Category Archives: Abilene

Predictions For NFL Season Pt 2

Funny how less than a week goes by and a slew of changes take place, and the NFL season hasn’t even started yet. But that’s the nature of this season, as I said before.

In the previous post I gave my take on the NFC for the 2011-12 season, who I think will do great, who could be sleeper picks for the playoffs, and also why I believe a few teams will do very poorly this year. In this post, I want to cover the AFC, give my predictions for who’s going all the way to the big game, playoff locks, sleepers for the postseason, and who is certainly not going to fair well.

First, I’ll start at the top. The Patriots have been one of the best teams in football for over a decade. This year marks the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 as well as the 10 year mark of one of their biggest Super Bowl wins. In the offseason (just after the lockout ended) they landed some controversial players, namely Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth’s bad attitude during his tenure with the Redskins and disrespect of coaches made him a big enemy of most observant franchises, regardless of his talent level. The preseason seemed to indicate that the attitude was still there, that little had changed. This is something getting a little press here and there, on top of the signing of former Bengals receiver Ochocinco. You know, I don’t think either athlete is going to be the difference maker this season. I pick the Patriots to have a good year and go to the playoffs yet again, but only make it all the way to the Super Bowl if they can jive well on offense and get some better protection for Brady. And defensively they will have to play more like the Steelers to really have a chance.

James Harrison attacks offenses

Speaking of Pittsburgh, they’re another lock for the playoffs, barring an injury to Rothlesburger or something similar. They have had the components for championship runs for the past 5 years or more and I think they’ll continue to be a wrecking ball in the AFC. Plus, James Harrison has an even bigger chip on his shoulder than normal, with having to answer the constant questions of the media about his defense being “too old.” I think that label will make him a more ferocious player and probably lead to some other sanctions by the NFL for hard hits and maybe even some punches thrown during games. Harrison is a fairly dirty player anyway, so who knows.

The other AFC team who has been solid for the last decade is the Colts, led by one of the all-time greats Peyton Manning. This year, however, will be a very bad year for them. As ESPN’s Colin Cowherd said yesterday on his radio program, this is a poorly managed team built entirely around Manning. Without Manning they might win 4-5 games in a season. With him, they win 11-12. He’s the difference between a great season and a horrible one. They had 2 backups that coaches didn’t have any confidence in so they go out and hire a 16 year vet (Kerry Collins) with little understanding of their playbook and their offense. And he’ll start Sunday against Houston. I’m actually very glad they aren’t starting Manning this Sunday. Houston’s 3-4 attack with Mario Williams at LB would put Manning out for the rest of the year, leading to a 1-3 win season for the Colts. This way, Manning gets maybe 2 games to rest and recover and then come back week 4 at the latest and save the day. But still, they lack the offensive and defensive weapons to be true contenders in the postseason.

Manning and Joseph at their press conference after signing with the Texans

Houston will go to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history this year. There I said it. They should have gone last year but they couldn’t finish a game. They’d build a 2 score lead and blow it in the 4th quarter. Not this year. Again, that rebuilt defense will get better and better as the season goes on. Their D-line and LB core should be scary in weeks 1-4 and terrifying by week 5. JJ Watt, Demeco Ryans, Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, and the other guys in the box will wreck havoc on O-lines this season, starting with the Colts. The secondary is much improved from last season with the addition of Jonathan Joseph at CB and Danieal Manning at FS. I predict Manning will have a Pro-Bowl year. And let’s not forget the offense, led by Schaub, who has some excellent targets in TE Owen Danieals, Jacoby Jones and Andre Johnson, arguably THE best WR in the AFC. Oh yeah, and they have Arian Foster at RB. Their starting lineup is a fantasy football owner’s dream.

I’m reading online that the Jaguars cutting of David Gerrard guarantees a solid year for Houston. No, I don’t think so. An improved defense, and an offense that continues to put up points guarantees a good year for Houston. Cutting Gerrard only guarantees a rough 2-4 weeks for Jacksonville, a team that already didn’t have much going for it. Sure Gerrard is inconsistent, but in October and November he does well, he wins games, and that’s something the Jags should prize. I think they’ll have at best an 8-8 season. They just don’t have the personnel to do any better.

Another big item in the press is the Chris Johnson contract deal, which he finally got last week. Congrats. Now I hope he can manage to not get injured in the first 3 games and actually do something. The offense is on his shoulders anyways. They had one of the best WR in the history of football last season and didn’t utilize him. Yes, I’m talking about Randy Moss. Johnson will get 20-30 carries a game and if his body isn’t ready for that kind of work, watch out. That contract won’t be sweet for anyone in TN if he can’t stay healthy. I see the Titans at best winning 7-8 games, which could put them in the playoffs, but only if some other big AFC teams do really bad.

