Archive for Uncategorized

On Electricity and Communications

By John Weckerle

We join you after a bit of a hiatus (nearly four months) from New Mexico Central Headquarters, which has now been without electricity for something on the order of 29 hours, give or take a few. This has been one of the longest outages in recent memory – we recall one some years ago that made it to about 30 hours – and it is beginning to take its toll on some of the frozen food, at least; there’s only so much ice can do.

We write, though, not so much to lament the loss of foodstuffs as to express deep concern as to how the communications have been handled by our friends at the New Mexico Central Electric Cooperative (NMCEC). We’re seeing a pattern here with respect to getting information out during outages, and we respectfully suggest that there is room for improvement.

Consider this: Several hours after the outage began on Friday, a call to CNMEC led to a recording that 13 transmission-line poles had been blown down by a weather event, and that restoration of power was anticipated sometime Saturday. Another call on Saturday morning brought us to a message that the damage had now reached 18 poles, and that no estimate for restoration was available. And shortly after that, any meaningful channel for obtaining information on the situation simply went dark. We attempted all options on the CNMEC phone system. All went unanswered – even the dispatch line that includes reporting emergencies. That’s right – CNMEC had essentially shut itself off from the world, and had another part of the grid experienced a problem (perhaps in Torrance County, which was essentially unaffected by the situation according to the cooperative’s website), there was no way CNMEC could have received the report.

It was not until 6:40 p.m. Saturday that the following message appeared on the CNMEC site:

We had reports of a Funnel Cloud that hit in the area and with it a roof of a building and it tore down 16 transmission poles. These are 80 feet tall transmission poles with distribution line built under.
Along with the mud and all the debris, it can cause a small army to descend down on the scene to clean up and then put back up the power line.
We apologize for the extended time with out power but our men and women are working tirelessly and some with out time off to get the lights back on.
Estimated time of power to come back in is the evening.

We suggest that this is rather too little information, too late, and as we are now well past “the evening” for most purposes we are beginning to wonder just which evening to which the cooperative was referring. We digress, however, because the main issue here is that CNMEC is missing – and has been missing for some time – the boat in terms of communicating with its members during extended outages.

First, regardless of call-in volume, there should always be some way to report additional outages and emergency conditions. The idea that there is simply nobody picking up the phone – we let it ring several times for five to ten minutes – is entirely unacceptable. There are any number of emergencies that can arise from electrical power or the lack thereof, and the fact that the cooperative was unreachable during this outage is of serious concern.

Second, members should always be able to get reasonably up-to-date information on extended outages so that they may prepare to deal with them. We understand that, while websites based on older technologies may be difficult to update “on the fly,” there are options that allow this – for example, WordPress-based sites (essentially free) or establishing a Facebook page (absolutely free) linked from the CNMEC website that would allow more-or-less real-time updates on outages that members could easily access from cell phones, tablets, etc. even while without power.

We strongly recommend that CNMEC develop a strategy for bringing its communications with its members during outages into the twenty-first century, and do it quickly. It seems absurd that an organization that seeks to sell Internet services to its members would delay in doing otherwise.

A Belated Happy St. Patrick’s Day

by John Weckerle

A day late, we find it fitting to provide messages from the current and former leaders of Ireland. Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day!

Treating Deck Rails

by John Weckerle

As the days grow shorter and things cool off – it’s time to start thinking about winterizing.  After all, there are only fifteen Fridays left before Christmas (and we’re sure we made your day by pointing that out).  After a couple of hours of vigorous weed-whacking (more on that in a later article) yesterday, we elected to treat the deck rails in preparation for the cold weather.  Having done so, we thought we would share the recipe for the stain/sealer we used, given to us by Patrick Neis of Ironwood Construction.  It’s easy to make: simply mix 1 quart of mineral spirits, 1 quart of boiled linseed oil (Patrick notes that it’s important that it’s boiled linseed oil, otherwise the preparation will not dry and will remain tacky), and 1/4 cup of transmission fluid (which Patrick says deters boring insects in addition to adding a little color).  We used this in Spring this year, and it held out very well over the summer.  On fine-sanded redwood, it brought out the red tints in the wood very nicely without the red being overpowering and without over-darkening the wood.  On some unsanded, rougher posts, we’ve found that it did darken and redden the wood more noticeably, although the effect is quite pleasant.  On very thirsty, grayed-out wood, the reddening is not particularly noticeable.




