Wednesday, September 27, 2006

ABQ Ride Update

Some of you might remember my experience/email to ABQ Ride complaining about some repellant anti-gay slurs led by a bus driver. Well, ABQ Ride has responded, and we've even had a back and forth with the bus folks seeking further details. A representative from ABQ Ride even went so far as to say
"First of all I would like to apologize for the behavior of this driver. This was totally inappropriate and uncalled for."
The bad taste of the incident isn't entirely out of my mouth, but at least I've been happy so far with the email response. I'll keep you posted on this incident I have been overly obsessing about, as things develop. I know it's often more fun to bash than thank, but don't want to forget positive mentions of folks/organizations when warranted.

Hot Steamy Writing Nerds, Get Your Hot Steamy Nerds Write Here!

If you've ever dreamed of being a Hollywood screenwriter, but would rather live vicariously through gossipy micro-bios of now-famous writers like Allan Loeb, check out the LA Times new "Scriptland" weekly feature. This week they look at former compulsive gambler and now hot property Loeb and washed-up has-been Joe Esterhaz.

I realize that for 99% of the population outside the City of Angels this LA Times feature has no attraction whatsoever, and that's what I like best about it. Writers are, by and large, notoriously un-notorious and therefore don't warrant weekly columns in newspapers on their craft. Outside of the New York Times Review of Books and a few other creaky sources, newspaper print media has almost no coverage of books whatsoever.

So to have a major newspaper acknowledge that enough interest exists in LA to have such a column not only gives credence to the idea that every single resident of Los Angeles County has a movie script they are working on in their spare time, it also glamorizing a profession that 99.9% of the national population thinks is unglamorous.

And I'm in the .1% who thinks it is, and derives considerable lurid pleasure reading about famous screenwriters the same way far higher percentages of the population are fascinated with Jennifer Aniston, runway models and football players.

This LA Times weekly column is a NY Post Page Six for screenwriter wannabes. A check-out stand tabloid for scribbling nerds. I love it.

P.S.: Yes, this makes another post that has nothing to do with the 2006 Election. I admire but do not understand how some people can stick to the Election Cycle daily for such long periods of time. I especially admire but do not understand how polticians can practice their craft and crafty dealings unceasingly for months and months and months. I need constant breaks, and I'm just reading the newspapers and watching ads that escape my remote control switching prowess. One does not have to have Attention Deficit Disorder to seek frequent sanctuary from the Election Wars, and I wonder what sort of physical/mental constitution is required to withstand the uber-pervasive onslaught of our now pretty much continuous campaigns. I'll get back to some vacuous election blogging in a day or so. Right now I'm contemplating this tree outside my house and dreaming of being the next Joe Esterhaz.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Old Man And The Seeing Bands Play Live Blues

I just turned 45 and for all of that four and one-half decades of living I've bristled whenever hearing someone say something along the lines of "I must be getting old". I've bristled for many reasons:
  1. I've always believed that "you're only as old as you feel" chesnut.
  2. When someone tells you "I must be getting old" they are just about to swing into some really boring explanation of why they didn't do something interesting and instead just sat around the house watching TV.
  3. When someone tells you "I must be getting old", you as the respondent are left with nothing to say because if you say "yeah, you are getting old" you're being unkind, and if you say "no, you're not getting old" that just leads to more explanation by the "getting old" person of why they chose to sit and watch TV all night instead of doing something interesting.
Which makes it even more painful for me to tell you that I must be getting old or something.

Tonight this band I've always liked is playing downtown and I'm not going. They're the Red Elvises and they combine a perfect combination of kitschy rockabilly, lounge, horns and Soviet-style accents. They play homage to styles of music in a way that only truly deliberately bad performers can.

And tonight, Monday, they're at Rally's (for God knows what reason) and instead of going to see them, I am instead listening to all of their records on Rhapsody while writing this blog entry.

That makes me a hopeless nerd on so, so many levels. And an increasingly old one at that. To be honest, the sedentary, don't go out on School night Scot has been dominant for years now. It's gotten so bad in recent times that even during my far-as-the-eye-can-see Summer Vacations I rarely go out to the Launchpad, etc. to see a show with them there youngsters.

Part of it is the volume of the tunes (I've never been one for really loud), but I switched to old fogy ear plugs some years back and solved that problem. I could also blame factors such as standing on my feet for such long periods (I never get to the Launchpad, e.g., in time to sit on the sofa), but I spend equal time or more standing up at work all the time. It's not even the late hour of the music...I admit I stay up way too late far too often.

The salient fact of the matter is that I've turned into this Mt. Everest of Home-Bodies. Between sitting home online and going out, online wins. Between reading with one or more frosty glasses of adult beverage and hitting a bar, I'm plopped down at home with the book. Between the Guild and Netflix, I'm almost always picking Netflix. In short, I"m pathetic.

