SLIPPERY SLOPE

December 28, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                           28 Dec. 2015

THE SHOWER – I wrap a towel around me, then very slowly I grab hold of the shower knob, then the door frame, and stick one small toe onto the rug on the floor outside the stall. Then the entire foot. Whew! Made it so far. Next step, literally, is to move the other foot from the shower stall to … OK, you are no doubt wondering why it is taking me 10 minutes to get out of the shower. Shows what you know. A person could get killed, or at least badly injured, by simply standing in a shower or trying to get out of one. Like me. Zo let me save you a lot grief, pain and outright humiliation.

Last summer my wife and I went to the Hill Country to watch, our granddaughter finish her term at Camp Waldemar. She’s a fourth generation Waldermarite, and by now I know this end-of-camp program is a big deal. Friday night, before the Saturday festivities, which my wife has been looking forward to since last summer, I am in our room at a Kerrville motel taking a shower so I’ll be clean the next day in my tux. Standing as still as a line at a customs counter, I suddenly slip backwards and land on the bottom of the tub – it’s one of those shower-bath combos. Blam! My back left side hits the porcelain hard. So there I am, lying in on the floor of the shower, dressed the way God made me — and a wonderful job he did, I might say — with the water pouring on me, numb, unable to move.

“Is that you? What happened?” my wife asks from the next room. How to reply? “I did a two and a half gainer into the soap dish. Got a perfect 10.” Or: “You won’t believe this. Did you ever see ‘Splash’?” Maybe: “No, it’s Diogenes, looking for an honest presidential candidate.” Better not, because this is no time to smart off. I need help. Since then I have been very careful in the shower. Have you ever slipped while showering, or tripped getting in or out of the tub? Don’t feel alone. Here are some figures which are occasionally overlapping:

  • Unintentional injuries in all places result in an average of 21         million medical visits each year.
    • More than 18,000 individuals in the United States die annually from home-related accidents. That comes to about $220 billion in medical costs.
    • Slips and falls, often in the bathroom, account for about 5.1 million injuries a year, while scalding causes as many as 60,000.
    • According to the Home Safety Council, home accidents cause 20,000 deaths in the United States annually. Compare that with 742 deaths from plane crashes, 0.5 from shark attacks, and 70 from being struck by lightning.

By any count, it is dangerous to live in your house, but if you must, stay away from the bathroom. You may never get out alive. At this point, you could be wondering, as I do, who gathers these stats and how? Does someone from the Home Safety Council (I’m sure it’s a very good agency, but I never heard of it) go to every morgue, with a clipboard and ask, “Did he slip in the shower?” “No, he was in the shower, all right, with the water on high, blow drying his hair.” To compare their causes of death, are the number of shark attacks counted, and exactly whom is interviewed – the sharks or the lifeguards? As for being struck by lightning, I suppose statisticians check with the Lightning Victims Lawyers Association.

The solution: Install a grab bar, or several. on the sides of the shower stall, on the shower head itself, and don’t forget the soap dish. Five bars minimum. There is the easy way to install the kind that just stick to the walls with a suction cup. They can withstand a pull force of up to 10 pounds. I suggest you get the grab bars that require several Molly bolts, a welding torch and two licensed handymen to install.

Notice how I step out of the shower onto a bathmat that doesn’t move. A small but major exercise in safety is to make sure your bathmat stays still when you step on it. Some 13,000 people die every hour by slipping on bathmats. OK, I made that up, but it sounds as good as some of these other statistics. To keep your bathmat from becoming a flying carpet, only use one with a rubber bottom and doesn’t slide. This one is also glued to the floor, then I hammered 5-inch nails in at each corner. This mat hasn’t moved since I installed it three months ago. I guess it could use a wash. Another hint: clean up any water that splashes on floors right away. This can be done by bringing in a starving dog.

Other tips: Wearing a football helmet while showering helps, although the NFL says concussions are an urban legend. You can cut down on instances of slipping by refraining from using soap. Also, there is something to be said for showering only on an annual basis. One more point. Later I asked my son and daughter-in-law, both attorneys, the one medical question anyone askes in such a state: “Can I sue?’ They replied together: “Was there a rubber mat for the shower, the no-slip kind, and if, so, did you use it? If not, no suit.” No million-dollar lawsuit. So always use that dirty rubber bathmat rolled up by the side of the tub.

You may be wondering: “Whatever happened to you after the fall?” The next morning, in great agony, my son’s family – they were on their way to the camp closing – loaded me in the car and my wife drove me to a hospital. She never did get to attend the Camp Waldemar closing. Maybe I can sue Diogenes,

Ashby is all wet at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND GOOD RIDDANCE

December 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

 

By Lynn Ashby                               21 Dec. 2016

What a year it was. 2015 lasted 365 days, but it seems longer. Like eons. So now is a good time to look back at the days of whine and losses – the year when Texans shadowed the U.S. Army and just barely prevented a military takeover of Fort Hood. We had leaders and events which were so intelligent and sophisticated that Texas became a punchline for late night comedians. Makes you proud. Here we go, before Texas Monthly steals all our ideas for its annual Bum Steer Awards.

Friday Night Frights: In a football game between John Jay High School of San Antonio and Marble Falls ‍High ‍School, two Jay players intentionally blindsided a referee for allegedly making racial comments. The players were suspended and an assistant coach resigned for his possible role in the incident, which has been viewed more than 8 million times on YouTube.

Houston voters turned down an equal rights ordinance, HERO, by two-to-one, following opponents’ claims that the law would allow men to legally enter women’s public bathrooms – which is against the law, has been, will be. Houston has a lot of stupid voters.

The KTRU saga gets stranger and stranger. The 44-year-old Rice University radio station was quietly sold to UH for $9.5 million. Then UH changed things around, shut down the station – the city’s only classical music outlet – and put it up for sale. The whole episode stinks. A student at MacArthur High School in Irving, who liked to invent things, thought he had a winner when he brought a self-made machine to school. His teacher called the principal who called the police who slapped the 14-year-old in handcuffs. Ahmed Mohamed could have made a bomb instead of a clock. The lad came out ahead. He was given a full high school and college scholarship by Qatar, then he sued the school for $15 million.

A Toledo, Ohio, man ignored warning signs that there was a dangerous alligator in Burkhart’s Marine by Adams Bayou in Orange – jumped in anyway and was promptly killed by the gator. Driving Tip of the Year: Make sure you use your turn signals in Waller County. Worst Culinary Idea of the Year: (Pray for Whirled Peas Div.) A New York Times food critic recommended freshly shelled peas mashed into an avocado to make guacamole. Even President Barack Obama Twittered his dislike for the idea. And the Jan. 11 issue of the Times Travel Section listed San Antonio as one of the 52 best places to visit in the world in 2015, citing all the city’s attractions – the River Walk, museums, performing arts center, etc. It didn’t mention the Alamo.

Miss You: Dr. Red Duke, Guy V. Lewis.

Jade Helm 15: Gov. Greg Abbott is the official state panderer. Texas has a lot of stupid voters.

Austin is always chock full of funnies. For example, Austin-based American Phoenix Foundation secretly taped Texas legislators, lobbyists and journalists during the legislative session to catch them in everything from bribes to adultery, claiming they opened up the legislature to “transparency.” The foundation refused to say who was bankrolling the project. State Rep. Molly White pasted on her Facebook page that her staff would require visitors to her office to swear allegiance to the United States and renounce Islamic extremism.

Blackboard Bungle: Then we have our think tank of the 14th Century, the State Board of Education. After much work, hearings and debates the SBOE adopted new textbooks, one of which, the 2016 edition World Geography textbook, said the Atlantic slave trade “brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” Workers? The publisher, McGraw-Hill, said it would send the schools stickers to paste over the offending lines.

Hooked By the Horns: Turns out fired UT-Austin President Bill Powers intervened in negative admissions decisions for children of big donors and those with political stroke. To look into this scandal, a committee was appointed made up of, uh, former UT presidents and chancellors.

Could You Make That 39 Acres? Powers’ replacement, Greg Fenves, was offered a base salary of $1 million a year but asked it be reduced to $750,000. Said Fenves, the cool million would have a negative effect “on the ability of the president to work with the Texas Legislature on matters important to the university.” UT athletic director Steve Patterson was fired after only 22 months on the job. The good news (for him) is that he still had four years to go on his contract, so he got a multi-million dollar golden parachute.

The Howls of Ivy: Prof. Irwin Horwitz, 53, who teaches ethics and business management courses at Texas A&M University-Galveston, citing threats, student-spread rumors damaging his reputation, insults made to his face, rampant cheating and incompetence, gave failing grades to his entire class and quit the course. Finally in academics, sort of, Matthew McConaughey was asked to be the commencement speaker at a UH graduation. To get from a movie shoot in New Orleans, the actor had UH shell out $9,500 for a private jet, plus another $5,000 for a “groomer.” On top of all that, after much foot-dragging, UH revealed McConaughey was paid $135,000. He said he would donate that portion to charity.

In sports, Texan Lance Armstrong apparently had a few too many and sideswiped two parked cars in Aspen, Colo. Armstrong convinced his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, to take the blame, but the story fell apart. Another Texas playboy jock, Johnny Manziel, checked himself into rehab. When he got out, Manziel was caught partying in Austin, and the Cleveland Browns demoted him to third-string quarterback.

But our big winner is Blue Bell Ice Cream. Some of its products were found to contain listeriosis contamination. Three deaths and 10 hospitalizations were linked to the ice cream, while some contend Blue Bell initially hid the problem. We must hope the little creamery in Brenham has a big lawyer in Houston.

 

Ashby wins at ashby2@cincast,net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLAYING THE TRUMP CARD

December 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

 

By Lynn Ashby                                                        14 Dec. 2015

 

PLAYING THE TRUMP CARD

 

What do Donald Trump, the Longhorn Network and Hirohito have in common? No, not silly names, but masters of – drum roll — Unintended Consequences, or UCs. They set out to do one thing and end up causing exactly the opposite. Indeed, all of them would have done better for their cause just to do nothing. We may be witnessing a major UC in the Trump juggernaut. He is blowing away the opposition with his tell-it-like-it-is proclamations. Each time he rants, his ratings climb. But already some pundits are saying that Trump’s shtick is growing old, his Angry Man mantra is getting stale. They may be right. We have a long campaign ahead.

So here’s the UC: Trump is appealing to frustrated voters who want an outsider to set Washington straight. (He may run as an independent. Remember President Ross Perot?) If the Donald gets the Republican presidential nomination, is he too wild, un- electable and full of angst to win the Oval Office? This brings us to the woman he hates the most, except perhaps for a few ex-wives: Hillary Clinton. She is the inevitable favorite to win the Dem nomination, as we were told in 2008. If Trump is, indeed a political disaster, Hillary measures for new drapes in the Oval Office, and orders the Secret Service to keep an eye on her husband. Wait. Considering the Secret Service’s recent record with prostitutes and drunk driving, Bill may fit right in. Trump’s efforts to defeat Hillary could be the one cause for her election. (Speaking of things presidential, Richard Nixon erased tapes, lied and schemed to cover up Watergate. His efforts had a UC.)

