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The Valles Caldera is Only Dormant
By G G Collins (Copyright 2021)
Excerpt from Anasazi Medium, Chapter 8
Yellowstone isn’t the only supervolcano in the United States. The Valles Caldera is located in northern New Mexico in close proximity to the Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) and the Rio Grande. An eruption from the dormant, but not extinct, volcano could cause significant interruptions to life or extinguish life depending on the force of the eruption. Some of you will recognize the Valles Caldera as the location of the Longmire sheriff’s ranch.
Images, except the above, are from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science.
We pick up with an interview which journalist Rachel Blackstone is having with character Professor Axel Saxon at the University of New Mexico, Earth and Planetary Science. We join them with the interview already in progress.
“How dangerous is the Valles Caldera?” Rachel asked.
“It is considered a young supervolcano in that it erupted 1.25 million years ago. It’s geothermal and responsible for the hot springs that populate the area. We also know it is dormant, not extinct. The caldera is about 20 kilometres or 13 miles wide. A supervolcano isn’t one eruption, but multiple eruptions occurring at once. When the volcanic pressure cooker just can’t take anymore and it releases pent up energy in many places.”
He showed Rachel another map showing the resurgent lava dome, called Redondo Peak, and the smaller domes around it.
“If it were to erupt again,” Rachel asked. “What force are we talking about?”
“Supervolcanoes have an eruption of magnitude eight,” Saxon paused. “That’s the largest on the VEI or Volcanic Explosivity Index.”
“So this type of eruption really isn’t within our experience in the near past?” Rachel asked.
“No. You’ve heard of Pinatubo, Krakatau and a U.S. volcano called Mount St. Helens?”
“These are inconsequential by comparison to the Valles Caldera. Even Crater Lake and Tambora are smaller. Only the Yellowstone supervolcano is larger.”
“Are you aware that the last time the Yellowstone erupted that ash and dead animal bones were found as far away as Nebraska? The three Yellowstone eruptions we know about produced enough ash to fill the Grand Canyon and were 2500 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Today, if Yellowstone went off it would immediately kill 90,000 people. Those not dead would be standing calf-deep in ash. The nuclear winter to follow could cause famine as the great breadbasket of the world, the States, would likely not be able to grow much.”
“What would the results be of a Valles Caldera eruption?” Rachel asked.
“First there would be the ash fallout to consider. Not only would any planes in the area be at risk of losing engine performance and therefore crash, but water contamination could result and rooftop collapse. That is especially a problem for flat roofs that can be found all over our area, but especially prominent in Santa Fe due to the Pueblo architecture.
Tent Rocks (Kasha-Katuwe) was created with volcanic ash fallout, perhaps 1/4 mile thick. Enough to have cooked a moderate-sized city.
“Agriculture would be adversely affected, maybe not even possible. Livestock would become ill and die from breathing the ash and gases.
“People would also experience health issues and some, maybe many, would die. It would depend on the size of the eruption.
Notice the proximity of Los Alamos (LANL) to the Valles Caldera.
“We don’t even know how it would affect power-producing plants. And yes, we don’t know if the damage to the LANL would be sufficient to release plutonium and other nuclear materials into the air. If so, that could be cataclysmic in terms of loss of life.
“As to the influence on the country and the world; again, depending on the size of eruption, it could bring about the nuclear winter where ash would block the sun and make agriculture impossible. And this brings me to the most lasting product of supervolcanoes: worldwide famine, millions—maybe billions—of refugees, satellite disruption and the crash of world financial markets.”
“Good god,” Rachel said. “All because a New Mexico volcano wakes up.”
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Thanks for reading.
The Year of Living Dangerously
By G G Collins Copyright 2021
What Went Wrong?
As I watched the events unfolding yesterday at the US Capitol, I am reminded that the past year has been one of tumult, chaos and fear.
The year began fairly normally, although there were already reports in late 2019 of a pneumonia in China that wasn’t responding to protocol treatments. By February, it was apparent that we would need to find ways to cope with an impending pandemic. We could see it coming from the horrible losses in China, Italy and other European countries.
