Saturday, August 07, 2010

There Are Times I Miss New Mexico Tech

They never let us see the bombs go off. Instead, after the events, they gave us spray paint to make little white circles around the locations where shrapnel perforated large metal sheets set up on 2 x 4 frames and placed in a ring around the bombs in order to intercept the blast.

All in the name of research, of course.

And education.

And what did I learn from all this education?

Avoid the neighborhood of detonating explosives is the main lesson....

Submarine Channels

The natural world is a display case of wonders!:
To find out more about what's going on under the waves, Dan Parsons, a research fellow at Leeds' School of Earth and Environment, and his international colleagues sent a (bright yellow) robot sub down to the bottom of the Black Sea to carry out the first in-depth examination of a submarine channel.

...The scientists found that the channel is filled with fast-moving salty water spilling from the Mediterranean into the less salty Black Sea at the two bodies' meeting point: the Bosphorus Strait. "The Mediterranean-derived water flows as a result of gravity, acting on the density difference that's produced by higher concentrations of salt," Parsons told AOL News. "It's essentially the same process that takes place when you pour bubble bath into water and it sinks and flows along the bottom of the tub toward the plug hole."

Except the Black Sea is a very big bathtub: Some 22,000 cubic meters of water pass through the submarine channel every second. That's 350 times more than the flow of England's Thames, or roughly that of the Missouri River where it flows into the Mississippi. This torrent moves along at around four miles per hour for some 37 miles, then it hits the edge of the sea shelf and dissipates into the depths.

Parsons says that this channel -- which, if located on land, would be the world's sixth largest river based on the amount of water flowing through it -- would likely have started to form at the end of the last ice age some 8,000 years ago. As melting glaciers pushed global sea levels close to their current high point, the Mediterranean would have breached through the Bosphorus -- then a thin strip of dry land -- and splashed into the Black Sea. (Which at the time was just an isolated freshwater lake.)

29th Annual Sierra Dinner

This year's Sierra Research dinner was held at Mulvaney's at 19th & L St. (I've never been there before). Pleasant and enjoyable company!

This year marks twenty years employed by Sierra Research, and the company kindly rewarded me with $2,000.00 for my service, and an extra week of vacation.

Since my hours were cut back last year I've had trouble 'living large' as would normally be my fashion, so this extra boost of cash is welcome. I am thinking about taking a cruise later this year (on account of having been kindly invited to attend Lauren M. and Mark E.'s forthcoming wedding aboard the Princess Sapphire somewhere off the west coast of Baja California).

I've never been on a cruise. Jetta says they are boring, with nothing to do but eat large meals and stare at the horizon for a week, but surely thousands of people packed on a boat can find something to do.

Friday, August 06, 2010

ATB-Could You Believe (Airplay Mix)

Nice song. I also like the witty official video, which I won't post here because it's just a little too soft porn for Marc Valdez Weblog.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Censorship In The Social Media Era

This is how it works:

A group of influential conservative members of the behemoth social media site have just been caught red-handed in a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives. An undercover investigation has exposed this effort, which has been in action for more than one year.

...The concept behind the site is simple. Submitted webpages (news, videos, or images) can be voted up (digging) or down (burying) by each user, sort of a democracy in the internet model. If an article gets enough diggs, it leaves the upcoming section and reaches the front page where most users spend their time, and can generate thousands of page views.

This model also made it very susceptible to external gaming whereby users from certain groups attempt to push their viewpoint or articles to the front page to give them traction.

...One bury brigade in particular is a conservative group that has become so organized and influential that they are able to bury over 90% of the articles by certain users and websites submitted within 1-3 hours, regardless of subject material. Literally thousands of stories have already been artificially removed from Digg due to this group. ... This group is known as the Digg “Patriots”.

A group of nearly one hundred conservatives have banded together on a Yahoo Group called Digg Patriots (DP), and a companion site at coRanks to issue bury orders and discuss strategies to censor Digg and other social media websites. DP was founded on 21 May 2009.

