Will The Cocolitzli Virus Return With Climate Change?

I was a follower of Gerard Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" theory of the colonization of the Americas. But unfortunately that theory has come under attack and the main culprit is the cocolitzli virus. This virus is a local virus, native to the Americas and it is deadly. Dr Francisco Hernadez, a Spanish physicist in Mexico at the time of the request, in his writings never named the disease. He listed the symptoms but never named the disease. If it was smallpox or the plague or one of the other diseases from Europe he would have known the disease and said so. But since he did not name the disease Dr. John S. Marr MD an Historical Epidemiologist suggested he did not know what it was. It was a new disease, native to the New World. But the Aztecs knew about it and they had a name for it, the Cocolitizli virus or the great pest. It is estimated this virus killed 16 out of every 20 people. It was deadly. There were 2 outbreaks one in 1545 and the other in 1576 then it vanished. It is estimated to have killed around 17 million people.

Now fast forward to New Mexico in 1993 there was a strange deadly disease that was killing people very fast. It turned out to be a new strain of the Hanta virus that had first surfaced during the Korean war. Now this virus is also deadly. But the main difference between these two viruses is the one in New Mexico was transmitted from the rodent, a deer mouse to humans. While the Cocolitizli virus ended up, epidemiological historians surmise because of how many people were killed, that the virus was transmitted from human to human. If the Hanta virus goes human to human the human race has problems. Well it has already gone human to human once in Argentina there was an outbreak in 1998. There it went from patient to doctor and to wife and husband. We were lucky it died out before it did any serious damage to the human race. Because it died out so fast the host rodent was never found.

Now we will go back in history to the native Indians living in the South Western desert areas of America. The same area were the Hanta virus came back to life in 1993. The Indian peoples who live in the southern desert areas of the USA have a saying, "If a mouse walks over your bedding burn your bedding, and if a mouse moves into your house you move out. " They had been plagued by the disease for generations, but for modern man it was a new disease. This disease is like the Cocolotozli virus the local peoples knew about it but Spanish did not.

Also it may have paid a part in why the Native Indians left the desert areas. One of the unexplained migrations from early America is why the Indian people pack up and leave their beautiful cities in the southern desert areas of the USA. There might have been a plague plague leaving the Indians with two choices – stay and die or leave so they left. The main reasons put forward so far are the usual ones, overpopulation with global warming equals famine so they left for greener pastures. The main problem with this theory is, if you are starving you can not walk very far. Also being humans we do not like to just up and go, well I do not.

The archaeological record shows that they had what looks like the ritual burning of their homes meaning they were not coming back. I would say the ritual burning had more to do with the mice having moved in, so it was time for the native peoples to move out and on. If there was a mice plague and they saw mice everywhere they would have an incentive to leave. The local Indians would have been aware of the connections between the mice and the disease and they would have realized that to survive they would have to leave. Actually it is a mystery where they went no one seems to know. Knowing about the mice and keeping out of their way has been passed down from generation to generation. It is possible to have started in antiquity so the saga of mice and men continues to this very day.

Book Review of "New Spain"

Mexico to the uninitiated is a far off land in a little known continent, one at least that does not figure very high in news reports in South Asia. However Central America shares many commonalities with South Asia.

Commonalities and dissimilarities

From a political and developmental perspective Latin America and South Asia have been plagued with military rule and civil wars apart from being part of that famous club called the 'the third world.' In the context of this review of N. Cheetham's book 'New Spain' however what I'm seeking to examine here are the similarities and dissimilarities between the colonial experiences in bothcontinents.

In New Spain or Mexico as it was later known as, the Spanish colonial enterprise was imbued with the streak of Catholic evangelism without which the political project to colonize that country does not make much sense to understand. That was never the case unnecessarily with the British colonial endeavor in South Asia which essentially began as a commercial venture under the aegis of the East India Company. The failure of political authority in both countries, vis-a-vis the Aztecs in Mexico and the Mughals in South Asia enabled the outsiders to extend a political hegemony over these realms.

Considering the centrality of the military endeavor in both enterprises I would not necessarily agree with his contention that the conquistadores in Mexico came to be in course of time overshadowed by the friars. I disagree because in the ultimate analysis evangelizing efforts would have been short changed without an overriding military guarantee in the background. This is all the more relevant in that native religions in Mexico succumbed to the Spanish Catholic onslaught unlike in South Asia where evangelizing attempts and concomitant social reform attempts were put entirely on the backburner after the revolt of 1857.

The fundamental dissimilarity between the Spaniards in Mexico and the British in South Asia or for that matter the Americans in Afghanistan are that the latter two projects were formally military endeavors whereas the Spaniards in Mexico attempted a far more all encompassing project. There is also the fundamental difference that the Spaniards were themselves originally under Moorish rule, an aspect that has been discussed exhaustively in books like 'The Splendor of Moorish Spain' by Joseph McCabe which I recall reading many years ago.


