Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Record Warm Year In Anchorage, Alaska Too

Record warm year in Anchorage, Alaska too.
"For the first time in recorded history, temperatures in Anchorage did not drop below zero *degrees Fahrenheit) once in an entire calendar year."

2014 Was Sacramento's Hottest Year

2014 was the world's hottest year on record, but more importantly, 2014 was downtown Sacramento's hottest year too. BY A LOT!

An Atmospheric River Approaches....

With indications of rain finally coming, in what has been a disastrously-dry winter so far, the Sacramento Bee has an article featuring Marty Ralph and his research into the increasingly-rare phenomenon of the Atmospheric River. Marty is an alumnus of the University of Arizona (had him in a lab for which I was TA):
A crack team of science experts is going along for the ride, part of an experiment known as CalWater 2015, many of whom gathered at McClellan Park near Sacramento on Tuesday in preparation for the major weather event and the vital information they hope to pull from the phenomenon.

“It’s a real milestone for us. Nothing of this scope has happened,” said Marty Ralph, director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, of the project he’s helping to lead. “One of the drivers of CalWater was the uncertainty of climate projections. We haven’t had the data to measure the strength and structure of ARs. … There’s so much potential for the monitoring of atmospheric rivers.”

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Great Song By "The Ting Tings", Taped In Sacramento On Jan. 24, 2015

I was busy watching Wendy Whelan on 1/24/15. I didn't realize the Ting Tings were in town! I like this song, "Do It Again".

"The Ting Tings", Live, in Sacramento: 1/24/15

Just Caught A Cold, So I'll Have A Distinct Advantage

So, I'm now part of the weight-loss competition at work. $20 is on the line. The next three months will be a trial.

"A Little Meta"

Miguel posted this recent photo, from 1-25 northbound, north of Comanche.


Ron Bell and Saul Goodman have been using each other! They seem to have a symbiotic relationship going. For example, Saul used one of Ron's ads as inspiration. So, yeah, I bet they have this relationship all worked out!

Even Though I Hate Sports, I Liked Watching The Superbowl

Glad I watched the Superbowl! What a bizarre last two minutes in Glendale, AZ!

I didn't follow any pregame hype so I was taken completely aback by the spectacle of the Superbowl halftime show, especially the appearance of Missy Elliot. I couldn't have been more surprised if Stalin, Jesus Christ, or Steve Irwin had magically appeared!

Walter White - I'm sorry, Sorta Greg, was there too!

Then there was all the fun with Left Shark:

After their show-stopping Super Bowl halftime performance, two of Katy Perry’s dancing palm trees took to Reddit to answer the world’s pressing questions about the show (they shared photographic proof of their involvement, and it looks legit). The answers included first-person takes on Katy Perry (she was okay) and a scandalous reveal about why the sharks didn’t appear to know their dance moves: because they were last-minute replacements for a local college dance troupe. Meanwhile, someone purporting to be the right shark has also made an appearance on Reddit, although sadly no word from the infamous left shark. Read on!
The trees got their gigs through the ASU marching band:
“It was actually through Arizona State marching band. They posted about needing 30+ people for what was known then as the Sunshine Cast (Inflatables in California Gurls), and then a second post was made looking for 6’0″ or taller slim guys for prop crew. The marching band was already set to play at the Super Bowl since nearly a year ago, so I’m assuming they saw that as an easy way to get people that actually have a clue about timings and musical cues.”

The sharks were replaced by Katy Perry’s dancers at the last minute (no word on which, if any, of the dancers were stolen from Taylor Swift):
“The sharks were originally supposed to be dancers from Mesa Community College but 2-3 days before the performance Katy decided she wanted her own people in costume….The worst part is the MCC dancers had been practicing it for much longer and definitely knew it better at least in my opinion.”

The trees were nearly naked underneath:
“We were in unitards with only boxer-briefs or compressions shorts on underneath, so pretty close.”

Katy seemed nice enough:
“She showed up to our Props Cast rehearsal on Monday and said hi. That’s the closest any of us got to meeting her. She seemed nice, bubbly personality. Also she has the cutest damn dog, it looks like a teddy bear.”

But was a little nervous:
“I honestly can’t say for sure. When she showed up to our rehearsal she seemed nice and said hi to all of us. During some of the full dress rehearsals she would get a little antsy. In my opinion I think that’s because it was the biggest performance of her career and she wanted to do it right.”

The trees’ mouths really did move:
“Our mouths definitely moved. We had to use our hands to flip the upper lip to simulate singing along to the chorus. For the sharks they would actually pull one hand out of the fin to operate the mouth.”

There were some weight and balance issues with the costumes:
“The trees were really top heavy so all of us were hoping not to fall over in the middle of the performance. Me especially because my tree was the problem child of the group.”

Katy’s quick changes were quite an operation:
“There was an entire wardrobe crew dressed in white hazmat-like outfits devoted to sprinting on/off the stage and changing her clothes, which were, for the most part, snap-on.”

The rehearsal process was pretty arduous:
“We started on January 22nd. We had two sectionals on the 22nd and 23rd. Then on Sunday we had a put together rehearsal with the orbs (both opening and closing orbs). That Monday and Tuesday were another sort of sectional put together rehearsal. Wednesday-Friday were the full dress rehearsals in the stadium. The sectionals were shorter but the put-together and dress rehearsals were usually 3-4 hours long.”

But they didn’t even get to watch the rest of the game:
“Unfortunately, we were not allowed to watch the rest of the game after halftime. We were immediately shipped back onto busses and returned to ASU. :( ”

And they didn’t get paid:
“I volunteered and I’m not upset that I didn’t get paid. It was a great experience and I got to work with some great people. Definitely worth it.”