...The ring leader of the group is Bettverboten, who issues multiple digg and bury orders everyday. She is a Digg power user who has dugg 70,000 articles and has 1500 submits of her own (18% have gone popular) in one short year on the site. She was previously known as Lizbett before her lifetime ban for offensive and inappropriate comments, and has two sleeper accounts waiting if she gets banned again at loquaciouslola and MsBoop. She is also on Twitter, although her primary focus is Digg, where she has acquired a huge following of power users who are likely unaware that she is gaming the system, and even calling to bury some of her mutuals.

Foreclosure In Fanta Se

Waiting on Sunday for my tardy aircraft I fished a glossy real estate publication out of the garbage can at the Albuquerque Sunport. I marvelled at the absurdly-vivid photos of beautiful homes in the Santa Fe area. Six figure prices too! But how is the real estate market doing there these days?

From the Housing Bubble Blog, here is a worrisome article from the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The recession was slow to arrive in NM, but now that it has arrived it looks like it might stay awhile:
Home foreclosure activity has skyrocketed in Santa Fe County in the first half of 2010, according to an analysis by RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties.

While parts of the United States are seeing moderate foreclosure increases or slight declines, Santa Fe County's foreclosure auctions increased from 23 in January to June of 2009 to 77 in the first six months of this year.

...The numbers are still small compared with national markets — in the hardest hit market of Las Vegas, Nev., 1 in every 15 homes is under foreclosure action — but each auction requires a published newspaper notice, and those have garnered attention.

"I did have the same impression that they've spiked recently," said Alan Ball, who publishes a monthly newsletter on residential sales. "One day The New Mexican had in excess of 30 notices."

...In June, almost 22 percent of all sales in Santa Fe County were distressed homes or bank-owned properties, said Peter Kahn, a broker with Santa Fe Realty Partners who last summer predicted a foreclosure wave in Santa Fe.

...Foreclosures are especially affecting higher-end properties as just six $1 million-plus homes have been selling each month in the county. For instance, Kahn said, there was a $1.2 million home in Las Campanas that needs about $100,000 of work but now has a price tag of $479,000.

"Last month, two homes sold in Las Campanas and there are 140 on the market," he added.

Frank O'Mahony, who opened up his Evolve Real Estate Santa Fe last year — the worst in at least a decade for home sales here — has done an analysis of the market on his website. He sees inventory rising whenever sales percolate. "There is a huge overhang of people holding back, waiting to put their homes on the market," he said.

Interesting Albuquerque-Area Signs

Left: Foxes Booze 'N Cruise rules East Central Avenue! This is among my favorite Albuquerque business signs, because it just radiates class!

Apologies for the lack of posting activity this week. Work has been busy. Plus, I've been working on a Big List of "Breaking Bad" filming locations, and that's taking time too.

Nevertheless, here are some interesting business storefronts, murals, and signs from the Albuquerque area. The Duke City is unusually rich in strange and puzzling signs.

Left: "Not Responsible". Be careful using Bernalillo's Range Cafe's parking lot!

Left: No Holds Barred Fighting Gym. And don't you dare complain about it, either! You won't even know what hit you!

Left: Bernalillo's 'Economy Gym', for the thrifty no-holds barred fighter!

Left: Custom Tatoo.

Left: Absolutely Neon.

Left: The 66 Diner.

Left: At the ballpark, keep your eyes peeled!

Left: New Mexico's Best Fish Taxidermy. In a state that has almost no surface water, and thus few fish, you deserve the very best!

Left: Justice Systems. Why hold on to the Constitution when you can have Systems Analysis?

Left: Midnight Rodeo.

Left: I think this store on Central Avenue in the Nob Hill section of Albuquerque sells masks, but its hard to tell with the bedazzling mural.

Left: Birdland sells costumes.

Left: The Atomic Cantina.

Left: Commemorative Albuquerque Tricentennial manhole cover.

Left: The Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe has ambitious hopes for its rooftop bar.

