Monday, March 14, 2005

Just Up the Road a Way ...

With the boys out of school for spring break, and with family in town, we decided to head north and spend a day in Lubbock. At a distance of about 110 miles, Lubbock is - by West Texas standards, at least - just up the road a way.

The road from Midland to Lubbock may seem like a tremendous amount of nothing to some. The flat terrain and sparse clusters of population may seem like another world to some. To others, it's a look at what was once a more common - even predominate - setting for our country and its way of life - rural America.

Yet, in the two hours or so that it took to get from here to there, we had plenty to observe and discuss.

For example, it's not often that one sees more than one of the region's traditional industries doing well at the same time ... but it's happening now. Only now are the gins turning out the last bales of the 2004 cotton crop, which has already gone into the record books. I had more than one story last year about the growing optimism among cotton farmer - due to the rain that was nourishing their crops. Later, we had a report about growing concern among those same farmers - due, again to the rain that now was soaking the ground and preventing harvesters from going into the fields. But it turned out all right ... and early indications are that West Texas cotton growers may be at the start of another good year. We did see plenty of tilling going on alongside the highway.

And then there's the oil business. Old wells are being pulled out of early retirement, and new wells are being developed. People are going back to work, and there were stops along the highway between Midland and Lubbock where you could see two or three rigs at work. Plenty of traffic on the highway, too. Pound for pound, a steel rig is more valuable than gold right now. And if it isn't working a site, it's on the back of a truck hurrying to the next site.

What else? Well, more cattle, more horses and more goats. They're growing sunflowers around the town of O'Donnell ("Home of Dan Blocker"), and while the newly-tilled fields are bare now, they will be dazzling later this year. Early grape-growing ventures in the Llano Estacado are now fully mature vineyards, and the wines they produce enjoy a growing reputation. We visited the Caprock Winery on this trip, and enjoyed an entertaining tour and a liberal tasting. I've often noticed that the more generous the tasting at the winery, the more generous our purchase, and the same held true on this visit.

Spanky's, across the street from Texas Tech, for lunch. I had the green chile cheeseburger, and cheese sticks ... Delicious! After that, we visited the Silent Wings Museum - a tribute to the glider forces that trained in Lubbock during World War II. Silent Wings is not nearly as large as Midland's CAF, but it is every bit as good. Then, we enjoyed a movie at the Omni Theater in the Science Museum.

Our last stop in Lubbock was one of the boy's ideas - the Krispy Kreme Donut Shop. Large glass windows allow you to follow the progress of the dough, its shaping, cooking, glazing, etc. And it's hard to beat the taste of an absolutely fresh donut. We had some at the shop, with coffee, and took another dozen home with us for the next day's breakfast ... packed securely in the trunk to make sure they lasted would still be around at breakfast-time.

There's plenty more to Lubbock, of course. But this was just a day trip. We'll be heading back soon ... since it really is just up the road a way.


Let the Sun Shine In ...
TEXAS - Legislators use mixture of recorded, non-recorded votes

AUSTIN, TEXAS (AP) - The Texas Legislature is thick into the debate school finance. In the House, lawmakers took their usual approach in debating and passing legislation. They chose at times to cast recorded votes, but at other times held non-recorded voice votes.

Although some legislators propose creating a state law or constitutional amendment requiring lawmakers to record their votes, those measures remain in legislative committees. Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick has indicated he doesn't think the state needs new requirements in the law or constitution.

Legislative rules were changed in January in part to allow lawmakers an easier way to request a recorded vote.

Dozens of Texas civic, media, open government and political organizations are pushing for recorded votes, including The Associated Press.

Doug Toney is publisher of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung and a representative of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association and Texas Press Association. Toney says open government -- is accountable government.

At least 40 states require a recorded, or roll-call, vote on final passage of every bill in both legislative chambers ... Texas isn't one of them.


Pancho said...

If you looked waaaaay off to the West near the turn-off to Andrews you might have spotted a rig working to recompete one of our wells..

Working, that is, if they could find enough qualified "hands" to go to work. A real problem now.

Jeff said...

As a matter of fact, we did see a couple of rigs at that turnoff, and I'll bet that distant one was yours. We were also noticing all the Holt Ranch develelopments in that area.

Busy, busy, busy ...

You cite a genuine problem, though, about the field hands