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Sorry Willie...

Miscellaneous
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2007/10/12 16:48:33 (1298 reads)

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I were out one Saturday morning making the rounds at garage sales. I found a couple of music DVDs that were priced right: "Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl" with my lookalike - Freddie Mercury, and "Willie Nelson, Live at Billy Bob's Texas".

Well, the Queen DVD was for my wife, and the Willie DVD has been in my briefcase waiting for a moment to watch it.

This afternoon it was time to crack open a beer, kick back and watch Willie.

At the risk of losing my Texas citizenship, I have to say that this is just not Willie's best work.

Don't get me wrong - I love Willie Nelson. But this performance is just "phoned in". Basically, he half sings it, half talks it. When he does sing, he changes the melody of the songs you know and love.

I understand the desire to mix it up if you sing the same dang songs every night for 30 years. But Willie, people just want to hear it the way it is on the album. In fact I'm going to have to get out my Willie CDs and listen to the original way these songs were done, just to clear the crappy versions from my head.

Rating:
**
2 out of 5 stars.

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Get Your Drinking Water from Lake Lewisville?

The Nimrods Never Cease to Amaze Me
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2007/10/7 9:35:21 (3208 reads)

Faith Chatham of DFW Regional Concerned Citizens shares an interesting letter to Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, calling his attention to the TxDOT decision to build section 4 of FM 2499 through Highland Village, partially crossing Lake Lewisville, which already has high levels of the toxic gasoline additive MTBE.

Before this issue was raised, I never gave a second thought to road bridges over the reservoir being a safety hazard to our drinking water. I know that a certain amount of the opposition to FM 2499's expansion probably amounts to "not in my backyard". But imagine for a moment how royally screwed we would all be if there was a serious accident involving a tanker truck full of gasoline or some other dangerous chemical. It would drain right off the roadway and go straight into the water source for many cities in North Texas.

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Lewisville Mayor Defends Abatements

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2007/10/6 10:02:37 (1077 reads)

Back in September, I posted a blog about the City of Lewisville granting tax abatements that I thought were of questionable value. I've been somewhat surprised by the response to the posting, with it having gotten more readership than my usual rants.

After I wrote it, I felt slight pangs of regret for having taken such a hard line on this specific case when what I really object to is the whole principal of the thing, and the fact that it's fundamentally unfair to small business.

Nevertheless, I was pleased to see that Mayor Carey addressed the issue in his "Mayor's Corner" article in the October, 2007 issue of The Lewisville Horizon. As of the time I write this, the issue is not yet online on the city website.

Since I don't feel like typing the whole article for you, here are some excerpts:

Since the City Council approved two tax abatements at a meeting in September, several people have asked me if the city really receives any value for those abatemets or if we are just giving away money without a return.

...

I am very tough on businesses that see financial incentives from the city, whether it its temporary tax breaks or sharing the costs of roads and other infrastructure. I am not an easy sell on tax abatements and the rest of the City Council feels the same way.

...

With well paying jobs the goal, we focus on office and industrial sectors because they are proven to have an impact on other parts of the economy as well, such as retail stores and restaurants. We have a lot of retail in Lewisville, and retail relies on a combination of daytime and nighttime population.

Ultimately, tax abatements applie properly do benefit residents of Lewisville by giving the community a competitive edge in the marketplace, increasing total property tax revenues and jobs, and bolstering our overall Lewisville economy. By setting high standards, and enforcing them, we make sure abatements are a winning play for Lewisville.


I have to say that I really appreciate Mayor Carey taking the time to write about this important subject. I understand his position of pragmatism on the issue. As I've said before, the tax abatement game is much akin to the prisoner's dilemma. You can hate the game, but failure to play it can sometimes mean that you lose the new development. Although I have more faith in the free market to provide us with that development, I can at least understand the position.

It's hard for a citizen who is not involved in the negotiations to know for sure whether a tax abatement is really appropriate and profitable to the city, or whether it's some kind of back-room deal based on favoritism and politics. I want to take Mayor Carey at his word that he and the Council are tough on businesses seeking government incentives. I believe I can do that - IF - and this is a BIG IF - the Council starts to behave as if this is NOT a back-room deal to rush through without citizen buy-in.

Not all citizens can attend City Council meetings and wade through all the tedium just to make sure their Council doesn't try to push something controversial under the radar and with little chance for public comment. Neither can I promise to review the agendas before each meeting and publish commentary in a timely enough fashion. I would like to see the Council dispense with the "emergency" nonsense and work on letting the public have a chance to examine this type of deal before it's set to ink. It's not just the abatements that his has happened with.

