Sunday, February 28, 2010

South Plains Storm Spotters

A grave omission in my blog of yesterday was about Storm Spotters.  It was so grave, I will give the Storm Spotters an entry of their own.

Storm Spotters are volunteers who are trained to watch the weather, and report back to the National Weather Service the conditions they see.  They go out in severe weather events, using their own vehicles, their own radios, and paying their own expenses for traveling. They have a station at the National Weather Service, populated by one of their own, and report the conditions they are observing.

With all the sophisticated equipment the Natonal Weather Service has, eyes on is still very important.

Who are these Storm Spotters?  Many of them are emergency response personnel, including police and sheriffs, firefighters, and emergency medical responders.  Some, however, are just volunteers who do this because they want to. It is exciting, and dangerous.  It provides a community service that we so little think about, and we do not bother to thank these people.

So, today, I am thanking the Storm Spotters.

For more information: is the website for the South Plains Storm Spotters, and is the national website.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Severe Weather Awareness Day

Today was Severe Weather Awareness Day at the local Science Spectrum They had storm chasing equipment from a local TV station, KCBD, the Vortex 2009-2010, equipment from Texas Tech, hands on activities for the children, the American Red Cross, State Farm Insurance, and a weather radio company. The TV station meteorologist was present. The weather radio company was selling their radios at cost, sponsored by the TV station and a United Supermarkets, a local (Texas) chain. The had a model of the high speed object projection equipment Texas Tech uses to study wind damage, which they then use to develop specifications for "safe rooms" in buildings, among other things.

The Science Spectrum is the location of the National Weather Service (NWS) offices in Lubbock.. I was able to attend a storm spotter training, and take a tour of the operations center of the NWS.

If you are a weather junkie like I am, then you may have heard about Vortex 2009-2010. Several universities, including Texas Tech, send storm spotters out to try to track and record tornadoes, to increase the knowledge base about tornadoes.

When I was growing up, we liked to watch the weather. In 7th grade, we had to watch the local meteorologist, John Quill, and chart the weather readings for our science class. John Quill was ancient back then. In the late 1990's when I went home, he was still on TV, as ancient as ever.

As I grew up, weather was news when we had droughts, hurricanes, and snow storms. When I was in college, I spent some time with a friend whose parents owned a dairy farm. That was the first time I really paid attention to weather as news...It was a vital part of how the well educated farmer planned his farming. I loved weather.

I came to West Texas, and learned that weather is news. I came to Lubbock in 1977. People talked about the May 11, 1970 tornado as if it had happened in 1977. It took me many, many years to understand the full impact and life changes that the tornado caused. I saw pictures at the museum. I worked in a building severely damaged by the tornado, and still being refurbished, 7 years later. I saw a video taken of and about the tornado, in the late 1990's. Many of those watching were moved to tears. The tornado killed 28 people, injured more than 1500, cause $100s of millions in damage. At the time, Lubbock was participating in a Federal program working on disaster preparedness, so was a step ahead of the game in recovery...

Lubbock got a new civic center and library . Debris was used to build berms around the National Ranching Heritage Center, , part of the Texas Tech Museums. Areas were leveled and rebuilt. A professor from the University of Chicago, Mr. Fujita, studied the path of destruction and using various techniques, including aerial photography, and detailed damage reports, incorporated the information into his scale for assessing the strength of tornadoes (Recently, the scale has been refined, it used to be F1-5, is now Enhanced, F0-5.)

In West Texas, weather is news. Much of the economy of the area is based on agriculture: cotton, popcorn, sunflowers, soy, cattle to name a few. And as I learned in the early 1970's agriculture knows that weather is news.Additionally, the severe weather phenomenon of tornadoes makes everyone aware of severe weather. Also, hail and flash flooding are problematic. So, weather is news.

I am well aware that most weather media use the National Weather Service information for their forecasts, with their own personal "tweaks" to the forecast. Today, the National Weather Service spokesperson talked about the fact that their primary mission was to protect people and property... But they do other things. Including collecting data, and helping forest services and other entities to know about forest fire and grass fire danger.