Let’s look at a closer example. Steve Patterson was brought in as athletic director for UT-Austin. In short order he turned the operation into a ravenous, heartless business. At $167 million, UT had the largest athletic budget of any university in the nation, by far. Patterson raised ticket prices, parking fees, plastered ads everywhere. He also alienated alumni, faculty and, most importantly, rich donors. San Antonio billionaire Red McCombs, a longtime UT supporter, told ESPN about the eventual ouster of the money-mad Patterson, “It wasn’t working. It was building up from a loud holler to a shouting match that this guy is killing us.” Teasips are longhorns, not cash cows. His drive to raised funds for UT, and along the way, earn a huge salary, had a UC. Patterson was fired.

Then there is UT’s attempt to receive big bucks with its Longhorn Network, or LHN. The school got a big TV contract, but its football games on the network could only be seen in a sport bar in Marfa. For Texas A&M, the LHN was the last straw. The Aggies left the Big 12 for the SEC with its far more lucrative TV contract. Maybe the LHM had a bad case of UC.

The best examples, however, are wars. We can start right here. Gen.  Santa Anna attempted to put down a revolt in his northern province of Texas. He not only lost Texas, but his efforts led to losing everything to the Pacific Ocean. Santa, you should have stayed home. The South thought it would put Lincoln in his place by firing on Fort Sumter, a warning shot, so to speak. That would guarantee Southern independence and protect slavery. But those shots definitely had a major UC. Fast forward: Last summer Dylann Roof killed nine blacks in their Charleston, S.C. church, and cops later found photos of Roof with Confederate battle flags and assorted Rebel paraphernalia. His insane exploits set off a storm of angry sentiments, as Confederates’ statues and graves were moved and names changed. Roof, thanks to you, they ain’t just whistling “Dixie” anymore.

A Bosnian-Serb, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, in an attempt to free Princip’s beloved homeland from the Archduke’s Austro-Hungarian Empire. As we know, Princip’s actions led to World War I, left 38 million people dead, Serbia was devastated and Princip died of TB in prison. Don’t do me no more favors, Gavrilo. Tokyo in 1941: Emperor Hirohito’s military leaders convinced him that if Japan wiped out the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. would sue for peace and Japan, led by you know who, would rule Asia. This brings us to the Understatement Award of the 20th Century: “The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage.” – Emperor Hirohito, to his people, upon announcing Japan’s surrender. Lastly, we have George W’s invasion of Iraq to seize all those weapons of mass destruction and bring democracy to the Middle East. Wow, did that work out well.

True, not all UCs are disasters. Columbus was looking for India. Aspirin was only a pain reliever. Then it was discovered that it is also an anticoagulant that can help prevent heart attacks and reduce the severity and damage from strokes. Viagra was developed to lower blood pressure, but clinical trials discovered a side effect. You probably have your own Unintended Consequences – ideas or actions that seemed like a good thing at the time, but didn’t work out. Remember that great weekend in Cancun? And the subsequent rash? You tried to save money by fixing the furnace yourself. Did the insurance cover the fire?

My own attempts included creating the International Society for International Societies. I guess I shouldn’t have called it ISIS. Then there was my plan for the State Department and ICE to fast-track Syrian refugees. I opened the Planned Parenthood franchise for Vatican City. The most telling UC was endured by Pontus Pilate and the Roman Empire. Hey, Ponti, I hear you tried to stamp out that religious movement led by some intenerate preacher from Galilee. How did that go? Getting back to Donald Trump, he is a loose cannon, fully loaded and constantly blasting away. Wonder if, because of him, Hillary will win and his worst nightmare will come true?

 

Ashby is a UC at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

A Double Feature: iPic Theaters and The Tuck Room

December 11, 2015 by  
Filed under Bars & Nightlife, Entertainment, Theater

IpicNestled in the new and luxurious River Oaks Shopping District, iPic Theaters offers a glamorous movie-going experience. The theater creates a unique experience for guests, giving them something beyond sitting shoulder to shoulder with other movie-goers. Houston’s the first to use iPic’s groundbreaking POD seating system with fully reclinable chairs and leg rests. Lounge in comfortable pods for two, swathed in soft blankets and pillows and watch the latest blockbuster hits like The Hunger Games007 Spectre, and Creed. Touted as the “ultimate movie experience,” we’re inclined to agree, making it a perfect date night experience.

While kicking back to watch the silver screen, premium food and drink items can be purchased. Forget the overpriced popcorn and soda—you can get a delicious BBQ Chicken Pizza for what you’d normally pay at any regular theater. iPic offers a membership program for loyal customers to enhance their visits; membership levels allow members to purchase tickets in advance and earn points with each ticket and food and drink purchase.

TuckRoom_Croquettes_0020_mediaWhile we definitely enjoyed the food with the theater experience, we’re singing praises on celebrity and three-time James Beard award-winning chef Sherry Yard’s dining concept, the Tuck Room. She teams up with acclaimed mixologist Adam Seger to deliver mouthwatering treats and cocktails, a perfect prelude to the premium experience that the theater offers. We feasted on amazing ahi tuna appetizers, moist lobster rolls, pulled pork sandwiches that BBQ lovers could love and addictive cheese croquettes. Foodies rejoice!

The cocktails are bespoke and tailored to you. Local ingredients and spirits are the key to some of our favorites like the zesty Handsome Little Devil, a powerful take on a Bloody Mary. The whole emphasis is on social dining, making it a perfect gathering spot for celebrations, even if a movie is not in the plans for the night.

Two thumbs up from H Texas!

 

 

A PLOY NAMED SUE

December 7, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

 

EAST OF AUSTIN – State Highway 71 along here is bumpy, but is far better than some of our state roads. Speaking of which, look at that car zooming along, weaving through traffic. We need more state troopers, but we can’t afford any more. Then there are our underfunded schools with their underpaid teachers, our mental homes that need some state inspectors, and so on. If only the State of Texas had money towards helping fix our problems.              Actually, we do have some money, millions, that would help, only they’re being wasted on lawyers handling useless cases, and losing many of them, just to pander to a fringe. Who’s responsible for this expensive debacle? If you voted for Gov. Greg Abbott or Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton, you are responsible, and the rest of us want our money back. How much money? A cool $13 million – $5 million suing and $8 million defending. The meter is still running.

You see, the State of Texas (that’s us) keeps suing the federal government (that’s also us — we’re paying both sides) to change the laws and legal opinions over matters such as voter ID, pollution and gerrymandering. This tilting at windmills began when Abbott was our attorney general (may we refer to the man and the office as AG?) who described his years in that post as: “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home.” I’m not sure that’s what we paid him for, but those are his exact words. He did such a good job as AG that we promoted him to governor. His successor is Paxton, who apparently believes in the same job deception.

Between the two, they have sued the Obama administration 39 times. Their favorite target has been the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has the silly notion that Texans don’t want themselves or their children breathing polluted air – Texas has some of the worst in the nation. People along the Houston Ship Channel say they don’t want to breathe anything they can’t see. Their children have a saying: “I shot an arrow into the air. It stuck.” Of those 39 lawsuits, 21 have been against the EPA. The state already has spent more than $82,000 in one month fighting the EPA’s plan to cut carbon emissions. And, as noted, the meter is still running.

Another target is one that always tops Texans’ greatest worries: same-sex marriages. Many the night I have stayed awake — and no doubt you have, too — worrying about that. Paxton was so eager to pursue this evil that he waited only two months in office before suing the Obama administration over spousal benefits to married same-sex couples. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on this. Maybe we should chip in and give Paxton some change to buy a newspaper. It would be a lot cheaper. Nearly $1 million was spent to get the feds to sign off on our gerrymandering of the state’s 2011 redistricting maps for congressional and legislative seats. The state’s plan, the work of Tom DeLay, dices Travis County (Austin) into five – yes, five – different Congressional districts. One runs from Houston to Austin. That case became moot when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act.

Texans face another peril: Voter ID. The AG seems to think that hordes of undocumented aliens are sneaking into our voting booths to cast ballots for Poncho Villa. I have looked and cannot find a single instance of this happening, but you can’t be too careful. Although I do wonder why we have bi- and even tri-lingual ballots. If you can’t speak and read English, how do you know where the candidates are lying? (It’s easy – just see if their lips are moving.) Texas has spent $1.6 million trying to force the feds to accept our voter ID law. A panel of federal appeals judges in August called the law discriminatory. The state has appealed. If Paxton loses, he will appeal the appeal. Incidentally, we don’t have any of the on-going costs of the AG’s attempt to close all Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas, but they may be more than all the other legal posturing put together.

So how are we doing in court? According to the Houston Chronicle, which dug out these costs, the AG has won seven and lost eight. The other cases are either split decisions or still being fought. Paxton has spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars in six new legal challenges since taking office in January. Thus we have more than $5 million in taxpayer money spent suing the feds. The AG’s office has umpteen lawyers already on our payroll, so these additional costs must be for outside legal help, plus travel, interviews, bar bills and probably a million or two under “miscellaneous.” Meantime, the state also has other legal problems such as lawsuits dealing with conditions in our prisons, UT’s unending battle over affirmative action and

Rick Perry. Why are they wasting their time and our tax dollars on these fruitless follies? It’s all a matter of priorities – political priorities.

Wait. It gets better, or worse. That $5 million tab, so far, is only money spent suing Washington. But Texas has been sued by the feds and has to defend itself. Paxton and Abbott have spent more than $8 million defending voter ID and redistricting. That’s $13 million, for nothing. One last bit of irony, and you couldn’t make this up: Paxton faces three felony charges for fraud. No, all Texans don’t have to pay for his case, but Collin County, that’s McKinney where the trial will be held, has budgeted $100,000 for Paxton prosecution.

Perhaps the priorities of Abbott and Paxton are not ours, and we could well spend those millions otherwise. Theyy are simply pandering to a small but vocal minority. Maybe we should change the official state animal to the panda.

 

Ashby is taxed at ashby2@concast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO WAS THAT MOSQUE MAN?

November 30, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE CURB – Here I am performing my weekly task to create a greener planet, add to the beauty of Texas and commune with nature — taking out the garbage. Across the street performing the same task must be our new neighbor, Elmo Hammod from Syracuse. I go over to welcome him to Running Rats Acres. “Greetings, Elmo Hammod from Syracuse.”

He smiles and extends his hand. “Actually, I am Al-Mohammed from Syria. We are refugees from the war. Thanks for letting us live here.”

