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Columns

  • GOP needs to adjust more than tone

    The words “adjust” and “tone” recently came from Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio in a discussion of the Republican defeat.

    Considering the few African Americans, Hispanics and young people voting Republican, Portman said, “This is a party that needs to adjust. Some of it is policy. A lot of it is tone.”

    Portman weaseled on the rape comments from Senate candidates. (See www.capitolreport.blogspot.com for the sources of the comments here.) National (liberal) media got the blame from Republican guru Karl Rove for the rape comment outrage. “Offensive comments about rape by GOP Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana gave the media an excuse to put social issues at the election’s center in a way that badly hurt the entire party…,” he wrote. So the outrage was manufactured? Oh, come now.

    Here’s a different observation about GOP attitudes toward women. “The GOP continues to provide evidence to women that the GOP hates them and does not respect their rights and abilities (unless they wear a burka and follow a respectful distance behind or are willing to work for less pay).”

  • Commitment to lean manufacturing

     When David Smith, owner of Taycar Enterprises in Albuquerque, phased out the use of paper in his sheet metal fabrication and assembly plant, it pushed some office workers beyond their hard-copy comfort zones.
    Going paper-free was just one part of Smith’s efforts to bring the principles of lean manufacturing to the business his father started in 1983, but it was harder than the changes he instituted to make his job shop operate more efficiently. Now the business stores all its records electronically and conducts all its correspondence by email.
    Smith got involved with lean manufacturing about seven years ago after he heard that another manufacturer in his industry was attending workshops run by the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Smith attended a workshop and has since sent every permanent employee at least once for training in lean manufacturing principles.
    What it is
    The New Mexico MEP is part of a nationwide network of nonprofit centers. Its mission is to help managers and core workers at New Mexico companies understand and apply the principles of lean manufacturing through workshops and on-site training and analysis.

  • Driving while intexicated

     DWI, Driving While Intexticated.  This cute buzzphrase is becoming more and more popular as more and more people are driving into more and more trees while texting their friends.
     But driving under the influence of phone is no joke.  Visiting the morgue to identify the body of your child underscores the somber reality of cell phone usage while driving.  Studies show that simply using a cell phone while driving impairs one’s ability as much as having had four bottles of beer. And texting while driving is far more dangerous.
     One of the more interesting studies comes from a most definitely-not academic oriented organization, Car and Driver.  They conducted their own road test to see the effects of texting.  Their results were “sobering” to say the least.  Their drivers performed better while drunk than they did while texting.
     Earlier this year, Chance Bothe, a college student, became the posterboy for the dangers of texting when he drove off a cliff seconds after texting “I need to quit texting.”  Miraculously, he survived, but sustained brain injuries and broke nearly every bone in his body.

  • Congress continues to get meaner

    SANTA FE – Washington, D.C. continues to get increasingly meaner with no end in sight. The recent national election changed nothing. The players are still the same and even if they had changed, little good would have resulted.
    A major change in attitude must take place. Moderates currently get “primaried” by their own parties for not being radical enough right or left. This polarization was not always the case.
    Fifty years ago our nation faced huge problems – communist fears, racial tensions and our first Catholic president. Many figured the Pope would move into the Lincoln bedroom and start running the government. But Washington remained basically civil. Moderate Democrats and Republicans managed to hammer out problems despite the crazies on the fringe.
    Now extremists are causing enough problems that Congress and the president are afraid to move. The causes likely are many. One of my favorite solutions is that members of Congress should get to know each other.
    Senators, except a few from neighboring states, still live in Washington. But House members usually don’t anymore. The thought of congressmen living in their offices was downright weird. In fact, it wasn’t allowed until recently.

  • I’m thankful I am still on course

    What if you were diagosed with cancer? You’d be thankful just to get through it and survive, right? Well, what if you had cancer 4 times? What would be your thoughts? Could you still be thankful? I mean, who beats cancer four times?
    When I recently got news of my fourth cancer diagnosis, all I could think of was “how on earth can I go through this again? Why can’t I just beat this?” Consumed by thoughts of my family, and not being with them, I couldn’t be thankful for anything. Here I am, desperately trying to reach my children’s 18th birthday like it’s the 18th hole of a golf course, and it feels like I’ve just been disqualified at the 8th hole, 10 years too early.
    I was filled with anger. My body had let me down yet one more time. I suddenly began to doubt my usual unshakable optimism and think there was nothing left to be thankful for. And then I felt like a hypocrite. I’ve just spent most of September telling audiences across the Tri-Cities how to be, not just a survivor, but a Thriver: to make everyday precious and never quit, even when you’re in the bunker in a force 10 gale. Be thankful for what you have today, not what may come tomorrow.

  • Make sure to cut your holiday expenses

    The closer the holidays loom, the less time harried families have to buy gifts, plan seasonal events and make travel arrangements. Unfortunately, when time is at a premium and you’re forced to make last-minute decisions, it’s usually your budget that suffers.
    As an occasional procrastinator myself, let me share a few tips I’ve picked up over the years that can help take the expense – and stress – out of holiday planning:
    Before you start shopping, calculate how much you can afford to spend on the holidays as a portion of your overall budget. If your finances are in good shape, spend no more than 1.5 percent of your annual income. But if you’re deeply in debt, can’t meet your regular monthly expenses or don’t have an emergency fund, this isn’t the time to rack up additional debt.
    Once you determine an overall amount, tally up expected holiday-related expenses including gifts, decorations, new clothes and accessories, giftwrap, cards, postage, special meals and year-end gratuities. Don’t forget travel-related expenses if you plan to leave town, and try to recall unanticipated expenses from last year.
    If you’re looking for ways to cut back, consider:

  • Collaboration still works for Coalition

    In 1997 three people got together – one rancher and two Sierra Club activists, who were fed up with the warfare between their two groups. They began to talk about the health of the land, about doing things differently, about working together.
    This unlikely combination formed the Santa Fe-based Quivira Coalition, and at its tenth conference in mid-November, it was still talking about doing things differently and working together. But some goals and partners have changed. The coalition’s 15-plus years have had their ups and downs, but it has demonstrated that collaboration, even in these polarized times, is still possible.
    Quivira’s second event in 1997 was at founding member Jim Winder’s Double Lightning ranch between Hatch and Deming. Winder had restored the watershed on his place and adopted new management practices. The environmentalists were skeptical, the ranchers thought he was crazy, and neither group would speak to the other.
    “I made more money this year than I ever have before,” Winder said. A couple of ranchers began listening. A few years later, a drought management workshop drew ranchers from around New Mexico and southern Colorado.    

  • Elections and emergencies

    A snowstorm hit northern Rio Arriba County and other northern New Mexico communities on Election Day, 1986, affecting voter turnout.  Rio Arriba is a Democratic stronghold. Republican Garrey Carruthers won the governorship, which was expected and probably not changed by the weather. I happened to be watching the attorney general race, and the snowstorm might have been the factor that gave Republican Hal Stratton the edge over Democrat Bob McNeill.  Those are the breaks.  
    Early voting has been instituted since then.  Voters in storm-prone mountain communities can choose to vote early, and campaigns can make extra efforts to encourage them to.  But nobody gets a do-over.
    What to do when a storm disrupts an election became a hot topic a few weeks ago as Superstorm Sandy barrelled through several eastern states.  You thought about it, didn’t you?  Would the storm pass, would the power be restored, would polling places be open and would voters be able to get to them?  If not, what would the alternatives be, and who had the power to make those decisions?

  • Rehashing the 2012 election

    At PJ Media, Ron Radosh, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, offers a cogent analysis of the Republican losses. See: http://pjmedia.com/ronradosh/2012/11/06/why-obama-won/?singlepage=true.
    Republicans lost two presumably Republican Senate seats because of outrageous, incredible comments about rape from candidates Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Murdock in Indiana. Had I been in either state, I would have voted for the Democrat, just to keep the lunatics from the Senate.
    Romney, Radosh said, simply said he disagreed with Akin and Murdock. A pat on the hand, in other words. Had Romney gone to the two states, held a news conference, condemned the statements and withdrawn support, that would have meant something. Romney’s response fueled the Democrats charges of a “war on women” by Republicans.
    In New Mexico, Romney’s response allowed dishonest demagoguery from Michelle Lujan Grisham, congresswoman-elect. Though Heather Wilson and Lujan Grisham’s opponent, Janice Arnold-Jones, both promptly called for Akin to drop out, weeks later Lujan Grisham ran an ad including an image of Akin. Arnold-Jones was aware of the ad, but did nothing. (I endorsed Wilson and Arnold-Jones.)

  • Benefits of exercising with your dog

     As the semester rolls on and tests pile up many students begin changing their daily routine to one that is more study-friendly and, unfortunately, usually more deskbound.
    What most students do not realize is that while your dog lies next to you on the couch day after day, it is being robbed of physical activity that is vital to their health.
    Multiple studies have shown that dogs that exercise have improved bone health and organ and lung function.
    It makes them look better, feel better, and they are less nervous when left alone.  
    “Exercise is good for maintaining general health, and it helps keep your heart, muscles, and joints strong. It also helps with maintaining weight and their coordination,” said Dr. Jacqueline Davidson, clinical track professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
    Studies also show that dogs lacking exercise usually have poor muscle tone and are more prone to injury, brain ailments, and bone disorders.
    They are also more susceptible to developing emotional problems and behavior quirks.
    “Dogs that don’t exercise are usually overweight, have less dexterity, and their heart and joints aren’t as vigorous,” Davidson said.