New technology will be forth coming, probably in 10 years or so, but will include multi-dimensional radar.

The ultimate message of the NWS today was they can get the word out, but if we do not prepare for severe weather, and heed the warnings, we are not doing our job.

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Friday, February 26, 2010


I have always been subject to having a great deal of static electricity in my body... When I was growing up in Massachusetts, in the winter time, it was not unusual for me to see sparks when I disrobed at night.

Moving to West Texas, with the very dry winter weather, the static has become worse:  my hair stands out... not only do I see sparks, but sometimes the sparks actually hurt... They freeze my keyboard on the computer. I snap people and pets...

I wonder if some people are more subject to static electricity than others.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Women in Africa

I went to a lecture tonight about "Women in Africa." It was given by Jane Nagy, wife of Tibor Nagy, who was in the foreign service, and deputy ambassador and ambassador to several countries in Africa. It was a most interesting lecture, and reviewed several issues: women as property, health issues, educational issues, women as workers, slavery, and some of the promising changes that are happening in Africa.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We must be special

I am planning to take next Wednesday off from work.   The reasons are several: 

First of all, a day off can be invigorating, as my day off when we had snow and ice demonstrated to me (and I know this, anyway.)

Second, I was planning to take the afternoon off, anyway, as I am signed up to take a tour of the new county jail.

Third, I discovered that I will lose some leave if I do not take it by March...

The stars aligned, and it made sense to take the entire day off... To be honest, if I just took the afternoon off, my regular pattern of work would end up with me still putting in forty hours of work...I really do not want to lose that leave...

I am really looking forward to the tour of the new county jail... That was apparent in the discourse with my supervisor about my taking the day off...

My supervisor teaches a class at a local university... Today, she was taking her class to the new county jail and told me she was really looking forward to it... Her comment was, "we must be special" (to look forward to touring a jail.)

We must be...Who amongst us cares about jails and prisons, their conditions, the services they provide, they way they operate.  One of our wardens said something to the effect of treating the least of us with respect, although we do not have to, makes us better people... Don't you think?

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Electronic birdwatching

Tonight was the monthly meeting of the Llano Estacado Audubon Society. We did electronic bird watching. There are computer programs that allow you to look at birds and help you to learn to identify them. They usually show different versions of the species, and have the option for bird calls.

The version we watched tonight allowed us to do a "quiz" to test our knowledge of birds that would typically be found on the South Plains. It was fun. There was some good teaching.

This is a good way to learn about birds and identifying them. And, it is amazing the tools that can be used to identify birds. In addition to their visual image and call, some people can identify some birds by flight patterns or other behaviors. Some people can identify them by nest and eggs. And, there was a book written called "What Bird Did That?" which is a study of bird poop!

I was told that bird watching is a sedentary sport. Well, it was tonight, but most bird watching I have done has involved copious walking...


Monday, February 22, 2010

Yet Another Snow Storm

December 23rd pf 2009 saw a wet and cold front move in... By the 24th, there was 8 or so inches of snow on the ground, and it was COLD! For me, no issue, I was not planning to travel for the holiday, and took the 24th through the 26th to shovel out... Unusually for this part of the world, there were patches of snow lingering until well after the first of January..

The 28th of January, a horrendous rain storm turned into an ice and snow storm.. Texas Tech closed at 12:30 on the 28th, and stayed closed on the 29th... I went to work, anyway, on the 29th, because I had obligations to meet before the 1st of February... The roads were clear and dry, and driving was not that bad...

Tonight, another snow storm has moved in... The amounts of snow are supposed to be 2-4 inches... not bad, but it looks like we have met that amount already...

This many storms is unusual for Lubbock... The first few years I was in Lubbock, we had many ice storms, which made sense to me: cold rain, not cold enough for snow... We have had years of much snow: Lisenby and I rode around one year, in the 4 wheel drive vehicle, pulling people out of snow, and ferrying staff to the hospitals..(we were reimbursed for some of our efforts, and others were good Samaritan.) I want to say we had two storms of over 10 inches of snow...but both melted within days, unlike the snow we had in December of 2009.

