Saturday, August 5, 2017

So you need to meet Dana Lewis.
Dana Lewis has Type 1 diabetes, which means her pancreas doesn’t work the way it should: It doesn’t make the insulin she needs to survive.
So, she built a new one.
Meet Dana Lewis. Bright girl for sure. You just cannot
imagine how much effort and attention goes into controlling
one's glucose levels while dealing with diabetes. Thank
you, Dana. She has made her efforts
Open Source, so others can do what she did. Image 
swiped from GeekWire and then altered.

This is quite a remarkable story and do not miss it.

But you know Stu, never leaves well enough alone. This is not rocket science. This is sensors and activators and software.

What does this have to do with Texas?

Texas can be a huge player in veering away from virulently reactionary and harmful government. When we turn Texas into a state which elects thoughtful politicians, we turn the entire country. We can break the back of demagoguery and fear and put the reactionaries out of office.

This should have been on the market long ago. The free market ignored it because... other fish to fry. The free market ignores issues not made of money.

One of the reasons it would be ignored is because of the high level of regulation intended to make sure new medical devices are safe. Regulations should be effectively designed to insure safety and be responsive to innovators. There is room for study and innovation on this front.

The nuclear industry is over regulated by outdated concerns for poorly chosen technology. Space for innovation here.

So I am being harpy and we all need a pleasant diversion.
So Dana gets around. Runs marathons. 👍 I swiped this
from her twitter account.

OK, back to the blacksmith's shop for some more hammering.

But the right amount of regulation is important. Airplane parts are quite expensive to track their origins and make sure fake parts don't enter the parts stream. We have fewer commercial planes falling from the sky anymore; and it is through the better adaption of technology, and the scheduling of maintenance, and the careful attention to anomalies, commercial flights are so much safer.

That said, you cannot leave the corporatists and their present Republican lackeys in control of deregulating. We would still have sweat shops  and fire traps killing people, if they had their druthers. Proof you say? They have adamantly stood against protecting downwind citizens from coal emissions. Coal emissions are quite deadly killing thousands in the US yearly. Because, harmful to business. BS. They do not think. They do not care. At least not about the rest of us.

Look at the history of lead poisoning in America. Good for business but harms children.

So why is it so hard to find people to elect that would be thoughtful and innovative, and work for a common good good for inventors and innovators and healthy for people?

It is our fault. It is us who vote morons and reactionaries into office. We listen to their simple but stupid short sighted solutions which are based on falsehoods. We are influenced by their appeals to fear and tribalism.

We need to wake up, slap ourselves and start thinking more. We need to think and elect thinkers. Not xenophobes.  Not zealots. Not science haters. Not demagogues nor racists. They can even be republicans. The criteria required is integrity and the ability to think and empathy for the rest of us.

Feel free to add your 2 cents.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Meet me at the 4th of July Parade and Celebration in Wichita Falls

4th of July Parades are special. They are as old as the United States. The first one being in Philadelphia with the public proclamation that we were separating ourselves from Great Britain back in 1776. Our own Wichita Falls parade has more recent origins.

So here in Wichita Falls we have the Fourth of July Celebration and Most Patriotic Parade which is not only a 4th of July parade but a 4th celebration at the Kell House organized by the Wichita County Heritage society. More on the celebration later.

Let’s talk about the Parade first.

The official parade announcement has all the necessary details. Make sure you check out the exciting details on Facebook. And there is still time to get into the parade. Show up at 8:15 and the parade boss will be happy to fit you in. 
The festivities begin with an open registration for the “Most Patriotic” Parade at 8:15 a.m. at the corner of 9th and Ohio. Entry is FREE and First and Second Place Ribbons will be awarded in each of four categories: Children 0-6, Children 7-12, Antique Car, and Specialty. 
A young Uncle Sam at the The 4th of July Parade  in Wichita falls - 2016. photo  - Durango Jones
Durango did a great story on last year’s
Wichita Falls 4th of July parade
A critical part of any parade is the crowd. It will be a better parade if you and your family are there. It is good for a community to be simpatico around common values, and enjoying a 4th of July parade to celebrate our history and our common values.

So get out and wave flags and participate. It is good for the soul just as it is good for the community.

We need to check out who will be there.

This year’s parade will feature lots of kids- kids on bikes, kids on foot and kids on floats. The West Swim Team always makes a welcome visit.

