Archive for November, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

by John Weckerle

Today is one of those days on which we look at the past year and weigh it against past years, with an eye toward those things for which we hope to give thanks.  For my part, I’m thankful for Lucy, and her mom, Cora; for Senior Correspondent Wilson and his articles; my father, who turned 80 this year; my sisters and their families, and my cousins and theirs; Lucy’s son and daughter and their families; Lucy’s brothers and their families, and her sisters-in-laws and theirs; and all the good friends I have made not just in the past year but over the past whole bunch of years.  Together, all these people make up a grand and wonderful extended family, no matter how far away they may be.

I’m thankful for all the work I’ve had this year, even if  it’s made things a little crazy from time to time, and the good folks for whom I’ve done the work and hope to do more.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to work on the wolf captures and with Wildlife West Nature Park in general.  I’m thankful for the time I’ve spent learning new things and collaborating with people who know different things than I do.  I’m grateful for all the great things I’ve seen, especially those worth photographing.  And, of course, I’m thankful for all of you, without whom New Mexico Central would be little more than a diary.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

And now, it’s time to start cooking!

Congressional Press Release: Senator Udall Solicits Opinions On Travel Privacy

by Senator Tom Udall

You may have heard about or experienced new security procedures used by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in our nation’s airports.

The TSA is charged with the very serious duty of protecting U.S. travel and transportation and I greatly value the job they do. TSA officers are given a difficult task. They don’t set the rules, but they do follow them in service to our country.

Over the past few weeks, TSA officers began conducting “enhanced pat-downs” — a more intense screening procedure, criticized by some recent passengers as an invasion of their personal privacy. The pat-down is used when a passenger opts out of being screened by Advanced Imaging Technology, which some passengers object to because it allows screeners to view highly revealing images of passengers’ bodies. A pat-down may also be conducted if something is detected by the Advanced Imaging Technology or a metal detector.

While we need to continually develop ways to secure our air travel, we must also continually strive to strike the proper balance of preserving airline security and respecting the privacy and dignity of travelers.

These new TSA screening procedures affect all of us who utilize airline travel, and I want to hear your thoughts.

»» Congressional Press Release: Senator Udall Solicits Opinions On Travel Privacy

Blood Drive In Mountainair Today

by John Weckerle

Checking in on our friends at Mountainair Announcements, we find that there will be a blood drive today in Mountainair at the Dr. Saul Community Center from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.  For more information, see the Mountainair Announcements article.

Well, Just Because.

by John Weckerle

A Wolf Adventure: Bringing Lobos Home to Wildlife West Nature Park

by John Weckerle

The Ladder Ranch, New Mexico

Ted Turner's Ladder Ranch embodies the spirit of southern New Mexico, with breathtaking scenery around every bend in the road.

On November 17, three Mexican Gray Wolves made the move from the Ladder Ranch in southern New Mexico to Wildlife West Nature Park in Edgewood.  Our journey began early, with the van leaving the Park at 5 a.m., carrying eight of us (Park founder Roger Alink; volunteers Christi Boyer and Pat Button; filmmaker Elke Duerr; East Mountain High School teacher Bradd Schulke [who also manages Wildlife West’s summer education program] and two of his students; and your editor) to the Ladder Ranch southwest of Truth or Consequences.  The mood was a lot cheery and a little bleary, with some folks chatting and some napping, gathering their strength for the day’s activities.  Your editor sat next to Ms. Duerr, who is in the process of creating a documentary on the Mexican Gray Wolf, or lobo.  We discussed the lobos and they myths surrounding them, as well as the wolf’s place in the ecosystem and ecosystem management in general.  Of course, policy, politics, and special interests had a prominent place in the discussion, but we’ll save those issues for a future article.

»» A Wolf Adventure: Bringing Lobos Home to Wildlife West Nature Park

Welcome to The Halls of Dishonesty

by John Weckerle

We breathed a sigh of certain relief November 3, having come through a taxing election season that assaulted us with a barrage of untruths, half-truths, twisted facts, deceptions, and outright lies.  It was over.

Well, of course it wasn’t.

Your editor read something dishonest today.  We will spare you the gory details for now.  We will simply say that we have had enough of being nice about this sort of thing.  Those who occasionally look at our left-hand column will see a new category.  We will caution those who publish falsehoods or inaccurate information (including those who pass along such content without checking their facts first) that we are likely going to be a little less kind about it in future.  We all have  a responsibility to at least try and verify the accuracy of what we are publishing/posting, and we’re tired of certain operators uncritically providing a venue for the dissemination of misleading information.  In short: if you’re putting out something inflammatory, accusatory, or controversial – whether it originates with you or elsewhere – you’d do well to make sure you can back it up: because if you can’t, we may be coming after you.

