Friday, January 29, 2010

Full Wolf Moon Tonight


 Again it seems a major storm has been sidetracked around Northern New Mexico. This one had looked as if it would give us significant snowfall because the warnings seemed to center on the east slopes of the northern Sangre de Cristo mountains. That's me. Snow was to continue through noon today. But I awoke this morning to the nearly full Wolf Moon glaring off the scant six inches of newly fallen snow.

This is an El Nino year and it is suppose to mean heavier than normal snow for my section of the country. We have had this forecast before. Often enough that my first thought when told it was an El Nino year was that all the snow storms would miss us. They tend to go south of us in El Nino conditions. I have noticed that just from informal observations. But the meteorologists have not noticed it. And they are the ones that collect all that climate data they feed into the computers that crunch the numbers and come out with revised predictions. 

I am reminded of that old computer term: GIGO - Garbage in, garbage out. There are three different computer models used to forecast the weather. Each meteorologist (ergo television reporter and internet souce) has their favorite. Currently it would seem the weather on the tool bar at the bottom of my browser and Yahoo weather on my IM window don't use the same source. And the national weather service that issues these storm watches seems to use another.

Some years back it was discovered that one of the more popular of the three computer weather forecasting programs did not even factor in the state of New Mexico. Storms raced across Arizona and vanished until they reappeared in the panhandle of Texas. Or they hung a left at our western border and then slid across the bottom of Colorado in an impossibly sharp straight line and wound up in Kansas. I have heard they have fixed that but it does not seem to have improved their ability to forecast weather in the mountain west. 

Looking at a map might. Yesterday the storm was over Grants and heading they claimed Northeast but going south of Albuquerque which is due east. Then dumping significant snows on the east slopes of the northern mountains (immediately north of Albuquerque) while still continuing ENE movement across the state. That should have put the heaviest snow somewhere around Dalhart, Texas I do believe.

Let me say the moon was beautiful this morning and I am looking forward to its rise at sunset tonight it what can only be (by my predictions) a clear beautiful mountain sky.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Somedays I am in a Purple Mood

Some days I just wake up in a purple mood. My high school colors were purple and silver and I hated high school. Loathed it. Looking back I can say without fear of contradiction that it was the very worst time of my life for any number of reasons beyond my control. I sort of assigned that whole period to the color purple.

Then came college and a roommate in my sophomore year that was a freshman cheerleader sort that wore nothing but lilac or purple. I almost got kicked out of college over that bitch. I avoided the color purple for ages. Skirted around anyone that even wore it.

Times change. I have a best friend that loves teal and purple. I love the poem When I am an Old Woman I will Wear Purple. I even have a few purple clothes of my own. More on the mauve side of the color and I like it with black a lot. And the color definitely plays a major part in my paintings often in conjunction with Payne's Gray. However, I still detest lilac in anything but flowers. And find that when I am really contrary (as my mother would call it) I identify the mood with purple.

Purple is my I want it my way or the highway color. I am definitely in a purple mood today.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just One of Those Days

After a very dry January we have gotten some snow. The skiers are, of course, thrilled. And with fire season looming so are many of the locals. But we have all rather forgotten how to cope it would seem. I would have preferred to not cope. Just stay in my snug little house and feed the wood stove and gaze out upon the white beyond the studio windows.

But as fate would have it this was the one day of the new year I could not. I had promised to sit the gallery in Angel Fire and based on my fixed location for a set of hours had urged various people to stop by and chat or conduct business of one matter or another. I was thrilled that my vehicle which had gone through a moisture issue at the beginning of the year was behaving itself. It started like a pussy cat and we made it up the unplowed rural road and out to the main drag as it were. The state is responsible for Hwy 434 and it was immediately obvious they had become complacent with saving the road maintenance budget.

The day previous had been warm ergo so was the asphalt under the newly fallen snow and a layer of ice had developed. Fortunately it was sparsely traveled though nobody was in agreement about speed. When you are going up hill too slow can be an issue. One car wanted to drive at about 10 mph. And in white out conditions passing is not an option.

The key I was to pick up at the visitor's center was not there. So to be able to open the gallery I had to get off the beaten (translate that to plowed) path and have a cup of coffee and a chat before continuing with errands. After wading through 6 inches of snow to and from my vehicle a few times I became aware of why I don't wear wide bottom jeans in the winter. And why the hiking boots (which have excellent traction on ice) were not the best choice in wet snow. By the time I opened the gallery I was wet and cold from the knees down. Denim does wick moisture.

And by the time I got home several hours later I was quite chilled. The house, of course, was cold as I had not been home to monitor the fire. Guess it is time to get back to winter thinking. I do, after all, have all the appropriate winter gear beginning with great snow boots. 

