Go Past the Golf Course and Bear Right at the Circle of Life

By David Izraelevitz

Editor’s Note: As the community gears up for a roundabout at 4th Street and Central Avenue, this column written by Izraelevitz in 1999 is a reminder of the local climate before construction of the roundabout at Diamond Drive and San Ildefonso Road.

David Izraelevitz. Courtesy Photo

As a resident of North Mesa, the new roundabout is our connection to the rest of the world. Maybe for this reason it has become much more than a traffic landmark for me; rather, as you’ll see if you bear with me for a few paragraphs, it’s become an important philosophical reference point.

I have to admit, however, that before this recent enlightenment, I found curious the earnest letters to this newspaper about the relative merits of our adult merry-go-round. We moved to Los Alamos after many years in New England, where roundabouts, pronounced “rotary” in Boston, are a common answer to the Pilgrim’s lack of urban planning.

However, even though roundabouts were a daily commuting experience all those years, it was not until we moved to North Mesa and our little circle was built that I began to appreciate its hidden worth, and only because I was half-asleep at the wheel one early Monday morning. The story begins with my fourth grader, an aspiring cellist at Barranca Mesa Elementary.

A few weeks ago, it was my turn to take him to before-school practice. I entered the roundabout from San Ildefonso but before I knew it, I had driven past the Barranca Mesa exit and was ready to take Jacob to the Lab or Furr’s or who knows where. My nap lasted only a second and I realized my mistake before leaving the roundabout, so I circled all the way around, carefully avoiding the gaze of impatient drivers waiting for this fool to finish his little tour. You can be sure that I didn’t make the same mistake twice and so, after just taking up a few seconds, Jacob and I resumed our trip to orchestra practice.

During that very moment, as we began chugging up the Barranca Mesa hill, is when I realized the lesson our little roundabout had in its bosom, ready for all of us to appreciate. How many times in our lives can we recover so easily from a lapse in judgment? It is true that there is a usually a way to redress our mistakes, but rarely without at least some consequence that makes us pay for our misstep.

How precious are those opportunities in life like the roundabout, where we can blunder with the comfort that though we took a wrong turn, we just have to circle around once more. Maybe this can teach us to approach more carefully those difficult intersections where hard decisions need to be made, those points in our lives where there might be no turning back, no second chances.

But how to realize when we are on the roundabouts of life, and not approaching the White Rock Y? Sometimes, it sure seems like we are on a roundabout, doesn’t it, with the familiar cycling of the days and weeks; work on Monday, piano on Wednesdays, Smith’s on Thursdays, French horn on Fridays, oops, it’s Monday again.

Yet, often we are actually on a slowly meandering spiral, where each time around things are a little different; we just might see this slightly altered perspective if we would pay more attention to the trip. But the changes around this not-so-roundabout are subtle, difficult to appreciate in the commotion of traffic and attempts to stay on the road. They are differences that if we are not careful to sense, allow us to feel stuck in a rut, essentially motionless, going in circles.

The reality however, is that it is changing all around us in delicate ways; our children growing, our careers evolving up or down, even ourselves both developing and mellowing.

All this from our little roundabout. And so I’ve decided that sometimes going around in circles is good for the soul. So please don’t give me that dirty look the next time I take a quick journey around our precious circuit while you are trying to get to work. You should realize that I am contemplating the lessons our little traffic controller has given us.

As a matter of fact, why don’t you give it a whirl yourself? You know, it will just take up a few seconds.


Jan McDonald Jazz Trio to Perform at Blue Window Saturday Night

Jan McDonald/Courtesy

Things will swing at the Blue Window Bistro on Saturday, Feb 11 when the restaurant hosts a Jazz Night featuring the Jan McDonald Jazz Trio.

The Trio will perform from 7- 9 p.m. with Donna Smith on piano, Richard Snider on bass and Jan McDonald on trumpet and flugelhorn. Tickets are $15 per person and dinner reservations are required at 662-6305.

The regular dinner menu will be offered from 5-9 p.m. All menus are posted at labluewindowbistro.com. Walk-ins will be accommodated if possible.

