Friday, December 31, 2010

nitpick of the year :A couple of new terms that were over-used in 2010

Editor's note" Person of the year was already taken so I figured I'd do some nitpicking instead.

I'm sure they're many others, but two terms that are sort of new and came to be over-used in a hurry during 2010 are "in space" and "moving forward". The first one is a term that I must have heard during this football season at least twice in each game. That is not remarkable in itself, but what's surprising is that this term just recently replaced "open field" and is already being used by just about every sportscaster around. Whereas in the past we would hear "That was a great open field tackle. It saved a sure touchdown!. Now, we get something more like " That was an incredible tackle in space, it sure saved a touchdown!. What do you mean "in space"? Doesn't that just about cover everywhere in the Universe?

The other one "moving forward" is usually heard on all the cable news channels. You'll hear things like "Well, it's going to be interesting  to see which issues the White House will focus on moving forward". Couldn't they have just used the word "now" or "this coming year"? I think we would have still gotten the gist of it.  Did I spell gist correctly? If you look at any word for too long, it starts looking like it's misspelled.

Talks break down between Fox and DirecTV, may affect area stations

It wouldn't be so bad if we did not have access to Fox News
It looks like talks between DirecTV and Northwest Broadcasting have broken down. The various stations owned by Northwest Broadcasting may not be able to access their Fox channel after midnight. Stations that will be affected will include those owned by Northwest in several cities. This includes Spokane and Yakima in Washingston state, Binghampton, New York and Laredo, Texas.  DirecTV was able to reach agreements with other big broadcast media companies but as far as their dealings with Northwest,  DirecTV had the following comment concerning the breakdown in negotiations.
 “Northwest Broadcasting… has decided they would rather deprive our customers of their local channels than make even an honest and good faith attempt to reach a fair deal in contract negotiations,” DirecTV said in the release.
I don't really know what to make of this latest development. My most immediate question is - do we still get to see the Dallas Cowboys and Homer??
Some of the information above comes from the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Economic downturn keeps yielding new occupations

For all your fine wine needs,  HEB nows has a bonafide Wine Steward on staff

I was watching Pro8news' morning chat the other day. Victoria Marshall was hosting a segment with a lady named Fay Mainhart. I listened curiously as Ms. Marshall introduced her as a "wine steward" for the HEB at DelMar and McPherson. It made sense right away that if any HEB would have such a connosieur on it's staff, it would be the one known locally as "Gucci-B". It seems apparent that the trend is towards new occupational designations that carry a tinge of elite exclusivity. Just down the street from the wine steward, you can find several certified barristas honing their craft at the nearby Starbucks.

It seems the weaker the economy gets, the more creative people are becoming with conjuring up, virtually out of thin air, these Madison Avenue names for their jobs. When I first heard the term wedding planner, I was pretty sure I heard wrong. I thought, wait a minute, someone is getting paid just to plan a wedding? Well, now there's entire shows on TV showing us just how complicated (fabricated) this process is. Am I the last to hear of baby shower planners and Carne asada planners? Surely they can't be far behind if they're not here already, locked in brutal competition for the next event?

So, if Wine stewards and barristas are already in our midst, what's next? Will we have to consult a telefonista for our cell phone needs?  Will the butcher/carnicero now need an appointment to consult with you and will you have to refer to him/her as your protein advisor?  I certainly hope not.
Maximiliano, Administrator-General in charge of editing and embellishment

Abbacadabra....I predict one more victory for Dallas

It seems likely that former Texas A&M aggie Stephen McGee will start for the Cowboys Sunday

Well, the 2010 football season is nearing an end for most of South Texas. I say this because neither the Cowboys nor the Texas Longhorns are going to see any playing time this January. The least I can do is to make a bold predication that Dallas will beat Philadelphia by a score of....let's see, (Kitna out, McGee in and carry the 1 plus/minus 2)  Ok, here it goes Dallas 33, Philadelphia 17.

Dallas has been averaging about 30 points a game since Jason Garrett took over and their defense has to go out on a high note after the disappointing season it's had. It was the former Doomsday Defense that repeatedly failed to make opponents go 3 and out in the crucial closing minutes of several games. Kickoff for the Cowboys-Eagles game is at 3:15pm on Fox.

Recommended viewing

Silent Sunday Nights airs, you've guessed it, Sunday nights on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).  I subscribe to Time Warner Cable and it's channel 420 on my "dial". I apologize but I have no idea what the satellite equivalent is. As you might have figured out, Silent Sunday Nights highlights some of the silent era's most memorable or influential motion pictures. Just last week, they showed Intolerance, considered to be one of director DW Griffiths most monumental works. This past October, on Halloween night, the selection was Nosferatu. This is one of those movies that, even after almost 90 years, is one of the scariest (in a weird way) ever made. Coming up this Sunday, January 2nd, 2011, the movie that will be showing is Tokyo Chorus from 1931. It's billed as comedy even though it's set in depression era Japan. If you want to give your eyes a break from all the HDTV color, check out Silent Sunday Nights.

What is the psychology of our public servants

I love this! It's the 15th proclamation I've done this month

What is it that happens in the mind and spirit of a person who gets elected to public office? Almost invariably, these people go from being someone who most would consider a decent human to someone whos is apathetic, selfish and greedy. We have what the mayor called a "new" council but things have not changed at all. The first hour of each meeting is spent on patting their own backs and showing some footage of some obscure self promotion.

 The public demands and gets very little respect from the Mayor and council. The meetings are carried on in a way that serves them best. There is practically no regard for whether the citizens are being served and informed. Their's is a sort of tunnel vision that sets in.  It places the highest priority on making the rest of the council happy. There is an ego-driven camaraderie that is shared in executive session and during those no-doubt lavish feasts behind close doors that mocks the people. The sardonic smiles (yes, Sardonic) on their faces says it all: they could care less about you or me or anyone else that does not belong to their inner circle of small minds. ( Wasn't that a group? oh wait no, that was the Small Faces)

Also on the agenda, $66,000 for mowing Zacate Creek area- anyone got a goat?

Is the City's $66,000 contract for mowing Zacate Creek a Baa-aa-aad Idea?

One of the things on the upcoming city council meeting that got my attention was a motion to award a $66,000 contract for mowing and maintaining the Zacate Creek area from Meadow & Canal Streets to the mouth of the Rio Grande. That's a lot of money for what probably is a part-time job. The motion doesn't say how often the contractor has to be present. For all we know, he/she might just make an appearance once in a while and spend half a morning picking up papers. I don't recall seeing very tall grass in the area but I might be wrong. In any event, here the city goes again with their big spending ways courtesy of the taxpayers.

