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Columns

  • Birds are up for adoption, too

     When people think of animal shelters being inhabited by homeless animals, dogs and cats are the typically the pets that come to mind. Unfortunately, there are just as many unwanted birds in need of a loving home. Overrun with the more common pets, like cats and dogs, animal shelters often cannot appropriately cater to these abandoned birds’ needs. This is where bird rescue foundations swoop in to save the day.
    “Organizations have taken on this challenge of rescuing unwanted birds and providing forever homes or placing them in pet homes,” said Dr. Jordan Gentry, a veterinary resident instructor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Depending on the organization, there may be strict requirements to meet before even being considered as a bird adoption home.”

  • Aspiring to an anabolic asininity

    I’m not what one would call a big sports fan.
    Big maybe, and getting bigger every year. But certainly not a sports fan.
    And so I found myself confused about all the hoopla over Alex Rodriguez and his use of illegal performance enhancing drugs.
    If your knowledge of baseball is like mine, limited to spitting tobacco and crotch scratching in the outfield, you must wonder why anyone would care what this guy does.
    Rodriguez is the third-base man (or is that third baseman?) for the New York Yankees (the baseball team, not the Civil War guys). Last year, he broke the grand-slam record previously held by Lou Gehrig.
    He’s been called “one of the greatest baseball players of all time.”
    And like Lou Gehrig, Rodriguez achieved his hitting record by ingesting lots of anabolic steroids.
    Oh wait. Nix that. Gehrig did it without the drugs. What a silly putz!
    These days, it’s hard to imagine someone competing in the major leagues without popping pills.
    Synthetic anabolic steroids are readily accessible and many athletes openly admit to taking them. Weightlifting magazines discuss which are the best ones to use (Test, A-bomb, Tren, etc.). You can even buy books on the proper usage techniques.
    It’s easy to understand why steroids are so popular.

  • Simplifying funding search for seed-stage startups

    I’m not a venture capitalist, but I’ve headed up several successful technology startups and recently ran an early-stage software company that raised almost $2 million in “seed-stage” funding. I’m now leading a pre-revenue New Mexico startup raising our first equity-based funding.
    As anyone who has done this knows, raising startup funding in New Mexico is challenging — partially because our state is relatively isolated from the national playing field, but also because of the challenges the New Mexico and broader United States venture capital communities have faced meeting the returns expected by their investors and the VCs’ ability to raise new investment capital.
    The amount of venture capital available has decreased as the initial funding of 8-10 years ago has been fully deployed in startup companies, but exits and positive returns from those investments have so far been relatively few.
    In this climate, it’s challenging to raise seed-stage capital, but there is capital to be raised. Here’s how to proceed:

  • Education is top priority for House Republicans

    As we begin another short budget session, our troubled education system is our greatest cause for concern. As it stands, only about half of our public school students are proficient in math and reading and only half graduate ready to take on college.
    New Mexico now ranks last among all states in student performance. The sad truth is that our public school system is in need of a serious reworking.
    While education spending has increased $700 million over the past 11 years, student performance has gotten worse. It is clear that we need to spend our education funds more wisely. We would like to see education funding going directly into the classroom where it can have a greater impact on our children, not factored into the funding formula in a way that might allow that money to go toward more bureaucratic administration.
    Toward this end, we support the governor’s proposal to spend $55 million in funding on targeted initiatives that will improve these statistics.
    One of the greatest indicators of future academic success is if those students are reading by the third grade. Promoting children who can’t read to fourth grade is a severe disservice to them, and significantly handicaps their ability to progress through their remaining school years in a way that prepares them for a prosperous and successful future.

  • Legislators should ignore noisy bills, focus on bigger problems

    In every legislative session, there are bills with a purpose (whether you agree with it or not) and bills I call noise — the political incendiaries, intended more for show and campaigns. Chances are slim to none that they’ll pass, but lawmakers will burn a lot of time better spent on bigger problems.
    One four-year-old noisemaker is the governor’s driver’s license bill, but this year the Democrats have lobbed their own noisemakers.
    Topping the list is the Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino’s marijuana initiative. The Albuquerque Democrat has pre-introduced a joint resolution seeking a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide the legalization of pot.
    Speaking last week to New Mexico Press Women, Ortiz y Pino said, “It’s a justice issue. We have forgotten the lesson learned from Prohibition.” He reasons that, if the bill succeeds, it wouldn’t go before voters until next November. After that, the Legislature would have to craft a bill.

