Friday, June 30, 2006

Latchkey Marty and Middle School Basketball

Feudal Prince Marty (FPM) Chavez is doing a bang-up job of running Albuquerque Public Schools in a dress rehearsal this summer. Amy Miller has a Journal story about the Mayor holding up School Year 2006-2007 after-school program funds to APS until Marty's "Education Council" can develop some criteria to evaluate the programs. Unfortunately, there isn't any criteria yet.

Marty, his "education coordinator" Paul Broome and their "education council" are holding up programs like middle school basketball to ascertain whether these programs are helping raise the APS graduation rate. Again, they have no criteria established to evaluate how middle school basketball and other programs help kids graduate.

Despite having no criteria, there is a purpose to the "education council" delay. The story notes Broome saying (not in quotes) that;

The council wants to make sure after-school programs offer more than social and recreational benefits. They should be academically rigorous enough to improve the school district's graduation rate, Broome said.

What a misguided crock of steaming crap. Using this criteria-less criteria, one must ask the following questions:

  1. Is middle school basketball "academically rigorous" (AR)?
  2. If middle school basketball isn't "AR", does that automatically mean it isn't helping to raise the graduation rate?
  3. If I run an after-school tutoring program profoundly ladled with heavy academic rigor and one kid shows up, is that better than a AR-less middle school basketball program with 25 kids participating?
  4. What exactly does help raise the graduation rate?
  5. Does the APS graduation problem have more to do with being AR, or with kids ceasing to attend school?
Okay, that last question was even stupider than the ones preceding it. Holding up after-school program funds shows how bassackwards FPM and his merriless band of education councilors are about the graduation problem, and why politicians and government officials often make lousy salespeople.

The assumption from FPM, et. al. is that students (customers) drop out of school because they are either:
  1. not academically challenged
  2. unable to do high school academics because they weren't in an academically rigorous program from the start.
That line of thinking is like trying to sell truffels at Godiva Chocolates based on the anti-oxidants properties of chocolate. What the hell does academic rigor have to do with kids dropping out of school? Yes, as a Teacher o' Gifted kids I can tell you that a small number of gifted students drop out of school because it's so academically unrigorous. I'm sure there are a few others who do the same who are considered "gifted". But is academic rigor the biggest cause of kids dropping out?

Okay, maybe the assumption is that kids are dropping out because they can't do the work. True in some cases, but the assumption there seems to be that learning during the school day isn't enough for these students and that after-school programs will help provide needed additional learning.

Well, we have after-school tutoring programs now, and, at least at my school, they are well-attended. Well attended by kids who have just about zero ZERO chance of not graduating. After-school tutoring is full of kids dedicated enough to not only learn during the school day but beyond. They also have parents who expect and demand academic rigor.

Of course these kids and parents are not the problem when it comes to graduation rates. The problem is that the kids who desperately need after-school tutoring don't attend. They also don't attend school regularly during the school day. They also have parents who, for whatever reason, do not instill the necessary academic rigor in their children.

And now back to middle school basketball, because it's being held hostage because Feudal Prince Marty and his "education council" can't really address the real causes of low graduation rates. If they could, we'd have REQUIRED after-school tutoring with strict penalties for parents who don't comply with having their children tutored. That ain't happening so the "education council" can hem and haw all they want, create or not create criteria to their bureaucratic "fact-finding blue ribbon committee" content.

But I keep losing the dribble with middle school basketball...just as bureaucrats seem to be losing the salesperson's touch with selling public schools. In selling "academic rigor" over all else FPM and his henchmen demonstrate that their perceived customer is not the kids but old people who read about low graduation rates in the paper and wonder what the heck is going on.

Kids want to be more plugged into their school community, IF programs are in place to provide them with activities of interest to them. For instance, carloads of students head off to soccer practice after school, in part because we don't have a soccer team at my school. Some APS schools have created soccer teams, despite no leadership from APS on the issue, because their students can't afford AYSO and other public leagues. These soccer programs are in many cases the strongest link between school and at-risk students.

