Organ Mountains

Organ Mountains

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Morning Opening

So we performed our Sunday morning ritual-----open the pill box, you know, the one branded with the days of the week on the cover of the little compartments; get out the various drugs, supplements, vitamins that prolong our lives; and load up the box for the week.  Every so often, of course, one of the bottles of prescription drug or fish oil needs to be opened.  That’s when thoughts of the Tylenol poisoner come to mind.

Back in 1982, some bozo, to this day unknown, laced bottles of Tylenol sold in the Chicago area with poison.  Seven people died.  The result was a recall of the product and the familiar safeguards applied to packaging today.  Which of us hasn’t struggled with opening a bottle of vitamins or a prescription drug?  First, cut off the plastic that is shrink-wrapped around the exterior of the cap.  Then push down and turn to open (hopefully) the cap----best not try this if your arthritis is kicking up.  Now, the third layer of protection, the aluminum foil paper stuck to the top of the bottle----puncture it, peel it, scream at it....

I have but one wish for the perpetrator of this incident. The individual who caused all the rest of us law-abiding citizens to suffer and plan when opening our meds:  I sincerely hope he develops such crippling arthritis that he cannot open his pain killers or other treatments, that it hurts so bad when he battles the protective packaging he caused, that he surrenders himself to the authorities so he can be jailed-----and his sentence can be to discover a more humane replacement for the methods used to preserve product integrity than those with which we presently struggle.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Feelings of Inadequacy

It's only Tuesday.  The Army has found left-over nuclear waste in a bunker at Biggs airfield, next to Fort Bliss in El Paso.  Not to worry, it's only alpha and beta particles buried a foot and a half or so deep but fortunately higher than the water table.  This information was revealed by a retired serviceman who was there when they buried the stuff in the 50s.

The Florida court system worked, given their laws and rules of evidence, and George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting of Trayon Martin.  'Nuff said-----you can find any opinion you want on the 'Net.

Almost forgot---the Senate reached a deal to confirm a handful of people to positions in the executive branch without filibustering.  Considering that the vote to move forward with the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was 71-29 one wonders why it was held up (filibustered) at all.  Ah, the mysteries of sausage-making, sorry, the machinations of politics in our Congress.  Cordray was confirmed 66-34.

God told a little girl in Santa Fe to go to the bathroom, saving her life as a bullet plowed into her bedroom wall.  Good thing he's around---could this be our long sought-after solution to gun violence??

The capper to my feeling inadequate, though, is my abysmal failure last Friday to navigate a single track mountain bike trail in the Organ Mountains.  I would remind readers of this blog that I used to mountain bike frequently back in New Hampshire.  Together with some friends, we completed a 50 mile loop through southern NH, mostly rail bed and sand churned up by ATVs and dirt bikes.  For a solid year, I rode my bike down the rail bed 11 miles each way from home to work to build up my legs for a pending knee operation.  So traversing the Sierra Vista North section, 2.8 miles of relatively stable single track with no major climbs, should be child's play.  I made it about 1/2 a mile into the ride and my thighs felt like they would burst and my lungs screamed for air!!!  Inadequate me----and stupid, too.  There's a huge difference riding the ditches, flat and graded, at 3900 feet and tackling a mountain trail starting at 5100 feet elevation.  Obviously I need to ride more and for longer distances, and on terrain other than the ditches and bike paths.  I will complete this ride, and others, because the ultimate goal is to ride down the mountain at Angel Fire, starting at the summit which is only 10,650 feet high.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Strange Week

I have to admit it's been a strange week since our return to our Chihuahuan desert haunts after a couple weeks on the road.

First, the US Supreme Court rejected a major part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The section dealt with Federal review of localities with prior segregationary tactics in voter registration should such locales seek to redistrict or in other substantive ways change their voter registration requirements.  I suppose the argument in favor of eliminating the review could be how far we've progressed in race relations since 1965 and that such a review is no longer necessary.  Considering the birther deluge and other attacks on the president, as well as the recent issues with the word choices of Paula Deen,  I wonder if the Court wasn't being a little ahead of the curve in considering the US to be a post-racial society.

Then SCOTUS pleased the believers in equality with the striking of a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act and its punt back to the 9th District Court of the overturning of California's Prop. 8 banning same sex marriage.  These decisions have been celebrated by many and condemned by many as well.  While the consensus seems to be that defining what constitutes a marriage is the dominion of the states, this is an issue that will be playing out for several more years.