  • How to spot a bad moving company

    Moving is already traumatic and expensive enough; the last thing you want to worry about is getting ripped off by your mover. Yet each year, the Better Business Bureau receives thousands of complaints against moving companies, mostly alleging lost or damaged property, not showing up on time, overcharging — or, in extreme cases, stealing or holding customers’ possessions hostage while demanding more money than originally agreed upon.
    Before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and entrust your valuables with strangers, here are a few tips for ensuring a positive moving experience, as well as scams to avoid:
    Screen potential movers. All companies that do interstate moves must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (protectyourmove.gov). You can use its search engine to screen for complaints, safety information and company contact information by company name, or by the state where its primary business office is located.
    Moving companies that don’t cross state lines aren’t governed by federal regulations, but rather, by individual state laws. Go to the State/Local Resources tab at FMCSA’s site for links to each state’s regulatory resources. Also make sure the company has at least a satisfactory rating from the Better Business Bureau.

  • Kids and guns should never be classmates

    The shooting of two students at a Roswell middle school last week, allegedly by a schoolmate, underscored just how vulnerable children have become in an era of seemingly rampant gun violence.
    It was a reminder, as well, that increasingly violence too often turns out to be the handiwork of children themselves.
    In its recent chronicle of multiple deaths in 2013 due to gun violence, the respected blog, “Gawker,” noted that one of the earliest such incidents occurred in Albuquerque on Jan. 16, when a 15-year-old boy allegedly used a semi-automatic weapon to kill his entire family — father and mother, 9 year-old brother and two sisters, ages 5 and 2.
    Last October a 14-year-old Massachusetts boy was charged with shooting and killing his teacher.
    Two weeks later a Nevada boy, 12 years of age, allegedly shot and killed his teacher before opening deadly fire on two other students, after which he shot himself. Much has been made of the fact that the Nevada massacre occurred almost one year to the day after a shooter killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
    As Roswell Mayor Del Jurney has been reported as saying, “Crimes like this are occurring far too often across this nation.”

  • Envy and bad data confuse poverty issue

    The forbidden dinner table topics are sex, politics and money, as I remember. Money —having it and not having it — has been getting pundit pontification recently in reaction to the 50-year anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.
    I have little experience with really serious money. My upbringing and my adult life have been fairly middle class. I have attended a few events where, as I said after one, “You can smell the money.” But I have never thought much about the money, one way or the other, good or bad. Ideas have always been more important.
    The most recent financial association came when state treasurer candidate Tim Eichenberg put me in the same sentence with the Koch brothers of Wichita, Kan. The brothers, most of you may know, are very big money supporters of conservative causes.
    Eichenberg was defending his “progressive” (i.e., left wing) bona fides against my argument that the progressive policy agenda of John Wertheim, also a state treasurer candidate, did not apply to being treasurer. The Koch aura was something! I don’t know if my ego can stand it.
    In New Mexico, we have plenty of poverty and not all that much massive wealth. Sure, we have the occasional financier or movie star tucked in the piñons. But not the concentration found around New York.

  • Red Cross apps for pets

    Pets are an important part of many families, and a new Red Cross Pet First Aid App puts lifesaving information right in the hands of dog and cat owners so they can provide emergency care until veterinary assistance is available.
    The 99 cent Pet First Aid app gives iPhone and Android smart phone users instant access to expert information so they learn how to maintain their pet’s health and what to do during emergencies.
    “Pet owners learn how to recognize health problems and when to contact their veterinarian,” said Rahim Balsara, Regional CEO of The American Red Cross in New Mexico. “The Pet First Aid App provides step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies.”
    Additional topics include burns, car accidents, falls and what to do for cold- and heat-related emergencies.
    Other features in the app allow pet owners to:
    • Create a pet profile including tag identification number, photos, list of medications and instructions.
    • Use the list of early warning signs to learn when to call their veterinarian.
    • Use “click-to-call” to contact their veterinarian.

  • Wisdom for Gov. Christie’s staff

    Many years ago I worked with a talented political organizer who made a very strange prayer request. After one of our meetings he told me that he regularly prayed that God would give him the spirit of the aggressive and feared Republican political organizer Lee Atwater.
    I thought that comment was strange, and I still do, yet it supports an observation made by a leading journalist last week about the thuggish bridge-closing affair that is dogging New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
    Commenting on the Christie scandal in which one of his staffers shut down several lanes of the George Washington Bridge to exact political revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing the governor in 2013, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan noted that young staffers lack wisdom and are often motivated by seeking the admiration of their political bosses.
    Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter, referenced the career of Lee Atwater as an illustration. Atwater, a kingpin in the Republican Party and chairman of George H.W. Bush’s successful 1988 presidential campaign, was a cunning campaign strategist known for dirty tricks.