Like the Chiefs. Matt Cassel was great with the Patriots as the fill-in for an injured Brady, winning 10 games and making him a star. Last season with the Chiefs, not so much. He does have a great WR in Bowe, and an solid run game. Their defense could be great or mediocre. We’ll have to see. I’m thinking that they make the postseason only through the wild-card race and then bow out in the first week of the playoffs. But that’s if they play without drive and heart, which it seemed they did towards the end of last year. If they turn around and play with a fire in their chests, they could be a great team this year.

Oakland will be horrible again. You knew that whether you watched the preseason or not. Whoever thought Jason Campbell would ever be a game changer wasn’t watching real life football. He has a good game every once in a while. The rest are bad. Very bad. Their running game has to be the saving grace and that defense has to look like something more akin to the Steelers than what they have. I place them at the bottom of the AFC bin.

Colt McCoy

The Chargers, the Jets, and the Ravens will have good seasons, and be playoff contenders. That’s a given. What isn’t a given is the Browns. I pick these guys as sleepers. Colt McCoy is the real deal and he’s going to lead this team to great things. Plus, their other intangibles at RB and especially on defense make this team a solid choice this year.

However, on the other side of the state, the Bengals will continue to be bad……really bad. Another very poorly managed franchise as evidenced by the decision-making of the front office. We can start with Cedric Benson, who has the potential to be a great RB. But off the field he enjoys driving under the influence, repeatedly, and punching old roommates in the face. He also seems to enjoy doing this in the same place each time (in TX). The Bengals have depth at RB with Bernard Scott, who really should be given the starting job. With limited carries he’s done a considerably great job moving the ball. Plus Brian Leonard and Larry Johnson give them a consistent attack on the ground. But then there’s also the issue with not trading Carson Palmer. Trading him would have opened up the bank more to spend on areas of the team that need depth, like WR and TE, or on defense. But they didn’t. So instead they settled for a young QB with limited experience who looked very bad in the preseason. The Bengals will spend this season in the gutter unless their run game makes them shine, which is still a possibility. But on defense they won’t be able to hang with the power players of the league.

Lastly in the AFC east, the Bills and the Dolphins should go either .500 or worse. I say worse more for Miami than for Buffalo. Fitzpatrick and Jackson will lead the offense to some big wins. In Miami, the lack of a steady QB will limit them early. But if they can jell together by week 5, they could become a sleeper team by midseason. I just don’t think they have the intangibles to pull off a playoff birth. And Reggie Bush will be a bust wherever he is. He’ll have a good fantasy game here and there but he is NOT the playmaker he was billed as in the 06 draft.

Oh, and one note about my NFC predictions post, anyone catch the further developments in Chicago with Lance Briggs wanting out of Chicago, and Matt Forte not happy with his contract. Upset and angry players have a tough time producing on the field, especially when they’re your stars. Management should take note. And Seattle should great Gerrard while he’s available. They don’t have a better player at QB.

Predictions For The 2011-2012 NFL Season Pt. 1

It was probably the most unique off-season we’ve experienced in 20 years with the lockout. Teams and players didn’t start working out together, let alone figure out their free agency stuff until about a month ago. Usually everyone starts figuring free agency out in May, camps and OTAs start in late May or early June. The preseason is just a tune-up for starters (who are pretty much figured out by preseason game 2) and essentially auditions for rookies and walk-ons. This year, it’s preseason game 4 where starting positions are still up for grabs for a lot of teams. That’s uncommon and it’s going to produce some different football this year than we’ve had for a couple of decades.

On top of that, free agent signings have totally altered a lot of lineups for teams. Decent teams last year are really good (at least on paper) because of some big signings. A few teams that were playoff contenders last year could be Super Bowl contenders this year. One of them is the Eagles. Michael Vick at QB made these guys great last season. They kept Machlin and Jackson at WR, both playmakers and game changers. Vince Young’s the backup (I’m still not sold on this guy though) and their O line seems pretty solid. The defense got a big boost with CB Nnamdi Asomugha, arguably the best in the game last season. Add to that Asante Samuel on the other side of the field and you now have a defense that, if it can stop the run, should be a shut-down unit all around. That could be the make or break point for these guys to be in the big game at the end of the year. I predict that if they stay healthy, will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC this season.