Left: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable". An ominous flyer on a Santa Fe lamppost.

Left: Check Out Our Guns!

Left: Ray's Unique Bingo Supplies.

Left: The Kosmos Cafe.

Left: Bail Bonds. Like the yellow sign states, "Cuz jail sucks!"

Left: Mural at the South Valley Economic Development Center.

Left: This brilliant mural is on the side of a convenience store just west of the Rio Grande River on Bridge Blvd.

Left: Hair care and nails for just about everyone! And yes, they are open for business!

Left: The Indigo Crow Cafe in Corrales.

Left: "God Es Amor".

Left: Beautiful Albuquerque summer sky. Like the sign says, "God Es Amor".

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Will It Be Cold In Alaska This Winter?

Frank asks:
Do you agree with the prediction?:
Prediction? What prediction? When I was a kid I always liked to read what various soothsayers and clairvoyants had to say about the future - folks like Jeanne Dixon and Harold Criswell. I guess I should take a look and see what Frank is asking about:
For what it’s worth, Chief Long-Range Meteorologist Joe Bastardi says we’re going to have a severe winter in Alaska. Our neighbors to the east will also be feeling the chill.

The “La Nina” has brought cooler water temperatures in the eastern Pacific, which will impact the weather to the north.

“The rapid cooling of the globe with the La Nina will produce severe cold for Alaska and northwest Canada, and in fact the Canadian winter will be as harsh as last year’s was gentle,” Bastardi said.

The Pacific Northwest, northern Plains and western Great Lakes should also expect colder weather, he says.

The National Weather Service says that El Nino and La Nina are part of a natural cycle. La Nina occurs every three to five years and is the “cool phase of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, and is sometimes referred to as a Pacific cold episode. La Niña originally referred to an annual cooling of ocean waters off the west coast of Peru and Ecuador.”
Oh! A weather prediction! Specifically about Alaska!

I’ve been impressed how La Nina seems to translate into dry winters in the Southwest. It’s a pretty consistent pattern. El Nino is much more unpredictable, however.

Alaska, I don’t know. It’s pretty far away from the tropics and that mitigates La Nina’s impact.

I think I will disagree with his prediction, as an initial impression. I think he has the ridge too far west from where it would have to be to create a dry winter for the SW.

Where the long-wavelength Rossby waves end up being located has a much more influential effect on weather than either La Nina’s equatorial cooling or El Nino’s equatorial warming by themselves do.

"Ande Marimba" - Santa Fe Plaza

On July 29, 2010, "Ande Marimba" fended off threatening monsoonal rain with pleasant marimba music in New Mexico's Santa Fe Plaza.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

West Mesa High School Class Of 1974 - 36th Year Reunion Picnic Pictures

On Sunday afternoon, July 25, 2010, I went down to Tiguex Park in Old Town Albuquerque to catch part of the West Mesa High School Reunion Picnic. It was a good time - dunk tank, jump castle, DJ, a bit of dancing, hamburgers and hot dogs.

Henry Harrison (whom I met for the first time at this picnic) said that reunion organizers saved precious funds by swiping loser candidate signs from a recent election in order to recycle as reunion promotional materials.

Jump Castle, DJ, and a space to dance at the TriCentennial Stage.

This woman (I believe her name was Trish Hernandez?) sang a few songs like "Me And Bobby McGee" from the stage after the DJ from Eagle 98.1 finished his gig.


Lady Gaga Zen

The Evil Beet has reservations about this video:
SPEAKING of VanityFair, I was cruising their website and I came across this video of Lady Gaga’s photo shoot for their September issue. I always love these behind the scenes videos of celebrities doing magazine covers. It’s interesting to see how they move, all the different garments they wear, what it looks like to participate in a photo shoot on that scale. But this? KINDA FREAKED ME OUT. And no, it’s not the editing or the music or the odd wardrobe… I just felt like I was watching something not meant for human eyes.
I have reservations about Lady Gaga, in general, but not this video, which I find oddly compelling:


More on the theme that the rich don't need Americans anymore, but still need the U.S. Government quite a bit:
Late last year, the U.S. economy experienced a surprising decoupling.

