Wednesday, February 28, 2007


When my daughter Noelle got home for Christmas last Decemeber she brought along a crossword puzzle book. I picked it up and started working one of the puzzles. Now, I am addicted. Since the first of the year I have probably worked over 200 puzzles. I even got that great documentary film "Wordplay" from NetFlix which is about the New York Times Crosswords and the people who produce them and solve them. It is a great film and I recommend it. They even have an annual tournament.

They say these puzzles are great as you age for exercising the brain, although they can get very frustrating. I am still incapable of doing a Sunday Crossword in the Times. Another thing I learned is that the puzzles get harder every day in the week. Easy ones on Mondays....ones that make you catatonic on Sundays. I am still in the Monday and Tuesday range.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Old Santo Domingo Trading Post

I needed to run over to Pena Blanca this morning to take a few photos. On the way there I took a short diversion of 1.5 miles over to the site of the old Santo Domingo Trading Post. It was a few miles west from the main pre I-25 highway between Albuquerque to Santa Fe. In order to reach Pena Blanca you would drive right by this great old place. I remember when we would go to Pena Blanca as children for stays in the summer we would stop there for NEHI orange sodas.

The goods in the Trading Post were early authentic jewelry from Santo Domingo artisans. I remember my mother Dixie acquired a beautiful Squash Blossom there. (My sister Carlota will correct me on that if I am wrong .)

This little place burned down many years ago and I still miss it. The little town there will soon face a renaissance as the Rail Runner Commuter train will pass by within a hundred feet of it. It is rumored there will be a stop there to serve the residents of Santo Domingo, Pena Blanca, Sile, Cochiti and Cochiti City. When that happens Pena Blanca and Sile will be transformed into prosperous rural bedroom communities that will be 30 minutes by rail from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Land values in Pena Blanca and Sile are soaring, especially with the water rights attached.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Political Debate the Old Way

Last night Bobbi and I went to see "Amazing Grace" which is about the long struggle by House of Commons member William Wilberforce to end the slave trade in 18th Century Britain. Just before we left for the movie I had been reading "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kerns Goodwin. The book is about Abraham Lincoln's ascent to the Presidency in 1860 and his rivals for the post. He appointed most of his rivals to his Cabinet after being elected.

The book and the movie are very emotional accounts of great struggles and the state of political debate in those times. Although the political debate could get as nasty then as now there were some glaring differences. A candidate or advocate was judged generally by their ideas and their oratorical skills in conveying those ideas. Their speeches could last for four hours as they meticulously laid out their logic and passion on an issue. Also, those speeches were carried by the newspapers of the day and virtually everyone who could read would dutifully and religiously read the accounts of those speeches. Many of the Newspapers were subsidized by political parties and so there were plenty of newspapers with different points of view. The key here was that people loved to read.

Some of the speeches and letters written by Lincoln and his rivals are masterpieces. I had always thought Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was the most succinct thing I had every seen in print, and beautiful at the same time. If you read Lincoln's letters to his friends they are just as powerful. These letters by and between Lincoln and his rivals also show how human they were. They were depressed much of the time, or insecure, or just plain worked to the bone.

I would love to see the human side of our candidates over the next two years. We don't need the highly produced and edited sound bites of these folks, nor their trying to be on all sides of all issues. That wasn't a problem for Wilberforce, Lincoln and his Rivals because they weren't afraid to show their principles. They key word here is principles.

I recommend both this movie and book to everyone to get an idea of the kind of political debate we must return too American politics. If we do that then we might not ever again end up with another person like we have running this country now, because we will have learned again that some politicians have no principles.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Funny Stuff Sent by A Friend

Busy today....but this is pretty good for a Friday laugh.


Essential vocabulary additions for the workplace (and elsewhere)!

1. BLAMESTORMING : Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

2. SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

3. ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard

4. SALMON DAY : The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

5 . CUBE FARM : An office filled with cubicles.

6. PRAIRIE DOGGING : When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

7. MOUSE POTATO : The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.

8. SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What Yuppies get into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

9. STRESS PUPPY : A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

10. SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

11. XEROX SUBSIDY : Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

12. IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are Annoying but you find your self unable to stop watching them.

13. PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE : The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again. (Often feel like doing this to my computer--)

14. ADMINISPHERE : The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

15. 404 : Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error Message "404 Not Found," meaning that the requested site could not be located.

16. GENERICA : Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.

17. OHNOSECOND : That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake. (Like after hitting send on an email by mistake).

