We’re past the longest night. Reason enough for all the celebrations we’ll be holding over the next couple of weeks. Here’s some nice Celtic stuff about solstice observation and its equivalent in one of my favorite New Mexico places.
So here’s some light blogging while those nuclear policy posts continue to flow in and the nights are still long, but getting shorter.
The birds have been active at the feeders. I’m not as faithful as I might be about keeping the hopper feeder filled, but I probably should pay more attention to it over the next few days. We had about six inches of snow last night, and it looks like it won’t make it up to freezing today, although the sun is melting the residue on my shoveled driveway. That may even take another day. The birds need their food.
I pour hot water into the frozen birdbath and occasionally tip the accumulated ice out. Our temperatures have fluctuated wildly; Thursday night the birdbath hardly froze. I’ll distribute photos through this longer-than-usual ramble. One day, for about twenty minutes, the flock of piñon jays appeared, forcing the flicker back to the Russian olives, which she nibbled desultorily, but then decided that, damn it, it was her feeder too. The bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus) have been around quite a bit, keeping me company while I shoveled this morning, but they also hit the feeder regularly. Minimus is right! They are only a little bigger than hummingbirds!
And the amaryllis has finished blooming. Just leaves now.
The week started with a meeting in Los Alamos on Monday night under strange circumstances. The church secretary warned me that Canyon Road, the route I usually take in front of the church, was barricaded off “for the movie.” I had been reading about the filming of “Brothers,” with Jake Gyllenhaal and others (I remember his name best because of that double a, Swedish I think in his case, but so like Estonian), but my impression from the Santa Fe New Mexican was that it was being filmed in Santa Fe.
Coming down Rose Street, I saw a group of people huddled outside the church, some wearing military uniforms, and bright BRIGHT lights focused on the sanctuary’s stained glass windows, another bright light on the other side in Canyon Road. As the church secretary had warned me, the west side of the parking lot was full of trucks containing electronic equipment. But there were spaces left where I usually park.
I had to walk through and past that clutch of extras on the sidewalk. They looked at me strangely, but it seemed to me they were the strange ones, in costumes of some decades back I think, although it was fairly dark. In any case, not the kind of thing I’ve seen recently in Los Alamos.
I was informed by the others in my meeting that the filming has been in various places around Los Alamos, perturbing traffic.
More and more movies are being made in New Mexico. Back in the forties, many of the natural landscapes were used in movies; there’s a wonderfully funky old hotel in Gallup where Ronald Reagan and others stayed. When I came to New Mexico and first drove over the little ridge just before the plain around Ghost Ranch opens out, I recognized it from old movies, although their black and white had not come close to the reality.
But there’s a downside. As a New Mexican, I had to see “The Milagro Beanfield War,” and a wonderful movie it was. But one scene puzzled me. It’s where the bulldozer takes off by itself. It trundled across the sagebrushy plains west of Taos, as I expected from the book. Toward the Rio Grande Gorge, I expected. Then it suddenly fell off a cliff of Bandelier tuff near Los Alamos. I couldn’t figure out whether it was supposed to have made it through the mesas, valleys and arroyos between the two places, and then I realized: if you didn’t live in New Mexico, you wouldn’t know how far that cliff was from the plain. Then I had to catch up with what I missed while pondering that.
Familiarity with the locations is not necessarily a benefit.
A small note that bloggers working on posts for the discussion on nuclear policy might find interesting. Carson Mark, a decade or more ago, suggested that our thermonuclear bombs could be defanged simply by allowing the tritium in them to decay, and not replacing it. Tritium has a twelve-year half-life, so in fifty years you’re down to one-sixteenth of what you started with, just by natural processes. It’s seemed to me that without a pit manufacturing facility, the United States can just let the rest of our nukes decay out of capability. Today the Washington Post tells us that older F-15s may have to be grounded because of the metal fatigue that comes with years of use. Of course, everyone would have to agree to let their armaments deteriorate simultaneously.
Oh, and we decided to make tritium in civilian reactors, breaching the separation of weapons and civilian uses of nuclear power.
The Los Angeles Times reminds me that I wanted to offer an alternative viewpoint on Barack Obama’s drug use. Maybe, at this late date, when we all know that practically all baby boomers inhaled (that can include at least two choices), it’s salutary to have a candidate who can admit that that’s what he did. We can assume the other campaign staffs are working hard to find the evidence of most recent use. Do we really need to be quite so hysterical about all this?
And, finally, here’s a Christmas story that I quite enjoyed.