Of course, I realize that I have not been alone all these years in bristling at those who say "I must be getting old", and that you, dear reader, may not have made it this far down the blogpost for the simple aforementioned fact that "getting old" comments are boring.

But, if you have made it this far, perhaps it is because you too know what I'm talking about. I mean, you are reading a blog right now. You might even be reading it at home instead of doing something far, far more interesting. Maybe you too, are "getting old, or something". Maybe you too didn't go to the Brave Combo concert this past weekend supposedly because "you've seen them enough already" or missed Oliver Mtukudzi and all of Globalquerque on the pretense that "the tickets were too expensive".

Well, we're in this together, fellow boring old person. We are both members of the club of people who still want to go see all these shows, but can't make the movement to go. It's as if we are aging shortstops who used to be able to cover the ball up the middle and now just watch it roll on by into centerfield.

So I'm here on a Monday night listening to "Grooving to the Moscow Beat" by the Red Elvises and wondering if I should turn it up full blast, put on some ear plugs, stand up for a few hours, order a Pabst Blue Ribbon from the refrigerator and blow some cigarette smoke through the house. I could even charge myself $10 to make it more real. Nah, that wouldn't work. I'd just be some loser drinking lousy beer alone (my wife would have fled to the barn immediately) in my sweatpants in front of a laptop.

Plus, my clothes and couch would get all smoky.

Guess I better just admit defeat, join AARP, sell all my rockabilly ties on Ebay and develop a strong attraction to KNME pledge shows on the Grateful Dead and Moody Blues.

Man, that's reaching rock bottom. Absolute rock bottom. Give me those car keys...we're going to the Red Elvises...oh wait, I've got a meeting before school tomorrow. Better stay at home and get some sleep. Yeah, that makes more sense.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Assorted Land News in a Land of Lazy Voters (and Non-Voters)

No need for a recap of Wednesday night's Baca/Lyons "forum". Johnny Mango has a good write-up of the festivities, and a good follow-up on Baca's alleged inability to work with his 'ol BLM stomping grounds. My only additions to Mr. Mango's work would be snarky and have to do with Pat Lyons' Eastern New Mexico (i.e., Texan) accent and the fact that Lyons said as a rancher he'd been "managing the land all my life" roughly 500 times. I'd go on to mention that 500 is also roughly the number of times Jim Baca talked about his "first administration" of the Land Office way back in the pre-Internet, IBM XT/Kaypro mid-80s.

But I won't.

I have a bunch of notes filled with "managing the land all my life" and "my first administration" if anyone wants them. Basically my take on the Land race is that it's down ballot enough that turnout generated by Wilson/Madrid race in the central part of the state will help Baca, while the rest of the state will most likely have lower turnout due to the dearth of any good races. I don't know how many folks in Farmington, for instance, will vote given that the Auditor and Land races are the only competitive State/National ones going. I know the Land race gets more important the more rural you get, but it's sure not a Governor or U.S. Senate kind of pull to the polls even in the Sticks.

All in all, turnout would appear to be helping Baca, especially with lazy voters who'll just vote straight ticket because they don't want the embarrassment of picking between judges they have absolutely no idea about. Lyons' incumbency is also hurt by the fact that to the more unobservant voter Baca is seen as another incumbent, having, as mentioned, held the office back in the IBM XT/Kaypro days.

In sum, between non-voters and lazy voters it would appear Baca's race to lose, imho. Nothing that happened at Wednesday's "forum" did anything to change that, and given the public demeanor of the two candidates it's unlikely any Earth-shattering news, spin or allegation is gonna come along in the next 45 days.

Of course we live in a political time where by "Earth-shattering" we mean things like Patsy Madrid having non-NM saguaro cacti in an anti-Wilson TV ad. For a few of us things like Otero Mesa and alternative energy (or the Occupation of Iraq for that matter) are more important, but when a race goes into political hyperspace like Madrid/Wilson the real issues begin to succumb to the cacti. Maybe that's to be expected in a land of lazy's much easier to think/laugh about improperly placed cacti than about the complex issue of authorizing protections over State lands where the improperly placed cacti might thrive (if saguaros did, in fact, thrive in New Mexico).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Unchained Medley Featuring Lyons and Baca, Together For the Memories

Good morning:

Still no response from folks at ABQ Ride regarding this email from me complaining about a hideous bus ride I had a while back That rumbling sound you hear throughout ABQ is my teeth grinding derisively in the general direction of Greg Payne.

Went to the Lyons/Baca "forum" last night, and boy am I sleepy. I'll have more to say about it later, but I'll tell ya now it wasn't the most captivating of events. The main reason was that it was a League of Women Voters "forum", not a debate. That means no rebuttals. A "forum" without rebuttals is like a party without alcohol. In other parlance, last night's event was a soiree, not a shindig. I don't need tons of yelling, clapping and screaming at such an event, but I do need some rebuttals and follow-up on points. Otherwise it's like we're all just drinking herbal tea and eating cucumber sandwiches.

