Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not a Bad Idea ...

"Feds Go Online to Brief Masses About Swine Flu," says this report from The Washington Post. Three agency heads - HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Richard Besser of the CDC and Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security - will conduct a live question-and-answer online session at 12:00 noon (central) today. The hour-long "town hall" will be streamed on and, and questions can be e-mailed to

Keeping It Simple, Sensible ...

I've long enjoyed the work of NBC's chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman for her no-nonsense approach to health issues in the news, foregoing the sensationalism in favor of straightforward, sensible discussion.

Here, she talks to TODAY’s Meredith Vieira about what you need to know to help protect yourself from the swine flu that has filled our headlines this week.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Now You See It ... Now You Don't ...

Having all kinds of "fun" with Blogger today. My posts are there ... then they're not ... then ... I don't know. More later ... maybe ... or maybe not.

Happy Birthday, Duke ...

Composer and arranger, pianist and bandleader Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, regarded by many as one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music, was born on this day in 1899.

You can read all about the man, his life and his music at,, and his Wikipedia entry.

But also look for opportunities to watch and listen, like this clip from
jazzart1 at YouTube ...

I Don't Usually Envy NM's Aggies ...

But the UNM Lobo in me may have to make an exception in this case. New Mexico State University now has its own hot sauce, Holy Jolokia.

"Holy Jolokia sauce," we are told, "is made from the Bhut Jolokia chile. Paul Boaslund, regents professor of horticulture, holds a Guinness World Record for confirming Bhut Jolokia as 'the hottest of all spices,' tested at NMSU at more than one million Scoville Heat Units. This 2006 discovery was extraordinary since the previous record hot chile, a Red Savina, contained only 577,000 SHUs (a typical New Mexico green chile has 1,500 SHUs)."
CLICK HERE for the rest of the story on @nmsu

A portion of bottle sales will contribute to an endowed chair and new facilities for the
Chile Pepper Institute at NMSU ... a grand and noble institution, even if it is run by a bunch of Aggies! :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Congrats to Coach Cowdrey's Class! ...

'Proud Papa Moment' here ... Congratulations to Curt Cowdrey's robotics class at San Jacinto Junior High School for building, then firing the winning trebuchet at the West Texas Milk Jug Chuckin' Competition, this past weekend at MC.

Here's a good write-up on the event, with lots of photos, from George at Sleepless in Midland.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Night to Remember ...

For a few hours, Saturday night, Rockhouse Ranch in northeast Culberson County was 'party central' in West Texas, and provided one of the best evenings I've had in a loooooong time!

Getting there, AS U-Haul ads would remind us, is part of the fun. You get far enough west, and the West Texas countryside is a sight to behold. And as we proceeded westward, we drew closer to a break in the overcast, and clearer, sunlit skies that brought added highlights to the mountainscapes. After Van Horn, it was just under 45 miles of FM and ranch roads till we arrived at our destination.

We were greeted with all the hospitality one could ask for, plenty of good food (BBQ and all the trimmings) and drink (soft and not-at-all-soft), and a peach-blueberry cobbler for dessert that was, in-and-of-itself, sufficient reason for the trip. Plenty of socializing, as well, with lots of old friends, and new acquaintances made.

The weather, further-west and higher-up from the Permian basin, was mild. And after a colorful sunset, we enjoyed a comfortable evening under the stars, dancing to music by "Asleep at the Wheel," who offered-up everything from Bob Wills to Patsy Cline to Willie Nelson, and more.

All in all, a night 'big as all Texas.' ... a night to remember ... a night to cherish.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Thrill of Victory, and Agony on 'de Feet ...

My family REALLY liked this video and asked me to share it with you. "Never play against someone like him," malibari at YouTube advises.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Socker Soccer Night, 6

And that's a wrap. A hard-played, but scoreless draw between the West Texas Sockers and Soles de Ciudad Juarez. About 2,000 people in attendance, tonight, including a good number here to cheer for the visitors ... the game has a strong fan base in Mexico, and in the Mexican-American community, which is one reason you see so many FMF jerseys around this part of the country. Tomorrow night, another Mexican team, Municipality of Juarez, takes the field against the Sockers.

A couple of notes on off-field matters ... a couple weeks back, I raised some concerns about the ball boys, and their activities on the sidleines - MUCH improved this time around, with the kids staying put, and staying focused on the game ... Next, even by the scheduled game time, the weather had taken a mild turn, and made for a pleasant evening ... And finally, when we have an international friendly such as this, maybe we should have that country's national anthem on file to play during the opening - they do it in baseball, and it's a nice touch.

