Sunday, August 4, 2019

Another day, another mass shooting in the USA

Consider this, Americans had worked up enough political will to repeal a constitution amendment once... so that they can legally drink alcohols again.

How many innocent people have died from gun violence compared to mob hits?

Shootings in malls, in theaters, in school, college, daycare, festivals, concerts, workplace, night clubs, restaurants, etc. But, no, no amount of innocent deaths everyday of the year is suffice for our politicians to summon the will to repeal the 2nd and pass meaningful gun control laws. It is way too easy for just about anyone to obtain and keep assault weapons here. They may think they are the good guys, but then when they get upset, there's the automatic weapon there for them to use to vent their anger on other people.

There is no safe place in the USA. Even the cops are living in constant fear of getting shot, that a whole lot of them seems to have gone to the shoot first policy. Hand on the gun all the time. In every other civilized country, cops are good at de-escalation. Here, it's escalation all the time, pulling the gun out like crazy at every little thing.

There has been 251 mass shootings since January 1st, 2019.  Today is only the year's 216th day. My goodness me, I might be safer living in Columbia than here.

We have a problem. A fixable problem. A fixable problem that other developed countries have fixed. Why the heck can't we?

Friday, August 2, 2019

Hiking local

I consider myself lucky to have grown up before the age of the smart phones. It's amazing how many people I know here would sit indoor and stare at pictures like these on their smart phone screen, when the place the photos are from is only a mile and a bit away.

My friend Cornelia and I have been hiking all over the preserve once a week for the past year or so. It's a cherished active decompression time from work and other not-so-uplifting news we hear daily. It isn't always a pleasure hike. The terrains here can be very gnarly, the overgrown vegetation gives cover to many stingy insects and sometimes moody snakes (though, luckily, we somehow haven't come face to face with those legless critters this year), and the summer heat this year seems more humid than ever.

But, there is also nothing quite as therapeutic as a good and strenuous nature hike with a cheerful pal where we regularly run into wild critters doing all sorts of crittery antics.

Huffing and puffing in the clean air under a big sky while dodging the many manifestations of the ubiquitous poison oaks, loose rocks, and sweat-loving gnats (tho the latter mostly avoid me, thanks to my Picaridin bug repellent lotion) is a great way of keeping the pudge off while gaining time to put things in perspectives.

It's great to be able to see pictures and watch videos of people and places on the other side of the oceans. But it's even better going out into the nearest wild and experiencing first hand the non-digitized landscape around you. Then, you know what you have to lose, if you don't take care of your own surroundings.

Sep 4th, 2019: Edit to add - another upside to going hiking; nature preserves are among the very few places left in the USA that hasn't been shot up by an American gun nut... I mean, they've done malls, concerts, all sorts of school, churches, synagogues, mosques, and even daycare. You're much safer going hanging with rattlesnakes than with gun-packing assholes.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

San Diego Opera 2018-2019 Season Opener: Le nozze di Figaro

This is a truncated press release from the San Diego Opera
San Diego Opera’s 2018-2019 Season Opens with Mozart’s Beloved The Marriage of Figaro

Bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee makes anticipated Company debut as Figaro
Mezzo-sopranos Emily Fons (Cherubino) and Susanne Mentzer (Marcellina) make welcome returns to the Company
New production to San Diego Opera audiences
These performances made possible by Lead Production Sponsor Darlene Marcos Shiley
San Diego, CA – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s boisterous romantic comedy The Marriage of Figaro opens San Diego Opera’s 2018-2019 season on Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 7 PM for four performances at the Civic Theatre. Additional performances are October 23, 26, and 28 (matinee), 2018.  Assembled for the opening opera of the season is an exciting young cast including the house debut of American bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee as Figaro. He will be joined by baritone John Moore as Count Almaviva and soprano Caitlin Lynch as the Countess, both in exciting Company debuts. Soprano Sarah Shafer makes her welcomed San Diego Opera debut as Susanna. Returning mezzo-sopranos Emily Fons, last heard as Zerlina in 2015’s Don Giovanni, returns to sing Cherubino and Susanne Mentzer, last heard as Octavian in 1992’s Der Rosenkavalier returns to sing the role of Marcellina. Rounding out the cast is returning bass-baritone Ashraf Sewailam, last heard as Alidoro in 2016’s Cinderella, as Dr. Bartolo; returning tenor Joseph Hu, last heard as Goro in 2016’s Madama Butterfly, as Basilio and Don Curizo; returning bass-baritone Scott Sikon, last heard as Marquis D’Obigny in 2017’s La traviata; and soprano Lisa Frisque as Barbarina. John Nelson conducts the performances and Stephen Lawless stages the action in this production. The Marriage of Figaro is a co-production between San Diego Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Philadelphia, and Palm Beach Opera.
Performed in Italian with English translations above the stage, The Marriage of Figaro was last performed by San Diego Opera in 2007. This will be the sixth time the opera has been performed by the Company with additional performances in 1998, 1992, 1986, and 1973.
The scenery and costumes of The Marriage of Figaro are designed by Leslie Travers. The choreographer is Eric Sean Fogel. The Lighting Designer is Thomas C. Hase.
The Marriage of Figaro will have a radio broadcast on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at 8 PM on KPBS radio, 89.5 FM (97.7 FM Calexico) and online at
These performances of The Marriage of Figaro are made possible by the Lead Production Sponsor, Darlene Marcos Shiley.
Performance Schedule
Saturday           October 20, 2018          7 PM
Tuesday            October 23, 2018          7 PM
Friday               October 26, 2018          7 PM
Sunday             October 28, 2018          2 PM
Get Connected
Pre-Opera Lectures
These 30-minute informative lectures for the main stage operas take place in the Civic Theatre one hour prior to every performance and offer wonderful insights into the production audience members are about to see. These lectures are free to all ticket holders.
Post-Opera Talkbacks
Join the cast, crew, musicians and artists right after the performance of the main stage operas for an engaging, entertaining and informative Q&A session moderated by a San Diego Opera staff member. These lectures are held in the Civic Theatre and are free to all ticket holders. 
San Diego Opera Podcast Series
Get to know the artists and operas of the 2018-2019 Season. These insights into the singers and productions can be enjoyed by opera fans as well as those who are new to the art form. Casual and fun, this is a great way to learn about our artists and the operas they star in. Watch online at These videos are also available on our YouTube Channel:
San Diego Opera on Twitter
Get frequent updates about San Diego Opera and opera in general by following us on Twitter. Follow tweets from backstage during a performance and learn about special offers and contests before anyone else by following us @SDOpera.
San Diego Opera on Facebook
San Diego Opera’s Facebook page offers a place for fellow opera fans to discuss performances, opera news, connect with other fans and get up-to-date information on upcoming events. Look for “San Diego Opera” at
San Diego Opera on YouTube
Now viewers can watch a large portion of San Diego Opera’s programming at their convenience on YouTube. Archived versions of OperaTalk!, Stars in the Salon, Opera Spotlight, our video podcast series and much more can be found on the San Diego Opera channel at:
San Diego Opera on Instagram
A picture is worth a thousand words! Take a look at what happens backstage and in the office on San Diego Opera’s Instagram page.
Purchasing Tickets
Subscriptions to the 2018-2019 season are now on sale. Single tickets are on sale in the summer.
Single tickets start at $49 for all mainstage performances. Single tickets start at $35 for all dētour Series operas. Children prices exist, please visit or call 619.533.7000 for more information.
Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the dētour Series on Saturday subscription packages.
Military discounts (active and retired) of 50% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Military discounts of 50% are available to the dētour Series on Saturday subscription packages. 
For information about tickets please visit or call 619.533.7000
San Diego Opera 2018-2019 Season
The Marriage of Figaro                                      Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart                 October 20, 23, 26, and 28 (mat), 2018
All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914          Peter Rothstein                                     December 7, 8, and 9 (mat), 2018
Rigoletto                                              Giuseppe Verdi                                    February 2, 5, 8, and 10 (mat), 2019
Three Decembers                                                Jake Heggie                                         March 8, 9, 10 (mat), 2019
Carmen                                                               Georges Bizet                                      March 30, April 2, 5, and 7 (mat) 2019
One Amazing Night –Stephen Powell and Stephen Costello                                           May 15, 2019

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The boons of going on neighborhood walks/bike rides

It's amazing how you can live in a neighborhood for a long while and still haven't discovered all it has hiding behind its most boring facades. Sometimes all it takes is a good long stroll or not-that-long bike ride in the right directions for you to run into things like a hidden BMX-ish oak-covered dunes, lovely boulder formations, a secret private lake, a hugely scary-looking rottweiler that will instantly turn into a purring pussy cat when offered a milk bone, lovely panoramic lookout, a pet-friendly rainbow bridge,

Or, maybe even a waterfall!

I'm in debt to my friend Maya for guiding me to that last gem. I mean, who would have thought to go look for a waterfall between a housing development and a seedy commercial parking lot just a block from a major freeway?

So, whenever the current American life gets you down, go out on a hike or a bike. You never know what's hidden behind the dumpsters.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Holidays 2017

Oh boy, the holidays sure crept up on me (again). It's hard to believe 2017 is almost over already!

It's been almost a full year since I moved to Vista/Oceanside area last January. I didn't expect much, to be honest, but it has been some kind of wonderful after the horrible year up in Riverside. I've been enjoying stable works, an extremely easy-to-live with roommate (and her endlessly cute mini-poodle), and living close to a few really wonderful friends who are always looking after me.

My roommie's endlessly cute mini-poodle couldn't quite decide whether to come in to visit.
Vista and San Marcos also proved to be full of nice surprised. There are so many cool nature preserved close by, along with loads of trails that are very road-bike-able, and a couple of hideously steep hills to keep my pudginess in check.

The gorgeous auditorium (with wonderful acoustics) at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Alas, I'm still quite far away from classical concert & performance arts venues (far, is of course, in the context of being able to get to those venue by bicycle or public transportation), as it's quite a travel to get to either downtown Los Angeles or downtown San Diego. A wonderful friend and I did manage to make it to Disney Hall last month to catch Emmanuelle Haim in concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonics, though. She was conducting a very pious program of Purcell, Bach, and Pergolesi (starring Laura Claycomb and Christophe Dumaux). As it was an LA Phil ensemble rather than her usual Le Concert d'Astree, we didn't hear period instruments. It was still a stellarly Baroque night, nonetheless, and even ending cheekily with the very unpious final duet from Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea as the encore number.

Lilac Fire smoke plume from Vista Village the day it broke out.
We had a bit of a scare when Lilac Fire broke out a few weeks ago. Luckily, though, it never got closer than 6 miles from my pad, even though the smoke plume at times looked as though it was just on the other side of the hill that I live on. I'm afraid wild fires are 'expected' thing in this neck of the woods.... but the season used to be over by mid-November rather than two weeks before Christmas! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we do get some winter-ish weather in before summer is here again.

Anyhow!! Here is wishing everyone a very happy end of 2017, and hope you are looking forward to a brighter 2018!