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Council to Discuss Lewisville H.S. Fire Sprinklers

Local News, Notes and Events
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/12/6 15:16:35 (1843 reads)

Open in new windowThe Lewisville City Council meets Monday night at 7:00 PM, and will discuss among other things, variances being requested for the construction of a new athletic field house at Lewisville High School.

The $4 million field house was approved by voters in the 2008 bond election held by the district, and will allow Lewisville High School to shuffle around various boys and girls athletic programs and accommodate them in updated, new, and refurbished facilities.

The City of Lewisville's General Development Ordinance requires the approval of a new site plan for major construction like this, and property owners are required to meet certain standards or request variances.

The LHS property doesn't currently comply due to placement of driveways, number of parking spaces, placement of fire lanes, number of hydrants, and so forth. Mayor Dean Ueckert and City staff, including Fire Marshal Tim Ippolito have been working with the district to get LISD to install automatic fire sprinklers in the Lewisville High School main building.

At this point, the LISD school board has approved $4.8 million for the cost of the field house and other improvements. District staff have been working with the architect and consultants to get a plan for the project, and have indicated a desire to do the improvements now rather then in 9 years when the HVAC equipment was scheduled to be replaced.

The sticking point right now is the timeline. The Mayor and City staff would like the retrofit to begin this summer, and be completed as soon as possible for the protection of students in Lewisville High School. The District says that because of uncertainties related to having to remove asbestos materials from the ceilings at the same time, they can only commit to a timeline of 3 summers (2 years, 2 months), doing the project in 3 phases, each phase completing installation of sprinklers in 1/3rd of the high school.

District officials seem certain that asbestos is in use throughout the school, which was built before the usage of asbestos was banned. Typically asbestos is safe as long as it is not disturbed. But since the sprinkler installation requires taking out the ceilings, the district plans to replace the HVAC system as well, and asbestos removal is required.

Removing asbestos requires specially trained personnel to completely close off the area, enter wearing full protective gear and respirators, and remove contaminated materials. During this process, the architect, and the HVAC and sprinkler design and installation people cannot get in to even see what they need to do.

The school year ends on June 10th. All furniture would have to be removed from each classroom, then asbestos removal would have to begin immediately, lasting for a couple of weeks, then construction of new HVAC and sprinker systems could begin. Any electric cabling, or network wiring disturbed during the process would have to be replaced. All safety equipment like fire alarm wiring would have to be back in place and fully tested before students could return in late August.

Community Activist Tamela Bowie told Asst. Superintendent Alan King in a meeting last week that if the current company under contract can't get the work done within one summer, then perhaps he should look for another company. The architect said that it would be physically impossible to get that much work done during one summer. As a rule of thumb, he stated that he could get one elementary school done during a summer, a middle school done during 2 summers, and a high school would take 3 summers.

Of course the question that follows is whether the work could be divided up among multiple contractors in order to get the work done more quickly, or if it would be akin to asking 9 women to make a baby in one month.

Mayor Ueckert continues to negotiate with the district on the improvements, and said he will be meeting with them on Monday once again.


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Texas Railroad Commission on a Power Trip

Oil and Gas
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/12/5 11:50:00 (3360 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowCheck out this video of a Texas Railroad Commission meeting (RealPlayer required) in which the Commission authorizes its attorney to intervene in Public Utility Commission dockets regarding power line construction in the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones.

Basically Texas needs to build more high voltage power transmission lines from West to East in order to carry the power generated by renewable sources like wind power in the West to the population centers in the East where the power is used.

Ever the vigilant protectors of the Oil and Gas industry, the Texas Railroad Commission is apparently trying to step in and wreak havoc on the process with only the flimsiest of excuses.

What could it be that the RRC feels compelled to intervene on? The excuse given by Counsel is that the lines may "adversely impact" the ability of the Commission to plug abandoned oil and gas wells.

Really, RRC? REALLY? You're afraid that they'll place power lines directly over a well, and thus you won't be able to plug it?