In 2004, we had lots of snow and rain. But it was interspersed with nice weather..

The storms this year are blamed on El Niño. I think the past storms were also blamed on El Niño. Well, at least the meteorologists are consistent...


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jumping Haiku

Tonight I was working in the office, using the computer.  Sake was unhappy with me, because she does not like to sit in the office, and has come to tell me so... I do not have much more to do, so Sake will have to wait.

Haiku likes the office, and climbed on the printer, as she is want to...I think she likes to sit on the printer for the warmth.

About 3 and a half to 4 feet to the right of the printer, about two feet behind it and about 3 feet above it is the top of a book shelf... Haiku ended up on top of the bookcase, in the basket that sits on the top shelf.  From their it is an easy step to the next bookcase.  She still likes to jump to the high places.  Sake used to do this, but with age, has slowed down some.


The WPA in Lubbock

Today's cultural activity was a presentation at the Mahon Public Library about the WPA in Lubbock. It was sponsored by the Lubbock Heritage Society, which is trying to revitalize itself. The lecture offered an overview of the various New Deal programs, and showed only a few pictures of the WPA projects in Lubbock.

Then two local musicians, Andy Wilkerson, and Andy Hedges, sang some Depression Era music. 

It was a good program.  I would have liked to see a few more pictures of the projects, but it was very interesting.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Daniel Webster "80 John" Wallace

The National Ranching Heritage Center(NRHC), part of the Texas Tech Museum complex, had a presentation (3 times) about Daniel Webster "80 John" Wallace (, as part of their black history month celebration...

Wallace was born into a slave family, but late enough in the 19th century to eventually become a free man.  At age 15, he left home to be a cowboy...In addition to being a cowboy, he saved his money, bought land and cattle, and by the Great Depression, was a millionaire.  He ran a large ranch, but also worked for other ranchers throughout his life... He went to school as an adult, to learn to read, and understand math.  He supported educational efforts in his community.  Last summer, his old ranch house was opened as an exhibit at the NRHC.  The curator who gave part of the presentation, said the family members who came from various parts of the country, are still part of the land that the Wallace family still owns...

The qualities of the man, as described by the museum curator, indicated he was hard working, temperate, frugal, and very smart. 

Wallace probably lived closer to Loraine, Texas, but Colorado City claims him.  There is at least one school named for him.  And a prison. The curator echoed what I thought as I heard about the man:  he may not think the prison was on honor. 

Years ago, I had an opportunity to speak to a Colorado City native who talked about Wallace.  She, apparently, had embraced him as a local hero, and it seemed she was reflecting the feelings of her community.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Writer's Block Again

I have previously written about writer's block (6.8.08) That blog had to do with not having the mental calm to allow me to write. 

I had writer's block tonight, because I could not think of something to write... After writing something for the last 12 days, tonight I was stuck... Last night, I had two ideas, so I stored one for a day when I have writer's block...But, I chose not to resort to that tonight.

Sometimes, just opening the blog site stimulates me, and I tried that... It did not work.  But, I went through all of my previous 62 posts, and labeled them.  I can not believe I have been blogging for 4 and a half years.  My first blog was in October of 2005.  And then nothing until 2006.  2007 and 2008 saw regular blogs, but still sporadic.  Very few in 2009...

Now, I have blogged for the last 12 days.  And, today I was stumped... I am amazed at the fact that I had actually 13 blogs in me... And now, 14. 

The cats were mentioned the most, then politics, with a lot of runner-ups...

I used to journal regularly... I still journal sometimes.  There are some thoughts that are SO personal, I can not share them with anyone.  The question then becomes, what happens to my journals... I have a boxful... I hope, as part of my burial ceremony, someone creates a bonfire with my journals as the fuel...

