Monday, November 27, 2006

Finally, Some More Rain

Today, it actually rained a little. Unfortunately, it was not enough to measure. The last time it rained was October 25!. According to KWTX-TV, we are nine inches short of our annual rainfall for 2006. At this point, we only have five weeks left in the year. For the next few days, we have a 20% chance of rain. A 20% chance! This is NOT good.

Because of the lack of rain, we jumped at the chance to buy hay at $4.50 per square bale. That is the best deal we have seen in a while. One of the local wildlife management areas along Stillhouse Lake was cutting and baling hay as a wildfire control mechanism. Because the water level is very low, grasses began to grow in the areas that are normally under water. A wildfire in this grass will polute the lake, which is a water supply for a large area from Georgetown to Mexia to Lampasas. Removing the hay removes the fuel.

I do have some good news on two fronts, but I am not allowed to tell you about it. I promised my wife, author of Raisin' Kids, that I would let her post the news first.

Thanksgiving is now over; it's time to prepare for Christmas. Bah, Humbug! When I was asked what I want for Christmas, all I could answer was "peace on Earth"

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Miranda Lambert is in Town

Miranda Lambert along with the Randy Rogers Band and Dirks Bentley are touring here in Texas. Tonight, we saw them at the Bell Expo! Center. The Randy Rogers band opened, followed by Miranda and lastly, Dirks Bentley. The adjacent picture is not from this concert, but one I found on the web.

The concert was great, except for one small thing. They had their volume set for something the size of Madison Square Garden, but the Bell Expo! Center is tiny in comparison - the whole stadium would fit on the floor of Madison Square Garden! My ears are still ringing and the concert ended almost three hours ago.

It was pretty obvious that a significant part of the crowd only came to see Miranda. They left immediately after her set. Dirks played to only about three-quarters of the audience that Miranda played to.

The other thing I noticed was how petite she appears. I doubt she is taller than 5'1" or 5'2". But that is not what is important. What is important is what she is trying to say with her songs - and boy!, can she sing!

We had a great time!

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Day Has Come and Gone, and What a Difference a Day Makes!

Well, Election Day has come and gone. In the local and state-wide races, the Republicans have prevailed. Neither "Grandma" Strayhorn nor "Kinky" Freidman succeeded in their bids to unseat Governor Rick Perry. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson was re-elected to the US Senate. Most of the House of Representative seats in Texas delegation also went to the Republicans. Of the thirty-two seats, only eleven were won by Democrats - a significant increase for the Democrats.

The big change was in the national races. The Republican party has definitely lost control of the House of Representatives and may have lost control of the US Senate. I think the GOP lost, not that the Democrats won. I believe the Republicans could have held control if they had handled a few things better:

  1. The situation in Iraq: While I agree that Saddam Hussein had to go, it seems as if our intelligence regarding the political structure, the tribal structure, the religious structure, the worker educational and skill sets and the physical infrastructure were grossly inadequate. This either led to, or was compounded by, very poor planning for the rebuilding of Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled. As we all know: "Failure to plan equals planning to fail"

  2. Corruption in Congress and perceived corruption in the Administration: From Gingrich to Abramahof to Delay to Foley, the Congressional leadership, which just happens to be Republican, has failed to provide actual leadership. The lack of true leadership has also shown itself in the granting of sole-source contracts to fight the war against terrorism and to rebuild Iraq. While sole-source contracts allow the work to get started sooner, the public at large perceives them as a form of corruption whereby the favored few companies and individuals get the contracts with an extremely high profit potential paid with tax dollars at the expense of other equally qualified companies.

  3. The economy: The globalization of our economy has had the effect of diminishing the middle class because of stagnant salaries, rising health care costs and layoffs. The layoffs, especially, are hitting the older middle class workers hardest. This is because after many years with the same company or in the same industry, it is extremely difficult to find a new job with a salary which even approximates the salary from the previous position.

  4. The baby-boomers: This issue overlaps the previous because many of the older middle class workers are baby boomers. As a group, the baby boomers feel that the promise of Social Security is an empty one. They are approaching retirement, many without enough money saved and now facing pension changes which have reduced the pension benefits they will receive, especially in regard to health care. The wave of corporate bankruptcies of the past few years have eliminated the pension plans of many employees. The Pension Guarantee Board is considered an ineffective joke which, at best, will provide pennies on the dollar of the benefits the employers promised.

  5. The evangelical Christians: This is a large part of the Republican political base. Their agenda has been largely ignored by Congress and the President. This year, they are taking their revenge and voting against the Republicans. This act may not help their agenda move forward, but it will put the Republican party, and in fact, all politicians, on notice that the next time they control Congress, they had better deliver on their promises.

The next two years will be interesting. Since President Bush is in his second term, he is a "lame duck." Congress has little incentive to work with him: they know that in two years, he will be gone. He will need to become much more conciliatory toward the Democrats in order to accomplish anything.

What will two years from now bring? I do not really know. However, I will prognosticate that the campaign for the Presidency will pit Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democrats against Dr. Condoleeza Rice for the Republicans. May the best man - er, woman - win!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Baking Season is Here

With the beginning of cooler weather, my wife decided to fire up the oven and bake. She made the first pie of the season: a peach pie with a lattice top crust. No, the peaches were not from the ranch - we do not have any fruit trees on the property. Goats are real hard on small trees because they are browsers, not grazers. While they will and do eat grass, they will first eat leaves from tress and bushes. Some of our herd have a real taste for the berries of the Juniper, or Mountain Cedar, tree.

My wife also baked bread. Yes, I mean real, raised using yeast, bread. That, of course, is in contrast to a "quick bread" which rises due to baking powder, or a "soda bread" which rises due to the action of baking soda.

Of course, with the oven running, we also tossed a pork shoulder into the oven. We sliced up a head of red cabbage and cooked that. We also mashed some sweet potatoes. As you can imagine, this made for a fantastic Sunday dinner.

Yes, we actually sit down together for Sunday dinner. In fact, we sit down together for almost all of our meals. Weekend breakfasts give us a chance to plan the day. Breakfasts during the week allow us to make sure the homework is done and to make sure we know who has which after-school activities and when they will let out. Dinners allow us to recap the day and raise any other issues which may be bothering us. It is also the perfect time to ask for help with homework for those who need it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

That Dang Dog is Finally GONE!

That dang dog is finally gone!! One of my wife's fliers caught someone's attention and they said they wanted Max. About half an hour later, they picked him up.

Our problem all along has been that his markings are too much like a Rottwieler. Realize, he is only about 40 pounds, or so. That makes him very small for a Rottwieler. He has the personality, and unfortunately, the mentality, of a Labrador Retriever. His need to chase makes him useless on the ranch. Anyway, he is no longer our worry!

In his new home, he will have children to play with and a yard to run around in. If he chases small animals, no one will care. The only samll animals where he is going are squirrels, other rodents and stray cats. With the children, he should get a lot more human interaction - this is something he really craves, but did not get on the ranch,where he was only one of a bunch of dogs and kept in our isolation compound most of the time. In his new home, he should be very happy.