In the beginning it was met with uplifting song, improvised music and appreciative applause for healthcare workers. But in the US, it has been reported that desperately sick people are cursing hospital staff as they try to treat them, yelling “It’s only the flu!”
A New Reality
The early months of the pandemic dissolved into physical scraps in grocery stores over toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Empty shelves mocked hopeful shoppers. It was nearly impossible to buy or steal a mask. Fortunately Etsy and other indie platforms stepped up. Restaurants, bars, churches, offices closed. Instead of “working from home offices” it became “remote working.”
Although we’ve have always considered firefighters, police, EMTs and hospital staff to be frontline workers, the designation took on new meaning. Grocery store, pharmacy and meat packing plant employees were drafted into duty as frontline workers.
Suddenly, going to the grocer or picking up a prescription became a red line to step over; a threat to be weighed. Do I really need that loaf of bread? Do I risk my life for a carton of milk? Should I keep my yearly physical or dental appointment? Is it safe?
Is Anything Right With the World?
I’m lucky. I can work remotely; have for years. But that doesn’t make me immune from stress and COVID-19. Unable to do anything about the pandemic, but report on it, I began looking for small things to uplift my spirit and remind me that some things were still going along as expected.
My neighbor has the old-fashioned idea that laundry should be hung outside to dry. She enjoys the crunchy feel of a sunshine-drenched sheet. I began looking for her hanging laundry, because it was a normal occurrence BP (Before Pandemic). Having a garden has been a lifesaver. Not only can I get outside, but watching things grow is therapeutic.
It’s not over, in fact, the worst of the pandemic may still await us, even as the vaccine parade forms. We have to get through it; there isn’t a way around it. We can’t beg or bribe our way out of a pandemic; but must abide.
There is no choice but to continue the year of living dangerously.
The Power of Photos
by G G Collins Copyright 2020
For regular readers of my blog, you know a friend was diagnosed with early onset dementia. She wanted to cope with this as best she could on her own terms, and that’s how it should always be. Even if you can’t see your family member or friend, you can still keep in touch through letters, however one-sided the communication is.
It’s one of those things where simple is better. Use a larger font to facilitate reading and tell straightforward stories. As dementia progresses, a patient’s interest in reading lags and eventually letters have to be read aloud by a family member or nursing staff. Photos are extremely useful. It’s best if you move in close and concentrate on one object or person.
Laurence Aëgerter, a French visual artist in Amsterdam developed the “Photographic Treatment.” She discovered that images could evoke memories that may go back as far as the teenage years. Earlier memories seem to be easier to recall. She made the photos available without charge so that everyone could use them. Here is an example.
These vertical black and white photos with similar images can lead to memories and invite conversation.
In one encounter, Aëgerter showed a patient a photo of a cat and kitten. Up until this time, he had been silent, but something about this picture elicited a response. For five minutes it was as if he didn’t have dementia. For more reading on this:
A photographic treatment for people with dementia
With this in mind, choose photos of your loved one, places you’ve been together. As time goes on the photos need to grow larger and more focused on the subject as having other objects in the picture can be confusing. An album of the patient’s life can also provide for stimulation of memories.
Perhaps the most important observation Aëgerter discovered in her research and interaction with patients: “I realized we should never underestimate people who are sick.” That’s important. We should resist infantilization. While someone may not be able to speak, they may understand more than we realize.
For other ways to use photos:
10 Ways to Use the Power of Photos for Dementia Care
The Pain of Learning Your Friend Has Early Onset Dementia
by G G Collins Copyright 2020
When my incredibly smart and talented friend told me she had early onset dementia, I didn’t know what to think except I was suddenly very afraid for her and wanted to protect her. In her gentle way, she tried to tell me it would be okay. Okay?! How could anything this devastating be okay?
She methodically told me what was going to happen in a detached way as though she were talking about someone else. The disease would first take her memory and then turn her into a combative, maybe violent sick person. She had already lost interest in using her computer and cell phone. And worse, she had been fired for messing up a work project.