The parade will also have a variety of antique cars. Antique cars always look like fun, but they couldn't possibly have any air conditioners. I guess that works out because all the windows are down and they are waving to the crowds. Of course, you have to get them back home.

The Patriot Guard will be at the Wichita Falls
4th of July Parade
 The Patriot Guard  will be there. This motorcycle club works to ensure that all fallen active duty military, first responders and honorably discharged veterans are sent to their final resting place with dignity and respect. But the Patriot Guard also show up for 4th of July parades and other events. They will be here for the Most Patriotic parade.

And we have local politicians and celebrities and dignitaries riding around in the Shriner Con-vee group Cadillacs. Always good to see the Shriners.
Shriners always know how to have fun while doing good. 
The Fire and Police Museum  bring antique fire trucks and antique police cars. It depends on which are in best working order.
A Fire truck from the Police and Fire Museum captured in a
4th of July Parade from a different era. Maybe we will see her
next Tuesday this year - 2017.

OBTW, the Kell House is raising funds for rehab. But on
Tuesday it will be all fun and festivities for the 4th of July. 

And then after the parade, make your way to the Kell House. All the exciting details are, again,  on Facebook.
After the parade, the Kell House will host an old-fashioned salute to America, complete with the presentation of award winners, the Pledge of Allegiance, and more. Then let the games begin! A cake walk, face painting, and yard games are just some of the fun to be had from 9:30 to Noon.
So, come on out to a Grand celebration of our Nations birth in Wichita Falls. See you there.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Texas A & M is saving your cup of Premium Coffee

Imagine waking up without a really great cup of coffee; instead, a chicory substitute; and while your brain reminisce back to happy memories of tasty coffee, you peruse the morning news in a desperate search for news on a new tastier substitute coffee?

Well, that isn’t going to happen, even though the rust fungus is threatening  the best coffee plants in the world and our cup of coffee is endangered from climate change.

I was tooling around the Internet today on the Texas Tribune and was startled- I was attracted to an ad for Texas A&M which is quite compelling linkbait, I must add.

I saw the image and had to investigate.

This quite effective ad caught my eye as as I perused the Texas Tribune site today.

So I am sharing my angst over the threat  of global warming on my favorite beverage; and conversely, my appreciation for the academic warriors that will save coffee for us. You may not know that Texas A & M started out as  the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas in the 19th century. ref. wiki

Incidentally, there will be many more battles to protect plants and ag from the changing climate.

And, of course, it needs mentioning that while many millions of us would whine about drinking bad coffee substitutes; the people who depend on coffee production for a living, are invested in this issue much more seriously than us. It is how they put food on the table and roofs over the heads of their families.

Here is a short quote succinctly laying out the coffee challenge

coffee rust disease epidemic that devastated the region to the tune of $1 billion in the harvest season of late 2012 alone. Through funding from the global coffee industry and USAID, Texas A&M University System’s World Coffee Research in the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture…

Here is the Aggie page on the challenge  to save premium coffee.

One other issue to settle here.

Texas has great Universities. There is a great deal of rivalry between these universities. I have seen Texas A&M as the butt of many cartoons.

An example of an aggie joke.  Not funny at all. Unless you have a sense of humor. Cows, agriculture udders, cracked me up. Yet, still not appropriate at all.

This must end. They are saving our coffee.

Oh, and I hope you watched the video and figured that not only the coffee in Central America is endangered… if not,

follow these dots

climate change, fungus spores, westerlies and easterlies and air circulation all over the world… coffee plants endangered everywhere.

Leave any comments below. And remember, no more rude cartoons about Texas A&M. Mardi Gras at A&M. that was a bit funny.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

You just might enjoy helping restore the Tandy Hills Natural area

For years, Don Young and friends have been working to build a prairie in the Tandy Hills. The area has been civilized for a century before and had been abandoned for decades before events played out and Don Young gathered his strength and shred his vision for a prairie on the Tandy Hills.
Here is a map to the Tandy Hills Natural Area. You can access the Tandy hills from View street or on the east edge through a neighboring property.  The southeast corner also has an entry point on Meadowbrook but poor parking for your car. You can ride the bus. Bus 21 goes by on Oakland just a couple blocks east, every 30 minutes and bus 22 on meadowbrook is just a block south of View Street or right on the southeast entry point. The entry point on Meadowbrook is not in the Tandy Hills natural area, but it does have a hiking trail into Tandy Hills.