The same goes with basketball, I just happen to mention soccer in detail because I served as "coach" (and I use the term very loosely) for a middle school team a few years back. These soccer and basketball programs are some of the best sales tools we have in keeping highly at-risk students on school grounds with school expectations (including grade checks in their academics).

Let's face it, many of these kid athletes and their parents are not motivated by the things that lead to graduation. And, of course, they would never think of attending a purely academic after-school program. But the role of after-school athletic programs in motivating students to stay on school grounds and maintain decent grades through grade checks is way too important to be played by some "education council" for politics and show.

Quit dicking around with us, Marty. And whomever thinks the City of Albuquerque would run the public schools better than APS (which admittedly has a hell of a time doing it) is just insane enough to get rid of middle school basketball. I can hardly wait for the City's next foray into school administration policy....hey, Marty, music and art aren't really "academically rigorous"...let's get rid of them, too.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Call for Water Rights Info And MRGCD Gossip

I usually write about things I know nothing about in 'Burque Babble, but today will only ask about something I know nothing about: water rights. For reasons only marginally fathomable to me, I am suddenly interested in this topic. In particular, I'd like to read more about this Bill Turner/Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) brouhaha.

Strangely, this controversy I know nothing about snarkily makes its way to the MRGCD website itself with a posting disingenuously entitled "You Decide". Sounds like a really messy situation, the kind I get real politiporn arousal from.

Anybody got some lascivious details?

Oh yeah, I'd also like some more boring sources to explore on the general issue of water rights in NM, blah, blah, blah.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dancing Between the Smoke Plumes

Torrey, Utah --

Yeah, I know it's raining in ABQ as I write this, that Old Testament level rain and wind battered the Duke City yesterday, and that is all is now well and good on the monsoon/drought front (of course, not really). Still, other parts of the Southwest aren't doing so wet. The picture above was taken about 75 miles north of a fire just outside Zion National Park in southern Utah.

My photo skills are nonexistant, but hopefully you can make out the smoke plume...noting that big fires don't just happen in heavy wind. The plume just goes straight up.

My original idea was to go through Zion, and I drove all the way to the park gate at Springdale. The $20.00 fee was irritating, but not nearly as irritating as the heavy asthma-inducing smoke, so I turned around and decided to go to Cedar Breaks instead. On the way out of Springdale, I stopped off for snacks and the store owner was telling everyone that she expected a power outage any second as the fire had made it to the power poles leading into the village.

She was pissed in general, and mad at BLM in particular, as she put it "everyone knows they mismanaged this fire. Just ask the Springdale Fire Department. They'll tell you how mismanaged this fire was."

The smoke and the heavy criticism of fire officials really made me feel at home in Springdale. If the store owner had just dropped words like "bosque" and "kids running from the scene" in her diatribe I could have closed my eyes and been right back in the South Valley.

It's unfortunate, but true....fires are bringing us Southwesterners together. I didn't even mention passing the fire north of Sedona, and have only heard about the fire on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Atomic-like plumes are coming up all over...

Fortunately the rocks aren't on fire at Capitol Reef National Park

P.S.: Today is Primary Day in Utah, a day in which voters get to decide which extreme family values Republican will get to serve. Just as in NM the liquor stores (here they are "state liquor agencies") are closed today. One wonders how getting plastered would affect a voter's judgement in picking between one rabidly extreme family values Republican and another rabidly extreme family values Republican. Given those options, one might also wonder whether getting plastered is pretty much the only compelling solution.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

We Taxpayers Are Ever So Sorry For The Energy Rebate

Las Vegas, Nevada--

You probably saw the Journal story on delays in processing NM tax refunds caused by the aforementioned Bill Richardson Energy Rebate. Two interesting points:

  1. The story quotes noted "Stop the War Machine" peace activist and former US House #1 candidate Bob Anderson in the role of "aggrieved taxpayer". Interesting choice of actor for that part...not bad, just interesting.
  2. NM Tax & Rev official Libby Gonzalez (another Libby in government?) is quoted as saying "They tried to claim the rebate again....They received it in October 2005 and they want to get it again."
Note to Ms. Gonzalez: Thanks for passing the blame on this back to the taxpayers. And thanks for making the whole energy rebate/tax thing so wonderfully complicated that nobody knew what the hell to do about it. And tell your boss, Big Bill, thanks again for that rebate and for having buck-passing bureaucrats like you in state government. the tax refunds are late going you think the State will be paying interest and penalties?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summertime...And The Living Is


Fortunately it is also devoid of work for some of us for significant stretches. Burque Babble is hitting the road for a couple of weeks, but will try to keep some semblance of blog regularity despite the laptop heading to non-wireless places such as Capitol Reef National Park and Colorado's Mt. Elbert.

First however is Las Vegas, NV, for a strat-o-matic baseball convention of sorts. Yes, I realize you have no idea what I'm talking about. No, I won't bore the absolute hell out of readers by explaining what "strat" is, or why it warrants having a convention of sorts in a hell-hole like Las Vegas. Yes, it will be a blast, both in good times and infernal heat.

But more later...unless I have to pawn the laptop to pay gambling debts.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hey Big Bill Richardson: Thanks for That $84. Really.

Remember that energy rebate?

The Bill Richardson I'm Presidential Material Energy Rebate?

The Golly, Here's A Few Bucks, Now Stop Complaining About High Energy Prices Before I Kick Your Ass Rebate?

Well that energy rebate is still kicking my ass. You see, I do/did my taxes online. As part of the state return, the folks at Turbo Tax plugged in a handy/dandy question about whether one had claimed his/her Bill Richardson Energy Rebate. Yes, I know "claim" is a weird choice of word when you consider the check just arrived, unrequested, in the mail. Anyway, I clicked "yes, I claimed it", and moved on.

Weeks later, I received a letter from New Mexico Taxation and Revenue. The letter claimed I hadn't claimed the BRER (Bill Richardson...). It said I owed another $84 because of this (although strangely, the letter proclaimed in bold letters "THIS IS NOT A BILL").

I then did what any self-respecting NM taxpayer would do. I ignored the letter for six weeks. Actually, I ignored it for another reason, a reason that leads to a Anna Karenina length story about IRAs and other information so arcane, so obscure that your head would explode in boredom if you read it. So, in sum, I let it set for six weeks.

Until today. I called NM Tax and Rev and told them my story. Almost immediately the very helpful gentleman from Tax and Rev started chuckling. You never know what to think when the Tax & Rev guy starts chuckling. He tells me that this little hiccup is a well-known problem with online returns this year. He commiserates when I tell him I could have sworn I clicked the right button. He says he is commiserating because the button/Turbo Tax was wrong. He also points out that I, really, owe $88.47 because of the original $84 plus some interest and penaties.

For some reason I feel good about being told I owe the State money. This strange sensation of good feeling only increases when the Tax & Rev guy tells me that over 70,000 NM taxpayers had the same problem. Over 70,000....

So....Bill Richardson's little energy rebate has resulted in the following unintended consequences....