Socker Soccer Night, 5

Ten minutes into the second half, and more of what we saw in the first half - lots of action, lots of time in the vistors' half of the field, and lots of pressure on their goal ... but no score, yet. Good play by Juarez' keeper, some help from his defensive backs, and - admittedly - some missed shots by the Sockers.

Socker Soccer Night, 4

Halftime, no score, but plenty of action. The ball's spent a majority of time in Juarez' half of the field, with lots of shots on the visitors' goal. If it weren't for some great moves by Juarez' goalkeeper, the Sockers would probably have something on the board.

Socker Soccer Night, 3

P.K. takes the field ...
The officials take the field ...
The teams take the field ...
It's nine o'clock, and it's showtime at last.

Socker Soccer Night, 2

A live shot on the stadium marquee shows a charter bus negotiating the turns in the stadium area ... Solas aqui?

Socker Soccer Night, 1

Nothing to report, yet ... because the game hasn't started, yet. About one hour after the scheduled start of tonight's game, and the opposing team - Soles de Ciudad Juarez - is yet to take the field. The word in the stands is that their bus is caught in traffic somewhere ... which could means lot of things, judging by the various theories making the rounds.

Stuff happens ... I'll keep you posted.

A Good Man ...

Don Cannon went to be with his Lord and Savior on April, 19, 2009 after a long-fought and courageous battle with cancer. He's been described as "a hard worker and a friend to all those whom he came into contact with" ... and I can attest to that.

CLICK HERE to read Don's complete obit in the MRT.

Ours is a better community because of Don, and those of us who came to know him are the better for that association. He was 'good people,' and I miss him.

More Socker Soccer ...

Tonight finds me on an evening out with friends and family, enjoying an international challenge for West Texas' pro soccer venture. The West Texas Sockers kickoff tonight at Grande Stadium.

The Sockers will face Soles de Cd. Juarez, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Grande, in the latest of a series of exhibition games the Sockers will play before opening the regular season on May 2 at El Paso.

A few months back, I expressed my support on this blog for such a venture, and went on to purchase season tickets as soon as they were available. There's still time to get YOUR tickets ... call (432) 520-2255 for more information.

As any fan of the beautiful game can tell you, it's played with a special passion in Mexico. And Elder Son can tell you, from first-hand experience, they have a VERY GOOD pitch on which to play. We're looking forward to tonight's game.

We shall not, we shall not be moved,
We shall not, we shall not be moved,
Just like the team, that's gonna win the cup!
We shall not be moved.
(with apologies to fans of Man-U)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Birthday Bard

William Shakespeare, English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. Was born on this day in 1564. He is credited with at least 38 plays (which have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright) as well as 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems.

For a man of such enduring words - and, OH, what words! - Shakespeare didn't leave all that much of a paper trail, and so much of what we 'know' about his life is based on speculation and conjecture ... informed speculation and conjecture, true, but all that nonetheless. In fact, that's what comprises my favorite 'bio' of the Bard, "
Will In the World by Stephen Greenblatt ... a great deal of informed speculation, arising from the pittance of documented facts we have about the man and his life.

Of course, such speculation also opens the door for some entertaining flights of fancy, whether it's an episode of "Doctor Who" or a favorite movie of mine, "Shakespeare In Love."

It really is difficult to describe, with any sense of adequacy, the impact Shakespeare's work has had on us all ... and not just here, in the west. Just last weekend, Younger Son and I were watching "Throne of Blood," one of a number of stories by Shakespeare, adapted for Japanese cinema by Akira Kurosawa. And, sometimes, the influence might be much smaller ... yet still significant ... where would would Tolkien's Lord of the Rings be without Treebeard and the ents? And where would THEY be if a young Tolkien hadn't once speculated on what it would be like if Birnam Wood actually DID march on Dunsinane Castle?

"There was a star danced, and under that was I born."

William Shakespeare - Digital Collection

The Internet Shakespeare Editions

The Royal Shakespeare Company website

Shakespeare's Will, in Latin

William Shakespeare at Find A Grave

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It Ain't Easy Being Green .....

At least that's the conclusion reached in this slideshow feature at It provides some chuckles for my next-to-last Earth Day post, as it places some shots across the bow of celebrities who may not practice what they preach when it comes to the environment concerns and how our lifestyle reflects those concerns.

It's the eco-gaffes of the rich and famous ... Enjoy!

A Sample of Earth Day Media .....

It would be hard to find an outlet, in any medium, that does not have something about Earth Day. One sample, and one of the most far-reaching can be found at

It's described as, "the digital home of NBC Universal's commitment to bring an environmental perspective to our networks, our platforms, our audiences, our communities ... in fact, to everything we do."

