Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Won't You Do My Neighbor?

It snowed in ABQ last Friday.  I usually have every Friday off in winter, so I didn't worry about getting to work.  Still, I woke up at my usual time and went outside to shovel off our driveway and sidewalks.  (I didn't beat one dog walker, darn it!  It's always tougher to shovel off compacted footyprints -- and your little dog, too!)

I also shoveled the front walk for our next door neighbor, who is unable to do it himself.  (The snow usually melts by the end of the day, but our country is so litigious, it's better to head off a lawsuit than to expect people to be careful how they walk in winter.)  Before I could finish my good deed & escape, my neighbor's sister (who picks up his daily paper and takes out his trash & recycling every week) caught me and was effusive with her thanks.  (She was on the verge of tears.)  She asked if I wanted anything for my effort, and I replied, "No, thanks.  This is just what neighbors do."

Well, it used to be what neighbors do.  When I was growing up, one of my older brothers & other neighborhood boys would walk the neighborhood, asking neighbors if they wanted their driveways shoveled, and picking up some pocket money at the same time.  Does that happen now?  Absolutely not.

My mother is a senior citizen.  She has been widowed for ten years.  I've lived with her for just two years.  Do you think anyone rang her doorbell and asked if she wanted them to shovel for her?  That's a big, fat no.  Whatever happened to kids trying to make a bit of money?  Whatever happened to helping your neighbors?  Whatever happened to doing unto others?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Whither Canada?

Now that it's winter, our workload is greatly reduced, and I try to fill my workday with other things to keep me occupied.  (It's more of a challenge this year than last, since our office manager moved desks and now sits behind me and could see what's on my computer screen.)  The other day, I wasted time on Google Earth.  I was inspired by a news story about warm arctic temperatures, and I pondered what far northern Canada looks like.

Well, seen from above, it's a mass of white.  Then, I rotated the Earth to look at Antarctica.  It, too, is a mass of white, but I learned that it reaches an elevation of just over 12,000 feet above sea level.  Then I started pondering the elevation of other areas.  I know that the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque, NM top 10,000 feet, but what about my house?

The driveway (I chose the driveway as a uniform point for multiple sites) is at 5,963 feet, which just goes to prove that Denver might be a mile-high city, but it isn't the only mile-high city.  My friend in Socorro, NM (hi, Betty!) is at 4,603 feet, and my condominium parking lot in Las Cruces, NM is at 3,895 feet.

We've dropped 2,000 feet so far, and I'm not done.  I looked for where I last lived, in Tulsa, OK.  It's only 730 feet above sea level.  How low can we go?  The driveway of my childhood home in Cherry Hill, NJ is at just 38 feet.  (If the world floods, bye-bye childhood.)

Would anything else flood?  I've frequently wondered why, if my condominium is in the Chihuahuan Desert, and on the second floor to boot, I have to have flood insurance.  According to Google Earth (and this is just scratching the surface of what I could learn), it's just 1,300 feet to the railroad tracks (after two or three days, the trains won't wake you up any more).  That's about three (American) football fields, including the end zones.  However, it's 13,600 feet (2.5 miles) to the river.  Aha!  The elevation of the river is 3,893 feet, just two feet lower than my parking lot.  I could see then (at least in calculations) how the parking lot could flood if the river rose.  Still, in reality, for the river to rise two feet and stretch 2.5 miles to the east would require a Biblical amount of water.  (I suppose I could calculate how much water that would be, and then compare it to the water held in Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs upstream, but I don't want to bother with that much effort.  Just coming up with this blog post was enough.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This Isn't My Fault

Technically, it is my fault, since I am sharing it with you.  I am not the originator, however.  For that, you will need to blame the author Leslie Meier for including this in her book British Manor Murder.

"'A horrible fellow, by all accounts.  He was killed in Canada in the Seven Years War, and they sent his body home in a barrel of rum,' said Perry.  'People at the time said he came home in better spirits than he left.'"

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Where Am I?

People think differently in NM than they do in the rest of the USA.  To us, "L.A." and "S.F." don't mean Los Angeles and San Francisco.  They refer to Los Alamos and Santa Fe.  We have a Las Vegas that is older than the city in Nevada that is more famous, for some reason, even though our Las Vegas is known for the Rough Riders Museum and where they filmed the (original) movie Red Dawn.  Speaking of famous, would you rather go to the Riverwalk in Texas or visit the Owl Bar and the hometown of Conrad Hilton in San Antonio, NM?

