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February 3, 2008

Mooninites Terrorize New Mexico; Boston Surrenders
Posted by Patrick at 12:15 PM *

(Photo by M. J. Locke.)

Yes, I’m in northern NM for a few days, being duly enchanted in the Land of Enchantment by, among other things, the tram ride up Sandia Peak at sunset, Steve and Laura’s small but perfectly-formed Asus EEEs, green chiles on everything, Petroglyph National Monument, the impressive crowd at the Wild Cards signing at Page One, and the stunning dawn view of the Galisteo Basin out the front door of Melinda Snodgrass’s guest house. Back in NYC on Wednesday.

Comments on Mooninites Terrorize New Mexico; Boston Surrenders:
#1 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:27 PM:

I, for one, welcome our new petroglyph overlords.

But I'm calling the bomb squad, anyway.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Blast. I wish I had known about this signing. what with my living only a few miles away. Oh well.

#3 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:43 PM:

Serge, how did I miss knowing you live in this part of the world? I'm an idiot.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:47 PM:

Patrick, an idiot would be someone who expects a person who knows LOTS of people all over North-America and Europe to remember where every one of those people lives. I'm glad you had a good time. You should try during summer.

#5 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Page One is a very cool bookstore; I'm glad to hear the signing went well! If you get the chance to check out Tent Rocks while you are there, take it. It's not that far from where you are, although it does require some hiking. (Acoma is also seriously worthwhile, but a longer drive.)

And, even though you don't know them and wouldn't have any way of recognizing them, it is still sound advice to suggest you avoid my parents (-:

#6 ::: Brenda von Ahsen ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 05:16 PM:

That's not a real petroglyph is it? Jesus that's weird.

#7 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Hey, I'm in Santa Fe. If I'd known, I would have made for the signing. Hope you're enjoying northern NM. I'd offer you an excellent dinner, but the only night I'm available is tomorrow.

Take care, and stay warm (it's snowing like crazy here)!

#8 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Also, I should point out that we're so used to aliens down here in New Mexico that we barely even make note of them anymore. I mean, I myself glow green, although that has more to do with living between the Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Sandia National Laboratories.

It's not so much terror as it is "Not more aliens again. I wonder if they're looking for kidnap victims this time? If the are, I hope the military deals with them quickly."

#9 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:59 PM:

Is Sandia Peak shaped like a watermelon?

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 07:29 PM:

Fragano @ 9... The name comes from the color that the mountain acquires at sunset.

#11 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 07:42 PM:

Serge #10: Ah, I see. A very vivid red, I take it.

#12 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 07:53 PM:

Brenda @ #6: Petroglyphs are in low-erosion areas, so a new one is likely to look similar to older ones. That one may be authentic, though— look up kachinas and you'll see what I mean.

On time I *did* see an alien abduction petroglyph, though. The creator had been thoughtful enough to put it at a little distance from the authentic ones.

#13 ::: MorganJLocke ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 08:12 PM:

It's real. Wild, eh?

#14 ::: Brenda von Ahsen ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Yeah they are. They're just human enough to be familiar and yet just alien enough to be kind of spooky.

#15 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:58 PM:

If you make it to Acoma, try to obtain a loaf (or two) of the local home-made bread, fresh from the communal bee-hive oven. I did, en route to MidAmeriCon in '76, and still remember it as being the best bread I've ever tasted. (ISTR, however, that the pueblo's population plummets during the cold winters.)

#16 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:29 PM:

I do have to say, I may well remember this winter as the one where I had to leave New York for New Mexico in order to experience some snow.

#17 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:37 PM:

Is that a Giant?

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:07 PM:


Ah, that reaction. Having grown up in a similar area, I generally avoid telling people where it was - being looked at as if I was about to either glow in the dark or yell 'Nuke the Whales' is more than I want to deal with. (I don't recall that my father ever glowed in the dark, either, and he was the one who worked there, and went to 'Albuquerque' and 'Las Vegas' (the actual destinations were implied).)

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:22 PM:

Fragano @ 11... Yup. If you want to see what the Sandias look like, watch the movie The Astronaut Farmer. That's about the only reason I'd suggest watching it. But I digress. At the end, when his capsule comes back down to Earth, supposedly in Texas, you see mountains. That's the Sandias, almost in my backyard. (I also won't delve upon their moving White Sands from New Mexico to Texas.)

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:24 PM:

Patrick @ 16... No snow in NY? As for the local snow, it lost all romance for me last year when, on Valentine's Day, my car went skidding and bonked against a street light. Pretty embarassing too for someone who grew up in Quebec.

