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Today's Features

  • As most readers probably already know, the Optic is downsizing, going from five to three editions per week.

    The end to the Optic’s long tradition as a daily paper is slated for early March.

    The Muchas Cosas is  also being discontinued. This edition is the last.

  • If you can read this, be thankful. Many in San Miguel County and across the nation can’t read, and many more still cannot read at an adult level.

    Nearly half of New Mexico’s population reads at or below a benchmark standard called Literacy Level 2. Level 2 literacy is that level of reading and comprehension skills expected from children in the fifth through seventh grades. Nearly two-thirds of all jobs require literacy skills above this level, but in San Miguel County, 59 percent of our residents fall at or below Level 2.

  • We all think of a forest as millions of acres of green-topped mountains where water and wildlife rule the land. But there’s a forest right in our own backyards that sometimes gets overlooked — the urban forest.

    An urban forest includes trees, vegetation, and associated natural resources within and around the inhabited area of a community. Urban Forests include trees in parks, tree-lined streets, trees that dot our neighborhoods and any trees within the wildland-urban interface between communities and adjacent forest and rangelands

  • What to plant first? Most people who decide they want to have a garden  just go out and plant their flowers or veggies.

    When the plants don't do well, or even die, they conclude that they don't have a "green thumb" and move on to other things.

    Their problem is that they began at the end of the process. There are other things which must be cultivated first.

  • Hang out in organic gardening circles or read the publications and you will soon hear the high praises of compost tea. In its simplest form, compost tea is simply water in which a scoop of mature compost has been added and allowed to set. I have often wondered what the great benefit of this is — after all, the nutrients in the tea are just the nutrients in the compost, dissolved to facilitate rapid uptake by plants.

    It turns out though, that the real deal is something more robust, with a different purpose. Properly brewed compost tea is a microbial innoculant.

  • “We succeeded beyond my wildest expectations,” said Emelie Olson, organizer of the Solar Homes Tour on Feb. 7.

    “Over 100 people visited each of the three houses during the tour, far more than any of us expected.” 

    Most of these visitors apparently attended all three houses, each of which conducted their tours somewhat differently. At Linda Halouzka’s house, she showed people around her house and yard informally.

  • Back when I was a young fella, and attending public schools, the little bit we were taught about ecology, biology and the laws of nature could be summed up as follows: “Everything competes, the strong eat the weak, survival of the fittest is the rule, and the devil takes the hindmost.”

    This was the conventional take on Darwinism, and when used to justify laissez faire economics and cutthroat capitalism, such thinking was called “social Darwinism.”

  • Of course, recycling is all the rage, but now I must be the heretic once again and point out that recycling is the LAST resort of the responsible consumer.

    Let your mantra be the four Rs,

    Refuse

    Reduce

    Reuse

    Recycle

    These Rs are ranked in order of energy and resource consumption. Best to refuse; if you can’t refuse, reduce; that which you do use, try to re-use as well, and when all of that is done, recycle.

  • People on the street are hurrying by, collars turned up against the chilly February wind.  But you’re basking in the sun in shorts and a tank top, the air freshened by green foliage.   How can this be?  Think greenhouse.  Think sunroom.  Think passive solar.

  • Does your life sometimes feel like it’s on repeat every day? For a long while my life felt like that. Every single day almost seemed the same. At the same time every day I would wake up and get ready for school, I would leave for school at the same time, the lectures at school all sounded the same. (It kind of sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown....Blah Blah Blah Blah.) After school I’d come to work. Every single day was basically the same schedule, and I never really noticed any of this up until recently.