Random Writings and Photos

Random thoughts and/or photos

Day Ten in Santa Fe, On Set again, 11/11/20, but it’s over

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 12, 2020

11/11/20 (Day ten)

And was it ever cold! Left my Hotel room this morning to a below-freezing temperature again, 25ºF (-4ºC). The car windshield had some ice crystals I needed to scape off. Got to set about 6:00 am (15 minutes late – I missed the last highway change and kept going – finally had to turn around), but only worked to 10:30 am; it had warmed up to 36ºF (2ºC) by then. But the winds were not from the north this time, and the sun was shining in a clear sky, so, not so bad.

It was a good day too. After I was tested for Covid-19, I was early enough to eat, but checked with the wardrobe department first. They weren’t ready. All of their heaters for the changing tents set up for us were out, so they were having to find unused room in the trailers that had heat. Only one person at a time in a room, so it was going to take a while. I had a small pile of crispy bacon, and the catering people made scambled eggs for me, to order, with onions, bacon, green chile, and cheese. And coffee! I got coffee! I was feeling good. There was finally a room available for me. What luxury! Instead of a cold tent flapping in the high winds, I found myself in a spacious warm room, with room to lay out my costume, remove my clothes and get dressed in peace. Yeah, man.

The director was still working on getting some addtional footage of the scene from the night before. He needed backgound for a steady-cam take of the scene (a movable camera carried by a cameraman with a strap-on harness). When he was done with that, he changed the camera again to look back at the scene, from about where I was sitting. Then he wanted to hear us react to the action, instead of being quiet and miming words. So they got some audio. After that, the lead actors would go through their actions again, but from the closer camera postion. Since at least part of me might be seen, and one of the main actors would be reprising her interaction with me, I stayed, while the other background in that scene went back to the nice warm holding area they’d arranged for us – in an actual building.

I doubt I will be seen in that take, but the beautiful and talented lead actress still did the same horrifying action to me, and I was still in fear for my life. Fun. In the earlier takes I was on camera a lot, so I look forward to seeing those few seconds of my face — it’s what many background actors live for. Hours and hours, or even days, in a single scene or many scenes, and if you’re lucky to be seen at all, and not blurred. It’s often so brief you can only show someone what you did by stopping a video of the scene, backing it up and pausing it – “See? right there, there I am.” (If you watch the 2018 movie Ideal Home, look for me walking alongside the actor Paul Rudd in the scene near the end of the movie, as he walks into the airport. I’m the guy in the leather fedora pulling my wheeled luggage. See below:)


from Ideal Home 2018

And we were wrapped for the day today. There is the possibilty we might be needed again for that same scene, so I still can’t go home. One more night in the hotel, but the room was reserved for another day, just in case. After relaxing a bit and writing, I went out, bought a nice print to give to my step-daughter for taking care of my cats while I was gone. I’ll pay her too, because there was stinky cat litter to deal with.

I also picked up some nice hot food to eat in my room: shrimp fried-rice noodles. The sun was still out, but the weather had turned bitter cold the last two nights. The water running over the large rock in front of the hotel was in shade and still frozen from the night before. I was looking forward to going home. I finshed another novel by John D. MacDonald, Slam the Big Door, 1960. It is a good story, and the ending is not what you’d expect from one of his crime novels. What you think might happen doesn’t. The ending itself is unexpected. I enjoyed seeing his mind at work on this one, and the familiar intellectual introspection.

11/12/20 (Day 11)

Last day in Santa Fe. It’s 28ºF (-2ºC). I went out early for breakfast: my last Quiche Lorraine for awhile, and a two-shot Americano. A messaage had been posted late last evening that we were indeed wrapped from the movie. So I am going home today. Yea! The rooms around me are a flurry of noisy activity as other background and a few crew pack up too.

I’m sipping another coffee now – one for the road. It’s a short journey from here, but I feel like I was far, far away in another world. Less than two weeks in Santa Fe, but it felt longer.

I feel good about my work on set, even though I was just an extra, aka “background actor”. The 1st AD and the director were pleased with our work generally. They praised our frightened reactions as perfect. The director used me often in the small scene with the principal actors, and I was told I did great. Well, except for the one time I forgot to take off my mask as the camera rolled. And that other time, when I had not put my arm on the chairback as I had done earlier during a fight scene. It was just a short pickup shot, but continuity, you know? I had moved my arm because the camera was directly across from me and the lights to simulate daylight were behind me. The cameraman had adjusted me to get the shadow off of his lens, So, when first I heard someone say cut! and then someone said, “That guy had his arm on the chairback before,” I didn’t move it when they rolled again. I don’t know why I didn’t, but they hadn’t said anything directly to me. I thought I was helping by not creating shadows, so they rolled and cut because my arm was still not on the chairback. I tried to explain, but it really didn’t matter. You do what they ask, even if you had contradictory instructions before. They rolled again, and it was perfect. I didn’t feel too bad about the mask, because I was told it had happened before. But continuity is critical in movies, and they sometimes don’t notice until shooting is complete and everyone has gone home, the rented equipment has been returned, and the props packed away, the location abandoned. Which will happen soon. But I’m out of there.

As soon as I post this, I will power the laptop down, close and pack it in its carry bag, and load my car with it, my camera, and my clothes. It’s still cold, but luckily, the heater works in my car. And it’s only about an hour to my house. I sold two books on eBay while I was gone. I need to package and ship those today, as well as a book ordered from me on PaperBackSwap (dot com). It a place to trade books, and I read a lot. Well, home is calling to me. I’m outta here.

Posted in 2020s, coffee, COVID-19, In front of the camera, movies, My Life, quarantine | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

So, Day Nine in Santa Fe, Unsequestered

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 11, 2020

Well, actually I’m back in my hotel room now after a ten-hour day, and still can’t go home, but, I did get to work on set. Long-ish day, but not the longest. Had a short drive out of town to set, but I still don’t know Santa Fe very well, so it took a while for me to figure out how to get outta town to the right highway. I had basic directions, and a good idea of where I was going, but after 15 minutes of being lost in Santa Fe, I opened Google Maps to direct me there. However, for some reason the Uber app was running in the background, so every time I touched “Directions” the Google map showed how long it would take an Uber driver to pick me up.

I tried all kinds of things: different searches, turning the phone off and on, and then removing the Uber app. When I did that, I thought: problem solved! But, noooo. An Uber message would still interupt my Google map search, saying I needed to install the Uber app. It was somehow running in my phone’s memory. FInally, as I was running late, I just drove to St. Michaels Drive, and over to St. Francis, and directly to U.S. Interstate 25, which would have put me early to set if I’d just done that instead if trying to use Old Pecos Trail.

Which might have given me time to get into my complicated costume early enough to eat breakfast. By the time my costume was on, with a few substitutions, like a different jacket, a different vest, and after wardrobe sewed a new button onto my pants while I had them on — because I needed one more to hook my suspenders on, and, after the facial hair guy okayed my beard and mustache, and a regular hair stylist okayed my head hair, I was finally ready to go to set, and I caught the last widely spaced people trailer to the actual set. No time to eat, and all I’d had was coffee. “Yippie ki yay, motherfucker.” — Die Hard movie quote. It’s a period piece as you might have guessed.

So, I can’t say what movie set I was on, or what it’s about, or post any photos of set or actors. So, well, sorry, but them’s the rules.

Of course, one of the best things about being a background actor on movie or TV sets is the food, but because of Covid-19, and wearing protective equipment at all times, except when you’re on set in front of the camera, the food would be a box lunch instead of buffet style. Which is fine. I put my request in for fish.

But, lunchtime came and went, and went, and went. I think it was about 3:30pm when we got out lunches, but we couldn’t eat them on set. So, the background “holding” area was a short walk away. We would have to eat quickly, like in 15 minutes. Strange, but doable. I had been ready to eat the set food, which was real cooked food, fruit, salad and drinks — but purely for decoration. But of course you can’t.

I found a spot to sit and opened my bag o’ food. Two containers, one with some delicious fish, and the other with vegetables and some things I never got to see. Firstly, I was so hungry by then, I swallowed too much at once, and was choking. I hadn’t been given a drink, an unheard of circumstance, so I had nothing to wash it down with. However, I spotted a nearly full drink with a straw in it near me, asked if it belonged to anyone, which it didn’t, so I popped the lid off and took a big swig of that. It cleared my throat. But, no sooner did I sit down to attack what was left of my piece of fish, when we were called back to set immediately. I didn’t like that, but sometimes the production gets behind schedule, and they have no time to waste. I stashed my food in a small unlit wooden structure — that now had an open door — in a corner, because you cannot eat or take food to eat on set.

I wish I’d smuggled some with me. We worked a couple more hours, but since the production had the inside scene lit up like day from outside with a ton of lights, I had no idea it was pitch dark. I never found my food, and still had to go back to the place I’d been in the morning, and get out of all those clothes, and hang them neatly for tomorrow. One older gentleman, angry that we’d waited so long for food, and hadn’t been given water, and the lack of heaters to warm up by, or a space out of the wind to eat in, just walked off set. (Our day started out at 23ºF (-5ºC) to a high of 45º (7ºC), with windspeeds of 21mph to 26 mph beteeen 8:am and 2:00pm, and 7mph to 14mph the rest the day.) The production worked around him, substituting another background actor, and not getting a closeup on his face. There is a background actors association here that has drawn up a bill of rights for background actors, which the company backrolling this drama had been happy to agree to. It’s not a union. Only in some places, like LA, do background actors have access to union benefits. Not here. The asssociation is a very informal group. People worry that the movie industry will go elsewhere if the backgrond actors are paid union scale and benefits. Maybe, but maybe not. Some productions have already moved elsewhere though, since our state is only slowly opening up and there has been a spike in Covid-19 cases, and deaths. Other states have not been as restrictive.