This was the last time I would see her because she had to give up driving, having gotten lost several times already, and she wanted me to remember her as she is now. But she told me she would love me for eternity even if she didn’t remember me. I’m sitting there listening in horror and wondering how this could happen to my vibrant, loving friend of 20-some years who could do anything.
As someone who works with words for a living, I tried to come up with words to reassure her, reassure me, stop this from happening. But there are no words for anything so horrible. And how do you change the subject from this to how pretty the fall foliage is? She tried and I tried, but I couldn’t think of anything else but I was losing my friend forever. She had absorbed some of the implications already while I was staggering around thinking of the unfairness and the loss that was coming, was already here. And then we hugged for the last time and said, “See you later,” knowing it wasn’t true.
She went home to ride out the gathering storm and I drove home fighting tears, already grieving her impending loss.
For more information: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/younger-early-onset
These books are helpful:
Anasazi Medium Coming in August 2020
by G G Collins Copyright 2019
Ancient peoples enlighten contemporary humankind in a mystery as old as time. Rachel Blackstone is recruited by the spirit world to prevent a cataclysmic occurrence: the end of the Fourth World of the Hopi. As earthquakes occur and a super volcano threatens to blow, it becomes imperative she discover the root of all evil. But can she stop the greedy men intent on having their way and willing to kill to achieve it? The survival of an unaware civilization depends on her getting it right.
The computer screen went black; followed immediately by her desk lamp. It wasn’t yet dark in Santa Fe, but the sun was on its way down.
“Dammit, not again,” Rachel swore. The City Different was known to lose power from time to time so while not yet concerned, she was frustrated by the outage.
“It should be called The City Dark. Hey, we’re on deadline!” She nodded to her tortie cat, Chile Pod.
But Chile Pod was in alert mode; ears pricked forward, green eyes wide, colorful neck scruff raised.
“What? What is it?”
Before she could sort it out, a wolf howled. It carried across the city, both eerie and urgent. Rachel had heard it before; Kiyiya, the spirit wolf who always seemed to be around when she needed a heads-up.
Rachel really didn’t want to get up and look outside. It would be so much better to continue to sit in her kitchen corner safe in her ignorance. She reluctantly pushed her chair back and stood. Before she could cross the kitchen her house shuddered. Things—a lot of things—began hitting the roof and walls of the house. This was no ordinary hail storm, an occurrence fairly common to this southwestern city. They must be huge stones. Usually, they received small hailstones that tended to go splut when they impacted. This sounded more like rocks striking.
When a window shattered, she ducked.
“Chile, get under the . . . !” But the tiny cat was already under the table sitting on a chair peeking from beneath the brightly colored tablecloth.
Rachel raised her eyes upward although there was nothing to see but her ceiling. No explanation was forthcoming. Just as she reached the window something dark hit the pane, cracking it, and bounced off. She stared in horror at what was happening in her backyard.
“This can’t be!” she cried, holding both hands over her mouth.
But it was. Birds were falling from the sky, hundreds of them.
Sensing there was nothing dangerous inside, Chile Pod jumped to the counter to see for herself. Rachel covered her protectively as she watched the ghastly precipitation event. In a few seconds, they abruptly stopped falling.
“Stay inside please,” Rachel said to Chile Pod. “I don’t want to have to worry about you too.”
The storm door creaked as she pushed it open and cautiously stepped outside. There were birds lying on her stoop. She grabbed the broom from next to the door and carefully moved them to one side so she could go down the steps. They all appeared to be dead. Rachel had read about this phenomenon. It was normally caused by loud noises such as fireworks that caused disorientation or a flock flew into a hailstorm and died of blunt force trauma. Of course, doomsday predictors had a lot to say about such events and what they felt was the impending Armageddon.
Rachel was wiping tears as she walked carefully through the bird kill. She found it to be incredibly sad. Once she had navigated the stone path to the courtyard terrace continuing to use the broom to make a path in the midst of so many bodies, she stopped to observe the sunset. It was another spectacular display of colors stretching across a limitless sky, completely unaware of the tragedy that lay upon the ground.
