Archive for September, 2015

Apple iOS9 User Alert!

by John Weckerle

Readers using Apple iPhones and iPads with cellular connectivity should take note of a new feature that may end up costing them money.  This feature, Wi-Fi Assist, will cause the device to switch to cellular data when the system perceives that the wi-fi signal being used is “poor.” The new OS comes with this feature turned on by default. To disable it, go to Settings, then Cellular Data, and scroll all the way to the bottom (perhaps not coincidentally, where it’s least obvious) and turn it off.

One has to wonder why Apple would set the default to “on” for this feature – then again, Apple does have business relationships with the cell carriers, so perhaps one doesn’t have to wonder too hard.

The Incredible Super Harvest Blood Moonar Lunar Eclipse

by John Weckerle

Lunar Eclipse, September 27, 2015

Lunar Eclipse, September 27, 2015 as seen from southern Santa Fe County, NM.

This past Sunday, the denizens of New Mexico Central were treated to a rare event: a total lunar eclipse.  What made it even more unique was the collection of other monikers applied to the event: Supermoon, Harvest Moon, and Blood Moon.  For an explanation of these terms and answers to some other questions, we recommend that our readers take a look at’s article on Sunday’s eclipse.

Year of the Cat…erpillar

by John Weckerle

For gardeners in our areas, this year has presented challenges: unusually warm weather, especially early in the season, grasshoppers, and of course the caterpillars.  We have had all manner of furry crawlers in our areas – not just the black ones, but brown, silver-grey, yellow, and green.  The caterpillar killer we mentioned in an earlier article was effective in protecting many of the vegetables as well as some trees and bushes, but we did not apply it on a wider scale, so we continued to experience the hungry horde.  As we were walking by a scrub oak in the back yard a couple of days ago, we noticed a number of non-furry types, and found them interesting enough that we though we would share a few pictures with our readers.




Boehner To Resign?

by John Weckerle

This just in – the New York Times is reporting that Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner will resign effective October 31.

While we disagree with Mr. Boehner’s positions on many things, we hope that his decision is political and not a result of health problems or family issues. We’ll likely comment further when more information is available.

Press Release: EPA and USDA Join Private Sector, Charitable Organizations to Set Nation’s First Goals to Reduce Wasted Food

Editor’s note: This is a few days old but we found it interesting enough to pass on.

WASHINGTON, September 16, 2015 — Today, U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the United States’ first-ever national food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50-percent reduction by 2030. As part of the effort, the federal government will lead a new partnership with charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments to reduce food loss and waste in order to improve overall food security and conserve our nation’s natural resources. The announcement occurs just one week before world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to address sustainable development practices, including sustainable production and consumption. As the global population continues to grow, so does the need for food waste reduction.

“Let’s feed people, not landfills. By reducing wasted food in landfills, we cut harmful methane emissions that fuel climate change, conserve our natural resources, and protect our planet for future generations” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Today’s announcement presents a major environmental, social and public health opportunity for the U.S., and we’re proud to be part of a national effort to reduce the food that goes into landfills.”

“The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This announcement demonstrates America’s leadership on a global level in getting wholesome food to people who need it, efficient use of natural resources, cutting environmental pollution and promoting innovative approaches for reducing food loss and waste.”

Food loss and waste in the United States accounts for approximately 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the overall food supply available to retailers and consumers and has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation and climate change. Food loss and waste is the single largest component of disposed U.S. municipal solid waste, and accounts for a significant portion of U.S. methane emissions, which fuel climate change. This large volume of wasted food is a main contributor to the roughly 18 percent of total U.S. methane emissions that come from landfills. Landfills are the third largest source of methane in the United States.

Furthermore, experts have projected that reducing food losses by just 15 percent would provide enough food for more than 25 million Americans every year, helping to sharply reduce incidences of food insecurity for millions. It is estimated that at the retail and consumer levels in the United States, food loss and waste totals $161 billion dollars.