The movie industry is under pressure to return to business safely. While employed by this production company at least, we have to take a Rapid covid test every day while on set. Today we all had to take both the Rapid 15-minute test, and the slower, but more accurate, PCR test. Usually you only take one PCR test a week. If you are sick, you can’t get on set, and if your symptoms show up after testing, you have to leave. The production is suspended until there’s been time to isolate anyone in contact with the sick person. Sometimes there are false positives, so that gets worked out quickly. Having several people get sick just shuts the whole thing down.

Anyway, other than the food and water issue today, the company is being good to us. All Covid-19 tests are paid for by them. and we get paid to get tested. Also, as in my case and quite a few others, since we don’t live in Santa Fe, they pay us for all of the sequestering at hotels. Good for the hotels too, because they are hurting. But I also get per diem for food. Good for us, good for Santa Fe restaurants. All in all, it’s a good deal. We also get all of our protective equipment, sanitizer and covid training free.

I’ve eaten since I left set, had some orange juice, and am about to drink a bottle of water as well, so I’m feeling better.

My Wi-Fi internet connection went crazy last night so I couldn’t upload this post last night, and I had to turn in early. 5:45 am call time today, so I must get back on set at the crack of dawn this morning. We were told last night the heaters would be fixed, and there will be food, with time to eat it. And water readily available I hope.

Posted in 2020s, Coronavirus, Life, movies, My Life, quarantine | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Santa Fe Sequester, Day 6 (11/7/20)

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 7, 2020

Another Day in Santa Fe. Election results same as last night. Had eggplant Ratatouille in a crepe for breakfast. Not good. Flavorless. Had to add salt, pepper and hotsauce just to finish it. Bought a palmier (elephant ear pastry) to compensate my sad palate. Went back to my room and grabbed my camera. No change in the election results yet.

As I was walking and photographing, I kept hearing truck and car horns blaring. Some went by me with American flags flapping from car windows and truck beds. Concerned, I took one last photo on my way back to my room to check the news.

The AP had called the Presidential race for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I grabbed my camera, and went back out to take photos.

I had decided to walk up Canyon Road looking for things to photograph and get some exercise. However, on my way there were more trucks riding around blaring their horns. They were Trumpers. There was a lot of noise, shouting, and chants over near the New Mexico State Capitol building. There were about a couple hundred maskless people there, protesting the election call, chanting “Stop the steal”, with signs and megaphones calling for a recount. One guy shouted for someone to take their mask off — someone in a car — and then laughed about it, deriding anyone who would wear a mask in a car. They also still wanted Hillary Clinton locked up for her crimes: the child pedophile ring that she and other Democrats were supposed to have run out of a pizza parlor in New York — “Save the children!” How did Trump attract all the conspiracy nuts? Took photos: (only one of which was of six brave Biden supporters nearby).

I got bored with that, and finally made it to Canyon Road. Took a a lot of photos and stopped for tea. Ordered a black tea called “Competition Grade Jin Jun Mei”. It is made from pure tea buds. The processing of this tea is done in stages to coax out the chocolate and honey sweetness, according to the menu. But, like many of China’s most acclaimed teas, the flavor is extremely delicate. My palate is not that refined. The color was fairly light and reddish. I’d rather have a really black Irish breakfast tea, Earl Gray, or a smoked black tea like lapsang souchong <= my favorite!

I was sipping my tea in between bites of homemade pumpkin pie when I decided to check on my messages. Sure enough, I missed one that said I had received an email with details about a mandatory Zoom meeting for all background, standins, etc. It was 1:23pm. The meeting was at 2:00pm. I’d walked for an hour and a half, slowly making my way up Canyon Road, taking the photos below. Google maps said I was 23 minutes from my hotel. I thought about trying to do the Zoom on my phone, but I’d have no privacy (even though I was seated outside), Zoom features are limited on a phone, and there was a light rain teasing.

I decided for the hotel and my laptop. Of course, I needed to pee, and there was someone in the single restroom, and another waiting. I flagged down a waitstaffer, and got my bill paid. The restroom was finally empty, which was great, because I had to do some real speed walking to get back to my room by 2 o’clock. I made it by 1:55. I logged in, but only a few people were there. Then I found out a message had gone out while I was hustling my way back. The meeting was delayed by 45 minutes! Well, that’s the way things go in the movie biz.

The meeting was just a rehash of everthing we needed to know, which had all been covered by a link in the email, and also there was time for questions.

After that, I finished a John D. MacDonald novel, A Bullet for Cinderella. Not bad. Another of his early ones, short and sweet. I spent some time looking over the photos I’d taken earlier, cropping some, deleting some, and decided which ones I liked. By then I wanted a nap. That fast jog back to my room had tired me a little, and I’d been up since 5am.

Later on, I went out to pick up a green chile cheeseburger. Perfect. I needed protein by then. It was so satisfying.

So, without further delay, here are the Canyon Road photos:

Posted in 2020s, Art, current events, food, Life, My Life, photography, poetry, politics | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Sequestering in Santa Fe, Day 5 11/06/20

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 7, 2020

No photos today. Actually, I was up the night before until the wee hours of Friday morning getting those photos from day four edited and uploaded. The hotel’s Wi Fi is problematic at times, and I kept having to restart my laptop and sign in again and again. I went to bed around two in the morning and slept late. Still no change in the elections results. I know I went out to eat, but I can’t remember where. Most of the rest of the day was spent reading.

However, I had an acting class on Zoom to attend at 10:00am. We worked on some monologues and dialogues, getting feedback from the teacher, and getting suggestions from classmates on different ways for create those acting takes, as if we were in an auditon room. Who knows if that will ever happen again! All of our classes are online now, and we’ve all had to set up space in our homes to self-tape auditions. There’s a lot to get right: shutting out any kind of outside sounds, the lighting – especially eliminating shadows, and getting full light on our faces – and having a plain background behind us as we record our own auditions.

It’s a whole different way to do this, and, it is believed by many, including casting directors, that this is the wave of the future. Voice-over actors aleady had been working from home, and have had to set up soundproof areas in their homes. When doing dialogues, we have to either have someone living with us take the other role(s) that in-person readers used to do, or have someone outside the home on their phone or laptop read as we do our lines. It’s way different without having actual people to speak with and get reactions from.

Later that evening, I went back onto Zoom to listen to and perform poetry. It’s how that is done now too. So far, it doesn’t matter about lighting or background, and sometimes other people wander by the camera or a dog barks. Brave New World, indeed.

So, I’ll post the poems I read:

CDX

Death comes for us all
even archbishops
shopkeepers and presidents
doctors and lawyers
mail carriers and drivers
writers and moviemakers
actors and singers
men women children
the bright and the dull
animals trees flowers
planets stars galaxies.

The funny thing is
once we accept that
that we will die
that it’s where it is
where we’re going
then
nothing else matters.

It is freedom
to enjoy life
enjoy the journey.
It is no matter
no matter what
it doesn’t matter.
Life just is.

it rains- enjoy
Sun shines – enjoy
flowers grow – enjoy
raving mad lunatics – enjoy
tomorrow they’ll be gone
marching in the streets – enjoy
tomorrow there’ll be change.
Life is chaos
terrible
depressing
skulduggery
stressful
dangerous.

Life is joy
children music colors smells tastes feelings

stretching running hiking biking playing
living.

Life is change – enjoy
revolt
change things
make things
embrace all
love all
be all.

We’ll die
so?
isn’t it wonderful?
isn’t it freedom?
because
now
right now
we can do anything we want to.

Life
is random key presses
meaningless
meaningful
life is life
make it so.

———————————————————————————-

MADNESS IS A HOT-AIR BALLOON

Perhaps I need to let my madness free.
I worry about madness
People thought me dumb when I was young
So I kept quiet though I burned.

I think terrible thoughts sometimes
So I keep them to myself
Even though the hot pressure builds
Is it better to live crazy than not really live?

Madness restrained is not madness contained.
It leaks out here and there
Stray comments, a wild movement
Depression agitation combustion.

Yes combustion
For, madness restrained doesn’t only leak
It can explode
Violence rape grand-theft murder.

How to portion out my madness?
Let enough out to be happy
Not enough to harm or hurt or die
Just enough to feel relief.

A hot-air balloon can fly even holed
Hundreds of tiny holes in the envelope
From a bad landing in a field of cacti
Yet it still fills rises floats and soars.

For a time.

As long as the propane lasts it rises
As long as wind blows it moves
As long as air is colder outside than in
It can soar through blue sky.

Would that my madness were a balloon
Free to fly
Not too far
Not too high.
Just enough just enough just enough.

Posted in 2020s, current events, depression, In front of the camera, madness, movies, Random Thoughts | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Sequestering in Santa Fe Day 4 (11/05/20)

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 6, 2020

Actually, not much happened today. I read, then walked around a bit trying to decide if I was hungry and what to eat. There are lots of choices in Santa Fe. I decided not to take my camera with me. I walked up various streets, but hunger got me. Didn’t see much that was open or that I wanted, so I went back to San Francisco Street that runs along side Santa Fe Plaza. I passed it, and then went back. Why not? French food it is. Got quiche lorraine for brunch and the best coffee I’d had in a long time. I drink mostly Americanos, and this one rocked. Two shots of espresso and hot water to fill the cup. And they did it right! Most places assume if you get two shots you want some giant cup or mug. No, people drink Americanos for the flavor, not the most liquid they can get. They brought me my Americano in a normal size ceramic cup, about 6 to 8 oz. It was rich and smooth. I enjoyed it so much I can’t wait to go there in the morning for another cup.

The coffee in my room is god-awful, and the machine has trouble delivering all of the water I put in. I’ve had to restart the machine three to four times in order to get a full cup of coffee. For the record, it’s a brew pod in a bag, “Brazil, Regular” by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and the machine is a Cuisinart for making one cup or two at a time. Not espresso, just regular brewed coffee. Weak, almost tasteless coffee.