You might have seen my post about two types of Texans building wealth; well, the extractors have taken advantage of the Tandy hills for decades. You can find more than one rusted out car hulk over an embankment; but at least one of these has resulted in a great Halloween tale by Don Young.

Roofers trying to save a few bucks on tipping fees have sneaked into various parts of the Tandy hills to dump their loads of old asphalt shingles; there are big and small tires around; but those days are past, and so the builders, working over time, working year by year, are slowly reclaiming the Hills into a Prairie.

Now I don't want to leave the impression that this place is a mess. You have to know where to look to see the work of the extractors. Tandy Hills is a great place to hike and look at wild flowers. Each season has a new story to write on the Tandy Hills.

Tandy Hills Natural Area is a great place to hike, stroll,
walk the dog, and listen to the critters...

This has entailed several  years of  brush bashing. The wrong type of brush- invasive brush is removed so that the prairie grasses and wild flowers can take hold.

Come out and help create a new legacy at
Tandy Hills Natural Area.

So come on out to the brush bash this Saturday, the 31st. Now, if by chance you ran across this after the 31st; well there is always another project being planned; and Tandy Hills can use all the friends it can get.

You will get some exercise and you will meet some interesting people. And you will be part of a legacy building project for the future. Someday your grandkids will come out with you and you can regale them with tales of brush clearing and grass seeding.

This weeks project is wild oats and blue stem grass reseeding in the cleared area.

You can read the fascinating story about the grass
seed on their Facebook page

All this information is told in much more detail with great pictures also; so check out the Facebook page for

the Tandy Hills Natural area

and  the Brick bash.

And, you also saw a link above to the website. Here is the link to the Friends of the Tandy Hills website

What have you to add?

There are two types of people building wealth in Texas

There are two types of Texans out there trying to build wealth. One set are the extractors. They see Texas as a bottomless well of fossil fuel to exploit and our Texas habitat as a bottomless pit into which you can cast off anything: spill oil here and there; leak off gas wellhead gases any old time, and be cavalier about fracking waste water. The extractors have a frame of mind there will always be enough water because you can afford to pay more for it… and too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? plants love it!

They equate the money they can make as good for Texas; the higher the profits, the higher the income generated, the better off Texas is. They are like gamblers who always add up their winning and never track their losses. The extractors inextricably link what is good for their wallets right now with what is best for Texas. They feel that they are building the “Texas Miracle” and that unnecessary worry about fracking issues, or air quality issues, or concern about legacy trees, are an endangerment to making money. I am taking words out of Governor Greg Abbott’s mouth.

We will return to the extractors in a bit, but we need to understand the people who are working to make Texas a richer and wealthier home by working to protect Texas’ water and air and environment. This 2nd group of Texans figure that the true wealth and prosperity in Texas is inextricable from the value created by beautiful vistas, unpolluted by haze from burning fossil fuels; and by natural landscapes, verdant and thriving; and from access to safe clean water and air that does not make Texans sick or sicker.

Here is a video with Texans working to build the intrinsic wealth and vitality of Texas for future generations. They certainly are not putting any money in their own pockets doing this. but they are enjoying themselves because they have a vision of a verdant and beautiful Texas. As you watch this video you will see the intersection of the extractors and the intervention of the builders, and what they are building for future generations.

And so you might think that preserving beautiful vistas or keeping clean water is an esoteric subject, but it comes down to real dollars and cents. People will venture out to these grasslands and marvel at the natural beauty, year after year, century after century, and motels and bed and breakfasts will accommodate these visitors and these visitors, drawn by the natural beauty, will support the small business owners that cater to them. This is economic growth that is good for communities, and sustainable into the future.

Compare that to the vistas in Midland, TX where extraction is the core economic activity. Now, lets get this straight. Oil has been really good for the World. And there are spaces where oil extraction makes great sense. Midland is a perfect place for it.
There is a long history of oil extraction in Midland. Some wells are played out. Pumpjacks work to lift the remnants of liquid gold to the surface. Someday, they will be gone and MIdland will have a new economy and a museum dedicated to oil drilling and extraction. 
There is space in Texas for both extractors and builders. We just need a caretaking spirit to achieve minimum environmental impact. We are not getting that from the extractors. We are not getting that from the state regulating agencies.

Doesn’t make it not the right thing to do.

