Thursday, March 29, 2007

R2-D2 on the Plaza

Last week the US Postal Service unveiled mailboxes across the country "wrapped" to look like R2-D2. Here's the one on the corner of Lincoln and Palace, right by the Plaza.

It's part of a promotion that involves the issuing of stamps featuring characters from all six Star Wars movies, and commemorating the 30th anniversary of the first film. The stamps are the new $.41 ones--so use up those old $.39ers now!

Click here to find the R2-D2 mailbox nearest you.

Click here to read more about the promotion.

Interestingly enough, Santa Fe has very few mailboxes (I basically had given up looking for them and just go to the Pacheco Street Post Office which has nice drive-by mailboxes)--so this really makes a splash here. Santa Fe Postmaster Ruben Romero says that one of the reasons R2-D2 is a good fit with the Postal Service is because the droid "embodies the trust and dependability for which the Postal Service is so renowned."

You might find Santa Feans who would take issue with that....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Step It Up

Photo of Bill McKibben courtesy of Michele McDonald, Boston Globe

Tim sent me an email with information about Step It Up 2007, a "National Day of Climate Action" scheduled for April 14. Organized by grass-roots environmentalists, the day currently has 1,037 events scheduled, and at least one in every state in the country.

Here is an excerpt from a March 22 San Francisco Chronicle article:
In the Bay Area, Step It Up 2007's events tend toward the fanciful -- including a San Francisco road rally of electric cars, plug-in hybrids and bicycles that will parade from the city north on Highway 101 to San Rafael, where they will encircle a Hummer dealership. An Emeryville rally is billed as the "Submerged Shopping Center Day of Action," taking place in the Bay Street mega-store area, which scientists have projected may sit below sea level later this century after polar ice caps melt and the oceans rise.

"Step It Up really has no business being particularly successful because we have no money and not really any organization, but people are ready to act," said Bill McKibben, a writer and professor at Middlebury College in Vermont who is Step It Up's lead organizer. McKibben spoke to standing-room-only crowds in Berkeley, Corte Madera and Mountain View on Monday and Tuesday. "After 20 years of absolutely nothing happening, things are breaking loose in the most amazing kind of way," he said.

And another short piece from the opposite coast, in the March 19 Boston Globe:
No global warming event on the scale of Step It Up has ever occurred. The closest example, according to McKibben, is a five-day walk he helped organize last summer from outside Middlebury, Vt., to Burlington, which by its last day had gathered 1,000 participants.

The Step it Up activities will highlight the dangers of a rapidly warming earth, including ski mountaineers in Wyoming descending the shrinking Dinwoody Glacier; demonstrators painting a blue line through downtown Seattle to illustrate how far the rising seas could penetrate; and Vermonters hauling sap from a maple sugar bush that is producing much earlier than usual.

So check out the website to see what's going on in your area, and participate!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pluto Still a Planet for New Mexicans?

Photo courtesy of

Rest easy Pluto fans! The New Mexico legislature this week declared that Pluto would be designated a planet whenever it "passes overhead through New Mexico's excellent night skies." The perfect blend of astronomy and tourism....

As it turns out, Clyde Tombaugh, the first identifier of Pluto in 1930, was a New Mexico resident, so this is a bit of a memorial to him. The still-feisty Mrs. Tombaugh, his 94-year-old widow, says that scientists' minds won't be changed by this but "it's a very nice gesture".

Monday, March 12, 2007

Ubiquitous TVs

Photo courtesy of

I must preface this by saying that I like to watch television. I have a schedule of shows I watch every week and I also enjoy some spontaneous home-improvement show and movie viewing. I am not embarrassed to admit this!

But I do not like to have the TV on as a constant background to my life. I don't turn it on in the morning when I get up, I don't turn it on at night when I get home from work (until I am ready to sit and watch) and I don't have it on unless I am actively watching the featured program.

However, having just returned from a quick trip to the East Coast, I am once again reminded of the constant annoying presence of blaring TVs (usually turned to a news or pseudo-news program) in airport gate lounges, restaurants/bars, hotel lobbies, etc. I feel much the same way about that kind of TV watching as I do about smoking--the choice of the TV watchers to watch TV is intruding on my choice of how I want to spend my time in that setting. I can't ignore the TV any more than I can ignore the smoker. If it were only visual I could turn my head, but the audio follows you everywhere. I would like to read under these circumstances but I've never been any good at reading with the TV on--I like my reading settings quiet (or the noise to be indistinguishable background noise).

Couldn't there be TV lounges and quiet lounges at airports? Or plug-in audio in seats (just use your own headphones)? Just a thought.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The 1st of March

Signs of spring here in New Mexico:

• The winds have started. High winds are apparently a feature of spring in New Mexico--and by all accounts everybody's least favorite season.

• The snow is almost gone! Just two little patches left in my yard--here's one of them.

• The Police Academy recruits are running down the street behind my house at 5:45 a.m. Between the ritual shouting (think military trots with "huts" and other macho posturing sounds) and the reaction of the local dogs, it's impossible to sleep through. From experience last summer and fall, it seems to happen once or twice a month, and always wakes me up with a "What the ____" reaction. I start dozing off after they run by, and twenty minutes later they're back on the return trip!

• The trees are beginning to bud. Here is a close-up of a branch on my apple tree.

• The weeds are starting to make a stand--they should be worthy opponents this year because we've had such a wet six months.

• The birds are singing in the morning--what a lovely, hopeful sound!