From NM floods to needed lighter news: Open Thread

Hello friends, and time once again for an open thread and random Intertubes round-up.

I apologize for being somewhat quiet recently, but work has been heavy… and then there’s been the rain. Rain-rain-rain here in New Mexico. Back on September 4th, we got 2 2/3 inches in less than an hour, and in these parts of the American southwest, water doesn’t just soak into the ground — it sheets, forms into streams, drains into gullies and arroyos, and gushes.

We lost our house water supply last weekend because the well’s pump-house building flooded. (And I screwed up my back majorly trying to dig out the mud. It still hurts.) A small arroyo near our house filled its banks completely and began running across a nearby road. One of the eeriest things I witnessed was a whitewater river roaring through a pasture — a place that normally never has any water running through it at all. I wish I had pictures, but we were too busy trying to keep our property from drowning.

Then came more rain this week, another 2 1/2 inches, more flooding (although this time we were ready with a sump-pump). It’s rained every day since September 9th.

We’ve had road closures, kids stuck in schools because buses couldn’t run, a sinkhole in the I-40 interstate, power outages, rock-slides, and washouts all over. And thousands of people stranded in their homes — or away from them — because the roads leading to those homes are gone.

Arroyo flooding at Unser Avenue, Albuquerque NM (

Arroyo flooding at Unser Avenue, Albuquerque NM (

As I write this, Albuquerque metro and the surrounding areas are expecting major flooding from the Rio Grande, which runs right through the city. And New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has declared a statewide state of emergency.

And word is things are even worse up in Colorado, with rainfall amounts being described in some instances as “Biblical.” Sure, we have problems here with more than a few inches of rain coming quickly, but no topography or geology can handle more than a foot of rain in less than a day. As my wife has said, “I don’t think I’ve ever wished for the rain to stop in New Mexico.” More updates here.

(Update 9/14: More updates here, including aerial helicopter video. Sorry, can’t embed. Fortunately it looks like the Rio Grande didn’t spill over its banks overnight.)

Flooding in Rio Rancho, NM (

Flooding in Rio Rancho, NM (

Yeah… no climate change. Right. So I don’t know about you folks, but I seriously need a mental health break. Here are some of the less…stressful things I’ve found interesting out there on the Internet:

  • Voyager 1 was finally declared to be fully outside our solar system, as measured by the ion plasma readings our decades old little probe has been sending. The hashtag #VGER is trending on Twitter. (Sadly, none of them is Trek-Sensei enough to recall that it was the fictional Voyager 6 that fell into a black hole, was spat out on the other side of the Milky Way, picked up by a machine planet, retrofitted to become a sentient but emotionless superbeing, came back to Earth, threatened to exterminate everything unless the Creator merged with it, and finally ascended into an energy-being form of life. The End. Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot: #Spoilers.)
// //

  • Speaking of ‘strange, new worlds,’ scientists are coming up with ways they believe will be able to tell them whether these planets they’re finding all over the place might be habitable. Neat.
  • Another group of scientists accidentally created the world’s thinnest glass — just one molecule or two atoms thick. It turns out they were trying to make graphene (a carbon compound) but noticed some ‘muck’ on it. That muck ended up being glass so thin, individual atoms can be seen in an electron microscope. They believe it was due to an air leak reacting with quartz inside the furnace. They already believe there could be uses for this technique. Eureka!
Neil deGrasse Tyson doing what he does best: Being awesome

Neil deGrasse Tyson doing what he does best: Being awesome

  • Humans have been making cheese for at least 7,000 years. Archeologists found ancient dried cheese in what they believe was a pottery cheese-strainer. Just kinda cool.

And in closing, the most awesome (and awesomely bizarre) political ad ever created. Meet Jeff Wagner, who wants to be Mayor of Minneapolis. His campaign slogan? “Wake the f*ck up!”