#21 ::: MorganJLocke ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:32 AM:

I really wanted to do Acoma. Unfortunately, there wasn't time. Poo and dang.

#22 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 01:23 AM:

New Mexico is really a special place, and the northern half is even more so. My trips up to Western Colorado to see my mother were great excuses to spend a day, each way, investigating just one more thing, and picking up a few more cans of chilies.

#23 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 10:01 AM:

I'll be in Albuquerque next week for the Southwest/Texas Pop Culture conference -- I'll have to try to get to Page 1!

#24 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 10:24 AM:

Janet #23: FWIW, there's also Page One Two, which is their used bookstore. It has quite a large SF/F section and I've found a number of things there that I'd been looking for for years.

#25 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:17 AM:

Well, when you get back here, you can play with Soren's small-but-perfectly-formed EEE. It's neat enough that I'm almost tempted to suggest he upgrade to another one, and give this one to me.

#26 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:43 PM:

I've been to the Santa Fe area a couple of times, and loved it. I didn't take the Sandia Tram, but I've been to Tent Rocks, Plaza Blanca, Diablo Canyon... It's beautiful there. If I'm ever forced to leave Montreal and move to the US, that's where I'll pick.

#27 ::: chris J ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:35 PM:

I live in Santa Fe, and I'm never leaving--well, except for that job travel thing.

#28 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 03:01 PM:

chris j #27:

Wot, no vacations?

#29 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 03:39 PM:

Santa Fe is a place you vacation to, not from. I mean, heck, it's got an adobe Woolworth's... once you've seen that, why go anywhere?

#30 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 04:35 PM:

I have some fairly odd memories of New Mexico--

- going from Red Wing, Colorado (the tarmac ended two miles from Red Wing) into New Mexico over Pass Creek Road, which all red mud that I was driving through (and I do mean through, there was an at least 3" thick coating of dried mud on the bottom of my car when I hoisted it up and changed the oil or tires a few weeks later) thinking I was being a total idiot because I was likely to get stuck in the mountains on that road,

- visiting college classmates who were stationed in Albuquerque at the government labs there, went out looking at petroglyphs with one of them and to the old market in Albaquerque years and years and years ago,

- going to Bubonicon

- driving through New Mexicon one the way to Phoenix and noting just how poverty-stricken so much of the state looked, and being very saddened about that.

#31 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:12 PM:

One of my more memorable vacations was a trip to Star Hill Inn near Sapello (not too far from Las Vegas, NM). It's a retreat that caters to amateur astronomers. My wife and I loved it.

#32 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 09:21 PM:

did you get word on how the Asus EEE is holding up? it's very attractive, but I don't know how worthwhile it'll be in the long run. the prospect of eye strain alone is making me dizzy.

#33 ::: KathyF ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 06:38 AM:

Serge: The Astronaut Farmer was filmed in NM? Near the Sandias? I had no idea! And I actually watched that film.

#34 ::: pixelfish ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 01:17 PM:

Antukin@32 - re: EEE PC: I got my mum an Asus EEE PC. She's not a super user, so the Asus EEE PC is about perfect for her needs. She wants a machine to check email and the occasional website and to play the occasional game of solitaire. Also she'd never had any computers of her, just cast-offs from other people that usually die within a month or two of her getting them, so I thought it would be perfect for her, and perfect for my budget.

So far she likes it. The keyboard and getting used to the track pad are the hardest parts for her. But even though it's not a Windows machine, she gets around just fine. She's got a few games, we bookmarked family photo galleries and journals, we got her set up on Gmail, and found her links to crocheting blogs and Project Gutenberg. And in case, it suddenly dies a horrible death, we got a two year warranty on it.

It's a cute, very basic laptop. I love the idea that it doesn't run Windows, but it's still friendly enough that a non-computer savvy person can get around and use it. It was easy to set up.

As with the XO, the keyboard is pretty small. The XO's keys are smaller, and harder to type on. The sealed keyboard skin on the XO makes the tactile feedback less....bouncy? The keys on the EEE PC have more clickety-ness. I didn't cramp up on the EEE PC, but I'm absolutely considering getting a portable, rollable keyboard at full size for my XO. (And any adult with hands larger than mine may still find the EEE's keyboard small-sized. My hands are small.)

The screen size is tiny. You don't get a lot of lines of text. I could see using it as a writing machine, but less of a reading machine. Again, my mum mostly needs something for checking her email.

