Friday, March 26, 2010

Foster Dog Graduation Day


Mork_1Today’s the big day for our one-year-old foster dog Mork: he’s ready for adoption!

What a sweetheart he is. And he’s made great progress during his stay with us.

When he first arrived, he couldn’t even climb stairs. Now he races up and down the yard for the sheer joy of running, and he can jump two feet up onto the back deck.

He gets along with all our dogs, and even the cats. With his happy personality, I think he’ll fit right in with any pet household.

So, this morning he has an appointment with the groomer to make him all sleek & shiny. Then it’s show time!

We don’t know yet whether he’ll be at Animal Humane’s “Main Campus” (615 Virginia St SE, 505-255-5523) or their new Adoption Center (9132 Montgomery Blvd NE, 505-323-PETS).

Either way, the foster coordinator is sure he’ll be adopted right away, he’s that cute.

If you’re looking for him, remember, his shelter name is actually “Angelo”. We’ve just been calling him Mork.

Animal Humane of Albuquerque is located at 615 Virginia Street SE, and their main phone number is 255-5523. Their Adoptions Department is open 7 days a week from 10:00am-6:00pm (but closed for the lunch hour from 12:00pm-1:00pm). Their website is .

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists
Sandia Park, NM

Monday, March 22, 2010

Speak Up on Health Care Reform!


"We proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things."
--President Obama

I have been most bitterly annoyed by the series of TV commercials run on my local channels bashing the Congressional health care reform efforts. Many of these advertisements were sponsored by “fronts” for the insurance companies, and I find all of them deceptive and inflammatory.

According to CNN, over $57 million has been spent on advertising that tries to influence the health care debate. And remember, a lot of this money comes from the insurance premiums we pay now.

The average American pays over $1,000 per month for employer-sponsored health insurance, and as much as 1/3 of that goes to “administrative fees”, which includes advertising. I think that’s obscene.

So I was even more annoyed this morning to hear Sen. John McCain opine that Americans oppose health care reform 2-to-1. He failed to cite a source for his estimate.

I don’t believe it’s true, but if it is, then I think it’s important that all of us who do support health care reform take a moment to express our support to our representatives in Congress.

I am proud to say that both New Mexico Senators, Senator Jeff Bingaman and Senator Tom Udall, support health care reform. And my District 3 representative, Congressman Ben R. Luján, voted for it last night.

I have written all three to express my support.

If you don’t know who your representative is, or don’t know how to contact them, it’s easy to find out. Visit the following website, enter your zip code, and you’ll get the names and contact links for your Representative and your Senators:

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists

P.S. Wondering what the immediate benefits of the health care reform bill will be? After President Obama signs the bill, these 10 changes take effect immediately [source]:

  1. No more lifetime or annual caps on coverage.
  2. Free preventative care for all.
  3. Authorizes early funding of community health centers in all 50 states. Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment according to ability to pay.
  4. Children will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until their 27th birthdays.
  5. No child under 19 will be excluded from plans because of preexisting conditions.
  6. Adults with preexisting conditions will be able to start shopping online for a plan in a national high-risk pool while waiting for insurance exchanges to get started.
  7. Small businesses can deduct as much as 50 percent of employees’ health benefits for tax purposes in 2009 and 2010.
  8. It will fill in the “donut hole” of Medicare prescription drug coverage with a rebate.
  9. Insurers will have to post their balance sheets online, listing administrative costs, executive compensation packages, and benefit payments.
  10. And you can no longer be dropped from your insurance plan just because you get sick.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Snow Day at Sedillo Hill 03/15/10


We’re always amused when Albuquerque TV reporters set up their cameras on Sedillo Hill – our highway exit – to report on snow storms. They’re always kitted out for an Everest ascent!

But of course we do get considerably more snow than down in Albuquerque. Here are the results of last night’s snowfall …





Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists
(Sedillo Hill), NM

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Meet Mork! Our New Foster Puppy

This week we received a new foster from Animal Humane of Albuquerque, a rescued one-year-old, 8-pound male dog that they think is probably a Maltese-Yorkshire cross.


His shelter name is Angelo, but we’re calling him Mork. Doesn’t he look like a “Mork”?

Mork is a brave little guy: he was only a little alarmed by our resident household of four 70 – 140 pound dogs, and is intrigued by our 5 cats (4 of whom are also bigger than he is).

He loves sitting in the sun on the front porch, and for inscrutable reasons of his own hates inkjet printers, barking at each document as it prints out. It’s the only time he barks, I’m happy to say he’s not a yappy dog at all.

He’s recovering nicely from his little operation two days ago, and working hard on the finer points of house-training. Our coordinator at AHA believes he’ll be ready for adoption in about two weeks!