Does writing about writing count?  I do not know... but I did it, anyway...

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ice Skaters Fall Down

A co-worker told me that watching ice skating, especially at the Olympic level was torturous, because one fall can break a career. I never that about that. But this I know. Ice skaters fall down. You do not learn to ice skate without falling down... You do not learn to ice skate without taking risks, and expanding your zone of comfort. And, you get back up and try it again, and again, and again. I think ice skating teaches things like perseverance, continuing on with pain.

I took ice skating lessons for a semester in college. The instructor, Mrs. Barr, said she put something new and harder in each lesson, then allowed us to go back to what we had learned the lesson before, because it was already easier and more comfortable... An interesting philosophy of teaching. And, effective...

We all fall down in life. On the rink, the ice skater has no choice but to get up and keep going, especially if the skater is in a competition. How many of us do that in our personal lives?



I love garlic. I love garlic so much I have been criticized for having bad garlic breath in public. Shameful to admit, but true....

Garlic has a reputation for having health benefits. According to the National Institute of Health (, reduction of blood cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol are the benefits most strongly suggested... Some of the other alleged benefits include anti-fungal properties, anti-platlet aggregation, protection against hardening of the arteries, cancer prevention, heart attach and high blood pressure prevention, peripheral vascular disease prevention, tick repellent, guarding against upper respiratory infections. But the empirical data is weak..

I do not care. I like the taste of garlic. Some years ago, I was introduced to roasted garlic: two ways: cut the top off a pod of garlic, slightly butter, and bake; or skin the cloves of garlic and bake, broil or put on the grill... To me, this is like candy...

I learned something new about garlic just this week. If you want a mild garlic taste, add it early in the cooking process. If you want a strong garlic taste, add it late. Makes sense, I just never thought about it.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Bridge of Lubbock

Today at work, a co-worker sent an email about a ribbon cutting event for The Bridge of Lubbock (  This is a grass roots community center organization that has been in existence since 1999. It is Christian in basis, supported by a church. It is housed in what was once an elementary school.. The co-worker is on the board of directors of this agency, and supports it strongly. The ribbon cutting was for the "face lift" to the building and to support the growth and outreach of the programs.....

The Bridge of Lubbock has a mentoring program for young children and another for teenagers.  It has a free lunch program for those who need it, and a clothing closet.  There is an affiliated catering business, to provide job training skills, and the profits help support the Bridge (and the food is good, they provided refreshments at the ceremony.)  The Lubbock Community Health Clinic ( has a satellite clinic in the building.  Patients are seen regardless of their ability to pay.  There is a Head Start program (http://www.nhsa.orgprogram/)  in the building.  And, Teethsavers, International (  is opening their first clinic in the United States in Lubbock in this building. The affiliates do not pay rent, they share the building operating costs ... 

Teethsavers, by the way, is amazing. They can do dental care without electricity and running water... Check them out... I met the founder...Wow!

This building is set in Lubbock's "East Side" which is populated largely by Blacks and Hispanics.  It is commercially under-developed, emergency services are slower to respond, some streets are STILL not paved, and it's reputation is not "safe."

When I came to Lubbock in 1977, I spent a large part of my ten years at Catholic Family Service, Inc providing services to families in this part of town.  I never felt threatened.  When I worked for the Texas Department of Health from 1991 to 1995, I spent a large part of my time working with families in this part of town, and never felt threatened.  I kayak a lot on a playa lake in this part of town, and do not feel threatened.  I bird watch at Dunbar Historical Lake and the City of Lubbock Cemetery, in this part of town, and I do not feel threatened...

I was emotionally touched by the intensive delight of those involved in this agency at what they are accomplishing...I want to share this with you....And, for those of you who care, I want to ask you to support The Bridge of Lubbock

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I spend a lot of time on websites of the various Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR) community clinics in Texas.  Working in a prison, we have limited Internet access, and I am one of those who has it.  So I look up information for other people as well as for the patients on my caseload who are leaving the prison system.  

