Archive for July, 2012

Stopping To Look At The Scenery

by John Weckerle

Last Tuesday found us taking some friends visiting town for a day on a tram ride and a short guided tour of Sandia Peak.  Along the way, we managed to take a few High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos.  Enjoy!

Rio Grande Valley and Sandia Mountains from Sandia Peak, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rio Grande Valley and Sandia Mountains from Sandia Peak, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Kiwanis Cabin, Sandia Peak, New Mexico

Kiwanis Cabin, Sandia Peak, New Mexico

Sandia Peak Tramway, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sandia Peak Tramway, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Granite outcrop, Sandia Peak, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Granite outcrop, Sandia Peak, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Clouds over the Rio Grande Valley from Sandia Peak, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Clouds over the Rio Grande Valley from Sandia Peak, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Here, And Gone, And Here, And Gone Again, And Here Again, And…

by John Weckerle

Those of our readers who are still tuned in most likely noticed that there was a nearly two-month hiatus in our coverage of – well, everything.  This is probably the longest break in our commentary since we started up, and we’re still not sure just how often we’ll be posting, although we’re pretty sure it will be more often than once every couple of months.

There are two major reasons for our absence.  First, your editor has experienced a reconfiguration of professional activities, and this change, while a very good one, has included both a great deal of being very busy and an unavailability of access to the blog.  Second, quite simply, we got tired of being angry.

Let’s face it; when you’re spending a substantial amount of time investigating corruption and debunking politically motivated falsehoods, bigotry, and other nastiness, you run the risk of having it get to you.  It can be very labor-intensive, especially for those of us who actually try to research and fact-check the things we produce, and the risk of doing so is that it typically involves immersing oneself in a rather unpleasant stew of unsavory material.  Indignation, anger, and similar emotions can be a drain on one’s energies.

During a trip to Washington, D.C. last week, I had a discussion touching on this with a colleague.  We both probably fall within the “more or less centrist” realm, although we are likely on different sides of the theoretical political mean.  One of the many things we agreed upon was that the fringe groups are co-opting the political discourse, and in a destructive manner.  The problem is that a lot of the rest of us appear to be either falling for it or bowing out, and the result has been a prolonged economic downturn, the appearance of a negative national attitude, and a dubious future.  We’re stuck with a legislature that cannot seem to make progress on what should be sensible national priorities because it is mired in ideological conflict, and hardly a half-year goes by without Congress flirting with national financial disaster over some dearly held, all-or-nothing political position that is probably not held as an absolute necessity by most of us.

It is time for line-in-the-sand politics to come to an end.  The nation faces serious problems that need attention and action, and opportunities that should be seized.  If we turn our attention to what works rather than what we believe (as opposed to what we can demonstrate), we can make headway and not only bring our economy back from the brink, but set it on a course to reach new heights that include opportunities for all – and we can do it without destroying the environment or leaving people behind.  To accomplish this, however, we’re going to have to take the spotlight off the fringes, get it on center stage, and let the bitter, anti-government extremists wail alone in the darkness.

At this point, we’ve pointed out enough dishonesty and prejudice on the part of the fringes to make it clear that these are the hallmarks of their efforts.  At this point, anybody who’s still taking them seriously is probably going to continue to do so, regardless of what we demonstrate concerning their credibility, and we’re tired of sounding like a broken record.  We’ll probably take aim once in a while, but likely with far less frequency.  Instead, we may wish to bring out information that will shine a light under the rocks, so to speak, and counter the disinformation being circulated by special interests masquerading as grass-roots movements with actual information that has at least some support from the world of facts and real analysis.

In short – it’s time for us to move on – and by “us,” we don’t just mean those of us at New Mexico Central headquarters, but all of us who can.  Let those of us who can come together do so, and let the others remain apart if they must.

Commissioner Johnson Urges Bear Smarts

Editor’s note: This is good information, and we hope people will heed it.  Bear in mind also: similar precautions are warranted with ALL wildlife.  For the most part, fear of humans is one of an animal’s best friends, helping them avoid the kind of problems that can arise when interactions become too close.  

by Catherine Lopez, Bernalillo County Public Information Department

Safer Community for Residents and Bears

Bernalillo County – Commissioner Wayne A. Johnson encourages county residents, especially those in the East Mountains, to take precautions with bears.

Residents are encouraged to make their homes and yards bear proof to increase safety for both bears and people.

“A bear’s eating behavior can alter after just one meal. Once the bear identifies a resident’s home as a source of food, it will continue to go back,” says Commissioner Wayne A. Johnson.  “Eliminating their access to our trash is the number one thing people can do to prevent a problem.”

One of the biggest attractions for bears is unsecured garbage, and bears will often visit a same spot again and again. Other big lures for bears are bird feeders, pet food and barbeque grills.

A little prevention can go a long way. Residents should place bird feeders out of reach, and bring them in at night. Also, barbecue grills should be cleaned and stored; trash should be secured in a garage or shed; and garbage should be placed outside only the same day of pickup. Each of these steps can deter bears significantly.

The danger in attracting bears is that the animals can become comfortable with humans, which can lead to problems for people and these animals.

As bears get used to feeding off trash, they tend to become more bold and aggressive. Looking for more, they could start breaking into homes and cars and become less fearful of people.

Right now, bears are consuming anywhere from 1,500 to 4,000 calories a day.  In a few weeks, they will begin to prepare for hibernation and will need to eat as many as 15,000 to 23,000 calories a day.

For more tips on bear proofing your home and yard, please visit

Grow Your Own: It’s A Jungle Out There, Kiddies…

by John Weckerle

We interrupt this hiatus to bring our readers an update on our horticultural efforts, which this year have focused primarily on Bed 5, dedicated to vegetables, and Bed 6, the herb garden.  (Bed 1 has been moved to the vicinity of Bed 5, as Beds 2 and 3 will be; Bed 4 is mainly floral this year, although we got some great snow peas out of it at the beginning of the season)  Bed 6 is doing just fine and we look forward to some basil pesto here before too long.

Bed 5

As the photo of Bed 5 shows, most of our veggies this year are coming along nicely.  We still have not seen any tomatoes, although given the emergence of flowers we expect to see them before long.  The eggplants have started setting fruit, and we’ll keep a close watch in anticipation of eggplant parmigiana, eggplant lasagna, and a host of other nifty dishes beginning sometime in the next couple of weeks or so.  The cauliflower looks extremely healthy.  Unfortunately, the broccoli took a beating from some sort of tiny beetle, although several have survived and seem to be doing well.  Something is eating the fruits of the green bell peppers, and we fear that we may have to set a mouse trap; however, we have heard rumors of a beetle that usually feeds on alfalfa that has gotten food-eclectic this year, so we’ll try picking up some diatomaceous earth to see if that helps.

Today’s Loot!

Our current big producers are the green beans (several bush varieties).  As the photo shows, we’re pulling in some fairly good quantities and are enjoying them greatly.  They go great with the dill growing next to the tomatoes, and we have a number of recipes lined up given the amount we have to eat.  If all else fails, we can blanch and freeze them.

Have a very fruitful day!