Stan's Tuesday Walks

A Weekly Feature
by Stan Evans,
President, Santa Fe Always Online

May 22 , 2001

This morning 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 member—so if it’s Tuesday, this must be Houston, in the Central time zone.

New Mexico 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.

In each 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 city’s fine restaurants.

On Monday I got up at 6, which is later than I usually sleep—but 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.

At noon, 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.

At 5:30 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 glass—beautiful, 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 d’oeuvres. 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.

Tuesday 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.

There 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. Here’s 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.

The hospital tour lasted until 11 or so, and then our buses took us to the airport for a flight to Washington D.C., where I’m now typing up this report in my hotel room. Got to run now. I'll tell you of my adventures in the nation’s capital at another time.

Have a great day.


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