18. WOOFS : Well-Off Older Folks.

19. CROP DUSTING : Surreptitiously passing gas while passing through a Cube Farm.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Legislative and City Stuff

Things seem to be heating up in the Legislature mostly because of what appears to be back room deals brought about by industry lobbyists. Representative Joni Guiterrez of Las Cruces, the former NM Democratic Party Chair, mysteriously changed her vote to blast that big $85 million tax credit out of her committee that would enable Sithe Global to build a polluting coal fired power plant. The plant would be built on the Navajo Reservation. Joni had originally voted to keep the bill in committee. Now, who do you suppose got to her? This power plant would by itself undo the Governor's efforts at reducing emmissions of global warming green house gases in New Mexico. It would be shameful for this thing to get all the way to the Governor's desk. Shame on Joni Guiterrez succumbing to special interests.

Secondly, why is the Payday Loan Bill suddenly in Limbo? Same thing actually. The lobbyists for these blood sucking money lenders got to someone and a reasonable bill agreed to by the Governor and many Legislators was been waylaid.

I also see that the Chavez administration in Albuquerque's City Hall walked out on the City Council meeting because they didn't like being asked questions. Usually, Mayor Marty is smarter than this. I wonder if his Chief Administrative Officer has some explaining to do for taking this action. Even at its worse during my battles with the City Council as Mayor, I never attempted this kind of action.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


This is something that everyone should read and take to heart. Especially our local and state development folks. We are heading for a real day of reckoning on our water supplies in the west and this new report by the National Academy of Sciences must be taken seriously. If the 'sprawl at any cost' mania continues there is no doubt we will have done something horrendous to future generations.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Angered Out?

I have a sense of fatigue when it comes to my anger over the Iraq mess that bush started. I read stories of continuing deaths of young Americans and New Mexicans in that war and they get mixed in with the new electric car plant in Albuquerque, (which is good), and pictures of george w. bush, a bad man shaking hands with an impersonator of George W. Washington, a great man on President's Day. I get tired of writing about it I guess, and you all get tired of reading all this stuff. No wonder ratings at news outlets went up for Anna Nicole Smith's death. It is simple and a good movie star story that doesn't require much thought. Well, we have at least two more years of this madness until our country can hope for enlightened leadership to make amends to the world.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Swamped and Bill Richardson

As I think of my favorite newspaper advice column, Dr. Swamp Cooler, by Jim Belshaw in the Albuquerque Journal I will say the big thing in my life today is installing new air conditioners at the house. The old swamp coolers have pretty much corroded out. I think if one were to sneeze on them they would simply collapse into a pile of calcium and rust particles.

We debated long and hard over the swamp cooler vs. refrigerated air units for the house. We are sticking with swamp coolers because in the long run they use less electricity and after power generation at the power plant they use only slightly more water. PNM has a nifty chart on this.

We might install bleed valves on the units which changes the water out every few hours but we will store that water in barrels for the irrigation of the landscaping. The bleed valves mean a lot less buildup of crud in the air conditioners. That is good.

Also, we are saving a lot of money by not having to install new duct work for refrigerated air. That would mess up the roof and outside appearance of our nice little home.

Frankly, I also like the ability to have fresh air in the house.

As I noted yesterday, Bobbi and I were in Colorado Springs. Before leaving early in the morning there was a national report on TV that featured Hillary Clinton and Governor Bill Richardson. The one thing that stands out to me is Bill's great sense of humor. He is not afraid to use it and the rest of the candidates, so far, seem absolutely grim. The story showed the Guv getting a big laugh out of a crowd of people gathered in a New Hampshire home.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Bobbi and I decided Thursday night to zoom up to see her sister and brother in law in Colorado Springs. They are Lutheran Ministers here. They are liberal ministers in the land of defrocked rightwing televangelists. Caryl and Wayne are a breath of fresh air up here.

I ran up to Denver to meet with good friends and business associates for coffee on Saturday a.m. I am convinced that the Colorado Highway Department will never, ever finish the I-25 construction through Colorado Springs. It truly is a horrific project that has been going on for the better part of two decades....I'm pretty sure. Maybe this way the all keep their jobs until retirement.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Mayor Marty Chavez is getting grief from the City Council on an $8 million dollar new tank at the aquarium at the Bio Park. Chavez says he will reconsider the recommendation after finding out a new police station was accidentally left out of the bond issue legislation. In defense of the Mayor, these kinds of mistakes do happen and from experience I can tell you that the city council will try to make more out of it than it is. The Mayor's reconsideration is sensible.

