Commentary

Wed
16
Sep

It's like 'gold rush fever,' only with a smartphone

By Richard Zowie —

Thanks to Lorrie, Kim and Autumn and all their sinister, zealous influences, I am now an addict.

No longer can I look at a map or even think of a city without asking that one burning question.

Some wonder where are the best places to drink, gamble or buy tobacco while others might even wonder the best clandestine places to acquire a recreational drug.

All I care about is, where are the geocaches?

Yes, it’s official: I love geocaching. In my off time when geocaching, I’ve become “Restlessrich.”

When Lorrie first presented it at a “lunch-and-learn” program at the newspaper office around fall 2013, I’d never heard of it. It sounded interesting but expensive, so I lost interest.

Wed
16
Sep

Green Homes Tour showcases 'easy green'

Think it’s not easy being green? Well, it’s probably easier than you think, and it’ll save you some of the other kind of “green” in the process.

Fredericksburg Shines will host its annual Green Homes Tour on Saturday, and it will be well worth your time to see what others are doing to conserve energy and reduce their waste.

Ten homes will showcase techniques and technology that make them more energy efficient. Tour attendees will see everything from rainwater storage, to xeriscape, to solar panels, to tankless water heaters, compressed earth blocks and much more. All these projects will be featured in both new construction homes and remodeled, older homes, which upped the energy ratings and helped the homeowners cut down on their energy costs.

There also will be examples of electric vehicles, including Tesla and Chevrolet models.

There will be lessons for all of us to learn by these homeowners’ examples on Saturday.

Wed
09
Sep

Governor's Mexico visit good for relations

For years, it has seemed Texas’ politicos’ only contact with Mexico was defaulted to whomever served as U.S. Ambassador.

Tony Garza, a Brownsville native and attorney, did an admirable job from 2002-2009 in helping build business and diplomatic relations with our neighbor to the south.

Our state house, meanwhile, has lurched ever-rightward and the language of fear and “solution” of a giant, ugly wall is becoming seen as the only solution to the problems inherent with our shared border.

So it was good to see Gov. Greg Abbott last week take a delegation to Mexico City to, hopefully, begin to communicate more and normalize relations with Mexico. He and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met for talks in Mexico City, and Abbott is expected to receive Peña Nieto in Texas in the coming months. Given our shared, often-confrontational history, we are glad to see the leaders work together instead of throw barbs.

Wed
09
Sep

Tom T. Hall reminds us to enjoy little things

The country music per-former and songwriter Tom T. Hall came out with the song, “I Love,” where he listed many of the things he cherished.

You might remember the first line: “I love little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks, slow-moving trains, and rain.”

It’s an emotional offering that spells out some of the nicer things in life that are enjoyable (at no cost) but often overlooked. You can have a good time just by observing what’s going on around you.

I’ve come up with my own list of the simple beauty that’s out there, just waiting to be discovered if you take time to smell roses, coffee or bubble gum.

In an effort to avoid any lawsuits from Mr. Hall, I’m calling my tabulation: “I Re-ally Like ....”

Here goes.

I Really Like ...

• Sitting on a screened porch while it’s raining on the tin roof.

• The smell of a new car regardless of the make and model.

• Finding a four-leaf clover.

Wed
02
Sep

So, is this what our world has come to?

Is this the mind-numbing world we now live in? A 47-year-old man pumping gas in Houston is targeted and killed for no other reason than he was wearing his Harris County sheriff’s deputy uniform.

In what has become nearly a daily occurrence around this country, a criminal suspect is shot and killed. The next day, a law enforcement officer is slain as an act of retribution. But in this deadly pattern, “moral equivalency” arguments don’t hold up. This is nothing more than a sign of a sick society.

Wed
02
Sep

Rural hospitals suffer deepest cuts in funds

There are constant problems with the population migration from rural areas to big cities. Remaining rural populations are being left in the dust on everything from political representation to healthcare. And unfortunately, legislators in Austin have turned a blind eye toward these developing problems.

Thirteen Texas rural hospitals have closed since January 2013 and a number continue to run in a state of financial distress and could be on the brink of closure. The main culprit is the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments over the past four years, resulting in annual losses of revenue totaling about $100 million for the state’s 171 rural hospitals.

Nationwide, 56 rural hospitals have closed over the same period, with another 283 at risk of future closure.

Wed
26
Aug

Bob Hope and fleeting fame

Years ago, my Uncle Jerry (my dad’s younger brother) sent me pictures from his time in Vietnam with the First Cavalry Division as a combat engineer.

In some pictures he’s working in the field, others he has a cigarette dangling from his mouth as he poses with an unnamed friend.

And in a few pictures, Uncle Jerry was in the crowd during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour. Some shots showed an older man, just shy of six feet tall, known affectionately among friends as “Old Ski Nose.”

Bob Hope.

For his years in USO entertaining troops, the English-born, Cleveland-raised Hope would receive a rare honor from the U.S. government: honorary veteran.

Hope also was an actor, comedian, avid golfer and was close friends with many U.S. presidents.

I thought a lot about the pictures as I recently visited the temporary Bob Hope Exhibit at the National Museum for the Pacific War.

Wed
26
Aug

Horse racing in limbo as politicians target entity

Enjoy your time at Gillespie Downs watching the horse races this summer season? We certainly did.

Yet we hope this isn’t the last of that sport which has a long history in Gillespie County.

The Texas Racing Commission was scheduled to meet Tuesday to reverse a decision to allow “historical racing” — betting on simulations of old horse races with identifying information removed — at the state’s horse and dog tracks. That decision was made a year ago in an effort to bring more revenue to struggling race tracks that still exist around the state.

Wed
19
Aug

Packing a 'Schmalz' sandwich for school

By this time next week, the Gillespie County Fair will be history and school will be in full swing at many of the schools in Gillespie County.

And while the school bell rang for most on Monday, the students at St. Mary’s Catholic Church returned last Monday, Aug. 17, and others are returning in the next few weeks.

There was a time years ago when students didn’t return to school until the middle of September. Since farming was a family affair in those days, children were busy until the middle of September working alongside their parents picking cotton and tending to other end-of-season chores.

Most of the children in rural areas attended “country schools” in their communities rather that traveling into town for classes.

Wed
19
Aug

Commemorations honors sacrifice, end of WWII

Humility was key attribute of generation that defeated tyranny, built the country

Friday’s “End of World War II” ceremony at the National Museum of the Pacific War was a solemn occasion.

Gen. Michael Hagee called the six WWII veterans in attendance a part of the “Greatest Generation,” the phrase made famous after Tom Brokaw’s writings. “I know you hate that moniker,” Hagee joked with them, “but you’re stuck with it.”

Sometimes we can romanticize the past through a filter of only good memories. Times weren’t perfect in those days, and neither were the individual people.

But that generation answered the call of the greatest global challenge ever seen from a dogged and determined enemy. Every big city and tiny town lost individuals united in a common cause. Tiny Gillespie County, known for its Fleet Admiral hero Chester Nimitz, also lost 32 of its young men.

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