The Big Bad Sultans of Swat And One Eight Year Old Girl

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Imagine it if you will, Albuquerque in the 1970’s. Idyllic late summer days of blazing hot temperatures and then around 4pm, the boiling dark clouds move in and the rain comes a’pouring down.

That summer monsoon rain would cool things off, water the plants and change the smell of the air.

I used to love running outside to play in the pouring rain. It was always a warm rain and I’d dance among the raindrops, catch a few on my tongue and generally frolicking about getting soaked from head to toe while searching for rainbows.

Rain storms in New Mexico are a show. Ripping bolts of lightning and crashing booms of thunder. On one such dancing day in the rain when I was a kid, I didn’t realize how close I was to the center of the storm, and as I did my soggy dance, the thunder cracked so loudly that my feet moved from a lively jig to a dead ahead run in one swift movement as terror coursed through my veins.

It looked something like…well…this:




Except I was an eight year old girl. The people in this .gif are grown ass men. Major league ballplayers for the New York Yankees. (there is video out there, the Boston players had a similar reaction).

But I know the feeling. Oh, I get it.

Just as my dad laughed his butt off when I went racing by, terrified and soaking, I am laughing my head off at this .gif (and the video).

Just can’t stop watching it. heh.




.gif found on Cheezburger.com.





Who Is The Grown Up? Huh?

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So of course, I’m the jerk.

Friday afternoon after a long week at work and dealing with more than the average load of dung, I was ready for the weekend.

The Good Man was working in a town quite a bit farther away and we had plans to have dinner with friends. Because we live in a place that has too damn many people, managing commute time traffic is “a thing”. This means that I eschewed my car and instead got my shoes on. Late Friday afternoon I found myself walking to the nearest BART station about a mile away.

I had been too lazy about getting ready and was up against it in terms of time, so I walked at a pretty fast clip. I was keeping up a good pace so I could catch my train.

Now, sideline comment here, I haaaate when I’m out walking on trails and tracks and as someone approaches from the opposite direction, they don’t get over. So then I’m run off into the weeds in my haste to make room. Me, always me. So few OTHER people make room.

I also hate clueless people who don’t move over on sidewalks. Who stop dead center in front of the door into a business. Who stand in the middle of the aisle at the supermarket. It’s all about lack of awareness of surroundings and lack of caring about what is going on in the world.

My folks taught me to be polite and taught me to be considerate. This lesson is strong in me and I can see other parents didn’t value this quite as much as mine did.

So of course, as I walked down a long sidewalk past many shops and restaurants, I was already steaming a bit about the lack of consideration from fellow mankind. I had already been run off of the sidewalk and out into the very busy street by a group of “ladies who lunch” who refused to move from dead center of the sidewalk. By a youngish guy riding his bike on the sidewalk straight at me who wouldn’t move over or into the street. By a guy with two huge dogs who could not have given less of a damn. By a lady with two toddlers who are clearly fine unattended on a very busy sidewalk.

So I was steamed. I just wanted to get to the freaking BART station. And to see my husband.

Finally I found a stretch of clear sidewalk and I kicked in what tiny afterburners I have and picked up my pace.

It was about this time that a pretty little goldilocked girl, aged maybe twelve or thirteen, came toddling out of a building. Her friends followed behind. Clueless, of course. She walked right in front of me then stopped. My big ship does not veer that fast, especially at speed. I tried to avoid her but instead I glanced into her shoulder. As I passed, I said a rather stern “excuse me!!!” and kept walking.

Except…I heard the notebook that she had been carrying under her arm hit the pavement. I’d jolted her so hard she dropped her book. I wanted to keep walking. Screw it! I thought. She had stepped in front of me. Cut me off! Not my fault!

But I realized analysis of any outsider (and certainly her helicopter parents, had they been present) would say that I am the asshole in that situation. I am the jerk. I am the grown up and precious little curly blonde sunshine teenager is the in the right.

Even if I am right, I am wrong. The court of public opinion says “think of the children! It’s all about the children!” even though special snowflake was clueless and in the wrong. Nope, I’m still the wrong one.

So I stopped. I turned around. I saw three little shocked wide eyed little girls with bow lipped mouths registering disdain. I leaned over to pick up her notebook, but one of her friends already got it. I said, “I’m sorry, darlin’, I didn’t mean to run into you. Are you ok?”

She said, “I’m fine.” And I said, “Ok, again, I’m sorry,” and she said “It’s ok” then I turned around and walked off quickly, now later than ever for my train.

As I walked I now felt sheepish and mad in equal parts. Sheepish for slamming into a little girl so hard she dropped her notebook. Mad because what the hell!? Get out of the way!

Argh!

When I was a kid the world did not revolve around me, but now as a childless by choice adult I have to revolve around other people’s ill mannered kids.