Another interesting item is one that is attributed to Mike Garza. It appears that he wants to regulate the "Cash for Gold" industry in Laredo. I do admit I've seen quite a few signs inviting people to seel their go for immediate cash. Who knows, maybe there's a councilperson who's got a gold-buying sideline business. it always seems that the elected so-called leaders have long tentacles when it comes to special interests.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Several changes kick in on January 1st with new health care law

Pres. Obama signs the PPACA into law in March, 2010

This coming Saturday, new some new laws go into effect thanks to the so-called Obama-care health care bill. Medicare patients will now be eligible to receive various preventative health screening procedures free of charge. Also, parents will be able to insure children up to 26 years of age under their own (parents') policy.
To find out what other changes will be taking effect soon, please look up the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 in the webiste.

The Republicans are still saying "not so fast" and continue to promise to successfully repeal what they have dubbed "Obamacare". It should be an interesting Supreme Court battle at some point.

New website tracks haters' comments on Fox's own websites

Fox News Comments
New Website tracks lunatic fringe's rants on Fox sites

Well, it was bound to happen. With such an abundance of material from lunatics and hate-filled right wingers, it was only time before a website devoted to tracking their rants came online. Behold, a site dealing exclusively with the stupid comments left by rabid fox fans which usually consists of  racists, nativists and other assorted lowlifes.  Take a look at the example below. It was a fox fan's response to President Obama's extending Kwanza greetings :

Desgraciadamente, the new website has a plethora of such ignorant musings to document.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A couple of border "musicos" survey the fence near Brownsville, Tx
 From Hispanically Speaking News

In Hope Park, Texas, (near Brownsville)  as the final piece of a border fence goes up, many look at it with disgust, and it’s not just immigrant advocates either. The fence at the U.S.-Mexico border was created to keep illegal immigrants out, but now even those that were initially in favor of the fence say it’s been a waste of money, and has ruined what was once a beautiful landscape.

Hope Park was originally created to commemorate a friendship between the United States and Mexico, but as the fence goes up, the friendliness seems to be dwindling. Texas land owners whose property is along the border were approached by federal contractors and asked to hand over parts of their land so the fence could be built. People like Eloisa Tamez, whose family has owned the land since 1767, say the federal government has ignored her refusal to give up the land, and are now suing her to attain it. Her court proceedings with the Department of Homeland Security began in 2008 and continue through today.

Those against the fence from the start say the unity that Hope Park was intended to inspire among Mexico and the U.S. is now lost by this fence, and immigrant-turned-legal-U.S. citizen Justo Ahumada, 84, says he is saddened by the loss of opportunity for other immigrants just trying to make money to support their families by crossing and working on this side of the border saying, “What a shame for the people coming to look for work these days.”

Federal audit: Homeland Security failing to fully enforce U.S. laws at border

From the San Antonio Express News -Dec 29th

A federal audit now documents what at least a million border crossers already know: U.S. border agents are failing to fully enforce laws requiring U.S., Mexican and Canadian citizens to present passports or other documents to enter the United States. The eight-month audit found that compliance with the Department of Homeland Security's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was at 91 percent for land ports in Texas, lower than at other Southwestern states. That allowed 1.1 million travelers to enter the country without additional screening in Texas when citizenship or their identity was in question, the audit said.

"Customs and Border Protection is not fully enforcing the new document requirement," the Office of Inspector General (OIG conducted the audit) said in an executive summary of the audit, released Nov. 29. CBP officers told auditors "other priorities precluded them from completing the operating procedures," the audit revealed. It notes that CBP's efforts are hindered because there's no fine or other enforcement procedure, making delaying the traveler the only option it can take.

Two Bucks lock horns on ranch near Laredo

Laredo's Private/Public Library

At one time, only the Church & Royalty had books
 I was over at the main branch of the Laredo Library a couple of days ago. That's where Laredo's only book store is currently housed. I'm sorry to say that I can testify to the LMT's story this morning  that business there is disappointingly slow. This is especially true since the "book store" sits way back on the second floor. Even as I came out of the elevator upstairs, I was still not sure that there was a bookstore anywhere near. I had to walk around for a while but eventually I found it. There it was, way to the back.

The place looks nice and clean. I saw a rack with lots of magazines near the entrance. There was also some artwork on display. Near the front, were some racks with what is probably the "newest" books section.  To be honest, I didn't actually go inside at all. I guess it's because I didn't want to be the only person in there. Maybe I just wanted to walk in incognito. Because of this, I am sorry to say I cannot share more details about the inside of the book store with all of you.

Nevertheless, I applaud this effort to bring literacy back into the public conversation. I understand from LMT's article that Ms. Benavides plans to open a second book store at another library branch. The truth remains that reading should be all around us. Personally, I did not have a library card until I was probably in highschool. I don't even remember going into a bookstore until Mall Del Norte opened. What I do recall is that we used to go to Statler's News on the ground floor of the Hamilton Hotel. Statler's, from what I can remember, specialized in periodicals. We were always buying and reading something. Whether it was Ripley's believe it or not, Disney or Warner Brothers comic books or the always popular Marvel comics. There were also some places to buy used "comics". One of them was Filemon Pena's store downtown. Later, we could trade and/or buy used periodicals at a store named Guerra's. I don't remember the exact location but I think it was near Zacate creek and the Tex Mex bridge.

 At home, I remember reading whatever volumes of the World Book encyclopedia I could find. It had been a complete set once, but by the time I started reading there might have been a few letters (volumes) missing. Some of them had no covers from all the wear and tear. Even today, I try to read, although I admit that lately, it's mostly from the internet. Still, I do check out books from the library. I just don't get to them as much as I might have before.

Let's hope that the focus on literacy continues to in our community. Reading is a powerful thing. It's an old saying but it remains true, reading IS fundamental.

Penn. Governor says U.S. is becoming bunch of wusses for postponing NFL game in Philadelphia's snowstorm

What a bunch of wusses says Rendell.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell must have grown up watching games in the 1950s and 1960 when the NFL was such a struggling league that it couldn't afford to postpone or cancel any games. That's why we had games in blizzards being played up in the Northeast and in places like Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota. Who could forget the 1967 Ice bowl between Los Vaqueros de Dallas and the hometown Green Bay Packers?  That's probably why, this weekend, the Governor became outraged when the NFL decided to postpone Sunday night's game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the first time since 1932, the NFL was postponing a game. The fact that the reason for the postponement was a heavy snowfall in the Philadelphia area  did not sit well with Gov. Rendell. His take on this rare schedule change was as follows: 
"We've become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything," he added. "If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."
They'd be doing calculus on the way down? What kind of Juggernaut is this China become? We better heed Rendell's advise and start playing in Hurricanes and Blizzards again. Oh yes, and don't forget the Calculus on the way to the game..........ok, maybe pre-calculus.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cornered & in danger, hunter at Webb ranch realizes everyone should do this!!