Again, I want to thank Mayor Carey for his commentary and reiterate that on the whole, although I disagree with a few things the Council has done, they've mostly kept our city as a beautiful, safe, inexpensive, non- pretentious and relatively controversy-free city that is a great place to live and raise children. My kids and I LOVE the new Library and aquatic center. I truly hope that my occasional snipes are not taken personally.

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Burgess: Mercenaries Should Have License to Kill

The Nimrods Never Cease to Amaze Me
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2007/10/5 21:12:15 (3937 reads)

Un-freakin' believable. The House voted today to clarify legal accountability for mercenary firms like "Blackwater" which has been murdering Iraqi civilians without being accountable under U.S. or Iraqi law.

Michael Burgess (R-TX) was one of only 30 bone-heads to vote against it. I suppose there's a good argument for giving mercenaries a license to kill indiscriminately with absolute impunity? I suppose you were holding out because you're going to file a bill to BAN mercenaries? I doubt it.



You sir, ought to be ashamed of yourself. I honestly don't know how someone so callous, heartless, and blind to justice could ever be a doctor, much less a U.S. Representative. Take some time off, since you're not doing anything for your constituents anyway - and go find Jesus - or something. Please.

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Burgess Snubs American Muslims over Ramadan, Votes to "protect" Christmas

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2007/10/5 18:21:20 (3555 reads)

The Muslim holiday of Ramadan began on Sept 13th. A Congressional resolution commemorating the beginning of Ramadan passed easily with no votes against it. Interesting was that 41 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted "Present" - a protest vote of sorts.

OK, fine - I can see the point that perhaps Congress has more important work to do than to bother itself with meaningless laudatory resolutions. At least one lawmaker pointed out that it seemed unconstitutional. Fair enough, but a Congressional resolution doesn't constitute a "law" as in "Congress shall make no law...".

I'm totally fine with the position that "we have better things to do than vote on this". But if that's the case, then one shouldn't vote "Yea" on any other laudatory bills, should one? Well, that's not the case with Michael Burgess. In just one quick example I easily found, he voted "Yea" on a laudatory resolution "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that those who celebrate Christmas believe that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected" - H.Res.579 (109th).

Again, nothing wrong with voting yea on this, by itself, but both votes taken together make him either a hypocrite or a bigot, or both. You choose. Either he's trying to placate the moon-bat crazy tin-foil -hat-wearing xenophobic Republican base, or B) He suddenly found it inappropriate to vote for a laudatory measure when it included a religion other than Christianity.

Burgess is NOT a co-sponsor of H.Res.476 - condeming bigotry against Iranian Americans. Wonder why?

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SCHIP Veto: Special Blog Roundup

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2007/10/3 16:54:52 (1632 reads)

President Bush today vetoed an important and widely supported bi-partisan expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) (H.R. 976). WhosPlayin takes a look at what the blogs of the Texas Progressive Alliance are saying about this terrible move:

Adam at Three Wise Men writes: Bush uses veto pen to strike health care for kids

Blue 19th takes Randy Neugebauer to task for being willing to send billions to Iraq, but not to help children at home.

Blue 19th has uncovered a transcript of a secret press conference featuring the President, the Governor, and Rep. Randy Neugebauer. Put your sensibilities on hold and enjoy.


In examining President Bush's veto of the SCHIP reauthorization and expansion, Vince at Capitol Annex notes that this is one of the President's worst actions in office and also points us to statements on the veto from a pair of Texas Legislators: Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) and Ellen Cohen (D-Houston).

Muse interrupts her outrage at Bush’s SCHIP veto to send him a Bible verse, remind him that his approval numbers are half of the percentage of Americans who approve of the legislation and wonder if next up is clubbing baby seals and drowning kittens

Eye On Williamson calls Bush and Rep. John Carter on their votes against children, for private insurance corporations and urges the people to get involved, Bush Vetoes Childrens Health Care & John Carter Is Right By His Side.

Matt Glazer of Burnt Orange Report notes that the non-partisan Center for Public Policy Priorities urges Texans to encourage Senator Cornyn and the 18 Texas Congressmen who voted against it to change their votes to override the veto. Matt also suggests that Bush, Perry, Cornyn, and McCaul hate children and encourages us to show our outrage at a rally for kids health

Charles Kuffner of Off the Kuff notes that Bush is acting ashamed of this veto and explores the numbers needed for an override.