Not something I can solve. Just wanted to air it out. Thanks for the group therapy.






Image found here.




You, there! Stop That!

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Yesterday was quite an important day for me at work. As a still fairly new employee, I am required to complete a whole list of mandatory training courses and over the past six weeks, in addition to being thrown into the deep end of the pool on work matters, I have been finding every spare minute possible to knock my training items off the list.

Most of the subjects are online courses and can be started and stopped at will, so that helps. There are a few, however, that are required to be taken in person.

Yesterday I had to travel some distance to another building at a far flung campus in order to attend  : cue very dramatic music : Safety Training.

Oh yes, I am employed by a very safety minded entity, and that’s actually quite ok. There are lots of people here who perform very dangerous work and making sure those employees are safe and looked after is of vital importance.

However, in the parlance of The Good Man, I pilot a desk for a living. So do the kind souls who are forced to report to me. This means the risk factors tend to drop off dramatically to include things like aggressive paper cuts and oh damn I tripped on the copy machine.

But rules are rules and every manager MUST take this training regardless of function.

So of course about 85% of the training class didn’t apply to me. As I sat there listening to the types of harness that can be used for overhead work and then a hearty debate about whether or not a lab worker should be required to wear safety glasses when looking in a microscope, my well documented monkey-mind took a whole other journey.

I recalled back to the very early years of my employment when I worked for Sandia Labs and as part of employment I had to take both rattlesnake and coyote training. That’s right, we had to learn to spot, avoid and deal with these common inhabitants of the New Mexican desert.

Even though I also piloted a desk back then, rattlesnake training certainly grabbed and held my attention for the duration of the seminar. Today’s detailed dissertation on eye-wash procedures less so.

So then I started thinking about other safety courses that would be fun to take. Advanced crocodile wrestling, perhaps? How about Zip Lining To Freedom for Beginners? Dog Sledding and You: How to remain the leader of the pack? Or…Golden Gate Bridge painting, how to cling to the wires on especially windy days.

C’mon! That’s actual safety! That stuff is not only cool it matters!

No, instead I learned that while typing your wrist can bend to between zero and 25% and you should be ok Carpal Tunnel-wise. More than 25% and I need to fill out a stack of forms and evidently point and taunt. (Ok, not actually on that last part but would that be fun? “Jimmy’s gonna Carpal! Jimmy’s gonna Carpal!”)

Well I can tell you, those two hours of a dry PowerPoint presentation really made a big impact on me. I’m now fully compliant and safety trained. I’ve already warned The Good Man that safety walk around of the apartment is coming soon (surprise inspection, of course). Oh yes, he and The Feline are gonna get inspected real good. “You there! That fuzzy felt mouse with one eye ripped off is just lying in the middle of hallway! Trip hazard!”

A monkey-minded woman with a little bit of knowledge is a very dangerous thing.

Next course: Surviving Life With Karen, a primer for man and beast.









Image from Clay Bennett.




From Insanity to History

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My whole life I have been endlessly fascinated with space and space travel along with the men and women who build the history and science behind space travel.

Call it a side effect of growing up in New Mexico.

As a fairly young kid I read the book “The Right Stuff” and ate up every word. So I read it again.

Just recently, I read the book yet again and I still loved every bit of it.

I’ve always been an especially huge fan of the early pilots like Chuck Yeager who were willing (on their small military pay) to strap into experimental machines just to see what they could do.

Can you imagine how insane people thought Chuck Yeager was when he was trying to break the sound barrier in a fast plane?

And he was, just a little. But his willingness to put his life on the line meant that scientists understood what body and machine went through at the speed of sound so that they could make better machines and better safety equipment.

Despite the enormous success of the US Space program, I’ve often wished that the military and NASA didn’t give up on developing pilot controlled airplanes to facilitate space travel. They were making good progress when the space race intervened and something had to be done quickly.

Instead of highly experimental planes, it was easier to strap an astronaut to a rocket and blast off. Hell, the solid rocket booster technology that fueled the last Space Shuttle launch in 2011 dates back to the 1960’s. And it still works. More or less.

Today with the sad decline of NASA and the growth of private space development, we may be getting back to the realm of real fast piloted planes as a way to get people up into space. As we start thinking about space tourism, the thoughts of safety become more important.

Enter the latest in a long line of courageous (and a little bit crazy) men. Yesterday an Austrian gentleman named Felix Baumgartner piloted a helium balloon to some 127,000 feet over the New Mexico desert (a record for a piloted balloon flight), and then he jumped out.

You know, just to see what his experimental spacesuit would do.

It was, first and foremost, a publicity stunt for Red Bull energy drinks. But there’s more to it than that. Mr. Baumgartner was testing a new pressure suit that not only protected his body but allowed maneuverability. Traditional pressure suits used in space flight don’t allow the astronaut to move around much which means in the event of danger it is damn near impossible for astronauts to eject and to survive.