By Mike Leggett for the Austin American Statesman

— Mike Leggett is a native Texan and veteran Statesman outdoors writer who has compiled ‘A Texas To-Do List: 24 Things Every Texan Should Do Before He Dies.'
This year, he's taken us to every corner of the state to fish and hunt, search for artifacts and endangered birds, mountain climb, hike and camp out.
Today we reach the halfway point of the To-Do List on a small hill in the desert north of Laredo, where Mike hunts for deer the way the Indians did it hundreds of years ago.

A skin-flaying north wind whooshed through the low desert brush, turning my cheeks Santa red, but muffling the sounds of my trek north to a low gravel hill.
A heavy, steel-gray sky threatened to begin pelting Webb County with sleet at any moment. From the top of this slight bit of elevated ground, I could see down into a draw. Visibility was limited by the waist-high ceniza, or purple sage if you're a Roy Rogers fan. But the draw was directly upwind.This would be the place.

I pulled out my tools. The horns, of course. A grunt call. Leather gloves to ward off the thorns. A face mask and the rifle. I was ready. I was alone. Or was I?

Facing the draw, I smashed the horns together like cymbals. I wanted the first sound to be loudest and most shocking. Then I began grinding the horns together using motions that I hoped would imitate the sounds of two whitetail bucks, head-to-head, pushing and shoving and trying to beat the other into submission.
As I worked the horns against each other, I kicked some rocks and waded through some brush, cracking branches and adding some depth and reality to the sound track.

When two bucks fight, the battle is unrestrained, noisy and sometimes to the death. In a grand sense, it is survival of the fittest. In the reality of the moment, it's all about who gets the girl. No more than 30 seconds into my masquerade, a medium-sized buck exploded out of the draw about 50 yards away and began coming directly at the bushes where I was hiding. His hooves were flinging rocks and gravel, and he was knocking down bushes as he came. His muscles rippled, his eyes were wild and slobber slung from his mouth, caught in the wind and spider webbed around his head.

Honestly, at that moment, I was a bit concerned.Here was a couple hundred pounds of armed and irritated buck, looking to beat down on a pair of interlopers trespassing in his territory. In that instant, I could visualize being trampled, then pounded by that buck.

And, in that instant, I knew I was right. This is one of the 24 Things Every Texan Should Do Before He Dies. It's wild. It's natural. It's real. It's invigorating.

Monday, December 27, 2010

TAMIU tops when doing business with Historically Under-utilized businesses aka minority companies

The Texas A&M system as a whole is more than holding it's own when it comes to doing business with Historically Under-utilized Businesses (HUBs). According to the Amarillo Globe News, "The A&M system spent $267 million, or nearly 30 percent, of its spending on the program this year. By contrast, the state dedicated nearly 16 percent, while universities outside the A&M system did 20 percent". Furthermore, the article goes on to mention that Laredo's own TAMIU tops the list considereing that it spent roughly $4.2 million dollars or 64% of it's allotted budget for general services and construction directly with HUBs. The article also states:

The benefit of the HUB program is it gives exposure to minority-owned businesses to state agencies," said R.J. DeSilva, a spokesman for the state comptroller's office. "The size of the agency is what's key in this. When you're talking about schools, you're talking about a lot of procurement opportunities.
 HUB programs are primarily oriented toward minority- and women-owned businesses. There are more than 14,000 registered HUBs in Texas. State law requires Texas agencies and institutions to participate in the program.

We now belong to a "sweeping" part of Texas

Talk about a "sweeping" view of our part of Texas

We've know for a couple of weeks now that Texas is gaining 4 congressional seats in the U.S. house of representatives. Also, we've found out that Hispanics account for a very substantial percentage of the population increase. What I found additionally interesting is how the Wilson County News out of Floresville, Texas refers to our part of the state. See for yourself:

During the upcoming 82nd session of the Texas Legislature, our lawmakers must redraw congressional district boundaries based on the 2010 census. The concentration of power naturally will increase in areas with Texas’ highest population densities: Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and the sweeping San Antonio-Laredo-Rio Grande Valley area.

Cedro Hill wind farm starts operations near Bruni, Texas

Cedro Hill Wind Farm near Bruni, Texas is now in operation

According to Energy Business, a new wind farm in off and running, well spinning. The Cedro Hill wind farm is expected to pour about $100M dollars into Bruni's "local" economy. This includes payments to landowners as well as property taxes. It'd be interesting to find out just how much of these big bucks will be paid to our very own Webb County. Here's the brief article I found online:

Edison Mission Group (EMG), a subsidiary of Edison International, has begun commercial operation of a 150MW Cedro Hill wind project in the southern Texas town of Bruni, located about 40 miles east of Laredo.

EMG has secured a 20-year power purchase agreement with CPS Energy, a municipally owned natural gas and electric utility, for the $300m solar project that will support the local economy with more than $100m in property taxes and payments to local landowners over the next 20 years.
The wind project features 100 GE turbines of 1.5MW capacity each, that will produce enough power to meet the needs of about 40,000 homes at full capacity and will connect to CPS Energy through the 138kV Lobo-Falfurrias transmission line.

New county officials to be sworn in next week

Hopefully, nature won't unleash it's fury when new officials take oath

The Laredo Morning Times' Odie Arambula had an article this morning which outlined the swearing ceremonies that will be taking place at the start of the new year.  There's a slew of "new" officials that will be sworn in so the ceremonies will have to take place in at least two places. The county elections were way back in April and May so some might have forgotten just who these new elected officials are. Some of the really, really new public servants will be Webb county commissioner Jaime Canales and Judge Monica Zapata Nozton. Odie Arambula takes a few lines to remind those coming or returning to office :
 At this moment of governance misgivings, the oath underlines commitment and responsibility for newcomer Canales and incumbents Judge Danny Valdez and Commissioner Wawi Tijerina. They represent three of the five people who comprise the Webb County Commissioners Court. We trust the two holdover county commissioners, Frank Sciaraffa and Jerry Garza, are getting the message.

We can’t help but remind ourselves that the retiring commissioner, Keko Martinez, reminded Commissioners Court numerous times that “we took an oath to uphold the law.”
The administering person shall read,” I --------- solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of --------- of Webb County” for the elected official to repeat,
and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the constitution and laws of the United States and the state (of Texas), so help me God.”“Preserve, protect and defend” are more than words in a swearing in ceremony.

It’s part of a tall order, but not tall enough that it cannot be seen or reached by every elected official, from the precinct to the courthouse.
Dear friends, they are about to renew their commitments and pledges to all of us to be worthy of our trust. SADLY, WE HAVE lost pieces of that public puzzle over a period of recent years.