“You speak good English for a foreigner. Learn it in grade school?”

“I’ve spent much time in your country. I was born in Damascus, raised in Pampa and received my doctorate from Rice in bio-generic molecular engineering and a post-doctorate from MIT in atomic isotope transmissions as they relate to auto-physical neutrons. I’m a U.S. citizen, but Governor Greg Abbott believes that I’m a security risk, and threatened to cut off all state funding to my workplace, UTMB.”
“So what are you doing now?”

“I got a gig with Uber.”

“Sounds a waste of your talents.”

“Not bad. I get to see a lot of the city and meet many nice people. But the two black SUVs that follow mc everywhere are bad for business.”

His family’s arrival spruced up the next meeting of the Running Rats Acres Homeowners Association. Milton Mudflap brought it up. “I don’t want no commie Arab in my neighborhood. He’ll be building pyramids in his front yard like they do in Turkey.” Jimbo Jackknife pointed out that the pyramids were actually in Iraq, but did note that Mudflap’s own front yard exceeded the deed restrictions of no more than four cars on blocks at any one time. Debbie Sue Bonnie Bootstrap was next. “We’re getting swarms of them Muzzlems in here, and not one of them will do yard work. What’s the point of having migraine if they can’t rake leaves? I say send them back to Lesbian or Algebra.” She got a standing ovation.

The next week I ran into Al at the supermarket. “Hope you like it here. Don’t mind the smell. It’s only when the wind blows over the hog rendering plant.”

“We are doing fine,” he says.” My son, Rocky, is captain of the soccer team, and daughter, JoAnn Luci, is class president and perhaps valedictorian. And they still have time to work the overnight shift at the hog rendering plant. Oh, let me ask you. Is it normal for the Texas State Guard to set up camp in one’s front yard?”

“Al, Governor Abbott said he would do everything in his power to prohibit any more Syrians from coming to Texas. Unfortunately for him, his power has nothing to do with migration, immigration, salutations or vacations. In Texas we call this ‘grandstanding’ or ‘pandering.’ But it works. To be fair, the Texas State Guard followed Abbott’s orders and kept tabs on Operation Jade Helm 15. As a result of the guard’s vigilance, the military did not seize a single Texas city of any size, if you don’t count San Antonio.”

“I am worried that we are not welcome here, because your Texas senator, Ted Cruz, wants to bar all Syrians from immigrating who are not Christians.”

“Ted Cruz knows all about immigration, since he kept dual citizenship with Canada until last year when he was found out. But I agree totally – only Christians allowed in. So long Albert Einstein, Irving Berlin and, retroactively, Elizabeth Taylor.”

“Don’t forget Barack Obama.” Al says. “A Pew Research Center survey found that 17 percent of Americans, including one third of conservative Republicans, think Obama is a Muslim, and one third think he was born outside the U.S. That’s double jeopardy. It is good to live in a country with so many intelligent and well-educated people. No wonder more Americans voted in the 2014 ‘American Idol’ finals, 132 million, than voted in the 2014 Presidential election, 122 million. Well, I’d better go now. The curfew, you know. ”

A few days later I drop by Al’s house to hand him a letter that had been mistakenly delivered to my house. It’s from the Dept. of Homeland – Terrorists Div. A stranger comes to the door. “Allah be praised. It’s the infidel from across the street. I am Ali’s visiting cousin, Akmed, also known as Mohammed, Jose and LeRoy, depending which passport check. Pardon my attire. I am just fitting for a new vest. Pockets holds 10, uh, hotdogs. Yes, that’s it, hotdogs in a bun. Ali not here, checking in with the Border Patrol, ICE and FBI. Weekly. He also needs a new battery for his ankle bracelet. Oh, let me show you a selfie I made recently in front of a sports stadium in Paris. Uh, selling hotdogs.”

“Do you live in town?”

“No, I am refugee, fleeing the bombs and bullets, the kidnappings and terrorism.”

“Baghdad? Damascus?”

“No, Chicago. Actually, I think I’ll move to Damascus. It’s safer.”

That week I read a news report: “The federal Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act has been stalled for eight years because the NRA and GOP lawmakers oppose it. So a legal loophole allowed more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI’s Terror Watchlist to legally purchase weapons from 2004 and 2014.” Right! The feds start prohibiting firearm sales to known terrorists, and pretty soon they’ll be prying my howitzer from my cold, dead bunker.

I ran into another neighbor, J.J. Beerbreath, at our school’s meeting of the PTA (Parents with Troubled Adolescents). “I hear you’re chummy with that Musler in the neighborhood. Do you know he prays five times a day? Even my preacher says that’s too much. And I hear he’s setting up a caliphate, or calcium, maybe it’s a California, in Running Rats Acres. That would mean wives must obey their husbands, and women can’t drive a car, and can’t buy anything without their husbands’ permission. I sent him twenty bucks.”

 

Ashby refugees at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

THE LONE STAR SLATE

November 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

I blame John Nance Garner for our problem. Yes, Cactus Jack from that incubator of national leaders, Uvalde, Texas, is making it harder and harder for Texans in Washington to succeed in climbing the power ladder. Congress is especially getting tired of Texans’ dominance, and I see their point.

According to an article I recently read, the latest near-victim, I suppose you could call him, is Rep. Kevin Brady, a long-time Republican from The Woodlands, who wanted to succeed Rep. Paul Ryan as chairman of the House of Representatives’ powerful Ways and Means Committee. Ryan, kicking and screaming, was promoted to the one job in the House even more powerful than chairman of that committee: Speaker of the House.

How powerful? Former Rep. Bill Archer of Houston once told me that he wouldn’t run for the U.S. Senate because, as ranking minority leader in the Ways and Means Committee, if the Republicans ever took control of the House, he would be committee chairman, a post he would rather have than Senator.

Why was Rep. Brady having trouble being elected chairman by the Republican Steering Committee in a closed-door vote? It’s called Texas fatigue, and it all started with Cactus Jack. Garner, a state legislator, was elected to Congress from the Uvalde district, which back then was rural and unimportant. Actually, it still is. Nevertheless, he served 30 years in the House, becoming Speaker. Then he was vice president and ran for President.

Incidentally, if you are wondering how Garner was nicknamed Cactus Jack, when he was elected to the Texas House in 1898, the legislature selected a state flower for Texas. Garner fervently supported the prickly pear cactus for the honor and thus earned the nickname “Cactus Jack.” If Garner had won the Presidency, the Rose Garden would be known as the Cactus Terrace.

In 1913, a young man from that other hotbed of leadership, Bonham, Texas, was elected to Congress. Sam Rayburn served 48 years in the House, 17 years as Speaker, a record not to be broken anytime soon. It is not well known, but before Rayburn became Speaker of the U.S. House, he had served as Speaker of the Texas House, where he first honed his leadership talents. In 1937 yet another hayseed arrived in Congress: Lyndon Johnson, from – again – yet another cauldron of leadership, Johnson City, Texas. LBJ had learned how to wheel and deal by watching his father, Texas State Rep. Sam Ealy Johnson, work the House: come up to a colleague, quietly grab his – the other pol’s – coat lapels and pull him real close while whispering the pitch. Worked in Austin, worked in Washington.

Those were the glory days, when Rayburn ran the House and Johnson ran the Senate. What Texas wanted, Texas got. Can you spell NASA, aka JSC? Not to mention dams, roads and military bases. Later came Jim Wright, from Fort Worth, who served in the House 34 years and became Speaker, but left under a cloud. Committee chairs usually were decided by seniority, and Texas’ long-term (always Democrats) reps landed most of them. Even now, seven chairmanships are held by Texans.

You can see why members of Congress are getting tired of Texans in high places, but our numbers will grow. We currently have 34 representatives, second to California’s 53. After the 2020 Census, we shall pick up at least two more Congressional seats, maybe even three or four, depending if the other members let us count our illegal immigrants and convicts. This will also give Texas more votes in the Electoral College. I suspect George W. will win again.

Down the street, the White House tends to speak with a Texan twang: Dwight Eisenhower, LBJ, Bush and Bush. Between Ike’s first term and George W’s last year, there was a Texan living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 26 of the 44 years. We have had only two native-born Texans in the White House, Ike and LBJ, but the current, and constant, Presidential campaigns may give us one more. Rick Perry is gone — his campaign was a total embarrassment, but we could have had an inside track for Son of NASA. However, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (Canada, Houston) is still in the fight, as is Sen. Rand Paul (Lake Jackson, Baylor). Carly Fiorina was born in Austin, her father was a law prof at UT. Donald Trump visited the U.S.-Mexican border one afternoon. Does that count?

Elsewhere in Washington, you will find a bunch of Texans in high places, like the Pentagon. John Steinbeck, in “Travels With Charley,” wrote: “Among other tendencies to be noted, Texas is a military nation. The armed forces of the United States are loaded with Texans and often dominated by Texans.”

(Not to get sidetracked, but speaking of fatigue, there was a Bush or a Clinton in the White House or cabinet for 32 years straight. And Texans have seen a Bush on one ballot or another at least, by my count, nine times. This includes the one we just put in office, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who apparently is not actually in his office very often as he is campaigning for his daddy, Jeb!)

As we can see, Texans have long been a powerful influence in Washington, and others are getting weary of it. Gail Collins, a columnist for The New York Times, has a book out, “As Texas Goes — How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda.” The title is self-explanatory: we are the lead dog in the dog team or the tail that wags the dog. Either way, Texas is setting the pace for the rest of the nation. Collins is not real happy with the situation, but acknowledges it is a fact. She wrote: “Personally, I prefer to think that all Americans are in the same boat. And Texas has a lot to do with where we’re heading.” Others may be fatigued, but as for us, keep on rowing.

 

Ashby is electable at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

THE BUCK STOPS HERE

November 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE TV – “…and, if elected, I shall balance the budget, make good things happen, cure cancer,… “ Gad, the presidential election is still almost a year away, and I’m already getting bored with it, which is not good for a patriotic American who — just like you — wants to put a President in office who will see things my way and do what I wish. Now I must endure countless TV ads, debates and stupid, impossible promises from people who bash Washington, the federal government and those who make the machinery work — and can hardly wait to join them. Can these candidates even spell hypocrisy?

But you and I can turn a healthy buck on this. As you know, every four years there is a lot of hand-wringing over how much money is raised and spent on the campaigns, and every candidate brags how his or her donations come from “the little people, grass roots Americans.” Yeah, if those grass roots are the Koch brothers’ putting green or George Soros’ polo field. Regardless of who gives, the amount increases. For the last presidential election in 2012 it was estimated, by someone with obviously too much time on his hands, that the Obama and Romney campaigns spent close to $1.12 billion — not counting the millions more spent by the parties and outside PACs, which have a secret accounting system.