Therefore we have to acknowledge that the veneer of colonial rule was only superficial deep in South Asia compared to Mexico which is probably why there is a recrudescence of primeval tendencies based on religion in these former British territories.

This book would have been all the better better if it had been accompanied by comparing the Mexican colonial experience with that of Afro-Asian countries, acoming which I have partially attempted to redress here from a South Asian perspective. It would also have benefitted by a more thorough discussion of local terminology which would have been unfamiliar for non-Hispanic readers. For example some terms like 'Pulque' a local liquor have only been explained near the end of the book after having been used extensively through. Neverheless this book is as good as any in understanding the Hispanic world of the sixteenth century and the birth of Mexico.

Homes in Oaxaca, Mexico: "Why Are So Many Houses Unfinished?"

I'm asked the question at least once a month: Why are there so many homes in Oaxaca started and apparently not finished? It's one of the most remarkable sights in this southern Mexico colonial city, as well as in the towns on its outskirts and further beyond. The phenomenon is clearly visible while traversing connecting highways through the central valleys.

The brickwork on homes is completed, but there are no panes on the windows, and it otherwise appears obvious that no one is living in these cash cows, edifices which have obviously had a significant amount invested in them. And even if the homes are finished, and inhabited, the rebar still extends skyward from the roofs. Why is it left there, an eyesore by western standards?

It is a fallacy that leaving the reinforced steel bars intact on the top of your roof signifies that your home is not finished and then you do not have to pay realty taxes. In fact, at least in the city of Oaxaca and suburbs, in the early 2000s tax reform began to be implemented, whereby you became assessed based on both your land, and your livable space, at different rates. Curiously any structure with a concrete roof was considered livable space, and that taxed at the higher rate. Even a carport used only for vehicles. You see, many Oaxacans tile their carports and use them more for living and entertaining, than for parking vehicles, and some residents do not even have cars or trucks. Many residents get around the regulation by constructing a ceiling of river reed known as carrizo, thereby keeping their vehicles shaded and not having to pay the increased rate. In our case, our concrete roof is used only for our vehicles, so we had to negotiate the issue with the tax department.

Because many homeowners are of modest means, you are given the option of having a government authorized architect come to your home to do the measurements with a view to then calculating the increase, or, defer the process. If selecting the latter, the new rate only becomes effective upon your death, or sale of the home, with penalties, interest and back taxes passed on to your heirs or purchasers. Let the negotiations begin! We elected to take the bull by the horns, have the reassessment done, and immediately began paying about ten times more than we had previously been paying, still a bargain relative to what we were paying as homeowners in Toronto, even without the bonus of now being taxed at the seniors' rate (over 60), that is, 50% of the regular rate of taxation for a principal residence. At the end of the day our daughter will inherit will a bit less to tax the transition.

Then why the rebar? Upon their demise and earlier, most Oaxacans have little to offer their children other than their homes, or better put where their existing homes are situated. Thus, there is always in contemplation building a second or a third level onto a home, when funds become available at a snail's pace, and when the time it right. If you cut off the extending rebar upon completion of your initial construction, and later decide to build another level, it's more expensive; rather than simply tie into the old rebar, you have to break concrete to access the bare rebar used in earlier construction. There is a different sense of aesthetics, or, more likely, a priority placed upon economics. Here is prudent to leave the rebar.

Returning to all those partially finished homes, it all refers back to the cost of borrowing in Mexico, and the fact that Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in the country with most tenants missing savings. Only the non-astute or the very wealthy have mortgages (for that matter, buy anything on credit). I've seen interest rates as low as 9% and as high as 65%, for secured loans. Regarding the latter, a couple of years ago I was contemplating buying a scooter for our favorite god-daughter. Buying on credit would have cost us 65% per annual.

So, the norm is to buy when you have cash on hand. This means if you want to build on a piece of land, you buy 1,000 bricks, then another thousand, then block, then rebar, and then cement. You hire your bricklayers, and your plumber who roughs in the below-ground installations. You build, then save, then build more. You can leave your "obra negra" as it's termed, indefinitely, without concern for theft because there is nothing to steal.

You can then have your electrician break the interior concrete, brick and block, to install the wire and connections for switches and the like. Once those installations and the rest of the home have been covered with concrete, again your future abode is secure from vandalism and theft (yes acknowledging that copper can still be accessed, yet it's rather difficult with cement covering it). That's your "obra gris." It, as well, can then be left, unattended, indefinitely.

The foregoing are the two most common completed stages of home construction one encounters driving the roads and highways around the city of Oaxaca, its central valleys and beyond. It all makes economic sense while at the same time affords the homeowner-in-progress a reasonable degree of security. While delaying home completion, it avoids being saddled with prohibitive rates of mortgage interest.