Did Rap & Tejano help to encourage weight gain, even obesity?

I can't confirm that Michelle Obama is now looking into the influence that even music can have on the health of the nation's youth. In a way, I can see how she could make some sort of connection. If you're like me, you might  remember seeing lots of movies or TV shows featuring teen idols of the 50s and 60s. These included Elvis Presly, Ricky Nelson, Fabian, Bobby Darin and a bunch others. Crossing over from the 60s to the 70s, groups became big on the music scene. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors were but a few who enjoyed success during those decades. The late 70s had the Disco craze with the Bee Gees leading the charts.  From the Late 70s through the 80s, came the Cars, Blondie, Joan Jett, The Ramones, The Clash as the New Wave Punk movement picked up steam.

In looking back at all of these types of musical artists, one thing that stands out was that for the most part, they were all........skinny, or at least a vast majority of them were. It appears that there was quite a change that came about around the 90s with Rap and Tejano. Are you getting the drift? Rappers and Tejano artists were probably the first uh can I say it....portly musicians to enjoy success to a large extent (pardon the pun).

With rap, it was ok to let yourself go. You could still identify with the image of a rapper. Afterall,there were always more of those oversized clothes you could slip into. As a result, some wardrobes just got baggier and saggier. And for the guys, the baldness and "piochitas" came into full bloom to complimnent the new Big Look.

In Tejano, it was fashinonable and expected that your wranglers fit two sizes too tight and it was even ok if you wore 34 inch waist jeans waaaay below the belt line. Of course no one would belive that 34 was your actual size if you were to properly wear them.  So, the question is : have these two musical genres helped in any way to promote the acceptance of substantial weight gain and/or obesity? Or was the obese trend already in full swing and it just happend to concide with these types of music?  Is there any connection at all? What do you sociologist out there say?

Bad dancing and all, Bristol Palin buys $172,000 home (cash) in friendly Arizona

I don't know the guy's name but he's got a strong arm to be able to lift that weight up!

Over the weekend, I heard a couple of reports announcing that the half-dancer daughter of the former half-governor of Alaska had just bought a house. Actually, she bought a $172,000 house in cash in Jan Brewer's lovely state of Arizona.

I'm sure the symbolism of Arizona had a lot to do with where to buy. It couldn't have been Texas, even if the Palins love to promote Rick Perry whenever they can. If you'll remember, when SB1070 first hit the national headlines, Perry went on record saying that he thought "such a law was not a good fit for Texas". In other words, given Arizona and Texas, Arizona is more anti-immigrant hands down so that's your "go" signal for Palin to move in.

It's been a ridiculous year allright. and I didn't even mention the Tea Party so far.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Area lakes are among best-rated for fishing in entire U.S.

Amistad dam on the U.S.-Mexico boundary near Del, Rio Texas
The Fort Worth (Cowtown) Star Telegram is reporting:

Falcon Lake and Lake Amistad (Del Rio) are known for their black bass, but fishermen have been cautioned about safety since Mexico began cracking down on border violence in 2006. In March, the FLW Outdoors canceled a tournament scheduled for Falcon Lake and moved it to Beaver Lake in Kentucky. Each of the tournament's 11 events produce between $1.5 million and $3 million for the local economies, spokesman Jeff McCoy said.
"We would never put our contestants in harm's way," McCoy said. "So when prospective tour fishermen expressed fear over border violence, our antenna went up."

"I advise anglers to file an agenda of their plans when fishing Falcon or Amistad," said Alfonzo Vielma of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in San Antonio. "Tell friends where you are going and what time you're planning to return. Always take a cellphone and list the number of the county sheriff and local game warden. If you decide to venture into Mexico waters, don't go too far. Keep yourself in a position to exit quickly if necessary. We have had no known incidents occur on the Texas sides of either lake."

Texas Rep. Lamar Smith will be in powerful position against illegal immigrants

From the Los Angeles Times

Texas Republican Lamar Smith, who will have oversight over deportations and arrests when he takes the gavel as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. As his first order of business, Smith plans to hold hearings about workplace enforcement and expanding the employee identification program, E-Verify, which is set to expire in 2012. Since President Obama took office in January 2009, the Homeland Security Department has focused on arresting and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records.

Under Obama, the total number of deportations is up, and the percentage of those deported who are considered a threat to public safety is at a record high. Arrests of illegal workers at job sites are down, however, as the Obama administration focuses resources on fining and prosecuting employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. The goal is to reduce the demand for illegal labor.

Smith plans to attack Obama's enforcement strategy. His staff is preparing to hold hearings to encourage more workplace raids and to investigate allegations that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials manipulated numbers to inflate the department's criminal deportation statistics. "We could free up millions of jobs for Americans and legal immigrants if we enforced our immigration laws against illegal workers," Smith said.

Dallas Morning News names Perry "Texan of the Year" for 2010

Apparently, Perry wasn't judged by the company he keeps!
From what is probably the Republican capitol of the U.S., comes another win of sorts for Rick Perry. The Dallas Morning news has named the 3-time Texas Governor as it's Texan of the Year. Perry, who will soon be knee-deep in Perrymandering the Texas political map, is the longest serving Texas Governor in the state's history. He managed to beat both Sen. Hutchinson (in the primary) and Bill White rather handily. In what sounded half-way like an apology for it's pick, the Dallas Morning News wrote:

“While his record as governor remains open for discussion, Perry’s political instincts have been nearly infallible. With cowboy swagger and bold declarations, he has carved his own path, ducking debates and flirting with secession,” the newspaper wrote. “Foes and fans of our polarizing governor both acknowledge Perry’s impact on Texas politics. In a weak-governor state, he has seized a bullhorn, making himself heard across Texas and beyond.”
Supporters laud him as a consistent, dependable conservative. He protects business interests and is committed to keeping taxes low in Texas — even if the resulting cutbacks are painful.
No word on how much Perry's shooting of a coyote had to do with him getting the prize. Although there were no witnesses (except for Perry's dog), Perry recounted that, while on an early morning jog, a coyote came out of nowhere and seemed intent on wrangling with Perry's dog.  Naturally, the governor proceeded to shoot the unarmed coyote. He then went back home and told the entire media about it. I recall FoxNews picking up on the Tough Texan theme in a hurry.

