Commentary

Wed
21
Jan

Ice-bound and down: our holiday on ice

I have eliminated one more job from the list of things I want to do when I grow up: Ice Road Trucker.

We got a little taste of that during our recent trip to El Paso. Our return trip on New Year’s Day, normally an eight-hour jaunt, turned into 14-plus hours of slippy, slidey, super slow auto creep.

My mother-in-law’s home had 42 degrees and sunny skies in the morning. So we decided to chance the roads, even though we saw travel warnings. It was smooth sailing until we passed over the Davis Mountains. We made a pit stop in Van Horn where the cold began to bite, got some sodas and hit the road again. About the time I finished my Diet Coke, ice was all over the landscape, presenting an eerie but artistic view. Our Google maps showed red lines on Interstate 10 (meaning accidents, bad traffic or both) so we settled in for the long haul.

Wed
21
Jan

Even in Gillespie, MLK's ideals matter

Too many times in the U.S., it seems as though we are waiting for the perfect solution or the perfect society. We ourselves demand black and white answers to complex problems. Our politicians often take an all-or-nothing approach.

But the gains made for civil rights over the past 50 years mark a sometimes glacial pace of change, yet still change nonetheless. Our own Lyndon Baines Johnson, in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, helped usher in a new era for African-Americans, though not without his own demands of political compromise.

Wed
14
Jan

Sausage season

While many around these parts are dreaming of warmer weather and are ready for spring to arrive with its warmer temperatures, there are some residents around Gillespie County hoping for a bit more cold weather, especially those of us who are still planning to make homemade sausage.

Yes, the supply of venison sausage that was made last fall at the beginning of hunting season is starting to get quite slim. There’s still a supply of venison in the freezer waiting to be ground with pork and stuffed and dried to be enjoyed in the coming months.

Unlike many other families around Fredericksburg, my family no longer butchers hogs to use when making sausage. So that also means no more home-cured ham or bacon either.

We take the easy way out and stop at the meat market in town and purchase a supply of fresh pork to use for the project.

Wed
14
Jan

Extremism targets freedom of press

The horrific attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices last week was specific to France’s capital city, Paris, but the world should take it as nothing less than an attack on liberties everywhere.

The satirical magazine lost editors and cartoonists in a hail of gunfire and two policemen were killed afterward by the same two gunmen. The deranged men continued their attacks on other targets throughout a terrifying week.

 We are gratified to see some Muslim leaders step up to condemn the attacks. Indeed, it was good to see leaders from around the globe converge on Paris to show solidarity on Saturday.

Wed
07
Jan

In 2015, trying to become 'like water'

Someone recently asked me how I would describe my life in 2014 in one word.

I’d say, “Flexibility.”

Or more specifically, realizing that it’s sorely needed.

I’m far from being the most flexible person in town or even in the office, but I have learned that I won’t accomplish my goals in life if I don’t learn flexibility.

A few months ago, I met a friend for coffee. As I listened to her story and her observations in life, I realized flexibility is one of the greatest attributes a person can have. Life constantly throws us unexpected complications, and with society and technology constantly changing, we have to make frequent adjustments to keep up.

Wed
07
Jan

Resolve to clamp down on ID theft

A woman failed to qualify for a mortgage loan for her dream home because her credit had been damaged by someone else.

A steady employee had to dip into his retirement fund to pay for his son’s college because his credit had unknowingly been compromised.

A major retailer’s mainframe server was hacked and hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers were stolen by hackers.

All of these are real-life examples of identity theft, and we should all vow to be proactive as this new year dawns to prevent such incidents.

Jody Donovan, an LPL representative at Joseph Financial Partners, recently spoke about the problem and how we unknowingly make it easy for some thieves to get at our personal information.

Identity fraud in 2013 affected 13 million people in the U.S. and totaled $21 billion. Those victims have spent untold hours and dollars after these incidents trying to repair their credit.

Tue
30
Dec

The excitement of space exploration

Orion.

It seems everywhere you turn these days, somebody’s talking about Orion. On television, the radio, in the newspapers ... there’s the word, “Orion.”

But what’s all of the hub-bub about Orion? And why should we care?

Well, in this case, the buzz being created about Orion is not directly related to one of the largest and prettiest constellations in the sky. But, rather, Orion is a new spacecraft that’s being built by NASA for deep-space travel in the not-so-distant future.

Back on Dec. 5, we successfully launched and recovered an unmanned prototype of the Orion capsule, checking out some of the basic systems. This test run included the deployment of a series of parachutes to slow the space ship down to a safe speed for a landing in the ocean.

Tue
30
Dec

Population boom will drive 84th Legislature

The 84th session of the Texas Legislature kicks off Jan. 13, and the Lone Star state’s booming population will continue to drive decisions in the State Capitol.

Consumers are enjoying lower gas prices at the pump, but the near-halving of crude’s price per barrel since June has lawmakers nervous. The state’s “rainy day fund,” or RDF, is funded by oil and gas severance taxes. So while the RDF is flush now and legislators installed a “floor” of $7 billion for the fund, lawmakers may choose to again be thrifty with future commodity prices in question.

Tue
23
Dec

Adios to the big man who put family first

Andy Granados could be an intimidating figure. In 1990, he stood 6-foot-2 and topped the scales at 300 pounds. He was suspect of the scrawny white kid who was hanging around his daughter.

The first Christmas we spent together, Christine and I, two blissful (yet unmarried) young lovers, shared gifts in front of her parents. I don’t remember my gift to her, but I remember hers to me — a very personal gift, fancy boxer shorts. I remember it because I looked at her dad while stuffing the shorts into the couch cushions, and his large, brown eyes burned a hole into my psyche.

But over the past 24 years, I came to love that man with the laser eyes and know him as a man who always put his family first, even the gringo members.

Tue
23
Dec

Parks give economic boost to area tourism

The recent story about a Texas A&M study showed that state parks provide big economic boosts to areas where they are located — a combined $774 million in retail sales, $351 million in economic benefits and they create roughly 5,800 jobs statewide.

The study was led by Dr. John Compton, an A&M professor in the school’s Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department. In it, he gauged more than 14,000 park visitors and their spending habits for several months earlier in 2013. They were queried about their spending on fees, groceries, restaurant meals and equipment during their outings. Those results were then applied to 60 additional state parks using methodology.

The results are clear: Parks are a huge boost. Bastrop State Park visitors added nearly $1.7 million to that county’s economy and supported more than 35 jobs. In Palo Duro Canyon, visitors added more than $3.7 million to local coffers and supported 86 jobs.

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