But it’s getting worse. There have already been seven times more political ads for the 2016 presidential election than at this point in the 2012 election. When you toss in all federal races, not just the presidential campaigns, political TV ad spending will top $4.4 billion, up from $3.8 billion in 2012. Mere peanuts. Are you ready for this? The total number of dollars spent on the 2012 election exceeded the number of people on this planet. About $7 billion was spent by candidates, parties and outside groups on the 2012 election, according to a review of campaign finance reports by the Federal Election Commission. Seven billion dollars! This next time it will be even more. Some people are going to receive that money. Why not us?

Most of these funds go to TV ads. That means the local stations get the money, and feed it back into the local economy. Uh, no it doesn’t work that way. Here in Texas, for example, virtually all, if not all, local TV stations are owned by out-of-state (read: east coast and west coast) corporations. In Houston, for example, the major TV stations are owned by the Washington Post, Disney, TEGNA and Faux News (Rupert Murdoch). So much for the local angle. But millions more bucks are spent as the candidates’ tours, for hotel rooms, ballrooms, caterers, drivers, food tasters and bodyguards. So how can we grab our fair share of the loot? We can’t, unless we move to a so-called Battleground State, where the outcome of the election is in doubt. Texas is a red state, meaning the Republicans will win every election so, it is reasonably reasoned by both parties, that there is no point is spending a dime here. But they do come for money, and the Republicans hold all the cards — and cash. Behind our backs, Texas is known as “the GOP’s ATM.”

The only time any of that money came back to Texas was in 2008 when Hillary and Barack were both seeking the Democratic nomination for President. The Texas campaign was tough and mystifying to outsiders. It’s hard for missionaries to grasp the difficulties of running a state-wide campaign here. We are expensive. Texas is separated into 20 media markets, the most of any state. Former Texas Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, who was state director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008, told The New York Times, “It’s like running a national campaign. There are no similarities between Amarillo and Brownsville and Beaumont and Texarkana and El Paso and Austin and Houston and Dallas. These are very separate demographic groups with very diverse interests.” The primary election led to the Texas Two-Step with voting, caucuses, and late-night confusion. At least we didn’t hang anyone from Chad.

OK, our path is clear. If we can’t move to a contested state, we have to make Texas a Battleground State for both the primaries and the general election. This will bring big bucks here and we can be first in line. For example, we’ve got to keep Bernie Sanders in the race. Yes, he looks like the poster child for AARP. He wants to take our money and give it to illegal aliens. Sanders has this quirky idea of making all public colleges and universities free. (He’s obviously never met the players in a Big 12 football game.) Hillary will be forced to spend some of her campaign funds here just to keep from being humiliated. The Dems also had Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffe, but they’re gone.

Over on the GOP side, keep those two-dozen nobodies thinking they have a chance in Texas, so they’ll spend some bucks here. We create Poll Texas and send out press releases showing Lindsey Graham and Bobby Jindal are tied for first, with Mike Huckabee right behind. We send Rick Santorum photos of a mob holding up “Santorum Is Not a Loser” signs. Chris Christi gets drowned in emails from the God Loves Fat People Club of Austin (members 2 million) begging him to campaign in Texas. Dr. Ben Carson gets a petition – we’ll furnish the signatures — from the staff at M.D. Anderson: “Come teach us how to cure cancer.” Here’s another angle: Rick Perry is no longer in the race, and any contributions you made to his presidential campaign are going to two high-priced lawyers in Houston. Sue to get some of it back. Finally, don’t print any bumper stickers for Trump in Spanish. OK, there you have it. Just remember, I get a 10 percent finder’s fee.

 

Ashby is running at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POLES APART

November 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                9 Nov. 2015

THE FRONT YARD – Time to run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it, to quote from “Twelve Angry Men.” My flagpole is actually an aluminum pipe sticking out of a tree, and, like most of you, I change flags according to the seasons and anniversaries. National holidays like the Fourth of July, Armistice Day and Black Friday get the U.S. flag. Texas state holidays such as Texas Independence Day, San Jacinto Day and LBJ’s birthday (no kidding — look it up) are celebrated by my running up the Lone Star Flag. I put out a scarlet and gold (not red and yellow) Marine Corps flag every November 10, the Marines’ birthday. To celebrate the Longhorns’ victorious football season I run up my orange and white UT banner – lately at half staff. And I can tear, burn, stomp on or toss in the street any of them to express my feelings.

Yes, once again our courts have decreed we have the right to make fools of ourselves. The latest incident came recently when the Texas State Court of Criminal Appeals, in a 35-page decision, ruled that a state law prohibiting anyone from messing with the U.S. or Texas flag is invalid. Why? Because it is “overbroad” and thus is in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So Terence Johnson, a resident of the East Texas community of Bedias, can breathe easier.

Johnson, who is black, said he became quite angry when a store clerk made some racial comments to his mother. The 20-year-old (at the time in 2012) saw a U.S. flag hanging outside a hardware store and threw the flag onto a highway. There the flag was run over and damaged. Johnson was arrested for destruction of a flag and spent four and a half weeks in the Houston County Jail (that’s in East Texas, not the Houston city jail).until released on bond. His case was dismissed, the state of Texas appealed, dismissed, appealed.

You know how our legal system works, and I say “our” because you and I were paying for all of this. It will only be a matter of time before we see all of this again: Texas trying to prosecute someone under a state law that prohibits anyone from damaging, defacing, mutilating or burning the U.S. or Texas flag. And court after court – literally from small-county DAs to the U.S. Supreme Court — saying the law is too broad. In 1989 the Texas Legislature even rewrote the law to make it more specific and thus pass scrutiny from the courts. Didn’t work.
No matter what the courts say, Texans have always been very protective of our flags, especially that of the Lone Star persuasion, and display it everywhere. It used to be that the Texas flag could only be shown in respect and honor. But somehow the law is no longer in force. Now we see the Lone Star flag used in beer ads, car dealerships and made into jogging shorts covering somebody’s sweaty behind.

Seeing our flag against a background of trees, green grass, and graffiti on the railroad overpass, it really is a beautiful sight. Actually, we have a very beautiful flag and was so declared by a vexillologists society in 2001 as the second prettiest state flag in the nation or Canada. (A vexillologist is one who studies flags.) New Mexico was first, but the judges had spent the previous night getting loaded at an Albuquerque casino, or at least that’s the story I’m putting out.

As I found out years ago, and wrote about, Texas has some unique laws dealing with its flag. For example, there is a much-ignored law that says all trains traveling in or through Texas have to display the Texas flag. We also have a law stating that, when displayed in Texas, the Lone Star flag will take precedence over all others. The only exception is when the U.S. flag is also on display. Contrary to popular myth, there is no law requiring that the Texas flag be displayed on a separate but equal pole alongside the Stars and Stripes. That’s often the way it is done, but put that story alongside the Easter Bunny, Sasquatch and you can keep your doctor.

We feel very protective of our state flag. There is a story that in 1908 Texans hanged a man for desecrating the Lone Star flag. Historians can find no record of such an instance although there is an old story that the Texas Legislature once passed a resolution congratulating someone for beating up a man who desecrated the Texas flag. Finally, a few items to know: The Texas flag is known as the “Lone Star Flag” which, in turn, gave Texas its nickname, “The Lone Star State,” not the other way around. Our pledge of allegiance is to the state flag first and then to the state. “Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”

The Texas flag flies permanently above both doors of the Texas State Capitol, under the U.S. flag at the south door, but only the Texas flag flies at the north door. The law also requires that the state flag be flown at or near any International Port of Entry. Does that include the Sabine and Red Rivers.? And because of our usual legislative efficiency — it’s a long story — Texas had no legal flag from 1879 to1933. Not until 1993 did the Legislature specify that the red and blue colors are defined by the “Standard Color Reference of America.” That law also specifies that the finial, or top of the pole, should be a lone star or a spearhead. Is yours? Sometimes we see the Texas flag flown upside down. The red is on the bottom and the star’s top spike is upward. Remember that the next time you throw a flag on the highway.

 

Ashby gets flagged down at ashby2@comcast.net

STICKER SHOCK

November 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                                    2 Nov. 2015

STICKER SHOCK

 

To: All Texas Principles

From: State Board of Education

Subject: Slight Adjustments

 

As you may no, the State Board of Education, or SBOE, adopted new textbooks in 2010 to be used by our 5 million public school childs. We selected these books only after careful studies and advice from skolars, students who had been to at least some community college classes or were working on their GED, We also sollistated input from the general public by holding a town hall meeting. The town we chose was Terlingua, which, unfortunately, didn’t have a town hall, so we met from 3 to 4 a.m. at a 24-hour CVS in Marfa. Attendance was disappointingly small.

We thought everything waz done, and told the publisher, Typo & Smudge, Inc., to start printing. This fall semester the books were distributed. Only now have we run into problems. Some trouble-making teenager in Sugar Land went home to tell his mother that a textbook, “Things That Have Happened,” explained slavery in the South by noting that some slave owners treated their slaves with kindness, provided them food, lodging and clothes. The textbook mentions the “hope” that Christianisn provided to the blacks. Folk tales expressed “joy,” and community dances were great social events. But what ticked off that young man was that the slaves brought over from Africa were referred as “workers.” They were practically waiting at the docks for a chance to slap on chains for a one-way cruise to New York or Charleston.

In these politically correct, or PC, days, the SBOE felt it had to do something, so we contacted the publishers who agreed to send us stickers to paste over those terms which might possibly offend the thin-skinned (of all skins). For example, it was suggested that we use stickers reading “Native Americans” rather than “savages, scalpers and kidnappers of small children.” We compromised on “Indians.”

A motion to use a sticker reading “Democrats” rather than “Godless commies” died for lack of a second. In our new biology book, “Don’t Ask,” the chapter on sex, “Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder,” all mention of where babies come from has been deleted. School districts with special locations for unwed student mothers will not be exempted as the SBOE feels by then it’s too late.

Getting back to slavery, the section on “The War of Northern Aggression” will be replaced by “The War for Southern Independence.” Causes of the war will no longer include “Yankees talked funny,” “they put beans in their chili” and “it would never have happened if they could have grown cotton in Boston Commons.” There was a motion to add a paragraph or at least a sentence on the Emancipation Proclamation and how it really didn’t change anything – it only freed workers in the Confederacy, good luck, Abe — but was good PR for Lincoln. Most board members felt 12th graders are too young understand such long words as the Emancipation Proclamation. The same for Appomattox.

Besides some sections not being PC, other critics have pointed out some “factual errors” in our new books on Texas. Sam Houston led the Texans at San Jacinto. San Houston did not lead the taxmen at Sam Jacinto. The city of Houston was not originally named Hughestown for Howard Hughes. Ben and Jerry’s does not have a flavor called Remember the a la Mode. Roe v. Wade was not a debate on how best to cross the Rio Grande. Our new book on the U.S., called “The Lesser 49,” needs some stickers. Herbert Hoover did not invent the vacuum cleaner. Thomas Edison did not invent electricity; that was Benjamin Franklin. Regis Philbin is not a hotel in Chicago. Some critics said this next question was a bit condescending. If the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans play nationally on Monday Night Football, who will be the winner? Answer: Any other channel.

