The best thing about making a trip to Albuquerque is – wait for it – coming back home. When you top that last hill coming down the interstate and see Socorro all spread out in front of M Mountain it just plain ol' feels good.

Since moving away from big city life 15 years ago, our trips to Albuquerque are few and far between, and we go only when there’s a mission to complete, like seeing my doc at the VA or picking up my wife from a seminar she attended; the reason for a trip last

week.

People I know, and myself included, don't really mind going up there if one has a mission to complete and can consolidate trips.

But it's all about coming back home, back to Socorro County, where you see your friends in stores or restaurants or driving down the street on a daily basis, and you wave, and you say “como esta?”

It hit me when my wife and I were having lunch at a restaurant on Central Avenue last Friday. I found myself looking around at people coming and going, and it dawned on me that I did not recognize a single solitary soul in there. There was nobody to wave to.

It's that sort of moment that you know you are Socorro-ized.

Up there they have this idiom – Burquenos – that’s supposed to characterize people who live in Albuquerque. You know, Albuquerqueans. But down here we have our own “isms.” I think I’ve gone through this before, but it’s worth repeating. You know you're from Socorro if...

• You frighten people in Albuquerque by inadvertently making eye contact with them.

• You know the difference between chile and chili.

• You can correctly pronounce names like Jojola and Guerro, and places like Bosquecito and Datil.

• You think it's no big deal to buy 30 pounds of roasted green chile and then spend an afternoon peeling them.

• You choose a tortilla instead of bread at restaurants.

• You consider Elfego Baca a state hero.

• Your swamp cooler got knocked off the roof by a dust evil.

• You order an enchilada with egg on top.

• Your other vehicle is a pick-up truck, with rust spots.

• You're relieved when the pavement ends because the dirt road has fewer potholes.

• You see nothing odd when, in the conversations of the people in line around you at the store, each sentence alternates between Spanish and English, and possibly some Navajo thrown in.

• Tumbleweeds and various cacti are not weeds. They are your lawn.

• You know what the night sky looks like full of stars.

• You give directions by referring to what used to be there.

• You actually stop in the road when quail are crossing to wait for the whole family to get across.

• You've slept outside in the summer either on the trampoline, the back of a truck, or just in the yard.

• You know you are related to someone but can't remember if he or she is a third or fourth cousin.

• You love the smell of rain in the desert.

• You know that Christmas would not be the same without biscochitos, empanadas, or chile rellenos.

• You call those candles in paper bags at Christmas luminarias instead of farolitos.

• Your friends from back east come and visit you and don't get it when you run outside when it starts to rain.

• You know who makes the best posole.

• You wear your Warrior sweatshirt to court.

• You know which is correct: Clarke or Clark Field.

Now, from the “All I Know Is What I Read In The Paper Department,” last week I heard from Spencer Pearse, my contact for breaking news in Bosquecito. Spencer keeps me in line with the occasional critique of the newspaper, usually entertaining, and has a thing for details. Like typos or misspellings.

Fair enough, but proofreading is one of those nagging chores that if you do it right nobody thinks about it, but if you miss one – just one – misprint or error, it’s like (with apologies to Harry Truman) “the moon, the stars and all the planets” fall on you.

Having said that, Spencer emailed a handful of actual headlines that clearly needed a closer look before going to

press:

SOMETHING WENT WRONG IN JET CRASH, EXPERT SAYS

POLICE BEGIN CAMPAIGN TO RUN DOWN JAYWALKERS

PANDA MATING FAILS; VETERINARIAN TAKES OVER

MINERS REFUSE TO WORK AFTER DEATH

JUVENILE COURT TO TRY SHOOTING DEFENDANT

COLD WAVE LINKED TO TEMPERATURES

RED TAPE HOLDS UP NEW BRIDGES

MAN STRUCK BY LIGHTNING: FACES BATTERY CHARGE

NEW STUDY OF OBESITY LOOKS FOR LARGER TEST GROUP

ASTRONAUT TAKES BLAME FOR GAS IN SPACECRAFT

KIDS MAKE NUTRITIOUS SNACKS

LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS CUT IN HALF

HOSPITALS ARE SUED BY 7 FOOT DOCTORS

I’ll stop now, so I can go back and proofread my brain.