Thursday, June 30, 2011

Conchas Fire Pictures

I was driving from Santa Fe to Albuquerque Wednesday afternoon and I was able to take these pictures of the fire that is close to destroying Los Alamos. As a bit of perspective, I am about 40 miles from where the fire is burning when I took these shots.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shut Out!

From any and all hiking. Every mountain, national forest, city open space has been closed because of the fire danger. We're all hoping the residents of Los Alamos find their city saved.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Return to Trail of Death

The "Trail of Death" is one of the first trails that I blazed when I moved to our current home in 2000. It is really a series of informal trails that go up and down one of the foothills just East of our house. I was a pretty novice hiker and this particular trail seemed to be quite a challenge. As I got more experienced, I confirmed to myself, "this really is a challenge!" The reason for this is the steepness of the trails and the quality of the trails themselves.

For years prior to my getting my snow hiking gear, it would be my winter hiking grounds. It has been a couple of years since I've been on it. But it has the distinct advantage of not being in the National Forest. Hence it is a trail still available to me during this period of drought and forest closures.
(Note: I was facing east early in the morning and with the rising sun my pictures were not very good.)

Here is the hill just a few minutes from the house. I will head to the left side to go up. Transverse the top. Head due east and then go down on the right (or south) side.

Here I am ready to go up. I will head up on the diagonal line that you see mid-picture going from lower right to upper left. Then, I follow the ridge line as I head up.

These two pictures show the nature of rock strewn and hard packed quality of the trails that make it extremely difficult both ascending and descending. The "Trail of Death" got its name from me because of how easy it is to slip and loose your footing. That is still true.

I took this from close to the end of the first major climb to give you an idea of the steepness.

After the first few climbs (my pictures of the stair step nature of the climbs didn't turn out) you transverse an area that is almost tundra like.

Climbing the last big climb, I am looking down on the south side area I will be descending through.

From the highest point looking west back of Albuquerque.

This the area that I was look down upon after making my first steep descent.

And looking back the way I came.

And looking down the final descent.

I was thinking as I was finishing the hike and heading home about how cool it is and how lucky I am to have something like this that I can walk to from my house and still live in a place where I'm 25 minutes from an airport where I'm just a plane change from getting to my kids spread over the world.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hats Off To Albuquerque!

Our local newspaper recently published a story that said that the water consumption in Albuquerque had dropped 19% over the last 10 or 20 years (I don't remember exactly which). The important thing to understand here is it dropped in real terms not just in per capita terms.

That means that even though we've had a lot of growth here, the rate of water use savings has been greater than the increase of water use from additional population. There are a lot of Western cities that have decreased per capita water use but their total water use has been undone by population growth.

Good job Albuquerque!

And now back to our ex-University President, Internet prostitution scandal...much more representative of our city.

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Official...Progeny Now Will Be All Over The World

We got the word today from venerable daughter # 2, Pulisha and husband 2B on their first Foreign Service (not to be confused with French Foreign Legion) posting. They will be going to Manila in the Philippines for a two year assignment!

They never expected this because they were told that they would not teach her another language, since she needs a brush up on her Mandarin. (As most of us would too...actually most of us would need a deep steam cleaning on our non-existent Mandarin...unless it was Mandarin Oranges). So they will be staying in the same apartment in DC until next April. Summer will be spent doing Consular training. (According venerable Pu consular work consists of having lines of people seeing you requesting visas; your job being to say "No you can't come to the USA...Please don't shoot me.) Then in September she will start an 8 month course to learn Tagalog (language of the Philippines.

2B will be able to work for his former company while they are in DC. So they will ship out in April of 2012 and be back in the states in April of 2014 when Pu will be doing 8 more months of Mandarin training before they will be sent to China. (Got it - DC..Philippines...DC...China)

They are over the moon excited about this assignment. The climate is supposed to be good. The cost of living is not bad. The climate is temperate. They’re close to the water which 2B loves. There are evidently a lot of spousal employment opportunities. They will be close to Australia and New Zealand (which Wife and I would love to visit again!). So start making those vacation plans for 2012-2013!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

12 Hour Days - Not Happy :(

I've been trying to slow down a a bit. You know sort of make some compensation to my advancing age. But there are still those pesky clients to serve. Especially those darn ones who are your major clients and paying you lots of money. So today was a long day.
  • Started with the 7 AM pre-breakfast with important client
  • Then drive 60 miles to Santa Fe for real breakfast at 9 AM
  • Then back to Albuquerque.
  • 2 PM meeting with old client that had new work for me (yay money!)
  • The long ass meeting from 4 PM to 6:30 PM with important client again.
Could be worse. Could be unemployed :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Al Fresco Dining...At Last

The weather has been so crazy this year (you get that kind of thing just before an impending Ice Age...yes I said Ice your geologic history over the last million years). Our "windy" season has gone on two months longer than normal. We are cooler than normal. It's crazy.