There's practically no memory (4GB) but you can use thumb drives for files.

#35 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 01:45 PM:

pixelfish (34): There's practically no memory (4GB)

Now *there's* a 21st century moment! Imagine saying that to the Apollo scientists.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 01:57 PM:

KathyF @ 33... I don't know if all of The Astronaut Farmer was filmed around Albuquerque, except for the White Sands scene at the beginning, but it looks that way. And those were definitely the Sandias.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 02:05 PM:

KathyF... By the way, welcome to ML. How did you find your way here? Glad you did. By the way, it finally snowed 2 or 3 inches yesterday. My doggies loved the stuff, and the little one not only catches snowballs, he brings them inside to eat them.

#38 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 02:38 PM:

#35 Mary Aileen

He wasn't that I'm aware of one of the Apollo scientists, but a cousin of mine, Melvin Stone, who's been at MIT for more than 60 years and who was one of the people who killed off "the standard solar system" with MIT imaging Venus (and in the process improving the value of the speed of light by orders of magnitude) and determining that it had no ocean and was instead very hot and very dry, said a few years ago,"If you had told me 25 years goa what we would be doing with radar today I would have told you it was impossible--and it was impossible with analog-only technology. Digital signal processing using digital computers makes all the difference [between what we're doing and what was impossible before its advent]."

4 GB of memory not being enough, involves a paradigm shift away from the dawn of the digital control era which Apollo was--the Apollo computer was digital, barely, and one of the earliest systems that involved a digital flight computer--analog ones, or none, ran vehicles. For that matter, the radar site at Thule, which I think my cousin was involved in setting up and investigating the "Moon over BMEWS" false alarm so very long ago, had the FIRST solid state digital computer built--IBM 7090 Serial Number 1 (and also serial # 3)and it had a whopping 4 kilobytes of RAM I think it was of RAM, and extended for 20 or 30 feet, with 1024 was it memory boards in it, each larger than a modern keyboard (those were still the site computers when I was stationed up there "if it ain't broke don't fix it" -- they did do a lot of faulting though, to which the fix was "R &R" for "remove and reseat" -- pull out the circuit board and shove it back in. Years of operations had made the connections less that well-seated....

Anyway, modern computer systems have a lot of "bloatware" and a lot of functionality for pushing things around and doing stuff that was completely nonexistent 50 years ago--there were not graphical user interfaces, no optical drives, no touchscreens to digital computers, it was the dawn of digital computers.... the additional features and functionality and overhead for programming and tools etc. etc. etc. all have exacted their own demands.

My cousin remembers the days when the Whirlwind was the state of the art, and when Ken Olsen asked him to come work for a new company Ken Olsen was starting named Digital Equipment corporating , he made a decision that prevented him from winding a wealthy man, deciding to stay at MIT instead.

The systems he's been working with in recent decades have lots and lots of memory, to do lots and lots of digital signal processing--stuff that the Apollo computer couldn't do, and that can't be done, without, again, digital computing, and lots and lots of it....

#39 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 03:03 PM:

#19 Serge: I also won't delve upon their moving White Sands from New Mexico to Texas.

I will. If you ever have a chance to pick up a New Mexico magazine, check out the last page just inside the back cover. They've got a regular column called "One of our 50 is missing" which details the constant confusion regarding locations in New Mexico and etc.

Makes for hilarious reading, especially when someone like Coca-Cola suggests that they can't ship out of the U.S. to New Mexico or when people looking for Olympics tickets in Atlanta are told that they have to go through their embassy.

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 03:10 PM:

Spherical Time @ 39... My favorite was the news anchor who mentionned whales migrating along the coast of New Mexico. I don't remember seeing cetaceans floundering thru the Rio Grande's mud.

#41 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 03:40 PM:

#40 Serge: My favorite was the news anchor who mentionned whales migrating along the coast of New Mexico. I don't remember seeing cetaceans floundering thru the Rio Grande's mud.

I was looking for an old story about a "chupacabra" that turned out to be a dried manta ray found on a ranch in New Mexico, but I couldn't find it.

I always thought those stories were to funny to be true, until one time at summer camp my little brother was accused of lying my a girl who didn't think we were New Mexican. In order to prove it, she demanded that we "speak some New Mexican."

Also, when I was in college in New York, I met people that had never heard of New Mexico. That really got me.

#42 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 05:37 PM:

Paula Lieberman (38): Absolutely true. But just imagine the reaction you'd get from any computer-savvy person ~40 years ago if you suggested to them that 4GB was not very much memory.

