Friday, April 30, 2010

Santa Fe Bus System & The Walk of Doom

Last Saturday we decided to go to the movie theater to watch "Kick-Ass" the movie. Getting to the movie theater went smoothly, and we had some time to spare when we arrived at the movie theater. We got on the route 2 bus near the train station and took it until the Olive Garden stop near the movie theater. The map below shows where the movie theater (B) is compared to where we live (A). The distance is about 4.5 miles.

The movie started at 5pm, and ended at roughly 7:05pm. We left the theater and at 7:10 we were just leaving the parking lot when I noticed a route 2 bus coming down the road, and knew that we needed to get on that bus. I told Joel and Ho Fong, and they didn't believe I had actually seen the bus, until it was far too close to be able to get to the bus stop in time to board the bus. In any case, we hoped we could make it to the next stop before it left, so we sprinted across 7 lanes of heavy traffic. We ended up getting to about 50 feet behind the bus while it was stopped at the next stop, when it tragically pulled away, leaving us behind.

Upon inspection of the bus schedule at that stop, we found out that the bus that had just pulled away was in fact the last bus of the night (at 7:12pm). How could a city have their last bus running only until 7:12 on the weekend???

In any case, we decided to begin the walk home. As we were walking we saw several buses that said "not in service" on their screen. The walk took forever, and took us through some fairly seedy feeling areas of the city. We got home at about 8:50pm, roughly 90 minutes to 100 minutes from when that bus had pulled away from the bus stop.

For future students:
do not rely on public transportation to get around Santa Fe on the weekends. The weekdays aren't even that good either, I think they end around 9pm.

Cost of the Santa Fe IQP

Airfare: 422
Rent: 1250
Overweight Luggage Fee: 50
Shuttle from ABQ to SF and the Taxi Ride that Followed: 45
Replacement Suit Cases after Southwest Airlines Abused My Old One: 50
Having Three Pairs of Pants Sent to Me After I Found Out that I Only Packed Three Pairs: 20
Food: 500
Household Items (cleaning and sanitation): 50
Train Rides to ABQ with Student Discount: 12
Zoo Entrance: 7
Car Magazines that Allowed Me to Keep My Sanity: 50
Cold Medicine:5
Soar Throat Medicine:5
Excedrin that Allowed Me to Work 40 hours in 3 days: 5
Drinks: 80
Bus Rides: 20
Movies: 40
Getting Robbed: 219
Charitable Donation: -200
Cowboy Hat: 52
Shuttle back to ABQ Airport: 25

Total: 2707

WPI, please use this as the estimated costs for the Santa Fe IQP, even the cowboy hat.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In a world that doesn't, neither does one of the Verizon stores in Santa Fe

One of the advertisement slogans for the new Motorola Droid that Verizon has is "In a world that doesn't, Droid does!" I couldn't agree more, as that phone does more than I thought a phone could, however, one of the Verizon stores in this area does not live up to the standards of the phone they sell. So I got the Droid at the beginning of April at the Verizon wireless store near the Santa Fe Depot. I couldn't speak any more highly of this store if I tried. They were EXTREMELY helpful, however today I discovered my phone was apparently defective. All at once it went from working perfectly to not at all what so ever. I went back where I bought it from, however they told me at that branch they were unable to do exchanges as they were only authorized to do sales at that branch, they gave me the location of the place where I needed to go and I left with no hard feelings. I still claim that that store is fantastic. I then stopped by the other store, just off of Cerillos Rd., where they could make the exchange, this is where I started having problems. I started talking to one of their technicians and he immediately accused me of "abusing my phone" because the screen protector had been scratched by my keys. I calmly explained that if he were to peel it off he would see that the screen had no damage what so ever on it, he stormed off to get his manager saying my warranty was void and that I would need to pay to replace the phone I had just bought 3 weeks ago. When the manager came over, he immediately said that his employee was wrong and that my warranty was fine. The issue was he left me with that employee. The entire time I was there he was extremely condescending and talked to me as if I had no clue what I was talking about when I clearly knew more about how the phone functioned considering the fact that it would not even turn on meant there was clearly a hardware issue with the phone, and he tried restoring it to factory settings. Any time I showed that I knew what I was talking about, I was instantly told I was wrong, and was later shown i was correct. This employee also claimed that he had held his position for 6 years, I very highly doubt that as if that were the case I would not have outsmarted him so easily. The final problem I had here was the fact that after a 40 minuet argument with this man just to get access to my warentee neither he nor his manager could find me a replacement Droid in the entirety of the country! They claimed they called the corporate office and that they said that every single warehouse in the nation has zero available. I don't know if what they said was true or not, but I do know I find it very hard to believe that there is not a single one available anywhere, especially where there are other stores other than the designated Verizon owned stores, such as Best Buy that sell their phones. As far as I'm concerned they should be assuring that they can take care of their customers whom they have sold defective products to before they are selling more phones to other stores. Any way the moral of the story is my experience at the Verizon store by the intersection of Cerillos and Zafarano was less than acceptable.