But wait, it gets even better. Here's what Commissioner Michael Williams says:

Commissioner: “ You mention in terms of some rational that apply is that it may adversly impact our ability with regards to wells that need to be plugged, but would it not also be the case it might very well affect our ability and our mission as it relates to new wells that need to be drilled as well”

Counsel: “Thats a possibility as well”

Commissioner: “ OK , and I would urge us to look at this in terms of our participation with regards to the full range of the responsibilities that we have and the full range of the mission of this comission”

Counsel: “ OK,We will”

Comissioner: “Thank You”

Excuse me for asking this, but ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? Commissioner Williams is actually suggesting that the Railroad Commission should intervene in the placement of power lines because even though we have millions of acres all across Texas to drill for oil and gas, we may not be able to spare the small amount of acreage that power lines take up?

REALLY? I couldn't even fathom to make this shit up. Would the RRC really seek to stop a power line placement because it might cross and thus permanently make it impossible to put up a drilling rig on a small strip of land?

Where this would really come into play would be near the larger cities, where drillable space is at a premium. For instance in well-populated areas there may only be a few greenbelt areas where a drilling rig might be able to be put up to drill a well to drain the resources beneath the neighborhoods. If a power line goes in and eliminates some drilling spots, it could lock some hydrocarbons out of ever being produced.

But come on... We have plenty of land in Texas, and the amount of energy carried by high-tension transmission lines far exceeds that provided by the improbably small number of wells that might not be able to be drilled. The greater good requires that we bring renewable energy into the population centers.

Open in new windowI fear that the Texas Railroad Commission, which is already a rubber-stamping wholly owned subsidiary of the oil and gas industry in Texas will continue to place the temporary profit motives of the industry above the greater good for the people of Texas.

Williams, I call bullshit on you.

We thank Citizen Sarah for bringing this to our attention.

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Thoughts on Friday Night

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/12/5 1:23:53 (1031 reads)

Alrighty then - well, it's Friday night, and I am so glad to have this week behind me. It's time for a download:

Governor's Race - 2010
Today saw Houston Mayor Bill White throw his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination for Texas Governor. White had been in the race for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat, but she can't decide at the moment whether to shit or get off the pot.

The previous Democratic front-runner for the nomination was Hank Gilbert, who had previously run for Agriculture Commissioner and was unsuccessful, but had received the highest percentage of votes of any statewide Dem. Gilbert stepped aside today and instead announced his intention to run again for Agriculture Commissioner, challenging Republican Todd Staples.

Puzzling to some was Gilbert's decision to endorse Democrat Farouk Shami for Governor. Shami is the Founder and Chairman of Farouk Systems, Inc. and the inventor of the world renowned brands BioSilk and CHI currently sold in 106 countries. He describes himself as an entrepreneur, educator, employer, manufacturer, and problem solver who employs more than 2,500 people worldwide.

(Hey, if Shami wins and faces Perry, it will be Gov. Goodhair against the guy who can give you good hair!)

KT over at Burnt Orange Report has more scoop on Bill White's announcement and Gilbert's Announcement.

Meanwhile, we hear that Kinky Friedman, who had previously stated an intention to run as a Democrat in the gubernatorial race may also be making a switch to run for Land Commissioner or Agriculture Commissioner.

I'm also hearing that Carole ... Strayhorn may be considering running for something. Oh, this makes me tired.

Filing for slots in the party primaries ends on January 4th.

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Local Happenings and Announcements - Lewisville Area

Local News, Notes and Events
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/12/4 17:18:55 (1377 reads)

From submitted reports - email with your items

Open in new windowH1N1 Influenza Vaccinations Available
The Denton County Health Department is now reporting it has sufficient doses on hand to begin offering the H1N1 vaccine to members of the following groups:

- Pregnant Women
- People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
- Healthcare and emergency medical service personnel
- Anyone 6 months to 24 years of age
- People ages 25 to 64 years who are at high risk because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune system

Upcoming clinics are:
- Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the University of North Texas Discovery Park. UNT Discovery Park is located at 3940 N. Elm St. in Denton.

For more information, visit or call the Flu Hotline at 940-349-4358

Holiday Yard of the Month nominations sought

Keep Lewisville Beautiful is looking for Holiday Yard of the Month nominations. Nominees should be identified by address only. The person’s name and phone number making the nomination is optional. All nominations must be in by Dec. 15.