I suppose it is nice, from time to time, to experience our area as the southern tourists do: ill prepared. As I explained to one ski student during spring break once - the day may be quite warm but the snow is below freezing. She still insisted on not wearing her gloves as it covered up her expensive false nail manicure. The one she ruined by attempting to stop her slide when she fell.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Truly Sidetracked

Aspens in Winter

The temperature got up into the high forties yesterday and the sun seemed so bright and the sky so blue and I just could not resist playing. The fur kids and I with camera went for a longer walk than usual. It felt go to totally release the "I should's" and waste the day.

January has been all about getting ready for the court date which was suppose to be this coming Wednesday. That has been postponed for two months and I assume all the prep we did will make it unnecessary to march to the legal drum between now and then. As I have stated in Creative Journey I do need to get some paintings done for the summer fairs but I also need to reconnect with my spiritual center, as it were. And that was accomplished with the exhibition yesterday.

As adults we don't take enough time for play, especially when our lives become entirely too serious through no fault of our own. The legal issue was the sidetrack I was forced onto. Yesterday, though I thought it was a deviation from course, was actually getting back on the right track with myself.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prophets of Doom

I love the Internet. I was on line yesterday when the first news of Haiti's 7.3 earthquake hit the news sites. And if frankly amazed me how quickly photos were uploaded and posted. The quake hit in Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital and naturally crashed the electric grid and communication lines.

I know people not on Haiti but on nearby islands and was of course anxious to know how they fared with the tsunami warnings out. So this morning I was quickly on messenger asking for an update. I am thrilled to report my friend Barbara and her family are fine. But the early news about the millions of residents of Port-au-Prince does not seem as good.

There is nothing like a disaster some place else to put your own trivial problems in perspective. I can turn on my heat if I want but they have no roofs over their heads - those that survived that is. It seemed inappropriate to post a blog about my issues given theirs so I went Googling for a photo to honor their plight and found the one above. It was attached to an article published in 2008 by the Haiti News.

According to Patrick Charles of the Geological Institute of Havana conditions were ripe for a major seismic event in Port-au-Prince.  "Port-au-Prince is traversed by a large fault which is part of the Enriquillo Fault Zone.  The fault starts in Petionville and follows the Southern Peninsula ending at Tiburon. In 1751 and 1771, this town was completely destroyed by an earthquake. As proof to his claims, he referred to recent tremors that have occurred in Petionville, Delmas, Croix des Bouquets, and La Plaine. Minor tremors such as these usually signal a larger earthquake to come."

Buildings in this poverty stricken major metropolis are shabby to say the least. The stacks of homes on the hillsides look like houses of cards. And in spite of Charles's warning conditions did not allow for people to go out and make the sort of changes necessary to prevent massive building collapse when this earthquake occurred. To make the future more iffy the volcano on the island of Montserrat to the southeast of Haiti is showing increased activity. This puts all the islands of the Lessor Antilles, as well as the northern coastal area of South America, at risk of a tsunami.

We have the tendency here in the United States to nay say all the prophets of doom when they talk about the San Andres fault line and the volcanoes of our section of the Pacific rim. Be advised that Patrick Charles was right with his prediction.

My thoughts this morning are with the survivors of the earthquake on Haiti and with all the disaster teams that are going there to help out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cargo Cults

I blogged on Travels with Charley about where the United States would be if there was no China suddenly. Or that at least something happened which severely limited the amount of exports it could provide. China would also be in a world of hurt if the United States could no longer provide the technology for the new products they want built for export. It brought to mind the Cargo Cults.

A cargo cult is a type of religious practice that may appear in traditional tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced cultures. The cults are focused on obtaining the material wealth (the "cargo") of the advanced culture through magical thinking or ritual. These societies came to a head in the wake of WWII when tribes suddenly were exposed to downed aircraft or metal boats or automatic weapons. But I had one anthropology teacher that theorized that ancient Egyptian, Mayan, Aztec and Inca cultures may have been some of the original Cargo Cults as they seem to have sprung up in an already advanced state with no evidence of a gradually building technology. They were often called declining civilizations as that was the primary direction there was physical evidence to support.

While anthropological exploration has found some evidence of the building of technology in the Egyptian culture (though brain surgery seemed to just suddenly appear), this decline seems especially true of the new world jungle cultures. And they had a highly developed ritual based religion centered around human sacrifice to the gods. These rituals were increased when they were confronted with problems like drought or invasion. It is believed by scientists that had they been responsible for the height of their civilizations then they would have been able to work themselves out of their problems through scientific method and not magic. Ultimately they could not sustain growth in their culture or adapt to changing conditions and so died out.

Could the United States or China build on where we are currently at? Or adapt to suddenly changing climatic or physical conditions? The flexibility of a culture depends on its "ownership" of its technological base be that the act of creating fire or lighting huge cities or communication in the ethernet. If it was all taken out by a huge volcanic eruption could we rebuild it? Would we as a civilization (diminished in population) have the knowledge and skills to survive.

No no magic allowed.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

White Knuckling It

I must admit, if you have not figured this out already, that I am I can be a rather compulsive person. No, my house is not obsessively neat, rather the reverse. I think at times I am almost compulsively messy. Having the house too neat would be erasing me from it.

And I am not compulsive all the time. I am rather manic compulsive if there is such a thing. I can swing along through life feeling the breeze in my hair and then suddenly slam into a tree and want to take control of everything including the vine and the breeze.

I am in one of my compulsive phases. The tree I hit was the lawsuit. Obviously swinging was over for a while. Sitting at the base of huge trees in my path creates an urge to redesign the entire forest. Current re-design plans included, beyond the lawsuit, losing weight, keeping heating costs really low, turning all but one light off, not running out of firewood before April 1st, decluttering that mess I spoke of earlier, getting back to exercise daily, coming up with the perfect promotion plan for my art, making more money than ever before, and stopping my depression right now. Actually, I think there were a couple other things in that list, hmmmm?

If you get too many balls in the air, sooner or later, you will drop one. Then it occurs to you that you have been juggling them while walking the balcony rail, and the next thing you know you are holding on to that rail to avoid falling into the void below. White knuckling it. It dawned on me yesterday, when I could not take total advantage of my creative escape weekend, that I might be holding on to things too hard. You have to be in swing mode to paint. My internet friend, Bee, totally out of the blue, suggested ice cream. You do have to let go of rails to eat it.

I got caramel chocolate cow tracks. I love pouring cream over it. Sort of a cream float. Right! Definitely have let the diet ball drop. Then I got the e-mail from the attorney saying that she thought we were in a good enough space to not have our meeting on Monday - just Wednesday. So I get to extend my creative escape weekend. I get to swing through the trees. And eat ice cream.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Status Update

This morning the trees and bushes are covered with a thick hoar frost. Better than feet of snow in my rather humble opinion. The purr kids are not fond of the cold weather and are satisfied to merely do virtual bird hunting from their perches within the comfort of the studio. Cloud cover is, however, making it rather gloomy and the Canadian cold front is making it rather cold. Won't get above freezing today.

Not a bad day to stay inside and do all the calling and searching of records I must do for my attorney. But I am determined to have a recess or two with DVD, exercise and some painting to brighten my day emotionally at least.

Speaking of brightening my day - I have lost four pounds in two weeks and I am thrilled. All the more thrilled because it does not seem to have taken a major sacrifice on my part. Just balancing my blood sugar levels with herbal vitamins and minerals.

And I took a peek on line at my electric bill for energy used in November and it is lower than last year. Will not know how much I cut it until I get the paper bill in a week or two and see the days in the billing period and when they read the meters. It was the bill I had to pay in January 09 that sent me on a financial tail spin for the balance of the winter.

All that and I can say I am cautiously optimistic. But as a sufferer of PTSD and winter depressions I know that can be a day by day struggle to remain positive. I want to thank, Heather Belle, for passing along a bit of advice - rather than try to be Pollyanna constantly it is adequate to just affirm: I'm okay. And today I am definitely okay.

BTW there is a couple very interested in two of my paintings at the gallery. A nice purchase or two would be definitely good news for funding for my entry fees on fairs this summer.

Query for blogger users. I began a new private blog and it had all the bells and whistles on the top navigation bar for blogging. But suddenly it doesn't. No format options or posting of pictures or changes of font, etc. Have I clicked something in error? Or is this a blogger issue? Help.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Operant Conditioning and 2009

The past year was not one of my best. In fact on December 28th I was not all that sure I even wanted to see the final days of it. I felt like a victim of B.F. Skinner and Operant Conditioning. Skinner is famous for the Skinner box which tested learning levels with rats through positive and negative reinforcement. One of his most horrid modifications of this was two boxes which were wired to give an electric shock. A cat was placed in one and shocked. It jumped to the other. Where it again got shocked. After a few repetitions of this experiment the cat would just sit in the box and shiver as it got shocked.

As a young college student and lover of cats my exposure to this shocking experiment sent me running from my Psych 101 class and back to the registrar to switch to Anthropology 101 instead. B.F. Skinner even developed a box for his infant daughter. And to this day I wonder where he buried all the bodies.

What I learned personally from this experience is animals are trainable but that old saw about God never giving you more than you can handle is bull shit. If it was true people would not be shivering in straight jackets in lock down rooms in mental institutions. I avoided the straight jacket but I spent large parts of several days just sitting in my easy chair under heaps of afghans and shivering and crying. The purr kids, Skinner was so fond of torturing, and the dogs loved and supported me and demanded I get out of the chair from time to time to feed them and walk them. And help from my two legged and ether friends.

I still feel very fragile and am approaching 2010 tentatively. I am looking in every single box before I decide to trust it. That does make it hard to be positive but I am working on a positive game plan for the year ahead. Dare I hope there are no shocks?