Commentary

Wed
12
Nov

Great-niece explores the great outdoors

By Richard Zowie

One of the more interesting observations in life is to watch a young child as they discover the world.

Particularly, my great-niece, Juliet. She’s the daughter of my niece, Sarah.

Juliet came along with my parents and my two older sisters for a visit this past weekend.

Now 15 months old, Juliet looks a lot like baby pictures of both her Aunt Rachel and my oldest sister (and her grandmother), Sabrina.

Juliet is also different in one particular way. Whereas everybody in the immediate Zowie family has blue, green or hazel eyes, Juliet’s eyes are a very dark brown.

Wed
12
Nov

GOP dominates in Texas and beyond

It wasn’t even close.

Voters in Texas left no doubt that they prefer the ideas of Republicans over those of Democrats from Texas to Washington, D.C.

The wave of red was felt all over Texas in an old fashioned “whuppin’” at the ballot box, driven by enthusiastic turnout of Republicans and more than a little disdain for the current White House occupant.

It seemed even every GOP state office candidate, from the ag commissioner to the comptroller, ran against Barack Obama. We’ll be interested to see what actual solutions for the betterment of the state they will offer now that they have been elected.

The changing demographic wave of voters we’ve been hearing about for 20-plus years has not yet materialized at the voting booth. And here in rural Texas, plenty of the Hispanic voting bloc vote with their conservative brethren.

Wed
05
Nov

Facial hair odyssey worth the aggravation

I last had a full beard nearly 20 years ago, and it was just pitiful. No manly man would have claimed it.

One person told me it looked like I had cat fur glued to my face. Some men got great beard genes, but I was not one. Since then, I’ve gone unshaven on some weekends, but have made a habit of breaking out the Gillette and shaving cream each morning.

But for love of country and men’s health, I am giving it a go again. It’s time for the annual “Movember” facial hair challenge to help raise money for prostate cancer awareness.

Breast cancer awareness gets lots of attention during October, because breasts are important, life-giving organs from birth. (And teen boys and men — perhaps redundant — like them, too.) In all seriousness, I was proud to hear that a story we ran in early October convinced many area women to go the Hill Country Memorial Breast Center and get a mammogram, where several cases were discovered that required treatment.

 

Wed
05
Nov

Time for movement on affordable housing

Twelve. That’s the number of homes for sale in the local market that are less than $200,000, the benchmark for “affordable” housing. And for many, even people that work full-time or hold multiple part-time jobs, even the $200,000 “affordable” tag is out of reach.

The city has mulled the question of affordable housing for more than a decade now. The NIMBY factor (Not In My Backyard) seemed to rule the day in the past. But when our Hill Country Memorial Hospital has nearly 200 workers commuting each day from other markets to work, housing has become a pressing issue.

The city and/or county is in need of leadership to address this issue. City Manager Kent Myers and Tim Lehmberg, executive director of the Gillespie County Economic Development Commission, have done a good job of bringing people to the table. Now we need receptive ears and creative minds to come up with solutions.

Wed
29
Oct

For the love of the college game

One of my great passions in life is college football. I am truly a fan of the game.

While I have a great affinity for both high school and professional games, it’s the ones played by the colleges and universities throughout our nation that grab my attention the most.

I’ve attended literally hundreds of college football contests and have always been a fan of not only the games, themselves, but also of the rituals of the campus-related match-ups.

When it’s not possible to see a game in person (which is most of the time), I thoroughly enjoy taking in televised contests. When it comes to Saturdays, I’m definitely tuned to some game emanating from somewhere — it really doesn’t matter who’s playing.

Give me a big bowl of pop-corn and a large diet iced tea and I’m ready for a day’s worth of pigskin performances, college-style.

 

Wed
29
Oct

Education challenges don't soften optimism

If political leaders will recuse themselves from educational endeavors, public education would soar.

That was one of many messages at last week’s Leaders Breakfast, sponsored by the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce, in which Fredericksburg Independent School District personnel outlined challenges and opportunities presented by the current system.

Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright, not yet two years into his FISD tenure, led a talk on public education’s current system and where educators hope improvements will be made.

Since 1980, with the onset of standardized tests, education has become a “one size fits all” endeavor that stresses quantity over quality and college for everyone. Workforce realities and a shortage of skilled workers are forcing a second look at that college track for all mentality.

Teachers today face more demands within the same 180-day school year with a curriculum that is, as Wright said, “a mile wide and an inch deep.”

Wed
22
Oct

Game is the same, but delivery is different

The last several weeks, there’s been no shortage of baseball on television as the Major League Baseball playoffs to determine who will be in the 2014 World Series have been broadcast each day.

And while I do not have the time to keep up with baseball during the course of the year, I’m trying to set time aside to watch the World Series which began last night when the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants met in the first game of the seven-game series.

So that I would be more knowledgeable about the two teams vying for this year’s crown, I went surfing on the Internet to learn the latest about the Royals and the Giants, and to my surprise, there were over 61 million options from which to choose.

I learned that the 2014 World Series will be the 110th time for Major League Baseball’s championship series, with this year’s teams being the National League champion San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals representing the American League.

Wed
22
Oct

Competency is key in comptroller's race

Who would you rather have farming your fields - a farmer or a Certified Public Accountant? Surely, a farmer. Now who would you rather have taking care of the state’s comptroller office - a farmer or a CPA? That’s the choice voters have this year.

About the biggest thing working against Mike Collier, the CPA who stopped by the Standard-Radio Post offices last week, is that he has a “D” by his name. Disgusted with the tone of politics, Collier (and a lot of other Texans) have switched parties. The former Republican is taking a chance that voters will be more concerned with competency than party affiliation.

The state comptroller’s office, like the land commissioner’s job, has come to be seen as a stepping stone by some politicians. We paid the price for that during the 82nd Legislature, when Susan Combs’ bad forecasting resulted in $5.4 billion in cuts to education and the layoffs of 11,700 teachers across the state.

 

Wed
15
Oct

With a new accent, a Texan turns British

By Richard Zowie

 

When it comes to speaking in different accents, some people can be described in two succinct words: brilliantly talented.

The late Robin Williams could speak a variety of foreign accents flawlessly. So can British actors Gary Oldman, Joely Richardson and Richardson’s mother, Vanessa Redgrave. You know a person’s accent is convincing when you hear them in an interview using their natural accent, and you can’t believe it’s them at first.

If I were to compile a list of Fredericksburg Theater Company actors who are excellent with accents, at the very top would be Dawn Hahn.

Hahn plays Madame Arcati in the FTC production of the English comedy “Blithe Spirit.” (She previously played Grandma Kurnitz in “Lost in Yonkers.”)

Arcati leads a séance that results in the manifestation of the ghost of Elvira Condomine, the deceased wife of Charles Condomine.

Wed
15
Oct

Cyber security is a shared responsibility

Target. Home Depot. JP Morgan Chase.

These are just three big names in a list of more than 1,000 businesses attacked by hackers using point-of-sale malware or server attacks to get customer credit card or file information.

But much of our lives is consumed by online activities — we use the Internet at work, at home, shopping for products and even swiping our credit card on Main Street or at the grocery store. But that constant online connection brings increased risk of theft, fraud and abuse. No country, industry or individual is immune to risks. As a nation, we face constant threats against our critical infrastructure and economy. As individuals, these risks can threaten our finances, our identity and our privacy.

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