Commentary

Wed
17
Jul

The drought marches on

By Ken Esten Cooke—

We are thankful for the recent rains and cooler temperatures, but it’s times like these when we all need reminding that we are still in the throes of a serious drought.

During this seventh month, here are seven tips to help you save this precious resource:

1. Don’t run the faucet while brushing teeth, shaving, washing your hands or hand-washing dishes.

2. Reuse cooking water on the garden rather than dumping it down the drain.

3. Reuse towels and wear jeans again. (Men usually do this naturally.)

4. Take shorter showers. Every minute you shave off your shower saves 2.5 to 7 gallons per minute, depending on your fixtures.

5. Skip the half loads. Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine until they are full.

6. Water in the morning or evening to reduce water lost to evaporation.

7. Reuse glasses and plates throughout the day, instead of getting a new one each time.

Wed
10
Jul

Summertime, homemade ice cream just go together

By Sherrie Geistweidt—

What better way is there to cool off on these triple-digit summer days than with a freezer of homemade ice cream?

Last weekend, I had counted down to Sunday afternoon to cook a batch of custard to freeze later in the day and had gathered eggs, sugar, half and half, cornstarch and vanilla and found some frozen peaches in the freezer to add to my creation.

After dumping all of my ingredients, except the peaches, into a micro-safe bowl, I just happened to lick a quick spoonful of the custard.

That’s when I suddenly realized … the half and half was less than fresh.

Oh no, now what? I had purchased it earlier in the week. Surely, cooking it in the microwave and then adding vanilla would improve the flavor.

The minute the timer rang on the microwave and I opened the door … it was obvious that the milk was sour.

Wed
10
Jul

One spirited Fourth

Thanks to many volunteers who set up, pulled off town's many activities

By Ken Esten Cooke—

A children’s parade, followed by the regular parade, a patriotic program and bursts of fireworks. These events all helped make Fredericksburg the place to be on the Fourth of July — celebrating freedom with events and flag-waving in our small town picture of Americana. These events were parts of what makes it great to live here.

But these events don’t happen by themselves. They require lots of planning and coordination before, during and after the events. We want to give kudos to those who helped organize and all those who volunteered their time and talents to put on events throughout the day so we could all revel in our American freedoms.

Many thanks to Daryl Whitworth and Helen McDonald for doing the lions share of the organization.

Wed
10
Jul

Perry still in the spotlight

By Ken Esten Cooke— From now until the time he leaves office in January 2015, Gov. Rick Perry will be in a spot he clearly loves: Center stage.

In announcing his decision not to seek re-election Monday, the governor was careful not to relinquish the spotlight by keeping the state’s political community guessing about whether he will try to seek redemption for his disastrous presidential campaign in 2012.

For the next 18 months, the governor said, his focus would remain on Texas. Perry took office in December 2000, when George W. Bush vacated the governor’s office to prepare for his presidency, and won re-election in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Tue
02
Jul

Got the music in you?

One of my fondest childhood memories is of my brother and I riding Big Wheels around the garage, probably around age five, as my father banged out a Gene Krupa-esque drum solo on his old Ludwigs. As the drums reverberated around the cement-floor garage, we pedaled ourselves dizzy, soaking up what dad was playing.

Later, I would listen for hours to headphones of my favorite drummers, from jazz and rock genres, and zone out. A high school nerd, music was my drug.

Why does music affect many of us this way? It can be a choir, a symphony, a bass-thumping concert or even a two-stepping number out at Luckenbach. You can’t hold music, but it still moves us beyond measure.

A recent science article in the New York Times tried to explain the effect that music has on the brain. When you feel a “chill” while enjoying a musical passage, that “causes the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, an essential signaling molecule in the brain.”

Tue
02
Jul

Steering the issue

Town won’t suffer from having truck route to divert traffic

By Ken Esten Cooke— We welcome members of the Gillespie County Commissioner’s Court to the conversation about an alternate truck route around town. Getting all entities on board is the first step in beginning that process.

While we understand the concerns about diverting some traffic and its potential effect on economic activity, we feel Fredericksburg has passed the point to where this should be the main point of the argument.

A loop’s detrimental effects were a legitimate concern in the 1980s and 1990s, as Fredericksburg slowly grew its Main Street attractions and wineries began dotting the landscape. Indeed, most rural towns struggle to attract visitors.

Tue
02
Jul

Dems show signs of life

Could Democrats’ short-lived victory at state capitol last week start a revival?

By Ken Esten Cooke— In the 1980s, Texas Democrats held every statewide office and a young political consultant named Karl Rove had what were considered far-fetched dreams of turning the Lone Star State red.

Rove steered the state toward Republican domination, taking over the Texas Senate and House by 2002 and following his number one client to the White House for two terms.

Democrats may be hoping that last week’s rowdy debate over Senate Bill 5 was their own turning point after two dismal decades.

It was good to see this comatose party, which hasn’t won a statewide race in 19 years, get excited during last week’s filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis. And it was healthy for our state politics and national image to see some diversity of thought in the state house.

Wed
26
Jun

Oh, say, can he sing? Yes!

Despite living in a world that’s filled with “new and improved” technology wherever I go, I’m not totally on-board with what’s available out there. I’m no techno-phobe — I don’t text or tweet. And, I’ve only had my own cell phone for less than two years.

And I realize the advantages of the internet, regardless of who may have invented it.

There is one aspect of the “net” that I do find disturbing, however, and that deals with how people can hide behind the web and get away with saying anything they like, whether or not it’s true, and yet not have to be identified. For them, it’s “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good blog because I can say anything I want without having to tell you who I am.”

Wed
26
Jun

Eyeing the drought

By Ken Esten Cooke— Weather predictions on Monday by the Lower Colorado River Authority confirm what local farmers and ranchers are dealing with daily: the historic drought will continue.

While the LCRA’s message concentrated on inflows to area lakes (Travis and Buchanan), the message was clear: continued conservation is needed throughout the Hill Country.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan need more than one million acre-feet of water to be considered “full.” That amounts to the amount of water added to the lakes in summer 2007, when 19 inches of rain fell on Marble Falls in one night.

That means rain must fall upstream, saturating the ground, then fill the network of creeks and river beds, before the water makes its way to the lakes.

Wed
26
Jun

Our digital footprints

By Ken Esten Cooke— As the U.S. pursues Edward Snowden around the globe for spilling intelligence secrets while working at the National Security Administration, some questions about our digital footprints come to mind.

Snowden has been called a traitor by Senate Republicans and Democrats. His recent revelation that he chose to work for the contractor specifically to get the information he disclosed and his choice of countries where he seeks asylum certainly bolster that claim. Yet others of a more libertarian bent have lined up to call him a hero, as he has shed light on the underbelly of terror surveillance where everyday citizens can be monitored in a story line that could not have been better written by George Orwell.

Hero or goat, his situation poses a good time for the country to examine how our government monitors terror threats and how we leave our own digital trail with our daily use of devices.

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