A good week for science

Ok, UC and partners won the lab contract. Given the constraints, this was the best possible outcome. This is not an overwhelming victory for science, but it is much better than the alternative. The lab will change for sure, for science in america's sake, I hope it is a good change.

Also the Monkeys won in the second monkey trial in Pennsylvania. Yeah monkeys. Almost as good as cows, really, maybe better, as monkeys can help the disabled, and cows, to my knowledge, can not, at least not until someone elects me as god.

Unfortunately this issue will not die anytime soon as Americans as a whole have no concept of the dangers of creeping fundamentalism. Hopefully this will keep religion out of science classes, but I am not confident non-monkey derived people will stop until they have neutered the curiousity of american children.

A sad note, this ruling also kills the case for introducing the the flying spaghetti monster into classrooms. If the non-monkey derived people won, I was really hoping that the FSM would also win and be forced to be taught alongside whatever the hell non-monkey derived people think science is.

Ok, enough of that lest I become a drooling reactionary, more bike and cat minutia promised in the months ahead, including new cats, with more than 5 fingers per paw even!


Check your National news, or the santa fe papers, at noon today (12/21) I find out come mid 2006, if I work for the MAN or the dirty hippies...

The fact that the UC regents could be considered the hippies is emblematic of larger problems in this country. Still, here is hoping for Hate man to ocassionally yell in the ear of my future bosses.
Una Pregunta

Why, when buying 6 dollar bottles of Austrailian Shirazy wine, do they come with real corks, when I have bought two 15+ dollar shirazes (which were worth it) with screw tops...


Bike Bike Cat

Here is a pic of the nice snowcapped mtns yesterday. My bike is leaning against a dead pinon tree which makes up about a quarter of the trees. The rest are junipers.

The velodrome is not all that funded yet, but the BMX track is. See here. Still on target for my bike plan of leaving work at noon, hitting the bmx track for a few laps as warm up, then hitting the velodrome for the evening races and then scurrying over to the minor league ball park for post race baseball, hotdogs and beers.

And lastly here is mosca drinking away happily:
Done Bike Rid

I did a real bike ride today. Not a commute to lunch, but the kind where you get on your bike and ride off road and crash because the trail is loose because you are running 28mm tires and your brake levers point down afterwards and then your wrist hurts a bit, but you keep riding and explore 1 new trail and 1 new road and you are sore as crap as you have not ridden in 2 weeks (even counting the lunch commutes), but otherwise you are still feeling endorphins 10 hours later. It was 35 degrees and windy at noon, but it may have been 40 plus when I left a few hours later. So it was a great ride, especially when the cold wind died. Woooooo!

After you pass the peacock flock and the goats and the first wash, yet before you get to the apple ranch and the second wash, the road looks about as good as it can get:

But then it gets better as you get to the single track. Last I rode it, it was buffed and hard and smooth as can be due to it being the end of the rainy season. This time it was a quite a bit loose as it has been really dry and the trail sees a fair bit of bike, run, walk and pooping equestrian use. Say what you want about MTB being winged locust etc., at least we do not SHIT in the middle of the trail. How is this OK trail etiquette wise? Huh? Get your act together horsey people. No one likes seing big heaping turds in the MIDDLE of the trail. Also, stop riding your horses on steep loose stuff, you WRECK the trail far more than any cyclist could ever do. Sheesh. Even the cows are not that bad and they shit on the side of the trails, and do not voluntarily go up or down insanely steep stuff. Cows, yes! horses, no! Plus your horses are stupider than cows. I don't care how pretty you think they are. I hope that the next horse person I see on the trail is a huge rancher with a big black cowboy hat who speaks spanish better than english, cause if I see a 12 year girl with curly blond hair and braces riding her show pony, shitting on the trail, and riding down the steep pitches turning the twisty single track into a landslide, I may loose it.

Uh, anyway, what was I getting at? Oh yes. The trail. I think this is nice beat in cow track on BLM land, so it is square profile singletrack on sandstone, a bit sketchy on the fixie when you get close to the edge, but pretty damn good:

Click on the above for big pics, they are quite nice I think.