Speaking of free agency and team makeovers, what about the Vikings? These guys made one big change and that was at QB. Thank goodness that (at least with one game left in the preseason) Brett Favre is actually done. The Vikings recognized last season that Tavarus Jackson really isn’t an NFL quarterback. He can’t hack it. Mark my words, Seattle will have an abysmal year this season. So Minnesota picks up Donovan McNabb. Last year McNabb looked bad, most of that because the Redskins have a pretty awful management and administrative office. Their coaches don’t really have much cohesion. Remember last year when McNabb was promised to be the starter by coach Shanahan, only to be replaced the next day by Rex Grossman? That was a lot of confusion for an organization that was pretty chaotic to begin with. So you put McNabb in an organization with some solid receivers like Bernard Berian and Devin Arishamadou (both former Bears receivers), and you include Adrian Peterson in the backfield, that’s going to be one powerful offense in the NFC.

Green Bay didn’t change much in the free agency, but why would they? These guys didn’t lose really anyone to free agency and they were the best team in all of football last year. I expect them to be solid this season too. Detroit ended last year looking good after being pretty horrible the year before (the season they finished with zero wins). They have a QB that’s slowly becoming a solid starter in Matthew Stafford. Their RB Javid Best will have another solid fantasy season and hopefully be a cause of some wins. And their defense continues to improve. They could be a sleeper pick for the playoffs come December.

Which leaves the Chicago Bears in the NFC North. I’ve spent the past 5 seasons as fans of this franchise, and have a pretty deep knowledge of their rosters over the past few seasons. Though I started following the team after they drafted Danieal Manning in 2006, I have subsequently moved a lot of my loyalty to Houston following Manning’s signing with them this off-season. Call it fickle if you want, but Manning was the reason I liked the Bears in the first place. But they still have another ACU alumni Johnny Knox, so they still have some of my allegiance.

They don’t, however, have much of my faith in a good season this year. My prediction for the Bears in 2011-12 is bottom of the NFC North Division. Last season they excelled in offense when Matt Forte was given carries. The first several games when the the run/pass ratio favored the pass, the Bears couldn’t drive and couldn’t score. Their scoring drives ended in FGs due to great field position from the kick-off returns of Manning and Hester. Once they balanced the play calling, Forte and Taylor led them down the field along with some good passing attacks. But that came later in the year. The O-line was bad from the beginning. The only steady and consistent presence was veteran center Olin Kreutz. This off-season they refused to give him a solid deal so he left. He was the only bright spot on the O-line.

Last season I really questioned Jerry Angelo’s management and Lovie Smith’s coaching. This off-season proved to me (and to many others) that these guys may have been good a few years ago, but they really can’t make solid management decisions. Add to that the constant moving of Manning 2 years ago from FS to SS to nickel back. He didn’t get a chance to solidify his position, so his play suffered. Last season he had his best year at FS alongside Chris Harris. The defense last season was a shutdown lineup. This year I think they will have a hard time stopping the pass, mostly because Urlacher is not in the form he was a few years back and there’s no noticeable sign of cohesion in the secondary. Their D-line will be solid again, but the secondary makes or breaks your defense. Look for the Bears to hold most teams to under 21 points, but not have the offense to put up numbers to win games.

Caleb Hanie, Bears #2 QB

Here’s why: Jay Cutler is not a winner. Going back to the mention of poor management from the front office and coaches, these are the same guys who chose to start Rex Grossman after seeing what Kyle Orton could do. These are the guys who chose to trade Orton for Cutler, a QB who (while he was in Denver) didn’t have a lot of defensive challengers in pass defense and did pretty well. He also had Brandon Marshall. Then he comes to a team with no all-star receiver (until Johnny Knox of course) and a slew of defensive powerhouses all in the same division. Cutler plays like a young Favre, a gunslinger who will throw pick after pick and then josh about it on the sideline, and do so in a championship game. Caleb Hannie proved in the NFC title game last year that he not only has the skills, the knowledge of the playbook, but also the raw fire and leadership to be the starter. But all of us TV viewers must have been watching a different game than the coaches and management, because Cutler will start and lose games this year. Hester and Knox are the bright spots on the offense. Roy Williams will be just as bad as he was in Dallas and Sam Hurd will end up being a name like Juaquin Iglasius, a great player who everyone had high hopes for but just couldn’t hack it.

