Saturday, August 01, 2009

Dinner At Hotel Midnight

Left: Deborah and James hold Sitamun The Cat.

Great spinach salad! Wonderful Magnolia Martinis carefully crafted to exacting specifications!

Left: Numerous small paintings that Deborah has been working on.

Triple Junction


Left: Three police jurisdictions (City of Mesa, Salt River Indian Reservation, and Maricopa County) meet at this triple junction, where the Bumble Bee Highway becomes Mesa's Country Club Blvd. In the early 80's, a postal carrier was kidnapped at gunpoint at this location, and police response was delayed because of the jurisdictional confusion. My Uncle Marc and Aunt Millie were passing by, witnessed the kidnapping and did a brave thing - they gave pursuit. The kidnappers lost my pursuing relatives in orange groves and ultimately killed the postal carrier, so perhaps it was a good thing my relatives couldn't keep up. Nevertheless, their bravery in the face of danger was favorably mentioned in local media.

Forest Problems On The Mogollon Rim

Left: Ragged-looking ponderosa pine forest on the fire-scarred Mogollon Rim.

Left: Forest fire plume located just west of Heber, AZ, on August 1st.

Left: Politicized billboard blaming environmentalists for the forest problems there. There's blame for everyone, though.

Boy, the forest really looks beat up on the Rim these days! So many people up there at the height of summer, dry as hell too, and ripped up by fires (particularly the colossal June 2002 fire that permanently scarred the area).

The ponderosa pine forests of the Rim and northern Arizona suffer from a strange constitutional defect. Bare soil (resulting from extensive 19th-Century cattle grazing), combined with perfect moisture and temperature conditions in the spring of 1919 meant that every seed dispersed from every dropping pine cone that bountiful year managed to sprout and grow into a tree. But each tree faced fierce competition from all the neighboring seedlings. The result is clusters of tiny, 90-year-old spindly trees everywhere in the forests that serve as perfect kindling for fires. The area cries out for these clusters to be thinned, but its back-breaking work that will never, ever be profitable. Billions of tons of trees need to be ground into chips! Now!

Truth is, better forest management is something that partisan politics is very ill-equipped to address. Conservatives would prefer to finance tree-thinning operations by allowing logging of the bigger trees. That completely defeats the purpose of better forest management. Liberals would prefer to avoid tree-thinning altogether rather than allow logging of the bigger trees. The resulting fuel build-up is a menace to the forest, however, defeating the purpose of better forest management. What is needed is the surgical removal of billions of tons of dead trees and tree limbs, cost be damned. But will that be done?

I look around the Rim and think not.

Sigh. It may be that extensive ponderosa pine forest is ultimately incompatible with modern civilization.

Filling The Coffers Of Socorro County

Left: I've only seen the image of Mary Magdalene once on this mountain, and have never seen it again. Do you see it?

I stopped in Magdalena to look around....

There is a very opinionated fellow in Magdalena who posted a sign on a crumbling adobe wall which I photographed in 2006.

The wall is gone now, but two newer signs have appeared nearby:

There was a very heavy police presence in Magdalena. They seemed to be pulling everyone aside for speeding violations - including yours truly. The joker said I was going 44 in a 30 mph zone. That is preposterous - I had just pulled onto the roadway from a stop and didn't have enough time to accelerate that fast. But unless I want to contest the charge in Socorro County Court, I will have to pay the $86 fine.

As I was driving away, I saw another sign: "Congress Is A Toxic Asset". I would have photographed it, but rattled as I was by the police presence, I just let it be.

Passing Through Socorro

Left: The Capitol Bar

Left: The Student Union (or whatever they call it) at New Mexico Tech

Left: "M" Mountain

Left: I thought this was mildly amusing

Left: Not sure about this....

Dinner At Sadie's

Left: Dinner at Sadie's (left to right; Marc Valdez, Dr. Cynthia A. Valdez, M.D., Michelle Valdez, and Anthony Valdez).

On Friday evening, my cousins Cynthia (and Joseph) and Anthony took both my sister Michelle and I out to dinner at Sadie's Restaurant. Interestingly, through the Farris family, both Cynthia and Anthony are related to the founders of Sadie's, and since we are related to my cousins, we are related too!

Friday, July 31, 2009

What's New Today? (II)

Well, let's see....

Once again, I watched half an hour of Maury Povich, and a full hour of Jerry Springer today. My tastes are corrupted - I no longer feel soiled, but revel in the dirt.

I jogged along Second Street past Paseo del Norte, and past Ortega Rd. as well, all the way to the bend in the ditch. I could see Alameda Road in the distance, but will not reach there before my return.

The dead mammal is still rotting away on the ditchbank where I run. It smells less than yesterday. The ants are making short work of the poor creature.

A new woman assistant came to bathe my Dad today. For once, he liked it - she's a pleasant person. We had yet another meeting with George the Nurse (I never, ever want to die - there are just way, way too many meetings to sit through if you go that route).

Tonight, my sister and I will dine with my cousins Cynthia and Anthony. I haven't seen Anthony in a long time. I'd like to ask how he got such a great head of hair - easily, the best in the family!

Tomorrow, Phoenix!

The Whigs Are Back

For some reason, New Mexico will be a testing ground for that newest of old political parties, the Whigs. I'm not sure why this is. The Whigs are apparently supposed to be a middle ground between the Republicans and the Democrats, and apparently we need them, despite the fact the Democrats keep trying to occupy the middle by ditching the liberal left. Is the Whig movement a fragment of Perotism from the early 90's? Beats me. But the more, the merrier, I say.

Ruben Navarrete's Take On The Gates Affair

I really liked Navarrete's opinion. I hope the beer went well:
It has been two weeks since his arrest by Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley, and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. still needs an attitude adjustment.

That’s what my father’s generation of old-school law enforcement officers was known to provide now and then when someone mouthed off, or lobbed insults or challenged their authority. Today, folks on the job refer to this sort of thing as “contempt of cop.” It’s not illegal, but it’s also not a smart thing to do if you have an aversion to handcuffs and steel bars, since there are plenty of other things for which you can be arrested.

Just ask Gates, who was written up for “loud and tumultuous behavior” at his house.
What needs adjusting isn’t Gates’ attitude toward law enforcement; that’s between
him and the police. The real problem is his presumptuous attitude toward the rest of us. The professor needs to stop calling what happened to him a “teaching moment.” We’re not his students. More importantly, we’re not the ones who let our ego get the best of us and went ballistic over a simple and harmless request to provide identification.

...The only person who needs to learn a lesson from all this is Gates, and the syllabus for that course should include a few lines about the proper way to interact with police officers. I’m surprised that, with all the knowledge that Gates has acquired on the way to becoming one of the nation’s most renowned public intellectuals, he never learned how to talk to a police officer — and, more importantly, how not to talk to one.

...Besides, this incident wasn’t about racial profiling — a concept that Crowley is well acquainted with since, for five years, he has taught police academy recruits how to avoid it. What this incident was really about was Crowley trying to control a situation that was quickly getting out of control.

That point seems lost on President Barack Obama, who said that the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly” only to walk back on that statement a couple of days later.

...Obama tried to make peace with Crowley by inviting him — and Gates — to the White House for a beer. It’s a nice gesture. It’s not every day that a cop on the beat gets an offer like that. But what concerns me is that Obama also said that he sees this incident as a “teachable moment.”

Oh dear. Just what does the president think is the lesson from all this, and who does he think needs to learn it?

As Crowley enters the premises of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., he should be careful. I hope he doesn’t find himself cast as racially insensitive or on the wrong end of a lecture about how to do police work by those who have never had to do it.
After all, nothing ruins a good beer like the taste of condescension.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Gamer" Trailer

"Gamer" , starring Gerard Butler, is coming out this fall! The movie was filmed (to the extent that special-effects-heavy movies are ever 'filmed') right in the heart of downtown Albuquerque at the end of 2007. I'm looking forward to seeing the bus with the blown-out tires, which I fondly remember from ambling around the set a year-and-a-half ago.

What's New Today?

Well, let's see....

I watched half an hour of Maury Povich, and a full hour of Jerry Springer today. I am fully entertained, but feel soiled. I hope three or four hours of watching judge shows will make me feel righteous again.

I jogged along Second Street to the other side of Paseo del Norte today. I'd like to run all the way to Alameda Road, but my house arrest will likely end before I develop that endurance. We'll see what I can do tomorrow.

There is a dead mammal rotting away on the ditchbank where I run. The ants have stripped the skull already. I wonder why there aren't any crows gathered like there'd be if this happened in Sacramento. I'm not sure if the dead animal is a raccoon or some kind of muskrat, but it has a luxurious banded tail.

Unforecast thunderstorms continue to plow into the Albuquerque metro area. These really aren't the typical monsoon storms, but seem triggered by waves passing along the trough over the Plains. The ridge along the west coast has been stuck for days, and it's hot there, but at least it's raining here. Still, when will the monsoon really start?

One more full day of this.....

My Father Felt A Bit Better Today

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Turning Into A NM TV Crank

I'm perturbed by the bad TV Weather forecasts available here in ABQ. They are always talking about fronts coming through that I know don't exist from directions that aren't right, and their forecasts generally ignore the possibility of thunderstorms popping up on their own, like the unforecast one just outside the window right now.

Bad weatherman service means bad weatherman reputation. It should not be allowed.

And the TV anchors are generally Hispanicized Anglos trying desperately to correctly pronounce Spanish words. The result is that every anchor has their own idiosyncratic pronunciation of Spanish words. Marla Tellez, for example has her own unique pronunciation of 'Santa Fe', with the first 'a' sounding stunted, so it almost sounds like 'Sinta Fe'.

Lack of uniformity confuses the young. It should not be allowed.

And why is 'South Park' on so late? Is there no justice?

The Excitement Continues

Good grief, this gets tedious! And it's just the start!

The most exciting thing that happened today was that an ant stung me on my peeny (ow....)

One of the few advantages of this break so far is that I've been able to work on jogging. At first, it was quite hard, since I normally don't jog in Sacramento, and we're nearly 5,000 feet above sea level here, but since my dad has precisely the same schedule every day, I've been able to get out every morning at precisely the same time for a jog up Second Street. At first I could make it up to only Los Ranchos Rd. or so, but today I reached Paseo del Norte before turning back. This training at altitude will serve me well when I return to Sacramento.

Hummingbirds zip up and down the drainage ditch that runs along Second Street. Quite nice! Today, ditch water levels were low, and so lots of Greater Tail Grackels were out looking for insects on the mud flats, with an occasional wading bird from the river too. I disrupted their bird breakfast with my jogging ways (I like making the dogs bark too). There are plenty of doves and pigeons too.

I will leave Albuquerque on Saturday and head to Phoenix to see what Deborah, James, and Doug are up to. I hope to pass through Vegas again on the return trip, making Sacramento probably on Monday evening.

Doctor's Orders

One of my Dad's doctors is apparently a real sweetheart, with a pronounced stutter. Upon listening to his belly with a stethoscope, she told him something like this:
I know you have gas, because I can hear it, and I know you are a nice man and all, but you have to f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fart!
As always, we will do our best to comply with doctor's orders.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tick Tock

Let's see, what's new?


I saw some hummingbirds this morning.

I now make grilled cheese sandwiches (I've made four of them now....)


That is all!

Feature On Jennifer Sanchez

Here is a nice feature regarding New Mexican Jennifer Sanchez (currently on Broadway):
Jennifer Sanchez knows her big break has an ironic side. Sanchez, a Valley High School graduate, is making her Broadway debut this summer, performing in a glitzy, nationally publicized production of "West Side Story." She plays a Puerto Rican immigrant named Rosalia, who is featured prominently in the musical number "America."

In it Rosalia longs to return to Puerto Rico and provides lyrical counterpoints when her fellow immigrants praise their adopted country. When one sings "Everything free in America," Rosalia responds "For a small fee in America."

Ironic? Yes, because Jennifer Sanchez's story could hardly be more American.

Growing up in a military family and pursuing Empire State-size dreams, Sanchez has zig-zagged all over the United States. She's also persevered through teenage pregnancy, single motherhood and tight finances while chasing a career on the stage.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Family Visit

Left: Here are some of my family. Standing, left to right, nephew Aaron Christopher Browning, and second cousin Joseph Ramon Valdez. Seated, left to right, sister Michelle Browning, father Marcial Valdez, and cousin Dr. Cynthia Anne Valdez, M.D.

Albuquerque On A Friday Evening

Left: I told my nephew, "Quick, take a photo of that plate!" The plate is some kind of New Mexico Tech vanity plate, featuring a photo of Socorro's "M" Mountain.

Left: This former hospital (Railroad Memorial Hospital?) on Central Avenue at I-25, is being renovated into a hotel, Hotel Parq Central. It is also the location where my father's father passed away in 1940.

Left: A fancy new Italian restaurant with outdoor seating dominates the Nob Hill shopping center (Albuquerque's oldest shopping center).

Left: The Nob Hill neighborhood gentrifies and improves. Here is the sidewalk in front on my newest favorite spot, Ecco Espresso and Gelato.

Left: Some things still remain the same in the Nob Hill neighborhood. The Disco Display House is still going strong!

Left: Old Town's San Felipe de Neri Church at dusk.

Martineztown Tour

Left: Bruce Warren's residence, in Martineztown.

My sister relieved me on Friday evening, so I decided to ring up Bruce and see what he was doing for the evening. When he didn't answer, I just drove to his house.

Heading over there, a very fat mosquito blew through my car's driver's side window, and landed on my arm. When I tried to brush it off, it burst, and suddenly I was smeared with blood. I don't know whose blood it was - bird, human, dog, cat, or horse. I only know that if I come down with West Nile/Bubonic Plague/AIDS/Ebola, at least I have an excuse.

Bruce lives in this nice old house in Martineztown, a neighborhood that, despite its central location, I never had familiarity with, even when I lived here.

Left: A Martineztown landmark: Luis Jimenez' Pieta Suroeste (Southwestern Pieta).

Left: Life was made more exciting in the neighborhood recently when the TV series "Breaking Bad", filmed on location in Albuquerque, featured this Martineztown house just a few doors from where Bruce lives.