For nominations or to view photos of each property visit by Dec. 23.

December 5th - Holiday at the Hall Festival
The seventh annual Holiday at the Hall festival will be held Saturday, Dec. 5, in Old Town Lewisville, featuring a wide range of free family events from 7 a.m. through 6 p.m.

Since its inception, this award-winning festival has grown into a fascinating winter wonderland of holiday ambiance and spirit of the season. More than 15,000 people are expected to attend the celebration, which was named best special event in the country by the City-County Communications
and Marketing Association.

This year’s festival schedule of events will include Breakfast with Santa, Motorcycle Toy Run, Sam Pack’s Ford Country of Lewisville Christmas Parade and the Polar Ice Village.

Festival activities will include two festival stages of live entertainment, strolling artists, visits with Santa Claus, and shopping in the Artists Alcove Holiday Market for hand-crafted items and specialized gifts.

“I hope everyone is able to join us in Old Town Lewisville for this year’s festival and kick off the holiday season with a great family event,” said Mayor Dean Ueckert.

Saturday’s slate of events and activities will begin with the popular Breakfast with Santa from 7 to 11 a.m., as the Kiwanis Club will prepare a holiday feast of pancakes and sausage. Breakfast with Santa activities will engage children in caroling and holiday art projects.

The 11th annual Motorcycle Toy Run will bring hundreds of bikers downtown to spread the holiday spirit by collecting toys for local charities. Riders will depart from Old Town at noon. For information, please call 972.219.3560. Participants are asked to donate a new unwrapped toy as their entry fee. The toys will be collected and distributed to Child Protective Services of Denton County, Christian Community Action and Friends of the Family.

Music, Food, Displays
Live entertainment will begin at 10 a.m., with two stages presenting local and regional acts while strolling performers add to the festive scene with an abundance of festival food, arts and crafts and specialty booths on display. Free carriage rides also will be available.

Ice, Ice, BABY! - Polar Ice Carving Village
At 10:30 a.m., the Polar Ice Carving Village opens to the public. Visitors will be able to vote for their favorite ice artist in the collection of ice-sculpting displays while enjoying a sight rarely found in the Sun Belt – towering works of carved ice lining the street.

The Polar Ice Village features some of the nation's top ice sculpture artists competing in a live competition to transform towers of ice blocks
into amazing 12-foot-tall art sculptures made of solid ice. The competition, sanctioned by the National Ice Carving Association, is the only one of its kind in the southwest.

Events for Pets
The popular Tailwaggers Ranch will make its return to the event. Pet contests, agility rally, cake walk and other activities are slated for 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Nearly 20 animal rescue groups will be at the event.

A pet parade will start at 1:30 p.m., which includes a pet costume contest. The first 100 people registering for the event will receive a free t-shirt.

The 2009 Sam Pack’s Ford Country Christmas Parade will go through the heart of Old Town Lewisville, beginning at the intersection of Cowan and Main streets at 3 p.m. and heading east on Main and then south on Mill before ending at Delay Middle School. Participants will assemble that morning on Cowan Street between Main and Purnell, with a festive atmosphere of music and fun. Past parade entries have included local favorites such as
Lewisville High School band and drill team, local dance and martial arts academies, businesses, civic organizations, school groups, Scouts, equestrians, decorated vehicles, parade floats and more.

Trophies will be awarded during the Old Town Lights event later that day in three categories: Babes in Toyland, Santa’s Sleigh, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Elves Workshop.

Visit from Santa Claus
After the parade, Santa Claus will meet with children in the Wayne Ferguson Plaza at Poydras and Main. Photo buttons will be available for children to commemorate their visit.

Holiday Lights
At 5:45 p.m., Mayor Dean Ueckert and Santa Claus will join forces for Holiday Lights! Old Town Lighting ceremony, flipping the switch to turn on the city’s Christmas tree and thousands of lights in Old Town Lewisville.

Holiday at the Hall is being sponsored by the City of Lewisville and the Lewisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sam Pack’s Ford Country of Lewisville, Vista Ridge Village Shopping Center and Waste Management.