Family members often provide some of the labor involved in advancing with these two stages of construction. However, home completion often requires more specialized trades, and along with that much more significant financial outlay. Thus, we find many homes at the "obra gris" stage, remaining there for years if not a decade or longer.

The final construction phase fulfills finishes such as more detailed and finer tile work, painting, door and window frames and glasswork, electrical fixtures and plumbing installations, and so on. Especially respecting the latter, one generally does not leave a partially completed home unattended at this state of construction, and so most often a night watchman or "velador" will be hired to ensure security. Only then is the family ready to move in, and the home from all outward appearances will appear completed – with rebar neverless extended skyward.

So just remember, an unfinished home is reasonably a sign of a hard-working family struggling to get it all together, for itself and its individual members, without yielding to the pressure to borrow at an often exorbitant rate of interest.

Black Bear Hunting History of Arizona

Arizona has an interesting history when it comes to bear hunting. Going back to 1928 is where the story will start. Around this time black bears were being classified as predatory animals; allowing them to be trapped or shot at any given time. This all changed in 1929 with a new game code which changed black bear classification to big game. Along with the classification change came a month-long only hunting season with hunters being limited to one harvest. You were able to use dogs to hunt them, but were not allowed to trap them. As the years passed more restrictions came into effect. Cubs were protected in 1934 and hunting season was closed south of the Gila River in 1936.

The period during World War 2 was devastating to black bears. At the request of stockmen, in 1942 all state refuges were open to bear hunting. Counties like Cochise and Graham had also opened black bear hunting seasons. Around 1944 both a fall and sprint hunt were created and lasted a full month. In 1949 bears were able to be hunted year long in Apache, Greenlee, Graham, and eastern Coconino counties, except during the seasons for other big-game species; this was due to their change in design as a game animal. Between 1951 and 1953 the Arizona Game & Fish Department Commission opted once again for a full year season on black bear hunting.

It was really in 1954 when major efforts came about to protect bears and the hunting sport behind the, More regulations were empowered with bigger restrictions. Limits were set to one black bear per seasons and black bears were officially classified as big game again in 1968. This was crucial since the interest of hunters for black bears was increasingly great. Between 1964 and 1980 the average bear harvest was around 131 to 313; however, this varied with population vagaries and weather conditions.

Concern was building due to the interest in bear hunting and the low reproductive rates. This came to the attention of the Game & Fish Department and they started to monitor bear harvests more closely. The Mandatory checkout procedure was started in 1980, along with other regulations such as authorization of a permit-only spring season in select units, the elimination of bear baiting as a method of take, and unit harvest limits in which the season is closed after a certain number of female bears are taken. As of July 2006, bears hunters are required to present their harvest to the Arizona Game and Fish Department for inspection.

Once in a Lifetime Fly Fishing on the Cimarron River

Two of my favorite New Mexico rivers to fish are the San Juan River and Cimarron River. This story is about the Cimarron. The Cimarron River is in Northeast New Mexico and emanates out of Eagle Nest Lake. Located on the eastern edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this dry fly gem flows eastward through Cimarron Canyon State Park along US Hwy 64. After flowing into several other rivers this water ultimately reaches the Mississippi River. New Mexico Game and Fish estimates nearly 4,000 catchable sized wild browns per mile, this is unquestionably the healthiest wild brown trout fishery in the state and one of the healthiest in the southern Rocky Mountains. Most of the wild browns are 10-14 inches with the occasional big boy. This fishery is not well known but can still get a little crowded close to the roads during mid summer.

I can easily get to the Cimarron within a one-day hard drive from my Fly Shop near Tyler, Texas and be fishing late that afternoon or early the next morning. The high mountain scenery is beautiful and the fishing is great.

My story begins in the middle of June 2002. During June, the stonefly hatch is in full swing on the Cimarron and big browns will eagerly attack a size 14 or 16 Stimulator with regularity. This is my favorite time of year to fish this river. This is dry fly fishing at its best.

Unfortunately, if you remember, this was during the time wild fires were engulfing many parts of New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. The Cimarron Canyon State Park was surrounded by a couple of such fires.

I arrived at the Pine Ridge Hotel, only about a mile from quality fishing water, late Monday evening. This is a quaint little four-room hotel nestled near the entrance of the state park. After checking in, the hotel owner told me that the park was closed and had been since Friday. Because of the fire dangers, it was closed to everything including camping, hiking, picnicking and YES… fishing. Every park pull off was barricaded in bright yellow. It seems like every other tree had a Park Closed sign nailed to it. I couldn’t believe it. I had driven 12 hours strait to spend some personal time dry fly fishing and… wouldn’t you know it… No Fishing. I was sick. If you have ever wanted to see a big man cry this would have been a great opportunity.