I wandered through some galleries on my way back to the hotel. I saw some leather figurines in one gallery. It was a very pricey gallery, and the guy running it jumped up when I walked in. I told him I was going to look at something, and he wanted to come with me. He let me go look, and as I was heading out through another part of the gallery I saw him going back to look for me, or if I’d taken anything or done something. Hell, the statuettes were priced in the thousands, although only about 18 inches tall. Very well made, with fine details, really beautiful. Even if I had that kind of money to throw away, why would I need more clutter?

Anyway, that is mostly what Santa Fe seems to be about: reaching out and catering to the very rich. Even souvenir trinkets cost twice as much in Santa Fe as they do in Albuquerque for the exact same items bought in bulk in Mexico.

Finally finished off a paperback I’d brought with me: Turtle Truths, 1997, by Santa Fe writer Cecil Dawkins, who died last year at the age of 91. Cecil wrote mystery stories, usually with a blind sculpter as the detective. However, while this one started out in Sante Fe like the others, most of the story takes place in Jamaica. She wrote four such books, of which I had read three: The Santa Fe Rembrandt, 1993; Clay Dancers, 1994; and Rare Earth, 1995. I also read her collection of short stories: The Quiet Enemy, 1963, and one of her novels: Charleyhorse, 1985.

I have not read her first novel: The Live Goat, 1971, nor the 2002 biography she wrote of Francis Minerva Nunnery, who had worked on a tobacco farm as a child, but at thirteen went to work at the Heinz plant in Pittsburgh, and at twenty-one was shipped off to Colorado to be married to a man she didn’t know. In 1921 Francis escaped to New Mexico in a Model T Ford, settling in Albuquerque, where she worked as a chauffeur, bus driver, boarding house keeper, and night club singer, among other occupations. She never stopped working, living all over New Mexico, ranching, working as a deputy sheriff, and selling real estate. I may have to read that one as it has a foreward by Max Evans.

Max Evans was a very similar kind of person, but who also wrote twenty-seven fiction and nonfiction books, two of which were made into movies: The Rounders, and Hi-Lo Country. Max just died this past August at the age of 95. He called himself the 1000-year-old man. I have a signed print of one of his paintings. He also worked as a cowboy, miner, and a smuggler of gold and bat guano, among the many jobs he had in his life, including participation in the D-Day Normandy Landings in 1944. I have some photos I took of him a couple years ago, but not on this laptop. I’ll insert them here later next week when I’m home.

SANTA FE AT NIGHT ( 28 + 24 images)

Posted in 2020s, Art, photography, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Sequestering in Santa Fe Day 3

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 4, 2020

Another day goofing off in Santa Fe. My home is less than an hour away, but I’m here until Nov. 12. Being on a feature-length movie set during this Covid-10 pandemic requires strict rules. Wearing a mask and distancing — of course — but also: no to-and-from traveling between “hot spots”, of which Albuquerque is one, because of a larger, denser population and rising cases. And, let’s not forget mandatory testing. So this morning I had to drive to a set for a PCR detection test — it is the gold standard in testing. Results in three days or so. On this project, everyone involved gets such a test once a week. Today was the day. I’m in a hotel near Santa Fe Plaza, but I made the mistake of following the written directions. A native of Santa Fe might have gotten to the testing site in 15 minutes, but it took me longer, because I did not know the way, and I didn’t see what I should have when I turned left or right. I finally gave in and used Google maps and got there a bit late, but within the required time frame.

The tests are scheduled so that groups of people do not show up at the same time — distancing also means spacing out arrival and wait times. The test is fast and simple. Blow your nose lightly first, then, cotton swab up one nostril, swirl it around 10 times, swab up the other nostril, swirl it around 10 times. Done. And none of this sticking it up into your sinuses (which felt like having something stuck into your brain to people in the early Covid-19 tests). The first time I had this done, I got a simpler test so I could get on set for a wardrobe fitting — that test has results in 15 minutes, but it is also known to give false positives sometimes. It is, as far as I can tell, given before anyone can step onto a set each day. The other test is more accurate, but the lag time between the test and the result means that you could have been exposed to Covid-19 in the interim. Anyway, that’s done. Five more days to stay safe until the shoot starts on the 10th. Masks, distancing, and frequent hand washing until then, and then even more stringent precautions on set. Is it worth all that? Well, it’s do all that or don’t have movies at all. Not only do people want to make movies, but people want to watch them, perhaps now more than ever.

So I drove back to my hotel, shucked my coat and changed to short sleeves. That’s how fast the weather changes here. I grabbed my camera and headed in the general direction of the Plaza. I peeked at menus on the way, because I knew I’d want to eat. I found an out-of-the-way Mexican restaurant, and decided not to wait any longer. It wasn’t on the menu, but they agreed to make a three-tortilla stack of enchiladas for me, with two eggs on top (one egg is more traditional here, but I was hungry), and plenty of red sauce and some salsa verde that is not green chili, but a Mexican specialty of tomatillos and a little jalapeño mixed in, unlike New Mexican green chili. Mexicans don’t use our red chili either, they mix jalapeños with tomato sauce. So, “Red or green or both?” means something different to Mexicans and New Mexicans. I passed on the lettuce or beans — every meal I’ve had so far had beans — pinto or black — but I did get some Mexican green rice (a rice pilaf with cilantro, and/or other herbs or peppers, chicken stock, etc.) to go with my enchilada stack.

Afterwards I took a few more photos of things you see in Santa Fe that you don’t see elsewhere, but I was drawn into a wine shop. Wonderful wines from around the world, and I had a good conversation with the wineseller, about what makes a good wine, and some things that don’t work for the long term. Since my step-daughter is taking care of my cats for me while I’m away, I decided to get her something she would like: a Tokaji late-harvest sweet white. She and I made wine for eight years. I have enough wine at my house, so I picked a four-pack of Fever-Tree’s “Premium” Ginger Beer for myself. Although people are fond of using it as a mixer, I like ginger beer for itself, since it, and root beer and birch beer, are briefly fermented like what we just call beer, but without alcoholic content. I do enjoy the spicyness of ginger. (And chili, hot mustard, curry, horseradish, and wasabi). 😉

I cut the photo-taking short because I had my hands full then, and I couldn’t afford to drop a single thing.

Today’s photos:

Posted in 2020s, Art, COVID-19, food, movies, My Life, photography, quarantine, spices | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Sequestered for 10 Days, Day 2

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 3, 2020

Well, haven’t we all been sequestered, isolated or quarantined the past eight months? I should be used to it by now. It hasn’t been that bad. At home, I’m able to shop for groceries in person. I’m able to ride my motorcycle around, even ride with my meetup group, as long as we maintain a safe distance. I have had lunch with my step-daughter on her open porch, appropriately distanced. And restaurants are open with restricted low occupancy, outdoor seating, and masks in use except while eating.

But this? I was hired recently to work on a movie set as a background actor (extra), something I’ve been doing now and again for the last five years. It’s been problematic for movies the last eight months, but things are starting up again. A major studio is shooting in Santa Fe, and after many postponements due to Covid-19 — one was due to a false positive detected on set — we are rolling, so to speak. At first, we were to get tested and quarantine ourselves for 3 days, or five days, but it’s at eight days now. So, for me to be on the set, in close quarters with others in this one scene, I had to travel from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and check into a hotel for the duration.

Eight days of “sequestering”? I had no idea what that would involve. I arrived last night and checked in. I was under the impression that the sequestering would not begin until today, so I put my mask on and headed to Santa Fe Plaza, a wonderful park in the center of Santa Fe. It’s a place for festivals and music and there are a few restaurants as well. You can also get the original Frito Pie there in the store that started it all: the Five and Dime General Store, although it was originally a Woolworth’s. Frito-Lay did sue them for using the name, but backed off. Frito pies are a combination of beans, red chile, Fritos, cheese and onions, served there in the Frito bag itself. I’ve had a few. However, last night it was too late to get one. It was invented, but not trademarked, by Teresa Hernandez, who died at 88 this past February.

From The Santa Fe New Mexican

However, at the Thunderbird Bar & Grill, I was able to find some great enchiladas, calabacitas and beans, which I paired with a nice amber beer from the Boxing Bear Brewing Company in Corrales.

Satisfied, I went back to my hotel, not sure whether or not it would be my last venture outside my room for eight days. I was looking at restaurant menus today, trying to decide if I’d use Grubhub, DoorDash, or Uber Eats to get food to my room. The hotel retaurant is closed for the interim, so that wasn’t even an option, even if I could leave my room. It looked like I could get some good food from the nearby Tia Sophias, so I had decided on that when I noticed I had received an email from the casting director last night, in response to my query as to staying in my room the whole time. He said: “The main idea of the sequester is that we can’t have people traveling back and forth between ABQ and Santa Fe…because ABQ is considered a “hot spot”. But we’re not running a prison, we can’t confine you to your room…we just ask that everyone be responsible with sanitizing and washing hands after going out for food, for example.”

Yea! OK. I’m not in prison. I was worried. New Mexico takes the Covid-19 pandemic, mask-wearing, distancing, sanitizing and washing hands very seriously. And so does the movie industry, as they can be shut down if they do not.

But, it is nevertheless an interesting way to experience Santa Fe. No crowds, and very few cars on the streets. In fact, occupancy at the hotel I’m at is quite low as well. It’s odd to see this vibrant, crowded, busy city like this, but with the recent rise statewide in Covid-19 cases and deaths, it is reasonable to do the best we all can to control the infection rate. The production company has tested me three times so far, and given me a bag of essentials: medical-grade masks, KN-95 masks, a face shield, a plastic hospital-type gown to wear over my clothes while in close contact on set (off camera), 2.8 oz of hand sanitizer, a digital thermometer, and packets of isopropyl alcohol to clean the face shield. Thermometer has me at 96.2F, so, so far so good.

I’m now calling this day two* of my Santa Fe movie set adventure, and I’m going to write every day. I cannot say anything about the movie itself, or about the set, or post photos of scenes, people or sets, but I can get some photos of Santa Fe. *(Counting yesterday when I checked in, but did not write)


So, after a bit of a stroll around Santa Fe, I have some photos to post (below). After my stroll, I stopped at the General Store for a Frito Pie. I couldn’t resist. I’d show you a photo, but I was too hungry to stop and take one. And Frito Pies are so good!