Park and Ride
Free park and ride shuttles, including a shuttle for those with pets, will be running from Vista Ridge Village Shopping Center, FM 3040 and MacArthur, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For event information, call 972.219.3401 or visit or

December 5th - Volunteers needed for “Holiday at the Hall” festival
Volunteers are needed in a variety of roles assisting with the annual “Holiday at the Hall” festival, scheduled for Saturday, Dec.5, in Old Town Lewisville. Helps is needed in such areas as parade monitors, parking attendants, Vendor relations, general setup, stage management and more. For information, please visit the city’s Web site,, or call 972.219.3401.

Local groups interested in performing on the Community Stage during the festival are encouraged to call 972.219.3712 to ask about opportunities. Preference is given to student groups representing area schools and studios. Sound equipment is provided.

Applications for the 2009 Christmas Parade also are being accepted. Forms can be downloaded from the city’s Web site,

December 5th - A Tuna Christmas
December At 8 p.m., the Greater Lewisville Community Theatre, located on the south side of Main Street, will present “A Tuna Christmas.”

Come spend the holidays with your favorite citizens of Tuna, Texas, and make some new friends while you’re there! Two actors, along with some split-second costume changes, portray all 24 citizens of Texas’ third smallest town, where the Lion’s Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies. This time, it’s right before Christmas and all comic hell is about to break loose as the delightfully eccentric characters attempt to cope with seasonal traumas from a disaster-prone holiday theatrical production to a yard decorating contest being sabotaged by a Christmas phantom!

Tickets are available by calling the Greater Lewisville Community Theater, 972.221.7469.

December 7th - Senior Center to Recognize Pearl Harbor with Event

Pearl Harbor will be remembered Monday, Dec. 7, at the Lewisville Senior Center. The center will host a breakfast at 9 a.m. that day, which is the last day to view the Wall of Veterans display. The wall shows photos of veterans, family members, friends and others who have served or are serving in the military.

The cost of the breakfast is $2. The center is at 1950 S. Valley Parkway, near Memorial Park. Call 972.219.5050.

Open in new windowDecember 7th - 12th - DCTA “Ride for a Can”

The Denton County Transportation Authority is conducting its annual “Ride for a Can” drive on Commuter Express, Connect routes in Lewisville and Denton and Connect RSVP in Highland Village/North Lewisville. DCTA will be collecting canned goods in lieu of a fare Dec. 7-12.

Passengers can ride free by donating a non-perishable food item to benefit Christian Community Action in Lewisville and Friends of the Family in Denton. Holiday-wrapped boxes will be on every DCTA Connect bus to collect donations.

Open in new windowDecember 7th - Lewisville City Council Meeting
The Lewisville City Council meets at 7:00 PM on the first and third Mondays of each month at City Hall, 151 West Church Street, Lewisville, TX [Map]. The public is invited to attend. Citizens may address the Mayor and Council during the Visitor's Forum, although no action can be taken on any item not on the agenda. Agendas are posted here no later than 72 hours in advance of a meeting.

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Seismic Survey Planned for Southern Lewisville Area

Oil and Gas
 Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/12/4 16:20:00 (2738 reads)

Open in new windowResidents of Southern Lewisville have begun to receive letters from Titan Operating, LLC. requesting permission to access property for a geophysical survey. Titan Operating is the Fort Worth based oil ang gas operator working with Cherokee Horn to develop gas wells in the neighborhoods of Lewisville represented by CPANA (Central Park Area Neighbors Association). The letters also say "Titan Operating, L.L.C. is the current owner of the Oil and Gas Lease that you signed with Cherokee Horn Production, L.P." (emphasis theirs). The seismic survey will help Titan to "see" the location of the natural gas bearing Barnett Shale layers some 8,000 feet below the surface.

Permit Agent Colby Hilburn, with Norwood Land Services, LLC said that Titan is anxious to get the seismic survey done quickly so that they can begin drilling soon. As of yesterday, no additional drilling permits had been issued for Lewisville by the Texas Railroad Commission since Titan was issued its permit for the "Prologis" well on the Northern side of Lewisville.