Then there's the story about Wendy Davis, Texas state senator, who filibustered the latest attempt to restrict abortion in her home state.  Texas governor Rick Perry immediately attacked Ms. Daviswho was an unwed mother who attended college and graduated from Harvard Law School, in a speech to the National Right to Life convention.  Mr Perry, famous for his inability to articulate his ideas in English during the 2012 presidential campaigns, then tried to spin his attack as "praising" the senator's accomplishments.  I realize that supporters on either side can make a case for their viewpoint, but it does seem odd that Mr. Perry used a rather disparaging tone in front of the right-to-lifers then became so conciliatory a couple days later after the storm had broken.  And then there's the special session of the legislature convening Monday July 1 to again attempt to pass the extremely restrictive abortion measure.  Sometimes actions speak louder than "spin."  Or to quote Mr. Perry, "Oops."

And the capper of the week:  Today I took my recycling to the drop station.  While driving home I watched a rather non-descript white van pull into the right turn lane next to me.  It paused but a moment, just long enough for me to read the legend printed on its side:" Southwest Paranormal Investigations."  Here's the link: . Use your own discretion.  

I'll admit to being open minded about a lot of things we humans don't understand, like dark matter; the inability of physics to reconcile relativity, gravity, and quantum mechanics; brane worlds; and multiple universes.  But the sheer weight of the events this past week have just got me dithering..........

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just Musing

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein
This is one of my favorite quotes.  And to illustrate its veracity, I posit the ridiculous legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act by the House of Representatives.  They spent in excess of $3 million which might have been used to mitigate some of the evil effects of the sequester this august body also imposed on "we, the people..."  I think I'm starting to sound like a broken record (remember them??) accusing Congress of malfeasance but I can't help it when my representative certainly does not represent me and my beliefs but rather those of the ultra-Christian and ultra-conservative oil patch.
Speaking of the environment, my wife and I just completed a long road trip.  We left our beloved Las Cruces (and its triple digit temperatures---June is the hottest month here in the high desert) for the Puget Sound area to visit family and old friends.  We traveled through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington state.  Such a journey in many vehicles would have left a large carbon footprint, let alone being a catastrophe for the wallet, gas averaging over $3.60 in most of the area.  However, about a year and a half ago, we made the decision to purchase a Toyota Prius.  I'm well aware that the sticker shows higher EPA rating for gas mileage in the city than on the highway.  We are extremely pleased with the car's performance on this trip: 3,882.7 miles averaging 58MPH (this included some city driving as well as high altitude driving, over 10,500FT) and  getting 47.7MPG.  Crossing Snoqualmie Summit in WA, we hit some rain---first extended usage of the windshield wipers since we bought the car in Dec. 2011.  Not only did the cabin heat come on, but we were treated to the action of the wipers,  The passenger side unit is anchored in the middle of the windshield and has an odd eccentric motion as it sweeps away the precipitation. Now if only there were an affordable electric that would get about 500 miles to a charge........
One negative about the trip was the plume from the Silver fire in New Mexico.  Rising to almost 30,000 feet, it is visible for hundreds of miles.  And today, apparently the winds have shifted and are carrying this smoke into our region.  The Organ Mountains are not visible and one can smell the smoke in the hazy air.

But the air was not hazy for the days we were in Tacoma.  Majestic Mount Rainier came out and as always was a thrilling sight, seemingly suspended in the sky.

And, of course, to desert rats like us, Puget Sound and Commencement Bay demanded our attention.  Why?  Just look at that expanse of water!!!

And, finally, one of the sublime geological formations that seem strewn about the Western U S.  This particular one is called Wright's Arch in Southeastern Utah.

As much as we Americans may disagree about our ridiculously ineffective politics and policies and as much as we may embody the quotes of Albert Einstein referenced above, any of us who have traveled in this country, especially west of the Mississippi river, can not but appreciate its beauty.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Whining with my Wine

Back in mid-January, I complained about the weather here in the Chihuahuan desert.  We were hitting highs around 45deg F.  I got all kinds of comments from friends in New England like "shorts weather in Maine" and "warmer in Candia [NH] than here [Phoenix AZ] and "82 in FL".   So today, March 7, 2013, we should be around 75deg F here.  AZ has had more snow than we have, even had to postpone a PGA golf tournament round due to snow.  FL is plagued with pythons and sinkholes.  As for New England, many people can't see over the snowdrifts to get out of their driveways.