Without going into too much other detail, I also predict in the NFC that Carolina will have a decent year, going about 8-8. Cam Newton looks like the real deal, DeAngelo Williams is solid, and Greg Olsen will be another point to my contention that the Bears can’t see talent while it’s on their roster, so they have to see it when the talent goes elsewhere. He’ll have a breakout year. Tampa Bay will do the same. The Falcons and the Saints are playoff contenders, as are the Giants and the Cardinals. Kevin Kobb in Arizona with Larry Fitzgerald is a match made in heaven. It will look like Kurt Warner came back in a different body. Dallas will be at the bottom of the rung again, due like Chicago to poor management and lack of insight into talent. Romo might have a decent game here and there, but without adequate protection and against solid defenses, they won’t be able to hang. The Rams and the 49ers could go either way, good or really bad. Time will have to tell.

Pt. 2 is coming soon with my predictions for the AFC.

Facebook-holics, Twitter-heads, and other internet obsessions

Everyone has those few websites they visit everyday (okay, more like multiple times a day).

Of course there’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social network phenomena.

And you can’t forget that mandatory e-mail check, then a couple of Skype sessions. Oh, and then you browse over to YouTube to check out the latest laughing baby video.

I have decided to break out of the internet rut, and you should too. With millions of websites in existence, there are certainly other websites that are worth our spare time. **Important disclaimer: There are many websites that are not worth our time, as well**

As I set off on my quest for and internet goldmine, I thought I would share some of websites that are worth checking out, that you might not have known about.

1. Tablespoon.com

This website is dedicated to recipes, party tips, and all things “foodie”. Now, we aren’t talking the frou-frou foods that take hours to make, and ingredients  you have never even heard of, much less pronounce. For example, they have a section dedicated to rainbow foods. Rainbow cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and the list goes on. Rainbows make me happy, cake makes me happy. Rainbow cake, I’m pretty sure that’s the answer to world peace. They also have some offbeat recipes that make even the worst cook pull out the pots and pans. I’ve already started planning my dinner plans after coming across a recipe for red velvet-coated chicken fingers. Sounds interesting, they are supposed to be delicious. As my dad used to say, “Don’t knock it, till you’ve tried it.” The recipes are accompanied by step-by-step instructions, AND pictures, for the culinary-challenged. There are also links to other great food blogs. Definitely a must see.

2. Unusual Things

I came across this blog a couple of days ago. I haven’t read much of it, but it seems pretty interesting. There are some very unusual things discussed on this site. For example, a bean bag chair that looks exactly like a sleeping brown bear, a roof for your bicycle, fruit carvings… I’m sure you get the idea. A good website to learn about some very unique subjects. A lot of archived posts too, the site goes back to 2007.

3. The Daytripper

I couldn’t resist. This is one of my favorite shows. Texas is a huge state with so many things to do. Each episode of this show features the crew visiting a Texas town packing as many fun activities as possible into one day. And in true Texas fashion, most episodes involve a large plate of BBQ. You can catch this show on KERA on Saturday mornings, and also on other cities public broadcasting channels.Their website has a lot of great Texas information and more information about this show, another must see.

4. The Appetizer

I can’t forget this one. The Appetizer is a locally produced radio show featuring a wide array of music. Each episode features tracks from musicians you’ve heard of, but songs you haven’t indulged in. Also, music from up-and-coming artists. AND, interviews and exclusive sessions with many talented artists. The website has links to The Appetizer blog, Facebook, and the brand-new YouTube channel. In fact, an exclusive acoustic session with William Fitzsimmons has just been posted!

So what are you waiting for? Your email and Facebook page could use a quick break.

Know some other great websites? Fill us in, we’d love to hear them.

Good Ole’ Home Remedies.

The other day, a friend shared via Facebook that her little boy wasn’t feeling well. He was sick throughout the night, and the poor child couldn’t even keep water down. Another friend commented that to keep her son from getting dehydrated, she should prepare some jello.  But instead of placing it in the fridge to solidify, she should pour it in a glass and let it cool room temperature. Apparently, this recipe made a homemade version of Pedialyte. The friend swore by it, saying that it was not only cheaper than the store bought drink, but also that children tend to like it  better because it can be made in a variety of flavors.

This got me thinking, what other home remedies are hiding out there. I remember when I was little, my grandmother had a book titled, Natural Home Remedies. This book had a homemade answer for everything. Back then I didn’t pay attention to the huge book, now I am more than curious about successful home remedies.

I found a great collection of unusual home remedies on The People’s Pharmacy’s website, a show that you can catch on KACU Wednesday at 1pm.