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Support the War? Get Ready to Pay For It.

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2007/10/2 18:13:26 (1847 reads)

I got a call today from a friend who was watching C-SPAN, and caught the Appropriations Committee hearing on the Supplemental Appropriation for the Iraq Occupation. He said that Chairman Dave R. Obey (D - Wisconsin, 7th) said something to the effect that this would be the LAST supplemental appropriation, and that further appropriations would require a new War Tax.

If this war is important enough to fight, then it ought to be important enough to pay for.

We know that this proposal is going to be controversial – I don’t expect to get the support of our leadership or the support of our caucus at this point – but by putting together this bill we hope people will stop ignoring what this war is costing American taxpayers and call the President’s bluff on fiscal responsibility.

And please realize, that if such a proposal is not passed, and the war continues, one of two things will happen. We will either run up insurmountable debts, or we will drain the treasury dry of funds that are essential to making the domestic investments in education, health, medical research, science, law enforcement, that our crucial to creating a stronger country and more prosperous families.

It is time for the President and the Congress to face up to some really hard choices. It is time for all of us to face up to the consequences of the President’s actions.


So far the President and the Congress have taken the absolute laziest and cowardly path of least resistance in paying for this God damned* war. We cannot make our children pay for the actions of a despotic imperialistic president that our generation has (sort of) elected.

Although I'm not fond of new taxes, and I'm definitely opposed to this God damned* war, I do believe in fiscal responsibility, so we MUST pay for this war as we go. One way or the other, we are going to pay for it, but President Bush seems to think that he can run up the credit card and let a Democratic President tell the truth about us all having to pay the bill.

My friend heard something along the lines of 1% tax for middle-class taxpayers and up to 14% for the wealthy. Military families would be exempt from this Iraq War Tax.

A quick search of Obey's website, and Thomas didn't turn up specific tax legislation, but I'll keep an eye out and let you know if I see details.

* I don't normally engage in gratuitous use of this type of language, but it's pretty clear to see that this war is damned.

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The Queso Monster

Miscellaneous
Posted by mamask8z on 2007/10/1 18:25:07 (1726 reads)

Ah… the weekend. A time nearly everyone looks forward to. Time to take it easy, rest a spell, get a few things on the “honey do” list taken care of, prepare for the upcoming week, watch some football/other sport of your inclination, do whatever it is you need to do go a.) get your sanity back from the previous week’s harassments, and b.) prepare to lose your sanity next week – yet again to another round of aggravation. I’d say that’s pretty typical, with the exception of those of us that have to work on the weekends. Let me tell you about our weekend, or at least Friday night.

It’s Friday!
Friday afternoon, a favorite time for the boys. They come home from school, abandon their backpacks until Monday morning, get a snack and do one of three things: pester their father to let them go play with some neighborhood kids, pester their father to let them watch cartoons, or hide from their father so they can play their Nintendo DS’s. (I mention that their father is the object of their pestering because I am still working hard on helping other people begin to enjoy their weekend. I work at the spa until 6pm on Fridays.) The boys though, they relish having freedom that Friday afternoon affords them. And I don’t blame them.

When I get home from work, it’s time to go to TJ Hartfords here in Lewisville. It’s a great place, we may have even written a review of the restaurant before, not sure. But TJ’s gimic is kids get game cards and go to the game area while they’re waiting on the food to be cooked. Also, mine like to run back as soon as they are filled to the brim with good Americana food (ya know, cheese pizza and mini corn dogs). Meanwhile, the adults are able to partake in adult conversation and appetizers without the bother and hassle of children. Did I mention that adults get time to themselves? Ahh… I’m going to leave it there.

So this Friday wasn’t much different for the Southwells than any other Friday since we’ve been patronizing TJ’s. Ok, there was the Queso Incident.

See, that’s what I like during that special Adult Time at TJ’s. I get a Shiner and Steve gets whatever he wants to drink that evening and we order “chips with queso and salsa.” It’s standard. Always the same damn thing. I love it. It’s comfort food to me. I have begun associating queso with spousal conversation. Even when we’re chatting at night before sleep, I sometimes find myself craving TJ’s queso. Anyway, back to the story. So there we are, just the two of us, cruchin’ and chattin’. Bonding. I love that time every Friday night.