  1. Over 70,000 taxpayers got little letters telling them they owed more money.
  2. These little letters clearly stating "THIS IS NOT A BILL" were, in fact, bills.
  3. The staff at NM Tax & Rev has had to re-process these over 70,000 tax forms.
  4. The staff at NM Tax & Rev has had to talk with many taxpayers over the phone.
  5. The staff at NM Tax & Rev has perhaps had to deal with a few taxpayers who weren't feeling quite as good about the whole process as I inexplicably have been.
  6. Of course, all of the above follows months after Burque Babble mentioned this op/ed in the Albuquerque Journal from UNM Accountancy Professor, James R. Hamill.
  7. Professor Hamill was noted in this previous post as having written perhaps the most obfuscatory answer to a question in taxation history.
  8. Your humble blogmeister realizes the intense competition for "most obfuscatory answer to a question in taxation history", but sticks to his opinion that Hamill's response is worthy of consideration for such an honor.
  9. Professor Hamill was writing about the Bill Richardson Energy Rebate.
  10. Finally, in calculating the time, money, psychic damage caused by the Bill Richardson Energy Rebate no effort will be made to calculate the psychotherapy costs derived from NM taxpayers who read the Hamill column or talked to NM Tax & Rev people (regardless of how nice those Tax & Rev people were on the phone...which was really nice).
There are lessons to be learned from all this, I guess. The biggest one is fundamental on the same level as the Prime Directive in Star Trek and the whole time/space continuum. Namely it is this:
  • Government is designed to have money go from taxpayers to the government, and possibly back to taxpayers as a tax refund.
  • Any event occurring outside of this taxpayers-government-possible tax refund loop creates rips in the time/space continuum. Matter and anti-matter collide. Dimensions of being slam into one another. Chaos not only reigns, but replaces any semblance of order in all situations, even those generally given to predictability.
  • One direct result of this: the popularity of Howie Mandel and "Deal or No Deal".

Scot debates whether to claim the Bill Richardson Energy Rebate

P.S.: And I had forgotten that Big Bill called a "Special Session" to create all this. Thanks again, Bill. Really...thanks. You shouldn't have.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Nothing Rounds Out a Vacation Like a Political Rally

Did you know that there is another Heather Wilson
who is a professional "fitness model/competitor"?

No, I didn't either.

Okay, I'm a sucker for demonstrations. Heading out to the Black Balloon/Code Pink/anti-Heather hodge-podge shindig at Civic Plaza across from President W's Heather fundraiser at the downtown Hyatt. Of course my fervor for political action is helped somewhat by the event being:

1. about 100 yards from where I work out.
2. amid another free-wheeling, teacher off for the summer, afternoon (what day of the week is today? I forget...).

Maybe I'll see you guys out there. I'll be the one all sweaty from the gym (or as sweaty as someone can get who only works out for about 20 minutes, on average).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What Did You Say the Frequency Was Again, Kenneth?

I try to live a life in which nothing surprises me, especially in matters political.

But last night I admit it. I was a almost to the point of mild shock when Ken Mehlman, Republican National Committee Chairperson said on last night's Daily Show:

"I think greed, cynicism, all those things caused us to do it."

This in response to a somwhat rambling, but eventually straightforward question from Jon Stewart about how the Administration has become "parsers" of information instead of "straight shooters".

Here's a link to the video since I'm too cheapskate to have Quick Time Pro.

Speaking of Quick suggestion is to have 50 million viral videos made of this quote (with maybe the Democratic National Committee springing for free Quick Time Pro for all volunteer viralists) combined with a George Soros $500 million TV ad buy in which Stewart's question and Mehlman's response run in a continuous loop.

My guess is that Ken Mehlman is already circulating his resume this morning following this statement, but as Jon Stewart said over and over last night..."you've got a really hard're the guy who has to spray perfume on these turds..." Maybe Mehlman just needs a long break at this point.

My guess is that one will be offered to him very, very soon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"I Am Shocked, Shocked That Gambling...ur, Vote Rigging Is Going On In Here"

As a responsible Leftist, I am evidently supposed to hold as a core issue that electronic voting machines are evil and that the 2004 Presidential election was stolen. Today, a Bob Herbert New York Times op-ed states that pretty much everyone knows Ohio was stolen by the Republicans due to voter suppression (the column is one of those "Times Select" pay things, but some of the column can be found at Raw Story). Herbert's op-ed has generated another round of hyper-righteous indignation over at DailyKos about Ohio, electronic voting, Diebold and anything else possibly, remotely connected with elections such as that all Republicans are mean, nasty cheaters.

I am unmoved for the following reasons:

1. Vote fraud and fixing has been in place since the first flicker of democracy.

2. Vote rigging is not a Republican-only activity. As a Texan, I lean toward the shenanigans of Lyndon B. Johnson, but I must admit that Richard Daley's work for John F. Kennedy is the ne plus ultra of the artform.