Published professional writer and poet, Becca had a three decade career in technical writing and consulting before selling off most of her possessions in 2006 to go live at an ashram in India for 3 years. She loves literature (especially science fiction), technology and science, progressive politics, cool electronic gadgets, and perfecting Hatch green chile recipes. Fortunately for this last, Becca and her wife currently live in New Mexico. @BeccaMorn

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  • Bill_Perdue

    My side does not include mass murderers like Obama or the two parties of war, union busting and racism and it doesn’t include US foreign policy.

    Obama and the Democrats are the enemy and so are Republicans.

  • pappyvet

    LOL ! “We come from bang zoom!” Where’s Norton and Alice?” I cringe at the thought.

  • pappyvet

    Oh goody ! The eyes are not what they used to be

  • She’s lucky that’s all she lost. Really, really lucky.

  • Thanks for the heads-up. It’s often difficult to find a really good chiropractor who knows what he or she is doing, and who doesn’t just bone-crack for the sake of endorphins.

    I had one about 10 years ago who knew exactly how to reset my mid- and lower-back and hip joints.

    For many years, seeing a DO would’ve been out of the question due to lack of health insurance. I might look into it at this point.

  • Thank you, Bomer

  • Forex Land 4 Evere


    Each Lovers Forex and who wants to read in this area and loved please visit

  • I meant ‘gushes’ as a verb, not a noun. There’s actually no shortage of different terms around here, including I hadn’t heard before: Draw.

  • By the way, the New Mexico Doña Ana County Clerk’s legal defense fund has just about reached 75% of its goal. This is the fund to be used by Lynn Ellins (county clerk) to defend against the legal challenge by NM State Senator Bill Sharer and his pack of GOP homophobes, seeking to stop the gay marriages in Doña Ana county.

    (Background: He’s the guy who single-handedly broke the marriage equality log-jam in New Mexico. Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples have been married in the state — some by counties following Ellins’ lead, and some counties by court order. Ellins says 225 couples married in his county alone. More HERE.)

    Although he could have asked the county’s legal teams to defend him, Ellins felt it just wasn’t right, and so he decided to see if he could raise the money through a public plea. The goal is $40k and they’ve reached nearly $30k.

    If you want to donate, you can do it through here:

    It’s an ActBlue-supported effort. My wife and I, although we were married in California, felt it was only right to help Mr. Ellins and to commend his courage.

  • emjayay

    Or drive through one if there is a thunderstorm around anywhere. A friend of mine in high school lost her Mustang that way.

  • emjayay

    I didn’t think we were supposed to continually apply shadenfreude to our own side. Even if our own side isn’t as nearly far over to our own personal side as we might like. Republicans wouldn’t think of it.

  • emjayay

    “drains into gullies and arroyos, and gushes.” We used to call those “washes” in S Arizona. Dry gullies that fill with water when it rains.
    As I think you have written about before, one of the really cool things about the Southwest is summer thunderstorms. Unless they get out of hand.

  • docsterx

    Doctors of Osteopathy learn how to do manipulations as well as allopathic medicine. Some use manipulations in their day-to-day practices. A DO could do both for you, manipulation plus medical management of the other facets of care for your back (medications, imaging, referrals, physical therapy and other necessary things).

  • Thom Allen

    He was doing OK, butt I think his career just hit a dead end and he bottomed out.

  • Bomer

    Get to feeling better soon.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Obama just got humiliated, again.

    Obama and Kerry are always plotting for more wars. This time the Russians did an end run around them and forced them to accept a humiliating defeat their war plans. Another major factor is that a new war, in the middle of the Long Depression will not be tolerated by American workers.

    Putin didn’t do that because he’s against war and oppression, a look at Chechnya and his oppression or our GLBT communities in Russia is ample proof. He did it to protect Russian interests (GAZPROM) and arms sales.” (*)

    This isn’t the end of the story. Obama and Perry want to take out Sadaam Hussein, Qaddafi, Assad and they want a war with Iran. They’ll continue to plot and lie just like the Bushes and Clintons did until they get more wars of aggression.