Santa Fe resident Jan McDonald is recognized nationally as an accomplished jazz trumpeter. He currently performs, frequently as a soloist, with the Southwest Jazz Orchestra, Pro Musica Orchestra, and the Santa Fe Symphony.

He is the musical director of the Los Alamos Big Band, founder of the Black Mesa Jazz Quintet, and served as director of the Los Alamos High School band for almost 30 years.

McDonald received his BA and MA degrees in music education and pursued graduate studies at Indiana State University and Boston University. He is the recipient of the Outstanding Secondary Educator Award and the Outstanding New Mexico Jazz Educator Award.

McDonald continues to offer private lessons on brass instruments and, in August, released his first CD, Sweet, a selection of jazz standards and original compositions.

The Blue Window began hosting Jazz Nights in January 2011. Jazz Nights alternate every other month with Wine Tasting evenings. The next Jazz Night will be held Saturday, March 17 and will feature Los Alamos jazz group the Craig Martin Experience.

The Blue Window Bistro has a loyal clientele and 29 years of service. Melissa Paternoster has been the owner since June 2010. She is a native of Los Alamos and a graduate of Los Alamos High School.

The Blue Window Bistro is at 813 Central Ave. in downtown Los Alamos.

For more information about upcoming events at the Blue Window, visit labluewindowbistro.com or follow “Blue Window Bistro” on Facebook.

Authors Speak Series Presents Pamela Christie Feb. 23

The Authors Speak Series at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23 in the Upstairs Rotunda Mesa Public Library features Pamela Christie, author of “The King’s Lizard” and “Dead Lizard’s Dance,” mysteries set in Old Santa Fe.

“This is what my honored grandfather told me, all of it. Someone long ago taught him how to tell a tale, someone who knew what to do with the space between En Años Pasados and Así Fue*. When we sat up together nights, waiting for babies to be born or for horses to foal, for travelers to return, or for news of the men who ran to the mountains after the uprising, he told me of those murderous times….”

From the Prologue of The King’s Lizard: A Tale of Murder and Deception in Old Santa Fe by Pamela Christie ( *in years past and so it was.)

Along with the ‘honored grandfather’ of the prologue of her book, Pamela Christie can spin tales, too. Honored with the Zia Book Award, The King’s Lizard transports readers to familiar locales in unfamiliar times. With careful historical research, along with intrigue, mystery and compelling characters, Christie’s books, set in 1782 Santa Fe, bring history and the people of early New Mexico to life.

Pamela Christie has lived and written in New Mexico since 1970. Her two historical mysteries derive in part from a decade of farming in a remote Hispanic village in Northern New Mexico and as a docent at Las Golondrinas. She received her education at Bryn Mawr College, Pitzer College and the University of California at Berkeley. Her home is near Santa Fe, where she says, she “…indulges herself in her main love, adventuring across New Mexico’s wild landscapes.”

Her first book, The King’s Lizard, was awarded the New Mexico Press Women’s Zia Book Award in 2007. Dead Lizard’s Dance, an acclaimed sequel, followed in 2009. Pamela is at work on a third novel in the series. With today’s relentless push into technological modernity, Pam enjoys the 18th century and the chance to ‘Be Here Then.’

The Authors Speak Series is a monthly event featuring local and statewide authors speaking about their writing on a variety of subjects such as local and state history, travel, outdoor activities, New Mexico fiction, Native American history and culture, poetry, and more. The series is funded by the Friends of Mesa Public Library. The talks are free and begin at 7 p.m., followed by the opportunity to meet the authors and enjoy refreshments. Some authors may participate with book sales and signings.

Snapshot of Upcoming Road Changes with Roundabout at Central

Courtesy/Los Alamos County

Option 1 for the N.M. 502 design option project received the green light from county council in a 6-1 vote with Councilor Vincent Chiravalle casting the sole no vote.

County Engineering Manager Kyle Zimmerman created the Option 1 compromise solution by blending the best of five possible options under consideration.