A soon as I scarfed that down, I headed next door for an ice cream cone.


But, here are the photos I promised:

Posted in 2020s, COVID-19, photography, quarantine | Leave a Comment »

MEMORIES OF A BLUE BAYOU

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 27, 2020

The Chesapeake* Bay
200 miles long
is a meteor crater
few people know that.
Home to blue crabs
bass, eel, oyster, horseshoe crab
ospreys, great blue herons,
bald eagles, and peregrine falcons.

Known for its bounty, but now –
fewer crabs, oysters and watermen.
Nutrient pollution and urban runoff
ruined water quality in the bay.
shellfish were “overharvested”
doublespeak for overexploited.

My dad took us crabbing
brother John and uncle George.
Chicken wings
attached to hemp string
wrapped around my wrist
dropped into the Bay.

Blue Crabs are scavengers
they eat anything
snails, bivalves,
other crustaceans, fish, worms,
and sometimes human bodies.

I could feel them tug
from deep below
out of sight.

Slowly, slowly, slowly
I pulled that long string up
too far and they were gone
sunlight scared ‘em off.

A net on a long pole
in my other hand
as I pulled one up
ever so slowly
and
just, just, just
as they came into view
I’d slide that net under it
sneaky like – they spook easy –
and I kept pulling
until, right ——- there
I had it in the net
too late for escape.

But it had life left
so dump it in ice
quickly
flesh-tearing claws
are powerfully strong.

That went on all day
until we had two bushels
of feisty fighting crabs
safely stowed on our skiff.

Later, we’d dump the
lethargic cold crabs
right out on the floor
looking for dead ones
– you don’t eat dead crabs
they might have been sick.

You don’t have much time
they revive quickly
looking for a fight
and they move quickly
on linoleum-covered floors
fun to watch
but dangerous to fingers.

Then we put them into
blue and white-speckled enamel pots
– quart of vinegar in the bottom –
covered them with
cups of Old Bay spice
The crabs were steaming mad
but steamed to red death.

After that, they were dumped
onto tables covered in newsprint
for a family feast
accompanied by beer
and they were delicious.

—————————————————————————————————————–

*The word Chesepiooc is an Algonquian word referring to a village ‘at a big river’. The Chesapeake people, or the Chesepian, were a Native American tribe who inhabited the area now known as South Hampton Roads in Virginia. The Chesepian were wiped out by the Powhatan Confederacy, some time before the arrival of the English at Jamestown in 1607. The Chesepian were eliminated because Powhatan’s priests had warned that “from the Chesapeake Bay a nation should arise, which should dissolve and give end to his empire.”

The chief of all the Powhatan tribes, Wahunsonacock, later known as Powhatan, was so powerful that the English referred to him as a king. You may have heard of his daughter, Pocahontas, who became a bargaining chip. The Powhatan tribes had originally been generous, but they did not have enough of the food that the ever increasing population of English settlers demanded. The English sometimes burned villages in order to force more food from Powhatan, which started the First Powhatan War. The English used Powhatan prisoners to force concessions from Powhatan, but Pocahontas, just as she had saved John Smith a year earlier, was able to arrange the release of the Powhatans. Later, she herself was taken prisoner by the English, and held hostage in order to force Powhatan to give them more food, unsuccessfully. She remained a prisoner until she married English tobacco planter John Rolfe and peace returned, for a time.

Posted in 1960s, family, fishing, My Life | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

60 Years Ago in My Life, a Catalyst

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 13, 2020

I woke up early this morning, shortly after 5 am. It’s a quiet time for me, before the world insists that I pay attention to it. For some reason, I found myself back in 1960.

Roland Tower

My parents had just moved us from Evans Chapel Road, slightly north of the Roland Water Tower, which my brother and I had passed every day on our way to and from the St. Thomas Aquinas School. I had attended that school from the first through fourth grades. Before that we had lived in Armistead Gardens in the northeast part of Baltimore, and before that, it gets hazy. I think we lived with my grandparents for a bit, but my birth certificate lists an address on Gay Street, near the 1782 “historic” Lexington Market in downtown Baltimore. My mom says she shopped there.

At St. Thomas, I had received my “First Holy Communion” sacrament, but I was entering a new phase of my life at this point. Now my church would be St. Anthony of Padua. I was enrolled in the altar boys, which meant serving mass early before school started. I liked the quiet of the sidewalks then, with very little street noise. I never saw any of my classmates going to school, because it was too early. The distance was a bit less than a mile, so it gave me plenty of time to be alone. I had two brothers and two sisters at the time, which would grow to three of each before long. As the oldest child, I was responsible for them and was told I was supposed to be a role model for them, which mostly kept me in line. I take responsibility seriously, but it was noisy and very hectic at home.

I attended St. Anthony of Padua school for four years, during which time I received my third sacrament, Confirmation. There was a test; I had to study to be eligible. It is a ritual rite of passage, dating to the earliest days of Christainity. During Confirmation, you accept the Holy Ghost into your life, and the priest says “Peace be with you,” as you get slapped on the cheek, a reminder to be brave in spreading and defending the faith. The slap was discontinued in 1971.

You might say I was heavily indoctrinated into the faith. In addition to my duties as an altar boy, like running the collection basket around, it included May Day processions, and other ceremonies, in which I got to light and carry the incense, a smell firmly rooted in my brain to this day. But my main job was serving mass, as I said, very early in the morning, in the downstairs church. There were two altars, one in the spacious upper church with the stained-glass windows and the inverted fishing boat shape. The lower altar was tucked away in the dark, low-ceilinged basement of the church, which is where I “served” on those early weekday mornings. My religious indoctrination didn’t end there, for I was also in the Church’s Boy Scout Troop, #178. As a Scout, moral purity was a key ingredient in being brave and trustworthy, so it didn’t take me long to get

my Ad Altare Dei award, a medal, instead of a merit badge. Those early morning masses, though — what a trip! There was a regular group that attended, a much smaller crowd than on Sundays. It seemed to consist of mostly old women, heads covered with a linen doily or some such, a practice dating to the third century, at which time it was no longer necessary for Christian women to be veiled to pray publically. Women, but not men, had to cover their heads, it was said, because of the presence of angels in holy places. So, the simple doily was an improvement over having to cover their entire heads. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215) wrote about veiling, “It has also been commanded that the head should be veiled and the face covered, for it is a wicked thing for beauty to be a snare to men.” Until at least the 18th century, the wearing of a head covering, both in the public and while attending church, was regarded as customary for Christian women in Mediterranean, European, Middle Eastern, and African cultures. A woman who did not wear a head covering was interpreted to be “a prostitute or adulteress.” In Europe, law stipulated that a married woman who uncovered her hair in public gave evidence of her infidelity.

But I digress. I guess the reason why this altar boy stuff came to mind is due to an incident that occurred one morning as I knelt with another boy, flanking the priest during the sacramental rite of the consecration of bread and wine. The change of the substance of bread into the substance of the body of Christ and of the substance of wine into the substance of his blood is called transubstantiation. It was not a word I ever heard at that age. My job at this point was to ring the Sanctus bells. One reason for the use of the bells, it is said, is to create a joyful noise to the Lord to give thanks for the miracle taking place atop the altar. Another function of the bells is to focus the attention of those attending the Mass that a supernatural event is taking place on the altar. And, boy howdy, did I ever screw that up one time! (The first time I’d screwed up had been when the priest in charge of us altar boys caught me clowning around while we dutifully waited in line for him to arrive to practice a May Day precessional. In a firestorm of indignation, he had fired me and ordered me to leave the school auditorium. I hid the fact from my parents for a long time, but eventually they found out, and I was allowed to return).

In our church, low Mass was held on week days. A high Mass means a full ceremonial Mass, with music, choir, incense, and a deacon and subdeacon to serve the priest. Low Mass is a smaller affair that usually doesn’t have any music or incense. At low Mass (which, at the time, I stupidly confused with the fact that it was held in the basement), the bells were rung six times by the altar boys. ONE. The priest would genuflect (kneel briefly before the host). RING THAT BELL. This signaled that the host was to be consecrated, and all in the church should kneel briefly as one. TWO. The priest would rise. RING THAT BELL. He called down the Holy Spirit by reciting the epiclesis, a type of prayer for this purpose. The bells also signaled the congregation to rise as one. Then, the priest would genuflect again. RING THAT BELL. This was the signal for the congregation to also genuflect again, as one. Then the entire process was repeated for the consecration of the wine.

Somehow, you’d think that the congregation would have been conditioned enough to kneel and rise on their own, but noooo! I had fallen into a daydream (not uncommon for me) and did not ring that first bell. I could hear the confusion behind me. Some knelt and others hurried erratically to their knees. The Horror! I was embarrassed — hell — I was mortified. I hated to make mistakes, and this was the priest who had fired me and allowed me back. And it was a sacred moment to all. So, a small mistake, easily corrected. I was acutely aware of the next moment when I had to ring those bells – the priest rose – and I couldn’t move my hand! The congregation was in shambles. I could hear people mumbling and jumping up randomly. I was frozen in place (perhaps a precursor to a seizure I experienced in high school?). He glanced at me, I mentally slapped myself, and I got the third ring on time as the priest knelt. Order was restored to the congregation, and to my brain. For the second consecration, of the wine, I was ready, and the ringing of the sacred bells went as they were supposed to. ONE. TWO. THREE. I was glad of that, but apprehensive. I was scared, really. One does not screw up like that in church, especially at the holy altar.

However, I never heard a word about it, from the priest, or from anyone else. I never knew if my parents heard about it. There would have been punishment, but perhaps the priest forgave me? That’s one of his jobs, so perhaps he did. But I’ll bet the small congregation of early worshipers on weekday mornings never forgot it.

By the time I had left the grade school there to attend a public high school, I had been one of the altar boys, along with a cousin, to serve the funeral Masses for both of my grandfathers. Although I was no longer an altar boy, I continued my regular Sunday attendance, and was required to attend Monday night religious classes to further my spiritual education, and ask questions. The answers were not satisfactory to me. They defied all logic. Then, in 1967, I got to spend the entire summer break at Howard University in Washington D.C. attending special classes provided by the National Science Foundation. I studied basic electronics, chemistry, and mathematical logic (for computers), among other things. I was in my real element then. I’d been reading every book of science I could get my hands on from the time I learned to read, and there were plenty at the free libraries in Baltimore. On the first Sunday I spent in Washington D.C. my fellow students (from various high schools) were up and preparing to go to church.

I looked around me, and where I was, and the science I was immersed in, and saw my future. It was a split decision, borne of unanswered questions, bizarre Catholic minutiae, and the realization, I think, that I preferred logic to belief. I stayed in bed awhile, thinking, in that wonderful quiet, of where I was going, and not where I’d been. Over the years I gave a lot of thought to my youthful faith and service, but I never went to mass or prayed ever again. And I have never regretted it. I did not replace my beliefs with another belief system. I dedicated myself to learning and research. I do not equate science with religion. One can have both, but I do not. I prefer facts, logic, and the use of logical experimentation to confirm or dispute facts. And always, questioning everything, even facts. Asking more questions, seeking to know more, and more, and understand the processes of life from fundamental energies, to fundamental particles of matter, and to their interrelationship.

There is more to life than “the energy of a mass at rest is equal to the product of its mass and the square of the speed of light”, but it’s a start. For example, because of the momentum of a particle of mass, the equation is better written as E2 = (mc2)2 + (pc)2, or the square of the amount of energy in a mass is equal to the square of the product of a mass and the square of the speed of light squared, plus the square of the product of its momentum and the speed of light. It gets complicated from there, and you can see why scientists use symbols in place of words. Certainly, as human beings, we are driven often by emotions, and hormones, to do things which appear illogical, including having illogical beliefs in unproven things — religion and love being but two examples. But that’s also life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I will resist any efforts to accept something as fact which cannot be shown to be a fact, as nearly as can be determined, for there is no way to advance our knowledge and culture through belief only.

I know that seems like a long ways off from altar boys and my failure to ring the conditioning bell at the right time, but perhaps that was the catalyst.

Posted in 1960s, 2020s, christianity, current events, Dreams, faith, love, memories, My Life, politics, religion | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

CDX

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 8, 2020

Death comes for us all

even archbishops

shopkeepers and presidents

doctors and lawyers

mail carriers and drivers

writers and moviemakers

actors and singers

men women children

the bright and the dull

animals trees flowers

planets stars galaxies

The funny thing is

once we accept that

that we will die

that it’s where it is

where we’re going

that

then

nothing else matters.

It is freedom

to enjoy life

enjoy the journey.

It is no matter

no matter what

it doesn’t matter.

Life just is.

it rains- enjoy

Sun shines – enjoy

flowers grow – enjoy

raving mad lunatics – enjoy

tomorrow they’ll be gone

marching in the streets – enjoy

tomorrow there’ll be change.

Life is chaos

terrible

depressing

skulduggery

stressful

dangerous.

Life is joy

children music colors smells tastes feelings

stretching running hiking biking playing

living.

Life is change – enjoy

revolt

change things

make things

embrace all

love all

be all.

We’ll die

so?

isn’t it wonderful?

isn’t it freedom?

because

now

right now

we can do anything we want to

life

is random key presses

meaningless

life is life

meaningful

make it so.

————————————————————

Wednesday, ‎June ‎17, ‎2020, ‏‎11:32:40 AM

Posted in 2020s, current events, Life, opinion, poetry, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Trump has the Covid-19 corona virus. So?

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 2, 2020

Is it just me? Am I bad for thinking that it’s karma coming for Trump? That someone who suppressed the knowledge that the virus was real and deadly, in order not to reflect badly on his Presidency (he claims it was because he didn’t want to panic people). Meanwhile, thousands died. He claims he acted quickly, meaning he stopped travel from China to the U.S., but it was already far too late. And even then, he praised himself for taking action. But there weren’t enough ventilators, or medicines – things he could have been working on quietly (which wouldn’t have panicked people). So much he could have done as leader. But he didn’t act quickly. But he claims he did, and claims that millions would have died under Clinton or Biden. He’s the one who claimed it was a liberal hoax, that it would soon be gone, and it was just the flu. I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy for him. If he gets deathly sick or dies, I feel like it’s “what goes around comes around” for someone like Trump, who encouraged a whole country to not take it seriously, and not to wear masks, and not to worry at all. And took credit for getting it all under control, and said that the country was open for business as usual, and states with Democratic governors who put restrictions on were worse off, even as Republican-led Florida had a resurgence of cases. And, didn’t he say (referring to the deaths) that “It is what it is”? It is what it is, indeed.

Posted in 2020s, Coronavirus, COVID-19, current events, health, madness, opinion, rants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

One Million Dollars is “Very Small” to Donald J. Trump

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 29, 2020

It’s an election year, and as such, there is mud being slung in our faces again. So, while I abhor that fake slug fest, which is intended to, and does distact us all from any real invesitgation into issues, how a candidate perceives them, how they have acted in the past, and how they will act on issues in the future, or react to a crisis, I have to jump on that bandwagon anyway.

From listening to Donald J. Trump, and President Trump, I’ve come to the conclusion that he is nothing but a “con” man, a confidence man: a person who tricks other people in order to get their money. President Trump turned down the Presidential salary, but he has played 279 games of golf while in office, at a cost to us, the taxpayers, of $141,000,000. That’s one hundred and forty-one MILLION dollars. President Trump’s visits to his own resort Mar-a-Lago have cost us taxpayers at least $60,000,000 – sixty MILLION dollars. That is a confidence game.

As a young adult, Donald J. Trump brags that he only borrowed $1,000,000 (one Million dollars) from his father, calling his loan “a very small amount of money”. Really? And what might many of us have done with that kind of money to invest and gamble with, all the while living a rich, worry-free life? Donald J. Trump is the beneficiary of several trust funds set up by his father and paternal grandmother beginning in 1949 when he was three years old. He was a millionaire by age 8. In 1993, when Trump took two loans totaling $30 million from his siblings, their anticipated shares of Fred’s estate amounted to $3.5 million each. How does Trump get away with things like that? He’s a con man, pure and simple, always has been.

Upon Fred Trump’s death in 1999, his will divided $20 million after taxes among his surviving children. So far, Trump hasn’t done an honest day’s work, but he’s rich. He claims he only borowed one million dollars from his dad, but in 1999 he received at least $425 MILLION (in current year monetary value) from his father’s estate. He dances around the truth.

A lot of money came to Trump over the years, but, in 1982 Trump lied about his wealth in order to appear on the Forbes list of wealthy individuals. Claiming to be worth $100 MILLION dollars, his wealth at the time was $5 million, not enough to be considered one of the wealthiest men alive. Trump is a con man. In 2005, people with direct knowledge of Trump’s finances told reporter Timothy L. O’Brian that Trump’s actual net worth was between $150 and $250 million, but Trump then publicly claimed a net worth of $5 to $6 billion. He sued the reporter and his publishers, lost, and then lost again on appeal, because he refused to release his tax returns, despite every candidate for President for the last 40 years having done so, and depsite his claim that his tax returns supported his case. He’s a con man.

From Trump’s television show “The Apprentice,” beginning in 2004 through 2018 as well as subsequent related licensing and endorsements, Trump received $427.4 million. He paid $70.1 million dollars in federal taxes in 2005, 2006, and 2007. He paid no taxes in 2008. When he filed taxes in 2009, he declared over $700 MILLION in business losses and, on that basis, he asked for, AND GOT, a refund of his federal income taxes paid in 2005–2007, $70.1 MILLION dollars, plus over $2.7 MILLION in interest. He’s a loser, AND a con man.

Trump formed his own charitable foundation in 1988. In the first decade of the 2000s, he gave away $2.8 million through the foundation (though he had pledged three times that amount). He stopped personally contributing to the foundation in 2008, though he accepted donations from others. In 2018, the foundation agreed to shut down. It was facing a civil lawsuit by the New York attorney general that alleged “persistently illegal conduct” including self-dealing and funneling campaign contributions. Furthermore, it had never been properly certified in New York and did not submit to the required annual audit. Do we trust Trump yet?

Trump University (also known as the Trump Wealth Institute and Trump Entrepreneur Initiative LLC) ran a real estate training program from 2005 until 2010. It was owned and operated by The Trump Organization.

The organization was not an accredited university or college. It conducted three- and five-day seminars (often labeled “retreats”) and used high-pressure tactics to sell these to its customers. It did not confer college credit, grant degrees, or grade its students. In 2011, the company became the subject of an inquiry by the New York Attorney General’s office for illegal business practices which resulted in a lawsuit filed in August 2013. An article in the National Review described the organization as a “massive scam”. It ceased operations in 2011. Trump is a proven con artist.

Trump University was also the subject of two class actions in federal court, centering around allegations that Trump University defrauded its students. Despite repeatedly insisting he would not settle, Trump settled all three lawsuits in November 2016 for a total of $25 million after being elected President.

Trump claims to be a genius, a self-made man. Con men always lie.

Why on Earth did we elect such a person?

Once elected, he took immediate credit for a rise in the stock market. Since then the stock market has also hit record lows. Of course, Trump says nothing about that, but he credits any rise in the market to investor confidence in him and his policies. Trump took office in 2017 but has taken credit for an economy that was already on the mend since 2010. He took credit for new jobs, but they were jobs that had been lost during the 2007-2009 economic crash, and unemployment was already down from those turbulent times before Trump took office. The pandemic, however, has changed things.

Trump said he would “build a wall” between the United States of America and the Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States), aka the United States of Mexico.