Incedentally, none of these changes would be necessary if it weren’t for those nosey outsiders like parents, teachers with real teaching certificates and so-called “experts” in their fields. They accuse members of the SBOE of imposing their own right-wing political filosophies on authors of textbooks instead of imposing their own left-wing filosophies. Nonsense, as we told one another at the last Glenn Beck book-signing.

There has been some quibbling about our new science book, “As God Made It.” The chapter, “Global Warming and Other Myths,” needs a sticker reading, “some people say,” and not, “leftist professors and Nobel laurates.” Under the multi-choice question, “What causes pollution and what, if anything, should Texas do about it?” The choices were: “Nothing, because pollution is caused by trees.” “Nothing. Pollution means jobs, especially for the millions who moved here to find work and get away from the Smog Belt.” Finally: “Smog is a hoax, just like the BP Gulf oil spill.” You will receive a sticker giving another choice: “Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will part the seas, smite the heathens and cleanse the air.”

In our new vocabulary workbooks, the explanation that a pediatrician is a baby doctor should have made it clear that the person is not actually a doctor who is a baby. Also, the second reference should have read “pediatrician” and not “pedophile.”
Our new math textbooks also need some stickers. One problem: If five workers pick cotton for five days, and they are paid $5 a day, how much would each worker get paid? The answer given, $50, is wrong on two counts. The total should be either $25 or $40, our accountants are working on that. Secondly, these particular workers were in the South and didn’t get paid anything.

The problem: If a train leaves Dallas for Houston at noon going 50 miles an hour and another train on the same track leaves Houston for Dallas going 60 miles an hour, where will they meet? The correct answer should be: Just south of Centerville and not: In eternity. Thank you fer making these minor changes, workers.

 

Ashby slaves at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telluride, my favorite ski town

November 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

A representative from Telluride, CO was in Houston last week. He had a lot to say.

With record breaking tourism in Telluride and a 30 percent increase in available air seats over the last two years, the destination continues to be ranked among the best resorts in the world. Travelers planning trips to Telluride for the winter 2015-16 season will be greeted with added flights, updated lodging options, new restaurants and bars, ski camps, improved grooming and much more. “We celebrated a record season last winter, and with continuing improvements to access, guest services and amenities, we’re giving our guests the best possible experience, whether they are visiting for the first time or loyal repeat guests,” said Michael Martelon President and CEO of Telluride Tourism Board.

United, Colorado’s primary carrier, will continue to expand on its already-existing network to Telluride/Montrose with the addition of highly sought-after flights from New York – La Guardia (LGA). MTJ’s core hub service will continue with multiple daily, year-round flights from DEN, daily service from Houston and Chicago, along with weekend flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

LODGING UPDATES
Madeleine Hotel & Residences: Renovations of this iconic hotel are on track for completion by December 2015, including a grand new porte cochere and outdoor pool area, featuring a 24’x50′ pool, hot tubs, fire pits and breathtaking views of the towering mountain peaks. New additions include Dylan’s Candy Bar, M Club and M Studio, and updates to the Black Iron Kitchen and Bar are complete. The hotel has also opened a new Club Room with indoor/outdoor bar, pool table, and shuffleboard, and a new Salon. http://www.madelinetelluride.com/renovations.php

Peaks Resort and Spa: In July 2015, Telluride Ski & Golf (TSG) closed a deal with Peaks Capital Partners to take over the Peaks Resort and Spa. The Peaks Resort and Spa is a ski-in/ski-out, full service hotel located adjacent to the Telluride Ski & Golf Club. The hotel features 177 guest rooms, a 42,000 square foot, 32 treatment rooms spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools with a waterslide and 9,100 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space. The spa itself is the largest in Colorado in terms of square footage and offers a variety of treatments as well as fitness and wellness programming.

NEW SKI CAMPS AND PROGRAMS
Biomechanics Camp: Biomechanics Camp will teach people of all ages to ski efficiently and in a way that minimizes stress on the body. Dr. Kim Hewson, orthopedic surgeon, former Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Arizona, and a lead Telluride Ski School instructor, has refined a scientific-based biomechanics approach that will be taught at this camp. Camp dates are January 15th – 18th Making Friends with Moguls: This two-day camp will help skiers develop confidence in the bumps while skiing in a small group setting with like-minded and ability skiers. The camp will start out slowly
with proven exercises and progressions to help skiers reach their goals. Making Friends with Moguls Camp dates are January 20th – 21st and February 29th – March 1st Silver Skiers Program: For the 2015-16 season, the Telluride Ski and Snowboard School is offering a special program for skiers 50 years young and up. Two sessions consisting of four Thursdays each will match coaches from the senior ski school staff with smaller groups and will make skiing fun, relaxed and enjoyable for fellow seniors. The program is designed for novice through advanced/hard-core skiers and is meant to focus on the camaraderie formed through skiing with people of similar skill level and with similar interests. The Silver Skiers Program has sessions January 7th – January 28th and February 4th – March 3rd (*Please note there will be no session on February 18, President’s Week*)

NEW MOUNTAIN IMPROVEMENTS
New Grooming Equipment: The resort has added a new Snowcat PistenBully 600 to the fleet,. The fuel-efficient PB600’s wider track and tiller allows Mountain Operations to increase the number of acres that can be accessed in a shorter amount of time, helping the resort better prepare for opening and increase grooming times throughout the season.
Snowmaking Enhancements: To bring more snow to Hoot Brown Terrain Park, TSG is installing Tower Mounts that enable easy relocation of snow guns from other areas of the mountain. Additionally, a new variable frequency drive panel will be installed at Misty Pump House, making it easier for the snowmaking pros to adjust water flow to pumps. TSG is also working with the town of Mountain Village to replace an old water line that is the key supply line for snowmaking.
Sunshine Express (Lift 10): A new gear box has been implemented to improve overall reliability of lift performance and new pulleys have been installed.
Telluride is like no other place with all of this and much more, making it unique, authentic and inspiring. Come experience everything this destination has to offer and discover why Telluride is the most Colorado place on earth.
For further information, or to book a trip, visit www.visittelluride.com.

Potted Potter at the Hobby Center: Oct. 27-Nov.8, 2015

October 28, 2015 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Events, Theater

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.12.39 AM

Potted Potter is 70 minutes of boisterous laughter and brilliant fun for fans of the Harry Potter series. H Texas watched the opening night, and even newcomers to the world-wide hit will enjoy the parody, which makes references to other pop-culture phenomenons like the Lord of the Rings and Twilight. Wizards, muggles—non-wizard folk—and everyone in between of all ages will enjoy Potted Potter.

The show condenses all seven books and movies into energetic acts performed by two players on stage through a series of costume changes. Daniel Clarkson provided great comedic talent, playing a majority of roles, working the audience up, including a rousing game of quidditch (think wizard lacrosse) in the middle of the show. Jefferson Turner plays the straight man and the title character, Harry Potter himself, providing a great counterpoint to his co-star’s energy. Potted Potter is very interactive, working with the entire audience to chant, cheer, sing along and even come on stage!

Get your family and loved ones to the Hobby Center soon before the show moves on November 8th!

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

Family pool at Esperanza, An Auberge Resort, Cabo

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Parents' Place, Travel Blog

Fun for All Ages

FamilyPool

Travelers of all ages love Esperanza. For families, the Villas are the place to be featuring full kitchens and private plunge pools. Your family will love the largest pool in Cabo with beach entry and swim up bars. The Villas offer partial ownership opportunities and The Residences at Esperanza offer full and partial ownership – for those of you who want to own a piece of this beautiful seaside town.

Esperanzaresort.com

REDUNDANT, AGAIN

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                   26 Oct. 2015

THE MEETING HALL – As usual, Bottom Line took the podium faster than a speeding bullet and quicker than a New York minute. “Welcome to another occasional meeting of Club Cliche, where every shopworn and overused expression, word or term get together like fleas on a dog. This is an especially important gathering of the rhetorically challenged because it is campaign time, and no one can make our teeth grit like fingernails on a blackboard than our politicians. Of course, if you had to make six or 10 speeches a day, you would probably run out of originality. That’s why these office-seekers hire speech writers.”

If It Walks Like a Duck spoke up. “I used to be a speech-writer. Worked for Rudy Giuliani. It was easy work. All I had to do was make sure each sentence contained a noun, a verb and 9/11.”

Bottom Line continued. “First, I want to welcome back some old — and I do mean old – members like You Go, Girl, Millennials and Whazzup. Also, I see in the crowd Occupy Wall Street and your cousin, Wall Street to Main Street. Family Values, are you still around? I thought you died after the late 90s when it turned out the politicos who were using Values to death were, all that time, cheating on their third wives, popping pills and hiding payments of hush money to under-aged boys. You are close to our current shopworn campaign slogans, so let me introduce them. Where is Jeb with an exclamation point? That is an excellent way to remind people you are a Bush without reminding people you are not THAT Bush. And Jeb with an exclamation point, drop the line defending your brother with ‘He kept us safe.’ Maybe you don’t remember 9/11 but some voters do.”

Gravitas spoke up. “While we’re on shopworn political terms, we’ve had the Mainstream Media to kick around for a few years. The crowd goes wild when Sarah Palin refers to the Laaame Stream Media. But now Newt Gingrich introduces the Elite Media in every sentence. Elite used to mean better or special, but ol’ Newt uses it as a putdown — constantly. Keep it up, Newt.”

Low Hanging Fruit and On the Wrong Side of History both grabbed the microphone. “Redouble Our Efforts and Embolden Our Enemies and getting an exhaustive workouts. Also, we’ve been keeping score, and Fox News manages to use Black Lives Matter in a derogatory way on an average of 35 times an hour.”

“Well, the term has been in the news.”

“In the weather report?”

Small Ball got the floor. “If we could get off political hacks spouting meaningless phrases for a moment, no element of the media generates better burnt-out bromides than the sports press. I mean, we’ve got Cautious Optimism, One Game at a Time and Walk-Off Single, or Double or Homer. Whatever wins the baseball game, it’s a walk-off. Now we have Pick Six for an interception returned for a touchdown.

Double Down rose. “The other night on TV the sportscaster, Jack Hack, said, and I quote, ‘The Pinstripes knocked off the Halos while the Cheese Heads traded A Rod to the Fish and SloMoJo whipped Little Miss Baby Cakes.’ When he was finished Coachspeak and I hadn’t understood a word he said. So I nominate Hack for membership.”

