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Origin of some expressions date back to Old West

August 3, 2016
Origin of some expressions date back to Old West

This column first appeared Dec. 28, 1978.

Have you ever thought about how many of our comments and expressions that make our language colorful are holdovers from the period in our history that emphasized a pioneer, or at least rural experience?
Children growing up in an urban society have no practical knowledge of the situations that created the expressions, and thus may miss the deeper meaning to the language.
An example is the expression, “don’t get the cart before the horse.”
Thanks to Gunsmoke and other TV westerns, kids these days at least know that horses once pulled carts and know which goes first.… Read the rest

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State rolls out revised women’s health program

August 3, 2016
State rolls out revised women’s health program

A women’s health program is in effect and ready to deliver more care to more women statewide who are 15 to 44 years old and whose income is up to 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Charles Smith, in a joint announcement on July 25, said they expect the “new and improved” Healthy Texas Women program to serve some 300,000 women, while earlier programs served 270,000 women. Participation for minors will require parental consent.
Nelson, current chair of the state Senate Finance Committee and former chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said the program combines and streamlines two of the state’s previous women’s health programs to provide a full range of women’s health services, including:
• Pregnancy testing and counseling;
• Family planning;
• Immunizations;
• Breast and cervical cancer screenings;
• Screenings and treatment for diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol; and more.… Read the rest

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How to save hundreds when heading out to fish

July 27, 2016
How to save hundreds when heading out to fish

I just spent a week at a mountain resort community because I am insanely wealthy.
Ha! I joke! Actually, I have a friend who has an in at a cabin in New Mexico and that’s why we enjoyed the 50 degree weather every morning.
But there was an issue up there.
(I’m excluding bear concerns which are ever-present in the mountains. When hiking we constantly marched around spinning about, clapping our hands, whistling, and singing Air Supply to keep the world’s most dangerous animal away from us. It worked; no bears approached us – and no people, either.)
The issue in the mountains was the Red River – which, in places, you can jump flat-footed across.… Read the rest

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Crawling into the lap of God’s love

July 27, 2016
Crawling into the lap of God’s love

I have a new favorite photo. OK, there are actually 69 photos that Mrs. Sweetie took in rapid succession when I had both of my grandchildren in my lap in a Mexican restaurant in Amarillo. I still haven’t narrowed it down to one, though I did select one as my new Facebook profile photo. (facebook.com/drgerrylewis)
A lap full of 21-month-old granddaughter and 8-week-old grandson is like a lap full of cats. They are about as easy to hold still as they are to herd! It is especially difficult when said 21-month-old really wants said 8-week-old to be in HER lap. She thinks it is the coolest thing ever to hold her cousin.… Read the rest

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The history of Terlingua: A mean man and his mine

July 27, 2016
The history of Terlingua: A mean man and his mine

This column first appeared July 18, 1996.

No doubt you have heard the name Terlingua in the context of either a Texas ghost town or as the site of an annual chili cook-off in the Big Bend country. Those facts represented my only knowledge of Terlingua until I recently read a book about it.
Located 90 miles south of Alpine, the Terlingua Creek ran only to a few cattlemen in the 1880s. The creek was named for the corruption of two Spanish words: Tres Lenguas, which means “three tongues.”
Some say that three languages – Indian, Spanish, and English – were spoken in the area.… Read the rest

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Appellate court strikes down Texas voter ID law

July 27, 2016
Appellate court strikes down Texas voter ID law

Texas’ voter photo identification law is racially discriminatory, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled July 20.
In striking down the law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011, the Fifth Circuit said it disproportionately and negatively affects African-American and Hispanic citizens’ right to vote.
Gov. Greg Abbott decried the ruling in Veasey et al. v. Abbott et al., saying: “The Fifth Circuit…wrongly concluded the law had a discriminatory effect. Voter fraud is real and it undermines the integrity of the election process.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also reacted, saying: “Preventing voter fraud is essential to accurately reflecting the will of Texas voters during elections and it is unfortunate that this common-sense law, providing protections against fraud, was not upheld in its entirety.”
SB 14 required voters to present government-issued photo identification when voting at the polls.… Read the rest

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From Pac-Man to Pokemon: Huntin’ critters

July 20, 2016
From Pac-Man to Pokemon: Huntin’ critters

So, I was listening to “Pac-Man Fever” the other day – yes, “Pac-Man Fever.”
Perhaps you remember that Top 10 hit – yes, Top 10, it actually reached No. 9 eventually – from 1982.
It was written to cash in on the insane popularity of the video game Pac-Man in those ancient days where you went to an arcade and waited for your turn to play.
The song by Buckner and Garcia was a regional hit in the Southeast then got a national release where it went gold with 1.7 million copies sold.
The album also went gold. It was filled with video game tunes like “The Defender” and “Ode to a Centipede.”(Finding an original LP of the same name is a feat; a later reissue of Pac-Man Fever is not the same as the 1982 album.… Read the rest

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Stop pointing fingers and start reaching out

July 20, 2016
Stop pointing fingers and start reaching out

Mrs Sweetie and I recently watched the 2014 Disney movie Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. In this retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story from the 1959 film, we learn what caused Maleficent to be transformed from a charming and innocent fairy to the “Mistress of All Evil.” It was someone else’s fault. She was a victim of someone else’s obsession with power.
I’m thinking about that this morning as our country continues to reel from the tragic events of the past few weeks. Videos of men being shot by police officers. Videos of a crowd of protesters scattering as a demented sniper picked off one police officer after another.  Prayer vigils and protest marches.… Read the rest

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Woman with little schooling pens vital family history

July 20, 2016
Woman with little schooling pens vital family history

This column first appeared Nov. 5, 1987.

While as many as 700,000 high school graduates are “functionally illiterate,” contrast that with the literacy of a Western woman whose book I finished reading last week. She had only two or three years of school in the country school houses, yet she was an extremely literate person whose book is well written, grammatically correct, and wonderfully expressive.
What makes the difference in 12 years of public schools in the United States of the 1980s in which a student does not learn to read and write capably and two or three years of spasmodic schooling on the frontier a century ago which produced a literate person?… Read the rest

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Texas baby is born with Zika-related microcephaly

July 20, 2016
Texas baby is born with Zika-related microcephaly

The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed a Zika virus infection in a baby recently born with microcephaly in Harris County.
The July 13 report is the first official confirmation of a Zika-related microcephaly case in Texas. According to the agency, the mother traveled from Latin America, where she was likely infected and the baby acquired the infection in utero.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt. “This underscores the damage Zika can have on unborn babies. Our state’s work against Zika has never been more vital.”
DSHS is coordinating with Harris County Public Health and the U.S.… Read the rest

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