There were no other places near by that I could fish unless I had a guide to fish some private waters that were near by. I called my good friend, Doc Thompson, of High Country Anglers. Doc is the best fly fishing guide for the small streams of Northeast New Mexico including some private areas of the Cimarron. He was booked. No chance for me to fish any private water.

I was considering cutting my losses, packing up my gear and heading home with my tail tucked between my legs when I saw the park ranger turn into the motel parking lot. I eagerly approached him, explained my predicament and pleaded with him to be merciful on this misguided Texan. He indicated that there was little he could do. He was ordered by higher-ups to close the park. The area was very dry and the fear of the forest fire spreading was at an all time high. He finally gave me a minuscule window of hope when he said that if the wind didn’t pick up or change directions during the night he would ask if he could open the park the next day. No guarantees. There was only a small chance of things falling my way but I decided to wait it out and see.

The next morning, bight and early, I walked to the hotel owners desk with my fingers and toes crossed. “Great news” the owner said, “you can fish.” The park ranger called the hotel and told the owner to go tell Tex he can fish. The ranger opened the park to fishing only. No one could camp, hike or picnic. Fishing only. Best of all, he left all of the barricades and Park Closed signs up. My head began to buzz with this scenario. Could it be true? Is it possible that any where in this country there is a stream that is full of big browns, full of fish eager to slam dry flies, has had no fishing for five days, has Park Closed signs on every other tree and has bright yellow barricades at every pull off? Is this really happening? And most of all… is this really happening to me? YES… it was!!!

I almost broke a leg and a fly rod getting to river so quick. I was the only person fishing this 12-mile stretch of quality trout water. The ONLY person. The river has had no fishing pressure for five days. None. Notta. Absolutely zero. What a magnificent opportunity. I hit the water at 8:00 am. Knowing that the stonefly hatch would began at a bout 9:00 am, I tied on a size 16 yellow Stimulator with a Copper John dropper on my 2wt rod. For the next hour, the catch was 50/50 on the dry and nymph. When the hatch started, I removed the nymph in order concentrate on the dry. My stimulator was repeatedly demolished by hungry trout. The hatch started around 9:00 am and eventually tapered off around 2:00 pm as the day warmed. During that time, I landed more than 40 nice brown on a dry. Most of them were in the 10 to 12 inch range. Some a little smaller and some a little bigger. The whole time, I saw no other person on the river. I was in total fly fishing bliss. Later that afternoon, as the temperature began to drop, they started hitting hard again and did so until just before dark. I lost count of the total number of fish that I caught that day. After a while you just quit counting. The fishing was phenomenal and the solitude was even better.

During the day, when I would take brake at my parked Jeep for a shot of Joe or something, people would drive buy giving me the stare of disgust. I could see their lips mumble something like, “that idiot Texan… can’t he read the signs?” I was in no way interested in setting them strait. I wanted the entire state on New Mexico as well as the whole wide world to think the park was completely closed and may never open again.

That evening, back at my room, the harsh realities of that summer were vivid. I sat on my front porch and watched the helicopters and other large aircraft drop loads of water on the forest fires that were scattered along the mountainside. Huge walls of smoke draped the horizon. I couldn’t help but become sorrowed because of the destruction that was unfolding before my eyes. When it was too dark to see, I retired to the confines of my room.

Later that night, as I lay packed tight in my cozy little bed, I found it difficult to sleep. As my mind drifted from the fires outside and danced with thoughts of my day of fishing, I giggled as I felt myself swelling with contentment. My angling experience kept running through my mind. I couldn’t help but wonder what the next day would bring. Would my fly fishing solitude come to an end? Guess what… it didn’t.

I hit the park early the next morning to be faced with the very same scenario. The signs and barricades were still in place and no one was in sight. Using the same flies and techniques I enjoyed equal success as I had the day before. It wasn’t until late that afternoon did I see the only other car in the park. The word was finally out. By then, it was OK. I enjoyed a few hours of good fishing the next morning before heading back to Tyler.

Is there a moral here? I don’t know. It was defiantly a fishing trip that I will never forget. In retrospect, however, it seems really unfortunate that my memorable fishing trip was at the expense of so much. The southwest lost an awful lot of good forest and helpless wildlife during that horrible time. Homes were gone and lively hoods were destroyed. I suppose the saying remains true, “someone’s good fortune is usually at someone else’s expense.”

Blake’s Lotaburger – Franchise Review

The first ever Blake’s Lotaburger was opened in Albuquerque more than fifty years ago by Blake Chanslor a Texas native who relocated to Albuquerque after the 2nd World War. Commonly referred to by various names, such as; Lotaburger, or Blake’s, the first Blake’s Lotaburger was up and running in 1952. It has many locations existing mainly in New Mexico and as of 2009 there were more than 76 stores spanning across different cities with Albuquerque containing a majority of them.

