Monday, April 30, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
... H Paul Garland at 5:14 PM
Saturday, April 28, 2007
In the western part of the United States you can pretty well be sure that although some of the cars may have originally been made in the early 1930's, most of the cars you see at a car show will have been modified by adding a big V8 and generally setting the car up to accelerate rapidly for the first 1/4 mile.
The Corvette Club of El Paso hosted a car show today out in the all new Eastern part of town. On Zaragosa road.
When I was 17 years old I had a white 1956 Chevy that was one of the hottest cars at Austin High School. Later on after I got out of the army I owned a yellow T-top Vette. I bought it from Suzie Azar who later became mayor of El Paso.
Among ex-Corvette owners it is common to hear, “The two finest days in a man’s life are the day he buys a Corvette, and the day he sells it!”
This is a beautiful little car show. This link will take you to all the pictures I took there: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/h_paul_garland/album/576460762399718525
... H Paul Garland at 11:57 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Fatigued workers late at night were in command in Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, The Exxon Valdez, and at the pesticides plant in Bhopal, India. So the lesson we should learn is the danger of operating a facility around the clock. Of course power plants, and especially nuclear power plants, must run 24 hours per day.
Mankind is requiring greater quantities of energy all the time to continue our standard of living. And India and China are growing really quickly. These people in the poorer parts of the world are now going to get refrigerators, running water, flush toilets, air conditioning, wide screen TVs, and cell phones. There is no turning this back. And this means that the planet overall is going to be using more energy. No head in the sand routine, please.
Adding increasing amounts of carbon dioxide to the planet’s atmosphere is a real concern. On the surface this makes nuclear energy as a source of power to run the generators in our power plants look more attractive all the time.
I would like to see a really open and unbiased accounting documenting the true cost of nuclear power. Until now in America certain very expensive parts of the equation have been paid for by the federal government. To properly judge the economics we need to know the true cost of: Waste disposal, insurance for potential disasters at the plants, and the cost of decommissioning these facilities once they reach the end of their safe life cycle. And one could write paragraphs about the problem of terrorism as it relates to nuclear power plants.
Since these nuclear plants are so much more dangerous than electricity generating plants fuelled by fossil fuels or wind energy or hydroelectric, probably all of the nuclear plants should by owned and run by government employees. Taking the profit motive out of the equation sure lowers the probability of questionable ethics and decision making based upon greed. Enron can teach us a lot about that.
Continuing to burn increasing amounts of fossil fuels poses some big risks. Sea level rise, drought, famine, etc.
But we have not yet put adequate energy and resources into conserving energy without diminishing our quality of life.
In my Toyota Corolla I get slightly over 40 mpg almost every tank of gas. And I am really am just as comfortable and safe as my neighbour is in his 10 mpg gigantic hog pickup truck. My CD player and air conditioning may even work better than his.
When I don’t need the car I drive my Honda 250cc moped which gets 70 mpg. It is a real pleasure to drive, easy to park, and even has satellite navigation. Consuming less energy does not mean going backwards in one’s standard of living. In my case it means living a more pleasant lifestyle. This reduced carbon footprint makes me feel good about myself too.
Living in the heart of the Chihuahuan desert I find it socially irresponsible to waste water to keep alive non-native outdoor decorative house plants like a lawn, hedges, or trees. I do have a few house plants on the inside, like Aloe Vera. So my water bill is far lower than the bills my neighbours are paying. If I feel the need for grass I go over to one of the city parks where the water is recycled waste water.
I have replaced every incandescent light bulb in the entire house with compact fluorescents. My roof has a white coating on it to increase reflectivity of the sun’s rays. My windows are double pane, low emissivity glass; then on top of that I have added ¼ inch plexiglass on the inside and white roll-down shutters on the outside. For less than $7,000- I have made my house much quieter on the inside, and vastly more comfortable and energy efficient than my neighbour’s house.
By spending a little money I have substantially improved my quality of life. So consuming less energy does not have to go hand-in-hand with a lower standard of living. Far from it.
So back to Chernobyl and nuclear energy. We might have to build more nuclear reactors. But it will be at an enormous long term cost to society.