As a result tonight was the first night that we've been able to eat outside for dinner (al fresco is an Italian term for eating outside...I think). We're hoping that this is finally the end of the incessant winds. And we're hoping for rain.

Monday, June 20, 2011

So Long To Hiking (for a while)

So if you're looking at the national news you may be aware that because we've had no measurable precipitation in the Southwest since January and as a result large parts of it are burning up. As a result we here in Albuquerque are having days where the smoke rolling in from 250 miles away from a the fire in Arizona blotting out our view of the mountain.

As a result the National Forest Service is closing our mountain to reduce the chances of some idiot setting it on fire. Of course because of bureaucratic reasons only known by the bureaucracy, they made this announcement last Thursday. So we had one more weekend to indulge. My buddy John who I went hiking with commented if it was so dangerous why didn't they just close it immediately?

Anyway we did a 9 mile hike to one of my favorite look out points and greatly appreciated it. Hopefully the the monsoon rains come soon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cooking with Bloggers

So at the end of our Wisconsin reunion trip, I had concocted the idea that since I was in the Northern Midwest that it would be a great idea to go to St. Paul MN and cook a meal for my blogging buddy Terri Terri. Terri has written a quite excellent post that covers our relationship and the feelings of the whole night. Thanks Terri! So rather than redo the ground she so eloquently covered, I will add some of my own complementary observations and give the traditional de-I foodie perspective :)

Maybe most of you wouldn't think this is an idea for those quite right in the head, but it's just the kind of thing that I love to do (you might remember my driving 600+ miles to Salt Lake City to cook a surprise meal for Gaius Derf in 2007). So after a trip that totaled 3100 miles, driving another 200 to cook for Terri and family was a no least to me. (Wife has long ago given up trying to understand my idiosyncrasies)

So here's are cast of characters
Terri's husband Mark
He was a food prepping force

My buddy Terri - what a sweet soul, even more so in person!

Wife with Terri's oldest son Brad who ate with us. Wife is such a great sport and support and I really, really loved having Brad. I was doing my best to convert him to the dark foodie forces :)

Look at this great knife work by Terri - those finely chopped onions and garlic.
I'm soooo embarrassed that I actually forgot to use these :(
(Well I was in a strange kitchen and it was a unique situation!)

Evidence of how Terri takes all her cool pictures.
What is this am I going to Camera Sherpa for her too!!!


Course # 1 - Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp

This is a very common tapa or bar snack in Spain.

Marinate shrimp in fresh garlic, salt, pepper, pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika - very yummy stuff), some olive oil and dry sherry. Then simply saute in more olive oil for just a couple of minutes and finish with a little more sherry and some butter.

Course #2 - Ragout of Mushrooms

This is a dish I often make because I love mushrooms and it is pretty simple. Look for a selection of mushrooms. In this case I had fresh brown mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms. Clean and cut into pieces. Saute some onions and garlic (or you should...I forgot :( ) and add your mushrooms. Salt, pepper and paprika (I like Hungarian) added - the salt extracts moisture from the mushrooms. Add some sherry and cream and cook until the mushrooms are cooked through. I served these with my own croutons. The croutons are just fresh bread cut into cubes tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried herbs of choice. Then toast in a pan.

Course # 3 - Spaghetti Cabonara

I love making this and it's always a hit. And so simple!

The prep -
  • Cut a pound of bacon into one inch strips, brown until crisp with a garlic clove, drain, saving the oil
  • Grate a half pound of fresh preferably imported Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
  • Whip three eggs in a heavy bowl
  • Add the cheese and the bacon oil and whip until combined
Cook the spaghetti. Drain and immediately add to the bowl with the egg, cheese, bacon oil mixture. Add the bacon. Toss. The heat from the pasta cooks the eggs and you have a lovely creamy cheesy sauce with bacony flavor.

I served up a bubbly Italian Prosecco and a Grenache from the Monterey CA area.

OK Terri and Mark - Next meal will be the two of you in Albuquerque!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wife Family Reunion #3 - Devil's Lake Hike

In addition to our trek to the Mid-West, I made a couple of 450 mile round trip drives to Milwaukee to pick up and drop off son-in-law 2B and grandchildren 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3. So I when i wasn't driving, I was trying to not go anywhere. So I was not the most active participant in the various family activities. However, on the Thu morning (before I was to make the return trip to Milwaukee), Styling w/RM husband, Andrew, had agreed to go hiking with me early in the morning (everyone else was going later in the day). We were going to circumnavigate a place called Devil's Lake (so named evidently by promoters in the 19th century who felt a more direct translation from the Native American like Spirit Lake wouldn't sell as well).

From the state park parking lot we headed up the bluff's surrounding the lake

This is a rock called the Balancing Rock

Looking back toward our start

Andrew taking in the scenery (and avoiding my attempts to photograph him)

From the top of the bluffs looking back at our starting point

Looking at the lake

Another named rock called the Elephant Rock
Personally, I think that it should be called bison rock

Now we're on the other side of the lake going at lake level and looking across at the bluff's we trans-versed on the first leg.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wife Family Reunion #2 - Madison WI

Our two days of driving end in Madison Wisconsin where we have a half of day before we check into the reunion campground facility.