Nothing new, here ... many of you have seen the green icons in the corner of your television screen while watching a Universal-related product ... and there are A LOT of those. But it does have special empasis this time of year. According to its website, "two times of the year, Green is Universal incorporates environmentally themed content across NBC Universal's multiple platforms. Earth Week always occurs in April and Green Week always occurs in November."

And a look at the "NBCU Green Sites" running down a column on the right-hand side of the pages, gives you an idea just how far their message can reach ... impressive, to say the least.

Whether it earns your love, your hate or your indifference ... is well worth at least an exploratory visit on your part.

Earth Day Photo Project ...

Stepping back from the punditz and the politicians for a moment, what do regular people have to say about positive, sensible applications of environmentalism? If you believe a picture is truly worth a thousand words, you'll want to check out the answers found at the Earth Day Photo Project sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and Flickr.

Each year, for Earth Day, the EPA conducts a photo project, wanting to see how people would show the agency's mission to protect human health and the environment.

On a Related Note .....

Don't forget that Arbor Day, a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care, takes place Friday, April 24, 2009. This year's theme is "Planting the Seeds of Tomorrow Today."
CLICK HERE for more information from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Celebrate Earth AND Space .....

"Earth Day is a great day to celebrate our planet, reflect on new ways to protect it - and widen your planetary perspective as well," Alan Boyle writes in this post at Cosmic Log.

"To mark the occasion, you can download the latest goodies from the Hubble Space Telescope, send out personalized postcards of our home planet and catch one of the season's best sky shows."

"It turns out that the 40th annual observance of Earth Day on April 22 is just one reason to celebrate: Wednesday also marks the peak of the spring season's best-known meteor shower, the Lyrids. Then, on Friday, Hubble officially turns 19 years old - and that's why so many treats from outer space are being made available this week."
CLICK HERE for the rest of Boyle's post on ways to maximize your cosmic celebration.

Earth Day Video Project ...

Stepping back from the punditz and the politicians for a moment, what do regular people have to say about positive, sensible applications of environmentalism? One source for answers can be found at the Earth Day Video Project sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and YouTube.

Throughout the month of April, in honor of Earth Day on April 22, the EPA is featuring videos people around the country have created. Those videos can be instructional, inspirational, or testimonial, with a special emphasis on videos that call others to action.

Among those participating in the project, this year, is a fellow Keystone-Stater. Erica Biery is a local Lehigh Valley freelance recycled glass artist & instructor, and makes the wine bottle cheese boards for
Close the Loop

How Big is YOUR Ecological Footprint? ...

The Earth Day Network Footprint Caclculator helps you find out "how many planets it takes to support your lifestyle."

According to their website, the "Earth Day Network was founded on the premise that all people, regardless of race, gender, income, or geography, have a moral right to a healthy, sustainable environment. Our mission is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide, and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle for promoting a healthy, sustainable environment. We pursue our mission through a combination of education, public policy, and consumer activism campaigns. Our campaign and programs are predicated on the belief that an educated, energized population will take action to secure a healthy future for itself and its children. Earth Day Network has a global reach with a network of more than 17,000 partners and organizations in 174 countries. More than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world."

Community College Community - Earth Day .....

My work at Midland College has included getting the word out about Earth Day Fair, taking place today, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at Beal Plaza, on our main campus.

Organizations have been invited to set up booths that provide information on why conservation and recycling is important and to suggest a variety of ways of accomplishing these tasks. Participants include the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Keep Midland Beautiful, Butts Recycling, TXU Energy, Midland Memorial Hospital and Texas Agrilife Extension.

In the process of learning about environmental responsibility, organizers also plan on having fun, with a number of games - all in keeping with the recycling theme.

• A ‘Trash Dodge ball’ tournament, with balls made of recyclable trash.
• How big is your carbon footprint? This game is played by answering a series of questions which will then determine your impact on the environment.
• A dunking booth, offering an opportunity to dunk your favorite administrator, staff or faculty member or maybe a coach or athlete.
• A ‘Trash Art’ Contest.
• A raffle, food and drinks, and T-shirts.

Admission is free and open to the public. Call 685-4618 for more information.

Getting to the Roots of Earth Day .....

It's hard to believe that it's been forty years since the seed for a worldwide celebration of the Earth and its environment was planted forty years ago, by a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.

According to this post on Wikipedia, "Earth Day, celebrated April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It is held annually during both spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year." That post goes on to report that, responding to what he saw as widespread environmental degradation, Nelson "called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and Earth Day is now observed each year on April 22 by more than 500 million people and national governments in 175 countries."

This post from the Earth Day Network notes that Nelson's innaugural "teach-in" was one of several significant events that year, in just about every facet of American society, including "the Kent State shootings, the advent of fiber optics, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Apollo 13, the Beatles' last album, the death of Jimi Hendrix, the birth of Mariah Carey, and the meltdown of fuel rods in the Savannah River nuclear plant near Aiken, South Carolina - an incident not acknowledged for 18 years."