The letters being sent out to residents ask them to grant permission to conduct the survey on their property, promising compensation for any damage caused. Hilburn stated that due to city regulations about the distances from houses, it would be very unlikely for any of the vibroseis trucks (see picture above) to enter onto the property of most residents of subdivisions.

Hilburn said that geophones (the receiver equipment for the survey) look like "a tent stake with a hockey puck on top", and that they would be pushed into the soil, probably near the public easement, but that not every property would have one. He said the devices would probably stay in place for about 3 days during the survey, and that survey personnel might be seen in box trucks tending to the equipment during that time. Photos and frequently asked questions about the Geophysical survey are here.

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Texas Blog Roundup - Week ending 11/29/09

Texas Progressive Alliance - Blog Roundups
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/12/2 11:12:05 (889 reads)
Texas Progressive Alliance - Blog Roundups

The Texas Progressive Alliance welcomes everyone back from the Thanksgiving Holiday with these highlights from the blogs.

TXsharon has arranged by area 60 TCEQ fugitive emission videos obtained via the Texas Public Information Act. The videos were taken throughout the Barnett Shale area using a GasFindIR (Infrared) camera. Find the videos for your area at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS to see what you're breathing.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why some destroyed Galveston beach houses were paid out at prices nearly double their county appraised value.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is fed up with Road Rage and wants it taken a more seriously by the authorities. Road Rage is indeed vehicular terrorism! Vehicular terrorism is dismissed by the court system as misdemeanors with token consequences ... unless of course someone gets killed. Even then is not identified for what it really is. Vehicular Terrorism! Is Road Rage is a way of life for Texans?.

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Thoughts on Tuesday Night

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/12/2 0:10:36 (935 reads)

Ah, here I sit on a Tuesday night, sipping from a tall glass of club soda with a splash of Lewisville's locally distilled DeLos Vodka and a twist of lime. I just got out of a nice hot bath to take the chill off. Mamask8z is sitting at her computer laughing her head off at the photos.

Earlier tonight we tried to light a fire in the fireplace, but I couldn't get a good draft up the chimney, and the smoke kept blowing back in, so I gave up and quenched it. I cooked spaghetti tonight and we sat and ate while President Obama began to deliver his speech about Afghanistan.

I thought the President's rationale for his decision to send an additional 30,000 troops, followed by a drawdown in July of 2011 was sound. My oldest son Seth decided to write a letter to President Obama during the speech, while his younger brother was trying unsuccessfully to stoke the fireplace. He brought me his word-processed letter to proof-read for him and tell him how to address it. After a few spelling fixes, he was ready to print, sign, address and seal. I didn't ask him whether he minded if I published it or not, so I won't quote it here, but I'll tell you that the jist of it was "please stop the war".

Snow and sleet this week?
I heard earlier on the weather station that we may have some frozen precipitation this week. Good Lord, I hope we can all remember to drive safely if that happens.

It has been so cold this week already though. My office is apparently not well insulated, the ceiling above me basically being open to the building's garage area. Luckily though, instead of a space heater - which I think are fairly dangerous, I have an electric blanket which is draped over my chair, and which I sit on. Oh, it feels heavenly on a cold day to have toasty buns in the morning.

Quicken Online
OK, so I have a confession to make. For YEARS, I used Microsoft Money to manage my personal finances. In years past, I accounted for every single penny I spent, and saved every receipt. Some time in the past couple of years, my give-a-damn got busted and then a hard drive failed in my laptop, and the next thing you know, I'm just "winging it". I mean, literally not balancing my checkbook at all - just relying on memory to know how much was available to spend or pay bills. Totally crazy, and I've got the overdraft fees to prove it.

Anyhow, I finally broke down and went hunting for a fresh copy of Microsoft Money, only to discover that it had been basically discontinued by Microsoft. What I did find was a FREE - yes FREE service called Quicken Online. (Now they're calling it - apparently I got in before it switched.)

