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Thursday, May 26, 2011

True Story

The Amish have settled in the San Luis Valley.

SLV

The trip down to the San Luis Valley this past weekend has been firing my imagination in all kinds of ways. It has this almost magical quality, almost like going back in time. One minute you're in Main Street USA in the 1950s, the next you're in the Old West with the cavalry fighting the Indians, then in other places, you're in a wild pre-human world, nothing but prairie and sky and cloud-splitting mountains off in the distance.

I can see why people come here.
Looking down from above, it's a splotch of green sandwiched between the southern tip of the Rockies and the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, snow covered peaks that seemingly jut from nowhere in the east. Somewhere down there is the Great Sand Dunes, but mostly its farms. Alfafa farms, cattle ranches, lettuce farms, potato farms, barley farms, even an alligator farm, not to mention one hell of a solar farm.

It's a unique place, that's for sure.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Private Genocide

As the squirrel campaign continues, I find myself becoming increasing hostile to every squirrel invading my territory.

They're digging up my strawberries, emptying my pots, leaving corn cobs in my yard, trying to drink from my drips. It's getting out of hand.

After I trapped Jimmy here, two of his buddies came down to rescue him. They took off running when they saw me, but they'll be back.
This is the 6th squirrel I've caught and while I'm reasonably sure none of them have found their way back --17 miles and 2 big highways...yeah, they ain't coming back-- I think what I've done is create a new territory for other squirrels from other blocks to invade and call their own.

As I deplete one tribe of squirrels, another conquers. So I must be stout in my resolve. Not only will I have to depopulate my yard of squirrels, I'll have to go after my neighbor's and their neighbor's and the ones who live in the tree down the street, perhaps for generations.

Until they are all gone.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Second Hand Smoke

Smokers are out-numbered. We're second-class citizens. People don't like us and they certainly don't like our habit. And hey, that's fine.

But what happened to the principle of "Quicher bitchen?" What happened to tolerance? Acceptance? Understanding?

Here's John from Americablog chiming in on the "NY bans smoking in parks" debate:
I'm rather sick and tired of walking down the sidewalk and having to smell the smoke of someone a good 30 feet in front of me.
Boo fucking hoo. You know what this sounds like? This sounds like the type of petty complaint you'd hear from a redneck talking about one of his undesirables. "I'm sick of watching those homos hold hands."

I say, Get over it.

He continues:
"Smoking is a nasty habit that I don't necessarily have a problem with if people want to do it in the privacy of their own home."
Which is exactly the religious right's position on homosexuality...
But in public, where I have to breathe it, no way. Your right to smoke stops when you force me to inhale it against my will.
I think it's this kind of shit that makes me so miserable sometimes. I am just incapable of believing this.

The way I see it is that if I have a right to smoke, I have a right to smoke. It don't fucking end nowhere.

And while I do believe in self-determination and liberty, I think it's just a matter of physical biology that you can't declare independence from certain smells. Maybe in your own home...but outdoors, in public?

You get what you get. You don't have to like it. But that's life.

Earthships

An Earthship is a stupid name for a passive solar house constructed out of recycled materials like tires, cans, bottles, etc. It's not as dumb as it sounds.

Here's an up close look at one.
I'll let Wikipedia do the 'splaining:
An Earthship is a type of passive solar house made of natural and recycled materials. Designed and marketed by Earthship Biotecture of Taos, New Mexico, the homes are primarily constructed to work autonomously and are generally made of earth-filled tires, using thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. They also usually have their own special natural ventilation system. Earthships are generally Off-the-grid homes, minimizing their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. Earthships are built to utilize the available local resources, especially energy from the Sun. For example, windows on sun-facing walls admit lighting and heating, and the buildings are often horseshoe-shaped to maximize natural light and solar-gain during winter months. The thick, dense inner walls provide thermal mass that naturally regulates the interior temperature during both cold and hot outside temperatures.
Here's an exposed wall that illustrates the construction method.
Here's one that's currently undergoing construction. As you can see, they can get pretty elaborate.
Take a look at this one:
I'm going to build one...

Rio Grande Gorge

It's awesome.
And just on the other side of it...

Earthship central.

Taos

First stop...the casino.
I only lost a few bucks.

We were going to visit the Taos Pueblo, but skipped it in favor of getting some lunch. Not here, of course...but this is representative of Taos architecture.
Kit Carson's house is still there. This dude was everywhere down here.
Graffiti on an adobe building.

The Town of San Luis

Between Ft. Garland and Taos is a small town called San Luis. It's the oldest town in the State and as you can see, it's quite picturesque.
We followed the Stations of the Cross to this church situated on top of a bluff overlooking town.

Fort Garland

Erected in the mid-1800s to protect white settlers from the Utes who populated the San Luis Valley, Fort Garland was in operation for 25 years. Kit Carson and the Buffalo Soldiers served here. General William T. Sherman came out for a visit.

The San Luis Valley

This weekend I had the pleasure of touring SoCo. That's Southern Colorado to you lowlanders. Me and my brother did a tour of the San Luis Valley: Alamosa, Fort Garland, San Luis, then we cut down to Taos and went to the Rio Grande Gorge.

We were looking for this kind of thing.
It was beautiful.
I'll post more pics tomorrow.