Interesting note on Earth Day's origins, and its designation for April 22nd ... this post at Environmental Graffiti notes, "perhaps the most endearing thing about the holiday is the footnote surrounding the reason Earth Day is on April 22nd: Eddie Albert. Yes, that Eddie Albert: the warden in The Longest Yard, and Oliver on Green Acres. The actor was so active in the early environmental movements that the decision was made when organizing Earth Day that it should be held on his birthday, April 22nd. After this, he proudly spent celebrating the planet, instead of himself, for the rest of his life." Similar claims are made at imdb, and, while wikipedia suggests it's just a coincidence.

Appreciation of Earth Day, and support for its goals is NOT universal ... even among environmentalists. "Make This Earth Day Your Last," write Alex Steffen and Sarah Rich, in this post at, calling for stronger connections, more information and "a dramatic break with the past."

Go Ahead, Hug That Tree - It's Okay .....

Quick ..... picture an 'environmentalist' in your mind, and what do you see? ..... Who are these people, anyway? ..... And where do they get their crazy ideas?

All too often, people deal with stereotypes formed from incomplete and inaccurate observations. For example, because one totes a firearm (and, maybe, hunts), does that make one some kind of NRA-cold-dead-fingers-off-the-trigger fanatic? ..... maybe not.

Because one is an environmentalist, does that make one some kind of wild-eyed-tie-dyed-bare-footed-tree-hugging-leftist-leaning-granola-eating hippie? ..... again, maybe not.

That's not to say there aren't some individuals out there who might fit those stereotypes ..... but you have to ask yourself if they are the 'rule' or the 'exception' ..... are YOU an environmentalist, even just a little bit? ..... you may be, even if you haven't spent much time at an outdoor concert in Woodstock; a commune in Taos, or a revolutionary neighborhood in San Francisco.

Me? My environmental roots took hold in very different soil, in lessons learned from my family, my parents and my grandparents. They were people who experienced first-hand the Great Wars of the 1910s and the 1940s, and the Great Depression of the 1930s. My father's family were farmers, and that provided an added lesson for me to respect the blessings that are the earth and its resources, and to do whatever I can - within reason - to nurture those resources, to use them well and wisely .....

..... to be a good steward. My family had never heard of Gaia (that was something I learned later, in college), but there was still something spiritual - a matter of fundamental faith - in their relationship to the Earth and its resources. They had read in the
Bible (KJV), the Book of Genesis, that their dominion over the Earth and its resources, and their command to replenish and subdue, came from God ..... pretty heady stuff, and a topic that is still the subject of heated debate today.

Spirituality ..... and frugality ..... wasting nothing ..... helping to make limited ends meet by finding a way to use (or re-use) anything and everything before you decide to dispose of it ...... to repair/rebuild/restore the old before having to buy the new - a decision that is taken more and more out of our hands in the modern electronic age, where car maintenance (for example) is not as easy it was in my father's day. And frugality extends to the kitchen, as well ..... recipes my grandma shared with me, and strategies for re-using products, and stretching limited amounts of meat, and serving leftovers in a creative manner, reflected the days when household budgets were especially tight.

Spirituality ... and frugality ... and patriotism. World Wars I and II were fought on many fronts, including the home front, where we were asked (and, in some cases, required) to conserve valuable resources such as gasoline, needed to aid the war effort. In retrospect, it seems to me that recycling efforts of the past thirty years (which I have experienced) were nothing compared to those of the 1940s (which I did not experience, but were described to me by my parents and grandparents). And Victory Gardens (some as big as a house lot, some as small as a window box) provided fresh produce that might be lacking on store shelves.

Spirituality ... frugality ... patriotism ... and good economic/business sense. Take
aluminum recycling, for example. Some are surprised that the process has been used since the early 1900s - it only gained a high profile in the 1960s and 70s as environmentalism became more and more a part of the public consciousness. According to industry statistics, recycling aluminum uses 95% less energy, and a lot less money, than making new aluminum through the mining and refining of ore products. And recycling aluminum (or any other recyclable product), rather than just throwing it away, also makes good sense to taxpayers who have to pay for growing waste/landfill services in their community ..... and even those who make fun of 'tree-huggers' can appreciate anything that reduces our shared tax burden.

Spirituality ... frugality ... patriotism ... good economic sense ... and pride. Environmentalism reflects my love for, and pride in my community and its appearance. And that includes efforts to pick up the trash that others have discarded along our roadsides, in our parks, and around our town ... and recycling ... and promoting reasonable alternatives ... and including environmentalism in the issues that guide my vote.