#43 ::: Chris J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 05:58 PM:

Shameless plug from a local for my favorite just outside-of-Santa Fe and still cheap restaurants (Santa Fe's got way too many fabulous ones to count, but most ain't cheap): the burritos at Orlando's in Taos and the burgers at Embudo Station, down on the Rio Grande mid-way between Taos and Santa Fe.

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 06:00 PM:

Chris J @ 43... You think of Taos as just outside Santa Fé?

#45 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 07:29 PM:

I have to agree with Serge that Taos isn't just outside Santa Fe (I thought you were going to name Bobcat Bite), however, I will have to second Embudo Station's Burgers as excellent. I've been there in the summer when the river is running, and it makes me want to retire to their patio.

As for slightly more traditional New Mexican: the Guadalupe Cafe, next to the NM Capitol building, has amazing New Mexican food.

#46 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 03:35 AM:

Mary Aileen@42: 40 years ago? Hell, 30 or even 20. We're spoiled nowadays.

#47 ::: Chris J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 06:59 PM:

Serge at 44: Taos is close the way my wife drives. We're up and down that road all the time.

Spherical time at 45: Yeah, Bobcat Bite is good. So's Guadalupe Cafe (I live just up the street from it), but just now it's still full of legislators at lunch time. They'll be gone soon.

But Orlando's smothered burritos are the best. Really, and I'm a foodie.

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 08:34 PM:

Chris J @ 47... Must have been a fun road to drive on these last few days, what with the snow that Patrick brought along from the East.

#49 ::: chris j ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 12:32 AM:

Just remember to get through Espanola as quickly as possible and don't stop there. Ever.

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 07:00 AM:

Chris J @ 49... Mean cops?

#51 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Paula #38: Believe it or not, my Dad was one of the programmers for Gemini and the early Apollo missions. For mysterious reasons (really, no one knows), Dad doesn't like to talk about his experiences at NASA, so I'm not sure exactly what he did.

General Motors had loaned him to NASA on request, apparently because he was one of the most experienced guys out there working with IBM 360 Assembler. I think he might have worked on telemetry software, but for all I know he was writing payroll management software, which is what he was doing for GM. Still, not bad for a guy who never finished his EET.

When my niece was a little girl, she interviewed him for a school assignment, so she probably knows more than anyone else in the family.

Dad didn't get a personal computer until years after he retired. It was a 386, and for days he just stared at it and shook his head in wonder at 4MB of RAM just sitting there on his desk, not doing anything useful like processing payroll accounts. Then he wanted to reprogram Solitaire and I had to explain to him about closed-source software. He was very disappointed. Lately, I've been talking up Linux, but the fire is gone.

Just this last Christmas, he and Mom were working a crossword puzzle, and Mom said, "'Tuscany feature'?* I don't even know what Tuscany looks like." I said, "We can find out," and showed him how to do a Google image search on his dial-up AOL account. He was pretty tickled by that. "Vida, come in here and look. It's pictures of Tuscany!"

I think he really misses Assembler.


#52 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 06:19 PM:

#47 Chris: now it's still full of legislators at lunch time. They'll be gone soon.

I hope so. They're driving me nuts because I'm having trouble finding places to park for work.

#49 Chris: Just remember to get through Espanola as quickly as possible and don't stop there. Ever.

Heh, Espanola isn't that bad. My mom works for their animal shelter.

#53 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2008, 06:39 PM:

I just realized that this thread (if anyone is still reading it) might be a good place to advertise that Steven Gould, whose book Jumper is the basis for the upcoming movie of the same name, lives in Albuquerque and is going with a lot of other people to the opening night.

It actually sounds like its going to be a fun sort of sci-fi fan get together.

If anyone wants info on it, you can reach me at my user name (without the space) at gmail, and I'll fill you in on the details.

It's entirely possible though that everyone's stopped reading this, and if so, I apologize for not getting my act together and posting this sooner.

#54 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2008, 12:38 AM:

Spherical Time, his book Jumper is so not the basis for the movie that they had him write another book to go with it: Jumper: Griffin's Story. Tell us what it's like. The trailer looked awful.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2008, 05:56 PM:

Spherical Time @ 53... See you at the movies.

#56 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2008, 02:54 PM:

Here's my review. I should have mentioned Griffin's Story in there. I'll update it later.

#57 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2008, 01:11 PM:

What was that you were saying about snow, Patrick?

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