And, when the last oil plays out: please understand the era of oil in Midland will be a brief part of Midland’s history- the builders will return to Midland, and the oil derricks will be taken down and the oil patches cleaned up and the soils restored. All at a cost not from the pocket of the extractors. But it will happen anyway.

I am sure a few derricks will be enshrined; there will be an oil history museum for sure. Midland soils will be cleaned of hydrocarbon spils, and the broken glass from 10 million broken beer and whiskey bottles will be raked up and Midland will build a new legacy and the hydrocarbons will evaporate and the smell of gas and oil will fade away.

And Midland will prosper with economic activities built around the creativity of people building sustainable assets and wealth.

Lets take a lesson from our own Trinity River.

The forks of the Trinity river right here in Fort Worth are a great example. This river has been a convenient dumping place for over a century, and because it was a dumping ground we turned our backs to it, ditched it to get it out of the way.

We have turned our backs on a valuable resource. I know of one business in Fort Worth that is even a bit focused on the river and that is the Woodshed Smokehouse.

Now imagine a pristine river, devoid of trash, not polluted with feces, not filled with tires and detritus of people in a hurry. And imagine the exotic animal life and fish life that would flourish there. And people would journey to Fort Worth and Dallas to fish, to observe the wildlife and spend money.

The Trinity River is an economic asset if we do more building. We have to stop the extracting first. We have to decide to catalog the points of pollution and clean them up and then support the river as an asset rather than just a nuisance.

Did you miss the Trinity River Images controversy?

There was a recent controversy in Fort Worth surrounding a photo exhibit of the Trinity River. The  exhibit, called  “Meet Me at the Trinity,” ws  created by Terry Evans, a renowned landscape photographer brought in by the Amon Carter Museum of American Arts for a fresh perspective.on the Trinity. Some were shocked by her images.,, but the images told a vivid story of a Trinity river ditched, a river ignored, a river abused.  Bud Kennedy handled the story with eloquence in the Star Telegram.

Many people were upset to see real images of the river rather than touched up and soft focus: magical photos to put the best light on things. but we really do need to start with reality. Anywhere else and you are making stuff up.

We need builders. And to start building you need to deal with reality. Imagine what we can do together. More places to live focused right on the river, more convenient points to watch the wildlife, more restaurants and coffee shops that overlook its banks. People would want to live in homes and apartments and stay in hotels that gave the best proximity to the river.

That Trinity river would be a sustainable and vibrant economic zone for the area into perpetuity. It only takes a few extractive maneuvers to make a few bucks and taint the river from that time forward.

We need builders.

Investing in a clean river makes economic sense. Investing in the river makes for a stronger community. Rather than be separated from and turned away from… a clean and natural Trinity river would be an economic legacy that would support many small businesses and provide many more opportunities. It really is dollars and sense. There is an opportunity cost involved when expediency creates damage to natural assets like the Trinity river.

But we have trouble counting what is important. We can figure out the cost of actually having to dispose of an old car vs. pushing it off a cliff into the environment.

So the legacy of Texas will be written around the activities of the extractors and the builders. Which do you want to be?
What are you going to do about it?

When you feel like jumping in and helping protect our wild spaces; there are ample opportunities to get your hands dirty, have a spiritual experience, and make some great new friends.

The Lone Star Sierra Club would welcome your support. The Greater  Fort Worth Sierra Club has plenty of outings to and projects that can use your help. The Dallas Sierra Club might be a good fit depending on your location or your predilections.

You can join the Friends of the Tandy Hills Natural Area. They have a lot of fun building for a future where the prairie again takes a hold in North Texas. They have projects going on there on a regular basis.

You help is certainly needed to raise a voice and protect the Great Trinity forest from the marauders, and the insensitive and mistake prone- city of Dallas government. Here are more details of the struggle for the vitality of the Great Trinity Forest in this article from the Dallas News.

The wild in North Texas needs your support. The lovers of concrete and manicured lawns are running rampant.

Feel free to add your thoughts here.

Do you feel secure trusting these people with your life?

So Bud Kennedy broke the disquieting news about American Airlines confiscating a dangerous pen when someone tried to carry it on the airplane. Check out Buds tweet - he has a photo of the pen...

Bud Kennedy - Pens made from bullet casings. RT @DLoesch This is what @AmericanAir says is too dangerous to fly with; confiscated.

This is quite disquieting in at least two ways.

