On nature, Kilmer, nurse Judy and DWI

     The few inches of snow that blanketed Las Vegas last evening and today have put northern New Mexicans into a euphoric state. Because of the severe drought we’ve been experiencing here and elsewhere, any amount of moisture is welcome. Therefore:
     Thumbs up: To Mother Nature.


     Thumbs down: To the oversimplified attitude that it’s my way or the highway. Rural San Miguel County resident and movie star Val Kilmer was quoted recently in, of all publications, Rolling Stone, as having said uncomplimentary things about this area. Regrettably, too many people fail to take the comments in stride, realizing they’re obviously gross exaggerations. Thumbs way down to the attitude of some that if Val Kilmer doesn’t like it here, he can move.
     Thumbs up: To groups like MADD and SADD and their unfailing efforts to educate the public about the dangers of driving and drinking.
     Thumbs down: To judicial and legislative abuses that allow a judge to impose a 30-day jail sentence on a woman guilty of a third DWI offense, this time involving a fatality. Of course, it didn’t hurt Benita Marquez’ case a bit when close friend and State Rep. Debbie Rodella joined Marquez at the sentencing hearing. Nor was it harmful for Sen. Richard Martinez to write a letter to Judge Timothy Martinez, supporting Marquez. How conveeenient! During the same period, a man received a 46-year prison sentence for an offense not involving death.
     Thumbs up: To a long and fruitful career for Judy Estrada, long-time nurse for Dr. Michael Lopez. She has retired. All of us are familiar with medical help so mired in routine that they are unable to perform even the simplest functions without checking with the doctor first. In Judy’s case, her demeanor exudes confidence, compassion and knowledge. In my dealings with Dr. Lopez, I’ve been impressed by how fortunate he is to have had a nurse like Judy for so many years. Now that she’s chosen to put up her thermometer and blood pressure monitor, many appreciative patients are hopeful she can be replaced and thankful for the difference she’s made in that office.
     Thumbs down: To the lack of elocution lessons evident on the airwaves. We hear advertised on radio an apparently new coffee prepared and served by losing pugilists. It’s called Star-box. Jay Leno and Andy Rooney insist on pronouncing “nuclear” as “nookular.” And a trip to Wal Mart is not complete unless someone in “JEW-lery gets paged. Most mispronunciations occur by analogy. That is, people no doubt hear words like “celery” and “cutlery” and pronounce “jewelry” as “jew-lery.” If we can can say “jewel,” we can say “jewelry.” And notice how on radio, the long “a” often gets elided, and we hear terms like “for sell,” instead of “for sale.”
     Thumbs up: To our own Jesse Gallegos, Optic editor, who followed the story of West Las Vegas student Vanessa Lucero, who scored a touchdown for the Dons. The event might have sputtered for a while had not Jesse alerted the wire services, which in turn notified the television networks, with the result that Vanessa and coach James Esquibel appeared on NBC’s Today Show.
     Thumbs down: To well-meaning people who believe that translation is possible. Actually it’s not. To convey the meaning of one language to a different language requires transliteration, which implies observing the meaning rather than individual words. A local business features “La hora de la contenta,” which is miles from what was probably intended: “happy hour” and means something like “The hour of the contented (woman).” Around election time, we sometimes read ads in Spanish in which the candidate asks for the public’s support (apoyo), but spell it “apollo,” which has something to do with chickens.
     Thumbs up: To efforts at Highlands University to define its mission and attempt to offer courses and fields of study unique to northern New Mexico. Though the more popular majors ought to stay in place, Highlands has no business trying to run with the big dogs and matching them major for major.
     Thumbs down: To the endless hype among Albuquerque televisions stations in trying to convince us they’re really doing their job. In the early days of television, a story about city hall, for example, would probably show a still photo of the building. Later, to assure the public that reporters were actually covering a story, reporters would be present at the scene to do a “stand-upper.” There they’d utter such profundities as, “It’s too early to take a wait-and-see attitude,” or “As we all know, bigger is not necessarily better.”
     Today, too commonly we see TV reporters at 10:30 p.m. standing next to an empty school, with the only illumination coming from the TV crew itself. This is where we hear things like, “I’m reporting live from Madison Elementary School, where only 11 hours ago, a second-grader was suspended for bringing a nail clipper to school.”
     Thumbs up: To the local Department of Transportation for positioning lighted signs reminding the public of special events such as football games. We’d all rather read a message board about our high school volleyball players going to state than to come across one that simply reads: “Road Closed.”
     And finally, thumbs kind of sideways: To the sign at the local KFC telling the public the place is “closed for remodel(ing).” The former Taco Bell had the same announcement on its marquee for months and months before it became Taco Express. One wonders about the fate of KFC.

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