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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Moonlight on the Lake

It is amazing the changes you see living by a lake. Over the weekend the storm sent rain pounding the balcony in sheets. Visibility was zero.

Tonight, its a different planet. An almost full moon is casting silver reflections on the ripples covering the lake. Now and then a boat serenely passing by. Before the sun went down, the water was a deep blue. Then I saw a baby bird sticking its head out of a dead tree branch, a few feet from the balcony. Mama blackbird showed up with some dinner, then flew off again.

On the balcony is a small lighthouse I discovered at a WalMart (for an amazing $20--yep, probably made in China). But its clever. It has a solar panel on top -- so it collects energy during the day, then at night a small light comes on, powered by the rechargeable battery charged by the solar panel. Then it charges again from the sun the next day. It costs nothing to operate and seems to entertain adults and little kids alike.

Despite the inches of Memorial Day rain it did not flood down here. But it did have me thinking of an escape route should another Rita or Katrina arrive in the Gulf. We only have 146 and I45.

But there is something about water that draws people. It is dynamic, not static. The wind is blowing and the water is always moving. It is so relaxing to wake up to -- and come home to after the usual work stress. At Babins on the bay, the Pelicans fly by, sometimes in formation, inches away.

Hurricane season opens this coming Friday. We'll see what happens but we are due for a hit --we've been lucky so far. Now the word is "Shelter in place" ---hmmm, in that case I hope this place FLOATS. We need a Houstonian to invent a floating car (or a boat-car) as well...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Congress: Act on Bad Food Imports

News reports that even imported toothpaste has been adulterated and contaminated. Why? Because its the Wild West on imports without standards. The FDA only inspects 1% of the imports. There isn't funding to inspect more. Solution?

There is a bill before Congress to mandate countries certify there food is safe before importing it to the U.S. Americans should insist it become law. Otherwise, the pet food and toothpaste you are buying could kill your pet, injure your child or make you sick (or worse).

Regarding the debate between Guiliani and Ron Paul on what caused 9 11 - neither got it right. Bin laden was quoted as saying he was incensed that American troops were in Saudi during the first Gulf War (when we liberated Kuwait from Saddam's takeover). THAT led to 9 11, a bin laden act. So neither gentlemen got it exactly right - they need to if they are to be President. We need one who actually KNOWS what the heck is going on in the world outside the U.S. (if they are going to make intelligent decisions on global policy).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On the Hurricane Front line

I moved to the Texas coast just in time to get the new report predicting an "active" hurricane season for 2007 (photo is a view from one of my balconies). So this year I'll be reporting from the "hurricane front line."

I found little concern in Ft Bend about hurricane protection when I talked about it. I expect that to be different here in the Clear Lake area -- all its residents are also on the front line should another Katrina enter the Gulf this summer.

So I will be focusing on getting out the word about XO Armor, the super window film that could keep flying debris from breaching your house or office, turning your glass into flying shards.

Standby for future reports from the domestic front line...where over 35 million Americans now live--on the eastern and southern U.S. coastline.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Profile in Courage

Houston Mayor Bill White was presented with a "Profile in Courage" award -- for leading Houston's effort which took in hundreds of thousands of evacuees from New Orleans after Katrina.

He deserves it - along with Harris County Judge Eckels who worked hand in hand in a bipartisan manner with the Mayor, helping our neighbors who needed help in their darkest hour. Katrina caused one of the largest forced migrations in our country's history. I was there after the storm and saw the devastation. To this day, New Orleans has half the population, and a long way to go. People are still waiting for federal money.

Congrats Mayor Bill on your achievement. We need more leaders who walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another "Redwood" Has Fallen

The only NASA astronaut to fly in all of NASA's early missions from Mercury to Apollo, Wally Schirra, has died. We have lost another "Redwood." The Redwoods are the giants of the trees, and Mr. Schirra was a people giant. Instead of romance, Wally spoke truth:

"Mostly it's lousy out there," Schirra said in 1981 on the occasion of the first space shuttle flight. "It's a hostile environment, and it's trying to kill you. The outside temperature goes from a minus 450 degrees to a plus 300 degrees. You sit in a flying Thermos bottle."