Over all I love Verizon and the Droid phone, I understand that there are defective products sold occasionally, and I am fine with that. My issue was with the service I received today. I assure you I will avoid that Verizon store as much as possible for the rest of my time here!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What Does it Take to get a Paradigm Shift Around Here?

In the 2006 article, “From Recession to Renewables”, and in my own personal reflections paradigm shifts have always had the common denominator that is social suffering. Buddhism became one of the Chinese schools of thought after centuries of a stratified society encouraged by Confucianism, because in Buddhism societal place is rationalized and the ability to move upward is dictated by karma. In order to abolish the Jim Crow laws in America, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. took place. In “From Recession to Renewables”, a small Austrian town was on the verge of erasure (think Detroit, MI after the fallout experienced by the automotive industry) when a radical new economy was instituted to remodel Gussing, Austria into the world leader in renewable energy.

The industry in Gussing can be described as something alien to a capitalist. It takes a resource that is not the cheapest and not the most fruitful and uses it in an economy that is not centralized. Where is the middleman in all of this? He does not exist. The backbone of Gussing is its district heating system which takes cut-offs from local mills to provide heat for industry and residents. The cheap heat has enticed companies into relocating to Gussing, causing the job market to swell. As a result, 18 million extra Euros stay in Gussing when compared to the days of outsourced energy. In a town of four to five thousand, this makes a difference. Instead of allowing a select few to exercise decadence, the whole town lives comfortably. The extra money in the community has led to improvements such as the only successful biodiesel/heat/power cogeneration plant in the world.

In Santa Fe the electric utility is investor-owned and, as such, its operations are motivated by profit. Wherever profit exists for one party, sacrifice must exist for another. It is stated in the Sustainable Santa Fe plan that the community desires an 18.9% reduction in CO2 emissions by the year 2012. A significant portion of this reduction would be possible if more renewable energy was used in the energy generation mix, but that would require a significant capital investment in solar farms, wind turbines, and biomass boilers, all of which are less profitable than coal. Santa Feans have no control over their energy production, which means that they have no control over the biggest contributor to their CO2 emissions. PNM (the electric utility of Santa Fe) has even stated that it will not meet the state mandate to make 20% of its energy portfolio renewable by 2020. To top it off, PNM has demanded five electric rate increases in the last 27 months.

What lesson can be taken from Gussing and applied in Santa Fe? Any change in societal standards must begin with some kind of social suffering. Do Santa Fean’s have any of that? Certainly. It is the reason that my project team became a victim to a robbery, the reason that I was called a “chink” while walking down West Alameda Street, and the reason that the high-school graduation rate is only 50% in this city. There are people who find life dissatisfactory in Santa Fe. If the energy scheme in the City is to change, it must begin with the people who suffer most. For example, the city could offer low-cost district heating for low-income neighborhoods, or even microgrids in the same fashion. This would create the “green-collar” jobs everyone keeps talking about. In Santa Fe, where the sun shines everyday and the wind blows to the chagrin of pedestrians, renewable energy can become an industry.

DeVargas Middel School

This time when we went to the middles school, we decided to do a more interesting session which means only one thing: hands-on experiments. Kristen came up with the ideas and the material purchases were made; thus prepared we went to the school. The first experiment was to make a non-Newtonian fluid, which is a fluid that doesn't act like one the way a tradition fluid should. For example, if you punch it or ht it with some force, it will act like a solid; however if just move your fingers around in it slowly it acts just like a liquid. Add some food coloring and the students and some of the WPI students were having a lot of fun. To cap off the experience, we decided to use the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment, specifically we created bottle rockets out of them. Steve was elected dropper of the Mentos, unfortunately for him, he was not quite quick enough to drop and dodge and as a result, was completely soaked with the resulting foam explosion causing him to smell of mint and Coke for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Local Energy

Last Wednesday we meet with the head of Local Energy which is a non-profit organization dedicated to the keeping money inside the local economy. During our discussion Mark gave us massive amount of relevant, useful information, in fact each one of us took at least 4 pages of notes up to 7 pages of notes. He told us that the main way to get the infrastructure from PNM would be to use condemnation, which means that the City can simply say 'remove your infrastructure within 24 hours or else it's ours.' Mark also mentioned that the efficiencies of electric grid are low somewhere in the range of 25% efficiency, the loss before any electricity reaches your house. As such, he suggested a system that is designed to be as efficient as possible.