    (*)”… why has the little nation of Qatar spent 3 billion dollars to support the rebels in Syria? … Could it be because Qatar is the largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the world and Assad won’t let them build a natural gas pipeline through Syria? Of course. Qatar wants to install a puppet regime in Syria that will allow them to build a pipeline which will enable them to sell lots and lots of natural gas to Europe. … On the other side, Russia very much prefers the Assad regime for a whole bunch of reasons. One of those reasons is that Assad is helping to block the flow of natural gas out of the Persian Gulf into Europe, thus ensuring higher profits for Gazprom.”…

  • Well, if they’re a technologically advanced species and they’ve been watching us, the chances of that answer being ‘yes’ would rather high. Followed by yes to Mandarin Chinese and Hindi as well. ;-)

    If we just stumble upon each other…obviously no.

  • It worked. :-) lol

  • pappyvet

    wanted to share a favorite,hope this works

  • Aww, that’s really sweet of you. Fortunately, we have a good massage table and my wife has learned quite a bit about working on my back. I’m a very lucky woman.

  • pappyvet

    I once attended a conference with Dr. Phil Morrison. He was awesome. And he made some interesting points about life on other planets as well as human nature. He said when other beings are discovered the first question will be ,”Do they speak English.” The audience roared.

  • pappyvet

    Wish I could transport you to Maine. My little Sis is a massage therapist and accupuncturist

  • Thanks, Pappy

  • pappyvet

    Take care of yourself Becca, after yet another stay at the Vet’s hospital, I can very easily sympathize. Don’t rush too much. I have a feeling that saying don’t rush period is a waste of time.;]

  • Aye…my father had other back issues, mostly mid to upper back due to work-related injuries and bad herniations. He had several surgeries to over the decades, but the only one he said he regretted was the one where they fused a few of his mid-back vertebrae together (I forget the numbers of which three specifically). He said he was the only one he regretted, because it never stopped hurting, ever.

  • Yep. Something like 2-4% of Irish folks (numbers varied when I was researching it), and a few other ethnic groups.

    I hadn’t known about the ‘celtic claw’ — it seems I’m free of that one. Although a lifetime of typing has caused both of my pinky fingers to splay outward when in the relaxed position.

  • samizdat

    Both my wife and myself: LOL!

  • samizdat

    Neil deGrasse Tyson in a Cosmos II? I cannot say how much I will be looking forward to that. A fantastic voice for science.

  • PeteWa

    one of my cousins has that, I didn’t realize it was related to our Irish background… although I have been made quite aware of the propensity for ‘celtic claw’ among my relatives on the one side, and I have already noted some slight development myself, hoping it remains as mild as with some of my older relatives.

  • samizdat

    I second that “fusion” experience: of the seven men who suffered the same injury at the printing company with which I was employed at the time, all but myself had surgery. Of those six who chose the surgery route, none came back to work. I consider myself fortunate that I was directed to a doctor who made a better decision for me than I could myself.

    Being of mostly Irish descent myself, I had not heard about this peculiar malformation of which you speak. I got the bonus prize though: a mild scoliosis. Slainte!

  • Thanks Samizdat. As I explained in a separate comment below, back problems are something I’ve had to deal with most of my adult life*, ever since the day when I threw it out and, not having any explanation as to why it was hurting like hell a month later, I finally got some x-rays.

    The radiologist said, “I’m not your doctor, and I’m not giving a medical opinion, but if I was, this right here is your problem” — and he showed me the congenital bone malformation explaining why I was and always would be prone to certain types of back injuries.

    Fortunately this time around, I’m out of the “Honey, help me get out of bed because I can’t do it on my own” phase and into the “crap, it hurts to put on shoes” and the sharp-shock if I’m not careful moving phase. Today we went grocery shopping, and I was even able to help with bringing in the canvas bags. Just not as many as I usually carry at once.