3. The people/party in power get to set more rules, and this includes elections. Does this affect outcome? Sure. As we so incredibly naive as to be surprised by this?

4. Given that some level of vote rigging and fraud are commonplace and to be expected, the way to overcome this is for the party not in power to win by more than 47 votes (or whatever piss-ant winning margin conspiracy theorist Democrats claim would have been the result had....). Statistical ties go to the incumbent.

5. People who clamor against electronic voting and for a "paper trail" are the same people who try to argue that writing checks and mailing them is safer than paying bills online. As if a signature on a piece of paper means jack squat. As if putting something in a mailbox is any safer than sending an IP packet to a server. As if....

6. Any system, whether writing paper checks or stuffing paper ballot boxes, is subject to rigging and fraud. Electronic voting included.

7. I have nothing against being vigilant in these matters. What I object to is the hyper-righteous indignation from those on the Left that this is somehow new and that computers make it more pernicious than good older-fashioned rigging.

8. At the heart of the conspiratorialists argument seems to be the utter disbelief than anyone, any country would ever possibly vote for George W. Bush. Trust me, I share the loathing of W and his policies, but even with extensive vote suppression, fraud, and rigging a large percentage of voting Americans voted for this tool.

9. Face it, fellow Leftist folks, a very sizable number of voting Americans disagree with us. Yes, this number might not have been 50%+1 in 2004, but it was big enough to make things another statistical tie, and thus vulnerable to the well-honed election shaping that has been practiced since antiquity.

10. The solution, of course, is to annihilate the opposition regardless of voting method. Regardless of how many voting machines go into African-American precincts in southern Ohio. To quit bitching about how the opposition isn't nice and get the massive numbers of non-voters to vote. To have inspiring candidates who don't just pander to the least common denominator. To put in place things like a national Election Holiday. Maybe to even make voting for President as easy as voting for the next American Idol.

11. I look forward to the days after the annihilation, in which Democrats will be nationally accused, with reason, of rigging future elections. It will make LBJ, JFK and Richard Daley proud.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Czech Republic 3 Star-Spangled Banner 1*

I admit it...I root against the U.S. in most international competitions. Scratch that...I root against THEM in all international competitions. There are a bunch of reasons, and another one arrived at the start of Team USA's debacle v. the Czech Republic this morning.

I was all ready to feel kinda bad for rooting for the Czechs when I'm watching ESPN2 (flipping back and forth between them and Univision). Very close-up coverage of the very nervous teams as they make their way to the pitch. *First, the U.S. national anthem is played. Tight shots of all the nervous American players. Then....then...then...we go to commercials. The Czech national anthem doesn't hit U.S. air.

I switch to Univision and of course they have the Czech national anthem. I stick with Univision the rest of the game.

The egocentrism of this country (mine?) knows no bounds. Congrats to the Czechs! Go Italia! Go Ghana!

P.S.: I just found out the following from the BBC website regarding the German stadium in Gelsenkirchen where the U.S./Czech Rep. matched was played:

"The ground incorporates a 5km beer pipeline to keep punters well-lubricated during football matches, concerts or any other event that the highly adaptable venue is used for."

Now that's the kind of state-of-the-art technology we need more of around here! I say the U.S. needs fewer "smart bombs" and more "5km beer pipelines". Schnell.

Survival Is Mandatory; Summitting Is Optional

San Luis Peak from about 12,500 ft., June 9, 2006

You'll perhaps note that the picture above is not taken from the top of San Luis Peak in Colorado, but from well below its 14,000 and small change ft. summit. Okay, we didn't make it to the top....but I think an unsuccessful day hiking in the Colorado San Juans beats the workday most of us are having this fine Monday.

We made it to 13,000 (or so...) slowly making it to the summit of a puny little unnamed point along an extended ridge that eventually turns into one of San Luis' shoulders. Here's a view from that point:

You might notice the cloudiness, already building up a bit at only 10:30 in the morning. You don't see the wind, but it was blowing 30+, enough for a decent case of windburn and a bit of discomfort. Just enough pain and suffering to make one feel they were doing something a wee bit challenging. And it was those clouds that made us decide to turn back to camp, and not "do" San Luis. That, and us being kinda out-of-shape middle aged guys.

Despite our "failure", I'm already planning the next trip. Yes, I know that me mentioning this stuff is irritating to those who do not still have two months of vacation this summer. Yes, I can't help myself. No, I'm not really sorry.

P.S.: By the way, the "headline" for this post is a paraphrase of a quote by famed mountaineer Ed Viesturs: "Getting to the top is optional, but getting down is mandatory." Hey, if Ed Viesturs can say it, I don't feel nearly so wimpy.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Brother Carville's Travelling Salvation Show

I'm heading out of town and don't have time for a officially long, officially boring report on it, but I attended the James Carville Revival Meeting for Patsy Madrid earlier today at UNM. In a 12-minute sermon, Preacher James extolled a few finely sieved, chopped, and pureed political frameshop slogans, which were reverently written down on legal pads by devout Dem volunteers between uncontrolled interjections of "that's right!", "exactly, James, exactly!" and "Praise the Lord!". Okay, I made that last one was actually "Praise Carville as a God and let us construct a golden calf immediately as an offering to him!"

Preacher Carville in more of a Hunter S. Thompson-meets-General George S. Patton mode (photo not taken at UNM today, btw)

I looked closely, but saw no snakes being handled and could discern noone speaking in tongues. That's not to say it wasn't happening, however, as the multitude of hands thrown up in collective legal pad fervency and throaty ululations made sight lines unclear and hearing difficult.

Carville left quickly, answering only one crackpot question before scampering off. Many other crackpot questions on subjects like the International Conspiracy To Thwart Democracy Via Electronic Voting were blissfully left unasked. Then John Wertheim, NM Democratic Party Chairman, replaced the vivacious drawl of Carville with a uninspiring montone that could easily replace Ambien and Lunestra as a sleep-aid.

After only a few minutes of Wertheim my companion and I escaped into the pleasant afternoon, energized by the virally charismatic Carville, but openly wondering if such high spirits could be maintained in a state with such a impotent Party Chairman. Can we borrow Howard Dean from the national Dems for a few months?

Bigots & Drag Queens & Senators, Oh My....

You couldn't swing a dead fox stole yesterday without hitting a direct/indirect comment or visual regarding "alternative lifestyles".

Due to my glorious seasonal unemployment as a teacher, I had the chance to watch some of the U.S. Senate debate yesterday on the "Marriage Protection Amendment". Maybe "chance" isn't the right word. Perhaps "projectile vomit-inducing opportunity" better captures my mood as a viewer. My gastro-intestinal system didn't permit me to watch the whole thing, but I did get to see Louisiana Senatore David Vitter say outrageously idiotic things, such as:

"When we look at so many of the social ills we try to address in Congress with Government programs and proposals, serious social problems such as drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and the like, perhaps the single biggest predictor of good results versus bad results is whether kids come from a stable, loving, nurturing, two-parent family, a mother and a father."

I'm guessing that gay couples aren't a huge factor in regards to teenage pregnancies. Also, it is logically evident from Senator Vitter's comments that the piss-poor status of marriage these days is an osmosis-like intrusive bleeding effect of all these gay couples wanting to get legally married. Otherwise, you'd get the idea that Vitter was actually suggesting an "Incontrovertable Marriage Act" that would outlaw divorce.

Perhaps Vitter is also arguing for a "'Stable, Loving, Nurturing Family' Act" that would somehow penalize families that aren't "stable, loving and nurturing". If such an act passed, we could probably just get rid of the Federal Income Tax, based on the fines the government could accrue from families not being "stable, loving and nurturing" enough. A simple fine system could be put in place, as follows:

  • $25 fine: Parent calling son "a failure who will never amount to nothing"
  • $100 fine: Mom putting total guilt trip on daughter by blaming daughter's inability to "get a man" as a cause of Mom's failing health
  • $1000 fine: Sexual dalliance by either Mom or Dad
  • $10,000 fine: Dad moving out of home because he started diddling that hot young babe in accounting.
Hell, we'd have the federal deficit taken care of in no time.

Meanwhile, that hot cowboy crooner, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch got all bitchy with his old friend (seriously) Senator Edward Kennedy, after Ted said "the Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution". Orrin came back with :

"Does he really want to suggest that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?"

Uh, if we lived in anything approaching a perfect world, Senator Hatch, that's exactly what Senator Ted would have said. Because it's true.

And that gets us to Mary Herrera winning the Secretary of State primary race. You may ask yourself..."what does Mary Herrera have to do with the issue of gender preference and sexual roles?" You might think that this might be some "outing" of Mary Herrera, a vicious unfounded rumor, the kind blogs are famous for.

But this is nothing of the sort...I merely wish to point out that I finally figured out why Herrera has always scared me so much. I thought about it while checking primary election results and it finally hit me:

Mary Herrera is the secret fourth member of the drag-queen gang from "To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar"!

Let's check the evidence:

Okay, inconclusive...let's take another look

That's it! Mary Herrera isn't the fourth member, she IS Patrick Swayze from "...Wong Foo"!

The possibilities for traumatizing Un-"Stable, Loving, and Nurturing" psychic damage resulting from this Swayze-Herrera revelation stagger the mind. I think we need an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution dealing with this subject, and fast.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Primarily, I'm Bored

I know as a so-called blogger that I am supposed to be in a state of primary election fever. But I'm not. As a registered Green (one of four remaining in the state), I'm left out of this process. But that's not why I fail to be excited.

To be honest, this season's ballot hardly seems to be worth changing my party affiliation over. Many races aren't contested, including my State Rep. race in District 12. Others are just plain irritating, especially the Land Commissioner's race where two good candidates decided to go against each other (Powell/Baca) instead of seeking different offices and spreading the possible goodness. Then there are races that I know I'm supposed to care about, but have a hard time caring.

Attorney General, for instance. I know it's a stepping-stone office. I know it's played an important role in everything from fighting Big Tobacco to fighting political corruption. I know JoeMonahan is frothing in politico-epileptic seizure about it. Still, the AG's race just doesn't do it for me. The only thing on the ballot I really care about is the Public Regulatory Commission seat, and that's just because I don't want Steve "D." Gallegos to get it.

As the Presidential Election of 2004 proved, not wanting somebody to win isn't reason enough to vote for most people, and I admit I'll have to include myself in the group of "most people" in this particular instance.

Still, as a blogger and one with some pretensions of political interest, I feel a bit of unease in not voting. So, here's what I'm doing instead. I'm forcing my wife at verbal gunpoint to vote. She is still a registered Democrat (and let's face it, being a registered Republican is just about as worthless as being a Green in this year's primary), and she's been wishy-washy on this whole primary washout as well. She's been considering joining the 80 or so percent in not voting. Kinda like me.

So, I'm giving her a couple of big spiels about Steve "D" Gallegos being a ex-US West employee who now wants to regulate Qwest and that other people say Stephanie Gonzalez is the "bomb" for Secretary of State. Admittedly, mere words may not work...they certainly didn't do much for me.

If the same is true with my wife, I will then move on to making threats, beginning with a doing the dishes work stoppage. This will escalate over the course of the day to neglecting to do even my typically marginal job of house cleaning, then to my final threat, loud playing of the WEEI Boston feed of tonight's Red Sox/Yankees game via

Ten minutes of Joe Castiglione and Jerry Trupiano describing the action tonight will have the wife at my total mercy. Previous experiments involving such broadcast played at even very, very low levels of audibility have resulted in catty remarks, eye rolling and statements like "that's so boring, it's worth than watching golf!

So, it's pretty much a lock that one of us is voting today. Still, this is a disapponting primary, despite the rah-rah attempts by bloggers and others to convince us otherwise. I guess part of my decision to stay Green was to force the Democratic Party to come up with more interesting and plentiful choices in more local/state races. Today's ballot is an indication that my staying Green has accomplished nothing in this regard, a fact I'm constantly reminded of by my Green-loathing Democrat friends. The best example of that is U.S. House #1, where nobody is running against Patricia Madrid. Why the hell not? Why is the mere introduction of a name like Madrid's into the race make her Democratic nomination a fait accompli? Where's Miles Nelson where you need him? Yeah, I know....Santa Fe .

Something bigger is needed. Perhaps I need to switch parties and become a Democrat after all. Perhaps I need to not only get involved in helping the Party, but consider running for an office such as my uncontested State Representative seat. Maybe go from there to bigger and better offices, rising through the Democratic ranks to become a important voice on issues that mean alot to us on the further side of the Left.

Or maybe I'll just stop doing the dishes and listen to baseball games really, really loud.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tense Watching Replaces Hiking in the Sandias

A few days back I asked a few hiking friends sitting around a post-hike table of pizza and beer if they knew about any problems with people violating the Class 3 Fire Restrictions in the Sandias. These are tough days for us hiker types, looking every day at all that mountain to be walked around and knowing it's off limits. Certainly not a level of anguish matching the problems animals and plants are having keeping hydrated up there, but irritating nonetheless.

Now we find that two fires were deliberately set around still-open "picnic areas" along the Crest Road. This leads to a few questions:

  1. Why were the campgrounds and the Crest Road still open in the first place?
  2. As a hiker type myself, why would anybody think hiker/campers would be more likely to be careless with fire than somebody in an "official picnic area" along the side of the road?
  3. Why do I, as a hiker/camper type, naturally associate "official picnic areas" like Doc Long with slothful, beergut losers and their overly large families?
  4. Why are national forest restrictions bent to accomodate slothful, beergut losers and their overly large families?
  5. Sheriff Darren White mentioned that the area will see increased patrols. Who are in these patrols and how are they formed?
For the fifth question, I called the Sandia Ranger Station and found out patrols consist of professional and volunteer staff. Due to the severity of the situation Cibola NF is using principally all the seasoned volunteer staff they can get their hands on, but new volunteers are welcome as well.

Those, like myself, interested in helping out can do so by going to the Ranger Station in Tijeras, picking up a "volunteer packet" and setting up a time for training. The person I spoke with mentioned something about training happening "monthly", but perhaps the gravity of the situation will speed that up a bit.

If you're interested, call Dana Howlett at the Ranger Station (281-3304) or drop by from 8:00-5:00 M-F or 8:30-5:00 on Saturday.

I do have a sixth question....

6. We have "Minutemen" and now National Guard troops at the U.S./Mexico border protecting us from that perceived danger. Is anyone besides me much more worried about losing a National Forest than gaining some more highly motivated undocumented workers and their families?

Oh...I know it's about more than that. It's about Al-Qaeda, drug runners, and Spanish spreading like a cancer through the land. Okay, I'll let the matter drop and stick with a simple plea that maybe some National Guard help in the forest might not be a bad idea.

Or maybe we can just hope real hard for a real early, strong monsoon. Or for those more secular types who think "hoping real hard" is dangerously close to praying, maybe we can hookup some cloudseeding planes pronto.

P.S.: Speaking of immigration and firefighting, did anybody see this New York Times story about the importance of "illegal immigrants" to the firefighting effort? Quoting from the story...

"As many as half of the roughly 5,000 private firefighters based in the Pacific Northwest and contracted by state and federal governments to fight forest fires are immigrants, mostly from Mexico. And an untold number of them are working here illegally."

Oh, that's right, "illegal immigrants" suck life from our economy. They add nothing.