I got up at 6 a.m., which felt like 5 a.m., because as far as
I was concerned, it WAS 5 a.m. If that confuses you, just imagine
how I felt. The reason for all this confusion is that last Sunday
I left on a week-long trip with an organization called New Mexico
Amigos, of which I am a memberso if its Tuesday, this
must be Houston, in the Central time zone.
Amigos is composed of approximately 315 business men and women
from throughout the state. The purpose of this group is to promote
better business relationships between New Mexico and all the other
states and territories of this great country, and also our two
neighbor nations, Mexico and Canada. We consider ourselves New
Mexico ambassadors of goodwill. Each May we charter a plane to
fly to various cities selected by the current president, who serves
a one-year term. The logistics of the trip are then organized
by our very efficient secretary/treasurer, who has held that position
many years. Approximately one-third of the membership goes each
year. I don't know of any other state that has an organization
such as the New Mexico Amigos, which makes our group unique.
city, we visit important and interesting sites, such as universities,
capitols, corporations, etc. We also host a cocktail party in
each city, inviting various educational, business and political
leaders of that city and state. At each of these functions, the
membership attends in uniform, which is a blue blazer, tan slacks
or skirt, and a white shirt with a New Mexico Amigo tie. At our
more casual outings, we wear tan slacks and a blue polo shirt
with a New Mexico Amigos emblem.
Our first stop was Houston, in East Texas. Since it was Sunday,
we had an open evening, which I spent with about 15 members of
the group having dinner at one of the citys fine restaurants.
I got up at 6, which is later than I usually sleepbut remember,
it was only 5 in Santa Fe. At 8:15, buses picked us up at our
hotel and took us to the Johnson Space Center, NASA. We were guided
through the facility by a very competent staff that showed us
many interesting things, such as some of the actual spacecraft
used by the astronauts, the control center for all the space flights,
and a lot of the laboratory areas where equipment and astronauts
were trained and tested. For some reason I was especially fascinated
by a giant swimming pool used for training purposes, I assume
to simulate space. The pool was 201 feet long, 102 feet wide and
40.5 feet deep, and it held 6.2 million gallons of water. Filling
it took a month.
our buses took us to KEMA Piers, a Texas-scale amusement park
with eight restaurants. Several of us had a wonderful lunch at
a splendid seafood place. I can assure you that I won't suffer
from a shortage of calories on this trip. After lunch, our buses
took us back to the hotel for a short rest before our cocktail
party at the Petroleum Club of Houston.
the party started. The Petroleum Club is on the top floor of an
office building on Bell Avenue in downtown Houston. Through large
plate-glass windows all the way around, the view of the city was
spectacular. All that steel, concrete and gleaming glassbeautiful,
but I'm already missing our adobe structures with their soft and
gentle profiles. Many of Houston's finest were in attendance.
The event went very well, with high-quality liquor and wonderful
hors doeuvres. During the two-hour party, I met many nice
Houstonites and invited them to come visit us in New Mexico. Afterward
I walked back to my hotel two blocks away and headed straight
to my room on the 17th floor. After a room-service dinner, I made
a few notes on the day's experience and got ready for bed. After
a feeble attempt at reading a few pages of a Clive Cussler book,
I fell asleep.
brought another 6 a.m. (5 a.m.) rising, and another day of adventure.
At 8 our buses took us for a tour of the M. D. Anderson Cancer
Center. It is affiliated with the University of Texas and is,
I understand, the number-one cancer hospital in the world. Let
me say that this was both an exciting and a troubling experience.
On the one hand, it was very encouraging to see and hear about
all the latest advancements that have been made in cancer research
and treatment. On the other hand, it was extremely difficult to
see patients in the hallways, suffering from this terrible disease.
were so many futuristic things that we saw and heard in this hospital
that I won't try to tell you about all of them in this column.
But just to give you an idea, one of the things that fascinated
me was a computer robot that filled 3,000 prescriptions per day,
without the help of human hands. Heres how it worked: A
conveyor belt brought to the computer an endless stream of trays,
each one marked with a bar code indicating the drugs needed for
an individual patient. The computer would read the bar code, then
would go down a track in front of thousands of drugs in cardboard
and plastic containers hanging on pins on a wall, select the prescribed
drugs, and return and place them on the tray. The conveyor belt
then would move forward, so that the next tray was in line with
the computer, and the process started all over again.
tour lasted until 11 or so, and then our buses took us to the
airport for a flight to Washington D.C., where Im now typing
up this report in my hotel room. Got to run now. I'll tell you
of my adventures in the nations capital at another time.