I’m loving it, and then suddenly this grungy arm comes up, crosses over my body, grabs a chip, digs deep into MY queso, uncaringly drips MY lovely queso across the table in 3 globbulous splatters and shoves the whole chip into its mouth. The mouth that is on the head that at this time has no brain. Dammit SETH!! I looked at him, him with the queso dripping down the corners of his grinning mouth. I wanted to force his mouth open and physically remove the chip, but I didn’t. I chose the high road. I growled at him.

Occasionally, I have found, it is important for one to reassert dominance when challenged. Maybe I’ve been watching too much of the nature channel or Cesar Milan, “The Dog Whisperer”.

At any rate, I followed that demonstration with a glorified rant containing mouthfuls of “how dare you” and “this is my food” and “you didn’t ask” and “that was rude” and “get away, go back to playing” and “you weren’t invited”. The poor kid didn’t have a clue or a chance. He looked at his dad, actually asked for support.

I glared at Steve.

And Steve, not missing a beat, said in his best Father-of-the-Year fashion, “Son, it’s not wise for you to get between your mother and food.” With that, Seth was off, gleeful as ever, back to the playroom to continue running amock with the other adults-in-training.

–hey! Wait just one minute… I wonder if I should be offended at what Steve said? Too late now to worry about that.

Yah, I know that my outburst at Seth was a little over the top. But I’d like for you to try to understand my point of view. Seth’s mistake wasn’t in taking the queso. Sure, he was rude and gross. But his great sin was nothing that he was even aware of. His mistake was in breaking into my time with my husband. Even if we don’t talk during the time, we’re there. Together. So maybe it would have been more appropriate for Steve to have said, “Son, it’s not wise to invade your mama’s happy place.”

Mama's happy place includes Shiner and queso.

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Refugees at the Hilton

Miscellaneous
Posted by mamask8z on 2007/10/1 18:15:41 (1425 reads)

Dear Friends,

I knew it would happen eventually. I knew at some point we would be refugees from our own house in Lewisville. But, I guess I never really thought we’d stay at the Hilton when that happened.

Let me give you some background here. We own a 3 bedroom house in Lewisville, TX. The master bedroom was of course, our bedroom, Seth was 3 months old when we bought the house and had a bedroom of his own, and Steve had the 3rd bedroom for a home office. (That home office was very necessary since he worked at home when he wasn’t traveling to client sites.) Now, I know it’s hard to believe, but we didn’t plan well. So Ike comes along fifteen months later.

For the most part, it’s been an ok arrangement until now. Ike is begging for his own space. He needs room to get away from it all when he’s feeling stressed. He needs a place to get away from Seth. So, in an effort to move the family forward without taking on a larger house, Steve recently started renting a room from an executive suites. It’s great. He’s got a place to go to get away from us and we can refurbish the room to make it Ike’s. Ok, ya with me so far.

So that’s what we’ve been doing. It’s taking us a while, but we’re lazy so, I’d say we’re right on track. We let Ike pick the color he wanted for the walls. He chose one that was ok, but not fantastic. So, we compromised. We both like the color of the walls now. The carpet that was in the office had to be removed. Ike has asthma and eczema and carpet is hell on both of those afflictions. So, the carpet’s gone and we’re putting grey-blue enamel down on the concrete. Did I mention the walls are a bluish color? Well, they are. The ceiling is white and the trim will be white too. Eventually.

Did you know enamel stinks really bad and gives you headaches? I didn’t, but now I do. Steve started painting the enamel on the concrete floor yesterday. About an hour into it, he had a headache and I couldn’t stay awake. The boys were both doing ok, but if you’ve dealt with asthma before you’ll understand why we wanted to get the boys out of here. Imagine, paint the concrete on day, beginning a week-long hospital stay the next. Yep, that’s how I think. So, I was all over it when Steve suggested we stay at a hotel last night. So thanks to Steve for offering up some of his many Hilton reward points that he has earned over the years working at a client’s site in Melville, NY.


[Break to go work on the floor. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, not writing.]

Ok. More of the floor is scraped, swept, mopped, etched with acid, and then mopped again. I’ll soon be going back to start putting down the enamel again. Ha ha! Look at me not doing house work, but working on the house!

The boys will be home from school shortly. I want the kids home so we can determine what we need for tonight so we don’t have to come back here tomorrow morning. Guess what… we’re staying another night. And maybe even a third. I’m thinking it’s a good idea. I’m sure the kids will too, since there’s a swimming pool at the hotel. Lucky them.