Animal Humane of Albuquerque is located at 615 Virginia Street SE, and their main phone number is 255-5523.

Their Adoptions Department is open 7 days a week from 10:00am-6:00pm (but closed for the lunch hour from 12:00pm-1:00pm). Their website is .

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Creams for Fiber Artists
Sandia Park, NM

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quarreling with Qwest Over the “Digital Divide” in New Mexico


Our local TV news station, KOB-TV, reported last night that $10 million in federal stimulus money will be used to bring broadband Internet service to rural residents of the Penasco Valley in southeastern New Mexico, a service area of approximately 4,700 square miles.

While I’m happy for – and envious of – my fellow rural New Mexicans who’ll finally get high-speed Internet, I bitterly resent that we American taxpayers are footing this bill on behalf of Qwest, the telecommunications giant which holds a virtual monopoly over most of the state of New Mexico.

Ten years ago Qwest was awarded this monopoly, and in return agreed to spend $788M to upgrade New Mexico’s rural telecommunication infrastructure, including high-speed Internet access.

A decade later, Qwest has failed to honor this commitment, with more than $200M in upgrades unperformed, amounting to more than 25% of their contractual obligation. And outside of the metropolitan areas of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Qwest has simply not provided high-speed Internet access.

“As a state, New Mexico sadly falls towards the bottom of the list” of Internet availability in the US, says Senator Tom Udall. [full text here]

The arithmetic seems simple: Qwest owes us 20 times the amount of this $10M federal stimulus grant. Were Qwest to honor its contract, at this rate broadband Internet could be provided to over 94,000 square miles of rural New Mexico (remember, the entire state is only 121,593 square miles). Then these ten million US tax dollars could be spent on other equally urgent projects in New Mexico.

I live in the East Mountains, a semi-rural area only 20 miles east of Albuquerque, our largest city. But I cannot obtain high-speed Internet from Qwest. All Qwest offers us is dial-up. As Comcast does not offer us cable service, either, I pay almost four times the national average to access the Internet.

Of course, even if we could get Qwest’s Internet service, I’m not sure we’d want it at the service level Qwest provides New Mexicans. In state, Qwest is notorious for outages like last December’s multi-day, multi-county lapse, for example. This failure, the third in three months, was traced to one of Qwest’s DSL DS3 circuits, known as a “big pipe”. DS3 big pipe failures like these “almost never happen in other Qwest states,” according to Jane Hill, president of CyberMesa, a Santa Fe telecom reseller who depends on Qwest’s big pipes for her livelihood. “The lack of Qwest investment in home phone lines and major circuits is taking its toll on the New Mexico economy and on future investment in the State.” [full text here]

Of course there are those who argue that Americans who choose to live in rural areas simply don’t deserve high-speed Internet service, as does the author of the Errors of Enchantment blog. Perhaps he’s right; and perhaps we don’t deserve electricity, either. Maybe we should all move to Albuquerque, leaving the crude oil, natural gas, cattle, goats, apples, pecans and chile peppers to tend and harvest themselves.

“Deployment of broadband supports job creation and rural economic development," says US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “opening new opportunities not only for homes and businesses, but for community institutions such as health facilities, libraries, public buildings and community centers." [full text here]

So you’d think in a state that just posted the highest unemployment rate increase in the nation, access to high-speed Internet would be a top priority for our elected officials. Not so. In our last legislative session, two pro-Qwest / anti-consumer bills were introduced and only narrowly defeated; quoting NM Public Regulation Commissioner Jason Marks,

SB 37 [sponsored by Sen. Carlos Cisneros] was a fast-track to complete deregulation of Qwest prices, service quality, and in-state investments; and HB 107 [sponsored by Rep. Roberto Gonzales] was a cleverly disguised, unjustified rate increase for Qwest, Windstream, and the rural monopoly telephone companies.” [full text here]

Qwest’s decade of performance in New Mexico under regulatory constraint has been abysmal; can you imagine how bad it would get if it were completely deregulated, as Senator Cisneros proposed?

While Qwest continues to seek rate increases - both openly acknowledged rate increases and hidden price hikes, as in the case of HB 107 - it has failed to provide service to rural New Mexicans, and at the same time reduced its costs by reducing service quality, refusing to expand service areas and laying off employees.

Rather than rubber-stamping the price hikes and deregulation demands issued by Qwest’s lobbyists, it's time for our legislature and Public Regulatory Commission to hold Qwest's feet to the fire. Obviously Qwest must be forced to deliver the $200 million dollars’ worth of telecommunications upgrades it contracted to provide over a decade ago. 

How else can the rural citizens of New Mexico ever hope to bridge the "digital divide"?