Having said that there are two other things about this story that bother me. One is the questionable need for another police station. Just look at all of the so called 'sub stations' around the city. Most of them are not functioning because of a lack of personnel. I can't remember the last time I saw the one at Rio Grande and Central used. What I do see there are officers in the parking lot exchanging reports with out ever going inside. Often, the building is totally unstaffed. I was against the funding of these white elephants when I was Mayor, but every city councillor wanted one in their district whether they were useful or not. I felt they cost annual operational dollars that kept more officers from patrolling on the streets.

Secondly, why do we need a 500k gallon tank at the bio park that allows scuba diving amidst the Pacific Ocean fish exhibit. It would be nice to have but the energy requirements will be massive. Usually, I like these kinds of educational projects but this one should have a very small energy footprint if it is to be built.

As I have said before, these bond issues need to be looked at for the amount of annual operational budgets they will create. A downturn in the economy spells disaster if we don't consider those consequences.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Governor's Cup Competition

The Governor's Office is sponsoring a competition that will end up with the winner being assisted in making a 30 minute non fiction film documentary. It is an innovative thing and I will bet there will be some great subjects proffered in hopes of getting production costs covered by our successful film industry in New Mexico. (This is a real accomplishment of Richardson's)

Here are some irreverent subjects that we might consider as suggested by today's news stories.

How about one to investigate whether or not everyone that lives in the middle east is crazy? Just read any headline any day in any newspaper.

Or one that might find out what the mental rewards are for claiming an original idea for something in government? See Mayor Chavez and City Councillor Brad Winter having a tantrum in the Journal today

Or one that says when you win a jackpot at a local tribal casino that you actually win one? It seems every month or so some player's slot machine malfunctions at exactly the same time as they get a really BIG jackpot.

Or one that investigates how long commute times in Albuquerque will really be marginally lessened by more road construction? (3 weeks maybe) And how much longer west side sprawl will be subsidised by the building of those roads?

Add your subject for a winning documentary in the comment section. I look forward to reading them.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I have a recently formed pet peeve about the Water bill I get every month from the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. Prior to the two joining up to administer the water utility the water bill had a nice graphic included with it every month to show your water usage compared with the prior month and the prior year's same month. I thought it was very imformative and that it provided feed back on how well my individual water conservation efforts were going. I can't really remember if we did this during my term in office as Mayor, but I think we did.

Now as you can see from my water bill there is no graphic. Just a note that the graphic is under construction. It has been missing for months now. How can that take longer than construction of a house?

Somebody at the Mayor's office or County Managers office should crack the whip on getting this helpful graphic back on to our water bills. I also think the city should run a tally on the tonnage of recycled materials we put out on the street every residential trash pick up day. We are charged $1.89 for that program and it would be nice to see how we are doing.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I Can't Hardly Stand It

I have a little TV Monitor on my desk next to my computer screen and I like to keep it on to the news channels. Today, it is pretty much all about Anna Nicole Smith who died yesterday. Is this something we all really need to be kept abreast of? (Pun intended)

You probably can't tell from this picture above but MSNBC was doing live coverage from the site where the troubled and dead celeb is being autopsied.

Now, I suppose this sells ads for NBC and Microsoft, but isn't it weird that as 'professional journalists' they would cover the death of this tragic woman but they have not insisted and set up a procedure for coverage of caskets carried off C-141, C117 and C-5 aircraft bringing our dead kids back from Iraq.

I bet the bush administration loves these kind of distracting fluff stories. It just keeps a lot of people from thinking about the important things that are occurring every minute in Iraq.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Animals and Pot

The Senate has passed a 'Medical Marijuana' bill that will help alleviate suffering of terminally ill patients in New Mexico. Governor Richardson supports the bill and hopefully it will pass the House and be sent up for his signature. This is a long running fight whose time may have come for resolution. It is sad to realize that this issue of human suffering had less visible support than the ban on cockfighting. (Pass the drumsticks please.)

A state legislator, a Republican senator said the bill shouldn't be passed because there are still federal laws against the use of marijuana as a medicine. He said that the Congress should pass such a law before New Mexico does it on its own. In other words let the suffering continue.

At the same time the Catron County Commission has decided to make it their own business to kill endangered Mexican Gray Wolves in their county if the Fish and Wildlife Service won't do it on a timetable acceptable to the Rancher/Commissioners. I think the Federal Endangered Species Act might take precedence here. Will that same Republican senator in Santa Fe agree to that? I am not saying that all wolves can be saved if they are truly endangering humans, but I feel Public Land Ranchers/Commissioners should not be making those decisions.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lt. Governor Denish

We were sitting over watery coffee at Flying Star this morning and gosh if the subject of politics didn't crop up. Didn't we just have an election for Governor? Well, of course we did. And now we are in the midst of a two year long Presidential campaign which I whole heartedly welcome because it will give us time to understand the positions of candidates who are running. You can put me in the Bill Richardson camp right now, but of course I will help any Democrat who puts International relations and fairness into America's strategic goals.