One of the major resources in the free world for our patients is the MHMR clinics where, hopefully, the patients can continue their mental health care after leaving prison. I frequently go to their websites to find contact information.  I find all kinds of things on the websites easily, especially information about their services, patients rights, who the board members are. Many of the websites have an emergency number or "hot line" number listed. But quite frequently, the contact information, addresses, locations, office hours are difficult to find. 

I am savvy around websites, and persistent at finding what I need. Consider this:  many of the patients of an MHMR agency are low functioning, disorganized mentally, have limited computer time, are not computer savvy... The websites, especially if meant to be used by the patients of MHMR are not very user friendly.

I have had occasion to access the DSM5 website... The DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association is the manual used by mental health professionals to understand the criteria for diagnosing mental health disorders.  It has a great deal more information in it.  DSM5 means this is the 5th version (actually, 6th, there was a DSMIV and a DSMIV Revised). The compilation and revisions are done by psychiatric professionals, including clinicians, researchers, what have you.  It depends on science, research, clinical information, statistical information about mental health, and more.  It is in draft stage, due out in May 2013, after 13 years of revisions....

I went to the website, one that is designed for some of the smartest people in mental health practice to use. And found what I was looking for immediately. 

Okay, so the local MHMRs are probably building their websites on a shoe string, maybe using in house personal who are 'the shade tree mechanics' in the website construction world, and maybe have another set of duties. And the American Psychiatric Association (APA) probably paid well to have their website constructed by a website professional.  And, just because someone is a well educated mental health professional, it does not mean they are computer savvy, so the APA probably put a premium on easy to use.  And, psychiatrists are busy people who do not want to muck around a website.

It is sad that the people who need the help the most do not get it, though...

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count

I enjoy birdwatching although I do less of it than I used to... When I walked Mack every day, a friend and I began watching birds every day...Life changes...And I do not walk every day, Mack has been dead for 12 years...(it seems like yesterday), and I do not do much birdwatching.

So, an acquaintance called last week and asked me to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count.  A minimum of 15 minutes, anywhere, as many times a day as you want:  I did several times in my back yard.... It was neat:  I saw almost nothing, and I saw lots!  Hmmm.  

Llano Estacado Audubon Society this year is trying to have Lubbock be the most reported place in Texas...After I submitted my final report tonight, I checked the status, and Lubbock was on top. Great! That could change, reports are accepted until March 15... 

Get out and look at what is in your yard!

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ice Skating

I enjoyed ice skating... When I was ice skating regularly, my thoughts about it were reflected in the poem, "High Flight" by Gillespie Macgee:  "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;"

I don't know why I don't watch the skating events between the Olympics, but I seem never to catch them... But I love watching them during the Olympics...

I am haunted by the movie "Ice Castles" about the girl who works out for the Olympics, has a skating injury that leaves her blind, but tries a comeback that is disrupted by the flowers thrown in congratulations on the ice rink...

Some say figure skating is boring... I say it is beautiful, bliss on ice, grace embodied.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Circle the Wagons

In 1993 Jimmy Valvano and ESPN founded the V Foundation for Cancer Research... Jimmy Valvano was the "legendary" North Carolina State basketball coach who was diagnosed with cancer....

Kay Yow was the North Carolina State women's basketball coach, and she succumbed to cancer in 2009.  She, too, was a legend...

In December 2007, the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund in partnership with The V Foundation was established as a charitable organization committed to finding an answer in the fight against women’s cancers.

Throughout the women's basketball season, mention is made of the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund but in February, things get ramped up... Teams wear pink, ask their fans to wear pink, collect donations, have fund raisers, all to collect money for cancer research...

Women do it better:  we network better, we support better, we help each other better. To me, it is awe-inspiring to see how we work together to help support cancer research...

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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Winter Olympics 2010

My interest in the Olympics has waxed and waned over the years.  I still remember watching the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics after school, snacking on carrots and celery... I loved it..

I was a fan of Jean Claude Killy of the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble...