Cheetos - the official road junk food of Mr. & Mrs. de-I
No road trip is done without them!

We spent time visiting the state capital building which was very cool. It opens 8 AM each day even on Sunday. Wife and I were there at 8:15 and we literally had the building all to ourselves.

Photo Wife stalking the capital building

Even the elevator doors are artistic

Don't think Wisconsins take their badger seriously!

View of the capital from the lake front
Then it was on to the botanical gardens. I didn't take too many pictures.

I took these because I loved the stone work and Wife and I are thinking of using the idea in our backyard landscaping project.

And there was this neat Thai Pavilion which according to the write up is the only such authentic one int he country.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wife Family Reunion #1 - Fried Pickles

My picture taking at this, the 4th triennial Wife's Family Reunion, was erratic in the extreme. I'm going to post these in chronological order over the next few posts.

It takes Wife and I two days of driving to do the 1300 miles from Albuquerque to the upper Midwest, this time about 30 miles northwest of Madison Wisconsin.

Day one is through New Mexico east, then northeast through the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma Panhandle, and halfway through Kansas stopping in Wichita. We at a a local place called the Hanger One Steakhouse. It was pretty good. Reasonably priced, good service and good food for the price. One of the dishes was something I'd seen on TV but never on a menu where I've been, deep fried pickles.

These had a kind of curry flavoring in the crust. The pickles themselves were like kosher dills. The dipping sauce was something slightly sweet.

My first reaction when biting in was that they were strange. But the more I ate them the more they grew on me. This is the ultimate bar food. You will definitely what something to be drinking with them, especially beer.

On The Way Back

Wrote last on the road to the Wife's family Reunion and now we're on the way back. I will have some a bunch of photos from a hike I did plus a post on a special one time blogger get together event.

But first 1300 miles of driving.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quick Mid-West Trip Update

We got to the reunion fine. Weather has been crazy as Joe noted in his comment from cold to thunderstorms to over 90 and humid (but nothing like when we visited Pulisha in FL).

The fried pickle report will have to wait until I have time to download pictures.

Yesterday I had to drive to Milwaukee to pick up 2B (Tim de Buffalo) and the brood. Daughter 2 has to stay in Washington for her Foreign Service Corps training. That was another 4 hours of driving. Folks are going to some cave today but that requires an hour's drive to get there. I'm bailing out of it. I need a day with no being in a car.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Great Mid-Western Trek

Every three years like lemmings going tot the sea, Wife and I trek to the Midwest for her family's reunion. So it is that yesterday we drove through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and on to Wichita Kansas where we spent the night.

And for the first time ever tried fried pickles! I will report on that at the next stop.

Today it's Kansas, Iowa, and on to Madison Wisconsin.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Puritains Would Be Using Trial By Electronic Device Today

If there were to be witch trials today, you wouldn't be dunked into the pond and if you came out alive you were a witch. No your electronic devices would go on the blink and if you could actually get them to work, clearly you would be the spawn of the devil.

Up until today, I was comfortable that I would be one of the saved. My usual response to problems with electronic devices has been after 3.6285 minutes of trouble shooting to swear for an hour and toss the device out.

However, I am afeared that I may be one of cursed (no wonder I was left behind by the Rapture) because I troubleshot not just one device but TWO devices over the last four days.

First there was the TomTom GPS. I went to change over from the European map to the US map (why they make a device that is advertised as having both these capabilities doesn't have the memory to carry them both at the same time!). After 3 hours of working I could find no way of moving the map from the computer back to the device. And it didn't show up as available on the website either. Tried to buy the map but that didn't work either. Finally I sent a service help request and got an email back with 2 and a half pages of instructions. I gird my loins for the battle of trying to follow these. Hook up the device and miraculously the US map is available for downloading from the website which I do with no problems. Work of the Devil!!!!

Then I have been having weird problems with my cell function no operating...battery draining. I started by changing the battery. Perhaps it's old and not giving the system enough juice. Nope. So more knowledgeable folk then I suggested that I reset the device. I did this which of course meant that I had to reset everything including set up the email accounts. Got the bluetooth going. Got the data from Entourage back on the phone. But the email...NO! I put all the account information in and I keep getting an error message telling me the internet is not synching correctly. I can actually get on the internet but can't get the email to work.

Hours of trying go by. I call T-Mobile support. We try this and that without success. They tell me I need to call device manufacturer HTC. I do. They're really very nice (after the 15 minute wait on hold). I need to take the battery out to give them the device number. I do that and the lovely lady sends me to the customer support person. I put the battery in as the first lady told me because they will need to work me through the fixes. Mr. Support guy gets on the phone. Asks me what the problem is. I start to describe said problem. Look at my phone. And see 356 emails being down loaded! What the @!*%#! So far it's working fine.

WORK OF THE DEVIL. I'm doomed.