Sometimes it's hard not to come away from a post thinking that the real campaign JoeMonahan is covering is JoeMonahan's campaign to be universally perceived as important. Today he's gloating about being a New Mexico Business Weekly "Power Broker". Not exactly up there with winning a Nobel or Pulitzer, but I'm sure JoeMonahan is working behind the scenes to get one of those, too, for JoeMonahan.

Lastly, some of us root for New Mexico sports teams, some of us root for Pat Lyons or Jim Baca. Me, I've been rooting all year for Burque to officially get to 10 inches of precipitation for the year. With the .31 of rain at the Sunport last night we're almost there at 9.84 inches. As many of you know, the Sunport has been on the low side of this year's relative deluge and it's been a struggle to get up to 10 full inches. Sorta like being a Cubs fan or something. But we can make it! Just one more decent rain will put us over the top! As a fan who's followed this year's rain since way back before the record Summer o' '06 monsoon I know there's been times of doubt...times when it just seemed like a dream. Remember back to late May? We were totally out of it...but by getting back to the fundamentals of atmospheric moisture, convection and some solid hurricane remnants we've now got a chance. A good chance. Go, team, go! Block that La Nina! Fight, team, fight!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Too Busy For a Witty Title: LyonsBacaMadridWilsonAPSJumble

There's just too much going on these days. Between all the debates, the 73 trillion blogs to read and my own deeply honed laziness I'm just not getting to everything I want. Take tonight's Lyons/Baca land Commissioner debate at the Unitarian Church on Carlisle. I want to go, heck I want to live blog it (last time I was there I found plenty of wifi network opportunities, but no unsecured ones [any tips/passwords for me on this?]).

Picture Deleted due to threatened lawsuit (it feels so good to feel important!)
Commissioner Patrick Lyons has a hat you could drill for oil & gas with

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not a big believer in the power of debates to swing elections, but I'm guessing a Lyons/Baca shindig should be good for plenty of laughs, while also dealing with environmental issues that I often find more dear to me than issues dealing with people these days. Plus, I need a Madrid/Wilson break. I'm guessing Madrid and Wilson would probably like a Madrid/Wilson break at this point.

Lastly, a big tip of the Patrick Lyons gigantic white faux cowboy hat to those who voted to pass the APS bond issue yesterday. Amid all the talk about how awful APS is, it's good to have evidence that support exists to the tune of $350 million or so. It was interesting to read in this morning's Journal that a group of Westsiders want to break away from APS, new bond money or no, but I have no problem with the Westside seceding from Albuquerque altogether. We can start with the school district, then blow up the Paseo, Montano and Alameda bridges. We'll be sure to use environmentally friendly explosives to protect the river and its surroundings.

Better leave the Rio Bravo bridge down south, as I live just on the west side of it. Then again, it's been a while since the South Valley screamed to secede from APS.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Join the Madrid/Wilson Debate Frenzy Frenzy!

When it comes to Wilson/Madrid right now the fervor is over determining who won the Congregation Albert debate, followed somewhat closely by statements throughout the blogomediasphere about what the important issues in the race are. Even a fleeting glance of local blogs illustrates that there is definitely no shortage of bloggers willing to tell us what to think on both of these points.

Which gets me to smoking pot.

Statistics are somewhat hazy, perhaps due to reluctance for respondents to be honest in this area, but roughly 50 percent of Americans between the age of 20-50 have smoked marijuana at least once, at least as of 2002. Regardless of whether that figure is a bit high or low, pretty much everybody concedes that. Now by having written those last two sentences, you, the well-trained critical thinker might be saying to yourself:

  1. "Scot is for Patsy because he's softening Madrid's own admission that she smoked pot back in the day by saying that what Patsy did is the same thing roughly half of American adults have done."
  2. "Scot has smoked pot, and may still be smoking pot. In fact, he might be stoned right now and is assuaging his own guilt by coming up with some numbers saying he is far from alone."
  3. "I wish I could find some decent pot, it's been forever since I got really baked."
My point here? Oh, yeah, that. My point is that what we have here with questions like "who won the debate?" and "what issues matter?" is a group of folks writing stuff telling us what to think, stuff that gets filtered by our own critical thinking as readers, and leads us pretty much nowhere. Democratic blogs tell us Patsy won and pot doesn't matter, Republican blogs tell us Wilson won and that pot does, and the newspapers have to be the newspapers and don't tell us much of anything in an attempt to be objective.

Which is why I don't think debates, even TV debates, matter much. The actual attendance at these debates is small, and the ability for those who attempt to convince us critical thinking readers who won is also small. Even typical TV debate viewership (which really isn't that big despite how important we try to make it) consists almost exclusively of already convinced voters looking for reassurance their candidate is best. Then they go try to tell some other folks who didn't see that their candidate won.

