Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Solar Finances

As Randy Pacheco and Joel Baker start installing major components for our 3KW Solar Voltaic electrical system I thought I would give you a little financial analysis that we did for this project. Most of the numbers are derived from our annual usage of electricity. We had been paying for premium wind power but will no longer do so.

The negotiated cost of the system we are installing is $23,944. 30% of that total or $7,183 will be returned to us via a federal tax credit at the end of the year. Another 10% or $2,394 will be returned to us from a New Mexico tax credit at the end of the year. So, we get the system for $14,366. Also, we will not have to pay gross receipts tax because of a new law passed by the legislature. That saves another $1,400 or so.Now, we need to calculate the payback for that amount of cash we are shelling out. This is the work sheet provided by our installer, Sunergy. Click on it to make it big.

Essentially it shows a 10 year payback for our investment at today's electricity rates. We can be pretty sure as rates go up that the payback will occur sooner. Also, we will cause our contribution of CO2 moving to the atmosphere to be reduced by almost 4 tons per year.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Go with the Flow

Here is a funny flow chart my son sent to me. It is really effective and pretty much catches the moment the Republicans keep repeating. Kind of like that movie 'Ground Hog Day."

I got this warm and fuzzy note from Jeff Bingaman today. It really meant a lot to me. I had attended an event to honor him last week in DC. I know posting this is totally narcissistic but I am going to do it anyway.

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On Friday afternoon in the House of Representatives our three New Mexico Congressmen all voted for the climate change bill that will, once the Senate works it over, change the way we produce energy in our country. It was especially gutsy for Congressman Harry Teague to vote for it but he did it.

We had concluded our meetings in DC about 2 PM on Friday and I raced back to the Double Tree Hotel to watch the debate on CSPAN. The hotel's cable system did not have it. I then started looking at CNN, HLN, Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC and none of them were carrying it. They were spending their time on the death of Michael Jackson. There was a continuing loop of Jackson's body in a helicopter for several hours.

Now, this is bizarre. While the most important piece of legislation dealing with the future of the planet was being debated, flawed as it is, the only thing America's Journalists could conjure up were nauseous stories about the talented rock star and films of him grabbing his crotch and doing the moon walk.

Life is too short.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I have been in the nation's capitol for a few days attending meetings. I was also fortunate to participate in a ceremony that the Wilderness Society put on in honor of Senator Jeff Bingaman. He was given the Society's hightest honor, the Ansel Adams Award, for his work on passing the Omnibus Public Lands act earlier this year. This act, which protect millions of acres of western landscapes, simply would not have made it into law without Bingaman's leadership. Attendees and speakers at the event included Senator Harry Reid and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and me! Many other Interior Department officials attended.

Bobbi and I will be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The good guys from Sunergy Solar showed up today to put in the anchors for the 14 solar panels that will grace my roof.

It is my hope their will be no leaks when this is done. They guarantee it.

They are doing their best to plan it in a way that keeps the panels as invisible as possible. We already went to a more efficient solar panel so we don't have to have so many panels.

Flower vs. Power

The US Forest Service needs to chill out. So far they have handed out 200 citations to only 1500 people who have showed up at the annual Rainbow gathering of aging hippies and new agers in New Mexico's forests. The encampment site near Cuba will supposedly host 10,000 Flower children over the next week. The Forest Service has made sport out of hassling these folks by bringing in law enforcement personnel from all over the country. Last year the situation nearly got out of hand with heavily armed squads with drawn weapons in the midst of crowds with children present. It is ridiculous. Hopefully the new Chief of the Forest Service will take stop this unnecessary provocation next year.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

There and Back Again

We drove to Phoenix via Payson, AZ in 6 hours, saw Noelle and her boyfriend Lucas and took them to dinner at a place called Cowboy Ciao(great food!) in Scottsdale and drove back. All in 32 hours, and that included unloading furniture and stuff for Noelle's new house. Bobbi had one migrane headache which only lasted a few hours and dissapated on our trip back. We had fun!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Into the South

While our gun loving house sitter does his job Bobbi and me are heading to Phoenix in a rented SUV behemoth. We are taking all of our daughter Noelle's stuff to her. You know, the third grade photos, mid school roach clips, high school year books and everything else in her drawers and closets. Also, she gets our used hi def Samsung TV since we got one of those nice new Samsung LED tvs which has been bolted to the studs in the wall. We are also taking one and a half gallons of Sadies Salsa, twelve jars of Cervantes red chile, and a half dozen frozen Frontier Breakfast Burritos. If we get stranded we wont starve but we probably wont have any stomach lining left. Over and back in 48 hours!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Hilary Tompkins got confirmed finally. The republicans in the Senate threw in the towel and let her take her job. I think Jeff Bingaman deserves credit for getting this done. Secretary Ken Salazar definitely needs someone loyal to him in the Solicitor's Office. He has been given a little bad advice from bush holdovers.

