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No, I ‘really’ don’t know what happened

March 15, 2017
No, I ‘really’ don’t know what happened

The bride said, “Really?”
And not in a you-are-my-hero kind of way but in a voice that rises as it concludes the two syllable word.
“Really?” As in look-what-you’ve-done-now/you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me manner.
She held up a pair of pants that I had just worn to work the day before, having recently commented that they were my favorite pants.
There was a colossal hole in the seat of the pants.
Really.
A hole so big you could shoot a basketball through it, or watch TV with them on your head.
I am hard on clothes, admittedly.
Also I wear them forever. The Bride literally has to distract me to throw something away.… Read the rest

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Physician, heal thyself…from FOMO

March 15, 2017
Physician, heal thyself…from FOMO

I have a confession. I suffer from one of the most common diseases in our culture. It is insidious, highly contagious, and terribly debilitating. You may not have heard of it, but I guarantee you know someone who has it, and chances are high that, if you will closely examine yourself, you will see some symptoms, if not a full-blown case.
Some of the symptoms:
1. The inability to say “no” to a request or the need to over-explain or apologize when you must say “no” because you feel guilty every time you say it.
2. A to-do list that gets longer every day, no matter how many things you accomplish because you add two items for every one you check off.… Read the rest

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Better safe than sorry? Burning a town in wartime

March 15, 2017
Better safe than sorry? Burning a town in wartime

This column first appeared April 3, 1986.

Erastus “Deaf” Smith and another scout, a younger man named John York, scouted the countryside during the last week of March and the first week of April for General Sam Houston to try to determine the location of the Mexican force and thus keep track of all enemy movements.
The two men saw a large movement crossing the San Bernard River 12 miles west of San Felipe.
San Felipe was the settlement on the Brazos River that Stephen F. Austin and his original Three Hundred colonists had established during the winter of 1821-22 when the first wave of Anglo colonists came.… Read the rest

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Mind-hurting Minecraft

March 15, 2017
Mind-hurting Minecraft

Minecraft.
To me, it is nothing more than digital LEGOS – which would be fun to play when not being bossed around by a 10 year old – but to my son, it is one of the most amazing manmade creations in the history of the world.
This boy, who neither I, his teachers (who should really qualify for sainthood), nor God himself can get to sit still for more than five minutes during any other activity, can spend hours upon hours building towers and houses and ships and villages in Minecraft.
Last weekend he asked me to play the game with him.… Read the rest

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Federal court panel rules against Texas redistricting plan

March 15, 2017
Federal court panel rules against Texas redistricting plan

Three of Texas’ 36 congressional districts are unconstitutional because of racial or political gerrymandering, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled on March 10.
The judges ruled 2-1 that the districts’ boundaries, drawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011 and 2013, violate the U.S. Constitution.
Plaintiffs in the case called Perez et al. v. Abbott et al. mounted statewide and regional claims in South and West Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the Houston area under Section 2 of the U.S. Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment. States that have a history of race-based voter suppression may be subject to judicial pre-clearance of redistricting plans under Section 2.… Read the rest

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Cry, baby, cry…you’re old enough to know better

March 8, 2017
Cry, baby, cry…you’re old enough to know better

 

Maybe it’s my fire department training.
Maybe it’s some misplaced, deep-seated machismo.
Or maybe I’m just heartless.
Whichever, I don’t cry too often – with rare exceptions.
I have done CPR on a six-week-old infant and a 90-year-old woman. Even a dog.
Never wept.
I’ve seen everything a family owned burned away.
Didn’t cry.
I’ve seen people mangled in cars, screaming as we tried to cut them out.
No tears.
I did not cry when my little brother died.
Or my dad.
Or mom.
Or big brother.
It’s not that I wasn’t sad. I mainly was so glad their suffering was over that it was a relief.… Read the rest

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Just don’t read the comments!

March 8, 2017
Just don’t read the comments!

As a blogger/columnist, I read a lot more than I write. It’s important that I hear more voices than my own. It’s also important, perhaps even more so, that I hear voices that come from a different viewpoint.
As much as I like my own opinions and am convinced about my own values, I’ve never really learned much from reading my own stuff. (Some others might say they have never learned much from reading my stuff either. That would be really mean of them to say, but they might say it nonetheless.)
There was a time, in the not-too-distant past, when reading was not interactive.… Read the rest

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Western author mastered many kinds of writing

March 8, 2017
Western author mastered many kinds of writing

This column first appeared May 4, 1995.

Sometimes one is in the presence of greatness and perhaps does not appreciate it at the time.
Back in the early 1970s, I attended several workshops at Utah State University called “The West: Its literature and history.” Planners of the workshop invited novelists and literary people who had written about the American West as well as historians of the West. One of the guest authors was Wallace Stenger.
Because some friends and I had attended the workshop two or three times before in previous years, the director and his wife invited a couple of us to ride down to Salt Lake City from Logan, Utah to take Wallace Stenger to the airport after his presentation.… Read the rest

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Traveling troubles

March 8, 2017
Traveling troubles

Two weekends ago I took a road trip to Austin with my brother to meet our middle sister for a celebration of her 21st birthday on Sixth Street.
(By the way, if you want to feel ancient, go hang out with a bunch of partying 20 and 21-year-olds when you’re pushing 30 – you’ll feel like a grandma.)
That trip got me to thinking about the last journey we took, just the three of us.
Last July my sister and her boyfriend were in town from Lubbock visiting their families before their planned move to Colorado.
They were under the impression that they had until mid-August to empty out their current apartment which, as we found out, was incorrect.… Read the rest

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House, Senate approve bills to protect children in foster system

March 8, 2017
House, Senate approve bills to protect children in foster system

 

Both houses of the Texas Legislature last week passed bills to improve the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for emergency action to improve child protection programs.
Tasked with protecting children, elders and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect and exploitation, the DFPS, part of the Texas Health and Human Commission, has attracted attention in recent years for inadequate funding and staffing to meet obligations.
Senate Bill 11, whose primary author is Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, was approved by the Senate on March 1. The bill would shift to private contractors the DFPS’s foster care management mission, but the state would remain the ultimate guardian over foster children, Schwertner said.… Read the rest

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