Hope you had a Safe and Happy Christmas, Wishing you a prosperous New Year

Let's see if I still remember how to type. It's been a few days but it seems like longer. Hopefully, you all had a safe and peaceful Christmas ( Ok, I know-hectic). Also, here's wishing you a SAFE and hopeful New Year. Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Once upon a time, (almost) no one spoke English at home

La Martin, ironically, at time of this postcard, Laredo was ruled by Anglos

I'm pretty sure it was the 1970s. In those years, there were two high schools in Laredo. Well, three with United High but it was in a separate district and was a 3A school. Also, it was in Del Mar Hills and thought of a mostly an Anglo school. No disrespect meant, that's just the way I remember it. I realize I might be mistaken again. Anyway, during those years, the McDonalds across Bruni Plaza was probably the most popular place in town for young people to hang out at (Yes, in those years it was hang out, not hang). I, being from La Martin, along with the rest of my freinds, could always tell who was from Nixon. They had this weird habit (at the time) of actually mixing in a sprinking of English with their Spanish. Or even more shocking, some of them spoke mostly in English!!

Now, it's sort of the opposite. Although a lot of kids still speak primarily in Spanish locally, an ever increasing number speak little or virtually no Spanish. Of course, everyone knows the most important Spanish words : oye, pero, mira, ya!, bueno, y luego, pos, ala (not a word)  and nada que ver (not a real phrase). Similarly, everyone knows the most indispensable English words, as we have related before "cool, awesome, no way, wait, I mean (pronounced in Spanish:amin). Like Bobby Dylan said "The time's they are a changin'".

Things that became obsolete in the last decade

The Huffington post has a piece on "things that became obsolete this decade". Some of the things listed included : Travel agencies, VHS tapes and VCRs, bookstores (Something we know too well in Laredo), maps, encyclopedias and even cursive writing which is something I had already heard about on one of the other local blogs.  Here's an excerpt from the Huffington Post's article with accompanying picture above.
While wristwatches are certainly still a style statement and/or status symbol for many, they've increasingly been replaced by cellphones, laptops, and other gadgets, which tell time and eliminate the need for an extra accessory. A survey by Beloit College of its class of 2014 found, "Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch."

Napolitano's goodwill gesture towards Mexicans sets off the Teabaggers

The FOX Nation
Essentially, it's an extreme version of FoxNews

A recent post on the ultra-right wing FoxNation website about Janet Napolitano giving "trusted traveler" status to some Mexicans who frequent the U.S. unleashed the rabid Fox fans. Nevermind that this status is reserved for only for Mexicans who have undergone extensive background checks and have been determined to be low security risks. A typical response by the Tea Party crowd appeared in the "comments" section accompanying the article. Someone using the label "Mystic 35" decided to go on a rant but at least managed to conclude with a "Merry Christmas" to all.

mystic35 6 hours ago
Our nation is upside down at this time.
Ego Janet wants Mexicans vetted so they can pass easily through airport security.
Children are stripped, men groped, women, nuns and grandmothers molested?
The Obummer will not even vet the czars.
The rights of the American people are being trampled.
We the people are being treated as the enemy of this nation.
Scanners cannot detect any object if hidden in the cavity of the body.
Homeland Security wishes to take on global warming?
Right now they have no way to protect our food source in the restaurants, ego Janet did say the restaurants were the next target.
Yes, I can honestly say I do not feel safer with ego Janet and the community activist in charge.
Does anyone miss President Bush? I do!!!
I know flying is not a right, however the citizens of this nation should not be treated like the enemy.
Let's use behavioral profiling as Israel does.
God Bless and Save America.
Merry Christmas everyone!

More fuzzy math : 37 % of Texans are Hispanic but hold ZERO statewide offices

Chavez was unsuccessful in her Lt. Governor bid in 2010

You would think that Hispanic Texans' continued population increase would be accompanied by increased political power. However, republicans have managed to minimize their relative clout by controlling the redistricting process in the recent past. By all estimates, Texas should gain 4 more seats in the U.S. house. Furthermore, Hispanics should dominate at least two or three of the new seats according to Charles Gonzales, a democrat U.S. representative from  San Antonio. Other Texan congressmen such as Gene Green (D-Houston) and Delwin Jones (R-Lubbock) agree.

What makes the fact that no Hispanics have been elected to statewide office even more bewildering is the expectation that Hispanics may actually outnumber Anglo-Texas by as early as 2017. This estimate is based on Hispanics higher birth rate and immigration. Talk about minorty rule!

Hispanics account for nearly 70 percent of Texas' population growth this decade. Hijole!

Texas's population grew by approximately 4.5 million people in the past decade. As a result, Texas will gain 4 seats in the US House of representatives. Hispanics are a major reason for the states growing political clout. This is because according to some experts, Hispanics are responsible for a major portion (70%) of the state's population increase.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports:
Texas' numbers add up to one word for Texas demographer Steve Murdock: "Phenomenal." "I was a little bit surprised about how large the change was," said Murdock, a Rice University professor and former U.S. Census director. "I thought it would be about 25 million, but that 4.2 million increase is unprecedented in Texas history."

Demographers point to Hispanics as the primary force behind Texas' growth.
"When we look at our projections, they suggest that somewhere around 70 percent of those new Texans added to the state are of Hispanic descent," state Demographer Lloyd Potter said.
Murdock agreed "Hispanics' high birth rate is a big part of that equation".
"A couple of years ago, demographers looked at the birth-to-death ratios across the country," he said. "They looked at all groups except Hispanics and there were 1.3 births per death. For Hispanics it was eight births to one death. Growth is increasingly dependent on non-Anglo populations."
A recession-based surge in out-of-state job seekers migrating to Texas has also plumped up the numbers, experts say. "Jobs and population increases go hand in hand", Potter said.
Read more:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two different ways of saying essentially the same thing

In 1923, Robert Frost published his poem "Stopping by woods on a snowy evening" (below). Half a century later, artist Robert Crumb conveyed roughly the same message with his now-famous Keep on Truckin artwork (above). What a difference a few decades make.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost, 1923

Boarding for Laredo, please make sure you have your passports ready!

Citizen of the Republic of Texas
Years back, I was up in East Texas for some reason. There were some people from Palestine, Texas riding in the same elevator I was in.  The conversation turned to the weather and someone said "it's hot today, it's nearly 90". I couldn't keep quiet and had to chime in "That's nothing, it was 105 yesterday in Laredo". Almost in unison, they corrected me- "Oh, but that's Laredo, we're talking about Texas'. I figured I should have known better than try to reason with a bunch of Gomer Pyle sounding folks. Then came, the "Do you need a passport to go to Laredo?" question.  I don't even know if I answered or not, but that's East Texas for you. They see Laredo like a whole other world. Considering the way of thinking of those good ol' folks in the elevator, maybe it's better Laredo's in a whole different world.