There was already a wall in place before he took office. All of the border land itself was already walled with things such as chain link, bollard fence (steel slats or posts), or vehicle fencing that’s shaped like a roadblock. Of the 700 miles of land barrier, only 275 miles of the pre-existing barriers have been upgraded, and only 5 miles of new wall have been added. Mexico did not, as Trump promised over and over again, “pay for the wall”. We, the taxpayers paid for the upgrades. The prototype that Trump posed in front of was never used – it was demolished. Instead, the sections that were rebuilt used simply a taller version of the bollard fencing (steel slats and posts), some of which have already been knocked over by high winds, and can be breeched by conventional power tools. Trump is a con man.

Jan 29, 2020

Why will people vote for him again?

Posted in 2020s, current events, opinion, politics, rants | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

A Canyon, A Hike, A Plane Crash 65 Years Ago

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 26, 2020

Early in the morning, before the sun has peeked over the craggy hills of the Sandia Mountains that border Albuquerque, is a great time to be in those mountains.

As the sun started to creep over the edges of those peaks and promontories, a cool wind picked up. Later on, it would be 92°F in the city, but right then it was perfect.

Our goal was the scene of the crash of 1955 TWA flight 260, which utilized a cutting-edge Martin 404, with the capacity to hold forty passengers. The company was headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, where I was born four years & four months earlier. I never dreamed that I would live in Albuquerque, or climb these Sandias. I visited Albuquerque a few months before and then moved here permanently a few months after my 26th birthday. But it took me many years, practically to my retirement from the University of New Mexico, before I began hiking in the mountains. My passion back then was riding a bicycle, and it was what had brought me from Baltimore to Albuquerque.

But, enough about me. On February 19, 1955, thirteen passengers and three crew members boarded the TWA Skyliner Binghamton for a short 26-minute flight to Santa Fe, taking off on time, at 7:03 am, before it would head eventually for Baltimore after a series of other stops. But a winter storm blanketed the Sandia Mountains, which top off at at 13,678 feet. And, the two gyroscopic fluxgate compasses on the Martin 404 did not register its correct path. The exact details are not known, but the plane failed to clear a pinnacle called the Dragon’s Tooth by 300 feet, smashing full-speed into solid rock at 7:13 am. No one survived.

It is always with the utmost respect, and a feeling of sadness, that people climb to the the area below the impact, where the ground is still littered with the wreakage of TWA’s Flight 260. At the time, there wasn’t any equipment that could remove the wreakage from an area only accessible by hikers. As of 1966, the National Historic Preservation Act provides protection for any historic site that is fifty or more years old. It is illegal to remove any of the wreakage now.

But, about every five years I make the trek, always amazed at the total devastation of that plane, and the loss of those people. There is a memorial plaque fastened to a piece of the fuselage. There are engine parts, tires, and pieces of shredded airplane scattered over a large area of the very steep TWA Canyon. We had to first hike up steep sections of Domingo Baca Canyon to even get there. It is only a few miles to the crash site, but it took five hours to reach it and return. It was a lot hotter by then.

So, here are the photos I took today, and some from earlier hikes to the crash site.

09/26/2020:

12/05/2009:

02/19/2015:

Some of the information I’ve used here came from a February 2015 article heavily researched and written by Adam R. Baca in Albuquerque the Magazine.

Posted in 1950s, 2000s, death, hiking, photography | Leave a Comment »

A Fair Evening

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 22, 2020

It has turned out to be such a good evening. I woke early, made coffee, and drank it as I played solitare and read messages. I had already fed the two cats, and they were reclined on the bed behind me. I was not yet hungry, and decided to nap with them for a bit. After a short while I was up again, surprised that it was still early. I pondered what the day might bring, for I had no great plans: no hike, no ride, no work, no meeting. My kitchen was stocked for the moment, and there was nothing I must clean or clothes to wash. A huge van rumbled into this compound I live in. It seemed out of place with the usual assortment of UPS, Fed-X, postal trucks, or the assorted vehicles of tradesmen. At any rate, the van had turned too soon, near my house, and was backing up and attempting a sharp turn. Nothing happened, but he did overrun the curb a bit. I was worried about the pop-up sprinkler head there, which had recently popped off under the variable water pressure we experience. It had created a geyser thirty feet high and sprayed a large area. I had alerted the proper person, and it had eventually been repaired, but left a large pool of wasted water, which, in a dry climate under a drought, is upsetting.

Be that as it may be, it worried me that it might happen again, and I went out to check. I actually could not find the wayward sprinkler head, as it is flush with the ground when not in use and the grass was thick there, and I discovered, also softer and wetter than the rest of the grass in that area. I will have to notify someone to check it out. However, I noticed that the truck had stopped just slightly past my house, and the driver and a new resident were wrangling some large boxes off of the van. It was not a moving van. It was some kind of delivery service I had never heard of, and I had the impression the boxes were equipment or appliances of some kind – tall, very thick cardboard boxes. Since the virus created a need for space and I did not know the man, I did not go over to satisfy my curiosity.

It was a small diversion from an ordinary day, but on retreating to my house, I decided it was time for breakfast. I sautéd half of an onion, covered it with two beaten eggs and a whole green chili splayed open and covered in cheese. It makes a very satisfying omelet. Hours passed in which I did very little. I finished reading my recent issue of Funny Times, having already read all the cartoons, but not the humor articles. Usually I only have one cup of coffee in the morning, an Americano: two shots of espresso with enough water to fill my coffee cup, but I made another. I was spinning my wheels, aimless, and a bit agitated. Three weeks ago, my motorcycle of nineteen years had been stolen while I slept. It still bothers me. I was able to recover a small bit of money from insurance, and had to take out a small loan to cover the rest, but I replaced the old 1997 motorcycle with a newer one, a 2014. I worry that it will also be stolen, as I have no garage, and nothing to lock it to. The front forks are locked at an angle, so moving the bike will not be easy, and I have put an old U-lock through the rear spokes as well, and put a cover over the bike.

But I feel good, better than I have in weeks, or, really, months. This pandemic, this isolation, the masks hiding our smiles or frowns, the racial tension following even more brutal murders of unarmed citizens by those we hire to protect ourselves — it has taken me further along a downward spiral than I wanted to go. The coming election has the country further divided than ever, with the likelihood of a bitterly contested and ambiguous result, after another month and a half of insults, recriminations, slander, misinformation, and lies.

As writers are known to observe, I digress. As day rolled into late afternoon, I ate a very light meal. I decided I was going to read. My house is choked with piles of books that always accumulate faster than I can read them. I picked another book titled: The Mystery of Dead Lovers, 1951, by an author I’d read before, Maurice Collis. It turned out to be an excellent choice. A traveler comes to a village where he is welcomed with open arms, for it is just past a bountiful harvest time, and all is well. After they have all eaten, there is a play to be presented, and the traveler is entranced into another time and place, which is the story I am reading. The title of the book makes me a little apprehensive, because it is a story of two distanced lovers finding each other, and also great happiness in each other. It is a very enjoyable drama, but with a sword of Damocles hanging over it, so as much as I want to finish it, I also don’t want to, which is why I am taking a long break now.

Tonight I found an old partial bottle of Blue Corn Bourbon in the back of a cupboard, and poured myself a glass to pair with a spicy pork sandwich while I read. The book has taken me to another place, another time, and makes me care about two fictional characters who are like me in some ways, and yet not in other ways. It is a tale, an old and timeless story of two lovers attempting to unite, and finally doing so, but all is not well. Still, I am in a very good mood. I’ve had some wine of late that did not improve my mood, so I am not simply influenced by the alcohol in my whiskey tonight. I am less depressed, able to enjoy the telling of the story, wtih less restlessness. And although I am not certain that I will like the ending, I will not dislike it. It is what it is, I’ve heard it said. Perhaps it is. For tonight, I feel fine, and I can look forward to tomorrow.

Posted in 2020s, comics, Coronavirus, current events, love, motorcycles, My Life, quarantine, rambling | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Turkey Trot Trails at Mars Court

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 20, 2020

In a corner of the Manzanita Mountains, a spiderweb of trails and former logging roads winds across meadows and over ridges. Although the trails are accessible from a residential area, and border a U.S. Air Force Base and former bombing range, the views give the illusion of wilderness. My eight-mile hike today. The Manzanitas are sandwiched between the Sandias and the Manzanos in central New Mexico, part of the Cibola National Forest.

Posted in 2020s, photography | Leave a Comment »

Robber Barons and Trump

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on August 26, 2020

Unknown Worlds 1943   Robber Baron 2020BlindAlley

Blind Alley (1943-06)

Recently, I watched an old Twilight Zone episode. It is called, Of Late I Think of Cliffordville. It originally aired April 11, 1963. The script was written by Rod Serling, based on the story “Blind Alley” by Malcolm Jameson.

In it, a robber baron of the time (1963) is reprimanded by two characters: Deidrich (played by John Anderson) “I have found you to be, from the moment you came into my office, a predatory, grasping, conniving, acquisitive animal of a man. Without heart, without conscience, without compassion, and without even a subtle hint of the common decencies,” and Miss Devlin (as the devil, played by Julie Newmar): “ Because you are a wheeler and a dealer. A financier and a pusher. A brain, a manipulator, a raider. Because you are a taker instead of a builder. A conniver instead of a designer. An exploiter instead of an inventor. A user instead of a bringer.”

What they were referring to was a character that epitomized the financial geniuses of their day. Those who created no products, invented nothing, designed nothing and never worked a day in their lives, but manipulated, traded, invested, and swindled their way to wealth. They were despised, envied and emulated. Such is Donald J. Trump, and he is known for it. I’m appalled that such a man could become President, and that any reasonable person would even consider keeping him around.

He is nothing else but a robber baron, a predatory, conniving, acquisitive animal of a man. That is his philosophy. Get what you can. Gamble large sums of money that he never earned by hard work. Declare bankruptcy over and over. Stiff contractors. Blow off workers. It’s the “art” of the deal that he believes in – how to win, regardless of how it’s done. He lies, he cheats, he tweets. And he will bombard us all with bogus slams against Biden and all Democrats. “It’s a conspiracy, man.”