Zimmerman’s option as illustrated in the photo above, comprises one roundabout at 4th Street and Central Avenue and a single lane road in each direction with widened medians at the intersections of Airport Road and Tewa Loop designed for a travel speed of 35 miles per hour.

Option 1 also includes a center median for landscaping west of Tewa Loop with left turn bays and pedestrian refuge. Up to two hybrid pedestrian beacons will be installed between the Tewa Loop and Canyon Road intersections. The Canyon Road intersections will be reconfigured to increase deflection to reduce vehicle speeds.

Between Canyon Road and Central Avenue or where determined necessary by the New Mexico Department of Transportation, two east bound lanes from Central Avenue will merge to one east bound lane. The center medium will continue along with one west bound lane. The Central Avenue and 4th Street intersections with NM 502 will combine into one intersection controlled by a roundabout.

West of Central Avenue and 4th Street, NM 502 will have two east bound lanes, a center medium and one west bound lane. The DP Road intersection will be reconfigured using existing right-of-way to be more of a 90-degree intersection with NM 502. West of the DP Road intersection, NM 502 will connect to the existing road section of two lanes east bound, a center medium and two lanes west bound.

Sidewalks will be included on both sides of N.M. 502 from Tewa Loop to DP Road.

This option is to be modified to incorporate bicycle lanes or bicycle paths where physically viable and cost effectively feasible to do so in the opinion of NMDOT and Los Alamos County.

Smith’s Fuel Center to Replace Shamrock Gas Station

Special to the Los Alamos Daily Post

On Wednesday Evening, the Los Alamos County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a site plan for a Smith’s fuel center to be built at the existing Shamrock gas station site at 1239 Trinity Dr.

Courtesy Photo

Smith’s will lease the property at the corner of Trinity Drive and Knecht Street from Polk JT Properties.

County Council approved a lease agreement with North American Development Group (NADG) last week, paving the way for the development of Trinity Place.

Smith’s new fuel center will be adjacent to the Smith’s Marketplace store in Trinity Place.

The new fuel center will allow Smith’s reward cardholders to purchase discounted gas.

The Shamrock gas station will be completely removed, including the underground tanks.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will have three vacancies on its board as of March.

Interested applicants are encouraged to apply. Contact the Community Development Department (CDD) for more information and to obtain an application. CDD can be reach at 662-8120.

Local Doctor Returns From Fourth Deployment

Dr. Paul Daly. Courtesy Photo

Dr. Paul Daly, a Family Practice physician with Medical Associates of Northern New Mexico in Los Alamos, recently returned from his fourth mobilization as an Army Reserve medical officer. During this deployment, Dr. Daly was assigned to the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) Brigade as their Command Surgeon.

The 310th ESC is  based out of Indianapolis, Indiana, but draws soldiers from several neighboring states. The function of an ESC is to provide combat services support. This entails assuming command and control of smaller logistics units, brigade and battalion level, already within a combat theater. These services include: supply, maintenance, transportation, field services, medical, general engineering and construction, as well as escort and security details.

The 310th ESC reported for duty in Iraq in early 2011. Its mission was to provide combat services support while United States Forces – Iraq (USFI) was transitioning from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) to Operation New Dawn (OND). This being the final steps in preparing Iraqi troops to assume full command and control of Iraqi security. The draw-down had already begun prior to the 310th ESC assuming command from the 324th ESC; the previous combat support command. However, there was still much to be done with over 50,000 troops in Iraq.

This daunting task was quickly accepted by the 310thESC as it stationed itself initially at Joint Base Balad in central Iraq.

Dr. Paul Daly with medical team. Courtesy Photo

The 310th had to co-ordinate and control the movement of troops as well as hundreds of thousands of pieces of military vehicles and other gear from several large and multiple small bases scattered through out Iraq. The timing of this became even more critical as the US and Iraq could not come to an agreement over leaving a small training contingent of troops within Iraq. Therefore, all troops and equipment had to be out of Iraq by the end of December 2011; no small feat for the 310thESC.