I have watched other Olympics... I remember NBC using "Prodigy" (an ISP) when the Lillehammer games were held in 1994.  It was the beginning of the personal PC era... Prodigy no longer exists, but AOL, a Prodigy rival,  still does.

The opening of the Beijing games in 2008 was phenomenal !

For a non-political entity, there has been lots of politics involved in the Olympics.  This year is no different.  The opening ceremony featured the First Canadians and Aboriginal Peoples.   But this is a positive political statement. There have been negative political political statements through out the years, and I do not need to recount those.

Watching the opening ceremony tonight, I thought it was interesting that it was reported that the Prime Minister of Canada went to the Parliament and exhorted the Canadian people to suspend their reserve and wave their flags and cheer for their athletes... The "Americans" know how to do this:  "USA, USA"

We are saddened by the death of Georgian Luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili.  I think it was right to dedicate the opening ceremony to him, and for the Georgian contingency to participate in the ceremony...

It will be interesting to see how the games fare.  My primary interest is the ice skating:  Figure Skating, Ice Dancing, Pairs skating (is that right?)

Good luck and God Speed to all the athletes, and everyone at the Olympics....

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Thursday, February 11, 2010


I am a NASCAR fan... I have been since the early 1980s when Lisenby introduced me to NASCAR, and cable was starting to show the races on some of the cable stations.  I loved Dale Earnhardt... As the sport expanded, and "modernized" I was sad to see some of the venues disappear: Hickory, North Wilkesboro, for example...

But, I remember many, many years ago, before I moved to Texas, before I was in high school, when a cousin not only listened to the INDY 500 on Memorial Day weekend, but a NASCAR many years ago, before Lisenby.

I am grateful that I have had the chance to go to Texas Motor Speedway several times... The smell, feel, noise of a race is phenomenal..

After Dale Earnhardt died, in combination with the change to the "cookie cutter" race tracks, my passion for NASCAR waned....

This year, there have been some rule changes.  I am thinking they may re-invigorate my interest in NASCAR.

I am a fan.  This year, we  will see how much of a fan.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

If I Die

Hmmm.  One of my cousins died this week... Evidently, he had a massive heart attack in his sleep... There were many phone calls across the country to update everyone about this traumatic event....My prayers and best thoughts are to his family.  It is a blessing he left us in this way.  In a way I would want to leave this life. Without prolonged pain and suffering.

In the course of discussing this with family and friends, many of us said "if I die" or acknowledged we have said "if I die" in some context.  And all of those folks, self included, corrected ourselves to say "when I die." 

We do not want to admit our mortality...
 John Donne said " No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."

Yes we know our mortality...Nay we do not want to admit it....


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Nervous Cat

I write about my cats, when I blog...Last night, I spent the evening in my "office" which upsets Sake...She prefers to sit in the living room, but Haiku will sit in the "office."  Today, Sake was very nervous while I was getting ready for work. She wanted attention she did not get because I was not in the living room.  Last night, she and I both heard cats outside and she was very nervous about the noise. 

Tonight when I got home from work, Sake was very skittish... She wanted out back, it was too cold, and too grey...She wanted out front, it was too cold and too grey...She heard noise out front, it was the neighbors moving appliances...She skittered here, she skittered there.

Sake settled down after a while... She did not want to sit close, just in the same room...

Haiku, on the other hand, wanted to sit close... She is on the sofa next to me...She was plaintive and insistent that she wanted her dinner when I walked in tonight...She ate well, which is unusual for a picky eater which she is...

For Haiku, I think the continued cold makes her appetite better.... For Sake, she gets restless: she wants to be outside when I get home from work. But she dislikes the cold, the grey, the wet, the mist... And, if it is not suitable in the back yard, she wants to go out in the front yard.  And if the conditions in the front yard are no better than the back yard, she hisses at me, and attacks Haiku...

So, Sake was the nervous cat tonight.  But she settled down.  And Haiku, generally mellow, is mellow tonight..... my joy to have both cats nestled in....