On a slightly less important note, we recently discovered Albertsons Market. Its like Price Chopper from Worcester, but bigger and better, and best of all its about the same prices, which is to say reasonable.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Ore House

If you are looking for a place to grab a bite to eat that's not going to destroy your wallet there are a ton of awesome places you can go in Santa Fe. The Ore House is not one of them. A few of us went there for dinner this past Friday night and had an experience that was less than acceptable. When we looked at the menu the first thing to come to mind was the narrow selection, there was a grand total of about 9 maybe 10 choices, most of which were similar to each other. To top off the lack of a selection there was the unpleasant fact that the least expensive thing the menu was $15. I cant speak for everything on the menu but I was unsatisfied with my $15 half rack of ribs. To start with there were only 6 ribs, I may be wrong on this but I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be 8. Basically I finished everything on my plate and was immediately thinking about what I was going to eat when I got home to actually feel as though I had eaten dinner. I will give credit where credit is due, the food was good, however we all left in agreement that it was not good enough to justify the cost. We came in hungry and $125 later the 5 of us went home still hungry.

In summation, if you have more money than you want to have then stop by the Ore House to take a load off your wallet and get essentially a $20 appetizer.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Teamwork: The Story of Two Misguided Youth Robbing My Project Team and Our Countermeasure Against Them

On April 5, 2010, the Santa Fe D10 Renewable Energy Team rolled out of bed at 9:00 AM to meet nuclear physicist, Fred Seibel, at the Santa Fe Complex at 10:00 AM. After learning about underground electrical transmission lines and their inadequacies, we returned back to our compound to find something astray: one of our window screens had been popped out of its sill and was resting neatly under a window left ajar. It was then that I realized why off-campus IQP's are done in teams, and human emotion took over.


I stared through the open window into a room that had become familiar over the course of a month. The coffee table was still littered with candy wrappers and empty soda cans. Steve's XBOX and laptop were still there. Had we really been robbed?

Joel entered our house first, while I trailed the group. It was then that we saw two Hispanic kids in the kitchen committing an injustice to us all. One of them was of stocky build, the other scrawny, and both were about 16 years old. "Brother, pull out the gun," one of them said. I shut the door behind me to give me time to think. "Where was the gun? Is there any sign of aggression?" I thought. Scrawny one walked briskly towards the open window and proceeded to shimmy through it to freedom. I grabbed his leg. With his ass up in the air and his head outside the window, he couldn't shoot me even if he had a gun. I yelled, "Call 911!" Joel obeyed immediately while Andrew ran to his room to get his camera (which was later found to have no memory card).

Brotherly Love

After five or ten seconds of stalling scrawny one in the window, stocky one ran over to me to free his brother from my grasp. Shit, I can't fight both of them. So, I aborted the apprehension of the windowed youngster to focus on stopping my more immediate threat. We scuffled on the couch for a moment as he punched, no, lightly tapped my face with his fist.

When people attack me, the same thing always happens. I grit my teeth and inhale with a hiss. The ensuing adrenaline, oxygen, and anger make me think of the best way to inflict damage on my adversary. Should I throw a haymaker to answer his straw tap of a punch? Or, should I grab his throat with the grip developed over years of turning wrenches and carrying groceries?

The answer this time proved to be neither. I looked at his face and my grip from his neck relented. I just wanted to know why he did this, not hurt him. All the while, Andrew was working to separate stocky one and me, and Steve was engaged in a bout with scrawny one who had equiped himself with a tire iron. The boy swung four times at Steve, but none of them were homeruns. Steve took the tire iron from him, mid-swing, and followed with a front kick to the torso of the scrawny one to knock him back like a sheet of paper in the wind. Knowing that he could not win, scrawny one fled with asthmatic Steve in pursuit. He got away.


