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Columns

  • The beauty of irrationality

    There once was a number called pi.  So special like e and like phi.  The circumference to D is the ratio for me.  And it’s not a multiple of i.”
    You really have to love mathematics to admire the symmetry of math poems.  This particular one is known as a pi-poem, or a piem.  Some people use the word piem to refer to a haiku-like poem of 3 lines with 3 syllables, 1 syllable, and 4 syllables.  Or if you wish, you can simply write a standard haiku about pi and call it a piku.

  • Los Alamos needs a rec center

    After the fire this summer, I thought it would be obvious that spending $5 million for ice rink improvements in a canyon that burns every 11 years would be a bad idea.  However, the project continues to creep forward along with grandiose plans to build a teen center, civic center and improve the golf course (another $35 million combined).  There are many flaws in the current CIP process and my main concern is the failure to address long-term community needs.  I serve on the Parks and Rec board so I will specifically mention recreation needs and also clarify that these opinions are my own.

  • Cuts and opportunity for state

    The recent announcement of job cuts at the Los Alamos labs generated some interesting reactions from New Mexico’s political leaders. By and large, Democrats – even those representing the Los Alamos area – were supportive or understanding, while Gov. Martinez ripped the Obama Administration, calling the cuts a “by-product of the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., and the inability to appropriately prioritize national defense and national security in federal spending decisions.”
    I chalk up these reactions to politics. Democrats don’t want to be seen as bashing the Obama Administration while Gov. Martinez will take any chance she can to do so. But, neither side is really telling the full story.

  • Analyzing parenthood

    I was sweeping my house today.  Since it is not the most mind-bending of tasks I got to thinking.  I started thinking about me as a parent and how I got to be here. OK.  I know HOW I got to be a parent, but the kind of parent that I am.  
     Then I started wondering what makes any of us the kind of parents that we are.  When I am out with my friends who are also parents we talk about parenty stuff.   It seems that long runs lend themselves to certain parenting confessions.
     Like, yeah, I let my kid sleep in my bed.  I gave my kids cereal for dinner last night.  My kids know SpongeBob’s middle name.  Then I think about how my parents parented.  I did not watch TV while eating --  ever.

  • Fiddling seen in tax changes

    Taxes are complicated and difficult, except when they are simple.
    The observation comes in the wake of my annual chat with the tax lady and the end of the legislative session.
    Like most topics, taxes are simple at the big picture, the most general.
    In the tax world, three main areas offer themselves as targets for being taxed: property, sales and income. For income, corporations and people are taxed separately.
    In New Mexico, even at the most general, tax concepts are more complicated. That’s to be expected. Everything seems more complicated here, disrupted by the magic dust of enchantment.

  • Education reform inches along

    When did education become so complicated?
    Legislative hearings on education bills this year were knee deep in data and jargon, some of it borrowed from business: “value-added measures,” “human capital,” “formative observation,” “core competencies.”
    Pity the parent trying to follow these discussions.
    To cut to the chase, there are three overriding conflicts in the debate over education reform. Topping the list is testing. Teachers say they’re saturated with tests and object strenuously to any more because they’re not a reliable measure. The governor and her education staffers think we need more tests. Like them or not, standardized tests are costly, in money and time.

  • Lab needs to be protected

    This week, New Mexico received news that, due to budget cuts, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is moving forward with a voluntary separation program that seeks to reduce the workforce of the lab by up to 800 employees.
    For nearly 70 years, Los Alamos National Laboratory has contributed to the safety and security of the United States.  Its economic footprint in New Mexico has been significant, contributing in terms of dollars and jobs, both direct and indirect.  LANL contributes more than $2 billion to New Mexico’s economy and its impact can be felt throughout the state and the many local businesses the lab works with.  The vitality of the lab is critical to the economy of our region and news of job cuts at LANL is of great concern.

  • Alexander and work comp reform

    Ben Alexander was still going strong the last time I saw him, about 10 years ago, when he sat on a panel for a retrospective on the New Mexico workers’ compensation reform of 1990.  He had been an indispensable member of the task force that labored for months hammering out a compromise to save the state’s economy.
    Alexander died in January at age 91. He is remembered for his political activism, chairmanship of numerous boards, philanthropic activity, and for always being willing to travel from his home town of Hobbs to wherever he was needed.   

  • My mouth went off

    I was sitting in the lobby of the “Innocent Little Angels Child Care Center,” waiting for my friend as he was picking up his toddler.
    Suddenly, I started cursing, spitting out a stream of obscenities that would make a sailor blush.  I did feel a bit guilty about all those crying children.
     This incident reminded me of the week before when I was visiting the “Golden Years Nursing Home.”
    There too, without warning, I suddenly blurted out a few hundred choice verbs, adjectives, and colorful metaphors.  I’m not sure why so many old people were clutching their chests.  Maybe something they ate?

  • Questioning the county