It's interesting that while the NASA family mourns Schirra's passing, the GOP Presidential candidates are mourning the passing of Mr. Reagan. And the Democrats feel the same about JFK.

No one will mourn the passing of the Al Qaida figure who participated in the killing of the Christian Science Monitor reporter.

It's fascinating, if its true, that the Sunni insurgents are turning against the Al Qaida cowboys in their midst who rode in from out of town. I would bet on the locals in that contest.

The twist in Iraq is that the majority are not Sunnis, but Shiites - and the Shiite leader Al Sadr has become a loose cannon again by quitting Parliament. Our guys are caught in the middle of two groups who hate each other and no one has worked out a real political settlement. Until they do, our troops will die in the crossfire.

It's too bad we aren't spending more of our time following Wally's footsteps -- investing in space and medical advances instead of draining our treasury of trillions of dollars on a raging civil war between two groups who have hated each other for centuries (since the Prophet died).

Once the Titanic hit the iceberg, appointing a new "Czar" to Captain the ship would not have made a difference in the outcome. We've been scrapping the iceberg since the invasion of Iraq. The question now is whether the damage done is terminal at this point.

Let's hope not, or we will have fewer space flights and more American deaths in a war far from home...

If I were running for President, I would pledge to convene a Middle East conference that included Syria and Iran, and focus on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue that has fueled terrorism. We would set goals to be energy independent and global technology leaders in the 21st century, from bio-fuels to bio-med...

Why? Because if we don't do this, we will lose our No. 1 position.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Here it is - with a bit of history

I said I'd publish a photo from Iowa, so here it is. The company sent me a bit of history after I posted yesterday's entry. I quote:

"The year was 1959. The country was in the midst of a massive transformation. Middle-class families were becoming suburban families. And with suburbs came an increase demand for cars. The Federal Highway Act of 1956 created the Interstate Highway System. People were on the move, and the entrepreneurial spirit was in the air, especially related to travel, transportation and fuel.

Two such visionaries – W.A. Krause and T.S. Gentle – set out to create a refueling destination with a sense of "convenience."

In an age where catchy company names and unique marketing phrases were not only a representation of the times – but also the difference between success and failure – the two gentlemen used the first letters of their last names to create a unique moniker to showcase the ease and convenience they instilled in a shopping experience.

Thus Kum & Go was born."

Very interesting. I hope they didn't mind my having some fun with it. I bought gas there and service was great.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What a President should Avoid

Iowa, I found, had some interesting names. I came across a town named "Fertile." In Garner, where the memorial was held for my stepfather I saw from the road a large storage container named "Sukup." Here is a photo of a group of them (left). They are all over the State, not just in Fertile. They look like fine places to store grain.

"Sukups" (of the people kind) also exist. They are what Presidents and leaders need to avoid. Like "yes men" they tell leaders only what they want to hear -- instead of the truth and what they should hear. Yes men got us into a war without a plan.

The other interesting thing in Iowa is that the "Super Unleaded" gas cost LESS than the "regular" unleaded gas. I couldn't figure that one out. A local said it was because of the ethanol, that made it "super" cost less, so the super is cheaper than the regular. Okkkk... The other unusual name I saw (and I speak as someone who grew up in Iowa until I was 15) is a convenience store chain called "Kum and Go"....No kidding. I guess a Suckup wouldn't mention to them that kind of name could get you arrested in Texas! Upon reflection, maybe "Kum and Go" should be the name of our policy in Iraq now that its recognized that a military only strategy won't work.

For those who don't believe it until they see it, I'll post a photo tomorrow...

Final thought for the day: Iowans are great people who just happen to have some interesting and unique names -- and a connection to Texas and Santa Ana that no one seems to be aware of.