Well before we begin building more nuclear reactors we need to greatly increase the taxes on a gallon of gasoline or diesel. These new taxes need to be dedicated to being used to subsidize energy efficiency: Retrofitting structures to double or triple pane windows, replacement of incandescent lighting, adding insulation, widespread wind generation of electricity, improved public transportation, etc.
If the price of fuel were increased a lot one would not need to worry about government mandated rules for fuel economy. The market economy and supply and demand would deal with the problems in short order.
After that is done we can talk about more new nuclear power…
... H Paul Garland at 5:24 PM
Joan Baez recorded a what I view as really important song about this butchery by the Fascists on her album named Baptism. The song is called In Guernica. I first heard in the late 1960’s while I was in college. Now I own both the ablum and the CD, plus I keep an MP3 copy on my cellphone.
This attack on innocent children and civilians was so terrible that Pablo Picasso painted his giant and famous picture depicting it which he called Guernica.
... H Paul Garland at 9:28 AM
Sunday, April 22, 2007
There is going to a celebration next weekend regarding “He Whose Name May Not Be Mentioned.” The following is from Wikipedia:
In 1598 Don Juan de Oñate, a Spanish nobleman and conquistador born in Zacatecas, Mexico, led a group of 500 colonists and 7,000 head of livestock (including horses, oxen and cattle) from southern Chihuahua to settle the province of New Mexico.
The caravan traveled a northeasterly route for weeks across the desert until it reached the banks of the Río Grande in the San Elizario area. The thirsty travelers drank the cool water and then celebrated with a Thanksgiving Mass and enjoyed a feast of fish, fowl and deer on April 30, 1598.
This is considered to be the "First Thanksgiving" celebrated in the present-day United States. Oñate performed the ceremony of La Toma (Taking Possession) in which he claimed the new province for King Philip II of Spain or Rey Felipe II de España.
Holding protests over Don Juan de Oñate is just plain stupid.
... H Paul Garland at 9:02 AM
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
Back when I was in college I used to make my own yogurt. Since then I have considered myself far too busy (and no doubt far too self important) to make my own yogurt.
Well that was forty years ago. And now I’m a man of leisure.
I thought I might have lost my magic. But nope. Not at all. I just took my first batch of homemade yogurt out of the incubator and put it in the refrigerator. It turned out quite well!
In the intervening years I have had an extensive and satisfying career in the food processing industry, so this go round I controlled the temperature far more precisely. I can’t say that the yogurt came out any better, but in the bad old days I did have an occasional failure.
... H Paul Garland at 4:19 PM
Tomorrow, April 21, is John Muir’s birthday. Many people have called him the father of modern day conservation. He led a really interesting and unique life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Muir
The last time I was in Scotland I made a point to go by the house where he grew up in Dunbar. It is on the coast and is a pretty little village. The day I was there it was sunny, but really quite breezy and cold. Nowadays Dunbar is about 30 or 45 minutes east of Edinburg, but back when John Muir was a boy I’m sure going to the big city of Edinburg was quite a journey.
This is a link to an old blog entry that shows a picture of the house he grew up in: http://hpgarland.blogspot.com/2006/09/john-muir.html
The Sierra Club once was a really great organization. In the 60’s and 70’s it was filled with people who cared about the environment, conservation, and wilderness. There were young people, retired people, college professors, and just plain old worker bees. In the context of the Sierra Club there was an egalitarian spirit, and we all felt basically equal.
Now the national organization seems mostly interested in fund raising and in selling Sierra Club mutual funds. The local group here in El Paso doesn’t seem to do much of anything. Very few people attend the meetings, and even though the monthly meetings are held on the UTEP campus very few students are involved. Since I moved back to El Paso from Europe I’ve attended three of their monthly general membership meetings. And no one has ever spoken to me or come up to me and introduced themselves. The leader needs to make a point each month to ask any visitors or new members to stand up and introduce themselves. This is important.
As far as I can tell the local Sierra Club group is doing almost nothing about anything. Like Otero Mesa, ASARCO firing back up, encouraging solar energy, energy conservation, people driving these enormous and heavy low fuel economy vehicles, or the reduction of socially irresponsible water usage in the desert (i.e., home lawns). I could make a long list of local issues that the local group should be getting fired up about. But they aren’t.