All of which is ineffective for two reasons: 1. that critical thinking thing mentioned above; 2. the head-scratchingly irritating fact that tons of adults don't give a rat's ass about the Wilson/Madrid race, the debates, or what certain political-junkie bloggers think who won what or whether a candidate smoking pot is important.

Regarding the second point above: yes, one wonders if the "tons of adults" who don't care about politics might be the same large group that has smoked pot, but I haven't seen any data on a direct cause/effect relationship.

Thinking that debates don't matter much is not a popular blog/media position these days, days in which reader/viewership is heightened by: 1. zealous candidate backers looking for validation; 2. guilty possible voters who slept in Sunday instead of going to the debate.

To those who consider pooh-poohing debates as unimportant to be politico-apostasy, let's see how much the polling/voting numbers change because of these debates. Let's see how many undecideds decide to vote for the candidate judged the "winner", somehow, in this haphazard string of upcoming Madrid/Wilson debates. I submit that studying those figures will eventually show that this blogomediasphere debate frenzy will prove to be no more important than the TV hype about the latest version of "Survivor", regardless of who is chosen to have "won" the debates, smoked pot or much else.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bumming On The Bus: An Email to ABQ Ride

I don't feel entirely comfortable foisting my little personal windmill tilts at Burque Babble readers, but below is a copy of an email I just sent to ABQ Ride officials Greg Payne and Mary Alice Ayze about an incident I endured on the bus a while back. Needless to say, I strove hard to reduce the stratosphericallly high level of Rant typical to my posts here, and tried to be real nice about an incident that pissed the absolute bejeezus out of me. As Samuel L. Jackson's character says in "Pulp Fiction", "but I'm trying Ringo. I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd."

I don't know if I'm shepherd material below, but I do want to get the word out about my little experience, and encourage feedback through all channels on experiences others might have had on ABQ public transit.
Ms. Ayze/Mr. Payne:

I've been putting off emailing you about an incident that occurred on the Route 53 bus one afternoon about a month ago, but it's still bothering me and has made me very hesitant to ride the bus since. I also hesitate because I value public transportation, yet don't want to be identified as the "whistleblower" who will someday ride that same Route 53 bus again.

It was a midweek afternoon and I took the Isleta bus (the 3:35 as I recall) from Alvarado. Nothing much happened until some riders mid-route got on the bus, obviously regulars who the bus driver knew well. As we went down Isleta, the regular riders started making oblique joke references which other riders found very funny. Something about "swirl". Riders throughout the bus then started making other references, comments which I finally figured out were anti-gay in nature. "Fudgepacker" was a common one, uttered in particular by a woman rider accompanied by her young child.

That was depressing enough, but it got worse when the bus driver got involved. He started speaking into the microphone, addressing his regular rider "friends" with things like "Do you like swirl, (name I forgot)?" and "Are you a fudgepacker, (again, I don't recall the name)?" All this while he rambled the bus down the heavily under construction Isleta Blvd., and with several children of various ages forced to listen over the bus "public address" system.

Of course, much of the bus thought this was all very, very funny, and I did not feel comfortable addressing the driver on the matter as I got off the bus. To tell the truth, the incident was sickening. I don't know what was worse, the use of the "public" microphone for gay slurs or the fact kids were listening to this garbage. No, I think was upsets me most is that my tax dollars are paying for bus drivers who use "public" microphones to make such "jokes".

It's been a month now, and I haven't ridden the bus since. I was contemplating, again, taking ABQ Ride tomorrow morning, but don't know if I want to risk another disgusting, beyond unprofessional display. Over the years I have periodically ridden the bus in Albuquerque, and I've seen good and bad bus drivers doing ultra-professional and unprofessional things. Never, however, have I had to sit through shenanigans like those performed by this Route 53 bus driver. I think I WILL give ABQ Ride another shot tomorrow morning, but not without first sending this email correspondence to you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this message, and for your consideration of how to properly address what I think is an important, and disturbing, matter. I am very interested in hearing a response; I trust ABQ Ride is just as concerned as I am about incidents like this. I also trust that the matter will be dealt with in a way that protects not only me, but ALL RIDERS of Albuquerque city buses who report matters of this sort.

Thanks again for your time.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Speaking Frankly About Franking

Two of my most loved words in the English Language are "disingenuous" and "franking". For those who didn't pay attention during Chapter 14 of their U.S. Government textbook: "The Legislative Branch", franking and the "franking privilege" refer to the fact that members of Congress can send periodic "informational" mailings at taxpayers expense that highlight what a great job the Congressperson is doing.