Basically the service logs in to your bank accounts using information that you provide, and it figures up what bills you have that are recurring, and very quickly starts giving accurate projections about how much money you'll have on a given day. It also has reports to tell you where your money is going, and whether you're living within your means. As you classify and correct each expense, it learns from you, and will automatically fix them as it imports them from your bank in the future.

If you're not using any money management software, give it a try. I'll be interested to hear how might differ from the Quicken Online version.

New Masthead Logo
After our special Thanksgiving logo expired, I updated it with this:

It's stock art that I purchased and modified, so don't be too impressed, but I think it's our best one to date, if I do say so myself.

Oh crap, I just remembered that I forgot to post the weekly blog roundup. I'll do that soon.

Quality Assurance Time
So, I may have mentioned that we're just about to release a major set of improvements to our software at work. Normally I'm a programmer, but this week I'm doing double-duty as a QA person. It's a thankless job, but it has to be done. As I was entering my 27th bug today, I got to thinking:
1) I feel like a real a-hole, sitting here poking holes in my coworkers work product, but
2) This is kinda fun.

Sick, right?

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Caller Reports DWI, Police End Up Preventing a Murder

Local News, Notes and Events
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/12/1 22:00:00 (1052 reads)

Thursday before last, during the evening rush hour, Lewisville Police dispatcher Jose Ronquillo took a call from a driver following a suspected DWI vehicle. Ronquillo kept the caller on the phone for more than 10 minutes as he tried to locate an officer who could intercept. Eventually the call was transferred to the Flower Mound Dispatch Center. When Flower Mound Police stopped the vehicle, the driver had a 9mm handgun and told the arresting officers he was on his way to kill his girlfriend's ex-husband.

As someone who has called in and followed several suspected drunk drivers over the years, I always hate to think that maybe I'm causing someone some grief if I've guessed it wrong. But I'm glad to hear that this call turned out well, and a terrible crime was prevented. Great job, LPD, FMPD, and the caller!

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Send Citizen Sarah to Copenhagen!

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/12/1 21:00:00 (1150 reads)

This December, the UN is holding a Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark where the world's leaders will decide whether there will be any framework at all on limiting carbon emissions.

The Huffington Post is sending one lucky citizen journalist to Copenhagen in what they are calling the Hopenhagen contest.

Texas' own "Citizen Sarah", a fellow blogger in the Texas Progressive Allance, who normally writes for Texas VOX, the Texas voice of Public Citizen has been nominated, and has submitted her pitch on video here:

We Endorse Citizen Sarah
WhosPlayin thinks it would be FANTASTIC to have a fellow Texas blogger, who is down here fighting the battle on a daily basis here in Texas where we are not only the largest polluting state, but also have the most to gain from switching to renewable energy sources. WE WHOLEHEARTEDLY ENDORSE CITIZEN SARAH.

How You Can Help
All you have to do is go to THIS LINK, and rate her video as a 10. While you are there, read a bit about the Hopenhagen project.

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Thoughts on Sunday Night

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/11/29 20:30:00 (1012 reads)

I'm sitting here on a chilly Sunday night in November in my darkened living room with a roaring fire in our fireplace. I know it's probably not really cold enough yet, but I knew it would cheer up my oldest son, who is really, really bored.

Ron, the Bearded Dragon is sitting on the arm of my chair watching the fire.. nope, wait, he changed his mind. Just scampered off across my keyboard to go sit with my youngest son. Hank, the gay cowdog has just come in and is looking for a place to lie.

The Nutcracker
Mamask8z and the kids and I just got back from an outing to go see the Lake Cities Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker". The performance of the holiday classic was held at Lewisville High School's auditorium, which is actually a very nice modern facility with great acoustics.

Let me be clear that I am no connoisseur of ballet, so take what I'm about to tell you for what it's worth. The dancers were so beautiful and graceful. The costumes were gorgeous. The music, played live by the Lewisville Lake Symphony Orchestra sounded awesome. The sets were very visually appealing. There were so many amazing performances within the two acts of the piece. There were even some comedic parts that had the audience laughing out loud. The mice were hilarious.

I don't know how many seats there are in the auditorium there, but I'd guess that it was about 98% full.