Press Release: Bernalillo County Gets New Type III Wildland Fire Truck

by Larry Gallegos, Bernalillo County Public Information Department

Bernailillo County Type III Wildland Fire Truck

Bernailillo County Type III Wildland Fire Truck

Through the efforts championed by Bernalillo County Commission Chair Art De La Cruz the Bernalillo County Fire Department will now be able to answer calls from residents of Pajarito Mesa in a new vehicle built to withstand rough terrain. The Type III Wildland Fire Truck is a 4 wheel drive vehicle that will travel where the full size pumper and ladder trucks cannot go easily and it is equipped with a 500-gallon water tank to help with fires in areas with limited water supply. Based at the BCFD Station 4 on Coors and Don Felipe SW, it will be the main first response vehicle for fire and rescue calls at the Pajarito Mesa and for wildland fires in the East Mountains and around the county, when the need arises.

“I am proud to be responsible for moving for the purchase of this state-of-the-art truck that will support the fire department’s response time to emergencies for the people in Pajarito Mesa. It is equipped to travel in rough terrains and save the taxpayers money as the County will no longer need to expend the dollars on maintenance and repair of the larger fire trucks used driving that same terrain” says Commissioner De La Cruz.”

The Greenside Cafe and the Hounds of Hello

by John Weckerle

Yesterday evening was one of surprises.  The population of New Mexico Central headquarters dropped to one as the primates in the group headed out for dinner at the Greenside Cafe in Cedar Crest.  After an incredibly slow drive along Frost Road (we really do need to install photon torpedoes in the vehicle), we arrived at the Greenside a bit before 6 p.m.  We were seated immediately, and our drink order was taken.  As we waited (not very long) for the beverages, I made casual mention to the other folks at the table of the fact that there seemed to be more people than one might normally expect at that time on a Thursday.  The drinks came, and we placed our order, and chatted as more people entered the restaurant.  Our server, Susan, described the specials in full detail.  The others in the group were unpersuaded.  They knew what they wanted when they walked in the door – a favorite is, after all, a favorite – and ordered the small version of the meatloaf (we have to wonder how many cows it takes to make the large portion).  Your editor, who was persuaded, ordered the Thursday Steamers (clams in a white sauce over pasta) and a cup of the vegetarian soup du jour, a roasted tomato basil soup.  The soup came along, as did more people through the door.  The soup was delicious – a little thicker than some tomato soups, hearty, and properly proportioned.  What we mean by “properly proportioned” is that a cup of soup was ordered, and it came in something that was approximately the size of a cup.  We understand that some restaurants try to be generous with the soup, providing a vat of it when a cup is ordered – but when many of us order a cup of soup before a meal, it’s often because we want a bit of soup before the meal.  Bring a vat when we order a bowl, and that is fine, but a cup is a cup.  We appreciated that the Greenside understands this.

»» The Greenside Cafe and the Hounds of Hello

Wildlife Roundup Disaster: Wolf Pulls Gun, Dozens Injured

by John Weckerle

Wildlife West founder Roger Alink briefs volunteers before the roundup.

Okay, okay – there was no canine carbine activity at this morning’s wolf roundup at Wildlife West Nature Park.  But right from the beginning, it was clear that there was trouble brewing.  Big, dangerous, snarling, ripping-the-meat-off-of-human-bones* trouble.

Well, maybe not, but there could have been.  Maybe.  If we’d had a dire wolf instead of our own Mexican gray wolf.

The morning began at “oh-dark-thirty” (a curious expression that generally describes a time significantly later than your editor’s normal second cup of coffee) – 6:30 a.m. in this case. Park founder Roger Alink educated the volunteers on the issues associated with the roundup.  Mr. Alink laid out the strategy, explained why we would all be carrying various objects, and detailed the methodology we would be using to guide the wolf into the pen they had prepared.  Carrying various implements to make us more noticeable and less edible slightly less approachable, we were to go quietly, single-file southward along the west fence of the enclosure and then fan out along the southern boundary.  From there, we would slowly and non-threateningly proceed toward the capture pen (this had been established at least a week before, and Nieta had been feeding in it), convincing the wolf that the path of least resistance would be to retreat into the capture pen. With a certain degree of difficulty due to the number of people, we worked our way into the wolf habitat and proceeded silently (other than the footsteps) along the western side of the enclosure, and began lining up along the southern boundary.  And that is exactly where it all went horribly, horribly wrong.**

»» Wildlife Roundup Disaster: Wolf Pulls Gun, Dozens Injured

Almost Over, But Not ‘Till It’s Over

by John Weckerle

We are pressed for time this morning, as we are heading out to help with a wolf capture, but thought we’d draw some attention to the latest in the “lies and counterclaims” department.  In this installment, a recent ad by Congressional hopeful John Barela slams incumbent Martin Heinrich for getting a million dollars for a bar in which he has held fundraisers.  It turns out to be nonsense: O’Neill’s applied for, and got, an SBA loan, a process that took two years.  Check out the full story at MSNBC.