He needs to make sure that the rest of his folks get confirmed soon. We are almost 6 months into the administration and too many people are still awaiting the go a head on taking their jobs. At Interior they still need to get the BLM Director in office. I understand that won't be until August. That is not good because I know for a fact that some bush holdovers in that agency are up to no good.

However, New Mexico is well represented at the Interior Department. Here are those who have recieved confirmable and non confirmable appointments. Ned Farquhar-Deputy Assistant Secretrary of Lands and Mineral Managment, Sylvia Baca-Deputy Assistant Secretrary of Lands and Mineral Managment, Ray Rivera-Head of the External and Intergovernmental Affairs Dept., Hilary Tompkins as Interior's Solicitor, and a few others who will be named soon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Same ole...Same ole

There was a story today in the Journal about the NM cattle growers saying they did not see a need for a new animal identification system being considered by the U.S. Agriculture Department. The cowboys think the 120 year old system works just fine and they also feel their privacy would be invaded if they went to the new system. Tracking disease is the reason for the proposed system but the cowboys want no part of it. I have to say if any of them use the internet or email they don't have any privacy anyway. Phones too!

Anyway...it sounds a lot like the arguments against a new health care system, doesn't it? The old system works just fine?

Eating less meat would probably help in both instances cited above, but those sirloins from Costco are too good!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I will admit I watch the Food Network on occasion. I even try fixing some of their recipes! Yum!

They recently did a story on their "Diners Drive-ins and Dives" show that featured Celia's New Mexican Food at 6th and Silver in Downtown Albuquerque. (Owned and operated by Celia Baca.) I went there this mid morning for Huevos Rancheros(RED). It was excellent as always. I pop in there every week or so and have been doing so for some time.

Today a family of 8 came in to eat. The patriarch announced they had come all the way from Texas to eat there. I felt like saying..."this isn't TexMex crap...prepare yourselves." But I didn't. Actually, this is the second time I have seen this happen. A few weeks ago a guy about my age was sitting there and he heard someone call me Mr. Baca. He came over to introduce himself and he was also a Baca from the Santa Fe area. He has lived for the last 30 years in Georgia and he comes back with his wife to visit every summer. He also had seen the show and wanted to try Celia's great food.

We got to talking and it turns out he has been working on an incredible family tree that includes my family. He sent back his research to me when he returned to Georgia. It is incredible work!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The election results in Iran remind me of the election results when bush was suffered on us for another four years by an idiot majority. Well, it is easy for democracies to make mistakes and perhaps Iran has made one as big as our country did. The thing to remember is that it was done by the voters and you have to accept it. Some people are crying foul saying the whole thing was rigged. That also reminds me of Florida's role in the original bush election.

One of my favorite people at the Governor's office was Hilary Tompkins. She was counsel to the Governor for a few years before having a baby and staying home for a while. She is now suffering through a horrendous confirmation fight in the US Senate to be named Solicitor of the Department of Interior. Wingnut republicans keep putting 'holds' on her confirmation vote for little reason other than to show they still can screw things up. They say it isn't personal, but I can tell you that is hard to understand. Hilary and her family have moved to the DC area and she is still not drawing a salary. She has to pay a mortgage and other expenses while not working! And the republicans say it is not personal. Soon I would expect some real back lash to the GOP over this as the nation's native americans wonder why she has been treated this way. Hilary is a Navajo who should be treated with more respect for her accomplishments.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

City Finances

The challengers of Mayor Marty Chavez keep throwing themselves on to a brick wall. They are complaining that the Mayor is being fiscally reckless. Yet little information is being provided by anyone about the true state of affairs of the city treasury. We know that Chavez is spending bond funds, meant for capital projects, for daily operating expenses. No one seems willing to actually ask if that is legal. I don't recall that it is. But don't just blame the Mayor for this. Where is the city council? As is usual in every administration, the Council doesn't like the Mayor, but this council with the exception of Mike Cadigan is silent. Where are the checks and balances?

And if you think budget matters are being squelched at the city, then just start wondering what is going on at the County of Bernalillo. Absolute silence there on everyone's part. Even the internet news services are quiet on this one. Two county commissioners who used to be city Councilors are now running for the city positions again because they are term limited at the county. Alan Armijo and Mike Brasher will probably bring that secretiveness with them back to the city.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I notice that the people in Dona Ana county have finally approved the selling of beer and wine in restaurants that don't have full service liquor licenses. This is some 27 years after they could have done so. I was one of the people at the helm that passed this law back in 1981. I was State Liquor Director at the time and we worked hard at reforming corrupt laws that saw the value of licenses climb to as much as $700,000. The value of licenses was supposed to by zero by now, but the legislature reversed the many reforms in the 90's and the value of full service licenses have now climbed back up. One recently sold for almost 500k in Taos. This is corrupt and the legislature needs to tell the liquor lobbyists to take a hike and fix this problem once again.