Dr. Daly serves as a Colonel in the Army Reserve. As mentioned, he was assigned as the Brigade Command Surgeon to the 310th ESC. He reported for this duty at the end of September 2011 while the 310th command staff was transitioning to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. This being the main base to which all personnel and equipment within Iraq were moved.

Colonel Daly’s functions as a Command Surgeon were to provide medical expertise and oversight to the command staff of the 310th ESC. He also oversaw operations of subordinate medical units, Combat Army Support Hospitals, Forward Surgical Teams, and Battalion Aid Stations, that were in Iraq providing medical care for troops who were also still within Iraq. His duties included monitoring and providing daily briefs to the command staff regarding injury reports, infectious disease issues, blood utilization and other medical supply needs.

During his tenure at Camp Buehring, Dr. Daly also utilized medical units exiting Iraq to establish a Battalion Aid Station (BAS) to provide direct medical care to command staff personnel as well as those soldiers coming to Kuwait from Iraq.

Courtesy Photo

In spite of almost overwhelming numbers of vehicles, equipment, and supplies that were needed to support troops and bases within Iraq the 310th ESC was able to complete its mission ahead of the scheduled final withdraw date of 31 December, 2011. USFI commanders felt that this logistical feat was the single most significant movement of troops and equipment since World War II and set a very high standard for future similar operations.

The 310th ESC Brigade was therefore able to return its troops home early. Being in the command element Dr. Daly was one of the last of its members to return to the US. He arrived home on Christmas Eve.

Dr. Daly looks forward to seeing his patients at MANNM again after a short vacation with family. He would like to thank all his patients and the providers and staff at MANNM for their support and understanding without which he could not continue his efforts within the Army Reserve.


Girls Hockey Team Young but Competitive

Photo/Courtesy Scott Doebling

Now in its second season, the Los Alamos U12 Girls hockey team has improved substantially over its inaugural season. This group of 16 girls will face Gunnison at home Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11 and 12.

In the 2010-11 season, the Los Alamos Hockey Association formed this team comprised of girls ages 12 and under. The team was young, drawing from three different hockey age groups to roster enough girls to play. In that first season, the team played and lost 15 games against other girls’ teams in the Mountain States Girls Hockey League. For the entire season, three girls scored eight goals and only one girl was credited with an assist.

This season, with 13 of the same players as last year, the girls have made incredible improvements. The spread in ages has been narrowed to cover only two age groups.

“The girls have won three games so far and shown opposing teams a level of competition they didn’t see last year,” Team Manager Scott Doebling said.

In their first 12 games, 12 of the 16 girls scored goals and eight were credited with assists.

“This year, these girls have learned what it means to work as a team,” said Cathy Crane, the team’s head coach. “They were given some specific challenges for the season at an early season meeting and achieved them in their first weekend of play before our own rink even opened.”

The girls were challenged to score more goals than last season, distribute their goals across a greater number of players than last year and win some games. In their first weekend of games, two against Aspen, Colo., and two against Summit (in Breckenridge, Colo.), they achieved all three of those goals.

Photo/Courtesy Scott Doebling

The delayed opening of the Los Alamos rink meant the team had to travel out of town to squeeze practices in before their games started in November. They had only small handful of practices in Santa Fe and Taos before they headed to Colorado for their first games.

Even after the Los Alamos rink opened on Nov. 28, practice time has proven to be a challenge for the team. All the girls play on co-ed teams specific to their age groups, but only have one hour of practice together each week. This practice is open to all girls in the Los Alamos Hockey Association, not just the U-12 team.

“Extending the opportunity to play hockey to as many girls as possible is a higher priority than narrowing practice time to the smaller group of 16 girls,” LAHA Girls Director Eric Martens said. “Across all age groups, LAHA has 39 registered girls and we would like to see this number continue to grow.”

Photo/Courtesy Scott Doebling

Girls ages 9-14 interested in playing all-girls travel hockey can contact Martens at 500-5185 or girlsdirector@gmail.com.

More information on youth hockey in Los Alamos can be found at http://www.lahockey.org.

The Los Alamos U12 girls will be playing Gunnison at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 6:15 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 12, at 8:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Admission is free.


