February 2014 Archives

One of our local TV stations posted a link on Facebook to its report on the decision by Midland Park Mall to prohibit the carrying of concealed handguns on its property. It's unclear whether these are new signs, but the mall's policy and the station's spotlight on the signs are drawing the reactions you'd expect from a conservative West Texas community like ours.
 
Against my better judgment, I skimmed through the comments left on Facebook, and amid the usual misconceptions ("that's the mall's rule and you can't be charged with anything but trespassing if you violate it") and overreactions ("I thought this was America") - and despite the almost unanimous condemnation of the mall's stance, there was one subtle-but-common thread: nobody suggested ignoring it.
 
I realize it's risky, if not downright stupid, to draw any sociological conclusions from a Facebook comment thread, but that observation obliquely affirms one of the basic arguments in favor of granting the right to bear concealed weapons - or, perhaps more to the point, against the idea that prohibiting concealed carry makes things safer. It's a trite saying that when firearms are banned, only criminals will have them, but the Facebook conversation seems to confirm that those who support concealed carry are also generally a law-abiding group, and are apparently not willing to break the law even if they deem it to be unfair or illogical. 
 
And in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I think I can safely assume that this same philosophy is not held by the criminal element in our society. Otherwise, they would not be, you know, criminals.
 
In the interest of full disclosure, I have a concealed handgun permit. And while I fully comply with lawful prohibitions posted by businesses - and would never boycott a business simply for implementing that prohibition - I absolutely don't buy into the argument that they're making things any safer. Midland Park Mall may or may not lose any business over their stance on this issue, but its management has lost credibility with a chunk of its customer base.
About a year ago I posted an announcement regarding an upcoming series on public television called One Square Mile: Texas. One of the planned episodes was to feature Midland. Those plans have come to fruition and the Midland-centric segment will air on February 27 at 7:30 p.m. on our local PBS station.

stonegate.jpgHowever, you don't have to wait to see it, as an online pre-screening is now available. The producers also tell me that the episode will be available online at pbs.org and on the www.OSMTX.com website.

I strongly recommend this episode to all Midlanders, as it offers a different perspective on life in our city than we're accustomed to seeing in the national media. It's actually a series of personal stories, told by individuals and without any outside commentary or narrative. In other words, Midland (or, at least, this one square mile of Midland) speaks for itself. If you live here, you'll recognize all of the locations and perhaps some of the individuals featured on the program.

The production values are very good, and the filmmakers have managed to document various aspects of life without giving a feeling of intrusion.

I don't believe this episode is intended to be a comprehensive overview of what it's like to live in Midland. In the filmmakers words, "the purpose of the series is to explore what life actually is like for the people living and working in these square miles and to shed light on what it actually means to be Texan in contemporary American culture."

As I stated in my original post, there are many aspects of our city that aren't represented in the square mile chosen for scrutiny. You won't see any of the extremes in wealth or poverty that are to be found in other sections of Midland; there's no direct focus on the oil and gas operations that keep us alive and the only commercial activity that's present is retail. What you do get to see is a glimpse into the lives and perspectives of a few of the people who live here; you can judge for yourself whether the creators achieved their stated purpose. For me, it was a pleasant way to spend a half hour.

Today's editorial in our local newspaper notifies readers that the publication will no longer issue endorsements for political candidates, ending what I assume is a decades-long practice that still exists at many - if not most - print media. [The practice of political endorsements by newspapers goes back more than 150 years, according to this fascinating analysis.]
 
On its Facebook page, the Midland Reporter Telegram solicits opinions as to whether it's appropriate for the media to endorse candidates for office. The responses weren't numerous, but they were unanimous in condemning the practice.
 
I don't care one way or the other. Whether it arises from a multi-person board or a single editor, a newspaper or magazine endorsement carries no more weight with me than that of any other reasonably informed individual. In fact, an explicit endorsement is much preferred from the more insidious implicit endorsements that often permeate a publication through biased reporting and slanted coverage of the candidates and campaigns. Figure out a way to end that and I'll support your Nobel prize nomination.
 
In fact, the on-the-record endorsements have often served as validation for my own positions, although perhaps in a different way than the publication intended. For example, it's almost guaranteed that when the New York Times endorses a candidate for office, that person's opponent will get my support. (The last Republican presidential candidate endorsed by the Times was Dwight Eisenhower, in 1952. It's hard to believe, but I was too young to vote.) In the unlikely event that that newspaper ever adopts a bias-free reporting philosophy (and hires a staff that can put it in place), my entire political strategy will be cast adrift*.
 
*Just kidding. I have no political strategy.

Newly Framed Artwork
February 14, 2014 5:05 PM | Posted in:

We had three pieces of "artwork" framed recently. You'll see why I've qualified the subject matter in just a minute.

Two of the pieces had been laying around the house for a couple of years, awaiting the time we worked an infinitely-expanding to-do list down to where they resided. They are both legitimate artwork, paintings by an internationally known painter and author named Charles Sovek. Charles was one of my earliest website clients, and he graciously presented me with a few of his paintings over the years. He died in 2007 but I've continued to work with his widow on a gratis basis as she handles the artwork now belonging to his estate.