So in his fairly thin space suit, Mr Baumgartner broke the sound barrier. With his body. On the same day, October 14, that Chuck Yeager first hit Mach 1 back in 1947.

Sixty-five years ago breaking the sound barrier seemed far fetched. To break the sound barrier with little more than a space suit on seemed nigh on impossible.

And yet.

When I first heard about this proposed jump from space, I thought it was pure insanity. As time went on I became more and more fascinated by the possibility of it.

Yesterday when I saw they were live streaming the event, I was all over it.

I have to be honest, I didn’t think Mr. Baumgartner was going to survive the jump. I worried that I was spectating a man’s death.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment when he was standing there on the step of his capsule.

And then he wasn’t.

As his body tumbled and cartwheeled I was absolutely terrified. Well made airplanes have broken apart at those speeds. I thought that was it. I thought there was no way.

Then somehow he got control. His body righted itself and he was in perfect form and he was really doing this thing!

Then at just the right time his parachute deployed and he sailed down to mother earth. Feet touched ground and he took a couple steps and boop, he was home.

That crazy bastard. What an accomplishment.

And what a step forward for commercial space travel.








Image found on SFGate.com with photography credit to Red Bull Stratos.



Whoa Fair New Mexico Files, Part II

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My homestate is on *fire* this week!

Today, news from the burg known as Vaughn. However, if you are a NM native, you might actually refer to the separate entities of Vaughn and Encino and simply VaughnandEncino.

Because honestly, aren’t they the same place?

My favorite part about VaughnandEncinco is that if you are traveling north out of Roswell headed toward Albuquerque on highway 285, you adore VaughnandEncino because the road actually curves. And it’s a good curve too!

After hours of straight as a stick road, a curve is pretty damn cool.

True story.

My second favorite part about VaughnandEncino is the one gas station in Vaughn. When you go inside to use the ladies room, there is a HUGE buck mounted up over the door to the ladies room. You have to walk under this beast to have a wee. It’s both terrifying and cool.

Ah, VaughnandEncino. Making national news.

_________________


Police chief resigns, NM force has gone to the dog

VAUGHN, N.M. (AP) — A drug-sniffing dog now is the only certified member of the police force in the small eastern New Mexico town of Vaughn.

Police Chief Ernest “Chris” Armijo decided to step down Wednesday after news stories reported that he wasn’t allowed to carry a gun because of his criminal background.

“He decided the attention was distracting,” said Dave Romero, an attorney for the town.

State officials said Armijo couldn’t carry a gun since acknowledging that he owed tens of thousands of dollars in delinquent child support payments in Texas. Armijo also faces new felony charges after being accused of selling a town-owned rifle and pocketing the cash.

Romero said Armijo is working to clear up the latest case. He said Armijo has not ruled out seeking the police chief’s position again if his case is resolved and the position is open.

According to records, the only qualified member of the Vaughn Police Department is Nikka, a drug-sniffing dog. Vaughn’s other officer isn’t certified and pleaded guilty to charges of assault and battery last year. Noncertified officers can’t make arrests and can’t carry firearms.

But Romero said not having an officer qualified to carry a gun didn’t put Vaughn at risk. “England doesn’t allow police officers to carry guns,” he said. “Sometime the strongest weapon in law enforcement is communication.”

Vaughn, a town of about 450 located 104 miles east of Albuquerque, is a quiet town that is an overnight stop for railroad workers. And while residents say there is no crime problem, the town is set deep in what U.S. Homeland Security Investigations officials say is an isolated region of the state popular with drug traffickers. Officials say the desolate roads in Guadalupe County make it hard for authorities to catch smugglers moving drugs from Mexico.

Guadalupe County Sheriff Michael Lucero said since news about the police chief’s record became public his department has helped patrol Vaughn. But he said those efforts have put a slight strain on his already short-staffed department.

“I visit the town at least once a month,” said Lucero. “The important thing is to keep a presence so residents know we’re there to help if we’re needed.”

Romero said town officials are considering whether to hire another police chief or keep the department staffed with just one officer. He said it’s unclear whether the town will keep the police dog, which had been in Armijo’s care.

When approached by a reporter from The Associated Press at his Vaughn home, Armijo said he had no comment, and he declined to grant access to the canine for photographs or video.

The dog’s kennel could be seen in Armijo’s backyard, and a police truck marked “K-9” was parked in his driveway.

At Penny’s Diner, residents said they were embarrassed by the attention the episode has put on the small town.

“There’s just a whole lot of nothing going on here,” said cook Joyce Tabor. “We have very little crime. It’s quiet. So this really doesn’t matter.”








Source.