There was a round of applause. Bottom Line took over. “As long as we’re on the media, Breaking News just gave us some breaking news: At 6 and 10 tonight there will be breaking news. There will be a 100 percent chance of the meteorologist telling us there will be a 10 percent chance of it raining somewhere. Moving on, Shout Out wants to give a shout out to Takeaway for becoming an overused noun. Also, Bad Boy thinks members In the Weeds and Cool As the Other Side of the Pillow should be stripped of their membership for lack of constant use. Now we have a sticky one. During the Ebola scare every newscast and printed story used the word Protocol. No one knew exactly what it meant, but it sounded serious. Protocol had its 15 minutes of fame and was on the way to the cliché Home for Worn Out Words when along came the sports world’s sudden interest in concussions. Most interest centered on the protection of players, long-lasting trauma and billion-dollar lawsuits. So now Protocol is back in our mind-numbing vocabulary.”

Chump Change took over. “I was just talking to Above My Pay Grade and we remembered a few more dog-eared phrases worthy of membership because of the current political campaigns. Some have been around but are getting dusted off. When talking about our borders, Comprehensive Immigration Reform is back in overuse, along with Out of the Shadows. New ones include Income Gap and its cousin, Growing Income Inequality. Skin in the Game is getting deliciously boring and redundant, if that’s not redundant. The late John Boehner used Adult Conversation in every conversation, adult or not. He also liked Whack-a-Mole and trotted it out constantly. Another potential member is Receiving Push Back, which replaced Opposition.”

Spot On stood up. “No pol gets far into a speech these days without saying Boots On the Ground, although most of them never put boots on any ground. They also like to use Speak Truth to Power constantly.”

Next was Selfie. “It hurts, but we must kick out Have a Nice Day. It had its fame, but now Have a Great One has taken over. Sorry Nice Day. And a question: Maxed Out is worn out, but only credit cards are maxed out. Why not air or carrots or the national debt?”

“Same reason only things on the Internet can go viral,” said Multitask. “You never heard of a song, slogan or fingernail clippers going viral.”

“Well, that wraps up this meeting,” said Bottom Line. “Just remember, avoid clichés like the plague.”

 

Ashby is plagued at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Lynn Ashby                                                   26 Oct. 2015

 

REDUNDANT, AGAIN

 

THE MEETING HALL – As usual, Bottom Line took the podium faster than a speeding bullet and quicker than a New York minute. “Welcome to another occasional meeting of Club Cliche, where every shopworn and overused expression, word or term get together like fleas on a dog. This is an especially important gathering of the rhetorically challenged because it is campaign time, and no one can make our teeth grit like fingernails on a blackboard than our politicians. Of course, if you had to make six or 10 speeches a day, you would probably run out of originality. That’s why these office-seekers hire speech writers.”

If It Walks Like a Duck spoke up. “I used to be a speech-writer. Worked for Rudy Giuliani. It was easy work. All I had to do was make sure each sentence contained a noun, a verb and 9/11.”

Bottom Line continued. “First, I want to welcome back some old — and I do mean old – members like You Go, Girl, Millennials and Whazzup. Also, I see in the crowd Occupy Wall Street and your cousin, Wall Street to Main Street. Family Values, are you still around? I thought you died after the late 90s when it turned out the politicos who were using Values to death were, all that time, cheating on their third wives, popping pills and hiding payments of hush money to under-aged boys. You are close to our current shopworn campaign slogans, so let me introduce them. Where is Jeb with an exclamation point? That is an excellent way to remind people you are a Bush without reminding people you are not THAT Bush. And Jeb with an exclamation point, drop the line defending your brother with ‘He kept us safe.’ Maybe you don’t remember 9/11 but some voters do.”

Gravitas spoke up. “While we’re on shopworn political terms, we’ve had the Mainstream Media to kick around for a few years. The crowd goes wild when Sarah Palin refers to the Laaame Stream Media. But now Newt Gingrich introduces the Elite Media in every sentence. Elite used to mean better or special, but ol’ Newt uses it as a putdown — constantly. Keep it up, Newt.”

Low Hanging Fruit and On the Wrong Side of History both grabbed the microphone. “Redouble Our Efforts and Embolden Our Enemies and getting an exhaustive workouts. Also, we’ve been keeping score, and Fox News manages to use Black Lives Matter in a derogatory way on an average of 35 times an hour.”

“Well, the term has been in the news.”

“In the weather report?”

Small Ball got the floor. “If we could get off political hacks spouting meaningless phrases for a moment, no element of the media generates better burnt-out bromides than the sports press. I mean, we’ve got Cautious Optimism, One Game at a Time and Walk-Off Single, or Double or Homer. Whatever wins the baseball game, it’s a walk-off. Now we have Pick Six for an interception returned for a touchdown.

Double Down rose. “The other night on TV the sportscaster, Jack Hack, said, and I quote, ‘The Pinstripes knocked off the Halos while the Cheese Heads traded A Rod to the Fish and SloMoJo whipped Little Miss Baby Cakes.’ When he was finished Coachspeak and I hadn’t understood a word he said. So I nominate Hack for membership.”

There was a round of applause. Bottom Line took over. “As long as we’re on the media, Breaking News just gave us some breaking news: At 6 and 10 tonight there will be breaking news. There will be a 100 percent chance of the meteorologist telling us there will be a 10 percent chance of it raining somewhere. Moving on, Shout Out wants to give a shout out to Takeaway for becoming an overused noun. Also, Bad Boy thinks members In the Weeds and Cool As the Other Side of the Pillow should be stripped of their membership for lack of constant use. Now we have a sticky one. During the Ebola scare every newscast and printed story used the word Protocol. No one knew exactly what it meant, but it sounded serious. Protocol had its 15 minutes of fame and was on the way to the cliché Home for Worn Out Words when along came the sports world’s sudden interest in concussions. Most interest centered on the protection of players, long-lasting trauma and billion-dollar lawsuits. So now Protocol is back in our mind-numbing vocabulary.”

Chump Change took over. “I was just talking to Above My Pay Grade and we remembered a few more dog-eared phrases worthy of membership because of the current political campaigns. Some have been around but are getting dusted off. When talking about our borders, Comprehensive Immigration Reform is back in overuse, along with Out of the Shadows. New ones include Income Gap and its cousin, Growing Income Inequality. Skin in the Game is getting deliciously boring and redundant, if that’s not redundant. The late John Boehner used Adult Conversation in every conversation, adult or not. He also liked Whack-a-Mole and trotted it out constantly. Another potential member is Receiving Push Back, which replaced Opposition.”

Spot On stood up. “No pol gets far into a speech these days without saying Boots On the Ground, although most of them never put boots on any ground. They also like to use Speak Truth to Power constantly.”

Next was Selfie. “It hurts, but we must kick out Have a Nice Day. It had its fame, but now Have a Great One has taken over. Sorry Nice Day. And a question: Maxed Out is worn out, but only credit cards are maxed out. Why not air or carrots or the national debt?”

“Same reason only things on the Internet can go viral,” said Multitask. “You never heard of a song, slogan or fingernail clippers going viral.”

“Well, that wraps up this meeting,” said Bottom Line. “Just remember, avoid clichés like the plague.”

 

Ashby is plagued at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS BOXES

October 19, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                           19 Oct. 2015

MONTICELLO – We have come to this beautiful countryside of Virginia to look into little-known aspects of our history, and this is our first stop, Monticello. A picture of it is probably in your pocket, it’s the other side of the Thomas Jefferson nickel. This house and plantation apparently can be pronounced either mon-tuh-CHELLO or mon-tuh-SELLO. I would ask the man who built it, but Thomas Jefferson lies dead these many years right here.

He was not religious, a unique stance for those God-fearing times, but was a Deist. Today that wouldn’t fly for a presidential candidate. Because of his non-beliefs, he distinctly designed his tombstone, no cross or crescent, and wrote out his epitaph: “…on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more: Here was buried Thomas Jefferson. Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia.”

Note there is no mention that he was our first Secretary of State, governor of Virginia or even that he was third president of the United States. Don’t you think these positions would have warranted some mention? How about “Inventor of the first Xerox?” To visit Tom’s house, make reservations. They run this place – in a kind and efficient way – like the Normandy invasion. Don’t ask the guide silly questions, such as: What was his middle name? Back then America was a very poor country and even the aristocracy couldn’t afford middle names for every child. So only two of his nine siblings had middle names (Peter Field and Anna Scott).

Monticello was a going farm, producing most of what the residents needed. Tom was a tinkerer, architect and inventor. He built a small dumbwaiter into the side of the dining room fireplace so that bottles of wine could be brought up quietly. He wrote a huge number of letters, essays, and at least one Declaration of Independence, but it was tiring to make copies of everything, so here at his desk you see a pen attached to a framework attached to a second pen next to the first. Every time Tom wrote a line, the second pen copied it. Thus beware of purchasing “Thomas Jefferson letters.” They could be written by his evil twin.

A museum displays the Jefferson family tree and, yes, Sally Hemmings is listed, along with their six children. Her father was apparently Thomas Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles. But Tom was a lousy businessman and was so desperate for cash he sold his beloved book collection to Congress, which eventually expanded it to become the Library of Congress, the largest on earth. He died broke. If only he’d saved all those nickels.

Remember JFK’s famous remark to a White House dinner of Nobel laureates? “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Last stop: Quantico. At most museums you are greeted by a kindly, elderly guide wearing a blazer with a nametag. This museum greets you with five large young men who could – and may – spend their Sundays playing linebacker for the Redskins. They all obviously have the same barber and haberdasher, for they are wearing shaved heads, starched fatigues and pack heavy heat on their hips, but couldn’t be nicer or more accommodating. Akmed, next time you want to shoot up a military establishment, don’t come here to the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

You may not have heard of this place — Marines are notoriously humble and self-effacing – because it only opened in 2006, and is about a 36-mile march south of the capital near Quantico Marine Base. The building itself is a huge soaring structure evoking the iconic Marine monument of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. (That flag is here.) Inside, passed the armed honor guard — there is no admission fee — is a gigantic rotunda. Standing in neat lines and starched attention, are about 150 Leathernecks. That is nice of them to greet me, considering it took me six year just to make lance corporal. Oh, it seems there is some kind of ceremony going on. Maybe next time.

Probably these young men and women are here to learn about those in the Corps who preceded them, and a most interesting trip it is. Covering everything from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli (you may quote me), there are displays, artifacts, push a button and get a quick rundown on what you are seeing. Here is a display of Marines storming a beach in Korea. No, not in 1951, but in 1871. That part of the hymn, “We have fought in every clime and placeis not poetic license. There is a lot more than just glass boxes with old uniform — a lot of bells and whistles, lively stuff. It is really worth the trip.