Weird sleep
My sleep schedule's gotten way out of whack over the holiday. Too many late nights reading. I got up at the crack of noon today. I had an awful night mare last night which I sincerely hope was not a premonition of any sort.

I'm going to have to take some Valerian root and melatonin tonight and try to get to bed at a decent hour.

Discussions on Global Warming
Earlier in the week, I posted an appeal to our readers to help Citizen Sarah of TexasVox get to Copenhagen for the climate change summit. Unfortunately she had to withdraw from the event due to some sort of company rule of her employer.

Anyhow, it has led to some interesting discussion over on my Facebook account about whether what most of us accept to be fact about global climate change has met an acceptable standard of proof.

I have to be totally honest here: I've let some of my subscriptions to some of the scientific publications expire, and I've really not re-examined the current state of the debate for a couple of years.

I really see the issue as two almost distinct debates: One is entirely political, and the other is scientific. The political side of the debate just plain pisses me off, because it's counter-productive. You have people taking sides in it based on only a rudimentary understanding of science, and the opinions of those they trust on issues of political philosophy.

Accusations fly as one side accuses the other of using the issue as a way to "control" people, or to purposely ruin the economy. (As if that would be anyone's goal) The other side will say the opponents are bought off or gullible, believing the arguments of those who benefit from doing nothing. In the mix, you have all sorts of people setting bad examples, putting politics ahead of science, sometimes manipulating data or making up outright lies.

What I keep coming back to in this is that we (as laypeople) need to be able to trust science to do its job and provide us with answers on this. We need them to find consensus, but we need that consensus to be based on the scientific method, without politics involved.

For our part, when science delivers, we need to listen, and set aside our preconceived notions as well as what we feel like we want to believe. We need to be able to divorce ego from the equation and take the appropriate action.

Looking at the issue, there is a lot to absorb, and a lot to have to rely on science to tell us:
- Average global temperatures are increasing by a small amount.
- This average temperature increase can cause much larger and more noticeable localized climate changes
- These changes are bad for humanity because they interrupt biological processes that we rely on for survival
- The warming is anthropogenic, meaning that it's caused by the activities of mankind, though our release of "greenhouse" gases like CO2.

And, if you find the above to be true, the next logical question is whether mankind can slow or reverse the process, and at what cost.

I've heard a lot of simplistic claims that I tend to think are just asinine. Here's one: "The Sun is responsible for heating our planet". Oh, well, isn't that simple - why didn't we just realize that? Sun hot! Case closed. Oh wait, that wasn't really the question now, was it? No, we're looking at a long term tendency to retain the heat that we all know the sun provides. We're not talking about seasonal changes or even sunspot cycles.

But there are many other aspects of it where multiple arguments are feasible, and in the end, it all depends on quantification, which is extremely difficult to do with something so extremely complex as the global climate patterns. The easiest things to quantify are the CO2 levels in the atmosphere (rising) and the change in sea level. (indicating ice melt at the poles). But even with these two measurements in hand, all we have is a correlation. Causation is much more difficult to determine.

To add even more confusion to the matter is that some scientists at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England recently had some of their emails leaked to the public, some of which seemed to indicate lack of scientific integrity, to say the least. A defense of the emails is here...

At any rate, I guess my point is that it's extremely difficult for any lay-person to know what arguments are good, what the value of consensus is, and so forth. But given the choice between listening to what the scientists are saying, or listening to a bunch of pork-fed politicians, I'll take the scientists any day. I want to hear the arguments and try to understand them. I want to be able to trust the peer review process. And yet, as my friend Jeff pointed out, even science is sometimes wrong:

The value of consensus: eat crap - 80 trillion flies cannot be wrong! On a more serious note, the following were the consensus of the scientific community:
*DDT is safe
*refusal to accept plate tectonics for 40 years
*refusal to accept quantum mechanics for 30 years
*refusal to accept hypnosis for 200 years

Again, I reiterate that I trust science WAAAAY more than I trust politicians. If you think the above list is bad, you don't even want to see a list of dumbass things that politicians have believed.

So, what I'm going to do sometime soon is force myself to study this anew, and with an open mind. The issue is much too important for us to dig in our heels and ignorantly stand our ground.

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