Wow! It got up to 90 degrees. My kind of February. Now if only my bike wasn’t still in the shop. Actually at 8:30 tonight, it’s still 79. I was sitting out on my porch just a few minutes ago watching the crescent moon, flat on its back, drop out of sight behind my neighbor’s house. Venus was cozy and close. I had my astronomical binoculars clamped to my Bogan tripod. And try as I might, I wasn’t able to discern that Venus is, itself, in a crescent phase. I wanted to take a photo, so I tried holding my iPhone’s tiny camera lens up to the binoculars. No go. I went in and found my cheap and trusty Nikon Coolpix. This was working better. But not great. I tried attaching the little digital camera to another tripod so I could get a more stable image. I don’t think this would have worked, but I never got a chance to find out, as both heavenly objects eased out of sight. I always feel self-conscious standing in front of my house at night with a pair of absurdly large binoculars. When the moon was gone, I made quick work breaking down the equipment … least someone suspect I was waiting around for a full moon to rise in their second floor bedroom.
The crescent moon, magnified, was totally badass. This blurry and grainy photo doesn’t even give a taste of the crenelated curvature along that line of the Earth’s shadow hitting the uneven cratered surface, not to mention the deep mauve of all that shadowy lunar landscape which was being lit, not by the sun, but by the reflected Earthlight.
I wish I were away from the city and all this light pollution so I could try and find Comet Lulin.
This afternoon I was sitting at my desk writing. I was listening to my favorite Elliott Sharp album. One of the projects he did with his Orchestra Carbon. The album is titled “Abstract Expressionism: 1990-1999.” Sharp is not so well known because his prolific output is spread in so many genres. Rock and roll, free jazz, post modern “classical,” and the uncategorizable stuff that gets tossed into the music bins labeled “experimental” or “avant-garde.”
Here’s a link to a YouTube video of Elliott Sharp playing with one of his many collaborative groups, the Bootstrappers. It’s a good starting point. If you don’t care for this, it’s unlikely you’ll like anything else he does.
I found this clip because, well, I do tend to procrastinate. And as I was playing around YouTube, seeing what might be available from Elliott Sharp, I came upon a trailer for a documentary titled “Elliott Sharp: Doing the Don’t.” It came out in 2008. I tried NetFlix, but nothing. I clicked over to the filmmaker’s website, and discovered that the documentary was available for sale. Recalling that I had some funds in my PayPal account, I placed an order. It looks pretty good.
I was listening to a Skepticality podcast today from their archives. A couple months back. The guest was Dr. Pamela Gay, the astrophysicist who, along with science journalist Fraser Cain, produces the excellent Astronomy Cast (which, as the name indicates, is an astronomy podcast). She mentioned a project which she’s involved with to help spread the news that 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy. A telescope kit would soon be available. The Galileoscope. A ten dollar telescope kit, she said, which would allow people to easily put together a telescope similar in power to what Galileo had used, allowing the observer to see the craters and mountains of the moon, the phases of Venus, the rings of Saturn, and moons of Jupiter. I was intrigued. I love my astronomical binoculars, but I can’t see the moons of Jupiter with them. Yet I was skeptical. Ten bucks? I, of course, turned to Google. The first thing I found was a video someone had shot with a camcorder attached to the Galileoscope. The moon, which was slowly moving through the field of vision, almost filled up the frame. Next, I visited the Galileoscope website. It seems that Pamela had it wrong. It’s a 15 dollar telescope. Add to that a rather steep nine buck shipping charge and, well, it’s still cheap. I placed my order. However, they won’t start shipping until April. They also allow you to donate a telescope. Perhaps you already have a telescope, but you want to help out a student. Or, buy one for yourself and, at a discounted price, donate one. Kind of like the One Laptop Per Child program.
A cold front moved in last night. High winds with frigid air, and, as I was sleeping beside an open window, I woke with something of a shock. Some manuscript pages from a dreadful short story were raining all over me. I shut the window and retrieved a quilt I had stowed away.
There were stories from local news people about wind damage throughout the day. So, with the chilly freakish wind (March making an early appearance, I suppose), I decided not to go for a bike ride, even though I got it back out of the shop.