I was whining yesterday about ATT's horrible wireless service in my neighborhood in Albuquerque. They really don't care you know. On the plus side I called the Apple store yesterday after they announced they cut prices on our model IPhone by 50%. We had bought ours three weeks ago. They said come on in and we will give you a refund of 50%. We went in and they did. Good for them.

Monday, June 08, 2009

ATT Sucks

So, we finally get our I-phones about a month ago and sign up with ATT. We had pretty carefully checked to make sure the phones would work in the I-40 and Rio Grande Area. The ATT maps said...go for it. We went for it. They dont work here at our house. After four phone calls and an expenditure of $600 for phones and service we got called by ATT and were told, "the service in your neighborhood is really bad and it would be worse in your house. We have no plans to make it better. It doesnt matter what our maps said because the contract says in the small print....blah blah blah." In other words, "screw you".

It is hard to believe that after corporate America has so bloodied itself that this kind of crap still happens. Now, what should a sane person do? We like the phones since they work in other parts of the city. Should I get on the phone and call the ATT CEO and tell him, 'screw you"? Or should I call the Attorney Generals Fraud Division and ask them to take the case? Of course not. But some day maybe we can figure out a way to get even.

2010 Politics

Right now I would have a tough time telling you who the next Governor and Lt. Governor might be. Those races are far from over and will hinge on issues that are out of the control of the candidates. It is lining up as we could expect right now with Lt. Governor Diane Denish raking in the money. She is a favorite and will win the Primary. The General election is far from certain.

However, I think the state of the Republican party is such that they will tear themselves apart again. Still, a moderate GOP candidate could do well. But can a moderate get through the GOP Primary? Not as long as the religious right continues their role in NM Politics. A friend of mine happened to watch one of the Albuquerque's Mega Church's preacher on Fox this weekend. This person was railing against the Supreme Court being stacked with liberals who 'make law' and ignore the constitution. This guy said only conservatives cared abut the constitution. In other words...Obama's selections are all spawned of Satan. This is the kind of stuff that rules the republican party. Mark my words. These fundamentalists will run the next GOP Governor's candidate.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

Mys sister Carlota has taken over the blog today. Stick with it to the last section for an eye opener.

By M. Carlota Baca, Ph.D.

Did you know that about one billion people on the planet do not have access to clean water and 2.5 billion are without adequate sanitation?

On Wednesday, I moderated a panel on global philanthropy and third-world needs, attended in Santa Fe by about 20 foundations that fund across borders. We learned that dirty water is one of the world’s most efficient killers and this can be prevented cheaply and easily. Currently, there are more child deaths annually from bad water than from AIDS, malaria, and TB combined. This is completely preventable.

Two New Mexico outfits are working hard to alleviate this situation: Waterlines (www.waterlines.com) - a non profit that has done about 600 potable water projects in Central America, Africa and elsewhere, and the Kind World Foundation that funds many of these projects. In 2007, I brokered a potable water project for a Maasai Women’s Shelter in Tanzania, implemented and funded by these New Mexico nonprofits. The project cost only $3500 and enabled village women to avoid spending hours fetching water several times a day from a well six kilometers away. Each bucket of water they fetched yielded less than one flush of my toilet. This freed up time that could be devoted to farming, education and childcare.

Conflict is another scourge that brutalizes too many millions. We learned about the post-genocide efforts in Rwanda to introduce cottage industries in basketry and other crafts, a wonderful Santa Fe nonprofit called Creativity for Peace that brings Israeli and Palestinian teenage girls here every summer for reconciliation discussion and plans for future communication, and another funder that has made great strides in eliminating the grotesque cultural practice of female genital mutilation in some regions.

These are all “good news” stories that are seldom told. As one journalist in the group said, “If it bleeds, it leads.” War will always lead the front page and the evening news. Reconciliation and peace efforts are seldom recognized.

The day after our session, I set my alarm for 4:00am, so that I could watch President Obama’s speech live. It was a remarkable address because it focused on positive things we can do as a nation, both in our foreign policy and in our attitudes. Perhaps the whole world needs an “attitude adjustment.” Predictably, there were the usual partisan and negative naysayers who criticized the talk because they simply cannot nor will not see another way to live – they remain in a kind of “option paralysis” that has bankrupted our country’s moral stance and political will.