Monday, February 08, 2010


I am a weather junkie... I love to watch the Weather Channel, and look at the predictions made by the experts, and compare them to what I think will happen based on the satellite pictures, what I see in the sky, and, what I know about Lubbock weather.  And, knowing the patterns in Lubbock, sometimes I am more correct than the experts, which is always a gas for me! 

Living in West Texas is a blessing for weather junkies: It is so wide open, you can SEE the weather moving in.  It is so totally awesome.  And the variety of weather we have is just amazing:   Lots of sunshine.  But we have tremendous straight line wind storms.  Tornadoes. Hail. Snow. Blizzards. Ice and sleet. Drought. Wind. Dust. Rain and flooding. Wind. Fog. Electric storms. Wind. Mud storms.  Oh, and did I mention the wind?

Until you live here, the force and effect of the wind is not imaginable... The wind can be so strong it HOWLS through the wires and branches of the trees. It takes your breath away. Sometimes,  it is almost impossible to walk into the wind.  It grabs you.. It grabs your car door, and jerks it off the hinges.  It overturns 18 wheelers.  It blows trees over.  

It is impossible to imagine what a dust storm is like.  And, we are blessed.  I have been in Lubbock 32 plus years, and the longest dust storm was three days...Can you even imagine what it was like during the years of the Dust Bowl? When you are driving, you can not see, but it is dangerous to stop on the road side, because someone might run into you... The dust can sandblast the paint on a vehicle, and pit the windshield. I have seen the dust roll in black.

Flooding occurs because there is no place for the water to drain...Everything is flat, and so once a playa lake or "bar ditch" has breached it's bank, the water just spreads out everywhere.  

Most of the time, if there is a serious rain, the next day the sun comes out and dries everything out... Even if there is flooding, sometimes within hours of the rain's end, the streets are dry...

This year has been unusual.  We had a big snow at Christmas.  Most of the time, snow melts the next day, but this time, I still had snow on my lawn into January...

The storm of January 28 and 29 saw the ice and snow stay for many days...

Recently, we have had several days of frozen fog...And the moisture does not evaporate from the ground.  There are actually puddles lasting several days: unheard of... Most puddles disappear within HOURS. 

We can go for almost a year without any appreciable rain.  We can have long stretches of above 100 weather in the summer.

This is a land of extremes...

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Sunday, February 07, 2010


I know someone who tells me she is not prejudiced but then calls to complain about talking to "fur'ners" on phone help lines. This same person tells me the our nation is still prejudiced, although we have a black president, but she is not.  She correctly describes the prejudices as more subtle than they used to be, but still there.  She then goes on to say she wishes we could integrate like South Africa did.  I do not know the level of integration in South Africa, and I have not been there...

I work in a prison.  I see prejudice and multiple standards applied by society all the time:  Different judges administer the law more harshly or humanely depending upon who they are, and where they are.  I see poor people of all races receiving harsher judgements than people with money or knowledge about how the system works. 

I see prejudices in other situations.  Many correctional staff assume the worst of offenders.  This is due in part to their training.  Sometimes, making a humane exception is difficult for them, sometimes not.  Some correctional officers assume that as a clinician, I believe everything an offender patient tells me.

Our society has and probably always has had and will probably always have double standards, which are a part of prejudice.  We assume we need to treat different people different ways based on.....What?

I have my own prejudices... I am prejudiced against people who use racial slurs, people who decide about a person based on race.  I am prejudiced against people who make derogatory comments about homosexuality. I am prejudiced against people who make negative comments about women, Yankees or Northerners, Polish people, Native Americans.  I am very prejudiced against people who do not do their best at work, except for extenuating circumstances.

I hear derogatory comments about these things frequently at my work. I understand I live in a conservative stronghold in which anyone who is "different" is suspect.  I blend in, but am very vocal about my different-ness. It shuts people up.  It turns people off. It does not bother me...

This blog has no point to make...It is just some thoughts on prejudice....