Now, Diane Denish is running for Governor. And yes, Marty Chavez is running for Governor. The election is four years away and they are already raising funds. I understand that Diane has over a million bucks in the bank four years out and that is quite an advantage.

Diane can win this election if she continues successful fundraising and if she does what Chavez is good at. She must pick a ruthless and experienced campaign team to win. This early in the game it may not be important yet, but she will need some new and effective political staffing to come up number one in that faraway Primary election.

I like Diane a lot and have known her for years. She is a very decent and honest politician who has more than her own career in mind. I think she has strong core beliefs which many politicos seem to lack these days. You will see those core values at work in the legislature, and possibly when she takes over as Governor for Bill Richardson when he moves up the ladder.

Of course, if the voters don't get more interested in all of this than yesterday's miserable 6% voter turn out for the School election, then all bets are off on any predictions for election 2010.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I see where the lady who was trapped in the Gila Wilderness for five weeks said she wasn't really sure that she wanted to be rescued. If she needed to be alone like that again I could have recommended to her that she go to my polling place in Albuquerque's School board election today. I was the first person to sign the roster page that my name was on at about 9:30 this morning. Normally, in most elections, that page in my precinct would have been 20% filled by that time. I have never understood why school bond and board elections are so poorly attended by voters. Even if just the parents of all the students voted it would be a staggering turnout. As it is, these elections are decided by primarily the school employees and teachers.

I voted for continuing the mill levy for the schools, although from things I hear I worry that the APS bureaucracy often is overwhelmed when trying to manage the construction and maintenance programs this money makes available. I also am informed that the biggest problem is employees that don't do their work but wont be fired because of the fear of lawsuits.

Monday, February 05, 2007


The New York Times had a frightening story this morning on the passage of a little noticed amendment to a Violence Against Women bill. The amendment will allow a much expanded DNA surveillance program by the federal government against its citizens. The new Justice Department program will make DNA sample taking as common as fingerprinting of anyone who is detained by the Federal Government.

Sadly, this amendment had the support of the Women's groups who were pushing for this bill. I think they may have set themselves against a lot of other generally supportive groups on this blunder and attack against civil liberties. Think of it, the Feds will now have access to every little bit of information on your potential mental stability, addictive proclivities, medical threats and God knows what else.

This is just one more corrosive event by the bush administration and Congress to put the their thumb down on average law abiding citizens. Hitch all this up with the Patriot Act and other legislation and we have "the death of a thousand cuts" of our Democracy".

Friday, February 02, 2007

For Your Weekend

Here is the summary for policy makers on the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I hope all will read it and send it on to any and all who are interested, and even some who are not on the chance it may cause an Epiphany for them.

Science vs. Profit

There are a lot of interesting intersections of stories on the web and newspapers today. Yesterday I blogged about the record profits of Exxon Mobil. Now, Exxon Mobil has been exposed for trying to pay scientists to debunk the conclusions of an international panel of climate experts who today have pretty much laid at the foot of mankind the responsibility of global warming. I guess this shouldn't surprise us anymore than the number of proposals for dirty coal fueled power plants that are being proposed. One of them is the Desert Rock facility on the Navajo Reservation. The plant will emit about 10 million tons of CO2 per year, plus lots of ozone, mercury, and other pollutants crippling NM’s attempt to reduce CO2 emissions.
At least the New Mexico State Legislature has so far tabled tax incentives for that disastrous project.

Then along comes the Catron County Commission who says they will decide when Gray Wolves will be killed in the wild instead of the scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service.

At the same time there is a great interview in Grist with Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist who has spent a good part of his career designing communications strategies to debunk environmentalists. I actually think he makes some very good points that all environmentalists should consider.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Who Profits?

This morning the Associated Press reported that Exxon Mobil had reported a record profit for an American owned corporation. Last year their revenues were $377 billion. They profited from $78 a barrel oil and $3 a gallon gasoline and came away with $39.5 billion, yes that's billion. They and the rest of the oil and gas crowd did this without even a hint from Washington that maybe a windfall profit tax might be in order. In fact, the industry was actually being subsidised.

Oil and Gas prices have now fallen but somehow I feel sucker punched. They got away with this while many people are struggling to pay their winter heating bills now that it has actually gotten cold. I hope that some of the folks running for President will mention this fleecing of Americans at some point in the upcoming two year campaign for the White House.