The first piece is a small still life painting - I think it's an acrylic, and I know it's a bell pepper - which became measurably more impressive once it was framed. The photo below doesn't really do it justice.

Still life painting

The second painting is an oil entitled Eagles Nest, Zion, from Sovek's Red Rock Country collection. This photo is another example of just how difficult it is for an amateur like me to photograph a beautifully-framed painting.

Landscape painting

The third piece is my sentimental favorite, capturing a concept that I'd been kicking around in my mind for more than a year. Take a look at it, and then I'll give you the back story.

Framed Mac G4 Motherboard

This is the motherboard from the Apple Power Mac G4 that I bought in 2001 and used daily for almost ten years. The circuit board truly is an industrial work of art (and even has the little battery - the pinkish blob in the upper left corner - that kept the clock going while the computer was powered off). I was enamored with the idea of showcasing a piece of high-tech equipment, where function trumps style in every aspect, in an ornate pseudo-baroque setting.

I love the way it turned out, and the framers apparently were thrilled with the challenge of bringing the concept to reality. One was a computer geek who once built computers; he said he debated about whether to leave the locking pins on the RAM slots open or closed (he settled on "closed"). He insisted on taking photos before letting me take the piece home.

Debbie has picked out spots for the paintings. The oil painting is hanging in our entry; the still life is going to Horseshoe Bay. But I haven't yet decided where to display the motherboard. I suppose our home office is the logical location, but I already have a cool watercolor map of the Caribbean hanging there. Hard decisions like this are what's known as "first world problems."

A [non-traditional] ballroom dance playlist
February 8, 2014 1:41 PM | Posted in: ,

Once each year, the Ballroom Dance Society departs from its usual practice of having live music and uses a prerecorded playlist for a dance. This is done primarily as a fundraiser, saving the cost of a band, but it also gives us a chance to expose members and guests to music that they might not otherwise associate with ballroom dancing.

I suspect that many people, when they think of ballroom dancing, conjure up visions of boring people sleepwalking through boring music, but nothing could be further from the truth. To make the point, here's the playlist that we'll be using for next Friday's dance. If you take the time to browse it, you'll see some traditional music that might conform to a stereotype (that doesn't mean it's not fun to dance to), but there's also a good representation of genres and artists that you might never think to put on the ballroom floor, like, for example, Delbert McClinton, Journey, Willie Nelson, and Santana.

Save the Last Dance for Me Michael Bublé Cha Cha
Some Kind of Wonderful Little Milton w/ Delbert McClinton Swing
Brown Eyed Girl Jimmy Buffett Rumba
Love Done Gone Billy Currington Fox Trot
Tennessee Waltz New 101 Strings Orchestra Waltz
You Are the Sunshine of My Life Stevie Wonder Rumba
I've Got The World On A String Michael Bublé Fox Trot
Blue Tango Jack Hansen And His Orchestra Tango
Fine Cindy Morgan Swing
Moon River Andy Williams Waltz
Sway The Pussycat Dolls Rumba
Fall Apart The Mavericks Samba
I've Got You Under My Skin Rod Stewart Fox Trot
Come Dance With Me Michael Bublé Cha Cha
Fallin' Connie Francis Swing
Little Rock Hayes Carll Swing
The Last Waltz Engelbert Humperdinck Waltz
Oh, Pretty Woman Roy Orbison Cha Cha
Kokomo The Beach Boys Rumba
Old Time Rock and Roll Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band Swing
Papa Loves Mambo Perry Como Mambo
Beautiful Day for Goodbye George Strait Waltz
Big Bad Handsome Man Imelda May Cha Cha/Tango
Dance In the Moonlight The Mavericks Samba
Mustang Sally Wilson Pickett West Coast Swing
La Cumparsita (Tango) Alfred Hause's Tango Orchestra Tango
Neon Moon Brooks & Dunn Rumba
The Best Is Yet To Come Michael Bublé Fox Trot
Waltz Across Texas Willie Nelson Waltz
To Be Loved Michael Bublé Night Club 2 Step
I Just Want to Dance With You George Strait Cha Cha
Smooth Santana Rumba
What The World Needs Now Is Love Jackie De Shannon Waltz
Fly Me to the Moon Frank Sinatra Fox Trot
Jalousie (Tango) Alfred Hause's Tango Orchestra Tango
Moondance Michael Bublé Fox Trot
Girl from Ipanema Big-T and the Bada-Bings Rumba
Nelly Bly Rick Shea West Coast Swing
The End of the World Skeeter Davis Night Club 2 Step
Something Stupid Michael Bublé & Reese Witherspoon Cha Cha
Could I Have This Dance Anne Murray Waltz
Mack the Knife Bobby Darin Fox Trot
Spanish Eyes Al Martino Rumba
Open Arms Journey Waltz
All for You Imelda May Swing

All of these songs are available via the iTunes Store if you want to sample any of them.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2014 is the previous archive.

March 2014 is the next archive.

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