Blake’s Lotaburger is distinguished by its introduction of green chilies to the hamburger and has been acclaimed by National Geographic as the best green chile cheeseburger in the world. A lot of attention has been given to Blake’s for its cheeseburger now named the Lotaburger as a trademark selling point. Apart from the green chile, there is also Blake’s special green or red sauce for those who want another flavor.

There are various foods served at Blake’s Lotaburger besides burgers; from a variety of sandwiches ranging from chicken to turkey breast to barbecue beef and even halibut. There are even Hot dogs, corn dogs, chili dogs, chili bowls and chili pie. If you are an early riser, there are those Blake’s Lotaburgers that offer a breakfast menu ranging from eggs tobreakfast burritos.

If you have a function and fancy Blake’s menu for the meals, they offer onsite catering for events with a full menu that comes with a variety of foods from fruit platters, to almost anything that you prefer.

All of the Blake’s Lotaburger stores are company owned and have a construction division that handles the task of building the franchise stores. Blake’s also owns and manages the operation of its sheet metal shop, refrigeration shop, vehicle shop, cabinet shop, maintenance fleet as well as a commissary.

This gives Blake’s the liberty to custom make its own fast food shops. Blake’s Lotaburger shops therefore have a trademark red and white color scheme and seating areas outdoors with umbrellas striped red and white. Each store has a “Blake’s man” holding up a sign with Blake’s name. Some of the older Lotaburgers were walk-ups but most had an inside seating area. The newer design Lotaburgers have a drive through.

Chanslor did not remain the owner, in 2003, he sold his interests in the franchise to Brian Rule. The franchise was started up in 1952 with an initial investment of $ 5,300. Blake’s Lotaburger is regarded as the best chain burger restaurant in New Mexico and appears in New Mexico’s tourism information guide as the best place to get cheeseburgers.

When looking to start any business it is important, particularly considering today’s market, that you look for specific ways to cut minimize or reduce overhead and risk. Any business is going to have risk, but it is important to have a full understanding of the amount of investment, start-up cost and “ROI” (Return on Investment).

Most people are not aware that 80% of ALL franchise endeavours fail in the first two to five years leaving large debts looming for years thereafter.

One way and in my opinion the best way to cut overhead, start-up and investment cost is to take advantage of the new age of entrepreneurship and start a business from the comfort of your home. Opportunities have emerged in the online market that are creating millionaires every single day. Learn more about the exciting opportunities tied to a business model that begins profitable by visiting: http://whatsbetterthanafranchise.com.

Border Patrol Jobs – 6,000 New Agents

Border Patrol agent Frederick Mangona, an Army veteran, considers his move to Corpus Christi, Texas somewhat of a culture shock for him and his family. Assigned to the US Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley Section, Agent Mangona expressed his preference to the relaxed lifestyle of the coastal city compared to that of a larger metropolitan area, noting that, "Being so close to Mexico, the culture is very much influenced by Mexican culture. "

Currently, US Border Patrol efforts are being supported and supplemented by 6,000 National Guard troops. To offset this support, the Border Patrol's goal for 2008 is to place 6,000 new agents, agents like Frederick Mangona, which would bring the agency force to a total near 18,000.

National security became coupled with US border security following 9/11, with special emphasis on preventing suspected terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States. New laws are being considered that will affect guest worker programs and Border Patrol enforcement. These factors have pushed for intention Border Patrol recruitment, offering those leasing military service an historic opportunity to enter federal law enforcement.

Frederick Mangona is an excellent example of a military serviceman who saw, and took, this opportunity to continue serving his country with the US Border Patrol.

A native of the Philippines, Mangona joined the Army in 1992 and served with mechanized infantry units during his tour of duty. After his discharge, he pursued and attained a degree in criminal justice. He also took his permanent resident alien status to the next step, becoming a US citizen, which is a requirement for all Border Patrol agent applicants.

Mangona, who learned Spanish at the Border Patrol Academy, commented, "I encountered a Border Patrol agent in 2001 and was impressed by her professionalism – and the ability to speak Spanish."
The south border border of the US, including the areas of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, determine the enforcement zone where every new Border Patrol agent begins their duty assignment.

To ensure new agents are well equipped to handle enforcement duties in locations where Spanish may be the common language spoken by potential and real suspects, the Border Patrol Academy dedicates a large part of their 17-week course to Spanish-language training. Spanish proficiency is not a prerequisite to joining the Border Patrol, but the Academy assures that agents leaving the Artesia, NM training center are proficient in Spanish – an invaluable tool in their upcoming duties.

Following the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Border Patrol became part of a reorganization of federal security agencies and was placed under the auspices of the US Customs & Border Protection agency within the Department of Homeland Security.

