Commentary

Wed
30
Mar

Gratitude can change the brain for the better

 

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

We’ve heard it since childhood Sunday school classes, and it has now been confirmed through a scientific study: Gratitude is good for you.

Daily we are bombarded with messages that tell us happiness is just a fad diet or exercise program away. And for sure, endorphins contribute to our well-being. But recent research on how to promote day-to-day well-being also says the most important thing is the simple cultivation of gratitude.

Wed
23
Mar

Every kid thinks of playing pro baseball

By Richard Zowie

 

Covering varsity baseball for Fredericksburg High School takes me back almost 35 years to my two seasons of Little League Baseball in Alvin.

The white, polyester pants were murderous to wear in the hot, humid weather. And it was amusing to hear opposing coaches in their cigarette-scarred voices almost scream themselves into heart attacks as they’d yell at their player to run to this base or throw to that base.

I still miss playing the game and hope someday to join a recreational softball team.

My Little League time also turned me into a lifelong baseball fan. My two favorite teams are the Houston Astros and whoever plays against the Texas Rangers.

How would I describe eight-year-old Richard Zowie the Little Leaguer?

Outfielder and occasional first baseman. Threw and batted left-handed. Played for the Orioles his first Little League season and the Braves his second.

Wed
23
Mar

Good work by entities on GCAD relocation

Thanks is due to the Fredericksburg Independent School District for finding a suitable solution for the relocation of the Gillespie Central Appraisal District offices.

FISD will build a 5,500-square-foot facility for $650,000 to $800,000 and lease it to the GCAD for about $6,000 a month, a reasonable sum for this market. The costs end up being about half of a proposal from a local contractor, though GCAD won’t own the land and building, as was offered.

FISD will recoup its initial investment in 10 to 12 years, Supt. Eric Wright said.

We were critical of Gillespie County Commissioners after they and the board of the Doss Common Consolidated School District voted no on a proposal for land and a building after it had been approved by the other three. We thought it was a generous offer they turned down, and it was, but we also stated we thought the project would eventually become more expensive than the original proposal. 

Wed
16
Mar

Secrecy weakens open government

By Ken Esten Cooke

Sunshine Week is again upon us. It’s time to reflect on how open government benefits us, yet how it’s like pulling teeth to get some elected officials to recognize it.

Sunshine Week is about the public’s right to know what its government is doing and why. It can involve anything from federal or state officeholders giving favorable treatment to donors, or a local governmental board discussing public business in private.

The biggest concerns today are voter apathy and the money that influences politics from anonymous sources. ‘Citizens United’ continues to be the worst decision by the Supreme Court in recent memory and its effects have been damaging. Whether given to a Democrat, Republican or independent, the well-heeled wish to do their donating in the shadows.

Wed
09
Mar

Making sense of election season

By Ken Esten Cooke

“May you live in interesting times.” That old English saying holds true for this era, particularly concerning our politics.

First Lady Nancy Reagan’s passing on Sunday made us long for the days when the two political parties could share disagreements without getting downright ugly about it. Whether one agreed with Reagan on issues or not, he was a great orator (who still wrote his own speeches) and a classy president. And his First Lady was polite, yet firm in her dealings with those who were around “The Gipper.”

One expects our leaders to embody class. Yet as Mrs. Reagan is laid to rest, the country can’t help but compare those days in the 1980s to today’s sometimes foul, circus-like environment around our presidential primary.

Wed
09
Mar

In Facebook there is truth...sometimes

I’m not trying to sound “hip” or “with it,” but I like to keep up with the times by looking on Facebook. If you have internet service, you might want to give it a look-see sometime.

While you can catch a lot of blather up there, you can also see some neat stuff.

But keep in mind that, like everything else on the internet, Facebook’s information is not necessarily true. As a friend of mine suggested recently after making a suspicious “statement of fact” — “It must be true, it was on the internet,” he said with a stone-cold “I believe it” look on his face.

Whatever.

Fully entrenched with the reality that not everything on the internet (and, therefore, Facebook) is not gospel, I still go there to keep up with friends, family and other people I know.

I’ve noticed that people like to post things that are funny, ironic, religious and inspirational. I’m listing here some of the things people have shared with me.

 

Wed
02
Mar

Public schools are backbone of society

By Ken Esten Cooke 

We are proud of the stories we ran in last week’s newspaper highlighting Texas Public Schools Week. The stories showed how Fredericksburg High School is meeting demand for skills jobs, Fredericksburg Primary is getting a jump on technology-assisted learning, and Harper Middle School was honored for its “blue ribbon” efforts.

We also highlighted leadership training at Stonewall Elementary and Fredericksburg Middle School, and how Fredericksburg Elementary meets the challenge of Texas’ changing demographics with bilingual education and parental involvement. Doss Common Consolidated School District students also told us what they appreciated about being at a very small school.

All of these stories showed how our public schools are meeting the challenges of the future and helping create a qualified, creative and well-adjusted workforce.

Wed
02
Mar

Food, family show love comes from the kitchen

Film expert Tom Provost, left, and local “top chef” Adam Yoho share a laugh at the Feb. 19 Film Affäre event. – Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

-By Ken Esten Cooke-

What was the last great meal you watched?

(What? Has he gotten into the cooking wine again?)

I’m writing about food and film, which was the subject of the Feb. 19 Film Affäre event at Hoffman Haus, sponsored by the Hill Country Film Society. The event celebrated those gifted people who can convey the tastes and smells of a good meal in film.

One of Christine and my favorite scenes is in the movie “Spanglish,” when the chef is at home and he makes the most delicious BLT sandwich topped with a runny fried egg. (I can hear the crusty bread crunch now as he slices through it.)

Other movie lovers delight in the prison cell scene in “Goodfellas,” where the character Paulie slices garlic razor thin to melt into the spaghetti sauce.

Wed
24
Feb

Some questions for county candidates

By Ken Esten Cooke 

We have weighed in before about our hopes of razing the old jail behind the county courthouse. Recently, our county commissioner candidates also have been posed with questions about the county’s “buy and hold” strategy on local properties.

Here are a few for the candidates to consider. Thanks to readers for weighing in on these, as well.

What are your plans for the former county jail? Do you think the courthouse side of downtown’s central blocks should be developed to rival Marktplatz in usefulness and attractiveness?

If the county has unused downtown property, would it consider a sale to the City of Fredericksburg or another entity that would make use of it? If not, what are the plans for the property?

How does sheriff’s department spending compare to other counties our size (taking into account we have much more tourism)?

Wed
24
Feb

Where would an army career have taken me?

On Feb. 22, 1996, the night I joined the U.S. Army, a bus took me and other recruits from the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on a 136-mile trip to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for eight weeks of basic training.

Over the next 24 hours, I’d get one hour of sleep. At basic training, six continuous hours of sleep was a luxury.

For four years, I trained and served as a voice interceptor (first Mandarin Chinese, then Russian). I was a linguist in the military intelligence field. My duty stations were Presidio of Monterey, California, Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo and the now-closed Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.

I received an honorable discharge after four years on Feb. 21, 2000, in part because I wanted to become a journalist.

Had I made it a career, Feb. 22 would’ve marked my 20th year of service. Those who serve that long are eligible to retire.

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