Groups have life cycles, just like people. And from my perspective the Sierra Club is clearly over the hill. Both nationally and locally.
Some group will eventually come along and fill this void. There are still plenty of folks around who are interested in renewable energy (like solar), want to use less fossil fuels, and who like to get away to natural places. Some of these people can afford to drive Toyota Priuses; many can’t. It doesn’t matter. What is important is the vision of looking towards the future, and wanting to leave the earth in better shape for our kids and grandchildren than we found it.
... H Paul Garland at 9:19 AM
Thursday, April 19, 2007
A maar is an interesting type of volcanic formation. Hot molten rock within the earth reaches near the surface, but instead of forming a volcano what happens is that as it gets near the surface it reaches ground water. This ground water turns to steam explosively and blows a big hole in the ground.
Much of the dirt falls right back in the hole, but some is blown away as ash or to form walls around the hole. Probably the most famous maars in the world are in the Eifel mountains of Germany, and in southern New Mexico near to El Paso, Texas. Both are really neat areas that have lots of recent volcanic activity.
Here is what wikipedia has to say about the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maar
I’ve been to the Eifel region of Germany many times, and also over the last 45 years many times to Kilbourne’s hole (and Hunts & Phillips holes).
My grandparents were telegraphers on the transcontinental railroad. They were stationed various places over the years including Redding, California. In late 1916 Columbus, New Mexico (including camp personnel) had the largest population of any city in the State of New Mexico. My grandparents were stationed at Columbus, New Mexico on March 9, 1916 when Pancho Villa attacked from Mexico at 4:12 a.m. My Grandmother had a new baby in arms (my unborn Mother’s big sister), and she ran out in the desert with the baby so that the drunken Mexicans would not kill or rape her. The Mexicans broke into practically every business in town and looted them all. They apparently were more interested in looting than killing, and so only 18 Americans died in the raid.
In the 1950’s and 60’s my Mother ran her own business and was very tied up with this. So in many ways this Grandmother raised me (Florence May Barlow Barnwell). Many times after she and my Grandfather got their first car, she and her husband Ora Barnwell drove around the desert looking for the “meteor crater” that they had heard so much about. Shortly after she died I visited Kilbourne’s Hole for the first time. And of course it isn’t a meteor crater at all, but a volcanic sink hole or a Maar.
In addition to the 3 well know Maars there is a fourth nice one nearby called Potrillo Maar. It is due south of Kilbourne’s and straddles the Mexican border. Forty years ago this was a really wild area where you very rarely saw another soul. But now in the era of worrying about drugs, illegal aliens, and terrorism this part of the Mexican border is well patrolled by the Department of Homeland Security. Better know as the Border Patrol or by some as La Pinchi Migra.
Yesterday I took the dog and the 4 wheel drive car, and we went out to see Potrillo Maar. It is very nice indeed. I’m glad to finally see it. Afterwards we drove west to Guzman’s Lookout Mountain. Really a treat. This is an old volcano that has been mined for the black and brown lava rock. It is remarkable and well worth going out of your way to see. Since we were already roughly half way, we continued on west to Columbus, New Mexico.
The Columbus Historical Society has really done a good job of documenting Pancho Villa’s raid on the town and the punitive expedition trying to capture him. I am a life member of this group. This point in time was just before WWI, and it was the first time that both trucks and airplanes were ever used in warfare. General John J. (Blackjack) Pershing entered Mexico with several thousand troops. They chased Pancho Villa around northern Mexico for eleven months, but were never able to capture him. While they were not successful in getting Villa they did sharpen their skills and get a great deal of practice with the new technologies, which helped prepare our troops for entry into WWI.
At the old railroad depot in Columbus the Historical Society has built a really nice museum. If you are in the area you shouldn’t miss this.
... H Paul Garland at 8:30 AM
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
It is interesting how some places have really active groups that are into all sorts of neat things to do with minerals, geology, etc.
Deming, New Mexico is one of those places. Tucson, Arizona is another. In Europe Antwerp, Belgium is right at the top. Each city has a group of really neat folks who are super dedicated. And all put on undeniably excellent mineral shows.
If you are going to be anywhere near Antwerp you should check their show out.