    I’m off the muscle relaxants at this point, but still need to keep taking ibuprofen pretty regularly.

    (* = Weird side observation: I’ve never been denied health insurance due to my back problems. Which occasionally have needed medical intervention. But I was denied due to hayfever allergies and migraines, both treatable 95% of the time with OTC meds and needing a little prescrip help the remaining 5%. Makes no sense whatsoever.)

  • samizdat

    As someone who has suffered a herniated disk, and hopefully not sounding like a know-it-all mansplainer, what you’re suffering sounds a lot like the initial days/weeks after my injury (work-related): numbness down my right leg and ridiculously painful, with the added bonus of being nearly immobilized by the pain (if I tried to move). Unfortunately, the only remedy outside of surgery (which my doctor/surgeon advised heavily against in my case) is to take it easy. Took me about a month before I felt comfortable enough to not fear every slight movement I made, as my back would occasionally send nice, sharp little shocks up my spine every now and then during that period.

    Keep an eye on your posture and get well soon.

  • I have congenital condition common to a few percent of people with Irish ancestry, namely a sacral vertebra which didn’t develop as it should. Normally, it grows these wing-like projections to either side, which then merge with the pelvis. This provides a great deal of stability.

    I don’t have those wings. So the only thing holding my back upright down there are muscles and tendons. I got the usual “maybe you should consider fusion” advice from time to time, but I’ve read too many stories about people who ended up worse off than when they started. When I asked my last doc about it and said, “What if I just keep it all as strong as possible?” — the answer was, “Sure, that could work.” (Well, yeah, and be thousands of bucks cheaper…)

    Still, over the years, I’ve torn muscles, thrown it out, needed intensive chiro treatment occasionally (gotta have a full-on back-cracker to push everything back where it belongs) — and usually remember when I’m stressed, not to do anything excessively strenuous.

    One upside is years ago, it made the purchase of a Herman Miller Aeron chair tax deductible as a medical expense. Doctor’s orders.

  • PeteWa

    thanks for the link.

  • PeteWa

    that sounds awful, but I’m glad you’re improving.
    I’ve been very lucky with my back but I have thrown it out once or twice in my life and it was a miserable experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

  • Damned straight. I’ve even been in situations where it was perfectly clear skies overhead…looking down into a roaring arroyo, because a couple miles away, a thunderstorm was dumping a deluge of rain on the slopes of the Sandias.

  • Speaking of God, this remains one of my favorite meme-photos ever (altered slightly to achieve semi-SFW condition)–

  • I wish the couple luck. Does it seem promising that they’ll prevail?

    As for the rain…yeah. That’s what it was doing, not just flooding, but literally liquifying the soil. I’d step on what looked like solid ground and immediately sink to the top of my knee-high rubber boots.

    And New Mexico and Colorado remain pretty much under statewide flash flood advisories and warnings. We’re at the point now where a mere half to 3/4 inch of rain, if it comes too fast, will cause more flooding.

  • Neat! Those are some seriously gorgeous photos!

  • Thanks, Pete. Fortunately, I have a wife who can turn into Nurse Ratchet at the drop of a hat, and who has forbidden me from doing anything physical until I can prove to her I can walk without limping (sciatica down the left leg) and bend and move without groaning or wincing. Unfortunately for me, I can’t achieve those milestones yet.

    If there’s one way to just about guarantee I’m going to mess up my back, it’s trying to do something arduous — in this case, digging mud, putting into 5 gal buckets, and trying to hand them up and out to my spouse outside — while simultaneously upset and stressed out. And knowing that once I was done, my only clean-up option was to use another bucket of water filled from our rainwater catchment system.

    It -is- better though. Last Saturday, I could barely move.

  • docsterx

    Science, technology and photography geeks, breathtaking scanning electron micrographs here:

  • Thom Allen

    Not only is Colorado getting it, too, but it seems like the Republicons cut funds for dam maintenance and repair.

