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Say What?

Lessons from Texas

In this age where everyone seems to be a world traveler, any sort of ‘report’ on the outside may seem to be really a yawn. Despite having been to Texas many times each visit generates a new understanding and some wonder about life down there. Without regard for the many sights, unending housing developments and the politics I find there are many unique things on which to comment.

First. I am assuming you all know that the old football shrine called the Cotton Bowl is no longer considered suitable by the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, namely one Jerry Jones. So a new BIG bowl is nearing completion. The problem is they can’t come up with a suitable name for it. As you know, these days the rights to name anything that’s public can be purchased. So far no company has been willing to buy that right, which is sort of embarrassing to Jones. Some guys thought that Tom Landry should be honored but since Jones fired him once that isn’t likely. What a horrible dilemma in a football mad country.

Spokane isn’t at the top of the list for the hush-up game. In Ft Worth, the police stopped a second grade teacher who, being late for school, had the pressed the metal a bit too hard. When stopped she created a scene inappropriate for a school teacher. The school board had the coverage blocked but eventually the dash camera record came to light. What I liked was she used the ‘North Idaho defense.’ “I only had a couple of beers last night, officer, that’s all.” Bad example for the kids. School board doesn’t look too good either

Those of us who have watched the Seasons condos being built, sold and re-sold should feel good about the values, considering the view. In downtown Dallas you can have  great a great view of the metroplex from the new Ritz-Carlton condos, all 23 floors. The peddlers concede the economy isn’t too good but are pleased that the mid-priced units are doing well at 1.5 million bucks!

January car sales were down... just 18,829 vehicles. With all the car lots it wasn’t very obvious that either sales are less than expected or that there are any shortages of new anything. There are lots of Lexuses and Accuras. Nothing new to you folks who winter in down there. ,

There was genuine concern for the many vacant buildings everywhere. The various Business Section reporters expanded on the consequential crime scenes. Between 1987 and 2004 Wal-Mart closed 107 stores in Texas, of which 30 were empty at the end of the reporting period. Harold Hunt, a research economist for Texas A&M, even wrote a book about what happens around an empty box.

It follows that there is also a lot of unused office space, sort of like Sandpoint except the scale is different. Last year it was estimated there were 21 million square feet of space for desks and cubicles. I am not certain how many Memorial Fields that converts, but it amounts to a bunch.

As one who feels strongly about accountability, or rather the lack of  it in both private and public lives, it was interesting to note that the presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will have to explain herself. Seems on the very day a man scheduled for execution didn’t get his appeal in before “Killer Keller” closed her court room promptly at 5 pm... even though she knew the appeal was coming.  He paid but she didn’t... yet. Sort of like the Post Office hours.

Joggers can jog or do marathons anytime. Between February 22 and March 1 there were at least 11 events. On the other side of the Oklahoma line there was both a 50K and a 25K event. There is a lot or running. Whew! One group called themselves the “Gay (Happy)” Joggers.

I started to get homesick so I looked for the nearest Coldwater Creek store. I was getting tired of walking past the Litehouse Dressing displays at the grocery store. The CC store was in Preston Park Village. Very nice location and I am happy to report it was busy. Hoping to bond with a clerk I mentioned I was from Sandpoint. Unfortunately she asked where that was. I should have known that most Texans’ knowledge of geography stops at the Oklahoma line What’s the NW?

And lastly, if you are somewhat offended that the Ponderay Wal-Mart has reserved parking spaces for police cars you will love this. Wal-Marts and other shopping center parking lots have a reserved area in the middle for an elevated  police observation post. They are mobile and can be re-located. The windows are heavily tinted so that no one really knows if anyone is watching. The locals assume they are unoccupied. The day my wife’s daughter had her purse snatched while waiting at the Wal-Mart Pharmacy counter she found the post vacant and so was the manager of the store, although present.

Traveling is broadening, they say.

PS: The Delta-Northworst merger has it problems. There are some marked differences in how the passengers are treated. On NWA operated planes they sell snacks rather than dole out peanuts. Cabin attendants are still the same ol’ grumps. The flight from DFW to SLC had 115kt headwinds they said. I think they didn’t push it just to show the passengers who was in charge. Sort of like the idiot in Great Britian who wants to charge for using the loo on his planes. The word to all passengers should be to brown bag the trip and remember, they do take a credit card for the 15 bucks a bag you are charged at check-in. And you wonder why they are flying smaller planes.

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Paul Rechnitzer Paul Rechnitzer Transplanted 30 years ago, Paul is a retiree from the oil business who knows no other place he would rather live and breathe local history.

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