third.

Impatient Skunk

Nearing the end of walking Bella on Christmas Night, I heard a gallop in the street beside us. It was an adult skunk, who quickly passed us, crossed in front of us, and darted into a yard. Apparently our progress down the sidewalk was far too slow for the impatient skunk.

"The Speck"

Daughter Danika of my college friend, Bruce Otis (the fellow with the fire extinguisher), stars in this video. It's a cautionary tale about teen girl engineers probing space-time too closely. Filmed mostly in Rochester, MN, where the veneer of reality is much too thin. (Also filmed partly in Albuquerque, NM, where reality is all too real.)

Adventure of the Blue Backpack

Walking through the blustery sprinkle in the dark night, Bella abruptly stopped and peered into the dark. I didn't see anything, but we proceeded further and discovered what made her hesitate: a blue backpack on the sidewalk (SW corner of 24th & Castro, with an attached plastic bag of recyclables). It looked as if someone dropped it while bicycling past, or perhaps left it near the bus stop. Still, I could think of no good reason why it should just be there in the rain at 1 a.m., so I took it home.

On the way, a person passed close by in the darkness. He was talking loudly to himself, and said "I accomplished tasks no one told me." He wasn't complaining about dropping a backpack, though.

At home, I fished in the backpack and came up with several pawn tickets. The tickets listed a name and address, and also helpfully listed the annual percentage rate of the loans (one was 330% APR - I'm in the wrong line of work). It occurred to me the items might be stolen, but I had no indication of such. I didn't know the state of mind of the backpack's owner: maybe he could accuse me of stealing his backpack just by picking it up. Best to avoid the subject entirely. I decided to try and track down the owner.

I knocked on the door of a house behind Arden Fair Mall. There was a posted sign that said: "No Trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again." Nevertheless, there was playground equipment on the front lawn that belied the warning, and suggested the presence of small children. I left a note.

They called back. I returned and turned the backpack over to the family of the owner. They explained the owner is homeless in my neighborhood. Hopefully they see him soon.

(He needs to keep a better eye on his stuff. Keeping stuff is one of the biggest challenges of being homeless.)

Talk To Me

Heading to San Francisco on the 23rd, we stopped at the McDonald's in Vacaville. I slipped into the bathroom just as a worker carrying a large replacement roll of toilet paper queried the toilet stall, "Is anyone there?" Hearing no answer, he entered the stall, and apparently unaware I was outside, he began a philosophical inquiry. "Tell me, oh God, Lord of the Universe," he intoned. "Who are you? Talk to me, my Lord. Tell me everything." I hated to flush the urinal and disturb his reverie. For whatever reason, on this day and in this place, the Lord of the Universe remained silent.

"The Big Short"

Went with Jetta to see "The Big Short" (excellent movie), talked about the intricacies of money for half an hour, eventually emerged from our seats, and discovered (almost) everyone else in the building had gone home.

It's about time the financial crisis of 2008 was brought to the screen! Dramatization of the riveting true stories assembled by Michael Lewis.

Steve Carrell was great! And the exit music! Can't go wrong here!

Christmas Eve Zumba With KES & the Barreto Brothers


"Charlie Brown Christmas" - DMTC - Storybook Theater

2015 version, with many of the same cast as in 2013.

Trip to San Francisco to Celebrate Jan's Birthday, and Look at Gingerbread and Pastry Fantasies

We were celebrating Jan Isaacson's birthday, and went on a mission to visit large gingerbread and pastry displays in the City.

Cable car. I enjoyed waving at strangers and watching them wave back.

Fairmont Hotel.

Fairmont Hotel lobby.

Fairmont Hotel lobby Gingerbread display.

Fairmont Hotel lobby Gingerbread display detail.

Molinari Family Nutcrackers.

San Francisco skyline.

Powell Street near California Street.

Rooftop Gardens.

Union Square Macy's.

Pastry spectacle in the Westin-St. Francis Hotel lobby

Lobby of the Westin-St. Francis Hotel.

Union Square Williams-Sonoma Store.

Union Square.

Dungeness crabs on Pier 39.

Group photo at Pier 39.

Yours truly at Pier 39.