Education: The 5 Es instructional model. I think they come up with the catchy name first, then fill in the rest

Slick art work adds thousands to the price for unsuspecting school boards

Here's one of the gimmicks that some of the local schools have been pushing in recent years. It seems like the educational companies that come up with these strategies first decide on a catchy name or phrase, then just throw in whatever fits and voila, you have a brand new "education model". Enjoy the marketing ploy:

The 5 E's is an instructional model based on the constructivist approach to learning, which says that learners build or construct new ideas on top of their old ideas. The 5 E's can be used with students of all ages, including adults.

Each of the 5 E's describes a phase of learning, and each phase begins with the letter "E": Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.

Engage: This phase of the 5 E's starts the process. An "engage" activity should do the following:
  1. Make connections between past and present learning experiences
  2. Anticipate activities and focus students' thinking on the learning outcomes of current activities. Students should become mentally engaged in the concept, process, or skill to be learned.

Explore: This phase of the 5 E's provides students with a common base of experiences. They identify and develop concepts, processes, and skills. During this phase, students actively explore their environment or manipulate materials.

Explain: This phase of the 5 E's helps students explain the concepts they have been exploring. They have opportunities to verbalize their conceptual understanding or to demonstrate new skills or behaviors. This phase also provides opportunities for teachers to introduce formal terms, definitions, and explanations for concepts, processes, skills, or behaviors.

Elaborate: This phase of the 5 E's extends students' conceptual understanding and allows them to practice skills and behaviors. Through new experiences, the learners develop deeper and broader understanding of major concepts, obtain more information about areas of interest, and refine their skills.

Evaluate: This phase of the 5 E's encourages learners to assess their understanding and abilities and lets teachers evaluate students' understanding of key concepts and skill development.

You should start feeling smarter right about now. What are the chances that they came up with the concept and all the component parts just happened to start with "E".  Like I said, it's all in the marketing. You'd be surprised what our school districts pay for stuff like this.

Why do they call it Mines road anyway?

Coal from "las minas" was trucked to UP yard, then moved on trains to Corpus Christi to go overseas

By Robert W. Hook and Peter D. Warwick
U.S. Geological Survey

The Santo Tomas coal zone of Webb County was first mined commercially by the Rio Grande Coal and Irrigation Company (RGCIC) between 1881 and 1914   By1895, the Cannel Coal Company had completed a shaft and had driven mains in both the Santo Tomas and San Pedro zones at Darwin, Texas (founded in 1882) which was about 25 miles northeast of Laredo, Texas, along the Rio Grande.  

The company, which employed several hundred miners, was directed by David Darwin Davis, a mining engineer from Wales. In 1914, the town's population grew to 800 and the Rio Grande and Eagle Pass Railroad was built to transport the coal extracted in nearby mines. By 1939 the mines were shut down and the population declined to 75. Today, Darwin is a ghost town where all that remains is a cemetery. The Rio Grande and Eagle Pass railroad was abandoned in 1947 and the rail was picked up.

In 1979, Farco Mining started to do surface mining of cannel coal. This coal was not allowed to be burned in the U.S., so most of it was trucked to Laredo, then transfered to rail cars and shipped to Corpus Christi where it was put on Ships headed for Ireland.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Redistricting begins: Texas stands to gain 3 more US House seats

I guess in Texas, it's called Perrymandering
With the release of new census information, the expectations for Texas are that it will gain 3 new US congressional districts. The state will have to be redistricted and that favors the republicans since they control our current legislature. No doubt, the GOP will be out to gerrymander in order to maximize its gains. Recently, some of the valley's political leaders spoke out on this expectation. From the McAllen Monitor:

City leaders don’t want McAllen lumped into a so-called “fajita” or strip district stretching north from the border, according to an Oct. 22 letter from Mayor Richard Cortez to State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa. They’d prefer east-west congressional districts stretching along the Rio Grande.
In other words, McAllen would prefer more districts like Texas’ 28th, which stretches from Laredo to McAllen, and fewer like Texas’ 15th, which heads north from Hidalgo County. Those districts roughly split McAllen, giving Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, the city’s southwest side and Rep. Rub√©n Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, the city’s northeast portion.
“I would rather be bunched together with some border cities that have some of the same issues we have rather than go all the way to Corpus (Christi) or all the way to San Antonio,” Barrera said.
Get your crayons and your scissors out. It's gerrymandering time in Texas again. The democrats might as well not even bother flying to Ardmore, Oklahoma this time around. The Texas GOP will have the numbers to continue it's work without them.

From the Dallas Morning News :Film, lecture focus on historic Texas-Mexico border conflicts

MEXICA1 (Small).jpg
As appears on The Dallas Morning

An award-winning documentary by Oak Cliff filmmaker Kirby Warnock will be shown Friday, Jan. 7 at the Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson.

Border Bandits is drawn from a story Warnock's grandfather told him of a 1915 raid on a South Texas ranch and the retaliatory killing of two Mexican-Americans by Texas Rangers. Warnock's grandfather, Roland Warnock, helped bury the two men, one of whom was an ancestor of actress Eva Longoria.
The film, first released five years ago, has been honored by the Texas House of Representatives and at the Deep Ellum Film Festival.

The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. with a Q&A with Warnock to follow. For more about the movie and the story that inspred the film, click right cheer.

Earlier in the evening, at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center next door to the theater, Richard B. McCaslin, history department chairman at the University of North Texas, will talk about Texas-Mexico border conflicts during the Mexican Revolution 100 years ago.

Senator Judith helping out Valley colleges to the tune of $160M

Well, at least they don't need a new Chimney
Three Rio Grande Valley colleges could receive more than $160 million combined in state construction funds meant to tackle rising enrollment if a proposed bill passes the Texas Legislature next year.

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D – Laredo, filed legislation Friday that could fund several expansion and renovation projects at the University of Texas-Pan American, Texas State Technical College in Harlingen and the University of Texas at Brownsville.
“You can’t offer outstanding classes if you don’t have the necessary space,” said Zaffirini, who heads the higher education committee. “The space issue is inextricably linked to academic success…institutions continue to grow but haven’t built enough buildings to keep up.”

Senate Bill 272 would authorize colleges to issue much-needed construction bonds in order to cushion a rising stream of students.

Why not build a Pinata empire in Laredo?

Bob Esponja- Donde esta el Squidward?
It seems that hardly anything is manufactured in Laredo anymore, maybe with the exception of candles. That begged the question, why can Laredo not be the empire for something, anything? How about the city capitalizing on a truly Mexican tradition; pinatas? I would love to see the economic development people look into the feasibility of making Laredo the mecca for those party favorites.

 I'm sure we have the natural resources in abundance (what does it take: newspaper, pastes, carrizo ?). We probably have a handful of artisans who could train others. Before you know it, Laredo could apply Henry Ford's assembly line approach and be turning out Pinatas galore. Furthermore, we already have the transportation connections for the entire country. With the current mascot craze, there would never be a shortage of characters for the artisans to produce. From where I stand, it's a win-win situation. Batter up!