Today's story that the Heather Wilson campaign has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission regarding mailings from AG Patricia Madrid office allows me to combine these two words I love so much. As in, how frankin' disingenuous is it for Heather Wilson to complain about taxpayer-funded political mailings when Wilson herself franks with the best of 'em? Yes, I love the word "franking" in part because it sounds like a potent swear word, something illegal, or both.

I still hold on to a franker from Wilson sent sometime earlier this year entitled "Building on Success". This is the one that has the following text under a header entitled "Keeping Our Families Safe": "We want to be safe at home. Evil people have used our freedom and open way of life to kill us." Trust me if you haven't kept your copy of "Building on Success" magneted to the refrigerator, it gets worse from there. The entire mailed document is a very nicely designed two-sided cardstock pile o' steaming Heather. We've all gotten plenty of these fancy self-congratulatory Wilson promos during her time in Washington.

So now the Wilson campaign is trying to criticize AG Madrid for doing something similar? What a load of disingenuous frankitude. I'm frankly not amazed that Wilson would stoop so franking low with the race so close, but I'm a bit franked about the disingenuousness of it all.

I'm not a fan of the franking privilege, and personally wish all these type mailings would stop, federal or state, Republican or Democratic in origin, but I am a fan of frivolous "complaints" that allow me to wallow in use of the words "disingenuous" and "franking". So, thanks Wilson campaign...what other disingenuous crap can you come up with to titillate my love of the word "disingenuous"?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Try to Survive" and Other ABQ Cycling Tips

I've been putting off a bicyclist's etiquette post for some time, but this afternoon, during rush hour, I saw a cyclist taking a cell phone call while biking East on Rio Bravo just past the light at Isleta Blvd. For those who don't see much of the South Valley, cycling at 5:30 PM down Rio Bravo while on a cell phone is about as wise as juggling fish while unicycling around turn three during the Daytona 500. It is an action beyond unadvisable, well into death-wish territory. One might say it's akin to cycling up to a Israeli border checkpoint holding a large device with wires coming out of it.

So, as a public service, here are a few etiquette ideas for ABQ cyclists:

  1. Don't ride down Rio Bravo at 5:30 PM while talking on a cell phone.
  2. The reason we cyclists ride with the traffic instead of against it is a simple computational math problem. If we ride at 15 mph and are hit by a drunk driver going 50 mph the impact speed is 35 mph; if we ride at 15 mph into a drunk driver going 50 mph the impact speed is 65 mph. I don't really know that it makes a damn bit of difference, but perhaps feeling that dreaded shove into oblivion has an advantage over seeing oblivion about to plow into you. I'm going to stop thinking at all about these scenarios now, but just remember to ride with the traffic instead of against it.
  3. Any act that leads to increased cyclist's survival trumps any traffic law. For instance, I always cheat at the dreaded corner of Rio Bravo and Isleta by riding illegally down the white stripes of the divided turn lane, illegally get far in front of the first car at the left turn light, and peddle like Hell the second the arrow hits in a mad rush to get to Isleta before being struck by one of the 64,000 possible cars flying through the intersection for no reason. It is a true mark of how dangerous the intersection is that I am ECSTATIC about riding down Isleta Blvd. after the traumatic area is passed. Going from Rio Bravo to Isleta is like switching from life in Baghdad to life in post-New Orleans Katrina, only with more gravel and transmission parts in the road. I guess everything IS relative.
  4. Any cyclist's arm motion indicating a turn is pointless when it comes to motorists. In reality, motorists are like the Idi Amin of the road and we cyclists are mere subjects hoping that Amin is in a good mood today. We are just bugs that haven't landed on the windshield yet. The only real effective cyclist's communication tool I've found is eye contact. I just stare at that person who might decide to turn right into me at the intersection until I see them look at me. If they don't look at me I know I'm in trouble. So, instead of those supposedly universal arm gestures for "right turn", "left turn" and so on, I just wave madly, trying to get the motorist(s) to notice me. And don't try those little bicycle bells ("ring, ring"), they just annoy drivers or make them think the ice cream cart is nearby.
  5. Wearing one of those bright orange road work crew-style pullovers doesn't do much, either. I have one and wear it, but haven't noticed a difference in visibility. I have noticed, however, that my school students laugh harder when they see me on the bike wearing it. The road worker look is definitely a higher peg on the cycling Dork-o-Meter.