Who Am I?

In our office, we've remarked lightly on our employees' names.  For some reason, many of them begin with the letter "J".  Our roster currently includes the following:  Jose, Juan, Javier, Joaquin, Jaime, Jesus, and Jacobo (several of these more than once).

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Through the Years

When I was thirty, I started referring to college students as "kids".

When I was forty, I realized that the sweet, young things I was admiring were half my age.

What will happen when I turn fifty?

Every So Often

I tend to be on the verge of artistry.  I can say something or write something or visualize something that's really good and makes me seem talented.  I don't have a lot of follow-through or consistency, though.

For example, in my college poetry class, I wrote some really good poems.  I also wrote a lot of dreck.  I could do more, if I put my mind to it.  I also remember, at my first public garden internship, I saw a couple of trees together that I thought looked like a great combination.  The photo I took of them, though, didn't turn out nearly as well as my eyes and brain had remembered.

Lately, though, I think I got a couple of good ones.  These were taken in the plant holding area at work, before sun melted the frost.  After a long while, I finally have something good enough to share.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Day After

This is not a political post.  It relates some important (to me, at least) things that happened on the day following the election.

On my drive home from work, I was pulled over by a state police officer on the interstate.  I hadn't done anything wrong, but he let me know that my car's tail lights weren't working.  (I'll see if I can get a service appt. today during my lunch break, lest I get pulled over again tonight.)

Later during my drive, a car pulled up next to me at a stop sign and flashed a flashlight at me.  The driver rolled down his window and informed me that my tail lights were out.  What are the chances that two people let me know the same thing in a span of twenty minutes?  (What are the chances that I've been driving like that for a while?)

At 9:30 last night, I happened to be looking out one of my house's front windows when I saw headlights and tail lights pass by very fast in front of the house, accompanied by the sound of a soda can being run over.  The next instant, my brain processed that there was something else metal in front of the house...  You guessed it:  our mailbox had been smashed -- for the third time this year!

I phoned the police and asked to file a report.  I had trouble falling asleep, possibly because I was stressing about the mailbox.  The phone rang; it was the police department apologizing that they hadn't sent anyone yet.  I got back into bed and tried slowing my heart rate.  It must have worked, because I had just dropped off to sleep when the phone rang again.  It was the police officer in front of the house, asking me to come outside.

The officer took my name and phone number, which I had already given when I first called, and my birthdate, which I hadn't been asked for earlier.  As she pointed her flashlight around (and that was one darned powerful flashlight; I wonder if they can be bought by private citizens), we saw a bit of pumpkin on the mailbox latch, two orange spots on the sidewalk and driveway, where the pumpkin had bounced, and the pumpkin itself, where it had finally come to rest in our yard.

When I picked up the pumpkin this morning, I saw that it had been an entire pumpkin (although the stem and portion of the fruit had broken off, very similar to the way carvers will open the pumpkin), and seeds had scattered on the sidewalk and front yard.  I'll have to give the poor thing a proper burial in the compost pile this weekend.

No, I am not so culturally ignorant that I'm unaware of the band called Smashing Pumpkins, but I certainly never expected to encounter one of their members on a quiet street in Albuquerque.

Surprised by the Surprise

The American media are reporting that many citizens are "in shock" or "surprised" by the result of the Presidential election.  They had reported similar responses after the British "brexit" vote earlier this year.

How can people possibly be surprised?  For brexit, it was a matter of stay in the E. U. or leave ("Should I stay or should I go now?").  For the Presidency, there were more candidates (at least three on the ballot, depending on one's state), but two were the most likely to be elected.  In a case of one or the other, how can anyone be surprised that one of those choices was approved?

Monday, October 31, 2016

It Was Definitely a Trick

When I woke up this morning, I wondered how I could feel so tired and want to stay in bed on a Monday, although I had the opportunity the day before to sleep in but had slept restlessly and couldn't fall back to sleep.  I had already put in my contact lenses and washed my face when I realized that I had woken up exactly one hour early for work.

I knew I wouldn't be able to fall asleep again, so I continued with my shave and then sat up for an hour, reading until it was (the usual) time for breakfast.  I think I deserve a piece of candy tonight, for that.