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Features

  • The doorway seemed an odd shape, but once inside, everything was conventional — sort of.

    Ignacio “Nash” Lucero, Las Vegan, contractor, builder, broker, home inspector, looks like a regular guy, but is far from it.

        Get this — Nash’s first “job” at the age of 6 was building a porch. Today, 85 on June 14, he’s still building, but much more than porches. Give him that hammer, some nails, a rough idea of what you have in mind, and he’ll build it, or tear it down, if that’s what you want.

  • If you happen to be a music fanatic like I am,  you probably have noticed that there are many different genres of music, ranging from soul and blues to the darkest and heaviest heavy metal. I like many different kinds of music but I draw the line at pop. (I have an exception for Pop because there are only a few singers that I like.)

    I am a huge fan of rock. It can be the oldies but goodies or the new rock that is coming out. Every band that is out there sounds different and the music is real.

  • ‘Carthago delenda est!” cried Cato the Elder, “Carthage must be destroyed!”

    And so the Romans did, reportedly by leveling the city, selling its surviving citizens into slavery, and then sowing the land with salt.

    The Spanish adopted a similar practice. When a landowner was convicted of treason, salt was poured upon their lands, spelling death not only for the resident plants, but also humans, and any animals, birds and insects that depended on those lands for their habitat.

  •  Residents of New Mexico will celebrate Arbor Day 2009 on March 13. While National Arbor Day is held on the last Friday in April, New Mexico, similar to several other states, observes the holiday at a time best suited for tree planting.

    The Arbor Day Foundation encourages everyone to plant a tree to celebrate this special holiday. The Foundation’s Web site (www.arborday.org) offers many helpful tips from how to plant a tree to selecting the right tree for the right place.

  • 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.

  • From the many Good Samaritans in Las Vegas six nominees have been chosen for a Good Samaritan Award. This honor will be presented at the United World College’s Benefit to be held on Thursday, Jan. 29 at the UWC Montezuma Castle Cafeteria.

    United World College students are sponsoring this fund-raiser with international foods, special activities and international musical performances in support of Samaritan House and the Cold Weather Shelter.  

  • So who has bragging rights that they are the First Ever New Mexico Hispano Music Associations    “ Youth Group of the Year?” Mariachi Pantera de Pecos Schools. The seven members of Mariachi Pantera competed on Nov. 29, 2008, at the Ohkay Convention Center for the NMHMA Children and Youth Competition. The students performed the song Cariño in front of an audience of almost 400 people, and were judged on performance, technique, and appearance. They competed against two other groups, Mariachi Sol de Valle, and a Mariachi Group from Questa.

  • ‘Small communities all over the world have the power to help each other,” said Jomkaun (Lynn) Theprungsirikul from Thailand and a student at United World College. “Hands reaching out, people from many backgrounds, the great variety of people—this will be a really big event,” said Laura Angeline Pastores of the Philippines, another World College student. “The government may not be working hard to help and that’s why we need people to help,” said Elizabeth Villalobos Zamora from Costa Rica.

  • Let me begin with a confession — although I am trying to live green, I still watch TV. Being a contender for “cheapest man alive,” I have abandoned cable and dish, and I now watch TV for free through several internet television sites, most notably Hulu.com and Fancast.com. I get to watch all sorts of great stuff, but that’s not what this column is really about.

  • The Las Vegas City museum is seeking suggestions for improvement, and has created a community blog to encourage community members to offer their recommendations for change.

  • Imagine walking outside your door and seeing nothing but peace. There’s nobody out there cussing and yelling at each other. Nobody is fighting. Imagine having a world with no race. Everybody full of peace, love and no judgment. Sounds all like a dream, right? It really isn’t; it’s within arm’s reach but nobody seems to realize it.