Anyway, that's why I AM an environmentalist ..... and proud of it.

CLICK HERE for more on Earth Day 2009.
CLICK HERE for a neat, related feature, "Earth as Art"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We've Got Nothing on the Greeks ...

Last week, I told you about the musical fireworks that marked Easter at First Prez-Midland. Well, that's nothing compared to the actual fireworks marking Orthodox Easter at Virgin Mary and Saint Mark churches of Vrontado, Greece.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

So, any chance of getting something like that started here? Maybe an exchange between First Prez and First United Methodist? :-)>

Memories on Wheels ...

I remember Pinewood Derby cars from my youth in Scouting ... and I'll bet some of you do, too. Other Scouting traditions have come and gone, but these little hand-crafted racers are still out there, still rolling ... some as far as International Falls, Minnesota. Which has me asking, "Do Pinewood Derby cars come with snow treads?"

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Monday, April 20, 2009

Steeler Nation, Mon! .....

When I stepped through the doors of a resturant in the Bahamas, I didn't expect to find myself in a tribute to one of the most storied franchises in American professional sports.

But that's what greeted me, a few weeks back, at the
Bahamian Kitchen Restaurant & Lounge, in Nassau, the Bahamas. The sign on the sidewalk told me that I would be able to satisfy my craving for authentic Bahamian cuisine. One of the signs just inside the door assured me that I would be dining in good company, among fellow citizens of the Steeler Nation.

I was given a tour of the restaurant by Tom Kessler, a minority owner off the establishment. Tom - who has lived in the Bahamas for forty years - is a dang Yankee from back-east, like myself. He hails from Ohio, and - when it comes to football - his heart belongs to teams from the Buckeye State. We did recall some great games, though, between his Browns and Bengals, and my Steelers. Somehow, it seems that even during the 70s, when the Steelers were so good, they always had the hardest time with those teams from Ohio ... teams that really weren't doing so well the rest of the season, but always 'played up' when they faced Pittsburgh. Tom was good company, and that contributed to a great meal.

Then there's Michael Brice, manager and majority owner of the restaurant ... AND HE LOVES THE STEELERS! Throughout the Bahamas, I encountered a mix of local and international passion for sports. Rooting for Cavaliers FC, or Manchester United in soccer ... Bahamas crickett or American baseball ... and American football. Reminders of Michael's passion for Pittsburgh mingled with junkanoo decorations and other colorful reminders of his island home. After preparing and serving-up a wonderful meal, Michael joined me for a photo ... taken by another local, who is a fan of the Miami Dolphins, but graciously agreed to take the photo nonetheless.

Friday, April 17, 2009

West Texan having his say in Austin's BoE debate ...

Kel Seliger,one of West Texas' reps in the state legislature, has told the Senate Education Committee that the state's education board has become too politicized and is not always focused on what is best for schoolchildren.

According to
this report from Terrence Stutz of the Dallas Morning News, "four state senators, fed up with curriculum and textbook battles at the State Board of Education, pitched legislation Tuesday that would strip the board of its authority over curriculum and textbooks and transfer it to the commissioner of education."

Really, I'm not surprised to find Seliger involved in a debate over the best interest of our kids. I first met him a few years back, in Austin ... he was a freshman senator, and I was one of the parents of a group of Midland schoolchildren who were in town that week to receive a statewide award for achievement in environmental quality. He greeted the kids that day in the capitol building - something our House rep didn't have time for. Seliger joined them again that night, sitting at their table - rather than the one reserved for officials - during the awards banquet.

I met him again in Odessa, while I was attending a fundraiser for Austin Seminary. Our talk quickly came around to the kids ... how they were doing, and what paths in education, sports and hobbies they were now taking.

I would meet him again, still later, when the TYC scandal was breaking open ... starting in Pyote, and later reverberating across the state. He was an ouspoken critic of the state agency that was supposed to taking care of Texas youngsters, helping them to turn their lives around and set them on a new, more productive path. To say that he was angry with those who had abused their position, would be an understatement.

IMHO, Kel Seliger is a good man ... and a good advocate for Texas youngsters.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Goodbye to a Guy I Loved to Hate ...

... at least I did when he was head coach of the Oakland Raiders, that sworn nemesis of my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. My regard for him changed dramatically, though, when he made the move from the sidelines to the announcer's box - where he quickly became one of my favorites.

NEW YORK, N.Y. (NBC) - NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol announced today that John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and the most honored broadcaster in sports television history, has decided to retire from broadcasting. the rest of the story follows ...

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

Of Special Interest to Pecos Countians Past and Present ...

Its a question that's been asked for years, every time human remains were found somewhere in Pecos County ... "Is it Joe Daggett?"