    Texas got hit with heat, fires, drought. Kansas got blitzed. Oklahoma igot hit with the weather below in May. I wonder if God is trying to send a message to the right wing religious nuts telling them to quit it?

  • At the top of every tourist guide and Welcome Basket should be the words: Never, Never, Ever camp in a arroyo.

  • Ted Cruz is no lightweight. He has argued cases before the Supreme Court. An intelligent, sly and devious pro fascist opportunist, I believe will pose a considerable danger in the future.

  • Monoceros Forth

    I suspect there’s still a bit of a delusional belief among the nuttier Republicans that the answer to their electoral problems is more fervently to embrace what they call “conservative principles”, i.e. to get even crazier. And this might actually be true on the local level, at least in certain districts, so when some loopy “teabagger” type wins a congressional seat from a slightly saner incumbent Republican the victory is cited as proof that the GOP has to run even further rightward.

  • Oh, have no fear. There seems to be no end of gullible wingnuts more than happy to give away their money to asshole politicians like Ted Cruz who have absolutely no interest in doing anything at all for them in return.

  • PeteWa

    Becca, I hope your back feels better soon!

  • Hue-Man

    I meant to commiserate with you about your rain. First, we in the Wet Coast had the first month ever with zero, none, nada rainfall in July and 39.3 mm for JA and 1/2 S compared to “average” 147 mm. I didn’t understand that flooding didn’t mean just “lots of water” until I learned about the Johnstown Flood – it should be more properly called a “slurry” than water.

    Just saw this item on France24 (in French with my quick translation). Un couple homosexuel franco-marocain, privé de mariage en raison d’une convention bilatérale entre la France et le Maroc, va saisir la justice pour faire reconnaître son droit au mariage, a-t-on appris samedi auprès de son avocat. [A French/Moroccan gay couple, unable to marry due to a treaty between France and Morocco, is going to court to recognize their right to marriage, we learned on Saturday (today) from their lawyer.]

    “Cette convention dit que la France s’engage à appliquer les dispositions de la loi marocaine pour les mariages célébrés en France”, dit l’avocat.

    “Ça n’a pas de sens! Car la loi marocaine interdit le mariage entre une musulmane et un non-musulman. Vous vous imaginez appliquer ça en France?”, demande-t-il. [“This treaty says that France undertakes to apply the provisions of Moroccan law for marriages celebrated in France” said the lawyer.

    This makes no sense! Moroccan law prohibits marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims. Can you imagine applying this in France?” he asked.]

    The disappointing part is that the French Socialist government is applying the treaty against the couple. France has ten other treaties with similar provisions. Stay tuned.

  • I suspect despite the GOP’s overt voter suppression efforts, their core problem is only going to keep getting worse. That problem? Candidates acceptable to the GOP base are increasingly radical and unacceptable to moderates.

    Yet if a candidate tries to do the least thing to appear reasonable and/or moderate, they’re immediately met with primary challenges and howls of protest.

  • now _THAT_ was funny!

  • We were severely parched and have endured several years of extreme drought, dating back to the summer of 2010. This last winter, we only had a few snowstorms, and almost no snowpack in the Sandias and northern mountains — which is where most of the state’s summer water comes from.

    Normally we get monsoon rains — flows of moisture from the Gulfs of Mexico and California, starting in early July. This year looked promising, then it died out.

    Now all of a sudden a weather pattern set up driving nearly unprecedented amounts of moisture into the atmosphere, up into Colorado — where it’s running into the Rockies, and hence dumping so much rain into those areas.

    Well, if nothing else, the water being dumped on us here east of the Sandias does flow to the east for the most part.

  • ArthurH

    Regarding the discounting of tickets to the Ronald Reagan Memorial Dinner in Iowa starring Sen. Ted Cruz, it looks like Cruz is going to have to find other ways to raise campaign funds. If so, I wonder how much he’d charge to clean up my backyard. It would give him a chance to do something more attuned to his abilities. I’m sure my two Chows would agree.