Ongoing federal initiatives are already building momentum for long-term success. In 2013, USDA and EPA launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, creating a platform for leaders and organizations across the food chain to share best practices on ways to reduce, recover, and recycle food loss and waste. By the end of 2014, the U.S. Food Waste Challenge had over 4,000 active participants, well surpassing its initial goal of reaching 1,000 participants by 2020. EPA is working with nearly 800 grocers, restaurants, venues, stadiums, and other organizations to reduce wasted food through prevention, donation, and composting. In 2014, participants in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge diverted nearly 606,000 tons of wasted food, which included over 88,500 tons donated to people in need.

USDA and EPA will also continue to encourage the private sector—food service companies, institutions, restaurants, grocery stores, and more—to set their own aggressive goals for reducing food loss and waste in the months ahead. Organizations such as the Consumer Goods Forum, which recently approved a new resolution to halve food waste within the operations of its 400 retailer and manufacturers members by 2025, are helping to lead the way.

The United States is leading global efforts to address the threat of climate change. The first-ever national food waste goal is just one part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting our environment for future generations. Since President Obama took office in 2009, the United States has increased solar generation by more than ten-fold, tripled electricity production from wind power, and reduced greenhouse gas pollution in the United States to its lowest levels in nearly 20 years. By setting achievable environmental goals, this Administration is making strides to help boost the economy and protect the health of American families for the long-term.

Challenge: To Boldly Not Go Where We Have Gone Too Many Times Already

by John Weckerle

Having repeatedly written against discrimination of all kinds, it was with disappointment that we read this story regarding Irving, Texas high school freshman Ahmed Mohamed (son of a Sudanese immigrant who had run twice for that country’s presidency – and who, according to the Dallas Morning News “once made national headlines for debating a Florida pastor who burned a Quran”), who brought a clock he had made out of spare electronics parts to school to show his engineering teacher.  He presented it to the teacher early in the school day, who told him it was “nice” but advised him not to show it to any other teachers.  The clock’s alarm went off during his English class, and the teacher stated that it looked like a bomb and confiscated it.  The school’s principal called the police. Upon first seeing Mr. Mohamed one of the police officers, whom Mr. Mohamed had never met, reportedly stated “Yup.  That’s who I thought it was.”  The officers questioned the young man, who asserted truthfully that it was a clock, and he was subsequently handcuffed, arrested, not permitted to contact his parents, fingerprinted, and threatened with charges of creating a hoax bomb because police – while admitting they had no suspicion that it was a bomb – saw “no broader purpose.”

No broader purpose.  For a clock?

Now, we admit that clocks, while having their uses, have perhaps certain negative implications as well.  They are especially known for going off in the middle of a good dream – and given that this was English class (your editor always enjoyed English, despite the snoring of some of the other students) the clock might have been disruptive in that context.  However, the item was clearly not a bomb, and Mr. Mohamedhad showed it to his engineering teacher and explained what it was.  With that in mind, the concept that the article was a hoax bomb becomes absurd in the extreme; who on earth would create a hoax bomb, and then show it to a teacher – ensuring that if he did engage in the hoax, a) it would be immediately identified as a fraud, and b) he would be immediately caught and criminally charged?

Now, once it had been established that a) the object was not a bomb, and b) Mr. Mohamed had not in any way, shape, or form done anything to suggest, pretend, or otherwise represent that it was a bomb, or that it had been created as a hoax bomb, the affair could have, and should have, been concluded amicably – and Mr. Mohamed should have been sent on to whatever class awaited him.  Instead, authorities treated Mr. Mohamed as if he was a criminal, and marched him in handcuffs through the halls of his school in handcuffs, in full view of his peers.

Other than “graciously” announcing that Mr. Mohamed would not be charged with creating a hoax bomb, the city’s Mayor, Beth Van Duyne (described by the Dallas Morning News as “a national celebrity in anti-Islamic circles”), police department, and school principal continue to justify (rationalize?) their actions.  According to the police chief, “We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school.”  Things like what?  Clocks?  Electronics projects?  We live in an age where, if we’re going to prepare engineers, scientists, and inventors to maintain (or perhaps more accurately, recover) the nation’s presence on the global technological stage, “things like that” are going to be coming to school in increasing numbers.  If this is the position, then they might as well arrest the entire robotics club and the evildoers at Radio Shack who sell good kids gone bad the parts to build these items.