It's a question I would ask when I was managing editor of the Fort Stockton Pioneer, every time Pecos County Sheriff Bruce Wilson (and later, Sheriff Cliff Harris) was called to examine the site where the remains would be found. The disappearance and presumed death of Joe Daggett has generated a lot of speculation over the past two decades ... and, lately, a lot of renewed interest and investigation.

Now comes word that this cold case may be heating-up ... a few months back, it was a new and more specific search for Daggett's remains ... now comes word of the arrest of a New Mexico man in connection with that case. Here's more on these developments from KWES-TV ...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Opportunity to Make a Joyful (?) Noise .....

He is risen ...
Christ is risen, indeed ...

A pretty-full house for early service and a filled-to-capacity house for late service this morning at First Prez-Midland, and I don't think anyone went home disappointed. The church's staff and ministry did themselves proud today, and the message of Christ's resurrection - and our salvation - was loud, clear and compelling.

There was a little something for everyone ... including me. A small notice in the church bulletin said, "Those who have sung the 'Hallelujah Chorus' and would like to join with the choir in this great anthem, please come to the chancel during the singing of 'Because He Lives'"

I had ... so I did. As I have done for the past three Easters - and for the only time in more than thirty years, I sang that awesome piece with a choir. And not just the choir this morning, but accompanied by brass and organ.

I was a tenor in high school, and I don't quite have the range now, that I did then. The lump in my throat - not the result of stage fright but, rather of exhilaration - didn't help either ... it was a wonderful moment. And even as I mangled this note or that, I didn't care ... I was making a joyful noise, nonetheless. And, I enjoyed it so much that I came back and sang at late service, as well.

Perhaps what I felt was something like what Edward Hoagland * once described ...

"Though I'd seen mobs behave savagely, some of my experience was of the moments when, on the contrary, a benign expressiveness, even a kind of sweetness, is loosed. When life seems to be an unmixed good, the more the merrier, and each man rises to a sense of glee and mitigation, alleviation, or freedom that, perhaps, we wouldn't quite dare to feel if he were alone. The smiling likeness, infectious blitheness, the loose, exultant sense of unity in which sometimes, the mass of people as a whole, seems to improve upon the better nature of the parts."

"This intrigued me."

"Just as with other natural wonders of the world, to which one relinquishes one's self, instead of feeling smaller, I often felt bigger when I was packed into a multitude And taking for granted the potential for mayhem of crowds, of which so much has been written, I was fascinated instead by the clear, pealing gaiety."

"It manifests itself, for instance, in the extraordinary quality that singing by a congregation acquires. The humdrum and unlovely voices gradually merge into a sweet, uniquely pristine note, a note angelic-sounding, hardly believable. Looking about, one can't see who in particular might have such a voice. Everybody in the pew has an expression as if he were about to sneeze, and squawks just a little. It is a note created only when hundreds sing ... it needs them all. No single person is responsible, any more than any individual in a mob lends that its bestiality."

"It's like riding in surf. It's like a Dantean ascent ... one circle up. Suddenly, we like all these strangers, even the stranger in ourselves, and seem to see a shape in life, as if all the exertions of the week really were justified and were a source of joy."

Alleluia ... Amen

With thanks to Florence Sherwood, Chorus Director at Dallas Senior High School, Dallas, Pennsylvania, for her wonderful talent and her incredible patience.

* And
HERE is a little more on Edward Hoagland.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Socker Soccer Night, 5

And that's a wrap. The West Texas Sockers defeat the Arizona Sahuaros 1-0 in the first game played by the area's newest sports franchise. All in all, the Sockers looked good tonight, and I don't think anyone went home disappointed ... except the Sahuaros.

Nice touch ... the Sockers coming over to the sideline to applaud and celebrate with the fans ... it's a soccer thing, and I like it.

Stray thought ... I visited with some who have scrimmaged the Sockers, and they thought West Texas can do even better, which is great news for the franchise. They'll need it in two week, when they play their next home game against Juarez, April 24th at Grande. Not all soccer is created equal, and Mexican futbol is a wonderful thing ... just ask any local fans of Toluca, Cruz Azul, Pachuca or "THE" Chivas (the one in Guadalajara).

A gripe ... and it's a small one, really. The ball boys working the sidelines need to settle down, and stay focused on the game. More than once, I saw a ball boy coming dangerously close to the sideline, chasing a ball his buddy had kicked to him, at the same time that a player was on the other side, running full-tilt to keep a ball from going out-of-bounds.

Socker Soccer Night, 4 ...

No scores, yet, in the second half, but plenty of action ... some of it a little rough, drawing cries from the crowd, and whistles from the ref. Really, though, the Sockers are playing well, and continue to do well, even as the tenor of the game changes.