Marines like sayings about their Corps, and some are carved into the walls. This from Sgt. Dan Daly, leading an assault on German trenches in WW I: “Come on, you sons of etc. Do you want to live forever?” I can’t find my favorite quote, but I’ll bet it’s here: “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.” — President Ronald Reagan. A final story: One August afternoon several years ago I met a young man I had known for some time. Only he looked different from last I had seen him, a few months earlier. He now had short hair, crisp uniform, bars on his collar, stood erect. He was an officer of Marines. And the march goes on.

November 10th is the 239th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. So happy birthday and Semper Fi, my son.

 

Ashby’s glass box is at ashby2@comcst.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEE IT UP AND LET ’ER RIP—IN LAKE CHARLES, LA!

October 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Don’t miss these golf getaways, with way more than just miles of greens.

by Greg Wettman

The Golden Nugget Resort and Casino (www.goldennugget.com/lakecharles)

The Country Club at the Golden Nugget

The Country Club at the Golden Nugget

For Houstonians searching for a fun weekend golf getaway, look no further than Lake Charles, Louisiana (www.visitlakecharles.org), only two hours east of Houston, just off I-10. An ideal place to call home while in Lake Charles is the Golden Nugget Resort and Casino, which is perched along Contraband Bayou. Besides incredible golf, there is so much to do at the Golden Nugget, which just opened in December 2014, that you don’t really need to drive your car again until you head home—unless, of course, you are searching for another golf course to play, or a local restaurant, which I do recommend.

The Country Club golf course at the Golden Nugget is located on the edge of Contraband Bayou. It is well designed and maintained, and very appealing to the eye. The greens are as good as any I have ever played on—bar none. When I stepped on the putting green, I felt like I was in golf heaven. The course is outstanding. There are many waste bunkers on the course that stop errant shots from disappearing from play, and the staff treats you like a king.

As impressive as the golf course is, the clubhouse is in the same class. The dining room is exquisite, and the food otherworldly. I had a special entrée of rainbow trout almandine that I’m still savoring.

At the Golden Nugget, the pool complex—the H2O Pool & Bar—is lavish and irresistible, with a lazy river and two flume rides. There’s also an awesome wet bar; multiple “islands” in the pool called daybeds; and a state-of-the-art concert stage, which features live musical performances at various times throughout the year. You can swim up to the wet bar, order your favorite beverage, charge it to your room and then float along the lazy river while listening to a top-of-the-line band nearby. That’s what I call relaxation. The pool area also features 250 chaise lounge chairs, 34 private cabanas, six fire pits and several hot tubs. Bottom line at the Golden Nugget: If you’re not playing golf, the pool is the place to be!

The Golden Nugget Spa & Salon is adjacent to the H2O Pool & Bar, very convenient if you’re craving a midday massage, manicure, pedicure or facial. At the Spa, you will also find a sauna, steam room, whirlpool and a fitness room with state-of-the-art Cybex cardio and weight equipment.

When it comes to breaking bread at the Golden Nugget, you are truly spoiled for choice. Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse, Landry’s Seafood House, Lillie’s, Cadillac Mexican Kitchen, Saltgrass Steak House, Grotto and Claim Jumper are just a few of the dining options available. When it comes to a spur-of-the-moment dessert, The Chocolate Box offers gourmet handmade truffles and chocolates from around the world.

If you want to relax at a beach, the Golden Nugget has you covered. During the day, you can sunbathe, play beach volleyball, or stroll along the waters of the Contraband Bayou. After sunset, the fire pits on the beach are aglow, providing the perfect place to unwind after a busy day at the resort. The Cadillac Beach Bar & Grille is right on the beach and offers great margaritas and food.

If you have any energy left after a fun-in-the-sun kind of day, there is a large, beautiful place right in the middle of the complex called a casino! Since you have already had the good luck to find the Golden Nugget, you might as well find an exciting table game or slot machine to top off your day.

L’Auberge Casino Resort and the Contraband Bayou Golf Club (www.llakecharles.com)

Next door to the Golden Nugget is another awesome place to play, the L’Auberge Casino Resort and the Contraband Bayou Golf Club. The Contraband Bayou Golf Club is a Tom Fazio design and the only public Fazio course in Louisiana. In 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, Golfweek named this course one of the “Best Places to Play in Louisiana.” That is a well-earned endorsement. It is a blast to play. Eight spectacular lakes are found on this course. When you record a subpar score on any hole at Contraband, you can say that you recorded a birdie on the bayou. The signature hole is the downhill par three 8th—it’s a visual masterpiece and fun to play.

L'Auberge Casino and Contraband Golf Club

L’Auberge Casino and Contraband Bayou Golf Club

The resort has a very warm and comfortable atmosphere with a design inspired by the Texas Hill Country, and offers several unique dining options. Breakfast at Favorites Southern Kitchen includes what I believe are the perfect beignets and a stuffed Brioche French Toast like nowhere else. Embers Steakhouse is elegant, romantic and delicious. If you dare, order the 40-ounce bone-in rib eye. I guarantee you will not forget it. L’auberge also has a huge pool area with a lazy river and large, first-class casino. The hospitality shown by the entire staff ensures a return trip will be scheduled.

More Courses

Gray Plantation Golf Course, The National Golf Club of Louisiana and Mallard Cove Golf Course are three more excellent courses to try in the Lake Charles area. At Gray Plantation, the view of the plantation-style clubhouse from the 18th tee caps off an experience that is filled with many sightseeing and shot-making opportunities. Plantation is impressive, especially its four-par threes, two of which have island greens. Lunch on the veranda after golf was superb. I recommend their Pressed Pork sandwich.

At the National Golf Club, which opened in 2009, there are generous landing areas off the tee. The rolling terrain and over-sized greens give you many different shots during any given round. If you pay attention to pin positions with your approach shots, it’s possible to get up and down for par more often than not.

Mallard Cove is a favorite of the locals and is the site of the annual Lake Charles City Championships. The 18th hole at Mallard Cove is one of the most unique finishing holes in golf, as it has multiple options from the tee. The key to success at the 18th hole is to avoid the water at all costs with your tee shot. There are three routes to take off the tee. Mallard has a very nice new clubhouse with a bar and restaurant. It’s a top-tier municipal facility.

Each of the courses I’ve mentioned is in a class of its own and fun to play. All five courses are as appealing to the scratch golfer as they will be to the weekend warrior. All five are also bargains for their respective green fees, which range from around $25 to $160.

Local Eats

The Lake Charles area has many great local restaurants. Two I have visited are local favorites, The Seafood Palace and the recently opened 1910 Restaurant and Wine Bar. The Seafood Palace is not fancy, just really great food. It has the best fried alligator I’ve eaten, and the boiled blue crabs are delicious. 1910 features Cajun/Creole dishes that are infused with a French backbone. Everything I sampled was worth coming downtown for, and the atmosphere is elegant, but relaxed.

It will take more than one weekend to enjoy all of the top-notch golf, dining, gaming and relaxation options that the Lake Charles area has to offer. But that’s okay. It’s only two hours away. As the locals say: Bon temps! (Let the good times roll!)

A MOVING EXPERIENCE

October 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE STREET – Another moving van has pulled up to the old McToxic place. From the van, out come the sofas and TV sets, the tables and snow tires, the sled and… wait a minute. This can only mean that yet another family of Yankees is moving here with their strange sayings like “uncle and ont” and “eye-ther way.” How many times will I have to listen to, “In Noo Yawk we always….” More missionaries to the savages. Do you ever get the idea that the Border Patrol is watching the wrong river?

If it appears that Texas is receiving more refugees than usual, you are right. We have already discussed the tens of thousands of Syrians & Co. who are on their way. And the tens of thousands of Central American youths who have arrived to join the 40,000 Katrinians – those orphans of the storm who came and decided to stay. Now we need to deal with those refugees from Detroit, Newark and the other 48 states (for all practical purposes, I count North and South Dakota as one). Yes, it’s not just your imagination, it’s official: more of our fellow Americans are moving to Texas than to any other state. The Not-So-Lonely Star State added 72,243 households from the rest of the nation in 2013. A far, far distant second was Florida with just 28,006 new households.

There are a few minor notes we must address with these statistics. These figures are not people, not a head count, but households, which include the Branch Davidian and the Yearning for Zion Ranch families of 10 wives and 22 kids, who count as two households. Also, these numbers are according to IRS figures as of 2013, when oil was $100 a barrel, although more recent studies show there has not been a real slowdown in GTT. And this data from the IRS are different from the figures supplied by the Census Bureau, because they show the former hometowns based on relocation records of tax returns.

As might be expected, the larger counties, population-wise, added the most newcomers, but there is a surprise. Harris County – the state’s most populous county — added 8,900 new households through domestic migration in 2013. But Houston and its suburbs actually finished second. Number One was Travis County, seated in Austin. It saw the largest influx of domestic migration with 26,000 new households in 2013. Austin beat Houston by almost three to one.

Clearly, our newcomers like the bright lights of the big cities. Here’s the trend. Up until 1950, Texas’s population was more than half rural. Between 1980 and 2010 the state’s rural population grew by 22 percent while its urban population jumped by 88 percent. Between 2000 and 2010, during a booming growth period for the state, 78 Texas counties actually lost population. So where are the out-of-staters moving? Mostly to the Houston area, the Metroplex and the I-35 corridor (Georgetown-Austin-San Antonio). No one moves to Pampa. Would you?

These newcomers bring with them their former culture which, in turn, is changing our own. For example, at any pro sports event in Houston, you will see as many Cardinal or Yankee or Bulls jerseys as you will see Astros or Rockets paraphernalia. When an LA Laker hits nothing but net from mid court, expect to hear loud cheering. On fall afternoons, LSU, USC and Michigan banners decorate Texas’ front yards. Out-of-state universities regularly schedule TV viewing parties at local watering holes. An oddity: when, say, an OU alumnus buys a personalized Texas license plate reading “Go Sooners” or some such cheer, OU gets some of the money. We can only assume those tires do not cause wear and tear on Texas highways and potholes.

Other changes can be seen in the way some new arrivals don’t cotton (look it up, pilgrim) to our history. Next thing you know they will start moving statues around the UT campus, and changing the generation-old names of our public schools like Lee, Reagan and Johnston. Our earlier Texans would have never done that. And when was the last time you heard “Dixie”? So what we old timers (anyone arriving before 2010) need to do is educate our brand-new Texans. For example, our children say “Sir” and “M’am) to their elders – those with an AARP card – while excuse me, thank you and please are not a sign of subservience but of respect, especially when the other person is holding anything with the term “caliber” attached to it. This reminds me, warning shots are for wussies. Before using the term, “fugetaboutit,” check your own caliber. In Texas, “gun control” means holding it with both hands. Those hood ornaments on a Mercedes are actually crosshairs.