We’re Back…

by John Weckerle

…Literally and figuratively.

Beginning in late July, but concentrated in the last week or so of August, the New Mexico Central site was subjected to a denial-of-service attack which ended up taking the site down for a few days. As we dealt with the incident, which affected several other web  sites hosted by our sponsor, we received another ugly little surprise that will go without detailed mention but, when combined with the attack, has given us reason to think that we have perhaps been focused away from local and regional events for longer than we ever intended – and longer perhaps than is best.

Our readers – and we do have data that suggests there are still some – will note that there’s been a format change.  There will be more of them; we’re experimenting with various new looks for the site.  As time goes on, we’d like to hear from you on what seems to work best – or worse, as the case may be.

We’ve made some adjustments to our categories, blog links, and web links as well:

  • Sadly, the blog link for Mountainair Arts has been removed.  Vanessa has relocated and is no longer maintaining the blog.  We wish her the best in her new location in Yuma, Colorado.
  • We’ve updated the title of  Katie Guttierrez’s “Rocking Rabat” blog – she returned from Morocco but has continued her adventures since.
  • Along with the 2010 and 2012 Elections categories, which were just too dated to survive, we have elected to suspend, at least for now, the “Chambergate” category (the articles are still there, but the categories are not). Local Chambers, at least the ones that still exist, have managed to avoid major public controversy for a few years now, and the current Edgewood Chamber executive director is known to us to be both trustworthy and very competent.  We hear little of the East Mountain Chamber, and as nearly as we can tell (and find on the Internet) the Moriarty Chamber remains a memory.  We’ll be watching, though…
  • Similarly, we have removed the link to the Estancia Valley Economic Development Association (EVEDA), reflecting your editor’s decision to sever ties with EVEDA and terminate his company’s membership in the organization.  We remain interested in economic issues within the region and look forward to bringing economic information and analysis forward.
  • We’ve added links to the sites of several natural resources-oriented organizations with whom we’ve had the privilege to work over the years and continue to support today through other venues.  These include the Estancia Basin Resource Association, the Estancia Basin Water Planning Committee, the Claunch-Pinto Soil and Water Conservation District, and the East Torrance Soil and Water Conservation District.  Collectively, the people running these organizations, including Board members, volunteers, and staff, are the principal – and tireless – defenders of central New Mexico’s water resources.  We encourage EVERYBODY, regardless of location, to contact their local District offices and learn about the programs – tree thinning, land management, rain harvesting, and more –  that are available.  Many districts offer cost-share programs that can help keep your ecosystem healthy, protected against wildfire, and productive.
  • Our support for Wildlife West Nature Park remains undimmed, and we’ve added a suggestion to the Park’s link; supporters can have a percentage of their purchase prices donated to the New Mexico Wildlife Association, the nonprofit entity that manages the Park.




Annual Permaculture & Rainwater Harvesting Gathering – Saturday, October 4, 2014

Editor’s note: As Autumn approaches and we delight in an unusual bounty of rainfall, let us not forget that it is unusual, and there are strategies that can bring us great benefit during normal times.  This is an excellent event and we encourage everyone to attend, learn, socialize, and enjoy one of the tastiest and most interesting potlucks of the year!

by Christian Meuli

Saturday, October 4, 2014

 12:00 PM         Site Tour                         Visiting culverts, raintanks, and woodchip berms this year

2:00 PM             Potluck                            Great food every year!

3:00 PM             Climate Scenarios       Dr. Dave DuBois, New Mexico State Climatologist

4:00 PM             One Minute Announcements

4:05 PM             The Peregrine Falcon  Tom Smiley

Dr. Dave DuBois is the New Mexico State Climatologist. His interests include applying tree ring dating to large climate cycles. Rather than “forecasting” what the climate will do in our future, he is trying to anticipate various climate scenarios and how they might play out in real time.

Tom Smylie shares with us for the third time his lifelong learning of raptors. He is the retired Assistant Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He played an integral role in the peregrine falcon’s recovery from near extinction in North America and continues to be actively involved with the Peregrine Fund.

