Saturday, May 5, 2007

Video of the tornados

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Another view of the Tornado

Here is another view of the tornado kicking up dust in the desert.

Second Tornado Forming

A second tornado across the street that never really took shape.

Tornados in Southern New Mexico

A tornado several miles from my place of work

As I was driving to work from class yesterday afternoon during a bit of a thunderstorm, I saw something a bit odd. I noticed a bit of a cone shape protruding from a large swirling grey cloud just ahead. I have often seen odd cloud formations, but the definate shape to this one had an ominous feel. As I pulled into the parking lot, it became quite obvious by the dust kicking up from the ground below what I was observing: a tornado. The tornado lasted about a half hour or so and came within two miles of where I work.

To make things more ominous, just across the street some dust began to swirl, much like a dust devil. The only difference being the long thin white funnel decending from the clouds. Thankfully, that formation really never took shape.

Apparently New Mexico averages about nine tornados per year, though most of them in the Eastern part of the state.

Friday, April 20, 2007

One way to earn 6000 frequent flier miles

A couple months ago I had a real financial shock. I got a notice in the mail from my Citi AAdvantage credit card stating that there was suspicious activity on my card. I've gotten those notices before, and I didn't think much of it. I had just taken a road trip to Seattle and used the card for gas purchases along the way - just the kind of thing that the security algorithms at Citi might find suspicious.

You can imagine my horror, then, when I logged onto the website and saw $6000 plus charges made in Jerusalem of all places. I immediately called the card hotline and reported the fraud. They cancelled my card (sent me a new one of course - right away), and sent me a security affidavit to fill out. I swore in the presence of a notary public that I did not authorize the charges and returned the document. They cancelled all the charges on my next statement and reimbursed me for the foreign exchange, over the limit and interest charges. I came out of the deal owing nothing. And as an added bonus, wouldn't you know, they never uncredited the 6000 frequent flier miles that posted to my AAdvantage account - miles that put me at a total of 62,000, which is enough for a free trip to Europe.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Spaceport Tax

It looks like the Spaceport tax will barely pass. It could go the other way, but 204 votes is a lot to pick up when there are only 541 out there. So barring an unknown error that might be revealed during a recount, Dona Ana county should pony up its share of the funds for the Spaceport America.

I voted for the measure. If you ask me, 25 cents per 100 dollars is not a lot to spend for the possibility of bringing in an entire new industry to the area, a growth industry at that. I'm also not convinced that the Spaceport would have a significant negative impact on the environment. If anything, having significant commercial space traffic might provide an additional economic incentive to prevent development of the government owned land in the area.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Moderation and Self-monitoring

I've found budgeting to be similar to other self-improvement tasks such as eating healthy and working out. The key, I believe, is to set realistic goals and monitor your progress. Too often I have had an overly optimistic budget or have tried to loose weight too fast. In both cases, I inevitably have failed. I have found success with budgeting, by first monitoring what I'm actually spending. Once I have that information, I have been able to reduce my spending in certain areas in order to keep the money going out less than the money coming in.

As far as loosing weight, I've found some software that has worked: Dietpower. It keeps me eating the right amount of calories based on my weight and prior calorie consumption. The key, for me, has been to set a long time period to loose the weight. I'm currently trying to loose an additional 30 pounds through December. I've already lost 15.

I've developed a workout program using this website. They advocate a low volume progressive intensity program, which is a wordy way of saying "moderation." My problem in the past is I have over done it and then given up after a month or two. I've been going strong for three months now. We'll see how I do going forward.

So when it comes to budgeting, I've done the same thing. I'll budget 30 dollars a month on Starbucks-priced coffee, though I tend to get my coffee here at Milagro Coffee y Espresso. If I don't budget it, I'll either spend it anyway and blow my budget or I'll feel like I'm being deprived and give up on the budget idea all together. By being realistic and having moderation when it comes to depriving myself of wants, I give myself a better chance of success in the long run.