75 minutes into the game, and the Sockers coach has begun subbing, be West Texas continues to lead 1-0.

Stadium music includes Blondie and Foreigner ... I approve.

Socker Soccer Night, 3 ...

Halftime. Sockers kept the pressure on Arizona's goal ... no more scores, though, thanks to good play by the Sahuaros' keeper. Our keeper's playing VERY WELL, with a clean sheet for the first half.

Spoke to a couple of teens from the Dallas Texans (West Texas) club, veterans of play across west and north Texas, who said they were impressed by the level of skill shown by the fledgeling Sockers.

Socker Soccer Night, 2 ...

26 minutes into the first half, Carlos Guillen drives through defenders, gets around Arizona's goalkeeper, and scores! A great effort on Guillen's part! Dockers lead 1-0.

Socker Soccer Night, 1 ...

A good night of soccer under way. The Sahuaros have been together longer, and they seem generally larger than our Sockers. But the West Texans are playing well, and playing tough. No score at this time - goalkeeping on both sides has been excellent. A good turnout in the stands, considering it's a ore-season game for a brand new franchise. Great pitch, moderate temperatures, but a little too breezy for some.

Socker Soccer ...

Tonight finds me with Elder Son and a couple of his friends, enjoying the premier of West Texas' pro soccer venture. The West Texas Sockers - quite literally - kickoff tonight at Grande Stadium.

The Sockers will face the Arizona Sahuaros, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Grande, in the first of a series of exhibition games the Sockers will play before opening the regular season on May 2 at El Paso.

A few months back, I expressed my support on this blog for such a venture, and went on to purchase season tickets as soon as they were available.

Even taking into account this being a newly-created team, in a pre-season match, we're looking forward to the game. And Elder Son can tell you, from first-hand experience, they have a VERY GOOD pitch on which to play.

We shall not, we shall not be moved,
We shall not, we shall not be moved,
Just like the team, that's gonna win the cup!
We shall not be moved.
(with apologies to fans of Man-U)

West Texas Links ...

... links, as in golfing. West Texas native Chad Campbell continues to earn headlines for his play in one of the country's premier showcases for that sport.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - Chad Campbell got off to another strong start Friday in the second round of the Masters. The opening-round leader birdied two of the first four holes — not quite as good as Thursday, when he birdied the first five holes for the best start in Masters history — but enough to stretch out his lead at Augusta National.
CLICK HERE for the rest of this story from

A native of Andrews, Texas, Campbell was a part of a strong junior college men's golf squad at Midland College from 1992-1994. Campbell was a WJCAC medalist, NJCAA medalist and an NJCAA All-American while helping the Chaparrals win WJCAC conference and NJCAA regional titles. After two years at MC, he won a scholarship and transferred to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV).

And he's not the only Campbell to make his name in the game ... his older brother, Mike, is head golf coach at Abilene Christian. To date, Campbell's led the Wildcats to four NCAA regional tournament appearances in his first five seasons and guided ACU back to the national tournament for the first time in a decade in 2007. According to
this bio, after graduating from Andrews High School in 1985, Campbell played golf at South Plains College for two years before entering ACU in 1989. He graduated cum laude in 1991 with a B.S.Ed. in mathematics education and that fall joined the staff - as a teacher and a golf coach - at Andrews High School. He is now in his sixth season as ACU's coach.

While we're on the topic of ACU and golf, let's cite one more 'link' ... According to
this report from the school's press office, "former ACU All-America and national champion Jeev Singh is paired with the world's No. 1 player, Tiger Woods, Thursday and Friday during the first two rounds of The Masters ... the All-America golfer led ACU to the 1993 NCAA Division II national championship. He played two seasons for the Wildcats (1992-93), but is arguably the school's greatest golfer. He led ACU to its only national championship in golf by winning the individual championships at the Lone Star Conference, regional and national tournaments."

Resurrection ...

It's an effort to bring new life into an old, under-utilized space in downtown Midland. Plenty of that going on, I realize ... but there are some aspects of this particular effort that make it unique.

For more on this effort, check out
this post from John at Into the West Texas Sun.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

What Twitter Is ... and Isn't ...

"Twitter not popular with Generation Y & Millennials," JustinSMV writes in this post at socialmediatoday, citing a Nielsen Netview report, Twitter users are most popular among working adults, 35-49 years-of-age.

There's been a lot of buzz out there - in both the virtual and the actual worlds - about social media ... who uses them and who doesn't ... who enjoys them ... who puts them to work ... who fears them ... and on and on. I've been finding out more and more about social media as part of my work at Midland College.

