As we all know, New Mexico has been a state for a full century as of this year. But that's not the only hundred year birthday we should be celebrating. In a coincidence that's altogether too perfect for our green chile obsessed region, 2012 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Scoville scale.
The Scoville scale, as anyone with a taste for the caliente should realize, is the more-or-less standardized method for determining how hot a chile pepper is. The scale ranges from 0 for a heatless bell pepper, to 16 million for pure capsaicin, the chemical compound that makes chile spicy. A good, hot New Mexico chile typically ranks somewhere between 3500 and 8000, while its degenerate offspring the Anaheim pepper is closer to 1,000. Law enforcement grade pepper spray registers at around 1.5 million.
Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist, developed the scale in 1912 in order to ensure that the peppers used in a turn-of-the-century muscle salve called Heet were consistently spicy enough to take advantage of capsaicin’s topical pain relieving qualities (is there anything chile can’t do?). Appropriately enough, not only did Scoville develop the first standardized heat scale, he was also one of the first scientific chile tasters to note that the best way to cool down a fiery tongue is to reach for a glass of milk.
As New Mexico celebrates 100 years of being one of those 50 stars on the blue upright, the city is planning the largest party ever held in Albuquerque: Centennial Summerfest is from noon to 9:30 p.m. on a closed-off stretch of Central between Second and 10th Streets. Multiple pavilions (including an authentically constructed 19th century Territorial Village) representing the eras of New Mexico's history will offer musical entertainment and dancing. Plenty of food, vintage car shows and an arts market reflect the modern. Centennial Summerfest draws to a close at 8 p.m. with a headlining performance by Los Lobos at Civic Plaza. All events are free to the public. For an extensive schedule of events, visit abqsummerfest.com.
In case you were hiding under a rock (and wearing earplugs) you probably heard the cacophony of car horns that sounded off at 11:35 a.m. Celebrating 100 years of statehood, drivers throughout Albuquerque blared their horns. This groundbreaking piece of filmmaking has captured the significant historical event. What you are about to behold starts with a slow buzzing and rises to a teeming crescendo, capped off by a semi-truck tooting its horn. No word yet on the number of aggravated assault charges filed by victims of people who wondered why the hell they were being honked at.
In other 100-year-anniversary news, the Girl Scouts introduce a new cookie. Unfortunately, it’s lemon flavored.
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They've arrived. As of last week, you can demand the centennial license plate at the state's MVDs. The design was sold as "retro," because it's based on past plates. (Not to be all state-pridey, but I like it. What do you think?)
You know what's even better than that plate? Six babies in a blender (zing!). No, how about this amateur radio operator plate, available to "any New Mexico resident who holds an official commercial or amateur radio station license in good standing issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)." Rad.
Kitschier still? Take this horseless carriage plate ... please. "A 'horseless carriage' is a motor vehicle at least 35 years old, owned as a collector's item, and used solely for exhibition and educational purposes."
Then there's this patriot plate, and someone at MVD was being a real crackup when he or she wrote: "The Patriot registration plate is available to any motor vehicle owner who is a patriot. No proof of patriotism is required."
Damn. There's a lot I didn't know about license plates. Scope the many varieties here.