On the plus side, the tree that Katy was grinding up against could feel everything:
“The foam was actually slightly under an inch thick, so I could feel nearly every touch from her. Originally, Katy wasn’t choreographed to walk over to me, but when she arrived at the rehearsal location, the staging was changed to better fit the lyrics of the song (“… underneath the palm trees.”)”

Felt A Compulsion

Felt a familiar twinge Friday night after exercising. Fifteen years ago I would have gone to a casino. Instead, I saw "Mockingjay" for the third time. Dang, I like that movie!

Red and Black Dance Fitness Fundraiser On Behalf Of 'Always Knocking'

On Saturday, Jan. 31st, I attended a fundraiser for "Always Knocking" at Step One Health and Fitness Studio, with Pepper Von and the crew.

When I arrived at the intersection of 19th and T Streets for the fundraiser, the place was a hornet's nest of activity, due to a nearby fire.

Fox 40 news was there:
It took 50 firefighters working aggressively to contain the flames in a midtown fourplex on Saturday afternoon.

...“It is a multi-family property,” said Roberto Padilla of the Sacramento City Fire Department. “That was one of our concerns at the beginning.”

The Sacramento Fire Department says Daryl’s saving grace was his smoke detector. It may have also saved the people who live in the three connected apartments, all of whom received assistance from the Red Cross following the fire.

Great time raising funds for a good cause! At the left is Christina, a longtime (and always stylishly-outfitted) member of the Step One family.

But funds aren't the only, or even most-important need. Christina needs a bone marrow transplant. Finding a proper match may be difficult. Please consider donating!

"The Imitation Game"

On Friday, I went and saw Benedict Cumberbatch in "The Imitation Game". This movie is a conundrum: an excellent film, yet one that takes so many liberties with the historical record that it has to be considered a form of fiction. The trouble comes from trying to make the issues of the 50's (spying against the Soviets) the issues of the 40's (spying against the Germans). It's important to keep these subjects separate, not conflate them. Yet I really enjoyed the movie. Go figure!

The Wikipedia article on the movie summarizes many of these historical issues:
Suggesting that the work at Bletchley Park was ... stymied for the first few years.... (Progress was actually made from the beginning of the war in 1939...)

Naming the Enigma-breaking machine "Christopher" after Turing's childhood friend. (In actuality, this electromechanical machine was called 'Victory'.)

Showing a scene where the ... team decides not to use broken codes to stop a German raid on a convoy that the brother of one of the code breakers ... is serving on, in order to hide the fact they have broken the code. (In reality, Hilton had no such brother, and decisions about when and whether to use data from Ultra intelligence were made at much higher administrative levels.)

Exaggerating Turing's social difficulties to the point of depicting him having Asperger syndrome or otherwise being on the autism spectrum. (The actual adult Turing, who had friends, was viewed as having a sense of humour and had good working relationships with his colleagues.)

Portraying Turing's arrest as happening in 1951 and having a detective suspect him of being a Soviet spy until Turing tells his codebreaking story in an interview with the detective, who then discovers Turing is gay. (Turing's arrest was in 1952. The detective in the film and the interview as portrayed are fictional. Turing was investigated for his homosexuality after a robbery at his house and was never investigated for espionage.)

Suggesting that the chemical castration that Turing was forced to undergo made him unable to think clearly or do any work. (Despite physical weakness and changes in Turing's body including gynecomastia, at that time he was doing innovative work on mathematical biology....)

Clarke visiting Turing in his home while he is serving probation.(There is no record of Clarke ever visiting Turing's residence during his probation....)

Stating outright that Turing committed suicide after a year of hormone treatment. (In reality, the nature of Turing's death is a matter of considerable debate.)

Depicting Commander Denniston as a rigid officer, bound by military thinking and eager to shut down the decryption machine when it fails to deliver results. (Denniston's grandchildren stated that the film takes an "unwarranted sideswipe" at their grandfather's memory.... They said their grandfather had a completely different temperament from the one portrayed in the film....)

Showing Turing interacting with Stewart Menzies, head of the British Secret Intelligence Service.(There are no records showing they interacted at all during Turing's time at Bletchley Park.)

Including an espionage subplot involving Turing working with John Cairncross. (Turing and Cairncross worked in different areas of Bletchley Park and there is no evidence they ever met. Historian Von Tunzelmann was angered by this subplot ... writing that "Creative licence is one thing, but slandering a great man's reputation – while buying into the nasty 1950s prejudice that gay men automatically constituted a security risk – is quite another.")

Overheard At The Movies

Went to get popcorn at the movies. Interrupted conversation by clerk who was explaining circumstances under which she would sell her body. Wonder what she gets paid?

Monday, February 02, 2015

Coming Soon: Blake's Lotaburger's First Arizona Location

Jerry notes that New Mexico's iconic Blakes Lotaburger will soon occupy the Arby's on Speedway in Tucson - their first Arizona location. That made me laugh! That Arby's provided one of my favorite fast food memories. Palo Verde beetles are amazing desert creatures. They are huge - much bigger than cockroaches - but harmless. They vanish for years at a time, then unexpectedly reappear. One warm Tucson night, the Palo Verde beetles came out and swarmed the neon lights of the Speedway Arby's. Thousands and thousands of enormous bugs crawling everywhere as customers cowered within. It was like a science fiction movie! May the new Speedway Lotaburger be so lucky!