  • fletcher

    The reminds me. What ever happened to Bill Tush, the former news anchor at WTBS-TV in Atlanta?

  • Good questions. Sounds to me like excellent opportunities for more study.

  • Well, one of those links above is the official trailer for the show. I watched Sagan’s original Cosmos fanatically, and there’s a lot that feels similar. I’m hopeful. I’ll include the link here. (The only reason I didn’t have it in the post above is WordPress gets hinky when attempting to embed more than a single video, and I simply HAD to include Jeff Wagner’s.)

  • Thanks Indigo. For now, we’re hanging on and hoping each day’s rain is just 0.5-1.0 inch, which is manageable, even though the ground is saturated — as opposed to 2+ inches…well, because the ground is saturated.

    The news remains full of “town evacuated” stories all over the state. You’re right though, the really huge and overwhelming rain and flooding news has been coming out of Colorado, and particularly around the Boulder area and up around the burn-scars. But down our way, it’s like there is no corner of NM that hasn’t had way the heck too much rain and being a mostly arid region, the geology just isn’t set to handle that much water all at once.

    As for that flooded pump-house, a few days ago we bought a water-sensing sump and some hardware, and I’ve got some ideas how to rig it up using a plastic bin, a bunch of holes drilled through the bin, and some shade-cloth to create an anti-mud filter. But I don’t want to deal with trying to get it all set up in there until the mud’s had a chance to dry a little.

  • Monoceros Forth

    The original “Cosmos” was as much about Carl Sagan’s presentation of the material as it was about the material itself. I like Neil deGrasse Tyson a lot but he’s going to bring a considerably different attitude toward the material than I associate with “Cosmos”, a kind of no-nonsense attitude I’d say, not like Sagan’s almost (at times) poetical approach. It’ll be interesting to see how the new show plays out. Certainly, if nothing else, it’ll be good to have the wealth of knowledge that we’ve accumulated since the time of “Cosmos” organized and presented in one series.

  • Hue-Man

    “Bill 18, the Manitoba government’s controversial anti-bullying legislation, has been passed [Friday afternoon].”

    “A clause in the legislation has concerned some religious educators and community members because
    it will require schools to accommodate students who want to start specific anti-bullying clubs, including gay-straight alliances (GSAs).

    Some who attended public hearings on the bill earlier this month argued that forcing schools to accommodate GSAs goes against their own beliefs and infringes on religious freedoms.”

    The most vocal opponents (in addition to the usual foreign-controlled one based in Italy) are the Mennonites who can be thought of as “modern” Amish – German speaking, socially conservative. In Sunday School, I never learned about how god commanded that gay kids be bullied to commit suicide…

    On GSAs, I don’t know if I mentioned here a research study at my alma mater released last month which found: “Anti-homophobia measures reduce binge drinking for all students”

    The study raises some interesting questions. Are high school students binge drinking so much that you can see a difference between schools with and without GSAs, when the legal drinking age is 19? How reliable is the self-reported sexuality of high school students? Have they controlled for urban/rural, rich/poor, big school/small school, etc.? How can they support the causality of GSAs and reduced binge drinking for ALL students?

  • If only that rain would move further east to areas that are severely parched.

  • Thom Allen

    Hope the rains/flood stop soon. Who would have thought that New Mexico would ever have a problem with EXCESS water?

  • Thom Allen

    If this happened in Sochi, would it be considered “gay propaganda” since two women are involved?

  • Indigo

    I could vote for Jeff Wagner whose imitation of Putin leaves little to the imagination, but what the heck. I love the concept of more “Cosmos” type shows. (It’s about time!) And I had no idea about the flooding in New Mexico. The evening news showed some horrific pictures of flooding in Colorado, then cut to cute puppy stories. Stay safe!

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