There is a concept called functional fixedness. Daniel Pinker tells a great story in his mind games quiz –   I will use Daniel’s words to illustrate the idea.

Imagine a movie called “Lamb to the Slaughter,” in which the heroine bludgeons the victim with a frozen leg of lamb. She then cooks the lamb and feeds it to the police, who are searching her house for a baseball bat, which they think is the murder weapon. The fact that the police never considered the leg of lamb as a weapon is a perfect example of:

Take the test you can get one right- right off…

Remember when terrorists walked onto jets with boxcutters? Everyone assumed they were working in the shipping department. It would have been a real stretch if someone in security had imagined the possibilities about to unfold. But next time? We want bright eyed  and  imaginative security people who are able to see the capabilities of materials not just their traditional role.

Here, instead, the inspector sees a shell casing and equates the danger of guns and bullets to a re-engineered casing. This is really a problem with fixedness. Fixedness to the point of pretty damn dumb.

So if this person cannot separate a dimenbodied bullet from a real bullet in a gun, how can him or her possibly imagine something functionally innocent but that can be used in a perfidious function? Not much hope there. And it does not bode well for a collaborative brain function. There was no sign of that in this security debacle.

And the problem gets even more troubling.

Think about the people who wrote the job description for airplane safety inspectors. Who do you think they selected for? Policing skills? Law and order types? I figure they would be judgemental types, rigid thinkers.

Maybe I am reaching a bit, but who would be the best to figure out what and why people are bringing stuff onto an airplane? Someone curious. Someone a bit mischievous. Someone with an active imagination that does not keep every item in its place.

I dare say, I am stretching a point beyond the facts I know. But my prima facie evidence is… they took the pen. I would imagine there have been thousands of innocent items confiscated that are near stupid.

We need to see this stunt as a serious security issue.
What do we have to do to find a smart spot at this key intersection point to board planes. Otherwise, we will be plagued by continued confiscation of innocent stuff- maybe not this blatant, but still denoting a security problem that we are not matching wits well with the conjuring evil brain.

Does this pen look more dangerous than a school ruler? It is not. Is this pen more dangerous than a rolled up magazine? no.
Is this pen more dangerous than any other pen? It actually looks more fragile.

Mixed into this problem is the hubris and arrogance of power.

Give someone total power and they are able to act with impunity- stupid or not. So lets call them out on this, and maybe they will wise up. They need to understand there is a price for stupid. Lets let them know we are not happy. The twitter tag was @americanair but the TSA has to be in the mix. Who has exhibited more arrogance and hubris that the TSA?

Did this take place here at DFW International Airport? We send planes out of here with full tanks for far destinations all the time.  Lets insist there be changes. Search for pens confiscated on Google. . Other pens have been confiscated with no reasonable or consistent rational. Let’s insist it stop.

What do you think?

Some daft Texans and some great ones to celebrate

A funny thing happened on Facebook today. Bud Kennedy tweeted about Ted Nugent endorsing Rick Perry for 2016.

Bud tweeted this morsel to his FB fan club.
Oh, brother, this is a gem

And amid the din of people agonizing over this prospect, which is funny enough, one commenter suggested that "These days, Perry is one of the reasons we shudder when someone ask where were (sp) from."
After I quit Laughing. I sparked up some thoughts of my own.

There are not a lot of bland but functional folks in Texas politics. Instead, we are blessed with world class dopes. My personal antidote to this stain is to remember we also have exceptional people who stand out by their actions not their antics.

Dr. Brantley is an exemplary example. He lived his faith to serve in Africa and stood fast as the mission became a life and death fight against Ebola.

Dr. Brantley acted on his faith and stood tall and, in doing so,
wrote a new chapter in the book of Texas heroes.

And we have brave public servants like Judge Clay Jenkins who stood up for kids on the border and stood up to help with the family of Thomas Eric Duncan, our Ebola patient from Liberia.

These great Texans stood fast, did what was right and ignored the carping and fear mongering from the Texans at the other end of the room.

And we have so many stalwart nonprofits in Texas and the hard working volunteers that make them work. Volunteers and professionals who do their best to help people in need; in complete contrast to the political leaders of Texas who offer ideological platitudes.

So when people from out of state, grimace when they hear I am in Texas, I laugh and then add a few thoughts on the great Texans we share, and are proud of; and that makes the difference. It also helps to visualize a future with a whole herd of Texas stooges in retirement.

Share your thoughts below.