Rail Runner hooks up with Starlink for better Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi that’s previously been rather unreliable on the New Mexico Rail Runner Express trains has been upgraded after a year of development, officials with Rio Metro Regional Transit District say. The state-owned commuter line is now connected to Starlink, which (in addition to causing fun night-sky sightings in New Mexico) uses satellites to deliver broadband internet. Previously, the Rail Runner Wi-Fi relied on radio and cell towers, which “often produced spotty service along the train’s 100-mile corridor from Belen to Santa Fe,” according to a press release.”We just finished several weeks of testing out the new Wi-Fi system on the train, and it’s getting really good reviews from passengers,” Director of Operations Robert Gonzales says in the statement. “The train travels through very rural areas to very populated areas—with a lot of vacant spaces in between” explains Dewey V. Cave, executive director. “Often times, that proved to be a problem with connectivity on the train, but this new system appears to be a lot more seamless when it comes to getting a continuous signal.” Rio Metro staff have been handing out customer surveys on the train to gather feedback on the new system, which is free for all passengers. Tomorrow, ride the rails to Los Lunas for a special Santa situation featuring games, crafts, a tree lighting and, of course, pictures with the man himself. Local food trucks will also be on site. Check the train schedules here.
Abortion requires travel for one in five
One in five people who had an abortion in the first half of 2023 had to leave their home state to obtain the health service, according to a new study published by the Guttmacher Institute. More than a dozen states have abortion following the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, and severely limited it in others, New Mexico’s role in providing the care has continued to increase. Nearly three-quarters of the abortions in the state were for people who had traveled across state lines, according to the new data. More than 8,200 people from out of state had an abortion in New Mexico in the first half of 2023. Only Illinois and North Carolina saw more out-of-state patients, the institute reports. “Providers and support networks across the country have made heroic efforts to meet the needs of the growing numbers of people traveling for abortion. However, it will be an ongoing challenge for clinics and support networks to extend their capacity to meet this need. Urgent and sustained policy interventions are required to protect abortion access and meet patients’ needs,” reads the introduction to the study. Amy Hagstrom Miller, the founder and chief executive officer of Whole Woman’s Health, which has a clinic in New Mexico, told CNN the facility has made accommodations to help people who travel long distances, including family waiting areas. Last June, the state rolled out a new hotline staffed by registered nurses for people seeking information about abortion access.
NM physicist among those who call for quantum leaps
A committee aimed at mapping out the the next decade of particle physics in the US has issued a draft report urging the nation to support a new particle collider. It’s one of the ways the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel, or P5, scientists say the nation should invest in “next-generation experiments probing the nature of subatomic particles called neutrinos; the cosmic microwave background, relic radiation from the Big Bang; and dark matter, the gravitational glue holding galaxies together,” reports the New York Times. The draft report titled “Exploring the Quantum Universe: Pathways to Innovation and Discovery in Particle Physics” came after a three-year process that included input from the particle physics community at large. The Times spoke with Sally Seidel, a physicist at the University of New Mexico and chair of the US Department of Energy’s High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, who “described the process as ‘a remarkable display of curiosity’ that brought together thousands of researchers. ‘I cannot recall a more exciting time to explore particle physics,’” she wrote in an email to the newspaper.
To lodge and to serve
Santa Fe County is seeking volunteers to serve on its Lodgers Tax Advisory Committee, which advises the Board of County Commissioners on spending taxes collected from hotel stays. State law prescribes certain uses for the money—mainly for tourism marketing. The county “seeks passionate individuals eager to contribute their expertise and perspectives. Two members will represent the lodging industry, two will be directly involved in tourist-related industries, and one at-large member will represent the general public,” according to an announcement. The board meets monthly and the terms for new members would begin in February. Interested individuals are invited to submit their application materials to: Santa Fe County Community Development Department, Attn: Lisa A. Katonak, firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, the county has opened bids for projects seeking grants from Lodgers Tax for advertising, publicizing or promoting tourist attractions in Santa Fe County. Apply here before Dec. 18.
George RR Martin talks all things trains on a new Travels with Darley podcast episode recorded in and around Santa Fe. “Fans of Game of Thrones, history or just slow train travel with captivating stories and high desert scenery might want to take this journey with me,” says Darley Newman, who narrates her trip on the Sky Railway from Santa Fe to Lamy, where she interviews Martin, one of the railway’s owners. Newman promises three additional episodes from her trip to the region.
Spread holiday cheer
Do you have excess holiday cheer or are you looking to rally your jolly? Take some time to send cards to New Mexicans who live in institutions. The New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department collaborates with the Public Education, Early Childhood Education and Care Departments and other state agencies for the state’s third annual Create & Connect holiday card program. “This initiative spreads holiday cheer and works to foster meaningful connections between generations by providing student made cards to older adults in long-term care facilities and senior centers across the state,” reads an announcement. “The Create & Connect program is a wonderful opportunity for students to showcase their creativity while making a positive impact on the lives of older adults in their communities,” said ALTSD Cabinet Secretary Designate, Jen Paul Schroer. “These cards spread holiday cheer and remind the recipients that they are not alone during the holidays.” For clarification, SFR asked ALTSD if one technically needs to be a student to participate. “The public is welcome to send in cards,” says spokesman Joey Long, “and they don’t have to be handmade.” Those interested in participating should mail cards by Dec. 18 to: Aging & Long-Term Services Department, c/o Denise King, 8500 Menaul Blvd., Suite B-350, Albuquerque, NM 87112.
Moving picture time
Production on a new film starring Peter Facinelli kicks off next year in New Mexico, according to Deadline, which unpacks the plot of Convergence this way: “When an alien satellite crash lands in the desert of New Mexico, it infects two geologists sent to investigate with a mysterious, terrifying, and deadly condition. As the contagion begins to spread and threatens all of humanity, Sam’s joined in his fight for the future of the planet by a CDC Doctor.” Centerboro Productions tells the magazine it is working with former CIA operative Mike Baker; the Department of Homeland Security’s US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US Customs and Border Protection “to ensure authenticity in the storytelling.” On the other hand, Nickelodeon is open about Season 2 of its “A Really Loud House” being a work of fiction. The show features Lincoln Loud (Wolfgang Schaeffer) and his best friend Clyde (Jahzir Bruno), as they “go on adventures in Royal Woods while also navigating the chaos of living in a family with ten sisters,” according to the state Film Office. The production will take place at The Studios at the Journal Center, a newly converted film asset that formerly housed the printing press for the Albuquerque Journal. That studio is on the state’ list of Qualified Production Facilities, locations at which productions can qualify for tax credits on a portion of spending.
Maybe ready for more
The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 45 degrees with wind gusts up to 35 mph. Tomorrow, there’s a 20% chance of snow showers before 11 am.
Thanks for reading! The (Substitute) Word admires her neighbors’ twinkling lights, but recently learned more than 18,000 annual ER visits result from winter holiday decorating.