As stocks boomed, the wealthy bounced back. And while the Main Street economy was wracked by high unemployment and the real-estate crash, the wealthy–whose financial fates were more tied to capital markets than jobs and houses– picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and started buying luxury goods again.

Who knows what the next few months and years will bring. But one thing seems clear: the economic fate of Richistan seems increasingly separate from the fate of the U.S.

...The U.S. remains the largest consumer market in the world and still matters to Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Lloyd Blankfein alike. The American wealthy benefit greatly from the country’s legal system and business transparency, not to mention its armed forces.

Yet the increasingly global elite do seem to be forming something of their own financial culture, unattached to any single nation or set of rules, and increasingly free to move their money and resources (and tax dollars) wherever they are treated best.

A New Panhandling Tactic?

It was 3:35 a.m., and I thought maybe it was time to think about going to bed. So, I was driving home, heading south on 19th Street, and preparing to turn east (left) on Broadway, when I saw a car that was either parked, or seeming to be signalling to turn north (right) on 19th. That caught my attention, since making that turn would put driver in the wrong - heading against traffic on a one-way street.

Nevertheless, as I sailed into the intersection I noticed two things:
1.) the fellow wasn't signalling to turn, but signalling to catch my attention; and,
2.) the fellow came bounding out of his car into the intersection to wave me down.

So, I stopped in the middle of the turn, to see what his issue was (the sort of thing you can do in a busy intersection like 19th & Broadway at 3:35 a.m. that you ordinarily shouldn't do at any other time of day).

Holding several dollars in his hand, the African-American male in his late forties pleaded that he needed cash for gas to get him back to Elk Grove. So, I gave him $2.00.

Still, that's a bit odd: waving drivers down to panhandle. The sort of thing you never see, except at 3:35 a.m. on the streets of Sacramento.

West Mesa High School Class Of 1974 - 36th Year Reunion Pictures

Here is an update of last week's post regarding my high school reunion - this time, with pictures!

On Saturday, July 24, 2010, the widely-scattered West Mesa High School Class of 1974 (Classes of 1973 & 1975 welcome too) gathered at La Placita Restaurant in Old Town Albuquerque for our 36th year high school reunion!

These events are rare. There had been a reunion in 1994 (I didn't hear about that one) and now this year's event. This year's reunion is a trial reunion for the Big Blowout in 2014 (the 40th year reunion).

Left: My sister, Michelle, and Danny Villanueva.

Danny Villanueva! It's Danny Villanueva! Danny and go all the way back to first grade! First grade!

Danny said, "I have a broken tendon in my shoulder." I said, "I have a broken tendon in my foot." Danny asked: "Do you think it has anything to do with age?" I replied "Naw! Not a chance!"

Left: David and Donna Brown.

David related rock climbing tales, tales of sailing in the Navy's nuclear submarine force, and his chagrin that the Star Trek exhibit in Las Vegas finally closed.

Left: Lawrance Bernabo.

Lawrance Bernabo was Class President, Newspaper Editor, Class Valedictorian, and all-around BMOC. These days, he teaches community college in Minnesota. It was great to see him again after all this time!

Lawrance achieved fame several years ago for writing more product reviews for than anyone living.

In early 2006, friend Walt stumbled across a strange article on the conservative Web Site, (registration now required) doubting that Lawrance Bernabo exists:
So, I think I have stumbled onto the great conspiracy. I think there is no such person as a Lawrance M. Bernabo. It’s all an sham. I point to the fact that "Lawrance" spells his name wrong as our first clue. No self-respecting Larry would spell it LawrAnce! Everyone knows it's LawrEnce! This is the telltale sign that is pulling the wool over our eyes. The subtle hint that "LawrAnce" is a myth, a sham, a FAKE reviewer, is impossible to ignore.
Lawrance relates that his father gave him the unusual spelling because that's how the name is pronounced. And I can testify that he really exists, and that his verbal and writing skills are top-notch. If Lawrance didn't exist, would have to invent him!