What do you think? I'm kind of a newbie at it ... but I find myself in good company. Really, it's not all that much of a stretch from blogging to twittering. Local bloggers who can also be found on Twitter include Janie at Sounding Forth, Eric at Fire Ant Gazette and Rob at Two Dolphins ... many of whom fit into (or nearly into) the demo noted by JustinSMV.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

'Pecos Brad' Becomes 'Border Brad' ...

We became friends during the time I lived and worked in Fort Stockton. Since then, I've headed north ... and now he is heading south.

According to
this post in the Fort Stockton Pioneer, Brad Newton, purchasing director for the City of Fort Stockton, has been named Presidio's new city administrator. Newton, who has been a Fort Stockton city employee since 2000, had been the director of city services, the Homeland Security emergency management coordinator and the public works director.

He was also Texas' rep on the Pecos River Compact Commission, a joint effort between feds and representatives of two states to better maintain the allocation of water from the Pecos River. In this and other capacities, he was a wonderfulo resource for a wide variety of articles I developed while I was managing editor and chief reporter of the Pioneer. He's a good photographer, too, whose images graced the pages of the paper from time to time ... and even followed me to Midland, appearing in the virtual pages of while I was editor there ... then later at

He was also a gunfighter ... really ... 'Pecos Brad' ... part of the Pecos River Gang, a group of re-enactors that recounts events from Pecos County history. "I'll be Border Brad now," Newton said in the Pioneer article. He and I had a lot of contact in that area, as well, when I was a reenactor in Company A, 1st U.S. Infantry (memorial) at Historic Fort Stockton. Brad remains a wonderful source for those wanting to find out more about the history of West Texas.

He also knew a thing or two about electronics ... which came in handy, back in the 90s, when Fort Stockton set up its own tourism-oriented radio station (one of the first in West Texas) alongside Interstate Highway 10.

Oh, did I mention his spelunking? Brad has spent more time than just about anyone else I know exploring the sub-surface channel that once carried Comanche Spring ... one of West Texas' lost desert cienegas ... though it does come back some wintyers, when precipitation is high and irrigation activity is low. And that was always cause for celebratory notes and photos from Brad.

And now, he's headed for the border ... good luck ... Godspeed .... Vaya con Dios, Border Brad!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Vita, Dulcedo, Spes, Y'all ...

According to this post from Ken Hermann of the Austin American-Statesman, there is a bill in 'the Leg' that would establish Texas license plates honoring Notre Dame. So, when can we get one for the University of New Mexico?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Good Ol' Boy Headed for Austin ...

According to this press release from The Nature Conservancy, a longtime advocate for West Texas' natural treasures is being 'bumped upstairs' to run a statewide office.

I first met John Karges, who was West Texas Regional Manager for the
Texas Nature Conservancy, when I was just starting as managing Editor of the Fort Stockton Pioneer. He has spent much of the past two decades conducting biological inventories and conservation assessments on strategic lands throughout West Texas. He will now assume leadership of The Nature Conservancy’s Texas Natural History Survey. That database of biological information — gathered largely through partnerships with private landowners — is used by the organization, its partners and academic institutions to steer conservation efforts across the state.

It was under John's guidance that the
Diamond Y Spring Preserve (just north of Fort Stockton) was created, ensuring the survival of at least one of the desert cienegas that had once dotted West Texas, and are now mostly gone. That preserve was created through a successful partnership of the TNC, a local rancher, and a major oil company. He was also part of creating another partnership that led to the establishment and development of the Davis Mountain Preserve (outside of Fort Davis) that not only protected West Texas natural treasures, but its ranching heritage, as well.

For all his credentials as a conservationist, John never lost his touch with ranchers, oilmen, bureaucrats and all the various entities that would have a say in the establishment of these TNC preserves ... as far as I'm concerned, he was 'the main man.'

John's place will be taken by Jeff Francell. A graduate of the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs, Francell has spent his entire career working on behalf of conservation in Texas. Currently The Nature Conservancy’s director of land and water protection, he has previously worked for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the National Audubon Society. He also has strong, personal ties to West Texas and spends time on his family’s ranch near Valentine.

I wish Mr. Francell nothing but good luck ... he has a big pair of boots to fill.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Movies, Jimmy and Me ...

Jimmy and I may not agree on everything ... but we do tend to agree on movies in general ... and one movie in particular, as noted in a recent post to Sticky Doorknobs.

The Best Shot in Maycomb County
"There is a single moment in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird where even the hardest cynic would find it tough to keep the moisture from lining the rims of his eyes," Jimmy writes, "maybe the most memorable scene in what is surely one of the best movies we've ever been gifted with from Hollywood."
Read the rest of the his post at Sticky Doorknobs

One For the Road ...

... and for television news broadcasts nationwide. The perfect 'kicker.' It's a story so strange, it can't be true ... right? ... uh, right?

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