Experts to Discuss Growing Healthy Hearts for Newborns to Teens

Parents are invited and encouraged to come to the annual Heart Month Seminar at the First Baptist Church Feb. 16.

This is a free event that includes a light supper of wraps and sweet potato salad from the Los Alamos Cooperative Market.

Local pediatrician Dr. Tom Csanadi, psychologist Marvel Harrison, nutritionist Patty Willms and PE teacher Justin Black will be featured speakers. Title: Growing Healthy Hearts—Nutrition and Fitness for Newborns to Teens. Register at: www.losalamosheartcouncil.org

Olympic Trials: Team AQLUB of Japan Will Train at Aquatic Center

Team AQLUB from Tokyo Japan will train at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center Feb. 16-March 8 because of this year’s Olympic Trials. This is a great opportunity for local residents to visit with and watch an extremely competitive team train. Contact the Los Alamos Aquatic Center at 662-8170 for details on the team’s arrival and schedule.

The Aquatic Center is a world-class facility that offers diverse activities to users of all age, income, fitness and interest levels.

The facility offers affordable recreation, instruction, fitness, competitive programs, and therapeutic programs for all interest citizens and visitors.

The 50-meter pool and therapy pool is internationally known for providing High-Altitude Training – 7,245 feet above sea level.

Teams from Japan, Belgium, Denver, Chicago and Florida are among those using the local facility.


50 meters by 25 yards

620,000 gallons

4 feet – 13 feet deep

82.5 – 83.5 F water temperature

Access by steps, hydro-lift, and ladders


Inflatable obstacle course

Movable bulkhead

Two 1-meter diving boards

Water basketball hoop

USS regulation diving blocks

Rental locks available


40 feet by 20 feet

27,000 gallons

4’2″ – 4’9″ deep

94-96 F water temperature

Access by ramp, ladders


Water wheelchairs

Underwater railing

Tot dock – 3ft. x 10 ft. platform

Aquatic Center Calendar:

3:30 p.m. Friday – Diving & Swimming Event

Deep End Closed

Limited Shallow Lap Swim Lanes

Therapy Pool & Recreation Swimming Available

(Regular Schedule)

9 p.m. Friday – New!!!! 5th Quarter at the Pool. All Los

Alamos High School age youth are welcome to the pool for

Free and to enjoy pizza, swimming with friends, a diving

contest in the deep end and shallow-water fun on the giant

20-yard obstacle course after the Hilltoppers Varsity

Basketball Game…

6 a.m. Saturday – Diving & Swimming Event

6-7:30 a.m. – Facility Open for Early Public Lap Swim

Facility CLOSED Remainder of the day for Swim Event

Sunday, Feb. 12 – OPEN (Regular Schedule)

Thursday, Feb. 16 – Visiting Team Tokyo. Due to the Olympic Trials this year.

Team AQLUB from Tokyo Japan will be training at the Aquatic Center from

Feb. 16 through March 8.

1o a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 – Warm Water Saturday

Warmer Water Temperature

Inflatable Obstacle Course


Water Basketball

Water Toys


1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 – Warm Water Sunday, Come join the fun!

6 a.m. Monday, Feb. 20 – Facility Closed for President’s Day Holiday

Make a Date with History

By Kirsten Laskey

Dr. James Hopkins chats with students. Courtesy/LA Historical Society

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Los Alamos Historical Society is inviting the community to “Make a Date with History.”

Dr. James Hopkins, a professor at Southern Methodist University, will continue the Historical Society’s lecture series with his talk, “Oppenheimer and his Colleagues at Los Alamos” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at Fuller Lodge.

So what attracts people to J. Robert Oppenheimer?

Hopkins said, “Oppenheimer is a familiar and affecting figure to anyone interested in the Manhattan Project but it was not until I read Richard Rhodes book, ‘The Making of the Atomic Bomb,’ that he materialized into the extraordinary person that has proved so captivating to his later biographers and their readers.

“The recent, magisterial study by Martin Sherwin and Kai Bird, as well as others, opened up Oppenheimer as the fabulously conflicted and complicated personality that he was and, I think, made him more accessible as a human being.”