Left: Danny Herrera, with his wife Sylvia.

Danny is head of the editorial page for the Albuquerque Journal. Sylvia, Danny, and family lived a decade in Modesto, CA. Danny was always an affable character, and I'm glad to see the newspaper business has been good to him and his family.

Left: Dan Brummel and Lee Owens.

I recollected how shocked I was when Dan Brummel won the class medal for Perfect Attendance (Dan never missed a day in school for any reason for four long years). Dan Brummel? Dan Brummel!

Dan told a funny story about how he decided, for the sake of irony, to deliberately ditch the awards ceremony and skip his award for Perfect Attendance. Dan, in turn, was shocked when a streaker unexpectedly interrupted the ceremony before Dan had a chance to leave the gym. Huffy school authorities closed and locked the doors to the gym, forcing Dan to abandon irony and humbly accept his award.

I didn't know that Lee Owens at one time was married to Brooke Bigney (whom I've known since first grade)! I never heard about it before. When did that happen? Whodathunk?

Left: Danny Herrera, Marc Valdez, Dan Brummel, and Lee Owens.

I was also quite surprised to hear that Dan Brummel is active in northern New Mexico land grant issues. Back in the mid-1960's, my Dad was also active in land grant issues, to the point where he served several times as a temporary secretary during meetings of the Alianza Federal de Mercedes (headed by Reies Lopez Tijerina).

Left: La Placita Restaurant in Old Town features this historical mural.

Left: Ken Sanchez. I never knew him at West Mesa, but they say he's now on the Albuquerque City Council. The woman in black facing away from the camera (I didn't catch her name) confessed she was now a school principal. "I was the girl most likely to ditch class," she said. "What would Mr. Barefoot (Vice-Principal in charge of discipline) think now?"

Convivial time at La Placita Restaurant.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Creationism Down Under

Causing problems with the science curriculum:
Fundamentalist Christians are hijacking religious instruction classes despite education experts saying Creationism and attempts to convert children to Christianity have no place in state schools.

Students have been told Noah collected dinosaur eggs to bring on the Ark, and Adam and Eve were not eaten by dinosaurs because they were under a protective spell.

Critics are calling for the RI program to be scrapped after claims emerged Christian lay people are feeding children misinformation.

...Set Free Christian Church's Tim McKenzie said when students questioned him why dinosaur fossils carbon dated as earlier than man, he replied that the great flood must have skewed the data.

Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said teachers were sometimes compelled to supervise the instructors "because of all the fire and brimstone stuff".

...Buddhist Council of Queensland president Jim Ferguson said he was so disturbed that Creationism was being aired in state school classrooms that he would bring it up at the next meeting of the Religious Education Advisory Committee, part of Education Queensland.

He said RI was supposed to be a forum for multi-faith discussion.

...New research shows three in 10 Australians believe dinosaurs and man did exist at the same time. The survey, by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, shows a "worrying" lack of basic scientific principles.

"The results underscore the need for students to be exposed to science and mathematics through a well resourced education system, rather than learning about science through Jurassic Park," FASTS president Dr Cathy Foley said.

...A parent of a Year 5 student on the Sunshine Coast said his daughter was ostracised to the library after arguing with her scripture teacher about DNA.

"The scripture teacher told the class that all people were descended from Adam and Eve," he said.

"'My daughter rightly pointed out, as I had been teaching her about DNA and science, that 'wouldn't they all be inbred'?

"But the teacher replied that DNA wasn't invented then."

After the parent complained, the girl spent the rest of the year's classes in the library.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Endless Travel Day

It figures. Some sort of airliner mechanical issue scrambled the schedule. Deaparture from ABQ was delayed two hours, and departure from LAX will be delayed three hours. Suspended animation!