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2014/10/29 - Lewisville Police Shooting Team Takes Top Honors at Tactical Compe...
2014/10/28 - DCTA, NCTCOG Funding Lewisville Hike-Bike Trails
2014/10/28 - Lewisville Police Offer Free Medication Disposal Year-Round
2014/10/26 - Upcoming Events Around Lewisville and the Surrounding Area
2014/10/26 - Bogard Lane Closed at I-35 For the Rest of the Year
2014/10/26 - Community Meeting Scheduled for I-35 Project Status Update
2014/10/26 - A Story About Molly
2014/10/26 - Teen Driver Accidentally Kills 12 Year Old
2014/10/25 - Denton County Celebrates Groundbreaking of Government Center
2014/10/24 - Affidavit Sheds Light on Shooting Details, Shooter's Gang Aff...
2014/10/23 - Lewisville Police Arrest Gang Member in Wednesday's Shooting
2014/10/22 - Updated: Lewisville Police Respond to Shooting at Round Grove and ...
2014/10/21 - KLB to Host Trinity Trash Bash Waterway Cleanup and Recycling Even...
2014/10/20 - Texas DSHS reports Texans Cleared from Ebola Monitoring
2014/10/19 - Sunday Night Update
2014/10/18 - Updated: Lewisville Loses Appeal on Sex Offender Ordinance
2014/10/18 - Early Voting Starts Monday for November 4th, 2014 Election
2014/10/17 - Updated: Lewisville Police Seek Help Finding Serial Attacker
2014/10/17 - Parents on Edge After Newspaper Misreports LISD Ebola Letter
2014/10/16 - So much news, so little time...
2014/10/15 - Crime Updates from Lewisville Police Department
2014/10/4 - Saturday Morning Update - Yom Kippur Edition
2014/9/30 - Ebola Case Confirmed in Texas Patient
2014/9/29 - Crime and Accident Updates from Lewisville and Flower Mound
2014/9/27 - Shooting Victim Dies from Injury
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Progressive Blog Roundup

Miscellaneous
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/9/23 19:51:25 (838 reads)

It's Tuesday night, already and that means it is time for another belated edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly roundup. This week's roundup was compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex. I swear one of these days I'll get better about posting these on time.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notices cronies are number #1 in Texas from insurance companies to power companies

jobsanger points out the blatant racism at the "Values Voters Summit" sponsored by the Family Research Council, and wonders if John McCain's "senior moments" are indicative of a more serious psychological problem.

The Texas Cloverleaf spots State Senator Kim Brimer at a union hall. Unfortunately as they say, you can't put lipstick on a pig.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the lawsuit filed by Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr to force John McCain and Barack Obama off the ballot in Texas.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the real world effects of the TRCC in Williamson County, Builder protection agency "hits home" in Williamson County

Neither the authorities nor the media have found any bodies hanging from the trees in Galveston or on Bolivar Peninsula -- mostly because there aren't any trees high enough to catch one -- but that didn't
stop PDiddie from posting the rumors at Brains and Eggs.

Mike Thomas at would fight for San Antonio's share of federal funding based on his latest ad blasting all Congressional earmarks as wasteful "pork".

McBlogger takes a moment to demystify what's going on in financial markets. And call some people really bad names.

North Texas Liberal unveils the second installment of their Sarah Palin series.

nytexan at BlueBloggin wonders how John McCain cleans up Washington and Wall Street of the lobbyist when 177 Lobbyists Work For John McCain “The Reformer”

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News urges all to contact your Congress people now about this bad, very bad $700 billion taxpayer funded bailout of the financial industry. Otherwise, for the next three months, and then an additional six months after that, the Treasury Secretary can do anything "appropriate" with your money without anybody anywhere looking it over.

WhosPlayin took a moment to pin that pesky "redistribution of wealth" meme back on the Republicans, where it originated and operates today.

BossKitty at TruthHugger still expects the Bush Administration to pull a fast one, because the Pakistan Meltdown Offers Bush More Opportunities To Create Crisis, the dogs of war are still salivating ...

Vince at Capitol Annex tells us that State Rep. John Davis is up to his same old tricks down in HD 129. This time, he's holding a fundraiser in Austin while his district is without power, and his constituents are without water. He's clearly addicted to campaign cash. Someone throw this guy a roll of quarters before he has a stroke.

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The Parable of the Shitty House

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/9/23 14:25:52 (1048 reads)

When I was in college, I worked for about 2 years as a "facilities manager" for a non-profit agency. That's basically a glorified title for the guy who carries a 5 pound keyring, a hammer, and a plunger. I cleaned toilets and fixed quite a few of them. I built things, fixed things, installed things, changed locks, delivered fixtures, and so forth.

This agency owned a group residential facility that was built as a private residence in the 1920's. Like any old house, it was in desperate need of repairs, and having multiple families with kids running around made it much the worse.

When I started working there, I noticed that the place smelled faintly of sewage. I was told by the "old timers" that it was just an old-house smell, and that plumbers had given it the clean bill of health multiple times. They told me that occasionally, heavy rains would cause water to pool under the house and cause problems.

Still, I smelled sewage, and couldn't take their word that it was just "old house". I'd certainly never been in an old house that smelled that way. So, I was always on the lookout for for a cause.

Despite working on higher-priority issues most of the time, I would always come back to that damned smell, racking my brain to come up with a cause and fix it.

I crawled under the house in a tiny crawl space, setting aside my fear of the creepy crawlies that might be down there, and tried to resculpt the old ground so that water would drain out into a pool where I installed a sump pump. Batch by batch, I mixed concrete and crawled under there, trowling the slope of my new drain. But that did not fix the problem.

Thinking it was maybe old germs, I bought bags and bags of lime, and spread it on the remaining dirt under the house. When that didn't kill the smell, I found out what kinds of chemicals are used to clean up after decaying bodies, and I went back down with my gas mask on and sprayed the heck out of it.

Still, it smelled like shit in there. And against the urging of the house manager, I continued my quest to find the problem. I began digging next to the side of the house where the toilets are, and noticed moisture on a dry day.

I followed it up the brick foundation to the sill and behind the vinyl siding. Piece by piece, that afternoon, I plucked out pieces of siding, not knowing how I would get them put back on. The old wood siding behind the vinyl and insulation, I pulled out the circular saw and cut a hole. Inside the hole in the wall was black and moist. Above, on the second floor, the toilet. I cut and pulled more until I could reveal the entire insides between these two studs. There was a soil stack from the upstairs toilet that came out and into the wall, then went back in and under the house. A closer inspection revealed a 5 foot long open crack on the back of the pipe, covered with you-know-what.

Not being a plumber, that's where I stopped and called for help. Best we could tell, something clogged it at some point, then it froze in cold weather and cracked the metal pipe. It had been this way for years. As I recall, there was difficulty in figuring out which insurer was to pay for it.

So when that was all put back together, I felt pretty good about myself for trusting my nose in spite of what the more "experienced" folks in the house "knew" about the situation. But it didn't end there. When after several weeks the smell didn't dissipate, I knew I needed to get into the section beneath the house where the pipe went in, and get that disinfected. Since this part of the beneath was inaccessible, I had to bust a new scuttle hole out of the brick.

Want to make a homeowner nervous? Just start hammering away on brick. When it was big enough to look through, I shined a flashlight down and saw the reflection of water. Yuck. The air was also nasty.

I crawled down and took a look around, not seeing much, but suspecting that maybe the downstairs toilet had a leaky ring. I went ahead and sprayed down in the hole, but went inside and took the downstairs toilet off. The floor was totally rotted and ruined there, so again with the circular saw and cutting. I removed the subfloor and was measuring for a new piece of plywood when I heard the upstairs toilet flush, and saw a gush of water and toilet paper spew out from down in the hole.

Seeing it from a different angle, there was about a 2 inch open hole in the bend of a different section of pipe than the one that was previously busted. Every good flush was dumping more water below the house. Again, I called a real plumber, who quickly found a way to fix it.

All this time, there had been plumbers at the house before, but they had not had the approval or guts to tear up the house looking for the leak they must have known existed.

Bottom line: It doesn't matter how much experience you don't have, or how much expertise you don't have. If you smell shit, there's a damned good chance there is shit. Don't ever let anyone convince you differently.

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You know you're having a bad day at work when...

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/9/23 13:47:56 (634 reads)

... when conversations with your bosses include phrases like:

"Why did you hire me?"
"I'm sorry if I put you on the defensive, but you still didn't answer my questions..."
"Am I fired yet?"

Anyone up for a beer tonight?

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This Sh** is Bananas

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/9/23 7:37:09 (684 reads)


At a recent Flower Mound football game, this banana chased a gorilla across the field. The school district had the kids thrown in jail. Because, you know - the most important thing for a school district to do is to make sure that kids go forward through life with a criminal record for silly stuff.

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A Short Term Solution

The Nimrods Never Cease to Amaze Me
Posted by Kit on 2008/9/22 14:36:23 (790 reads)

A Short Term Solution

Almost all TV news outlets are showing snippets from the campaign trail. There fore I doubt if anyone has missed the slogan that has moved from the halls of the RNC to the McCain/Palin rallies. “Drill - Baby - Drill” goes the cry for cheaper gas prices sooner rather than later, open it up - drill more drill faster.

Could this be another election ploy? What did McCain learn about drilling from May till September that changed his mind? McCain was set against drilling only a few months ago, but now encourages the chant, if he knows something will he share that? To date all information would send a contravening message. Not that there is no oil but rather that by the time the exploration and studies are complete, sites are chosen, rigs are built, platforms set up and drilling begins, will be at least three to four years down the road. We can only hope that during that time the oil companies will buy some land and begin to build new modern refineries. It has been a quarter of a century since one was built on American soil.

What of the years that go by till the oil is moved to a refinery and then hopefully to the local gas station? Do we stand still waiting for that to happen? We are Americans we wait patiently for very little, so new things will happen new ideas will come to market. The question is how soon, if we invested some of the money being allowed for gas drilling and we do indeed underwrite that, could we not invest in technology for tomorrow?

We say we believe that best of all situations is a free-market economy. Yet, we underwrite almost all corporations with special tax incentives, and even government money. Where is the individual capitalist market in that scenario? We are looking for the drilling to bring us cheaper prices at the pump. The end justifies the means - what will be at the end? Oil prices as of today are at $100 a barrel, are they lower at the pump? In fact they have never been higher. Some justification comes from the fact that the Texas coast just experienced a huge hurricane, yet the prices increased nearly a week before and then again during and after the hurricane. Most of the damage from the hurricane was on land, the rigs, storage facilities, and refineries can be online in less than a week.

Do we have a solid guarantee that any products of drilling will be sold to Americans? If the oil companies are to expend this large amount capital, will they not expect to make it up and price competitively? The idea of cheaper gas prices from oil drilled off-shore seems very far-fetched. It simply does not consider the real facts before us. We will pay for this drilling, through our tax dollars and most certainly at the pump.
If instead of simply waiting for off-shore drilling to divine us a miracle, we might look to areas that are currently being drilled but not nearly as they could.

A Vast and mostly unused oil asset known as the Bakken Field encompasses much of the central United States. This area has been drilled for nearly fifty years, and yet modern drilling technology will allow for this very rich oil resource to give up even more. The cost in the drilling, are the expected costs. The new refineries could be quickly built to accommodate the need. The oil coming from this area would indeed be less expensive and more readily obtained.
But what of the impending needs to rid us of the evil foreign oil, the majority of oil we use comes from Mexico and Canada. Could this be just another election devise? Keep us looking for an enemy where none exists? There are answers, out there and easily obtained. One comes from T.Boone Pickens, let us all convert our cars to natural gas.

The problems with this are numerous, but let just look at one. Can you take your car to the dealership and have it converted? No you cannot. Some individuals will have the ability to do this for themselves. Others will have to pay up wards of 10,000 dollars for this privilege. I doubt with the economy in such catastrophic disrepair that many can afford this investment. Mr. Pickens and his investors will do every well. Why not invest in America’s future and maximize the wind and solar potential? We then can use clean electricity for new cars, and gasoline as needed till we are able to stand without. There are many alternatives, one being that of the green revolution, new ideas are coming to market each day, most will affect our lives in the most positive of ways with-out breaking the bank. They offer us clean alternatives and bring jobs to a permanent work force. With that careful planning we save money, re-build our work force, and have some solutions to our need for independence. This would of course require leadership in the Congress, Senate and the Presidency, should we ever be that lucky.

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Michael Burgess has NOTHING, ZIP, SQUAT. Bailouts? What Bailouts?

Miscellaneous
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/9/22 12:55:39 (1535 reads)

I suppose if I had just discovered that everything I had ever believed in with regard to the "free market" had collapsed and proven itself wrong over the last week, I might want to be a little quiet too.

As of today, right now, a week after massive bailouts of private financial institutions, our Congressman, Michael Burgess (R-TX 26) has said JACK SQUAT about any of it. What $700 Billion bailout? What largest deficit in history? What largest privatization ever? Michael? Is anyone home?

Nope, instead, the last thing he posted is some bullshit that attempts to make light of the tragic shortages of fuel in the gulf coast regions hard hit by Ike, as some sort of a confused point to prove that unfettered and government-subsidized drilling would help those people:

"Right now in places like Galveston and Houston, gas lines and shortages are leaving Texans high and dry. While people there are hurting, here in Washington the Democrat-controlled Congress is doing nothing about it. Instead, they’re playing partisan games with our energy supply and policy."


Nice of you to make these folks into political pawns, Mike. I'm sure if you had only gotten the corporate welfare that your big-oil sponsors told you to ask for, there would be no gas shortages down there? Putz.

Michael Burgess is just chronically out of touch with the economy. Will he show some fiscal conservatism with regard to this $700 billion bailout, or will he put the Republican Party before the interests of the American taxpayer, and insist on a blank check?

P.S.: Michael, I know you right-wing nimrods think it's cool to pervert grammar in order to emulate your semi-literate hero, George Bush, but it really makes you look stupid when you use "Democrat" as an adjective. The correct usage is "Democratic Majority"

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An Even Playing Field

Get Involved! - Rise to Your Higher Self
Posted by TimBarnwell on 2008/9/21 20:38:13 (1243 reads)

When I ran for US Congress during the 2006 mid-term election our campaign received contributions totaling $5,246. My opponent Michael Burgess received individual contributions during the same election cycle totaling $259,742.

He won

Here is the point; our candidates need our money to win!

If every person who voted for me had contributed just $5 to my campaign we would have had over $291,000 to spend.

Folks, that buys a good amount of radio ads and signs.

Give our candidates an even financial playing field and they will deliver victory!

Thanks for your time,


Tim Barnwell

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Thoughts on Sunday Night

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/9/21 19:31:38 (1053 reads)

Ah... 'tis Sunday night and I am just "wore out". Seems like there has just been too much to process in the past week, right?

I mean, our nation's banking system on the verge of a collapse based on irrational fear after years of irrational exuberance. Of course, just because it's irrational doesn't mean it's not serious. And given the amount of dire predictions from the media and everyone else, we now have the Republican "free market" ideologues, making one last attempt at redistributing your wealth before they leave office. I hope everyone will be mindful that the largest part of this mess is brought on by people like John McCain who naively trust the markets to regulate themselves as if they were guided by the invisible hand of God himself. McCain trusted these Wall Street titans so much that he wanted to invest your Social Security dollars with them. Can we finally now admit that sometimes government is the answer?

Jennifer and I and many of our neighbors spent some time block-walking this past week. Of course, it wasn't for political candidates this time, and I sort of feel like a slacker for that. I know there are candidates I need to be helping. But this oil and gas drilling situation here in the neighborhood is more immediately important. This past week, I threw together the CPANA website for the neighborhood, and spent more time organizing, researching, and so forth.

Donkeyfest 2008 was last night in Denton, and I missed it, unfortunately. Our neighborhood had a meeting about the drilling, and I needed to present. My portion of the talk deals with the consequences of drilling, and makes the point to our neighbors that the signing bonus and royalties we might receive are anything but free money. Mamask8z has just about made up her mind to oppose drilling in the neighborhood. I'm still trying to figure out whether it's more useful for me to work at the economic issues and contractual environmental concessions. The pragmatic side of me says that most of my neighbors will probably prefer the money to the principled stand of protecting our local trees, streams, soil, and air. This side of me says the only hope is to work at education, and try to be involved in the team that works out the contract.

What surprises me a bit is just how many folks I'm meeting either in my blockwalking or in these meetings that pretty much line up with what Mamask8z thinks about simply opposing the drilling. I know it's far from scientific, but check out the poll: Poll Results At the moment, the "hell no" option has the most votes. Even my fellow blogger from Lewisville who covers things from a right-wing perspective, John Gorena, is leaning against allowing it at all.

Whether we end up doing some sort of huge compromise at safe drilling, or we completely put the brakes on it, I know one thing at this point: We have to stay in a coalition to stop Cherokee Horn from getting the signatures they need. One thing I'll say right now, is that if they want to try to make an end-run around the citizens of the neighborhood and do this thing without our input, I will fight to stop them by any means necessary.

The Job
There were a couple of times last week when I really felt like walking off the job. I spent a good amount of time struggling against some of the most ingrained institutional fear and "we've always done it that way" mentality. Change is a tough thing for many people, even though they may be suffering mightily from the consequences of inertia in the path they've chosen.

One of the things that aggravates me is that I was told this past week that I'm just frustrated that they do things differently than I'm used to. But you know, I'm used to being a consultant. I'm used to all sorts of different styles of management, technical architecture, and workflow. I'm usually pretty adaptable. But at just about every turn, I'm seeing paranoid management clutching information, and keeping team members in the dark. They don't like direct communication, but prefer instead to let managers be gatekeepers between the business and the programmers building functionality for them. I'm seeing workflow that has all the frustration and red-tape of the most regulated financial industry, but without any of the useful parts like documentation and quality assurance.

In a bid to be "agile", they prefer not to develop specifications for most things, but rather to just toss a paragraph or two to a developer, who must then throw it back over the wall multiple times for a daisy chain of questions to clarify requirements. This so-called "agile" environment has me taking about 10 times as long to accomplish a task as what I'm used to.

But a large part of the agility problem is based on a technical architecture that is both half-assed and overblown. Rather than creating a good framework that sits the heck out of the way and lets the programmer utilize it while doing what programmers do, the framework tries to be all things, and fails miserably. While I must admit being impressed with the overall product they've been able to deliver and market very well to an appreciative customer base, I have to think that it is by brute force.

So I was hired as a senior programmer, and brought in for what? Apparently not to bring in new ideas, or even ideas from this decade. Several times recently, I've had well-meaning coworkers try to tell me to just come in 9 to 5, do as much as I can using the crappy tools they provide, and try to leave it alone. Apparently, having a serious discussion among peers about how to work smarter and accomplish more threatens someone. And it's not that I'm coming in telling them "my way or the highway". I'm basically saying things like "I notice you guys don't do anything about X. It's been my experience that if you do Y, you can take care of X quite nicely. What do you folks think?"

Anyhow, it's been quite challenging to keep my sanity and what's left of my hair.

The gift
What activism I've been involved in these few years I've been an activist has never been something I've done for profit, although there have been times when I wish I could do it for a living. Usually, I end up paying quite a bit for the privilege. I don't even want to admit how much I've spent. And please, lets not count the opportunity cost of all the overtime hours I could have earned.

So last Saturday at my precinct's weekly Coffee Chat at Bahama Bucks (Saturdays at 7:30pm) it was just a very cozy small group of us, and one of the other local activists showed up. I was happy to see her and asked her to have a seat. She said she couldn't, and that she just wanted to give me something. It was a card. I was puzzled. I'd been feeling like caca for weeks that I'd neglected various things due to higher priorities and my general lack of energy and time due to the new job. I thanked her as she explained it was from several folks. When she left, I opened it up to find generous gift cards for groceries and gas. I was just floored. I'm very humbled and honored. I guess I take it as some affirmation. I want to sincerely thank you. We used the grocery card tonight.

I hope that in the coming weeks I can get refocused on the goal. Next Saturday will be a good start. I'll be registering voters at the Western Day celebration in Lewisville.

Well, that's all I have the energy to write tonight.

P.S. I almost forgot! Folks down around the coast are still suffering the effects of hurricane Ike. If you can spare it, please click the banner below and join me in chipping in a few bucks to the American Red Cross.

Donate to the American Red Cross

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Gas Drilling Videos

Oil and Gas
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/9/20 1:10:00 (1805 reads)

I grabbed the following videos from YouTube, following the natural gas drilling process.

Rig Tour:

(What do you think? I don't think I would lick the floor...)

Rig setup animation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ykxBP4Z43I (click to watch)
Note how much equipment needs to come in.

Pad prep and rig move:


Raising the Derrick:


Making a connection:

(Note the amount of noise and banging around. This is hard, dangerous and fast-paced work. Can you hear the engines revving? This rig appears to have some sort of wall behind the roughnecks. Maybe that cuts down on some of the sound.)

Drill Bit Animation:

(Here's how a drill bit works. It's lubricated and cooled by mud pumped down the drill pipe.)

Mud pumping:


Tripping Pipe:

"Tripping" is where workers pull out 90 foot sections of pipe. They do this to change the drill bit when it wears out.

A small rig in action:

(Again, note the noise)

Well Fracturing:

Once the well is drilled and perforated, they fracture the rock by pumping a mixture of water (note all the water trucks and tanks), sand, and solvents like toluene or benzene and other proprietary chemicals. The containment ponds shown are illegal in Lewisville by city ordinance, so more tanks would be necessary to hold the water. In Lewisville, it would be required to do this during the daytime.


Here are a bunch of diesel engines running the pumps during an active fracture. Note that some of these engines are not well tuned and are smoking heavily. Each well in the Barnett shale may need to be fractured multiple times. Each main bore may have up to 8 horizontal wells coming off of it, so you could in theory have some 24 fracturing operations per hole.

Animation of underground

Fracture Flowback:

Here's one where the fracture flowback is coming up.

Venting:


Completed natural gas well:

(It's a little messy. I think they're wrapping it up)

Pipeline Construction:

(This is in New York in the Marcellus shale. Note the wide swath of forest that had to be cleared in a straight line.)

Here's a 36" pipeline being lowered.

Some neighborhoods in Fort Worth are getting some through front yards.

What could possibly go wrong?

Blowouts:


Well Fires:


Accidents:

Drill floor explosion (forgetting to turn off mud pump)


(Derrick Collapse)

Truck full of drill pipe:

(This one was fatal)

Injection Well Pollution:

(Injection wells are illegal in Lewisville, so they'll either have to filter the produced water, or haul it by truck to another city)

Deadly Poisonous Gas:


Pipeline Fire:


Sinkholes:

(This was in Daisetta, TX. Their geology is different than ours. They sit on top of a salt dome.

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Music Videos for tonight

Miscellaneous
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/9/18 22:51:42 (813 reads)

"Steel Rails" sung by Alison Krauss (written by Louise Branscom)



Thanks to Mamask8z for digging this up.

Here's Alison with Yo Yo Ma:

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