As you can see from my resume, I am a refugee from Silicon Valley, living happily in New Mexico. In Silicon Valley land is prohibitively expensive, unless you happen to be a partner in a successful venture capital firm. In Santa Fe County small amounts of land (one to five acres) can be purchased by those of us who are not millionaires. So my wife and I jumped at the chance to buy a house in a rural area.

In Santa Fe buying in a rural area means that the house is on a well and a septic tank. Coming as we do from urban California, this is new to us.

New Mexico is a land of water rights suits (or when things get really bad, violence over water rights). Our well is covered by a water rights settlement that limits our water usage to 0.7 acre feet.

The first question I asked is "What the hell is an acre foot?" Of course it is the amount of water needed to cover an acre, one foot deep in water. But what is this in terms of gallons? Using the excellent search engine at I found Mark Leipnik's Web page Hydrology Lab #1 Units which explains this archaic and arcane unit of measurement.

1.0 acre foot = 325,851 gallons

0.7 acre foot = 228,095 gallons

On a daily basis, 0.7 acre foot works out to 625 gallons/day.

According to Prof. Leipnik, the average suburban family with a lawn uses 0.3 acre foot/year or 267 gallons/day. So 0.7 acre foot is over twice the usage of the average suburban family. This is obviously a lot of water.

Water usage (within the amount granted) is established in the first four years or so that the well is metered. This encourages water usage rather than conservation, which is sad.


Sadly, although Santa Fe is a wonderful place to live, there are few jobs in computer science in the Santa Fe area. Los Alamos is one of the largest technology employers in New Mexico, but sadly Los Alamos has many problems. These problems include a convoluted and glacial hiring process. In my effort to escape Prediction Company I applied to most of the open computer position at Los Alamos, without success. Eventually I ended up moving back to Silicon Valley (to work for the other "weapons lab", Lawrence Livermore.

back to Miscellaneous Topics