I went to this show last year and enjoyed it a lot: http://paulgarland.blogspot.com/2006/05/cinco-de-mayo.html
... H Paul Garland at 2:03 PM
Sunday, April 15, 2007
My friend and I graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in the same 1966 graduating class. We were later roomates at UTEP. He got a degree in philosophy and mine is in political science. We have both seen a bit of the world since then, and have made a little money in the business world. Over the years somehow we have managed to stay in touch.
The dog has taken a real liking to me. So my friend offered to give me the dog. Incredible!
He is a two year old male (already fixed) that originally came out of a dog rescue shelter. He is smart as hell, learns quick, and is really affectionate. But he demands a lot of attention from his human. Clearly a one-person dog.
He is a mix from a Japanese breed of dog named a Shiba Inu. He has gone by the name Frodo in the past, but most of his life he has been called Inu. So that is what I am calling him. He slept in bed with me last night. This morning we got up and went for a good walk out in the desert. He got to chase a lizard and feel like a genuine wild predator for a while.
... H Paul Garland at 10:04 AM
Friday, April 13, 2007
... H Paul Garland at 7:50 PM
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Oro Grande, NM is just to the southeast of the Jarilla mountains. These mountains are dotted with hundreds of old mines. This brick structure was where the dynamite was stored a hundred years ago.
Brice is what Oro Grande was originally named. And the location was not down in the valley like it is now, but actually up in the Jarilla mountains.
In 1905 the population of Brice was about 150 people, and the town included a post office, store, saloon and several mining companies. The post office later closed, but by 1919 the population had increased to 300 people. And almost overnight, in 1920 Brice was a ghost town. This was not because the gold had been depleted, rather it was because the price of gold had decreased to the point where it was no longer economical to extract the gold.
A little less than a hundred years later virtually nothing exists of Brice. Wandering around the Jarillas today in four wheel drive I came across the Brice cemetery at N 32.40394, W -106.11081.
I turned my brother onto the Nannie Baird mine at N 32.40565, W -106.10055. Mike ended up spending a lot of time exploring it with his friends. He even camped out inside of it one time! I took my son Ben and his friend Javier to the main chamber in the bottom of the Nannie Baird mine to celebrate Ben’s birthday.
Today it is totally sealed up. There were several entrances, some up on the side of the mountain. I was hoping that the government guys had missed at least one of them, but nope.
These rusty cans are outside of the Nannie Baird.
I may have been the only person in the Jarilla mountains today. It was beautiful. Cactus in bloom everywhere, a nice cool breeze. Really nice.
I did get to go underground today. I had never been inside the Little Joe mine before. It is remarkable. I know two guys who live in Oro Grande, and this morning they gave me their phone numbers just in case I broke down somewhere way back in the bush or had some other disaster.
Up high on the Jarilla mountains I did have cellular service. The roads are 100 years old and FOR SURE you do need a high clearance vehicle. In a few places four wheel drive sure increases one’s level of comfort and may actually be a necessity.
I brought my battery powered ultraviolet light with me.
About 75 yards into the lower shaft of the Little Joe mine I found a couple of stones that glow beautifully when illumintated with short wave UV light.
... H Paul Garland at 6:38 PM
Monday, April 09, 2007
Well, it just proves that we all are indeed replaceable. You Tube has the new Dr. Who series with the new companion. She is Asian, a young, beautiful medical doctor, and Wowie. She fills the bill. Completely.
... H Paul Garland at 11:44 AM
Saturday, April 07, 2007
The picture to the right is a piece of Trinitite under my computer microscope, magnified 60X. This is glass formed by the atomic bomb. Sand was drawn up into the mushroom cloud, and when it rained back down it had turned into very slightly radioactive glass. Like much glass formed in nature (and much of the 2,000 year old Roman glass) there is a slight greenish tint which is caused by trace amount of iron.
... H Paul Garland at 8:20 PM
Yesterday we celebrated my brother in law's birthday. It also was National Tartan Day.
I have been to Scotland 4 or 5 times, and I sure do like that country.
The Garland family has Scottish roots via the Mallochs, which is a pseudonym for the McGregor clan. On one of my trips to Scotland I found some of the graves of our ancestors.
... H Paul Garland at 3:33 AM