When talking ABQ cycling etiquette one must also address social conventions along the Rio Grande bike path, a road nearly choked on some weekend days with cyclists of various stamina, rollerbladers, runners, walkers, dawdlers, horse & horse riders and the occasional drunk on an ATV. I have spent quite a few weekend days recently on the bike path and have a few observations:

  1. Yep, I really did see a drunk on an ATV one Sunday late morning. Or at least an ATVist, who I imagined must have been drunk to have been stupid enough to ATV down the path. I can say with pride that he was roundly ostracized and turned around not far from the Rio Bravo gate.
  2. The cycling proficiency of bike path riders range from just below Lance Armstrong 2004 to John Candy 1989. Speeds range from almost 30 mph to 1 mph. Since I ride smack dab down the middle between those speeds I see alot of 30 mph meets 1 mph interaction. A few words of advice:
  • Hey Lance Armstrong, slow the #^&# down! We know you're training for the 2007 Tour de France and/or need to feel some physical superiority to make up for some psychological shortcoming, but flying up to some 5 year old on training wheels and getting all pissy when the kid doesn't notice you is bush league. You know, if you were REALLY training for something you'd attempt something like A HILL OR SOMETHING. The bike path is utterly flat, and your "training" isn't doing squat for any real bike tour, race or even decent organized ride.
  • Hey John Candy, ride single file! Yes, the bike path is used by many people out on romantic dates. These dating people tend to ride slowly together, always talking and sometimes spending more time gazing into each other's bike helmeted eyes than looking at what is going on around them. So, a medium speed bikerider approaches from the opposite direction or behind and the romantic dater riders stay side-by-side, even to the point of hogging the road and forcing the other rider to head off the pavement. I have many pieces of advice for these romantic dater riders, some which can not be printed in a "family blog". Hell, most of which can't be printed in a family blog. Let me just simplify my advice to these people and anyone else who stays double-file when they should be single-file. Imagine a head-on bicycle wreck. Watch a few Driver's Ed-type films on the subject if you can't imagine it. See them in slow-motion, then at full-speed. Ask your date about how their romantic feelings for you might change if they saw your brains splattered all over the bike path pavement, bike helmet or no.
  • Say "Hello". Okay, this is one of those Holy Grail type things for me, but I think all of us on the bike trail (riders down to dawdlers) need to say a greeting when passing each other. I know on some Sundays the number of "Hello", "Morning" and "Hi" statements would literally be over a hundred, but I think it's important. As a sort of statement/sociological study I make a point to say either "Hello", "Morning" or "Hi" (with an occasional "How ya doin'?" thrown in) to every single person or group that I pass. I can tell you that I get a response a bit less than 25% of the time. I can also tell you that my highest response rate is between Montano and Paseo in the North Valley, and that the response rate between Rio Bravo and Bridge is almost 0%. My most effective greeting for getting a response is, for some reason, "Morning". Perhaps this is because the word is said in a lower tone than "Hi" or "Hello" and the passing cyclists, etc. can hear it better. I don't know for sure. I do know that my chipper little greetings are often met with silence bordering on shock, especially by those 30 mph Lance Armstrong types. It is those people, of course, that I make it a special point to greet warmly, as if to say "I know you think you're in some Olympic training or something, but I see through you and that you're really just training in some utterly flat public area, instead of a place with HILLS AND MOUNTAINS WHERE REAL CYCLISTS WOULD TRAIN".
  • I swear I'm not hostile about it, however. I greet everyone the same, even those Lance Armstrong types. I also, if I may be so bold, suggest that you do the same.
P.S.: I just read that former Texas governor Ann Richards died. Richards is one of my top three favorite public officials of all time. One of the few things I've missed about not living in Texas anymore is hearing Richards talk and write some of the funniest truth ever uttered by a "politician". Well, she's sure to be raising Hell wherever she is now...I just wish she was still here to help raise more Hell 'round these parts. We could sure use it. Happy Trails, Governor.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Your New Icy Blue Albuquerque has a new web design, one that had me thinking I had hit the wrong webpage for twenty solid seconds before I noticed that the prevalent ice blue site had ABQ mentions throughout. I'm usually not even aware of new web designs (as regular readers have probably noticed, graphics aren't my strong suit), but the Trib's new look gets notice because it's a sign that Burque's baby brother daily might be around for another little while.

I've been half-expecting the Trib to go under for so long I've fully expected to read its obituary for some time. That would be a shame for a bunch of reasons, ranging from the big picture need for more diverse information sources in the community to little things like Kate Nash and the rest of the "Opinions" section. Thinking back, I can't remember a time in which the Trib hasn't been considered on its death bed, putting out longer, more leisurely and interesting stories than the Journal like some coma patient that won't flatline for good.

I can't say I've actually "bought" a copy of the Trib in forever, but its midday arrival online has been a weekday lunchtime ritual of mine for a long while. And just about every weekend I rue that fact that it's webpage sits deader than a Crosswinds Weekly Saturday and Sunday.

With the new web design comes a "comments" feature, which I believe was offered in parts of the online Trib before, but nobody ever commented it seemed. Or maybe I have that wrong. To be honest, after reading the SF New Mexican comments for a year or so now I have not only come to even more fully share H.L. Mencken's sentiment that "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public", I have pretty much stop reading comments in any online source, newspaper or blog. Reading "comments" either leaves me remembering Mencken's statement, or responding with my own insipid "comment" that further proves Mencken's point.