A lone bird righted itself and stood unsteadily. It fluffed its wing feathers as if conducting a pre-flight inspection. None of the others moved. He would have a lonely journey.
Rachel watched this with trepidation and gloom. What had caused uninjured birds to fall from the sky? When the power returned, she would check the internet for similar incidents.
Her attention was quickly captured as cold air closed in around her. Within seconds, she could see her breath. It gathered in a white cloud and slowly drifted away. She held the broom handle in one hand, clutching her arms about her. It felt like winter had come too soon. But Rachel was certain that something frightening was about to happen. She was learning the signs; the wolf howl, bizarre episodes. She waited. It wasn’t her show. But she wished whoever or whatever would get on with it.
She became aware of a sound, low at first; a familiar rattle. It reminded her of the first time she had witnessed the return of a spirit in her living room only last year. Rachel waited; helpless to hasten a ghost making a return voyage.
Slowly moving streams of fog appeared from four directions, moving across her courtyard with excruciating intent. Oddly, each vaporous rivulet carried a different tint: black, white, red and yellow. Some Native Americans believed these represented the four colors of humankind as well as the four directions. When the colors united, a shape began to form.
Suddenly, the rattling stopped as the vapor integrated and became one in the center of her flagstone terrace.
Rachel stood quietly, hardly daring to breathe, every muscle taut with readiness. Just because she’d experienced this before didn’t mean she was immune to fear.
A body was slowly forming in front of her. This person wasn’t wearing a lot. She was seeing a great deal of skin. But she also noticed the spear. Of course she had no weapon unless a broom constitutes one. Just how did one prepare for any eventuality? Ray gun for alien beings? AK-47 for home grown terrorists? Stardust for pissed off fairies? These occurrences were potluck affairs.
A Native American man walked out of the mist. He was very fit, not the fitness that comes from working out in a gym, but from physical work. This was someone who labored outside. He wore a simple loincloth, probably made from an animal skin and shoes made of the same that reached upward to his knees.
His presence was disturbing. It wasn’t just the spear, but she perceived him as warrior if the need arose. This was someone to be feared. Rachel watched him carefully, reminding herself he was in spirit, but also aware that spirits could cause great harm, even kill. She was ready to run, not that it would do much good.
He stepped toward her, shoes soundless on the stones.
“You are the one?” he asked. He spoke in a language she had never heard, but the words appeared in English in her mind, much as supertitles at the opera.
“I don’t know,” she replied not knowing if he understood. “Who are you looking for?”
“The one who speaks with the dead.”
“I believe I’m speaking with a spirit now. Is that true? Are you in spirit?”
“I am from the Land of the Dead.”
“How can I help you?” She really wished she’d stayed near her back door instead of backing into a corner. When would she learn to have these unscheduled meetings on her terms? Could they happen on her terms?
“All the signs except one have been fulfilled. You must stop the last one or the world will end and another begins. This will not be good. All will die.”
“What? What sign?”
“The ninth sign is near to completion. It must be stopped.”
“What has to be stopped?” Rachel was even more apprehensive about this man’s prediction than his formidable stature and spike.
“The ninth sign. A blue Kachina in the sky. If it occurs the fourth world will end, all will die. The fifth world will commence, but without all living creatures.”
Rachel could feel the urgency in his words, but didn’t understand.
“It is the blue star; the brightest in the night sky,” he explained.
“The Dog Star; Sirius?” she asked not knowing if he would understand.
“What will happen to it?” she asked.
“If bad men are not stopped, it will fall to the Earth and destroy the fourth world.”
“Bad men? That could be almost anyone, anyplace.”
“These men will kill our land, our valley where we lived in stone walls.”
“But, what can I do?”
“You have the power of the writing instrument. You must expose them.”
“And if I can’t?”
“Everyone you know and everyone you do not know will die. You will die. Your feline companion will die.” Had he seen her in the kitchen window? How did he know?
“Can you give me more information? I don’t know where to start.”
He turned and pointed north. “In our ancestral lands,” he said and faded away.
The mist dispersed and the cold evaporated. But Rachel felt chilled to the bone.