Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Status Update - My Turn to Whine

A friend, and frequent reader of this blog, informed me recently that my weekly chats have not given her the status on various issues in my life. I had not considered my life that interesting of late. But since another friend also mentioned that my status updates on Facebook have been non-existent or evasive I might try to remedy my omissions.

Blizzard Lizard: Also known as the VanGo or The Vehicle is still in the shop. My mechanic injured his back and was getting nothing done for a while. He called yesterday to deeply apologize. Fortunately I have had my neighbor's aging Corolla to toodle around in. The mechanic is giving her a free oil change for her kindness.

Finances: Still holding fast to the money needed to rescue the Blizzard Lizard when it is ready. The longer this takes the closer we come to more funds available. I am thinking of maintaining this strict economy through May so I can put some reserve funds back. A few pet sitting gigs and a small art sale helped make ends meet the last two weeks.

Lawsuit: No verdict yet. It has been in the hands of the judge for over a year now. Lead legal aid attorney is going on to bigger and better things. My second chair will be taking over any further action. The 8th judicial district had one not enough judges to begin with. One of the two judges got mired in controversy and has not sat the bench for over 6 months. My judge has health issues and is working only about half time. Finally action was taken and two retired judges pulled temporarily back to handle new cases and a new judge will be appointed to handle the bench in Taos. The longer this takes the more people involved could die.

Spring: Seems to be once again on hold. I have seedlings in the studio but there is snow outside again today. But the inclement weather of the last three days has yielded almost an inch of moisture in the form of rain and snow.

Art Season: Refused in the Ruidoso show which I will never apply for again because of their way of handling it. In this day of instant communication via email they chose a "all accepted artists will hear by" approach rather than communicate yea or nay to all applicants. But on the heels of that disappointment I got the opportunity for a month long showcase in a gallery in Albuquerque in June, and a showcase at the visitors center here in September.

In short it has not been the best of times or the worst of times. It has been rather more of the same with little resolution on any major fronts. Ergo I have found it difficult to be enthusiastic about status messages. Later.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

TW3 - Easter

Easter Morning
All day Saturday it had threatened to rain. Drizzle I remember Mother calling that sort of weather. It has always reminded me of the January I spent in Laguna Beach, California. Never did rain but you got wet just the same. But Easter morning looked as if it was going to clear. The sun came out between the clouds and the grass began to green up as you watched. Perfect day to be out with the camera.

Even the deer seemed to want to pose. Course they are almost tame around here. Rather used to people with cameras for sure.

Top of Wheeler Peak, however, stayed cloaked in the clouds and by mid day the rain had begun in a more or less serious manner. Then by evening it began to snow. Even the elk looked rather wet. They made me shiver just to look at them.

On the road home the snow turned serious and at one time it was even a white out but so wet that it melted as soon as it hit the ground.

I love spring in the mountains. You have to be ready for just about anything. Never leave home without a coat, hat and gloves, regardless of the weather at that time.

It has been such a dry winter with a very windy spring so every drop of moisture is welcome be it rain or snow. And today there was not a breathe of wind which was wonderful. I think the weather could have spoiled the village Easter Egg hunt however. But it was a great day for photographs. Say goodnight, Gracie.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

They Lie to Us All the Time

Hope Springs Eternal

A friend of mine and I were sharing memories of our youth which we were lucky enough to share in part. We were the flower children of the 60's. Sex, love and rock and roll. The good times: No STD's that could not be cured with Penicillin, all war news at least a week old and highly sanitized by the media, if you crashed at a pad with multiple friends it was from choice and not necessity, communes held the hope that we could grow what we needed and it wasn't poisoned, and to some degree we believed Cronkite told us the truth.

My late friend, lover and former husband, Marc, was fond of saying, "They lie to us all the time." That seemed so infinitely clear this week with the Japan nuclear disaster dropping off the radar while BP told us that the fish in the Gulf in Mexico and coastal bayous was now safe to eat. Even the bottom dwellers like oysters and crawlfish. I think I will just content myself with how much I loved to eat them once.

I am old enough to remember the contamination in our food because of above ground nuclear testing in Nevada - up wind from my childhood home in New Mexico, and the mercury poisoning in the Chesapeake bay due to the pollutants disposed of in the rivers that dumped in that fishery. Or what was happening to the eggs of raptors because of the DDT used on food so bugs would die. A lot was researched then about the build up of toxins along the food chain - us humans generally being the last. Fish and eggs, and even Mother's milk was put on the unsafe to consume list. I notice that there is no such list today. Should there be?

With all the radiation being dumped into the Japanese sea and current should be be wary of salmon and shrimp and scallops? What of rice? Tsunami's are not clean. The tides take away all the pollution on land and wash it all back up on the shores. I am putting more garden in this year. Lettuce really loves to absorb toxins in the soil. I am sure about my soil. Stocking up on salmon already frozen in the stores. Farm raised fish is beginning to look better and better. Lamb from the mountain ranges in the San Juan area.

I don't trust the current media to tell us the truth about anything beyond Charlie Sheen.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

TW3 - Critical Mass

Nuclear Reactor Test Facility
I admit I am on a bit of a science bent these days. I love science if I do not have to pass a final exam in it. I love the theories but hate all those Latin words. For decades I took the magazine Scientific American and so am probably armed with too much information and not enough real knowledge.

A critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction in case you were wondering. But when I Googled critical mass this morning looking for an image and a definition I cam up with the international bicycle event, swarms of people during rush hour in Tokyo, and army ants dripping off a tree. And, of course, the mushroom cloud. All of which got me thinking of tipping points. A tipping point is the point at which an object is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a new equilibrium state qualitatively dissimilar from the first. All of which ties in with my blog on cascade failure and angle of repose.

 But what prompted this particular dark look at the critical mass was Facebook's friend finder. A step beyond where I generally go in that social platform. I accepted a friend request this morning and wound up there. Normally it suggests four or five other people I just might know in part because I know the person I just accepted as a friend. That could be an erroneous assumption. In point of fact I accepted her because we share mutual friends. Facebook seems to be aware of this tendency and came up with what appeared to be a plethora of people I share mutual friends with. Which of course reminded me of six degrees of separation.

And there we are back at Critical Mass.

Out of perverse curiosity I began to scroll down through the row after row of people that I share at least 3 mutual friends with. Note: the list went beyond that point. I was shocked at the number of people on the list I knew and felt comfortable inviting to be friends. And the number of people I had known as children of friends who were now grown. And that I actually share mutual friends with some news icons. Which got me wondering at what point in time does everyone belong to Facebook? And everyone in Facebook is connected by at least 3 mutual friends with everyone else?

Fortunately it probably will not produce a toxic nuclear mushroom cloud like the nuclear reactors in Japan which are approaching critical mass. Japan led to earthquakes and the instability of the Pacific plate. How many earthquakes come before a major shift of relationship of the plates on the earth?

Maybe it is just that it is spring and spring brings with it expectations. The earth is waking up (back to those earthquakes) and all things seem possible (even those things which we would hope are impossible). Today is Palm Sunday and tonight is the full Pink Moon. I feel my winter depression lifting and sense a paradigm shift in what I believe is possible.

Sorry about the physics lesson.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

TW3 - Angle of Repose

Angle of Repose for Sand dune
My last blog here was about cascade failure. It is one of my favorite scientific theories. Others include Chaos Theory, Queuing theory, and paradigm shift. And the subject of this blog: Angle of Repose - in short you can only pile sand (or shit or any other substance) only so high. (Note: the precise angle of repose varies per substance and moisture content but more of that later.) I choose sand as my illustration here because as children this may be our first encounter with the laws of physics as we sit in our sandboxes with our pails and shovels.

I noted in a recent local news article that the Questa Moly Mine is putting off clean up of waste for 18 years. This is relevant to our topic because it has piled slag and dirt from its above and below ground mines to beyond the angle of repose. This is possible by misting the piles to solidify them. And it works for a while. Erosion by rain and wind can steepen that angle artificially beyond the natural angle of repose. Then you just add water and shake and landslide.

Clarksville, Arizona
A lot of mining areas are in geologically unstable areas. So an earthquake can provide the shake rattle and roll, and a good heavy downpour the water. It this happened at the Moly Mine it would dam the Red River and back it up into the town of Red River because the slag pile is right by the highway which runs beside the river.

The wetter a substance is lesser the angle of repose. Example shit as in produced in the recent congressional sessions about budget. But an interesting thing happened here in that the light shone on to the ever growing pile by the news media seemed to make it possible to only pile it higher. Where is a fire hose when you need one? I propose we move our nation's capital to the San Andres Fault in California for the shake factor in collapse.

My week? Well, a bit like the return to that sand box. I get my savings piled just so high and something makes it all collapse. In this instance car repairs. And I didn't even shake my piggy bank.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cascade Failure

I have been thinking a lot of cascade failure of late. A cascading failure is a failure in a system of interconnected parts in which the failure of a part can trigger the failure of successive parts. It is currently demonstrated in Japan with their desperate attempt to get the nuclear reactors under control. But I always think of that children's rhyme:  For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

This winter when a firm in Texas decided to ship natural gas intended for New Mexico to Oklahoma where it could get more money we all faced a cascade failure of the electrical grid here because of the over usage of electric space heaters to avoid freezing in -43F temps. 

Yes, all dire situations but yesterday I found myself thinking in terms of cascade failure due to a futon I did not want. I had it in my furnished apartment and the renter got some of her own furniture delivered. I frantically at 6:30 a.m last Friday had to find a home for twin beds and the a futon couch. I got lucky with the beds. Not so lucky with the futon and when the person who wanted to buy it did not show yesterday had to move it to my residence. God knows there was not room. So I played musical furniture. Not unlike the child's party game of musical chairs.

Cannot carry couch upstairs to spare room (which is full), refuse to clutter up studio, so living room is only option. But to make space for it something has got to leave that room. This time it was the stereo and stand. It never gets played in the living room so studio made sense and if I move the potted plant in one corner . . . . Well, you get the point. I am now not sure where to put the elliptical trainer which I do not use - or did not use in former location. It sits in studio to see if I will use it there while gazing out the windows. 

Then there is the spinning wheel. Loathe to get rid of it because of fond memories but where to put it is a problem. Maybe it is time to sell it and the elliptical trainer and the futon. But the fur kids rather like the futon, and maybe I will like the elliptical trainer in a non-claustrophobic location. This thinking process helps me understand the nuclear power crisis in Japan. Did they think too long about trying to save what should not have been saved? Rather like watching a tsunami when you should be running for high ground.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

TW3 - Thinking of Elkins, West Virginia

I found myself thinking of Elkins, West Virginia this week. Elkins was just a sidetrack in my life but it is a recurring theme. For instance this blog is titled Sidetracked Charley probably due to Elkins. I was living and working in Washington, DC. Home was 604 A street NE and I worked in the New Senate Office Building (New SOB for short).

I was a mountain girl trying to work through the system for political change. Off hours I marched for peace (Vietnam war), saving the mini skirt (our right as women to chose our fashions) and the ERA (Equal Rights for Women which we never got). When I got sick of politics and homesick for mountains like Heidi I went to the Monongahela National Forest just outside Elkins, West Virgina.

The ability to climb a mountain and see for miles did a lot for my homesickness and urban claustrophobia but it rains a lot in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia. And even when it isn't raining the mists make you feel wet.

Instead of doing a lot of hiking we often did a lot of driving and taking in the scenery. We also took in the little folk art fairs. It was there I learned to spin from two sisters in their 70's and weave from their neighbors in the community center in Elkins.

I discovered all the crafts of the artisans on the Blue Ridge and the Firefox series of books on living skills that were vanishing.

I also discovered trains and old train stations of particular fascination. And near the Elkins railroad station I found about 300 abandoned rail cars on a clearing yard of the railroad in Elkins. It seems that a group was diverting cars from the main track and storing them in the little backwater. I was amazed at the number of rail cars that seemed grow with every visit.  Then the Washington Post broke the story of the sidetracked rolling stock. Every since there has been a deep sense of mystery and intrigue about trains and stations for me. I even lived right by a main line in Grand Junction, Colorado for a time.

And here in New Mexico I am a frequent visitor to the narrow gauge trains that now run as tourist attractions. I have vowed to return this summer to the Cumbres and Toltec and take some pictures with my Nikon D90. The one below I took with my film camera.

One little mountain town in the Blue Ridge Mountains which I went to in an effort to cure my homesickness for the Rocky Mountains altered my life. To this day trains, country crafts, spinning, and old survival skills hold prime place in my heart.