Let’s face it, readers, as a case of racial/ethnic and/or religious profiling, this situation is not difficult to spot – and given that the local government has decided not to investigate it as such, perhaps external authorities and organizations should do so.

When the Dallas Morning News article first came out, it was nearly heartbreaking to read the last line: “He’s vowed never to take an invention to school again.”  To think that a bright talent had been squashed in such a way was tragic.  But then…

Mr. Mohamed has been invited to the White House and to a gathering of NASA scientists (he was wearing a NASA t-shirt at the time of his arrest).  He’s been contacted by representatives of his “dream school” – MIT – and received an outpouring of support from people throughout American society.  And all that, perhaps, gives us some hope that perhaps we are, collectively, better than some of us occasionally make us look.

As is all too often the case, suspicion born of ignorance and bias may well have created an unfortunate situation and likely a violation of a young man’s civil rights. Such things strain relationships within the community and create or strengthen divisions that sap the strength of the community as a whole.  Rather than circle the wagons, Irving city and school officials should engage in some serious self-examination and look for ways to be more inclusive and less suspicious of their minority populations.

Some small steps might be easy to take.  One way to strengthen relationships might be to allow the Muslim community a greater role in performing the invocation at the City Council meetings.  Reviewing the City Council meetings and agendas from January 2013 to date, we found that the Islamic faith was given this opportunity only once, on September 3, 2015.  Representatives of other faiths were given multiple opportunities, and a number of individual congregations were represented multiple times.  Perhaps a greater degree of inclusion here would

The City Council agendas also indicate that members of the public may speak for up to 3 minutes on essentially any topic; perhaps if a number of Muslim citizens of the greater Dallas area used this time to address this sort of situation and provide good information and suggestions on how to improve relations, the degree of familiarity would increase and the level of discrimination would decrease.  We hope that all the people of Irving, and the rest of us, may learn from this unfortunate situation and work together toward a more harmonious and balanced time together.

Tasting The Symphony – The India Kitchen

by John Weckerle

Back in the 1990s, your editor and a band of Indian food enthusiast friends with whom he worked were once or twice weekly lunch regulars at a small Albuquerque restaurant called the India Kitchen.  We were regulars for all the right reasons: excellent food, excellent service, wonderfully friendly owners, and excellent atmosphere.  Sadly – at least for us – the owners made a decision to move to a dinner-only strategy.  Not much later, your editor changed jobs, and subsequently moved to the “other side of the mountains.”  Being the only resident of New Mexico Central headquarters who enjoys Indian cuisine, he doesn’t get back to the India Kitchen as often as he would like.  So it was a delight to receive a call from one of the old crowd, and a continuing co-attendee at the restaurant, inquiring as to whether tonight would be a good time to pop back in, as it had been several months.

Of course it was.  When isn’t?

The India Kitchen is a relatively small enterprise located on Montgomery Boulevard, on the south side just west of Louisiana.  Nestled in the corner back away from the road, it’s not immediately obvious to the casual drivers-by.  The restaurant has a dozen or so tables, and is decorated in a tasteful Indian theme.  One of the owners often greets customers as they arrive, and the service remains as friendly as it was decades ago – small wonder, as the owners have been there for as long as we have been going.  The ambiance, cordial welcome, and attentive service combine to create an intimate and positive atmosphere that make dining at the restaurant a good experience that starts when one walks in the door.  Prices are reasonable, especially considering the quality of the food.

The meal began with samosa and pakora, which were outstanding, as always.  We followed this with mulligatawny – shrimp for me, and lamb for my meat-eating friend.  The mulligatawny was, in typical fashion for the India Kitchen, delightfully flavored and had just the right amount of “heat” (a 3 – enough to feel the heat but not enough to hurt).  Next, it was time for vindaloo, with my friend selecting chicken while I once gain elected to go with shrimp.  The India Kitchen’s vindaloos are wonderful – as with everything they cook, the heat is as advertised (6 for me, and 7 for my friend), and the spicing is done masterfully. The vindaloo was accompanied by delicately flavored rice and the restaurant’s delicious garlic naan (ordered separately).

This, perhaps, is the India Kitchen’s great strength.  The spices in all their food are skillfully combined, with the flavors clearly indicative of the style ordered (for instance, the vindaloo tastes like vindaloo), but without overpowering the other spices in the dish.  The result is always a flavor that is well-defined yet intricate and subtle and, in our experience, rare.  The friend I dined with this evening arrived early and mentioned this to the owner, who indicated that he worked to achieve “a symphony of flavors.”  And achieve that the India Kitchen has, time and again, for decades.

To the owners we say: Play on, Maestros!  And to our readers we say: Go to the India Kitchen; it’s time to enjoy a culinary concert.

Fire On Sandia Mountain

by John Helmich

There is an active wildfire on Sandia Peak. US Forest Service fire fighting teams are aware and are inbound to the area. The fire is located north of the Crest Highway. At this point we have no more information other than it is small, with winds from the south. We will update you as we receive more information.

This is be a reminder that wildfires can and do occur in our area at this time. Please remain vigilant and prepared. As we say, report it, don’t ignore it.

John Helmich

EMIFPA Community Education Outreach Coordinator

EMIFPA web site

EMIFPA Facebook site

Twitter: @EMIFPA_NM

On The Road Again

by John Weckerle

We join our readers today from not-so-sunny New Hampshire, from whence we will be returning tomorrow. We have a few short reviews for the probably small percentage of readers who find themselves traveling to this neck of the woods.

On the way out, we changed planes in th Baltimore airport. Standing in stark comparison to the Kansas City airport, whose most redeeming feature would appear to be the departing flights, the Baltimore Airport is clean, modern, and well appointed with eating establishments. We selected the Silver Diner, which purports to take classic American recipes and give them a different (and healthier) flair. Your editor chose the chipotle shrimp tacos, and Senior Fish and Chips Correspondent Lucy ordered the obvious. Neither of us was disappointed; the tacos were delightfully flavored, and the fish and chips, while very different from the traditional treatment, were very tasty.

We enjoyed breakfast twice at the DW Diner in Merrimack, where your editor enjoyed the vegetarian omelette and the Californian Benedict, and Senior Breakfast Correspondent Lucy had the hash and eggs one day and steak and eggs the other. All were very tasty, and the veggie omelette was more flavorful than most. The home fries had a great flavor, but we note that they are of the moist rather than the crispy variety, which was not to the liking of Senior Potato Consultant Trina but which – in your editor’s opinion – still outdoes the deep-fried potato cubes that all too many restaurants are calling “home fries.”

We ate dinner twice at The Lobster Boat in Merrimack, where your editor had the Medley, consisting of baked lobster, shrimp, and scallops. While the lobster was a bit overcooked, the shrimp and scallops were spot on, and the overall impression was very positive. The baked haddock was also very good.

Saturday night found our little band of travelers tired, so we had pizza delivered to the hotel. This was from Merrimack’s Pizza Roma. The pizza was very good, and arrived as hot as any pizza we have received. With six diners in attendance and three large pizzas to deal with, enthusiasm was so high that there was, tragically, no cold pizza for breakfast the following morning; this, however, was remedied by the aforementioned Californian Benedict.

Everyone Knows It’s Windy

by John Weckerle

In a September 4, 2015 article, The Independent’s Leota Harriman reports on a Moriarty City Council meeting at which the Estancia Valley Economic Development Association (EVEDA) provided a semi-annual report on economic development activities.

The article is replete with opportunities for our admittedly nerdy penchant for looking things up and analyzing them – so many so that they simply cannot be covered in a single article, so we suppose we’ll have to call this one the second of a series, with the first being Saturday’s article.  At a minimum, we envision examining the following issues:

  • The Iberdola El Cabo project and wind energy impacts on county economies (today’s article)
  • The concept of amenities as a means of “attracting millenials” and, as a result, technology/manufacturing businesses
  • The Local Economic Development Act, including what it says (and perhaps more importantly what it doesn’t say), and the status of the Certified Communities Initiative and other State economic development programs.

And that’s probably just a start; economic development is a complex subject.

For today, we focus on the first item in the list above.  This comes in two parts; statements on the El Cabo wind energy project contained within the article, and some interesting studies involving economic impacts on county and state economies as a result of impacts.

El Cabo, or Not El Cabo

From The Independent article, reporting on a presentation by Myra Pancrazio, Executive Director of EVEDA discussing the potential for Torrance County obtaining a hospital using Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT):

Those PILT funds will expand greatly with the Iberdrola wind farm project, which is still “alive and kicking very hard,” she said. Iberdrola recently entered a 25-year contract agreement with Tri-State Generation and Transmission for purchase of wind-generated electricity.

According to that press release, the wind farm is expected to be completed in 2017, when it will produce 76 megawatts of energy, all of which will be purchased by Tri-State.

The idea that the Iberdrola project was moving forward (acknowledging that having a power purchase agreement [PPA]) is no guarantee that a project will be completed) was certainly new information; as reported in an August 28, 2014 Albuquerque Journal article, construction on the project had stopped and there has been little heard about it since.   This would be great news for at least some part of the local human population – although potentially less so for local birds and bats – hoping for the economic benefits arising from wind projects.  We enthusiastically scoured the web, including the sites of both Iberdrola and Tri-State, both of which post their press releases, and were disappointed to find no indication of a press release announcing a PPA for the Iberdroga El Cabo project in Southern Torrance County.  The text in The Independent’s article appears to refer to a press release involving Iberdrola’s  Twin Buttes project in southeastern Colorado (previously reported by the Mountain View Telegraph).

While the press release is at least a little good news for the good folks of Bent County, Colorado and renewable energy advocates within Tri-State’s region of influence (and perhaps the aforementioned Torrance County birds and bats), we fail to understand how this development would affect PILT funds, or any other aspect of economic development, in the Estancia Valley.  And we also have to wonder how news that Iberdrola is focusing successfully on a project elsewhere, while the local project is halted, is cause for optimism here.

Of course, if we’re wrong about this, we’d invite anyone with information to that effect to click the comment icon (the little word bubble at the top right of the article) and let us know.  We’ll be glad to acknowledge the error.

Hang Your Hat on the Wind

At the outset of this discussion, we refer our readers to two sources: Economic Development Impact of 1,000 MW of Wind Energy in Texas published by the National Renewable Energy Technology Laboratory (NREL), and this summary of Ex post analysis of economic impacts from wind power development in U.S. counties. As the latter article states: “…total county personal income increased by $11,150 over the 2000 to 2008 period…  And, for every megawatt of wind energy installed in a county, one half of a job was created.”  Of particular interest are Tables 3 and 4 of the NREL report, which show that the “local” share of the project tends to represent a relatively small percentage of the total project cost.  According to the State Land Office, of the 80,000 acres envisioned for the project, 39,000 would be State land.  In terms of acreage essentially half is owned by the state- so it is unclear just how much revenue would be collected by local landowners in terms of leases for tower locations, and how that would relate to local economic benefits in terms of increased economic activity and tax revenue for Torrance County.  Unfortunately, as the NREL article notes, the inputs into the JEDI model, which projects economic impacts of wind projects, are often proprietary, so we can’t easily apply it here.  While we agree that the project would be of benefit to economic development at the county and state level (assuming that it restarts), we caution that the benefits of wind energy projects may not be what is sometimes envisioned.

We’d like to let our readers know that we will probably be taking a few days off to attend to other things, but should be back next week.

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.




Grow Your Own – A Season of Change and Challenge

by John Weckerle

It’s September, and autumn is fast approaching at New Mexico Central headquarters.  Summer has been a time of adjustment in the garden, with unusual weather and the presence of the greenhouse presenting us with opportunities to learn.  Early heat caused the broccoli and cauliflower to bolt; neither provided us with a single meal, although the second planting of cauliflower may provide us with a head or two.  Tomatoes have been more productive, although less so than last year, and we are awash in cucumbers.  Surprisingly the zucchini and yellow squash have yielded little until recently, and even now are not providing much; this will likely be the first time in years that we’ll have no frozen squash at the end of the season.  The first two attempts at string and wax beans were a failure, and we have now found that such beans should not be mulched until they have come up.  The third attempt appears to be working – fortunately, with the greenhouse, we should be able to extend the season long enough for some decent production.  The leeks and shallots are very healthy, although not ready to harvest yet, and peppers of all varieties have been very productive.  The mild green chiles we planted have more heat than expected, though, and the jalapenos thus far have been complete duds; no heat at all thus far, despite the fact that they were labeled as hot.We anticipate a good yield on cabbage, and enjoyed a good bit of lettuce earlier in the season.  Yield for the eggplant has been minimal, but there are still flowers and fruit on the plants.

Special challenges, to which we found special solutions, have included weeds and caterpillars, in the garden and elsewhere.  We were fortunate enough to read a reader-submitted recipe for a non-toxic herbicide in Consumer Reports Magazine: 1 gallon of vinegar, 2 cups of Epsom salt, and 1/4 cup of dish soap.  Sprayed liberally on the weeds in the driveway and the paths in the garden, this worked extremely well.  For caterpillars, we ordered Safer Caterpillar Killer Concentrate II, an organic preparation which kills only caterpillars.  It contains the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, and the results have been fairly impressive; just two tablespoons in two gallons of water was enough to treat the garden and most of the other trees and shrubs that were being attacked.  The trees and shrubs are doing much better, and today’s visit to the vegetable zone resulted in only one caterpillar learning to fly early as it was ejected from the garden.

A Titanic Sinking: Google Drones Fly Away

by John Weckerle

In April 2014, your editor and a number of other people received an e-mail message containing very good news: Titan Aerospace, a solar-powered drone startup operating at the Moriarty Municipal Airport – had been purchased by Google, and the project was to stay in Moriarty. As reported in the Mountain View Telegraph less than sixteen months later, Google abruptly announced its decision to abandon Moriarty and move the operation to California, reportedly so that it could better facilitate coordination with its other aviation-related operations.  Google leaves behind a $15 million, 60,000 square-foot facility at the airport, and will be repaying a $1 million dollar grant for water and sewer upgrades.

State and local officials, while expressing disappointment, have variously downplayed the negative and emphasized the positive, seeking to find a silver lining in this particular cloud.  Governor Martinez was reported to have called the move disappointing and expressed support for the community (KOAT), while U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham was somewhat more pointed in her expression of disappointment (Albuquerque Business First).  New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela emphasized that the State would recover its million-dollar infrastructure investment, and noted that the situation leaves Moriarty with assets that “will be able to benefit from water and sewage lines built with the state grant. Barela said the structural improvements ‘can help attract future projects to the state.'” (Santa Fe New Mexican). Moriarty Mayor Ted Hart, quoted in several of the previously referenced articles, characterizes the economic impacts as minimal (and in a direct and immediate way, at least, he may be right) and cited some apparent, though vague, commitment by Google to work with the City to find a use for the facility.

Reactions, at least in the form of responses to news stories, have been varied.  Some cite problems with in-state higher education, others point to workforce issues, others mentioned inexperience in aviation and excessive optimism on Google’s part, and still others blame Governor Susanna Martinez (while our positions often do not align with Ms. Martinez’s, we acknowledge that blaming her directly for this one is similar to blaming her for a meteorite strike or the weather.  More likely suspects would include the Easter bunny, Godzilla, or extraterrestrials. Or maybe the East Mountain Tea Party.).

It’s clear that much of the general reaction was surprise.  Our reaction was two fold: surprise (we were surprised by all the surprise, because we were surprised by Google’s initial decision to operate here in the first place) and something more typical…

A drive to look at some data.  We admit it; we’re nerds. Acknowledging that Google’s decision election to move was clearly business-based, we wondered what local factors might have influenced the decision and started to pull some economic data together.  As we worked through the data, we recognized that one of our regional economies is clearly in distress.

That’s right; we said one of them.  There are, at the very least, two.

»» A Titanic Sinking: Google Drones Fly Away

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.