Trump is not a leader at all.

He follows radio show hosts and bloggers who make shit up — fake stories – fake news — and they do so to attract listeners and watchers in order to sell products. Trump has repeated, word-for-word, the made-up claims that come from The Gateway Pundit, and also radio host Bill Mitchell. Do you know why Trump claims most news sources are “fake news”? Because he is deflecting you away from any semblance of investigative, vetted news stories, so he can push conspiracy theories as truth, without being called to task for it by journalists whose job is to do so. All he has to do is say something, and claim that it is not being reported by the “fake news.” He can make up numbers, or borrow them from conspiracy pages, and claim everything else is “fake news”. He’s a manipulator, a pretentious con man.

That’s my opinion, and I thought it to be relevant in light of the approaching elections, regardless of political affiliations.

Posted in 2020s, current events, opinion, politics, rants | Leave a Comment »

Republicans Bailing Out

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on August 7, 2020

Bailing Out

Reports show an interesting trend this election year: Republicans, even those previously loyal to the Party, and Conservatives who feel the Republican Party used to incorporate those values, are bailing out just months before the November election. Some will vote for Biden. Some say they will vote for Biden while holding down their bile, while others (like John Bolton) say they will vote for neither, but write in someone else’s name. Many of them are saying the Republican Party has just become the party of Trump and not conservatism, or that the Party itself has been highjacked by people with no regard for the truth, or morals, or the U.S. Constitution. I’m happy to see Republicans with backbone speak up.

I think what we may be seeing is the breakdown of the Republican Party, at least as a major party. Less powerful. Less influential. We shouldn’t have only one set of partisan politicians in charge anytime.

It isn’t the time to form a new Republican party from scratch, but a hybrid party made up of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents may be close at hand. A party committed to working for the good of the country, and not just a few people, but all of the people, as best we can. A party made up of actual conservatives and ordinary people with liberal values. I suspect that what used to be known as conservative or liberal values have more in common, for honest, patriotic citizens that we’ve been led to believe.  #NewParty

We need to move this country forward, based on those values, and work together. I believe we need, at first, at least one party made up of such people, who are committed to working together even though they don’t agree on everything.  #NewParty

There seem to be too many Republicans and Democrats who believe only their party shall lead or has any answers. That’s never been true, and won’t ever be true. The people who put their lives on the line to convene, and to write the founding documents knew that. That’s why there are three branches of government and separation of powers. That’s why there’s a Constitution, and why there is a Bill of Rights. I don’t believe anyone gave us these rights. Thank God if you must. But the rights we have are those we took for ourselves, those we promise to keep, those we teach our children, and those we enforce for all. If we can’t do that, then this experiment in self-government is over. The rich live like kings now. Shall we let them make all the rules? Make rules that benefit them more than the rest of us? There’s nothing wrong with being rich. We’d all like that. But, I think we’d mostly want that because of the power we’d have. But, really, according to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we have that power. We should use it, and share it.  #NewParty

Posted in 2020s, current events, opinion, politics, rambling, rants | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

A Gorgeous Day Hiking in Jemez

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on July 31, 2020

073020 (1)

Drove out through the Jemez Mountains Thursday (July 30, 2020). There are beautiful vistas and red hills and streams and deep woods and hot springs up there. Didn’t make it to any of the hot springs this time, nor stop at any of the funky bars in the village of Jemez Springs, but it was an extremely pleasant day, with lots of sunshine and a steady, cool breeze. It was calming, both physically and mentally. It’s a wonderful part of New Mexico that I have visited and camped at over the last forty-four years. I have really fine memories of the hiking, camping, and fun women I used to hang out with. Memories aside, the volcanic Jemez Mountains are my most favorite place to go in all of New Mexico.

073020 (7)

073020 (9)073020 (11)

073020 (15)073020 (14)

073020 (17)

073020 (16)073020 (19)073020 (21)

 

073020 (24)

 

 

Posted in 2020s, hiking, memories, My Life, photography | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

MADNESS IS A HOT-AIR BALLOON

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on July 29, 2020

Making Hot Air

Perhaps I need to let my madness free.
I worry about madness
People thought me dumb when I was young
So I kept quiet though I burned.

I think terrible thoughts sometimes
So I keep them to myself
Even though the hot pressure builds
Is it better to live crazy than not really live?

Madness restrained is not madness contained.
It leaks out here and there
Stray comments, a wild movement
Depression agitation combustion.

Yes combustion
For, madness restrained doesn’t only leak
It can explode
Violence rape grand theft murder.

How to portion out my madness?
Let enough out to be happy
Not enough to harm or hurt or die
Just enough to feel relief.

A hot-air balloon can fly even holed
Hundreds of tiny holes in the envelope
From a bad landing in a field of cacti
Yet it still fills rises floats and soars.

For a time.

As long as the propane lasts it rises
As long as wind blows it moves
As long as air is colder outside than in
It can soar through blue sky.

Would that my madness were a balloon
Free to fly
Not too far
Not too high.

Just enough just enough just enough.

Posted in madness, My Life, rambling | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Sandia Crest Hike 7/7/20

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on July 14, 2020

Just photos to post today, from a hike 7/7/20, 7 days ago. After that, I also went for a hike 7/12/20 with my stepdaughter but took no photos. However, we did have a great meal on 7/12 at Ten-3. 070720 (14) That is Albuquerque’s mountaintop restaurant, closed due to Covid-19 shortly after it opened. It had just reopened for dining in, but Sunday 7/12 was the last day for that, for who knows how long. But we did each enjoy a great beer along with a sandwich of brisket braised for 10 hours, including red chile bbq, smoked gouda and apple slaw. We were able to take in a great view of the area east of the Sandias while polishing off our meals with spicy ginger sorbet.  But, after that, the Ten-3 restaurant has begun offering only cliffside takeout, and that’s OK. I’ll hike up there again, order some great food and let my feet dangle off a cliff while I eat. It’s a wonderful pleasure. Sun, a cool breeze, a hike with spectacular views, and good company. What more could I possibly ask for? Sometimes you don’t need photos. But here are the ones from 7/7 –>

(Unfortunately, the shots of distant landscapes are partially obscured by the smoke still drifting over New Mexico from local fires and from the fires in Arizona.)

Posted in 2020s, Beer, COVID-19, family, food, hiking, Life, My Life, photography | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Never Look Away, Dresden and Baltimore

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on July 10, 2020

Never Look Away

Last night, I was watching a fascinating German movie (Never Look Away, 2018), based loosely on the life of visual artist Gerhard Rickter, who experienced growing up under the Nazis. I was just past 45 minutes into it (a small part of it, considering that it is 3 hours, 9 minutes long), when what struck me suddenly was that the movie had just advanced to 1951, as the artist Kurt Barnert is on his way to work, walking past still ruined buildings, Dresden through streets still lined with rubble from the saturation bombing of Dresden. Between February 13–15 of 1945, with the war nearly over, the British and U.S. forces dropped some 2,700 tons of explosives and incendiaries and decimated Dresden. Before WWII, Dresden was called “the Florence of the Elbe” and was regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities for its architecture and museums. It had no strategic importance. The purpose of the raids was to terrorize Germany into surrendering, and to fulfill a promise to Joseph Stalin to prepare Germany for invasion by Soviet troops. 2,800 more tons of bombs were dropped on Dresden in three other attacks before Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945. Author Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden at the time of the bombing, which he describes in Slaughterhouse-Five. 78,000 dwellings were completely destroyed; 27,700 were uninhabitable, and 64,500 damaged but repairable.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Six years after Germany’s surrender, in 1951, I was one year old, having been born in the busy seaport and immigrant town of Baltimore, Maryland. Old Baltimore My parents lived near the famous Lexington Market then, where you could find all kinds of fresh seafood, meats and international foods. Baltimore was not all that different from Dresden in Old World charm, but we had fresh food, not food lines. The streets were clean and open, some with trolley tracks and cobblestones. A few farmers still hawked their wares from horse-drawn wagons. There were plenty of cars, but no freeways bypassing the city. There was poverty then, but the row houses marble apartment stoops – like my paternal grandparents’,  next to a bar – had their marble front stairs. There were green parks, and jobs at Bethlehem Steel BethlahemSteel and the McCormick Spice Company. Mccormick-1951 The inner city was old and beginning to decay, but there was no rubble then. The harbor was full of cargo ships and housed a submarine, the USS Torsk from WWII, and the 1854 USS Constellation, a sloop-of-war, the last sail-only warship designed and built by the United States Navy.

I did not know about Dresden, or Hiroshima, or Nagasaki, or the other places so devastated by weapons of mass destruction until I was much older. I did not know how lucky I was to have been born there and then. I have been back to Baltimore a few times, and much of the old inner city near where I was born is now ruined and decaying, with burnt-out buildings and people from a racist culture war, loss of manufacturing jobs, and urban flight. I found a few photos online of the ruined sections of Baltimore’s inner city. Baltimore now There are 46,800 vacant properties in Baltimore.

Watching this movie is indeed thought-provoking. I had to pause to write this because, over two hours later, I might have forgotten these feelings, even if I remembered the thoughts.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

So, I finished the movie. It was an amazing thing to experience. The blurb on the DVD pocket missed everything. It was about life, and connections, and pain, and happiness, and guilt, and also how art is influenced by those things and influences those things. Yeah, there are some Nazis early on, but they are not the focus, nor really important, nor is socialist realism, which wasn’t ever a realistic way of life or art.

There is an underlying intellectual curiosity throughout this movie, probing for answers, for what is true. Art is a symbol. Symbols can be art, but there’s more to life and how we perceive it and live it than that. I know this thing is over three hours long, but I’m saying, really saying, it’s worth it. Well, it was for me anyway. Really well done: story, direction, acting, cinematography, everything. It really engages heart and mind. Tom Schilling and Paula Beer are wonderful as the hard-working couple Kurt Barnert and Ellie Seebard struggling through life. Their joy in life, despite their setbacks and struggles, is palpable. That’s life for so many, and Schilling and Beer pull it off, plunging into painful memories, dealing with so much crap, from war to life in East Germany, to the Seeband patriarch, who is a seething caldron of the very mental diseases he condemned people to death for.