Of course, my "comment" about "comments" does not apply in any way to commenters and their comments at Burque Babble. Not at all. Don't even think that.

So welcome, newly redesigned web site! May your pages not only be a bit more Firefox-friendly (I having a bit of a font difficulty at present), but may you also continue to defy journalistic death with your quirky combination of local/state fall-between-the-cracks news stories and reliably offbeat columns. I plan on reading (but not paying) you semi-religiously every weekday right up to the pulling of your publishing feeding tube. I'll miss you...and want you to know that before you suddenly go away like many of us have been expecting for so long.

Man, I almost feel like getting a kleenex out and it's only a web redesign.

P.S.: Another reason to love (but not necessarily pay for) the Tribune: Thelma Domenici. It took me a while, but I finally got that this is a joke column, using deep sarcasm to expose the farce that is social etiquette. Today's parody of a "Dear Abby" column was stellar, including the following:

Dear Thelma: I'm getting married and toasts will be made to me and my bride. What's the proper thing to do when we're toasted?

Now that's some good stuff...really good stuff.

There's Got To Be a Morning After

Is it safe for those of us who don't commemorate 5th Anniversaries of events via fear and more fear to come out now? Talk about your new Fall Season...yesterday's falling wall-to-wall coverage was Prime Time All The Time Fear & Brimstone. Or that's the sense I got..I was pretty much in media-hiding all day.

Here's hoping our fear hangover can now be replaced by some good 'ol patriotic where the Hell are we going from here, instead of a crazed navel gazing of what the Hell happened. Actually, I'm just hoping I can make it five minutes today without running into another TV or human talking about where they were and/or what it all means.

I'll start now by just shutting up about it. What's for breakfast, today?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Scot Returns From Oblivion/Patsy Explores Oblivion Options

I write this really depressing post about hi-tech stalking and then disappear for almost a week. One might get the indication I put my head in an oven or something. Not true, in fact a glorious week all around (weather especially), marred only by being too busy to get to this all-important informational resource.

That's Burque Babble I'm talking about...and quit laughing.

And it wasn't because of a dearth of things to write about. That great sucking sound you hear is either Jeff Armijo or the New Mexico Lobo football team. New Mexico has officially changed climatologically from semi-arid desert to temperate rain forest. Bill Richardson did what he does best and left New Mexico to go sit down for drinks with some foreign guy and get somebody released from something.

And I could give tired, dated responses to those events, but instead I see this morning that Patsy Madrid is skirting a televised debate with Heather Wilson. There's really no other way to see it, if the Trib story has it right. And that ain't good for Patsy....and what's bad for Patsy is bad for the universe as I see it.

Because as we all know, the Patsy v. Heather battle is bigger than Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Futurama all rolled together. This is a seminal, fundamental and elemental battle between Good and Evil here, and Good just decided to hide out in the closet (no, no THAT closet).

Given the amount of money in this race, Madrid's decision to not do a TV debate should be good for about 3,000,000 Wilson ads lambasting (a word I simply can never avoid using) Madrid for ducking with titles like "What's she got to hide?", "What Madrid isn't telling you!", and "Patsy Madrid is Satan, Pol Pot and Simon Cowell genetically combined!".

I hate TV debates. I don't watch TV debates, nine times out of ten. They are a stupid way for voters to decide who to vote for. They are really just a way for supporters of a particular candidate to be entertained by the screw-ups of the opposition. I've always held with great skepticism the theory that undecided voters can be swayed by a TV debate. Undecided voters don't watch debates. In fact, I'm not sure if undecided voters do much of anything. I wonder sometimes if they are capable of breathing and locomotion.

What a few undecided voters might be swayed by would be an onslaught of punditry following an unwatched TV debate, and I'm not really sure that makes much of a difference, either.

So why is Patsy ducking the TV debate stupid? It's stupid because ducking it becomes an issue, and thus dilutes the real issues of this race. Even if Madrid showed up and bombed it would have less effect than her ducking the shindig. And that's assuming she would bomb versus the Cheney Stepford Wife Wilson.

Of course TV debates are the absolute stuipidest debates because of the whole video/image thing. We've all been bored to death at this point by those old-timers telling us that people listening on the radio thought Nixon WON that debate way back, while TV viewers thought Nixon was Bela Lugosi, only scarier. Still...the truth is that we humans have not quite evolved to the point where we 100% overlook looks and just focus on the facts.

We are all superficial, yet roughly half of us have voter registration cards. This fact makes us dangerous, and I'm wondering if the Madrid campaign was more worried about human superficiality when it comes to looks than it was about something stupid Patsy Madrid might say during a TV debate.

I'm just gonna let that point die slowly for a few moments while I look out the window this fine Saturday morning.

