Saturday, March 26, 2011

I often think about the Old Chisholm Trail. This is the famous cattle trail that extended from below San Antonio, Texas to the railheads in Abilene, Kansas. Over 5000 head of cattle followed this trail in the late 1800s before extension of the railroads into Texas, and the demise of the Longhorn cattle made in disappear. I am reminded of the trail because it ran right through my current dwelling place in Bell County. The main street of the little village of Salado was the Chisholm Trail and the cattle crossed Salado Creek that served as a watering hole. I turn on Chisholm Street everyday to exit the subdivision of my residence. The story of the trail is also indelibly imprinted into my brain by the movies staring Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. The classic movie about the trail drive was “Red River” staring John Wayne and Montgomery Cliff. That movie has one of the best fight scenes ever filmed. Then, in more recent years the TV Epic, Lonesome Dove, tells the story of the cattle drives.

Movies and books paint a vivid picture of the cattle drives filled with its many dangers from Indians raids, cattle rustlers, stampedes, storms and droughts. It all sounds scary. There is no longer the need for cattle drives and the closes thing we have to the Chisholm Trail is Interstate 35. As I think about it, and read the paper everyday, it is apparent that traveling on I35 is far more dangerous than the old cattle drives along the Chisholm. Deaths from auto accidents far exceed any of the raids by Indians. Perverts, rapist, serial killers, drug dealers, swindlers, aggressive drivers and others in the trade make cattle rustlers look like a Sunday School class.

I sometimes imagine myself riding on the Chisholm Trail as I drive along I35. When I’m clipping along at 70 mph and there is an 18 wheeler tailgating me, It’s like being pursued by a band of wild Indians. As I enter the Dallas traffic, on the way to my daughter’s home, it’s like being in a stampede. When I pull over to fill up with gas that’s like being held up by a gang of rustlers. So, the Old Chisholm Trail has nothing on me for an adventurous ride.

The Old Chisholm Trail is about 100 yards from my porch and I35 is about a half mile away. I can hear the roar of the trucks at this distance. From the safety of the porch it’s good to just sit back and imagine all the action that has happened along that stretch of real estate.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The poor folks in Japan have been hit with triple disasters; an earthquake, a tsunami and a possible nuclear meltdown. Anyone of these three would have been bad enough, but all three is the perfect storm to create the ultimate disaster. The earthquake is the largest on record in Japan and the tsunami is the disaster that delivered the destructive and crippling blow. Now the damage at a nuclear power plant has the potential of becoming the biggest meltdown of a reactor in history. There have been two other meltdowns, one at Three Mile Island in the US and the other at Chernobyl in Russia. Chernobyl was the worst and has left the site contaminated and an uninhabitable wasteland.

In Japan, four reactors are threatened. If the reactors are not cooled the core will melt and release clouds of dangerous radioactive material such as Radioactive Iodine, Cesium, Strontium, Plutonium and others. Exposure to these agents may be fatal in large amounts and in smaller amounts may cause cancer after a latent period of 20 or more years. The people most threatened by this deadly mixture are those in the near vicinity. If the radioactive material gets into the atmosphere it may be carried for relatively long distances but there is virtually zero danger of it reaching the US even in trace amounts. Those in Tokyo, some 200 miles away. are is some danger, but even there the amounts will probably not be harmful.

Folks on the west coast of the US are, nevertheless, needlessly panicked. They have emptied the shelves of potassium Iodide tablets. This medicine will block the thyroid from taking up Radioactive Iodine and give protection from developing thyroid cancer many year down the pike. That is all the potassium Iodide will do, it will not protect from the other forms of radiation that are a greater problem. The people think the potassium Iodide is going to do the trick for everything. In California they don’t need it or anything else because they aren’t going to get any radiation even with the worse scenario.

The interesting thing today is that our great Surgeon General knew nothing about the run on potassium Iodide in California or anything about a radiation threat. When ask about the situation she said, it’s good to be prepared. That statement only made people try and obtain more of the potassium Iodide.

So, we have a panicked US public about a disaster that poses no threat to them and a Surgeon General who is the greatest threat for the US. It’s back to the porch for refuge and thankful I don’t live near an active fault, the ocean or a nuclear power plant. It’s hard enough dealing with rednecks, the crowd at WalMart, and the traffic on I35.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It’s been another bad week in the news. A powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated parts of Japan. The tsunami even reached the US West Coast and Hawaii. Much of the eastern US continues to have heavy snows and Biblical type flooding. Libya continues to be in turmoil with a developing civil war while the rest of the world stands by and gives the rebels no aid. All of the Middle East is at the boiling point.

The only good thing about the news this week is that the disasters have preempted the ridiculous stories about Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan that have dominated the airways. Who cares about the dope head and his sexual exploits? I’m happy he has been fired by his TV network, but don’t care to hear anymore about it on the news.. Sheen was on all the talk shows and news broadcast. He is now giving a one-man stage show set for Chicago and New York. Thank goodness I have never seen his TV show. The thing that blows my mind is that Sheen has 2 million followers on Twitter.

Almost as bad as Charlie Sheen is Lindsey Lohan. Who cares if she stole a necklace? Just put her in jail and move on to the next case. Rehab isn’t going to help her. In her case, they should go back to an old treatment called a frontal lobotomy. That would also be a recommended treatment for Charlie Sheen.

I can’t wait for the wedding of Prince William. Maybe the news will shift to this multi-million dollar affair. I’m sure something will happen at this even that will capture the distorted eye of the news media. Maybe, both Sheen and Lohan will attend the wedding. It would be even more sensation if Tiger Woods attended along with Sheen. They could give the Prince a few pointers about his wedding night and great advice about how to handle women.

Well, it’s time to get back on the porch and turn the TV on to hear about the melt down of the nuclear power plant in Japan. That will set nuclear energy back for another quarter century and end the obvious solution to many of our energy problems. It’s back to fighting over oil in the Middle East and our dependence on these radical Christian and Jew killers for this precious liquid. We are nothing more than a Gollum in Lord of the Rings in our dependence on this “Precious.”

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

We have one granddaughter in the Greater Dallas Youth Symphony and another in the Austin Youth Symphony. We have heard both of these groups play and they are fantastic. It’s amazing what beautiful sounds come from these kids. Their performances are not only great, but they play classical and pop selections that I love much better than some of the more contemporary weird sounds I hear from professional symphonies. I like pieces such as; “The Light Cavalry Overture”, “William tell Overture” and “Swan Lake.” Kids love to play those pieces and I enjoy listening to them because I am reminded of the Lone Ranger and such.

Now we are in such a budget crunch that many of these programs involving the arts will be cut or severely curtailed in public schools. Nationally, cuts for public radio and other programs to promote the arts are on the chopping block.

Music keeps a lot of kids in school, and sports also retains many that would otherwise drop out. It was through band that I met my spouse in high school. In my high school class, one person became a professional oboe player, another a professional opera singer and another a high school band director. Several taught music and enriched the lives of others through teaching or performing music. Now, all these programs are threatened. Schools may scale back to the use of slates and chalk.

Anyway, as my granddaughter’s Youth Symphony played the piece Gabriel’s Oboe, my spouse and I both got tears in our eyes thinking of our classmate who played oboe professionally and is now deceased. I don’t guess they will be turning out people like that from our public schools anymore. There will also be no libraries in the schools, so kids will have little opportunity to learn the joy of reading.

I’m just going to dust off my old vinyl records and listen to some of the old simple classics. Even if I could afford the gas to drive to Austin or Dallas to listen to the professional symphonies I wouldn’t enjoy or understand what they are playing. I’m going to miss the youth symphonies if they go by the wayside.