Somehow I missed getting the snowcapped mountains with a hard snow line at 10K feet or so. Pretty nice backdrop to some riding.

That is a barbie head on the handlebars. She was rescued from the Truck Route in Los Alamos last summer. She used to have a road find flowered barrette keeping her hair managable, but, alas, it fell off during a time trial in august, so now I am hoping she grows dreads:

i think that is it.
Remember, up with cows!


Cold continues

I think the final tally on yesterday was high of 22 low of 5 or some such nastiness. Sure it is no Colorado, but the rio grande was frozen this AM. This is a pretty good sized rio grande, not the wimpy over-extended-by-irrigation rio grande that trickles through albuquerque. Pretty cool. I will try to get some pics tomorrow if it is still froze.

Here is the nice roof insulation, like snow, but not:

compare to the old looking roof here:


Cold as a Cold Thing

No entries for a while. The family descended for thanksgiving, it was cold and it actually snowed briefly. Just enough to make everything looklike it had been powdered with sugar. Thanksgiving was great and went smoothly. Then, it got a bit colder, and then this week it got very cold. High of 30 or so, low of 10 or 7 or 12, or something cold. Mosca and I are curled up on a warm spot on the floor trying to avoid freezing to death.

The roof is covered with a thick layer of insulation now, which is great. The house seems noticably warmer, except that it is 10 degrees out in the AM and everything is cold and ice is falling from the sky. Rather than letting cold air in, all the windows suck heat from you when you pass by, much like you get a chill when you pass the physical embodiment of pure evil. Best solution is lying in the middle of the floor where the warm spots are and not moving. Cats are very useful for showing you where these spots are, as that is where they lie. I feel a bit guilty pushing mosca to the cold part of the room so i can lie on the warm bricks, but she is covered in fur and I am not, or at least mostly not. The very fact that I am the people and she is the cat should be justification enough, as the cat should be used to such injustices, what with their insulting lack of opposable thumbs and inability to open the fridge and the like.

Must get back to the floor again.

In bike news, I have not touched mine, any of em, in over a week and they may actually for real build a velodrome in Albuquerque, this time with some vague promises of the Philly USPRO Championship abandoning Wachovia Bank pouring enough money in to create a world cup worthy indoor velodrome. I will believe it when I see it, but this would be an amazing boon for track racing in the US. As ABQ is at 5500 feet or so, there might actually be a flood of hour record seeking tiny skinny men descending on NM.

Pics soon.


Cat on a warm gravel roof

Despite her age and occasionally impressive creakyness Mosca can still get herself up on the roof.

This is nice as it is always very warm up there on the gravel, but a bit weird as she seems to use the roof as her litterbox lately.

In fact I was going to entitle this the big cat box in the sky, but though it incorrectly implied that mosca had ceased to exist.

Anyhow, the ceilings and roofs in traditional adobe homes are beams with slats on the inside, covered with tarpaper, then tar or sealant and then gravel/dirt for insulation.

They are flat roofs, really gently sloping, the walls of the house come above the roof level and then there are spouts (canales) that allow water to escape. However the whole roof system seems to be designed to trap standing water on the roof.

As any New mexican will say, flat roofs leak. And damned if they don't. This being a dry part of the US the roofs actually work pretty well, but the Los Alamos-Santa fe area gets almost 20 inches of precipitation a year which is really not that dry especially compared to the annual 10" or less you see in Albuquerque and south.

So the roofing is actually being redone. The pic above is the roof minus much of the gravel dirt layer.

It is now in the yard:


There will be a nice layer of foam and insulation sprayed on top and then foam sealant so it is one big continuous roof, instead of sections that are poorly sealed in betwixt.

The insulation will be nice as the walls in the house are 18ish inches thick of adobe brick covered with plaster/stucco, but the roof is rather thin and uninsulated, so what heat loss occurs goes through the windows and roof.