Nevertheless, I still think it's a bad idea for Madrid to avoid TV debating Wilson. Besides the reasons listed above, Television is THE supremely arrogant medium of our age. Mere human politicians who refuse to become assimilated into the capricious wiles of Borg-like TV are treated as inferiors. Hallway conversations are held between TV people, snarky e-mails are sent, certain attitudes blossom.

Despite Television itself being Borg-like, its component nuts and bolts are human. Not to go overboard syllogistically, but we might remember I said humans are superficial. Even, to an extent, professional TV journalists ones. Hard to believe, I know.

I fully expect a slew of follow-up stories about this, many including rational defenses for why Madrid will be unable to TV debate Heather. I'm afraid they won't matter much, however. I know the Tribune has a circulation of about twenty now, and that the Journal has been far too busy posting poll results to do much of anything else political, but I'm guessing this Tribune story will grow, fester and metastasize into an ongoing issue, while Iraq/Health Care/Oil and the other real issues get that much less coverage. We'll see...I've been wrong so many times before, and I wouldn't mind a bit if I was wrong this time.

Monday, September 04, 2006

News You Can Use To Crawl Into a Hole

Maybe it was the clouds, and I'm out of psychological practice dealing with longer-term cloudiness after living now in the desert for over a decade. Or maybe it was one of those "personal" reasons I wouldn't write in a blog entry in a million, billion years. Whatever the reason, I did my best to avoid humanity this weekend, choosing instead to repeatedly fail in fixing things around the house, pathologically watch the commentary track by David O. Russell to "Three Kings", and morbidly listen to John Cage, Steve Riech and Richard Buckner records on Rhapsody.

It was only this morning that I could switch to Elvis Costello singing "Lipstick Vogue" and scream the lyrics along with Mr. McManus and the Attractions. Needless to say, the weekend might have altogether different if I had just started with Costello/Attractions "This Year's Model" (one of the greatest albums of all time IMHO) instead of John Cage, but I also remember way back to Saturday morning and reading something in the Seattle Times (oh, Seattle, where I once lived and where clouds and melancholy are the incense and Eucharist of the State Religion) that immediately seemed to put me into a 48-hour humanity lock-down.

The story was about an ex-husband stalking his ex-wife using state-of-the-psycho technology. Or, as Times columnist Nicole Brodeur (who can move to the ABQ Journal any second she wants) put it:

"Robert Peak, 46, embedded himself into his estranged wife's very existence by hiding a GPS system in the dashboard of her Toyota Land Cruiser. Beside it, he installed a cellphone that didn't ring, but still picked up when he called. He could hear every conversation she had in the vehicle. He also installed spyware on her computer so he could hack into her e-mail."

So naturally the psycho starts showing up at restaurants where his Ex is having dinner, at friends' homes, and even calls the cops just before the Ex did to let them know his Ex is crazy and will soon be calling with bogus information.

So I'm reading this twisted story of a twisted guy twisting technology (which, for some reason, as a blogger upsets me even more than the story already had me upset), when I come across a little tidbit deep in the story....


"On Aug. 14, Robert Peak pleaded guilty to felony stalking, and was sentenced to eight months in King County Jail and four months of work release. He was given credit for 152 days, so he will be out in a few months."


Okay, you messed up and read the paragraph. Now, before it's too late, do not think about that "eight months" reference. Not even for a second. Stop, shake your head and think about Labor Day, or the tomatoes you grew in your garden this year or Elvis Costello's funny glasses, or cuddly baby ducks or anything.


Okay, I tried to warn you. You not only read it, but have thought about the "eight months" thing long enough to realize that the psycho dude has made his Ex's life a hi-tech living Hell for all this time, and he's getting out in a few months. That this woman is gonna be counting down days to this psycho's release like her own version of Death Row, while, in New Mexico, the penalty for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana is up to a year in jail. Not to mention how *&%$@$* twisted someone has to be to put a GPS, etc. in somebody else's car/house/life, and that such a person is probably not the sort of person a community wants out in "a few months".

Sorry to go all Nancy Grace here, but this story left me in a Nancy Grace fugue state, and it hasn't been pretty. I only hope that the returning ABQ sunshine, the return of work for most of us tomorrow and the little piddly warning messages above will prevent readers from slipping into their own 48 hour psychological bender.

As for me, I'm not taking any chances. I'm listening to Elvis Costello and the Attractions at full volume all day long this Labor Day.

"I've been on tenterhooks
ending in dirty looks,
list'ning to the Muzak,
thinking 'bout this 'n' that.
She said that's that.
I don't wanna chitter-chat.
Turn it down a little bit
or turn it down flat.

Pump it up when you don't really need it.
Pump it up until you can feel it."

--"Pump it Up", This Year's Model,
Elvis Costello & the Attractions

P.S.: Yeah. I know "This Year's Model" is actually a pretty darn angry, bitter and depressing record. But you just can't stop screaming and dancing to it. And I don't even dance.