I want to interject something at this point. Remember we’ve got another member of our pack that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Handsome Hank, the leopard Catahoula mix was not able to join us on our adventure. Hilton Garden Inn doesn’t accept animals as guests, the Doggie Hotel (vet) that we use isn’t open on Sundays, and Hankie-pooh doesn’t do crates. So, sad little Mr. Hankie, spent the night outside. We like to think of it as Doggie Camping. Getting back to nature the dog way – in suburbia, behind a privacy fence. I don’t think he appreciated the opportunity as much as we did. I have to say, I do believe The Hankster was a touch pissed at me this morning when I came home. He’s been close to my side since. Although, earlier when I was working in Ike’s room, I peeped in the boys’ (current collective) room and there he was, laying at the end of Ike’s bed, Mr. Prima-Donna with his head on a pillow. Ahh…too cute! I tried to get a pic, but he looked at me with this, “What the f&^k? are you doing?” look. Anyway. Feel sorry for Hank. He’s got another night of this, maybe 2. Shoot, I might get him in to the Doggie Hotel tomorrow night, just for kicks and socialization – more importantly for a bath and ear cleaning! ooh…ooh that smell!! How does a dog end up smelling like Fritos when there are none in the house. Or perhaps, the more appropriate question should be how do Fritos end up smelling like a dog?

So now, going back to the hotel. At times like this, it becomes painfully obvious to me that we’re a family of priorities. As soon as we get into our 2 queen size bed room, the boys are jumping from one bed to the other. I’m sure in their mind (the Collective – does anyone remember The Borg? – yah, that’s them in Collective mode), it’s like jumping the Grand Canyon. Steve’s walking around the room checking out the electrical outlets or something, setting up his computer, and finishing that off with a trip to the toilet. At which point after the “flush” I hear a triumphant, “YEA!” from him. Maybe that’s like scent marking to him?

So here I am, being ring master again. God, you can’t take these people anywhere! “Boys, stop that right now!” “Steve, you ok?” Do you think I’m kidding???? I’m sure we have pictures, somewhere. When boyhood mischief gets the best of Steve, I’ve got 3 kids! -cue the Borg, “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.”

All three of my boys got to go to the pool for an hour last night. I brought in food (cause ya know, that’s my gig – food), and then we all got a fairly decent sleep last night. Well, maybe with the exception of Hank, the Homebound Homey.

Thanks for listening,
mamask8z


P.S. I do have to offer up some kudos here to Hilton Garden Inn. All the light fixtures in the room have compact fluorescent bulbs! And the toilet was some sort of space-age American Standard that must have one powerful vacuum on the other end of it. Pressing the handle to flush actually caused a *vawooom* sound with either less than or right at 1 second of waste removal time with very little water – think less than a gallon. Cool stuff, just don’t know how it works. But I know I want one, or two. Way to be on the leading edge of conservation, Hilton!!! Kudos, kudos, kudos!!


Back to the room renovation.

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Fred Thompson didn't get the WMD memo.

The Nimrods Never Cease to Amaze Me
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2007/10/1 17:50:15 (1024 reads)

Earlier today in Iowa, Fred Thompson justified his support for the war in Iraq by claiming that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program and had weapons of mass destruction, despite the fact that weapons inspectors have concluded that Iraq had no WMDs.


Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson said today he was certain former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction prior to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a point of contention in the 4.5 years since the war began.

"We can't forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, he clearly had had WMD. He clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program," the former Tennessee senator told an audience of about 60 at a Newton cafe.

Even George Bush has acknowledged that "Charles Duelfer has now issued a comprehensive report that confirms the earlier conclusion of David Kay that Iraq did not have the weapons that our intelligence believed were there."

Deulfer's Iraq Study group also concluded that Iraq did not have a nuclear weapons program, saying, "Saddam Hussein ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf War," and there was "no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program."

When George Bush gives up trying to push a lie, it's probably a good sign that using that argument is WAY beyond hopeless. Saddam would not have been able to have a nuclear program, given the expense, complexity, and huge use of electricity that it would have taken. As you will remember, the "yellowcake" documents were found to be forged. After the invasion, so much manpower was expended searching for the WMD that was never found, that Saddam's conventional ammo dumps were left unguarded. Those munitions are being used on our troops on a daily basis now.

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