This change also prioritized preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering this country. US Border Patrol agents now added this magnificent security response to their traditional security duties of preventing illegal aliens and illegal contraband / drugs from entering the US

Border Patrol spokesman, Todd Fraser, states, "We have to be not only more vigilant, we have to look for more things. We have to be concerned with trucks carrying a lot of fertilizer or individuals carrying equipment." He continues, underlining the differences, "Before, we would not have second-guessed it. Now, we have to second-guess it."

The greatest effort of the Border Patrol agents is still preventing the illegal entry of people and drugs into the US This is reflected in impressive facts, such as; in 2006, 1.3 million pounds of marijuana and 13,000 pounds of cocaine were screened through the vigilance of the Border Patrol. Additionally, in fiscal 2006, over 1 million illegal aliens were introduced from entering this country through the enforcement efforts of the Border Patrol. Currently, the Border Patrol's busiest area is the Tucson Sector in Arizona.

Todd Fraser puts the clear thinking of the Border Patrol forward, saying, "Our entire mission has changed, but our goal is the same – Border Security."

Aliens Ate My Motorcycle:: Things to Do in New Mexico When You're UFOing

You could say I've been into the "UFO scene" since my fourth grade teacher. Madugle read to us kids on a daily basis from Truman Bethurum's "Aboard a Flying Saucer," a cult classic in the "contacte" literature of the 1950s. It left one of those indelible impressions spinning in my head.

Now here I was, years later, riding my motorcycle from LA to Roswell, New Mexico, a vortex of interest for UFO buffets, the place where in early July 1947 a flying saucer allegedly crashed and its occupants recovered, as the story goes. Of mythic proportions, the enigma of Roswell is still a hotbed of controversy half a century later thanks to official obfuscation, as in "cover-up" and the Freedom of Information Act by which researchers have unearthed incriminating documentation.

You could say Roswell is the Plymouth Rock for UFO researchers though most of us Saucerheads are not UFO-nuts. We're your average motorcycle riding, freelance article writing, advanced degree holding traveler who'd rather spend timing delving into paranormal mysteries than the souvenir shops in Disneyland. We've got our own Tomorrowland to explore where the stakes are cosmic and oftimes comic. But that's the nature of the universe, a balance of the wild and wacky, the weak and the strong forces that glue all the quanta together.

As I zipped up my armor-enhanced riding jacket and donned my full-face helmet, I was actually more concerned that the forces holding together my 20-year old German motorcycle would wish. First gear was popping out and puffs of gray smoke from the left cylinder exhaust mean ring job, but the trusty old BMW R100 / 7 had gone150,000 miles so what was a couple thousand thousands more in the face of light years of adventure lurking around the next hairpin curve.

To cut to the chase, let's just chalk up the intervening space between LA and my intermediate stop in Santa Fe as a missing time experience, a lot of boring freeway pavement during which one could meld the mindset for the project at hand. Since I had only a short timeframe for this adventure, I took the semi-direct route from LA first to Santa Fe, about 860 miles from LA, then on to Roswell, about 200 miles south. If you want to skip Santa Fe altitude and do the straight 970 miles from LA, you just get onto the 1-10 East and keep going for 674.90 miles, connect to the US-70E which becomes the US-285 S. A left on the NM-2, another left on NM-2 and you're there. Of course you might want to stop and smell the cactus now and then.

Without any mechanical mishaps or speeding tickets, I and my trusty Beemer arrived in Santa Fe aka the "City of the Holy Faith." Founded in 1607 and boasts 200 art galleries and five museums the town is a sandstone, pinion tree and cactus clad nexus co-constructed by three cultures: Native Americans who got there first, the Spanish who came later and lastly the Anglos who ended up owning the place. My first impression was that Santa Fe was designed by Barney Rubble thanks to the ground hugging homes with their round asymmetrical handmolded look. Everything is rendered in the hues of the surrounding desert … breccia browns, gecko grays, tumbleweed tans … a whole city mute to eco-friendly, zero-scape invisibility. What keeps it on the map are supernovae of intense color peaking through the adobe cloaking device. They can be seen in the historic plaza district, specifically the shopping stalls located under the portico of the Palace of the Governors where the local Indians gather to sell their brilliantly polished silver jewelry and rainbow woven tapestries and clothing. In addition, huge strands of dried red chilies like mummified kelp forests hang everywhere. Santa Fe's shamanistic talismans, they we spicy spell since everything you order to eat seems to come with chili salsa.

I felt a grumbling and it was not coming from any secret underground US Air Force / Alien installation although one is qualified to exist in the area. I was hungry and something brought me to the massive hand carved wooden doors of the Inn of the Anasazi (113 Washington Ave., 505-988-3030). The Inn's 59 rooms feature gaslit fireplaces, four-poster beds, Indian artwork, even organic toilets created locally with native cedar extract. Artists, historians and archaeologists host fireside chats in the Inn's living room. Call it a microcosm of the best Sante Fe has to offer under one vigas and latillas constructed roof. The Inn was named after the Native American people who had built a flourishing culture on the nearby cliffs of Chaco Canyon then suddenly disappeared without a trace six hundred years ago. Yes, petroglyphs and cave drawings in the area do depict strange creatures with helmet-like headgear. Alien UFOnauts or bikers? Science had no answers, but the hotel's excellent restaurant did … their specialty lamb prepared by Chef Randall Warder and augmented by a stellar wine list.

