Monday, August 31, 2009

Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge, NM

I assumed the Rio Grande River cut this gorge like the Colorado river cut the Grand Canyon, but actually the valley was formed first and the river followed. This area sits between two tectonic plates and a bazillion years ago the shifting of the earth's crust formed the gorge. The bridge is the fifth highest span in the U.S.

The surrounding area at the top. You wouldn't want to be stumbling around in the dark because there's no indication that a gorge is nearby.

The Rio Grande from the valley.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

White Sands National Monument - NM

Trees that survive in this harsh environment have to grow faster than the sand dunes form. This isn't a three foot Cottonwood tree, it's a 30 foot Cottonwood. As long as some of its leaves stay above the sand, the tree will survive.

Animals emerge at night leaving a diary of footprints to record the events.

Most sand is made of quartz. This sand is made from gypsum which dissolves easily in water. Because there is no river for this gypsum-laden water to flow into, it pools, evaporates, and forms a residue that eventually turns into sand that's as fine as talcum powder. It also does not get hot despite the 100 degree desert temperatures.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

White-winged doves gone for the summer

The white-winged doves (a.k.a. the Mafia birds) have flown south for the cooler season. I guess they must like it REALLY hot. They'll be back when the saguaro bloom.

Little bit of rain = Texas rangers

Texas rangers don't need much encouragement to bloom, and they don't have a "season." They just seem to bloom at whim, but they're more likely to burst into color after even the tiniest bit of rain. The neighborhood is filled with sprays of purple right now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's a Kickeroo, not a teddy bear!

I got the three spoiled fur balls a Kickeroo. As its name implies, this is supposed to promote activity in felines.

Micro seems to think it's a teddy bear. She likes to cuddle it...

and sleep on it. Sigh...

Clouds rolling in

A lone cloud begins to tower over a peak in the Tucson mountains.

A bank of clouds hovers over the Santa Catalina Mountains.

It will be raining by evening.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Barrel cactus in bloom

The barrel cactus have been blooming for a couple of weeks. In the first picture, you can also see the red prickly pear fruit on the prickly pear cactus.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Breaking the silence--AZ's dumb sales tax proposal

I've been on a self-imposed moratorium on the reading, listening and discussing financial or political news for more than a year. Last year, I let lapse a 28-year subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Ditto for the 26-year subscription to BusinessWeek.

I was sick of the spin and the hype that always accompany a major election. I used to tolerate it back in the day when the idiocy lasted only a blessed few months. But now it drones on for years. For the sake of my sanity, I just had to take a break.

So what has forced me to break the silence? I'm not sure. Maybe it's just because you can't keep a libertarian quiet for very long.

I was listening to NPR's Morning Edition on the drive to the office this morning. That's not a morning ritual--I just happened to be flipping through the stations. I heard the reporter or "correspondent" as I believe NPR prefers to call its minions talk about the proposed penny sales tax increase.

A penny.

Only a penny.

Who could object to that? It's only a penny.

Of course, NPR isn't the only one who's calling this a penny tax. Local radio hosts, newspaper reporters, bloggers, etc. have picked up on the penny pitch for higher taxes launching this into a slick pro-tax campaign worthy of Madison Avenue. Or the Washington Beltway.

But it's not "just a penny."

It's a 17.8% increase. (For those of you without a grasp of math, and that's the vast majority of people who yap about financial news, a penny increase on top of the current 5.6 penny state tax is an increase of 17.8%. That's 1 divided by 5.6.)

Of all the possible tax proposals that could be on the table, a sales tax is certainly more palatable (and fair) than others on the menu. But AZ must learn that you can't tax yourself into prosperity. If there's a shortfall in tax revenue, then you better cut your budget. That's what people have to do. That's what government should do.

The good news is that lawmakers are only determining whether or not the tax increase lands on the November ballot. If it does, I can only hope that 'zonans have the good sense to vote it down.

The views expressed here are mine and probably don't reflect those of too many other people.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Find the birds

I snapped this picture today of my water fountain. (Stone Cactus Fountains) This is the same fountain that coyotes occasionally pass through to slurp.

Find the birds in the picture. Give up? Click the picture for answers.