Sebastian Koch plays that Seeband patriarch, a man able to excel under Nazi rule and transition seamlessly into the perfect socialist under a rigid, joyless soviet-style totalitarianism. You expect him to be caught, punished, and destroyed, but he survives, on the surface. Underneath his professional veneer and perfect obedience is a haunted man, and Koch is brilliant in this role.

 

Posted in 1950s, memories, movies, Random Thoughts, war | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Another Hike, Another Protest

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on July 4, 2020

On Thursday I hiked up the Piedra Lisa Trail. It’s a very steep 4.4-mile trail to a ridge that overlooks the east side of the Sandia Mountains. From there one can continue north 3.8 miles to the North Piedra Lisa trailhead or intersect with several other trails, like Rincon Spur Trail, and Del Agua Trail, and eventually make your way to Placitas, NM. There, you’d best have left a car or meet a friend, because the hike up those trails and back up the ridge to the west side of the mountain is going to be long and tough. The photos are somewhat obscured by smoke drifting in from the Arizona wildfires.

07022020 stitch

Yesterday, July 3rd, President Trump had a big tadoo with military jet flyovers and fireworks and a campaign rally speech about how great the United States is and how he will lead the fight to preserve our freedoms from fascist liberals and their minions if he is reelected. He accused all those demonstrating in the streets of being either far-left fascists or those who were subject to “extreme indoctrination” by years of “liberal” education into working, unknowingly,  to destroy the United States and all it stands for. “This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” he said, and, “Many of these people have no idea why they are doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing.”

He promised to build a new sculpture garden he will fill with statues of all the heroes of America ( by which, of course, he only means North America, not including Canada).

“Our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that were villains,” Trump said.

There are fireworks in four selected locations in the city I live in tonight, so they are visible to all. That hasn’t stopped people in my neighborhood from shooting off their own loud rockets and other illegal fireworks, so the noise is constant as I write.

But, in addition to the legal fireworks that were shot off last night three states away to the northeast of New Mexico, there were some other fireworks there:

In South Dakota in the Black Hills, there were smoke bombs. Oglala Sioux, who were living there before any Europeans showed up, were pepper-sprayed and arrested for protesting the illegal takeover of their land in the Black Hills for the monument.
——————————————————————————————————————————–
Why is the location controversial? A 1980 Supreme Court decision found the U.S. invasion of the Black Hills to be unconstitutional. The land was taken illegally.
——————————————————————————————————————————–
Activists have long taken issue with the Mount Rushmore monument, which was built on land sacred to the Sioux tribe. Two of the former presidents depicted – George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – were slave-owners. The decision to hold an event there is controversial at a time when statues of Confederate generals and slave-owners are being re-evaluated, and in many cases pulled down, amid anti-racism protests.
———————————————————————————————————————————-
Ahead of the event, a group of mostly Native American protesters from the Black Hills blocked a main road to the monument with white vans, leading to a tense stand-off with police.
—————————————————————————————————————————————–
They were eventually cleared from the road by police officers and National Guard soldiers, who used smoke bombs and pepper spray, local reports say.
—————————————————————————————————————————————-
Several protesters were arrested after the police declared the roadblock an “unlawful assembly”, local newspaper The Argus Leader reported.
—————————————————————————————————————————————-
The American Indian protesters (Oglala Sioux Tribe) were met by Trump supporters chanting “Go back where you came from”. It’s incredibly sad to see such ignorance displayed by people who worry about history being erased. Trump said, “…we must protect and preserve our history, our heritage, and our great heroes.” He also went on to boast of America’s accomplishments: “We settled the Wild West.” Is that the truth he spoke of? “We will state the truth in full without apology.”
—————————————————————————————————————————————
The west was settled by taking land from its original inhabitants. Trump didn’t speak of that history. Taking down statues that glorify the Confederacy is not erasing history, in my opinion; but ignoring the damage done to Native American culture and the attempt to erase all Native Americans from the coveted western lands – that is history that must not be erased.
—————————————————————————————————————————————-
Trump spoke of the glorious things this country (the USA) has done, including, and I am not making this up: “We are the people who dreamed a spectacular dream — it was called Las Vegas in the Nevada desert….”
—————————————————————————————————————————————
That is much closer to the heart of who this cult leader is: a gambler, gifted with wealth, throwing money into hotels and real estate, looking for the quick buck, losing millions, and refusing to pay contractors and employees. That’s his vision of America (not including Canada, Mexico, or the nations of central and south America: one big casino, where men (like him) are free to play games with money they didn’t earn and destroy people’s lives without regret. And the losers in Trump’s games? They lost, so who cares, he seems to say, if they have jobs, health care, or equal rights?
——————————————————————————————————————————————
“You’re all losers,” Trump said to his military advisors. When they tried to give him some relevant information, he said, “I don’t want to hear it.” He went on to say: “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”
——————————————————————————————————————————————-
In regard to having troops stationed in allied countries, he said, “We should make money off of everything.” Trump questioned why the United States couldn’t get some oil as payment for the troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. “Where is the fucking oil?” he bellowed.
——————————————————————————————————————————————
If you listen to Trump, if you follow his tirades and tweets, you realize nothing he does is about freedom and democracy. It’s about money, and power, and glory. Happy 4th of July everyone.
——————————————————————————————————————————————
What is the 4th of July? A victory over English monarchy and power. What did we win? A country governed of, by, and for the people, guided by a Constitution, whose First Amendment reads:
——————————————————————————————————————————————
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ——————————————————————————————————————————————

Posted in 2020s, current events, history, Human rights, madness, opinion, photography, politics, rants | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

A Walk Among Ponderosa and Alligator

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on June 28, 2020

I went for another hike Friday, July 26. The sky started out blue, but clouded over. There was a cool breeze all day, thankfully, because the weather has been in the 90s pretty steadily every day. Still, the sky was an odd color. I wondered if there was some of that dust from the Sahara dust plume in the atmosphere already. The storm was supposed to hit the Gulf Coast area on Saturday. Well, no matter; it was a great day. After the hike, I looked back to the area where we’d hiked, and saw Virga rain in the upper atmosphere. Virga is rain that evaporates, above the ground. In the southwestern USA, storms are easily visible a hundred miles away. One can see the rain falling from the clouds, but it often doesn’t extend all the way to the horizon. Hence, drought, even though there’s rain.

The trail we began hiking on is called Mahogany Loop (Forest Trail #05602), but we intersected with the Ponderosa Trail Loop, which meanders through a dense Ponderosa pine forest in the Cibola National Forest that hasn’t been logged in perhaps fifty years. I took a few photos of those, including a Ponderosa broken by high winds, and some bark beetle damage that killed many thousands of old-growth trees throughout New Mexico. There were also some Alligator Junipers, and I photographed the lower portion to show it’s texture and immense thickness. Very old tree. There are other tree species too, and tons of wildflowers. We met a couple with their dog. They said they had seen him twice in the area, and were unable to find his owner, before deciding to adopt him.

Interestingly, this is the first time I’d been back to that area in an entire year. It is directly adjacent to the area where Angelina Jolie shot the movie “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” which wrapped July 1, 2019. The film was directed by Taylor Sheridan and produced by Film Rites and BRON Studios, based on a book by Michael Koryta. Book.jpg Ms. Jolie is quite friendly, and chatted with the background actors surrounding her during brief cuts in one scene that was shot many, many times. She is funny too. Her makeup included tangled hair, deep bloody gashes, and soot from a fire in a previous scene. Since it is OK to respond to an actor if they speak to you, I was curious about what had been happening to her character. “You look a little worse for wear,” I said. I regretted saying that afterward; it’s not the sort of thing one says to a woman. She pulled down her torn shirt to reveal a scar at that point, saying: “And I got hit by lightning too!” Whew. I hadn’t meant to insult her, just saying what was on my mind. I was a bit embarrassed and looked down when she did that. A bit later she told me that the movie is very well done, an intelligent, tense drama, and very much worth watching. I looked for it and found that the release date is October 23, 2020. I will watch it.

So, getting back to the hike. After we returned to our vehicles, we headed back down State Road 337, but stopped at a private cemetery just off the road. It was fenced, so I didn’t enter, but I took some photos, with respect. The details of the graves were very touching and sad, especially the ones for “Victor, Son of Manny and MaryLou,” and for 20-year-old Rosa, who may have died during childbirth, as it is inscribed: “Mother of Dorothy”.

Very sad. But they were, it seems, very much loved. And lived, for a time, in beauty.

Posted in 2020s, death, family, hiking, love, movies, photography | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Crest Spur Hike – Sandia Mountains

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on June 21, 2020

Took some photos on a hike along the crest of the Sandia Mountains. Social distancing, masks and all. Used a new trail called the Crest Spur to link up with La Luz. Hiked with a few people in a hiking meetup, organized and run by Frank Ernst, shown in the second photo. Flowers can live short lives in this desert heat, so I always photograph them. Didn’t see any wildlife that day (06/18/20), but there were quite a few people on top of the mountain, despite the Tram not being in operation, nor the new Ten-3 restaurant being open. I did see two workers inspecting the cables. If you enlarge the photo you can see them on top. Workers often ride on top of the tram car in the morning so they can do a quick visual of the cables, and also because the car is full of all the food and water the restaurant needs for the day. Twice a year they have to shut the Tramway down to do a detailed inspection and test.

The views are usually spectacular, but on this day, smoke from the fires in Arizona came in like fog, blanketing the city. In one of the photos here, you can see a thin blue line representing the brilliant blue we usually experience here. Below it is the blanket of smoke. As always, click on a thumbnail to enlarge it, use arrows to scroll.