To burn off some of the calories I signed up for a little excursion I learned about from the plethora of brochures found at the hotel. (Brochures and checking out the local phone book Yellow Pages is often my first reconnaissance mission when entering uncharted territory.) No tours to UFO landing sites but I did find something called "Aspook About Ghosts" Close enough since some researchers see a link between etheric and inter-dimensional warps and UFOs. What the heck, after a big dinner I needed a walk.

For a few bucks the tour organizers promised "a haunting experience into Sante Fe's misty past … life (and death) among the coyotes, witches, ghosts, and the not quite dead." Conduced by Santa Fe ghost guide Peter Sinclaire (505-988-2774), I and my fellow spook seekers met at the palatial Eldorado Hotel at the intersection of San Francisco and Sandoval for a two hour bipedal exploration of Santa Fe's haunted places. It's a great way to see Sante Fe, kind of Ghost Busters Meets the Travel Channel.

Santa Fe is also into digging up the bones of the past, and so am I. But I like to look in fossil and mineral stores for UFO related items. You never know when a piece of the Roswell crash will show up, right? No saucer debris, but there was a great deal on dinosaur egg shells at the Charlie "Have Rocks Will Travel" Snell shop located at 1110 Calle La Resolana.

Before I spent all my money on eggs I could not eat, I threw my pack back on my bike, and pointed its headlight towards Roswell about 175 miles south of Sante Fe. State Road 285 is a perfect place to get abducted. It's actually devoid of traffic with nothing but scrub brush and wide-open nothingness for hundreds of miles in all directions. Better to ride it at night if you want a close encounter of the fourth kind, but better to do it in the daylight if you'd rather not run into the pronghorn antelope you see everywhere. Antelope and motorcycles do not blend well.

I nailed the throttle and blasted back down 285, and lo 'and soon soon found myself entering the city limits of Roswell. It came in the form of a giant trampoline painted with the face of an Alien Gray … big head, bigger eyes … plastered on the front of a godawful big Wal-Mart department store. Inside my head, something whispered that UFO's had been commercialized. It was no big secret that Roswell was on the international map because of the 1947 incident and the town's consequent total embrace of the whole idea. If there is such a place that reads the title "UFOville" then it's Roswell. From Wal-Mart to the Arby's sandwich drive-through to the International UFO Museum and Research Institute, Roswell was 100% Flying Saucer Central. I loved the place at first sight.

I checked into the "cost-effective" Crane Motel, one of those bring-your-own-ice-bucket "places. , an old ploy to convince people the place has guests. Or maybe the guests never left One Plymouth had a faded "Vote Nixon" bumper sticker on it. In any case, I spent most of the next two days living in Roswell's International UFO You could easily spend a month if you're into the subject. Exhibits cover the Roswell crash or crashes since other witnesses have come forward with another crash site about 58 miles from Roswell. a few days before his death. He relates the details of his encounter with a crashed disc that careened over his pickup truck in which he and his girlfriend were "buck naked" at the time. Judge for yourself, but pretty darn convincing.

Dozens of other UFO related books and videos are available, a few of the over 1000 items stocked by the museum's gift shop, a day's exploration in itself. I bought an Alien New Mexico driver's license that I think will get me into most bars in town. I also bought a commemorative Roswell rug and a membership in the museum. I spoke with the charming Ms. Phyllis Blackard, one of the museum volunteers (admission is free!) Who as a young girl was present in Roswell when it all came down from the sky. "I was here when the military swarmed in, and I know Glenn Dennis the mortician who saw the little alien bodies.

Located at 114 N. Main, the museum has had over 1,000,000 visitors. The exhibits follow the time line of the July 1947 incident and its aftermath, display purported alien craft fragments, and also spotlights the crop circle mystery and other associated subjects. Documents and photos line the walls as various artists renderings of UFO scenes. There's even a section with UFO humor, cartoons, and such as well as two video screening rooms where you can watch documentaries. You can also have your photo taken in front of an "alien autopsy" scene that boasts props from the "Roswell" film starring Martin Sheen. Bulletin boards post the latest in reports from the around the world, and if you want to take a Roswell UFO crashsite tour you can call (505) 622-0628.

Although I wished I could I remain in Roswell through the annual July 4th celebration extravaganza, UFO-themed of course, I had to get back to LA and work. But I occasionally glanced forward, always responding to the UFOlogist's mantra … "Watch the Skies."