Not that south-central New Mexico is perfect.  As I write this, I am recovering from Valley Fever.  That's a fungal infection that feels like a really intense allergic reaction or the flu.  Congestion, sore throat---we all know the drill. Coccidioidomycosis. I swear I'm not making that up even though the spell-check says it's not a word. It is caused by the fungi being released from the soil during plowing and other agricultural processes then being carried by the wind and inhaled, causing irritation to the lungs and respiratory system.  This is the first time I've been affected by these little plants and hopefully I'll never suffer with this again.  But all in all it's a small price to pay for the sunny skies and not having to look out the window at snow cover from October to May.

We are waiting for our local feed store to notify us of the arrival of some Welsummer chicks.  This breed produces almost chocolate colored eggs.  We hope to add 5 or 6 to our existing flock which would more than double its size. At present we have a range of colored eggs from our Americauna (green), Barred Rock (brown), and Leghorns (white).  We presently have a couple of Rhode Island red chicks living in a crate in the spare bedroom until the Welsummers arrive.

A nice day's production

It still gets too cold at night to keep the newly hatched chicks outside but hopefully we can recover the bedroom in April when the night-time temps climb up into the 50's.

I've been sort of following the sequester, snowquester, and filibuquester in that place from which we are allegedly governed.  I think I'm more troubled by the fact that the UN has stiffened sanctions on North Korea than I am about the usual bozos in WaWa, DC.  The regime of Kim Jong Un  has nuclear devices and is working on a delivery system that could reach the USA.  That is a real threat because I believe that regime is mentally unstable enough to actually attempt such a maneuver.  Makes the petty partisan squabbles over money seem more than a little insignificant, unless the politicians actually allow cuts so stringent that we can no longer defend ourselves.  And speaking of unacceptable---Citgo should be fined for flying the Stars and Stripes at half-staff for the late President of Venezuela.  I realize that company is owned by Venezuela and have no problem if they want to fly their banner or the Venezuelan flag at half-staff but the US flag should not be lowered for some inimical foreign dictator. 

Done whingeing.  Pouring a glass of red wine to help me live forever.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Resolutions and Fantasies

Been reading a lot of "Best of" lists and lists of things to watch for in 2013.  So here's a list of my resolutions and a few comments about the upcoming year.


1) Get more exercise.  Yeah, I have this one every year but this is the year I do it.  Check back in Jan.2014.....

2) Perform the annual cleaning out of the garage/workshop/man-cave, which never seems to last.

3) Improve my mind.  Already we attend the Academy for Learning in Retirement lectures but I'm feeling the need to expand on this-----maybe some courses at the university.

4) Complete my collections of Alexander Kent's series about the British navy following the career of Richard Bolitho and also my collection of Max Brand's Dr. Kildare series.  It's not great literature but after the political hash and elections of 2012, the looming fiscal fights in Washington, and just the general cynicism I feel about today's society, a major dose of idealism is just what I need and these series, along with Harry Potter, provide just that.


1) I get back to the weight at which I played lacrosse in college.

2) The USA passes a carbon tax and gets serious about cleaning up the mess we've made of the environment and atmosphere.

3) Congress passes laws that actually reform the tax code to make it simpler, fairer, have lower rates, and generate the revenue it should.

4) Congress enacts legislation to end the financial uncertainty its policies have generated and gradually increase revenues and reform long-term programs to put the country on the path to a sustainable financial future.

Good luck to all on your resolutions and have a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Congress did it!!!!!  They passed a compromise bill to avert the alleged "fiscal cliff."  Despite the recalcitrance of many Republican members, they raised taxes on those families making over $450,000 per annum.  We should be proud...........NOT.

The price for the compromise was the expiration of the payroll tax cut.  This item will increase by 2% with the issuance of the first paychecks of 2013.  A tax increase for every working person in the country.  Thanks, my representatives and senators.  Way to stimulate the economy, decreasing the amount a person has to spend.

There is nothing in this bill that directly addresses the salient issue---the structural deficit.  It would be so constructive if politicians did what they were sent to DC to do---work on solving real problems.  Instead they engage in public relations and brinksmanship that is hardly conducive to eliminating the looming deficits, reforming an outdated and unfair tax code, or enabling programs for seniors and the poor to be assured of  stable and consistent funding as our populace grows older and the wealth disparity accelerates into the future.

A foolish bet would be that over the next two months there are any constructive talks on the real issues that have been again "kicked down the road."

Oh, and by the way, those of you most affected by Hurricane Sandy-----you need to wait until the new Congress takes up your plight.  Don't hold your breath for that $60billion........