I decided to sign up for the March meeting of the Social Media Breakfast San Antonio.
Wednesday, March 18th 7:30 – 9 a.m. at Madhatters.
The featured topic of discussion is “Social Media and the San Antonio Mayoral Race.” One of the guest speakers is Patricio G. Espinoza. He’s a very nice guy who I’ve met two or three times around town. He has a professional journalism background, but he’s become increasingly interested in new media and social networking. On the SMBSA website, Patricio is connected with the website www.sa4mayor.com. I found video clips of four of the people who’ve so far thrown their hats into the ring.
Julian Castro I remembered from last mayoral race. He seemed a but too much the fiscal conservative and pro-businessman for my taste. (However, Julian is truly the prettiest one of all.) Diane Cibrian — well, I’ve already made an unfavorable snap judgment based on a video clip I’ve linked to in my previous blog. (Possible closet harridan.) And then there’s Trish DeBerry-Mejia, a local TV anchor and partner in a public relations firm — yikes, if stereo-types can be trusted, that’s a double-dose of phony! I have, of course, saved the best for last. A certifiable unicorn chaser with the fabulous name of Napoleon Madrid. His website is a gift that giveth and giveth.
I sent an email to a fellow filmmaker last night alerting her to an old press release I found for a project created by one of our colleagues, I snidely made my assessment. And here, I quote from my own email: “This may well be the worst piece of writing I have ever seen. And, dammit, I’ve taught adult education screenwriting classes.” This was before I traipsed over to Mr. Madrid’s website.
First off, we learn that “he is a self-educated man with the IQ of 180.” Wow. That’s something. “Napoleon looks outside the box for radical ideas and cures. He has found new medical innovations by extracting, altering, isolating, or limiting the number damaged cells, and combining with new medical methods.” Oh my god! That’s amazing … but, wait, why is there nothing else about his work on medical inventions? We just gloss over that and jump to other genius talking points. Here’s a nice passage I’ve copied directly from the website: “Napoleon is designing new satellites that will handle over 10 Billion customers at one time, which will relate to other land bases built all over the world. He will create the next step will beyond digital. One source will handle all media.” We’re never really sure what Napoleon does for a living. He mentions something about being a minister. But he also keeps harping on his brilliance with science. “Napoleon also excels in Science, and has become the inventor of new technologies from linear, static, solar, winder, steam, water, magnetic, fuel cells & perpetual Energies ….” Ah, it’s come to this, has it?
I would dearly love to cast my vote for the craziest man in the room who postulates a loop hole to the law of the conservation of energy. And, really, if one of the other three doesn’t stand up and start talking a progressive agenda, I’ll have no other choice but to vote for the self-proclaimed genius, “renaissance man,” and inventor of “perpetual Energies.”
Check out the video clip where Napoleon files his candidacy for mayor at the San Antonio City Hall:
Someone needs to be following this chap around with a video camera. I want to see a documentary on Napoleon Madrid, genius, inventor, and Mayoral aspirant.
Indeed, we live in extraordinary times!
Here’s the reality show I’ll be pitching in LA in April: “We’ve put four very different people into a two-bedroom apartment at the Alpha Hotel in downtown San Antonio. A cloths hanger, a termagant, a media whore, and a delusional middle-aged child prodigy. But here’s the catch … only one can become mayor of a major American city!”
Can’t we give that old crusty white guy another term?
Tonight I headed over to the East-Side to catch a performance of the Ballet Conservatory of South Texas at the Carver. I’m a bit embarrassed that I’ve live in this city for six years or more and I have never attended a performance at the Carver. It’s truly a wonderful performance space. A large stage, comfortable seats, and warm, solid acoustics.
There was a wide range of short dance pieces performed. Not all would be considered ballet. One of the highlights was a solo piece choreographed and performed by Catherine Batcheller, the new artistic director of the BCSTX.
The evening closed out with a tight performance of the second (and final) act of Adolphe Adam’s ballet of the 1840s. Giselle. High romanticism, don’t you know. Shitloads of wood nymphs prancing on tippy toes, One of the standout performers (and I never got a program) was a young woman who danced the part of Myrtha, the queen of these woodland spirits.
It was a beautiful evening.