More helpful hints for those who just arrived: the slightest ice on Texas streets turns them into destruction derbies. I don’t care how you spell it, the term is, “Come sit rat cheer.” “Remember the Alamo” is not a question. God may be an Englishman, but when He retires He’ll move to Lakeway. This brings us to Houston sports columnist Mickey Herskowitz, who wrote: “There must really be something to religion. People keep comparing it to Texas high school football.” Never squat while wearing spurs. The official state song is not “The Eyes of Texas,” but no one knows what it is. Distances are not measured in miles but in hours. Houston used to have a classical music radio station, but George Strait is retiring. Big Bend is not a clock in London. You cannot buy a Texas legislator, but there are some you can rent for the afternoon. In Texas, an intellectual is someone who can listen to “The William Tell Overture” without thinking of the Lone Ranger.

Finally, if all this time you have been wondering what GTT means, it is what others in less desirable places would write on their cabin doors before departing. GTT was shorthand for: “Gone To Texas.” Those who could read followed. The others are still there.

 

Ashby moves at ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

TAKE A TRUNCHEON TO LUNCHEON

October 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

To: Members of the Texas State Guard

From: Gov. Greg Abbott

Subject: Well done!

 

My fellow patriots, Washington has informed me that the so-called Jade Helm 15 “exercise” is over, although many of you never knew it began. That’s because you depended on the Main Stream Media (MSM) which never tells you the real truth about these many lurking dangers to our freedoms, like ZIP codes, crash barrels and headphones. But for those of us who receive our coded information from Fox News, we knew that a military takeover of the Republic of Texas was imminent. We knew that soldiers would seize our weapons, especially our howitzers and Abrams tanks. A stream of ambulances cleverly disguised as Blue Bell trucks was standing by to whisk away refrigerated bodies to hide all evidence of the blood baths in the streets of Pecos, Pampa and Port Arthur. And, of course, every town in Texas has at least one empty Walmart store, which served as command posts and ammunition dumps.

When word of these military “maneuvers” reached my desk, as the commanding general of the Texas State Guard (not to be confused with the Texas National Guard, Right Guard or cattle guards), I immediately commanded, “Somebody do something!” As I wrote to Maj. Gen. Gerald Betty of the Texas State Guard, “During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.” After meeting with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick – who recommended shooting the Senate Democrats, then ostracizing their voters to reeducation camps – I then turned to the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, who explained that, while as attorney general he wasn’t actually a general in the military sense, if he declared martial law, perhaps his three felony indictments could be dismissed, or at least the prosecutors could be tried as war criminals.

I finally decided to empower you, members of the Texas State Guard, to monitor all activities by these foreign invaders disguised as U.S. 0troops. You did your job well, proof is that, because of your unending work, there were relatively few cases of military takeovers of any large city. Yes, there were a few screw-ups. Fort Worth turned not to be strictly a fort. But suspicious military activities were reported, complete with artillery, tanks and a marching band, at a central Texas location code named Fort Hood. The Texas State Guard managed to contain the invading force to the camp itself, plus a few bars in Killeen on Saturday nights.

Our spies in San Antonio reported military activity along the Riverwalk among young people disguised as recruits from Lakeland Air Force Base. They seemed particularly interested in taking selfies in front our secret command post, aka the Alamo. (Our motto: This time we’ll get it right.) Remember how infiltrators came disguised as postal carriers, cleverly noting who got what suspicious mail, i.e., post cards from socialist France, plus leaflets from Battleground Texas and Black Lives Matter). Others pretended to be school crossing guards or check-out clerks at your local grocery store (bar codes are telltale evidence of counter-patriotic communications) and rodeo clowns.

We now come to the greatest threat, and this is the honest truth. This bulletin from a sister group called Counter Jade Helm which was founded in Arizona and joined our monitoring: On Aug. 6 at “17:54,” a dispatch from Louisiana on the group’s website noted that military personnel were seen on Caddo Lake near the Texas line. They were described as “8 military aged men, very fit on 8 brand new Jet Skis,” raising the prospect of an invasion by troops using water-recreation vehicles. “When the eyewitness talked to them,” the report continued, “their story did not add up.” I suspect their tale was that they were simply eight guys having fun on the lake. But decoded, it was: “We’re Marine Recon, scouting an invasion by the 1st Marine Division which is camped just over the lake, awaiting our signal.” The State Guard is investigating if Jet Skis can be converted into F-35s. “We’ve all seen James Bond do it,” they added.

Another true story: Big Spring’s mayor, Larry G. McLellan, downplayed the conspiracy theories of Jade Helm, in his area, noting: “ It was so under the radar that I don’t even know anyone who came into contact with them.” McLellan received about 60 phone calls, letters, emails and social media messages from people convinced that he had betrayed his country by supporting Jade Helm. McLellan and other officials were accused of taking bribes from Washington and warned him that Jade Helm “will open the door to them doing SWAT and no-knock raids on civilians.”

So we are now told that Jade Helm 15 is over and that there were no problems between the invading forces and Texans. Military leaders thanked landowners who let young Americans practice their skills far distant from population centers. Actually, the only downside was that Texas was made the laughingstock of national newscasts, editorial cartoons, late night comedians and foreign observers who wondered if Texas was comprised totally by paranoid flakes.

But did the troops really leave? The Astrodome is rumored to hold 200 black helicopters. Have you noticed that the San Jacinto Monument now sits on a launching pad, and the USS Texas is fully manned? Are the Texas Rangers a baseball team or a para-military force? Notice how they use terms such as steal bases, sacrifice, forced out and their hero is the Sultan of SWAT. We cannot let down our guard. I have ordered at least one DPS trooper trainee to watch the Governor’s Mansion during daylight hours every other Thursday to prevent arson. All TxDOT orange cones along the highways are to be inspected for IUDs, or is it IEDs? Ever vigilant, the Texas State Guard is ready to monitor. And to you forces in Jade Helm, the spies of Texas are upon you.

 

Ashby is cowering at ashby2@comcast.net

 

CHILDREN AT RISK Annual Accolades Luncheon Oct 23rd

October 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Entertainment, Events

Fight! Human Trafficking – Brighter Futures Begin with You”

                              CHILDREN AT RISK Annual Accolades Luncheon

 

When:                  October 23, 2015, 11:00a Registration | 11:30a Luncheon

Where:                Hotel ZaZa

 

Benefiting:         Accolades is an annual event that benefits CHILDREN AT RISK’s work to end Human Trafficking.

 

Honoring:           State Representative Senfronia Thompson and Senator Joan Huffman

 

Honorary

Chair:                    Artist and human trafficking activist Molly Gochman (Red Sands Project)

 

Host

Committee:      Citizen’s Committee to End Human Trafficking

 

Cost:                     Individual Tickets: $350; Tables: $3,500 – $25,000

 

Contact:              Ellen Stauffer 713.869.7740 | estauffer@childrenatrisk.org

 

 

Grande Lakes Orlando

September 29, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Orlando you glad to see me?

Avoid Mickey Mouse crowds. Enjoy Grande Lakes

By Laurette Veres

As a life-long Marriott rewards devotee, I’ve logged a lot of nights at hotels under this flag throughout the globe. My friend Bobby and I often text each other our view withIMG_7486 the question where am I? On a recent trip to Orlando Grande Lakes, I texted him my view. His reply: Maui. That’s how beautiful this 500-acre Orlando resort is. Our balcony had a view of the sprawling golf coursOrlando_Grande_Lakes_Golf_Coursee, beautiful lakes and most of Orlando’s famed parks in the distance. Heading to Orlando? Avoid Mickey Mouse crowds. Enjoy Grande Lakes comprised of The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando. Guests at both hotels can enjoy all the facilities and services at Grande Lakes Orlando, including the 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Greg Norman, the 40,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa with total-wellness treatments and a rooftop eco-space. The lush grounds offer walking trails, nature installations and two grand pools, splash pads, and winding river.

Dine

Highball & Harvest 

Grande Lakes has been dedicated to farm-to-fork dining for over ten years. Guests can view fresh herbs, vegetables and more in the Primo Garden, and taste them in their food at award-winning Chef Melissa Kelly’s Primo restaurant. The property also bakes all their bread in house and raises chickens at the Whisper Creek Farm coop. We met with Chef de Cuisine Mark Jeffers after the recent opening of Highball & Harvest. Having grown up on the water, the Daytona, Florida native pulls his culinary inspiration from his home state. H&H’s signature dishes: Pig-n-Potatoes, an all-day breakfast dish of poached egg, potato hash, and tender pork cheeks with sweet peppers, caramelized onions, H&H Hot Sauce, and hollandaise sauce. Smoked Lamb Brisket, Raw Oyster Bar with signature house-made H&H Hot Sauce. “The dishes we create at Highball & Harvest are designed to give restaurant-goers a sense of nostalgia while enjoying southern classics infused with regional flavors,” says the chef.

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen

Showcasing a rustic yet polished design, The Kitchen has the vibe of eating in your family’s kitchen, with a variety of communal, high-top, sofa, outdoor, and bar seating. Menu items at The Kitchen feature seasonal ingredients from the 7,000-square-foot on-site garden at Whisper Creek Farm as well as fresh eggs daily from the farm’s chicken coop. The Kitchen’s sausages and charcuterie, prepared by the JW Marriott butcher, pair perfectly with The Brewery’s hops-laden creations.

Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery

The first Marriott property to launch a nano-brewery, Grande Lakes has brought in a local Cicerone-certified brewmaster to lead The Brewery. The Brewery produces 28 gallons of beer weekly including five styles of beer created each season—Dark, Wheat/Light, Amber, IPA and a Special Brew (a seasonal made from the freshest farm ingredients). Signature Special Brew varieties will include the Maple Bacon Stout, Soup of the Day IPA, and Ghost Pepper Wheat.

Spa
Grande_Lakes_Spa_PoolThe secluded lush gardens at the Spanish-Moorish style The Ritz-Carlton Spa Orlando create a relaxing environment. They surround over 40,000 square feet of spa facilities, including 40 treatment rooms. Unique to the Ritz are treatments in the outdoor Rooftop Eco-Space and herb garden. The Eco-Hammock Massage combines “zero gravity” and massage techniques including Thai stretching, deep tissue and Cranial Sacral (balancing the central nervous system through neck massage). Allow yourself to melt into the hammock as it rocks in a soothing, rhythmic motion. The therapist lies under the hammock and digs into your shoulders with her heels. Fitness classes include Yoga Stretch, ZUMBA, Tai Chi Qi Gong, INSANITY, Spinning and Cardio Kickboxing.

Orlando_Grande_Lakes_PoolThe grounds at Grande Lakes property are reason enough to visit. We spent hours walking and along the way, learned about local flora and fauna, butterflies and more. Perfect for families, or couples, there is something for everyone here. And yes, they’ll shuttle you to Disney World.

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