The Perfect Ski Vacation

A lot of planning has gone into preparations for the perfect ski trip. You've targeted an adventure at Ski Apache in Southern New Mexico. Good choice! Ski Apache is one of those well kept ski secrets. 55 breathing trails and the largest lift capacity in New Mexico make for maximum skiing and a minimum of waiting.

Nearby Ruidoso, New Mexico offers all the conv enience of a modern resort community. Ample lodging and dining choices are the "trimming" for your ski holiday. You've considered all the many places to stay and have decided that a mountain adventure calls for that perfect getaway … a secluded mountain cabin. A good choice in Ruidoso would be "Away From It All". ..a brand new cabin tucked away just a few miles from downtown … but light years away from other people. Contact them at 800.822.7654.

Now that you have the accommodations nailed down, it's time to attend to the skiing. Many Ruidoso hotels, cabins and property management companies offer a "ski package" with your lodging. They've bundled together discounted lift tickets and equipment rentals to make the logistics of the trip a breeze! The ski vouchers you'll exchange for lift tickets save you from standing in long lift ticket lines. Make sure that your equipment rental outlet offers reservations on your ski equipment, like the Wild West Ski Shop. That way, your previous phone order allows you to go to the head of long equipment lines with little or no waiting. Do not be afraid to strike up a conversation with the locals. They'll let you in on tips like these that will save you time and get you skiing.

Only one more detail to investigate. Time to check the weather. It's no secret that there is no such thing as too much snow for local businesses that rarely on highly seasonal income from winter sports. This year, precipitation has been light all over New Mexico. For reasons unknown, rumors on the abundance of this light snowfall exaggerate the shortage of new snow. Local merchants now join together to present an accurate picture of the situation. Few are more affected than the areas lodgers. Like river boat gamblers, their hand is betting on snow to attract the business that they need to survive. The snow always comes. This year it's just a little … late.

Let's set the record straight. Snowfall has been light, but Ski Apache is open and people are having the time of their lives … skiing! Ruidoso prepares for the barrage of skiers searching for and finding … the perfect ski vacation.

A Review of the Schleich Pentaceratops Dinosaur Model

Pentaceratops from Schleich Reviewed

One of the lesser known horned dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous of North America Pentaceratops (P. sternbergi) was discovered by the famous 20th Century fossil collector and scientist C. M. Sternberg. The trivial name honours, Charles Mortram Sternberg, in recognition of his work on fossil vertebrates both in his native United States and in Canada, specifically the Dinosaur Provincial Park of Alberta. The honour was bestowed upon him, by a fellow American palaeontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn, who was given the responsibility of naming and describing this member of the Chasmosaurinae. It is always a pleasure to see a new type of horned dinosaur turned into a prehistoric animal replica and the Schleich Pentaceratops is an excellent figure.

Herbivore of New Mexico 70 Million Years Ago

Known from a number of skeletons including several complete or partial skulls, Pentaceratops was a spectacular looking dinosaur. It had two huge horns over its eyes and a small, stubby nose horn. Extending over the back of the neck was a high but disproportionately narrow, bony head and neck shield. The name means “five horn face”, but this is misleading as Pentaceratops did not have five horns, it had three, in the same configuration as its more famous relative Triceratops. The name comes from the additional pair of large jugal processes that stick out over the dinosaur’s cheeks. These are not horns as such but these bony processes would have been very prominent when the dinosaur was viewed from the front. The Schleich model reproduces the head and neck shield very accurately. The design team at the German manufacturer have obviously taken care to reproduce their model based on the known fossil material.

Striking Colouration – Scarlet Member of the Dinosauria

The paint work on the dinosaur is superb. The Pentaceratops has been painted a mottled red, almost scarlet colour with patches on the back and the flanks painted a bronze hue. It is certainly a vivid and eye-catching model, one that will appeal to dinosaur fans and model collectors alike. A scarlet horned dinosaur such as this may not have been very well camouflaged but with those metre long brow horns, only a brave or very hungry Tyrannosaur would have dared to have tackled it.

An Accurate Dinosaur Model

The correct number of digits can be seen on the front and hind feet, and the skin texture has been rendered extremely well. The replica is posed with one front leg raised off the ground, an interesting pose, one that distinguishes this replica from most other Ornithischian dinosaur models.

Six Metre Long Giant

Reaching lengths in excess of twenty feet (six metres), Pentaceratops was a large herbivore. A fully grown adult could have weighed as much as three tonnes. With a three metre plus skull, it rivalled the likes of Torosaurus latus and Triceratops horridus for the title of the biggest-headed terrestrial vertebrate. It is always a pleasure to see a new type of dinosaur reproduced as a dinosaur model, this new dinosaur replica from Schleich is recommended to collectors and we are confident it will prove very popular amongst children who like prehistoric animals.