In dry years like this one, hiking the trails you see a lot of dead
ponderosas. It's so sad, thinking of the loss of beautiful, tall trees
Several years ago, someone who researches trees told us that
even when ponderosas look dead, they may just be conserving resources.
They might still bounce back in the next wet season. It's hard to
believe, when you see a tree covered entirely with brown, dead
needles. I confess, I didn't believe him.
But then we had a wet season, and I started seeing miracles.
Los Alamos is running a Privacy Study, which I'm co-chairing.
As preparation for our second meeting, I gave a Toastmasters talk entitled
"Browser Privacy: Cookies and Tracking and Scripts, Oh My!"
A link to the talk video, a transcript, and lots of extra details
are available on my newly created
When I was in grade school -- probably some time around 7th grade -- I
happened upon an article in Scientific American about the Anasazi Sun
Dagger on Fajada
Butte in Chaco Canyon. On the solstices and equinoxes, a thin
dagger of light is positioned just right so that it moves across a
spiral that's carved into the rock.
I was captivated. What an amazing sight it must be, I thought.
I wondered if ordinary people were allowed to go see it.
Well, by the time I was old enough to do my own traveling, the answer
was pretty much no. Too many people were visiting Fajada Butte ...
"Ho hum, it's just our local city park", we say, walking back
to the parking area from the overlook at Overlook Park here in White Rock.
We're joking, of course. The Overlook has stunning views of White Rock
Canyon that change as the light changes. It's maybe three miles from
home, and we visit it fairly often and never get tired of the view.
It's amazing to have a place like this so close to home.
And sometimes we get to thinking: how many other towns have a
city park that compares?
A pair of mountain chickadees have a nest in the nest box I set up
outside the bedroom window.
I first saw them bringing food to the nest almost a month ago, May 10,
though I'm not sure if they were bringing food to a nest-sitting
parent, or if they were feeding chicks that had already hatched.
Chickadees at a nest are quick-moving: they flit up to the
hole and immediately enter, not lingering on the threshold like
ash-throated flycatchers or Bewick's wrens, both of which have used
this nestbox in past years. So it's not easy to get photos of chickadees
at the nest box. So instead, here's a photo of
a mountain chickadee from several years ago.
Since May 10 there's been plenty of activity, chickadees flying in and
out, bringing food and carrying away fecal sacs.
For this year's LWV NM Voter Guides at
I've been doing a lot of GIS fiddling, since the system needs to know the
voting districts for each race.
You would think it would be easy to find GIS for voting districts —
surely that's public information? — but counties and the state
are remarkably resistant to giving out any sort of data
(they're happy to give you a PDF or a JPG),
so finding the district data takes a lot of searching.
Often, when we finally manage to get GIS info, it isn't for what we want.
For instance, for San Juan County, there's a file that claims to be
County Commission districts (which would look like the image above left),
but the shapes in the file are actually voting precincts (above right).
A district is made up of multiple precincts; in San Juan, there are 77
precincts making up five districts.
In a case like that, you need some way of combining several shapes (a
bunch of precincts) into one (a district).
It turns out that the process of coalescing lots of small
shapes into a smaller number of larger shapes is unintuitively
Driving down to Española a few days ago, I was struck by
this lovely cloud formation -- a lenticular cloud over the Sangre de
Cristos, with something more cumulussy in front of it.
Though admittedly, lenticular clouds aren't particularly uncommon here.
The Sangres, in particular, seem to form eddies that lead to all sorts
of interesting lenticular cloud structures.
Lenticulars apparently are good indicators of lift: glider pilots
seek them out. I guess if we had more moisture in the air, we might
have seen some lenticulars over the field Sunday morning when we were
flying R/C planes at Overlook.
Seems like during the lockdown, everyone's taking up new crafts --
sewing, bread baking, or whatever. I was a little ahead of the game.
Last winter I learned to knit. I'd crocheted a little when I was a
teenager, but I'd always seen knitting as much more complicated.
It started because I couldn't find a decent headband. I'm not a big
fan of hats, because migraines, but sometimes my ears get cold on hikes.
I was dissatisfied with the headbands I found in outdoor apparel stores:
they tend to be too narrow to cover my ears, too tight, overpriced,
and don't come in many colors either. I bought one but wasn't happy
with it. I decided I could probably learn to knit my own headband
before I found one I liked.
Los Alamos has a great knitting community, as it turns out.
(I suspect most communities do).
Doris, a friend from Toastmasters, is an avid lifelong knitter
(I knew that from her
Toastmasters talks, of course), and she steered me to some good
beginner books and gave me hints on which size starter needles to buy,
including a set of circular needles since everything I was interested
in making lent itself to knitting "in the round". But Doris also
gave me a list of four different times the local knitters met in
person, including one very convenient weekly meeting at the White Rock
Library just a few miles from home.