Quite a few years ago, I hosted several Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian women in my house who were brought here for a gathering in Santa Fe by Dr. Merle Lefkoff, a well-known international mediator who has also worked in Northern Ireland and in the Middle East. They were brought partly to get them out of the war zone and partly to meet each other and find how much they had in common. Most of them are still in touch with each other a decade later.

During their stay, they were enchanted by my new kitten, Tillie, and were almost fighting over who could hold her. I found it odd, almost disturbing, and asked if they had no pets? “Oh, Carlota,” they said, “There are no pets. We had to eat them.” What extreme of desperation would bring us to eat our pets? It gave me new insight into the degradation and despair of war, quite apart from the shattering, but remote scenes of bombings and violence that are routine on our widescreen, high definition televisions – the new necessity in the American home. I had undergone an attitude adjustment.

It’s hard to feel empathy for people going through things that are unimaginable for us, but we’ve got to try. It’s the first step. We’re so damn rich. And most people are so damn poor. How simple. Resources are finite. Consumption way beyond our needs apparently is not.

In the last few years, I’ve tried to curtail my frequent travel to beautiful capitals of the Western world and have embarked on trips to places like Tanzania, Nicaragua, Calcutta, Bhutan and Uganda. It’s hard to remain remote when one walks through the central market in Kampala, full of many hundreds of squalid stalls such as the one I stopped at where an old man was selling a small pile of buttons. Those buttons were going to feed his family, but I didn’t buy any. Another stall was selling chicken medicine….nothing else. I had something they needed desperately, but they had nothing I wanted. I ended up buying some beads, but I seldom wear them. I should have bought some buttons. Hell, I should have bought some chicken medicine!

There’s an interesting look at global demographics and resources, called “If the World Were a Village of 100 People.” Take a look at it.

If we could reduce the world’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, the demographics would look something like this:

The village would have 60 Asians, 14 Africans, 12 Europeans, 8 Latin Americans, 5 from the USA and Canada, and 1 from the South Pacific

51 would be male, 49 would be female

82 would be non-white; 18 white

67 would be non-Christian; 33 would be Christian

80 would live in substandard housing

67 would be unable to read

50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation

33 would be without access to a safe water supply

39 would lack access to improved sanitation

24 would not have any electricity (And of the 76 that do
have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)

7 people would have access to the Internet

1 would have a college education

1 would have HIV

2 would be near birth; 1 near death

5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth; all 5 would be US citizens

33 would be receiving --and attempting to live on-- only 3% of the income of “the village”

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Guns and Hilary

Members of our delegation in Washington should be flexing their p.r. muscle right now to exert pressure to get New Mexico's Hillary Tompkins nomination as Solicitor for the Department of the Interior voted on. One wing nut Senator from Oklahoma is stopping the process as he does his bidding for the NRA on the issue of guns in the National Parks. Jeff Bingaman has weighed in and now Congressman Martin Heinrich needs to speak up about this. He is a moderate on gun issues and has the support of the NRA. Both Martin and I worked with Hilary when she was the Governor's general counsel. Hilary always gave wise advice. She really needs to be confirmed and then get to work at Secretary Ken Salazar's side.

Hilary is a Navajo and it is interesting to see while this drama is going on that the few remaining Navajo code talkers from World War II are dying.

On another issue. If anyone wants to attend the swearing in of the new MRGCD Board members it will be on Monday at 6pm at the board room on south second street.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Somewhere in the Distance a Dog Barked

It was one of those moments. Last night about eight I went to the MRGCD website and found out all the incumbents were defeated in the MRGCD election. After a 20 year hiatus in the wilderness the Board will now have new and progressive leaders. I hope the remaining Board members get it. Adrian Oglesby and Karen Dunning won by huge margins. Although I would guess once again that the turnout in this stealth election was less than 4%.

I have lots of advice for the new Board. So do a lot of people and I plan on going to their first meeting to congratulate them. Then they need to be careful about electing a chairman.

Here is the roof plan for the 16 solar panels that will go up on my roof. They are pretty much spread all over the place. They will be mostly invisible from the street. Click on the image to make it bigger.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sunshine Lost---and Sunshine Gained

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy is holding their stealth election today. That means the incumbents have a good chance of keeping their seats and any chances of reform in that monolithic agency are doomed. Maybe the 2% turn out this year will shower some sunshine on the place. I am voting for Karen Dunning and Adrian Ogelsby. They are the new comers and have new ideas.
On another sun shine matter the process has started to put a 3KW solar voltaic array on my roof top. Hal Everett and his crew from Sunergy showed up right on time today to start laying out plans for the roof.

They used this little gadget which shows my roof is oriented almost perfectly to the south.

This will be a month long process and I will chronicle it here. It should be interesting. More on the financial aspects later.