First night well below 20 last night. It was a cold beginning in october, but it warmed up nicely at the end of the month and into november. This week is the end of all that though. Barely above freezing with a nasty wind yesterday. Brrr. Big full moon cast huge shadows everwhere on the crystal clear night.
Nice beautiful sunny day today, still cold though. Mosca rolled about and is covered in an insulating layer of dirt.

Fierce mosca, ruler of the yard, surveys from her dirtmound perch.

Click for big.


Annoy Cat

Moscalita has taken to hopping on my lap as I type, nudging my typing hands demanding petting, and then, failing that, climbing up my chest to get to the top of the chair, and then meowing to be let back down.

Then I have to pay attention to her.
Clever kitty.


Weird Uvas

I found the last of the harvest this year. Some grapes I had stashed in the top of a fruit basket and forgot about since August. Absolutely delicious, especially when I ignore the deceased half hatched moth in the top of the cluster.
Cats I have known

Cymba was a nice huge fat tabby I lived with in the 1996-1997 range, she belonged to my roomate Jen. She was rescued as a tiny kitten from a vinyard in norcal.
In addition to being a mighty 22 plus pounds, she was also the longest cat I have ever seen in my life. She is much as I would imagine mosca would look if mosca tripled in weight. Cymba liked peas and corn. I would heat some frozen veggies under hot water, put them on a plate and shout peas in a high pitched voice and Cymba would follow me throughout the house meowing loudly until I gave her some. Obligate carnivore my ass.

Cymba passed away last year after a good 10 year run.


Screen Door 1, Mosca 0

Yeah ouch.

Mosca and I both learned valuable lessons this week. Mosca, already not trusting the newish screen doors now completely does not trust them. I, in turn, have learned that mosca will often sit right in front of the screen door, waiting to get in, even at night when it is hard to see her. I think the clump of hair there is from her tail, but I could not quite tell, she seems none the worse for it. There is a small, cat appendage pinching, size gap under the front screen door as there is a bit of uneveness in the walkway outside the door. I was walking outside to find mosca. She was waiting patiently directly infront of the door. As I swung it open, some sort of really impressive yowl of outrage/pain emitted from the bottom of the door. Anyhow, the upshot is that Mosca gives the screen door a somewhat wide berth these days. It makes her a bit tough to get her in sometimes as she comes running for the door, but makes a hasty detour back out into the yard when she sees the screen door open. Sorry Mosca.


Abstract Cat

Taken from my pedal powered helicopter:
Kitty Seep

Afore I get ranting on energy, taxes and populist BS, here is a nice calming picture of Mosca contemplating her move from one part of the yard to the other. The wall slot is some sort of concession to utilites but it is a perfect sized cat egress to the other part of the yard. Thus, I dub it the "kitty seep".

More calming mosca photos as she hides amidst the leaf denuded grapevines.

As usual, click for big.

OK, just a little rant. We got a 79 dollar tax refund from the NM state government to "help" with higher energy bills this winter. This is a democrat governor. What a load of populist BS. There. I said it. The right answer when shrub jr gave us $300 vote buying dollars a while back was to tell him thanks for the porn'n'drug money, I guess here I need to git me down t'the wal-mart and buys me a gun. Thanks Bill Richardson may you succeed in your white house bid in '08, you have certainly bought my vote.

Alright, it is not as bad as I thought. It is not, uh, a regressive refund, a-la Dubya, but it scales inversely to tax paid/family size. See here. I am still a bit disturbed by it, but not completely outraged. I will not use the money to buy a gun. I am pretty sure, however, that there are better uses for money already in the state treasury, or at least a better targeting of money. People of my income level do not need a refund to help with rising costs. I could keep writing on this, but have larger fish to write about right now. Maybe some more funding for solar energy programs here in the state of perpetual sunshine would be a nice start though, eh Bill?


Drive by egging

Damn kids.

The yard got egged sometime last week, I suspect on halloween or "mischief night" although my NM sources claim they have no idea what that is. Us east coast hoodlums take the night before halloween to be the night that you go out and soap cars, egg houses and TP trees and what not.

I can deal with the eggs, in the many months I have lived in this house, the damn kids have chunked beer bottles, cow pies and in one memorable incident, hopped over the fence and took a large, uh, dump in the yard. Overall the damn kids are mostly harmless, I hope.

The yowly tiny creature seems to be disdainful of me as I do not let her out at night much anymore as there have been a number of coyotes seen around and about the neighborhood the last few weeks. I can't remember ever seeing the coyotes out on the road near the house before, but maybe there is some tasty roadkill stashed nearby.

Lots of pics, undownloaded, over the weekend. More soon.


Other bike blog.

As long as I am talking bikes and blogs, my friend from Knoxville, now in Co, Mark, has a bikey blog here:


He is a fast skinny roadie guy who likes to ride his 23mm tires on dirt roads. He will come down here soon and kick my sedentary thesis-loving-hating-working-avoiding ass all over the roads of NM.
Welcome Cyclists!

Well my bike and catblogging worlds have meshed as some internet pals from a bike list have put together an abloggeration of all of our personal blogs. Thanks Jim!

The beta metablog is here:


Kinda neat.

So I will add bike stuff here now and again as I promised long ago, but as i went for my first ride in two weeks today (2 miles) I may need a bit of time before I have bike news.

In the meantime here is me racing over the summer up in los alamos, up on the ski hill, 9000 feet plus. Click for big.

This is 20 miles and 3000 feet altitude from the shaggy cowboy pic below. Nice variety of riding here. That was at the pajarito punishment stage race in August, the last time I rode more than 2 hours this year.


Ice done got bigger

To set the expats mind at ease, I did empty the cistern two weeks ago to avoid the miraculous expanding ice debacle of twenty-ought-three.

I cleverly used such advanced technology as a plastic tube to siphon the water out.


Comma kai yai yikki yikki yay

Sorry for the lack of updates, I am not too keen on updating the blog at work as one never knows when blogging at work will be viewed as a seditious act and, in the final throes of the dissertation, I have not been taking too many pics. Here is one from the trails a few miles from the house from a week ago.



All done. Click for bigger photos of the before and after:
Screen Door

what's the secret you're keeping?

New screen doors. Kitchen is done, they are drilling on the front as I type this.
Click each part for a much bigger image (before, after, after with door closed):

And the nice latch

More shortly on the new front screens...

Fat Cat

Mosca just got back from the doctor. She is now .2 pounds fatter than last check in septemeber. 7.4 pounds now, Woo! Not wasting away. A ways to go to the previous high of 9.something pounds, but she is heading in the right direction.

The fall yardscape

Click for the full panorama.


Flip Kitty

The ground finally dried out enough for Mosca to roll in the dirt. First time in a month.


The Engine

This little machine for making coffee is probably the only thing that is keeping me remotely productive in the evenings, weekends and when I work from the house:

The buzz and steam as it fires up is very satisfying, much like I am stoking my own personal steam driven productivity engine.

Winter Coats

As the temperature hovers around freezing each morning, both mosca and I are starting to grow out our winter coats.



Long time no post. Ran out of camera batteries and was attempting to put my creativity to the thesis this week. Mosca is as yowly and love demanding as ever. I sit here looking at the return of the cold grey sky after 4 days of brilliant sunshine. And I have nothing new but the pictures of this nice weird beetle that made its way around the porch for three days. I dub it the "Greater Pojaque Ridgeback Beetle" if'n it is not named yet.



When the clouds cleared this am they revealed a snowline at about 8000 feet or so over Los Alamos. Almost snow in town. I have high hopes for the mythical ski trails open by thanksgiving this year. It was darn near snowing at the house last night with a light rain filled with heavy drops bordering on slush. It looked and smelled like snow, but was a few small degrees away. I awoke with visions of a snow day dancing in my head, but alas, no luck.