Andrew failed to separate stocky one and me, but stocky one side-stepped from the couch and opened the door. I thought quickly about how to stunt his progress, and grabbed his left leg to anchor him effectively. He kicked me against the turquoise door repeatedly, like a feral cat with duct tape stuck to one of its paws. My grip did not fail me. He then tried running away with a 160-pound Asian strapped to his leg. As he moved about, our porch pottery clattered and my knuckles scraped on the brick patio to draw blood. Eventually, stocky one tumbled down to give me a chance to advance on him with a rear-naked choke in partial lock. "Andy! Help me!" The six-foot-five, three-hundred-pound gentle giant obliged by putting his knee in the fat kid's back and pinching the pressure point in his neck kindergarten style. Adding insult to injury, Andrew punched the kid in the side. This, coming from the biggest pacifist in our group.

"You're hurting my neck!" The kid says.
"I don't give a fuck. You shouldn't have tried to rob us," Andrew replies. Just then, a mailman strolled nonchalantly by the ruckus to place gingerly two packages on the rocking chair of the patio. He left.


The police arrive about five minutes after I yelled the instruction for a call to them. First on scene is a female officer who cuffed the perpetrator while simultaneously putting her knees into stocky one's back. She asked the cuffed youth, "Hello. Santa Fe Police Department. How are you today?" The rest of the morning was filled with the formalities of crime: paperwork, witness testimonies, and the inventorying of our belongings. The police left around 1:00 PM.

"Rebuild," I said. It looked like a drunken stupor had run its course about the room. After the carpet was straightened, the couch relocated, and the lamp put back on its base, we laughed. We laughed at the expert apprehension performed by the policewoman, and at the random appearance of the mailman. Unfortunately, I didn't come away from this with all my belongings. I am less a cell phone, green knife, and 200 dollars. But, we also laughed about how the boys must really hate me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Grocery shopping

Now as you have already seen if you have been following our blog we have been liking the prices of trader joes for our main super market, however today I discovered something. From the time we got here we had been tole that Albertsons grocery store was way over priced by a few different people, however we checked it out today and I strongly beg to differ. Upon entering the store the first thing is said was "My God, this place is HUGE!" I walked around for a little while, I wasn't Really looking for much but every price I saw was nothing but reasonable. I was particularly happy when i got to their meat department and for the first time since arriving in Santa Fe I was able to but a steak at a price that was reminiscent of what I would pay back home. They are also currently doing a Monopoly Sweepstakes similar to the one McDonald's does every year. Specific items throughout the store have tags on them that say they will get you a game piece. Between the 4 of us we ended up with around 15 game pieces and even though we didn't win anything it is still some more incentive to go shopping sooner rather than later! The only complaint I had was that as I was leaving the parking lot the handles ripped off one of my bags and the bottle of hot sauce I had bought shattered, I'm not going to blame that on the store though, for some reason it has seemed that shopping bags have hated me this trip haha.

Albuquerque Zoo

Saturday, April 3rd, we decided to take the train down to Albuquerque so that we could check out the Zoo. A round-trip ticket costs $6 for students. Unfortunately, the earliest train leaves Santa Fe at 11:20am, so you get to Albuquerque at around 12:50pm. The last train leaves Albuquerque at 4:44pm, so that only leaves about 4 hours to spend in the city, unless you want to stay there all night. The Zoo takes about 20 minutes to walk to, and we decided to stop and get some food from Asian Noodle's and Bar on the main street in Albuquerque where you get off the train. The food was very good and reasonably priced.

The zoo's admission costs $7 for just the zoo, and then some additional charges for the aquarium or train rides around the zoo, but you can only get the package deal if you get there before noon (which I would recommend doing if you would like to be able to see everything in the zoo... so you might need to go there on a weekday so that there is an earlier train ride.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Carbon Futures

This week I didn't go anywhere special except of course for our weekly trip to Trader Joe's and the daily trips to the complex. However, we have delved deeper in the exploration of renewable energy and incentives for it. One interesting facet is that of carbon credits. Carbon credits allow you to sell the amount of carbon you save to someone else who might be going over their limit. At the moment the market seems to be $6.50 per 100 metric tons of CO2, while this sounds like a lot of CO2 keep in mind that the US puts out 5.8 billion tons of CO2 a year and that number keeps increasing.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

De Vargas Middle School

Tuesday afternoon we went to De Vargas Middle School so that we could work with the middle school students there. The students we worked with are enrolled with the GUTS Program (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically).