Near Fall

The Texas Summer, while not as epically brutal as 2011, has finally let slip it’s hold on the hill country. At 65º in the day time, it finally seems sensible to be wearing something more then a tee shirt and watching college football is seasonally appropriate.

This is not just my Texas centric perspective speaking, I really think we have a different take on this whole seasonal change thing. I don’t say Fall, as well, we just have Summer and Not Summer. Not Summer is comprised of spring-like and fall-like days (not necessary in the traditionally correct order). Either of these ‘like’ days can also be liberally interspersed with fresh shakings of summer heat or weird an unexpected freezes. The unpredictability keeps it spicy – northerners, you just settle in with your snow tires and road salt. Us, we could be sliding sideways own Mopac one day, and out looking for an open swimming pool the next.

Regardless, today was an acceptably awesome fall-like day. There’s was an early roll to ride bikes. There was drinking of coffee and not subsequently sweating bullets. There was some nice rolling trail. Flat Creek ranch is a private piece of steep creek-bed with old oak stands, multiple drainages and about 10 miles of trail. Apparently someone skewered themselves (shoulder to lung) with a cedar branch in a TMBRA race a few years back (he lived and was henceforth known as kabob (that last statement is untrue, but funny)). Either way this place is pretty and fun and sadly closed to us for most of the year, today being a noticeable exception.

I seem to remember hitting the deck being a lot easier to bounce back from in my early and late twenties. One little miscue trying to unlock the rear shock before some loose but fun down hill found me on my back epically tangled up in bike. I think i used my leg as a brake somehow. My only serious motivation to get up was to not be run over by the folks behind me, who I’d only recently passed. Had I been alone on the trail I probably would have stayed there some combination of thrifty minutes minus the time insects (who don’t give two fucks about near-fall, they will eat you any time of the year) started to gnaw on my appendages.

Getting old seems to be a lot like fall-like days – some of the good of the old (i can still ride a bike) and some oft the not so good (I considered letting ants consume me as a less painful alternative to finishing those last four miles with what appears to be some epically bruised ribs). I guess, like the weather,  the hope is we can still keep it interspersed with a little youthful absurdity. And that we can avoid sneezing at all costs, cause holy hell does that hurt right now.




Market speculation anyone?

Back in 2006, the state passed a rule gradually relaxing the system-wide offer cap from $1,500 dollars in 2007 to $2,250 in 2008. From December 2010 to Jan. 15 of this year there was a temporary cap of $180 a megawatt hour. On Jan. 15, the cap went back to $2,250 dollars. Then, at midnight on Tuesday, Feb. 1st, the cap rose to $3,000 dollars. Around 5 a.m. Wednesday, 29 hours later, prices approached the $3,000 cap. With a few brief retreats, they stayed at or near the cap for the next six hours.

“I do find it curious that very soon after the cap was increased, we hit it for really a very remarkable stretch of time,” Brewster said.

So 50 Power plants go offline the day after the market cap reaches it’s all time high. Yeah that’s not fishy in a deregulated market.


Should the supposed #3 team in the country really be this excited about squeaking by my #20 team, playing their freshman backup quarterback? Really? Yup, this BCS ranking stuff really makes sense.

House Park


Friday Night Lights in Texas.

Two Sides of Texas

On the bright-side…

Joel Kotkin, an urbanologist based in California, recently compiled a list for Forbes magazine of the best cities for job creation over the past decade. Among those with more than 450,000 jobs, the top five spots went to the five main Texaplex cities—and the winner of the small-cities category was Odessa, Texas. A study by the Brookings Institution in June came up with very similar results. Mr Kotkin particularly admires Houston, which he calls a perfect example of an “opportunity city”—a place with lots of jobs, lots of cheap housing and a welcoming attitude to newcomers.

He is certainly right about the last point: not too many other cities could have absorbed 100,000 refugees, bigheartedly and fairly painlessly, as Houston did after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. With vibrant Asian communities alongside its balanced Hispanic, white and black mix, with no discernible racial tensions, and with more foreign consulates than any American city except New York and Los Angeles, Houston is arguably America’s most enthusiastically cosmopolitan city, a place where the future has already arrived.

And maybe the less so sunny….

Texas has the highest proportion of people lacking health insurance of all 50 states; the third-highest poverty rate; the second-highest imprisonment rate; the highest teenage-birth rate; the lowest voter turnout; and the lowest proportion of high-school graduates. Mr Shapleigh is not surprised that these figures are so terrible: Texas spends less on each of its citizens than does any other state. Being a low-tax, low-spend state has not made Texans rich, though they are not dirt-poor either; their median income ranks 37th among the 50 states.

The question is where will we land: An Alabaman nightmare of no-education, and the bottom of every national metric, or Californian distopia of overbuilt social programs that break the state’s financial back. More from The Economist.

Texas City Explosion

62 years ago today, a chain of unfortunate circumstances and decisions led to what is still the largest industrial accident in the Unites States.

The Grandcamp exploded at 9:12 a.m. Exploded is probably too mild a word.

The captain and 32 of the Grandcamp‘s crew died; 10 somehow survived. More than 200 people were killed on the quay. The blast was heard 160 miles away. It shattered all the windows in Texas City and half of those in Galveston, 10 miles away.

Some debris reached an altitude of nearly 3 miles before falling back to earth. Two airplanes circling overhead were blown apart by the heavy shrapnel. A one-ton piece of the ship’s propeller shaft landed 2½ miles away. Other pieces sailed 5 miles.


Rick Perry Loves the People

Unwilling to let his GOP buddy take all the grandstanding, Governor Big Hair has officially (via press release at least) turned down the stimulus unemployment insurance money, as having too many strings attached. This is broadly seen as a thumb-in-your-eye gesture at Kay Bailey who’ll be giving old Rick a run for his money next year in the Texas Republican Primary. Speaking in Houston, the gub let us know he’s with us.

I am here today to stand with Texas employers and the millions of Texans they employ to resist further government intrusion into their businesses through an expansion of our state’s unemployment insurance program.”

To be clear he’s standing with us on refusing lots and lots of federal money for the unemployed. Way to put the people before your political aspirations.

Radio London

radio_london_ship_-_mv_galaxyIn 1964, two Texans bought a decommissioned WWII Minesweeper, outfitted it with a 50KW Radio Transmitter and parked it in the English channel in an effort to bust the BBC’s monopoly and bring the British Invasion back to Britain.

For all the noise they made in the U.S. you would never guess that the Rolling Stones and The Beatles had a hard time getting air time in England during the 60’s. In fact it wasn’t until a Texan from Midland started broadcasting from an old Mine Sweeper in the English Channel that the British Invasion came home.


The majority of programs were presented live from a studio in the hold. The ship’s metal bulkheads presented problems with acoustics and soundproofing that were originally solved by lining the walls with mattresses from the crew’s bunk beds, which meant none of them could sleep during the day.

Listen to the superb Teaxs Music Matters piece on Radio London or read more on Wikipedia.

Happy Birthday Willie

The redheaded stranger turns 75 today. If you live in Texas (or even if you don’t) I’d highly recommend the latest issue of Texas Monthly, featuring an oral history of our most iconic troubadour, told through interviews with the likes of Merle Haggard, Kinky Freidman and Jimmy Carter to name a few.

To write those lyrics, which are poetry with great music, it requires real tragedy. You can’t sit in a room and do it. Even if you worked 24 hours a day with a committee of men, you couldn’t do it. As a country singer, he’s never happy. That’s not the goal of being a country singer. If you’re not miserable, you’re not going to be very good. – Kinky Freidman on Willie Nelson



After a serious string of flight delays in Denver, our one week of fall has finally arrived.