In other news the ugly giant stray siamese tomcat was back in the yard this AM. Perhaps the only other cat in the valley as clever as mosca. I had high hopes that a coyote finally ate it, but no. It was actually asleep in mosca's refuge spot in the cat car (an old car with a warm pile of old jackets in the back). The nerve. This is the cat that sprays the front door, eats mosca's food and drives her to the roof to hide. I am a bit sceptical that mosca can still get in the car, so I am closing the window in the car for the time being. Mosca has been not spending any time outside at all as it has been chilly and wet. I chased the ugly siamese away in a fusillade of rocks, but I know it will be back. Grrrr.


Holy Bowl

Despite a daily changing of all the waterbowls in the house for Mosca (I even bought two more for her from the super sale rack at pier one), she seems only to drink from this one:

from which she will suck down half a bowl in a sitting. It is old, chipped and filled with sediment from the mineral rich well water we have here. I keep the other bowls clean of deposits and even use filtered water in one of them, but nope, only the holy bowl gets any apparent use. I am afraid to clean it or move it, lest she turn her nose up at it too and expire of dehydration.
More rain and cold

We are into our third straight day of chilly drizzle and thunderstorms as well as a snow advisory at higher elevations. But in the brief sun we had yesterday, mosca took advantage:


Cold and rain and rain and cold.

Well, it dropped about 30 degrees overnight hovering just above freezing this am and we got a bunch more rain as at least two thunderstorms moved in last night. Most ceiling leaks are still there. Mosca kept me company working on a presentation until 2 am last night and then she woke me to let me know there was a thunderstorm and the roof was leaking at 5am. Thanks kitty! At least I do not oversleep anymore. Maybe some more snowy mountain photos tomorrow. For now, uh, here is the fall harvest from the property:

The apple tree had an insane number of apples this year. Small and sweet, delicious with sharp cheddar. I need to get the rest off today or tomorrow before they freeze. One of the front yard pear trees had two pears. One fell off, so I panicked and picked the other, it proved to be very very unripe. Too bad.


Supermodel kitty

Many people ask what mosca is sick with and what she needs to be medicated with. (Many = more than one). So the short story is that she has some sort of non-complex heart disease which may or may not be exacerbated by hyperthyroidism. This messes up her metabolism, her heart rate and could cause all sorts of as yet unseen complications, the meds keep all this in check. I believe that she is feeling noticeably better and is a bit fatter since medication started. I need to give her a pill and a small amount of liquid medicine every day. Here is her pill:

Very Kate Moss, no?
It is really half a pill, but she does not like taking it any more than a full one. She is really good at holding in her mouth for tens of seconds and pretending to swallow and then, as soon as she is free of you, she can shoot the pill across the room.
What skill! What panache! What a pain!
We have come to an agreement that she will not claw me anymore if I acknowledge that she hates getting the pill and let her make me frustrated. Occasional hiding the pill in wet food works fine, but she turns her nose up at food occasionally so usually we go for the pop the mouth open and cram technique. Reminds me of my favorite pre-meal grace:

Bless the meat
Damn the skin
Open Wide
and Cram it in



Lots of good bugs down at the house.

The best thing thus far has been the nice paperwasp (?) nest that fell off during the not so big thunderstorm a few weeks back.

There was a good plague of grasshoppers this year and a nice hatching of praying manti lately. Mosca, for the record, is barely interested in either bugs or hummingbirds.

The last hummingbird siting was 9/30 and none over the weekend, so it appears they have boogered off for the winter.

More bugs as cat news slows...



Like I said, the storm dumped some snow on the high peaks around the valley here. I think one of the pictured peaks could be Sierra Mosca, at 11,800 feet, perhaps part of the inspiration for the tiny mosca kitty's name? The others are probably SantaFe Baldy and maybe Tesuque peak? Both at around 12,500 ft. I can't find my topo map to be sure.

Click above for the full pic.

Here also is the quintessential rural NM postcard image, dirt road, bunch of rusty old mailboxes, coyote fence and some flowers which you only see in profusion in wet years.