Hopkins continued, “More directly, Oppenheimer, who had never led any kind of organization before Los Alamos , demonstrated something that each of us is capable of, more fully realizing our own qualities of mind and spirit. Second, his security hearing in 1954 showed forevermore the dangers of allowing the pursuit of political advantage to destroy those who disagree.”

Historical Society Executive Director Heather McClenahan added, “The thing about Oppenheimer that is so interesting is that he was such an enigmatic person. Anytime there is scholarly research on Oppenheimer there is always a new take.”

One of the takes Hopkins said he gained on Oppenheimer was from “The British physicist and novelist, C. P. Snow, (who) gave a famous lecture at Cambridge University in 1959 called ‘The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution’ in which he argued that the segregation of culture into humanists and scientists was unnecessary, individually and societally impoverishing, and, moreover, dangerous for humankind.

Not that Oppenheimer’s genius can be duplicated but, as both a scientist and humanist, he seems to me an extraordinary example of how the two cultures can and must communicate with and nurture each other if we are to make our way through the nuclear minefield that in all probability will always lie in front of us, and survive.”

Dr. James Hopkins Courtesy/LA Historical SocietyMcClenahan said, “Oppenheimer was such a deep person; there are so many aspects (to him) – he was so brilliant (and able to work well with people in the Manhattan Project.)” She described Oppenheimer as being “dynamic” besides a scientist, Oppenheimer was a poet and spoke a multitude of languages.

Hopkins himself is a multi-faceted person. McClenahan said he travels to Los Alamos during the summer months with groups of students and is helping the Historical Society on the Oppenheimer House museum project.

Despite the Manhattan Project occurring decades ago, Hopkins said it is still relevant today.

“Without exception, my students find a visit to Los Alamos a riveting and deeply informative experience,” he said. “Los Alamos exists very much in the present, and for that matter, in the future, but it also manifests a place and a time in the past when a group of what Richard Feynman rightly calls ‘great men’ (I would also add ‘great women’) changed the world forever.

Both the Los Alamos Historical Museum and the Bradbury Science Museum are instrumental in bringing to life that time and place, of restoring the past to its human dimensions, whether one was a technician, a military policeman, a construction worker, a pueblo Indian, a wife and mother, or a Nobel Prize laureate.”

McClenahan added this particular event still attracts a lot of attention. Talks on the Manhattan Project are some of the Historical Society’s most popular lectures. The Manhattan Project, she said, “is really the greatest gathering of scientific talent at one given time to solve a problem.”

One reason Los Alamos is what is, she added, is because of this period of history. The lecture is an official event of New Mexico’s Centennial Celebration. In recognition of the state’s centennial, McClenahan said Historical Society’s lecture series have taken its audiences through 100 years of history. This has included talks on the homesteaders, Ranch School as well as general facts on the state.

Next up in March is a talk on the Cold War in Los Alamos. In April, the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) will co-host the talk and will address environmental history. In May, the lecture series continues with “New Mexico’s Struggle for Statehood, Featuring Political Cartoons Before 2012 Concerning New Mexico’s Image.”

James Hopkins graduated from the University of Oklahoma before spending three years as a captain in the Army, and then did post-graduate work at Cambridge University and the University of Texas at Austin where he received his PhD.

He began teaching British and European history at SMU in 1974. Hopkins has written two books and several articles, including one entitled “Conversations I Never Had With My Father.”

“My father was Group Operations Officer of the 509th Composite Bomb Group,” Hopkins said. “This unique unit trained for a year in Wendover, Utah to drop the atomic bombs. In addition, my father was the pilot of the photographic plane that took part in the raid on Nagasaki. He was killed in a crash in 1951, hence the title of the article.”

Some years ago he made a film called “The University and the Fate of the Earth” in which he advocated the need for universities to teach courses on atomic energy.

“Then some years ago I began bringing students to Los Alamos. It is an extraordinary privilege to give a talk on the Manhattan Project in the magnificent Fuller Lodge where so much of its history took place.”