This free gathering will include a site tour and discussion of culverts, raintanks, and woodchip berms. Please bring friends and children, your favorite dish to share and your finest sunhat. Please car pool and leave pets at home.

Take I-40 to exit #187 (25 miles east of Albuquerque and 8 miles west of Moriarty). At the end of the off-ramp, go south two blocks to the stoplight at the intersection with H #333 (Smith’s Grocery will be on your left). Go straight up the hill on Edgewood Road #7 and turn right in ½ mile onto Moriarty Road (now paved). Go ¼ mile to #24 and turn right into my driveway or go straight ahead down the hill and park on your left.

I look forward to seeing everyone and meeting new friends! If you need a map or a timely update, please e-mail me or call me at (505) 331-0245.

Christian Meuli

Grow Your Own: Rise, Fall, and Impending Rebirth of the Cover; Bat Guano Experiments, and More

by John Weckerle

Our sinister plot (lame pun intended) to lengthen the growing season ran into a bit of a snag on its first round.  Not a snag in the sense that the wind, which began rising during the effort, did something horrible to the plastic, but a snag of the basic light-transmission variety.  Our original plan was to test the waters by using standard, home improvement store grade plastic, with which we had had some success overwintering kale on a small scale.  However, about halfway into the effort, Senior Common Sense Editor Lucy noted that the plastic was casting about as much shadow as she was.  After a brief discussion, Senior Materials Science Correspondent Wilson advised that a higher-transmission plastic, perhaps something in the 92% range with infrared retention properties, a 4-year ultraviolet warranty, and anti-condensate features would be more effective.  The wind voiced its agreement, and we removed the offending product and stowed it for more productive uses (small scale overwintering, wrapping beetle-infested tree trunks, and so on).  From there, we proceeded indoors to order the new plastic from Farmtek – a deluxe, 28 x 40 piece of greenhouse sheeting that should provide us with full cover for Bed 5 and some extra material for smaller covers.  We also ordered some snap clamps from Amazon, and we regret to inform that we apparently got the last ones eligible for Prime shipping.  Amazon still has them and Farmtek also carries similar products.  We got a feel for these during the prior experiment; they’re easier to put on than to take off, but seem as if they’ll do the trick just fine.  Let’s hope for less-than-hurricane strength surface winds Saturday or Sunday.

As our readers well know, we start getting antsy after the first of the year, and we do still have the indoor seed starting setup.  We’ve put this to good use in testing seed to see if it is still viable, and so far everything but the chives has come up (although the kale’s not doing well).  The gold star goes to the lone string bean (Blue Lake, a bush variety), which has yielded its first nibble to the testing authorities and been found far from wanting.  Hats off to the old Martian Giant tomato seeds; we had little hope that these would come up, but having put four seeds into the pot, we ended up murdering three plants so that the fourth would survive.  Similar results were seen with the two Mortgage Lifter pots, and here is where the aerobatic mammal droppings come into play.

The two Mortgage Lifter pots were planted one week apart, with the later planting supplemented by Happy Frog bat quano fertilizer, a purported source of phosphorus.  We have long suspected that our small (but tasty and plentiful) tomatoes have been, in part, an issue of less-than-optimal phosphorus availability.  At this time, the two plants are of equal height, with the earlier-planted one having open flowers and the latter-planted one having plenty of flower buds.  These will be grown in pots; one will continue to have phosphorus added at subsequent repottings and the other will not.  Other than the week’s difference in planting date, we’ll treat them the same, and see if there is a difference in fruit size down the line.

For the garden, we’ll be working some phosphorus into the soil for the tomatoes, and probably the other nightshades (peppers, eggplants, etc.).  Also, the composter continues to house a substantial community of earthworms, and some of those will eventually find their way into the garden as well. We’re also considering a shading strategy for the hotter parts of the summer, as this may also have contributed to last year’s fruiting sizes; we got some wonderfully large Pink Brandywines before the heat waves last year, and some wonderfully tasty but much smaller ones afterward, notwithstanding adjustments to the watering schedule to accommodate the higher temperatures.

Bed 4 has been decommissioned, with the intent of providing hummingbird, bee, and butterfly forage as well as forage for the “beneficial predator” insects we’d like to see around the grounds in general.  Our attempts to breed a ladybug big enough to carry marauding deer and squirrels safely outside the fenced area have thus far been unproductive.  Having now realized that tarragon is more aggressive than we might have liked, we expect that Bed 6 will likely undergo a facelift and re-planning this Spring.  As for Beds 1-3, if time permits we’ll get them back into the mix this year.  We’re thinking of asparagus for one of them, and the prospect of oddly colored potatoes continues to intrigue us.

2013 EXTREME Fire Danger Note to Public 6.6.2013

by Arlene Perea and Karen Takai, Fire Information Officers, Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts

Attention Fire Information List,

As most of you know by now, the Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts are going into closures this Monday, June 10, 2013.  As we ratchet up safety issues please be extra cautious with prevention around your home.  Have a plan and be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

This is a different climate we are in now.  We know the Sandia area has never seen catastrophic fires in the last 100 years but the landscape has changed and we need to change with it.  The Manzano and Gallinas Mountains have seen their fair share of catastrophic fire in the last 10 years.  Even our firefighters over the last 10 years have had to adjust how they fight fire.  It’s a different world.  Be Ready and Have a plan!

FYI – The Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts currently have additional resources being staged on the districts to assist with prevention and fire suppression.  Current resources based upon Wednesdays schedule includes 9 engines, 1 hotshot crew,  3 lookouts in the lookout towers, 2 Fire Information Officers and 1 Prevention Officer.  We are staffed early and late hours, 7 days a week until we are out of the extreme fire danger.  Our interagency partners City of Albuquerque, NM State, Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Valencia and Torrance County Fire could also assist and support our fire season as we do for them.

The system in place is quite interesting as to how we staff fire season across the nation.  We are able to order extra supporting resources during our high/extreme fire season.  The crews come from all over the nation dependent on their fire danger at the time.  We in turn will go to their states during their fire season and support.  The process allows us to have needed crews in the states most of the time.  The issue that comes into play is when everyone is under the same high to extreme fire danger.  There have been times when there is a competition for air tankers and then decisions get prioritized at a regional or national level as to who will get the resource first.  Normally the situation is handled fairly and efficiently.  If our national resources start to get depleted, we have the option to call on Canada and Australia for additional resources and there have been times when our fire personnel have traveled to these countries as well.

The availability of resources is constantly subject to change as fire situations throughout the region and nation change.  All resources are national resources so they could be relocated at any time.

We have put this short note together with the hope that it has lessened some of the stress knowing that we are here and ready.  Please help our fighters.  Have a Plan and be ready at all times.  Call us with any questions.  Be Fire Safe!

Public Service Announcement: Sandia and Mountainair Ranger Districts – Stage II Fire Restrictions In Effect

Editor’s note: This is late in coming but worth the time travel.  We urge our readers to be safe and take these restrictions very, very seriously.

Albuquerque, NM. May 13, 2013. The Cibola National Forest and Grasslands’ Sandia and Mountainair Ranger Districts will begin Stage II fire restrictions effective 8:00 a.m. on Monday, May 13, 2013. “Due to ongoing drought conditions and increasing fire danger, these restrictions are necessary to decrease the likelihood of human-caused wildfires and to protect public health and safety,” said Acting Forest Supervisor Joe Norrell. “In addition, the National Weather Service’s outlook has predicted that drought conditions in the region will persist through July,” he added.

Although the districts will be in fire restrictions, there are many activities that can still be enjoyed on the forest, such as picnicking, hiking and camping. All the campgrounds, picnic areas and trails are expected to be open by May 15. However, please use extreme caution when you’re on the forest, as conditions are very dry and wildfires can start from smoldering cigarettes or sparks from engines.

The Cibola works closely with the cities, counties, state, tribal and federal organizations that border the districts to coordinate fire restrictions. “This collaboration helps ensure the public receives consistent information about fire restrictions in their areas,” said Fire Management Officer Bea Day.

Stage II fire restrictions include:

  1. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, or wood stove anywhere on the Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts.
    Exceptions: The use of petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns, propane grills, or heating devices is allowed, provided such devices meet the fire underwriter’s specification for safety and has a turn-off valve.
  2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, at a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
  3. Possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device.
  4. Discharging a firearm, air rifle or gas gun.
  5. Operating a chainsaw, or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  6. Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device that is properly installed, maintained and in effective working order. They must meet either USDA Forest Service or appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice
  7. Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with an open flame.
  8. Possessing or using a motor vehicle off National Forest System roads, except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway or overnight parking in Forest Service-developed campgrounds and trailheads.

The following are exempt from Stage II fire orders on public lands managed by the Cibola National Forest and Grasslands:

  1. Persons with a Forest Service permit specifically authorizing the prohibited act or omission.
  2. Any federal, state or local officer or member of an organized firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
  3. Residents, owners and lessees of land, and holders of Forest Service recreation special use authorizations within the restricted area, are exempt from Restriction No. 1 above ONLY, provided such fires are within a permanent structure.

Current fire restrictions for the Cibola National Forest and Grasslands are:

  • Mountainair Ranger District: Will begin Stage II Fire Restrictions on May 13, 2013.
  • Sandia Ranger District:  Will begin Stage II Fire Restrictions on May 13, 2013.
  • Mt. Taylor Ranger District: Will begin Stage I Fire Restrictions on May 10, 2013. The district’s personal woodcutting permit season is delayed.
  • Magdalena Ranger District: No restrictions.
  • Black Kettle and McClellan Creek National Grasslands: No restrictions.
  • Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands: No restrictions.

The Cibola’s fire restrictions can be found at:

For more information, contact:

Sandia Ranger District: 505.281.3304
Karen Takai; e-mail:

Mountainair Ranger District: 505.847.2990
Arlene Perea; e-mail:
Adrian Padilla; e-mail:

Ruth Sutton, Public Affairs Officer
Phone: 505.346.3900; e-mail:

Useful fire websites:

Grow Your Own – Son Of The Return Of Bed 5

by John Weckerle

Return of the Son of Bed 5.

Return of the Son of Bed 5.

Growing season is upon us once again!  Those who have been following New Mexico Central’s experimental gardening exploits have watched as we moved from four foot-square raised beds to the 12 x 24 foot extravaganza that is Bed 5, including its rise, fall, rise, and so on.  Initially intended to provide a good rooting depth (24 to 30 inches through most of it) and protection from the elements and the herbivores (except, of course, us), the bed has served us well but needed improvement.   Recent developments include replacement of the rabbit fencing and bird netting with poultry fencing, which is more durable than the bird netting.  The latter simply did not stand up well to our local wind.  The “hill and trough” configuration watered with soaker hose has been replaced with raised beds watered by drip irrigation, which should greatly reduce the water needed to produce the produce, as it were.  We appear to have substantially more growing area, as well.   Currently in the ground are tomatoes (Roma, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Black Krim, and Black Cherry), Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, chard, bell peppers (green, gold, and orange), chiles (Chimayo and New Mexico 6), zucchini, and yellow squash.  Still to be planted are cauliflower, eggplant, tomatillos, dill, and basil.

A word about drip irrigation and the installation thereof.  At some point in the distant past, your editor became somehow convinced that this was a very difficult and complicated thing.  It is not; installing drip irrigation is about as uncomplicated as it gets.  Bed 5 was the first foray into this arena, and we have since installed a total of 500 feet of supply line and a multitude of emitters.  This ends the tedious hand-watering of trees and shrubs that were looking much worse for the wear, but are now looking much better.  Of course, the wildlife have noticed this, and some of our trees and shrubs are now looking a little chewed up by deer that have jumped the fence.

Monkeys On Trial In The Estancia Valley?

by John Weckerle

We found ourselves not-too-terribly surprised to read recent articles (“Charter School Warned,” “PED warns charter school against religious teachings“) regarding accusations by the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) that the Estancia Valley Classical Academy (ECVA) may have strayed over the line between religious and secular education.  Our lack of surprise – and, to some extent, our amusement – stems from the fact that both articles mention an individual who was featured in the context of his views on “science” (including an apparent bent toward creationism or, at least, anti-evolutionism) in one of our previous articles (See our August 11, 2011 article, An Article About Articles).  That individual, Roger Lenard, is variously described as “one of the school’s founders” and the president of the school’s governing council.

Given the subject of these stories and the concerns reportedly expressed by parents regarding what their children are being taught about science, we find ourselves perplexed that Mr. Lenard’s fame in the creationist universe has thus far been ignored by the journalistic community.  In addition to our article and the New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR) article cited therein, we find references to Mr. Lenard as a “creation scientist” (here), and a “celebrated creationist,” (here).  He is prominently figured in the NMSR article Creationism In New Mexico, and quoted here as saying “Creation scientists hold revealed Truth as supreme, other forms are subordinate.”

Given the many references to Mr. Lenard’s reported creationist beliefs and purported attempts to insert them into academic curricula, we certainly understand why parents would be concerned about what may be taught in science classes at a school over whose curriculum Mr. Lenard likely wields substantial influence.  We urge parents to get involved and continue to engage the PED on this issue and get to the bottom of the matter.


Edgewood Gets New Mayor, Councilor; Little Change Elsewhere (As Far As We Know)

by John Weckerle

We have obtained yesterday’s election results for the Town of Edgewood.  Former Town Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Brad Hill claimed victory in the race for Mayor, with a vote count exceeding the combined count for his two rivals, Susan Simons and currrent Mayor Bob Stearley.  Town Councilor John Abrams has been re-elected, and Sherry Abraham joins the Council as a new member.  Judge William “Bill” White has been reelected as Municipal Judge.  Detailed results obtained from Town Administrator Karen Mahalick are as follows:

Mayoral Race

  • Susan Simons – 54
  • Bob Stearley – 172
  • Brad Hill – 333

Town Council (2 seats in contest)

  • Johnny Walker – 131
  • John Abrams – 356
  • Phil Anaya – 104
  • Sherry Abraham – 346
Municipal Judge
  • William White – 456

In Moriarty, all the incumbents will be returning to their seats, and according to the Torrance County Clerk’s office, the races in Estancia were uncontested.  Everybody who ran in Mountainair won.  Unfortunately, nobody was in the Village office in Tijeras when we called.  Congratulations to the elected officials, new and returning.


The State Of The… Er…

by John Weckerle


Specifically, we refer to state of the local Interstate (and more specifically, I-40 in the Sedillo Hill area) and associated roads  yesterday morning.  Your editor awoke early, looked out the window and noted that no lights could be seen to the east (indicating heavy snow), looked at the few inches on the ground, and decided to make a run for it.  This would have been a bad move absent the travel cup of coffee that made the run along yours truly.  The “local” roads were passable primarily because few others had been on them.  Unfortunately, the climate conspired to create an impromtu parking lot very early this morning on Route 66 just west of Mountain Valley Road. After waiting patiently and then noting the relatively free flow of traffic on I-40, it seemed logical to drive east to Edgewood and gain entrance to the highway there.  Traffic moved along very well until just after the Sedillo exit, at which point everyone’s automobiles decided that their riders could use a few (okay, a lot of) minutes to reflect upon their lives.

By the time we got through the congestion, there was no indication as to what the nature of the pause might have been.  However, we would like to suggest to our readers that it would be best to be vigilant as regards our speeds during inclement weather. It’s better to get there late than never…

Press Release: Doing Business With Bernalillo County and Securing Social Service Agency/Neighborhood Association Grants

by Franchesca Stevens, Bernalillo County Public Information Department

Bernalillo County News Conference Promotes Upcoming Workshop on How to Do Business with County and Secure Grants for Social Service Agencies and Neighborhood Associations
WHO: Bernalillo County
WHEN: Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, 3 p.m.
WHERE: One Civic Plaza NW, 10th floor, Conference Room B

Contact: Franchesca Stevens | |O. 505.468.1272| C. 505.259-0384

Oops, UPS…

by John Weckerle

When Friday morning dawned, your editor was looking forward to a weekend that would involve a certain amount of photography – because a new camera was due to arrive that day.  Having paid extra for two day delivery, we anticipated the weekend with a certain excitement.  The UPS tracking indicated that the package was “out for delivery” at 6:16 a.m., so it seemed that delivery was a certainty.  The package, however, never showed up, and at 7:36 p.m. somebody entered an exception: “emergency conditions beyond UPS’ control.”  A new delivery date was “unavailable.”

Now, as it turns out, your editor had Friday off and, with errands and appointments in both Edgewood and Albuquerque, managed to traverse nearly every possible road that the UPS truck could have taken to get to our location (including the one it usually takes).  The Albuquerque errands actually took us right past the UPS distribution center on the way home.  The sun was shining all day, and the roads were clear.  So we called UPS and, on the first round, got a very unhelpful person named “Mike” who indicated that no information regarding the nature of the “emergency conditions” was available, nor was a revised delivery date, but it would be at least Monday before delivery because we had not paid for weekend delivery.  I offered to pick the package up Saturday, but apparently UPS in Albuquerque is closed Saturdays.  Before I could offer to pick it up Monday, “Mike” hung up on me, or we were disconnected.  I then tried the e-mail support, and at least got an apology on that one, but they again could not give me a new delivery date and stated that they didn’t have to refund the two-day shipping charge because “emergency conditions beyond UPS’ control” apparently exempts them from doing so.

I called again yesterday and got a more helpful person, “Susan,” who guaranteed that the package would absolutely, positively be delivered Monday.  With a potentially substantial winter storm barreling toward us, we have our doubts, but we’ll take them at their word for now  – and hold them to it.  But that’s not really the purpose of this article…

»» Oops, UPS…

Whatever Happened To New Mexico Central?

by John Weckerle

Well, we’re not sure.

It’s been well over a month since our last article, during which we’ve encountered some life changes that should prove to be both significant and positive – but which have taken away from the time we’ve had to put into New Mexico Central.  During this hiatus, we’ve been reflecting on the original purpose of the site and how it’s evolved.  The original intent was to provide a centralized venue in which local folks without access to web authoring capabilities could provide news and express reasonably-supported commentary on Estancia Valley and East Mountain issues.  People seemed very enthusiastic about the concept initially, but except for a very small number of notable exceptions, that enthusiasm did not extend to actually providing articles – especially after we decided that we were not interested in having become a soapbox for neoconservative politics.  As venues such as Facebook surged, and blog hosting became readily available, the likelihood of receiving contributions appeared to diminish, and for some time now we have relied heavily on a) press releases, b) original articles written primarily by one person, and c) taking the local Tea Party chapters to task for consistently publishing  false information and a certain tendency toward intolerance.

Let’s take a look at some of this.  From a purely selfish standpoint, cutting and pasting press releases gets tedious – and since we don’t have time to post every single day and the releases tend to come out a relatively short time before the events in question, they’re often out of date by the time we get to them.  Writing original articles can be fun for us and informative for the reader, but doing it right and properly researching the topics in question represents a time-consuming effort that is difficult to perform frequently when one is employed full-time.  When the person doing the writing also spends a lot of time researching and writing at work, it’s that much tougher to crank the articles out on a regular basis. Perhaps most importantly, the original concept was not for one person to put out articles for others to read, and even the comments have been fewer than we expected.

Rapping the Tea Party’s knuckles (and those of their sources) occasionally has probably been worth doing and, at least to some, worth reading.  However, we have to think that it’s getting tedious to read because it’s getting tedious to write.  There is a limit to the number of times one needs to point out that this blog or that blithely publishes false or misleading information, or that it makes what appear to be prejudiced statements, before readers have enough information to come to their own conclusions on whether the progenitors of said content retain any credibility, moral standing or, for that matter, sanity.  We’re not saying that we’re going to leave them alone forever – these are, after all, our most commented-on articles – but to be blunt what we see when we check in on their web sites is essentially “more of the same” and there seems limited value in continuing to comment, frequently, on the same thing over and over.  It’s been well over a month since our last Tea Party article, and even though our reaction to the content on their sites is the same, we find ourselves disinclined to start tapping the keys just yet.

We’re going to continue the reflection, and with that in mind, we could use a little input from our readers.  What, in the past, have you most enjoyed?  On what types of topics would you be most inclined to comment?  Is there something you’d like to see more of, or something new you’d like to see added?  Let us know, and we’ll keep your thoughts in mind as we decide what path to take.