City council meeting: question on committee appointees

I told you the system is broken!
An interesting question came up tonight during the city council meeting on channel 13. During the public forum, a citizen spoke out about some committee appointments that were about to be made by new council for district 2, Esteban Rangel.  It appears that of 3 appointments, 2 of them involved "out of district" appointees. Mr. Rangel was urged to reconsider. The speaker said something to the effect of "you should consider appointing the people who elected you instead of those who live in other districts".

Nevertheless, the appointments were made. Presto! Only 1 district 2 resident out of 3 appointees. That looked bad to me. I don't know if this is standard procedure for the city. It sounded to be like the guy speaking out had mae a pretty good argument against appointing "outsiders'.  Does common sense count for anything anymore? The whole thing just seemed wrong.  What y'all think?  Whatever district you live in, should outsiders be appointed by your councilperson?

GOP having field day during last days of lame duck congress

Here are some of the highlights of the lame duck congress. If there's one thing that is clearly evident is what the priorities of the GOP have been and will continue to be when their numbers go up after the new year.

Tax cuts for the rich- GOP says "Absolutely, and we won't do anything else until we get them!"

Unemployment insurance - GOP says "Only if we get above (Tax cuts for the Rich) !

Repeal of Don't ask, Don't tell-  GOP says'  "Well,......ummm  OK  bah-humbug.

DreamAct -  GOP says' "Hah!, what's wrong with you? Keep dreaming"!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pocket Edition of Texas Public Scool Statistics published by TEA

GOP cuts to education budget will hurt young Hispanics the most

The Texas Education agency this week announced the publication of the pocket edition of the states public schools' stats for 2009-2010. Personally, I was surprised to find out that Hispanics account for 48.6 % of the total students in Texas. Whites are next at 33.3 % and African Americans make up 14% of Students in the Lone Star state. When compared to last year's stats, the percentage of Hispanics students increased by 3.5%, African Americans increased by 1.1 % and the whites decreased by 0.1 %.

Another very interesting figure is that the combined number of early childhood (pre-K) and elementary students make up half (50%) of the entire student population in the state. This shows that Texas schools tend to be  very young and very Hispanic. Unfortunately, the republican led state legislature has indicated that they are willing to slash the budget for education and increase the class size limit in grades Pre-K to 5th from the current 22 to an expected 25. These two factors combined are bound to have an overall negative impact on the quality of education for our youngest students.

Schumer pushing "new" bill to help First Responders after GOP shoots down first bill

GOP recently voted down bill that would tax off shore Corporations to pay for health bill that would help ailing First Responders.

The AP is reporting tonight 12/19 :

There's new life for a senate bill that would pay the health care costs for 9/11 first responders.

"The clock is winding down, but we believe we are on the verge of an 11th hour breakthrough.” Said Senator Chuck Schumer. “This has been a long process. It's like running a marathon. We've had a lot of ups, and a lot of downs, and now the finish line is in sight."

Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a re-vamped version of the bill today. It costs less and changes the way the benefits would be paid for. Supporters are hoping to get a vote on the new bill by the end of the year. An earlier version hit a roadblock in the senate, but Schumer and Gillibrand are optimistic it will pass this time. Senator Gillibrand said:

"America will be watching very closely to how this Senate votes on something that goes to the fundamental issue of who we are as Americans and whether we stand by our heroes."

If the bill passes the senate, it would still have to go back to the house, where lawmakers already passed the original bill.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Broncos' RSG loses another contract in Amarillo, Texas

'Dillas lose their field in Amarillo

From the Amarillo Globe-News

The new tenant at Potter County Memorial Stadium has made its first lease payment of $24,000, according to county Treasurer Leann Jennings. The payment from Southern Independent Baseball, which was awarded the contract last month, is $1,000 less than the county has been able to collect on the $100,000 owed by Reunion Sports Group (RSG) of Dallas, which operated the now-defunct Dillas of United League Baseball.

RSG also faces financial problems in other Texas cities. reported Wednesday the ULB's Coastal Bend Thunder in Robstown has been locked out of Coastal Bend Field for nonpayment of $24,000 in back rent, as Nueces County officials have been unable to contact team or league officials to arrange payment. RSG also recently lost a lease agreement in Laredo for missing payments over the last few years.

Plastics: Austrian Company opens Mexico plant to serve Lego, springboard to Americas

Panoramic view of Monterrey, Mexico


MONTERREY, MEXICO (Dec., 2010) -- Greiner Packaging International GmbH of Kremsm√ľnster, Austria, plans to use a new $3 million production facility in northern Mexico as a springboard to expand both in Latin America and the United States.
According to company spokeswoman Claudia Steinkogler, Greiner inaugurated Greiner Assistec SA de CV, in the municipality of Apodaca, close to Monterrey, on December 1st. Greiner Assistec is a Greiner Packaging International division, active primarily in the toy, automotive and printing machinery packaging sectors. The Monterrey plant is Greiner Assistec’s first outside Europe, where it also has manufacturing operations in Austria and the Czech Republic, according to Steinkogler, assistant to Gerald Bernecker, the new company’s managing director.

Greiner’s clients in Mexico include international toy company Lego A/S, of Billund, Denmark, which last month announced a $100 million-plus expansion of its production plant near Monterrey, which opened in March 2009.
Bernecker, who was unavailable for comment, has been quoted elsewhere in reports in Mexico saying that Greiner decided to locate the plant in the Monterrey area because of Lego’s presence there. Steinkogler told Plastics News on Dec. 13 that Lego’s move influenced its plant selection process.

Asked whether Greiner will seek to expand its business beyond Mexico, Steinkogler replied: “Yes, definitely in other markets in the United States and Latin America.” She said Monterrey’s geographical location was a major factor in Greiner’s decision to move there after starting a search in December 2009. The plant, which employs 30, is 130 miles north of the U.S. border town of Laredo, Texas.

Mayor Salinas says "Thanks" in surprisingly short letter to the editor

Short Salinas letter would prob run a minute on the floor

Knowing how enamored Mayor Raul Salinas seems to be with the microphone and camera, you would think he would have penned an epic letter to the editor to thank Laredo voters for his re-election. Not so. In a relatively short letter, Salinas graciously thanks supporters for having enough confidence in him to give him four more years as the Mayor of the Gateway City. From the Opinion section of today's Laredo Morning Times, Salinas writes:

To the editor:

This past Saturday evening, I was overwhelmed and truly humbled by the final results of the runoff election for mayor of our great city.

The love and confidence the voters of our community showered upon me will always be a source of deep gratitude and pride on my part for the rest of my life.

I now look forward to taking the love and confidence of the citizens of Laredo with me on my next four-year journey — a journey that will continue my goal of making our city the kind of city we Laredoans desire for ourselves and for future generations.

I ask each and every one of you today to take my hand and walk with me down the road to a better tomorrow for all Laredoans.

With your love, confidence and optimistic view of the future, together we can make Laredo a better community for us all!

Mil gracias, Laredo, and God bless!


Raul Salinas

Granted, it takes all of about one minute to read the above, but give Salinas the microphone and- Watch out Bernie Sanders. He could give the Vermont, filibustering Senator a war of words. Congratulations to Mayor Salinas and good luck.

"Special Forces" show rare teamwork in dealing with paisanos

Ok, here's the deal......blah, blah, blah

Congratulations to an array of local, county, state and federal representatives, as well as some citizen volunteers in working together in an attempt to streamline the flow of paisanos through our city on their way to Mexico. This effective use of teamwork is something that should be made use of on a more frequent basis. Can you imagine just how much work our various governments could accomplish. We would have had bridge number 5 a long time ago.

An article today in the Laredo Morning Times outlined the numerous ways in which the paisano "task force" was proactive in handling the increase volume of visitors/passers-by:
 “We have copiers so we can make copies of your ID, your vehicular title and your registration documents — all of that has to be filed with your permit,” said Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Blasita Lopez.

“Mexican officials are here to provide the forms that you need to get your temporary tourist permit as well as your temporary vehicular permit — which are two things that are required to cross into the interior of Mexico,” Lopez said.

A mechanic is even volunteering his time in the spirit of the Christmas season, Lopez said.
“He isn’t going to be here the whole 48 hours that we’re going to staff the tent,” she said.
“But he’s just available if someone comes in and says, ‘My car is making a funny noise.’
He does an initial review here, and he recommends what he thinks (the problem) is and then gives them suggestions about local shops in town that can help them.”

Regular TxDOT updates on electronic signs on the Interstate 35 corridor from San Antonio are aimed to help alert travelers to the rest stop and travel times.

More Laredo Police Department officers also will be on hand downtown to watch over certain intersections.
See what I mean? If our representatives applied the same common sense and deliberateness to other issues that our city faces, we would all benefit. Maybe it's a new year's resolution to be considered.

What is that phantom "buzzzzz"?

Let's hope that the world cell phone companies are not keeping any potentially dangerous information on their producats away from us. I want to relate what's happened to me a few times even though I don't consider myself much of a cell phone user. Some of you might have experienced the same thing-although I hope not. On occasion, when I have not had my cell phone in my possesion, I've experienced a sort of "phantom" buzzz where I would normally carry my cell. For example, when I used to carry my belt-clip, I'd feel a vibrating or buzzing sensation around my hip area just as I would when I was carrying my cell phone. I don't know how to explain it. Maybe the cellular waves leave some form of imprint on your body which then pick up waves from other phones nearby. I just hope they don't come out all of a sudden and announce  "Oh, by the way, cell phones aren't really that safe". Who knows, maybe I just imagined it..... buzzzzzz.

Friday, December 17, 2010

McAllen Elementary School is a community unto itself

Let's try, this... how about...yes, yes a mini-city!

I have heard that McDonnel Elementary here in Laredo, has a similar "community" theme in place. I believe the school has given itself the nickname (ready?) McDonnelville. I think this just started recently. However, the McAllen experiment with this concept has supposedly been going on for 14 years already.

From the McAllen Monitor

McALLEN — An inconspicuous traffic sign on the lawn of Sam Houston Elementary School welcomes visitors to Houstonville, a student-run civilization that has evolved over the past 14 years. Inside, a pretend yet bustling International Bank of Commerce chain serves a patient line of kindergartners to fifth-graders holding fake cash and withdrawal slips.

"When the customers come in, we have to count the money and learn how to count and save the money," said fourth-grade IBC employee Evelyn Tamez.
She and her peers set up shop every Thursday and Friday during Houstonville’s "Market Days," a busy portion of the week not easily misinterpreted as a waste of class time.
With an unexpected eloquence, Tamez explained the importance of a bank account and why her job is important. "I kind of know more about saving money than some adults, and my mom asks me questions about how banks work," she said. "A bank helps you pay your taxes, buy what you want. … We are important."

Around the corner, a mini H.E.B. treated customers who had just left IBC with an assortment of toys and school supplies. Manager Maribel Hernandez said she now knows what real-world store managers do every day. "Being a general manager means helping others all the time with what they need to get," said fourth-grader Hernandez, pointing to a list of Houstonville’s targeted "life skills" on the wall. "I know compassion, cooperation, responsibility … all of them, really."

Charged with their own particular job, every child at Sam Houston displayed the same precociousness as Hernandez. They display a mature understanding of taxes, payrolls, utility bills and lessons of adult life most children won’t encounter until high school or later, said Principal and Houstonville CEO D. Loya Thomas.
"Our school serves some of the highest socioeconomically disadvantaged students," she said. "We don’t water down a single thing, and my students eagerly grasp what it means to be a full citizen."

Houston traffic among hardest on commuters, Laredo among top 10 easiest

From Houston Press Blog

If someone were to do a study of commuting traffic in 90 American cities, gauging cost and miles and hours wasted, where do you think Houston would rank?Would it be 90th? Maybe 89th?
NO. We are not as bad as horror pits like San Jose (89) or Dallas (90).We are, however, 88th.

TheStreet and Bundle are the latest to tackle the issue, and that's where they put us.
Alan Clark, manager of the Transportation programs at the Houston-Galveston Area Council, isn't surprised.
"It is our expectation that as the economy recovers we will see increased travel in peak times and a resultant increase in congested travel time," he says. "As a region, we continue to promote alternative commute strategies to combat congestion, which is particularly important as federal and state revenues decline."

Eugene, Oregon,  was picked as the easiest city for communting. Also making the Top 10 of easiest commutes: Brownsville (2nd), Laredo (4th) and Beaumont (7th). Who knew Texas was the home to such easy driving? No one in Houston or Dallas, that's for sure.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Laredo among highest in percentage of government jobs

Roughly one out of every four Laredoans work for some form of governmental organization

According to the most recent data available from the Texas Workforce Commission, government is the largest industry in Laredo. It accounts for 26 % of the city's total workforce. Other texas cities with substantial government job sectors include El Paso 24%,  Lubbock 23%, Austin 22%, and the San Antonio-New Braufels area at19%. Nationwide, the average is around 18 to 20 percent according to the same data. Interestingly, McAllen's government job sector accounts for 25 percent of all its jobs. Once again, 1 % less than Laredo. Yep, they eat our lunch one more time.