Here are some I that found interesting:

1. Black pepper for cuts: I have always heard that if you are clipping your pet’s nails and you accidentally draw blood, place the paw in a pile of pepper. Well, did you know that you can put a bit of pepper on a cut or gash? It is supposed to stop the bleeding sooner and help the injury heal with minimal scarring.

2. Chocolate for hiccups: This remedy sounds delicious. Next time you get a case of the hiccups, grab a handful of chocolate chips. I think I feel a case coming on right now.

3. Coffee for asthma: This one is only considered a short-term remedy. For relief from wheezing, if the medicine will take a while to reach, a couple of cups of coffee could gave some relief. The caffeine in coffee is similar to the asthma medicine, theophylline.

There are many other remedies on The People’s Pharmacy, posted by experts and listeners.

A reminder that home remedies should not substitute for doctor and medical care. Should you encounter an emergency, contact medical professionals immediately.

Do you have a home remedy that you think everyone should know about? Share with us, I would love to hear it.

Wildfires Ravage the Lone Star State

Burn bans are currently in effect in 195 of the state’s 254 counties.

Governor Perry has sent a letter to President Obama asking for him to declare the state a major disaster area.

I have lived in Texas all of my life. I have experienced droughts and grass fires, but nothing to this magnitude.

I had been following the news, but didn’t realize just how bad the fires had gotten until last Thursday. I was outside, filming a local concert and noticed that I kept having to brush dust off of the camera and myself. That’s when I realized it wasn’t dust, it was ash. I looked up at the moon and noticed the brown haze.

“They have called for evacuation in Rotan,” I heard a man say.

Although the fires were at least thirty minutes away, it was like they were burning right down the road. The smell of burning grass and smokey haze continues to linger in the air.

Since then, I have been staying up to date with the latest news regarding the fires.

There are currently six blazes:

1. Cooper Mountain Ranch Fire (162,000 acres, 80% contained): Fisher, Kent, Scurry, Stonewall counties.

2. East Sidywnicks Fire (3,000 acres, 95% contained): Eastland County

3. Jackson Ranch Fire (2,270 acres, 50% contained): Stephens County

4. County Road Fire (1,400 acres): Eastland County

5. Possum Kingdom West/Possum Kingdom East/ Hohertz Fire (55,000 acres, 10% contained): Stephens, Palo Pinto counties

6. Swenson Fire (120,000 acres, 90% contained): Stonewall, Knox, King counties

Over 1.5 million acres and 244 homes have been ravaged by the fires. High winds, high heat, and low humidity continue to feed the flames and The Texas Forest Service says the weather will only continue to make conditions worse this week. The Texas Forest Service has sent teams to help the crews fighting the fires. Most of these firemen are volunteers.

Take the time today and everyday until the fires are extinguished to pray for all of the people affected and all of the men and women bravely fighting these blazes.

Why rumour spreads

The tsunami, earthquake and nuclear plant explosions in Japan are devastating. But some relevant information that is spreading quickly is more shocking to me. The other day, I read an article on one of my net pal’s blog. He forwarded it from a person, declaring that the nuclear pollution is actually caused by Japan’s atomic bomb test. At the beginning of the article, the author gave the source of the news: PhoenixTV.

PhoenixTV is one of the most famous TV stations in Hong Kong which is considered one of the most relatively objective news sources in China. To confirm the information, I searched their news website.

Japan’s earthquake was on the front page and is presented as special coverage with lots of reports. I searched carefully, and did not find anything about Japan’s nuclear bomb test. I searched “Japan’s atomic bomb test” on google and found out the information and analysis of this “atomic test” are all from personal blogs, which none of the mainstream media has reported.

Dongsheng Li, one of my net pals, forwarded the article. “I swear I will never buy Japanese products,” He commented, “I will never need Japanese products, no matter whether I live or die.”

“PhoenixTV never reported that Japan is having atomic bomb tests. The source is wrong.” I texted Li.

“I have knowledge on military affairs. You need to know better.” Li said. He avoided my point.

“I am not a scientist, but I study journalism. I know how to distinguish false news from the truth according to its source.” I replied.

We started arguing. My point was this information is not from any reliable source, and actually, the person who wrote it lied about the source. I didn’t think a person that lied about the source in order to add credibility to themselves could be objective.

Li did not confront my question at all. All he said was that Japan definitely has the ambition to make their own atomic bombs. Li did not argue with me about the credibility of the source, but kept avoiding my question and only focusing on his assumption.

“The information is too sensitive. They will not let journalists know.” This is Li’s most shocking statement about why the mainstream media did not report it.

The article Li forwarded looks rational. The author used a lots of terminologies and pictures to illustrate his opinion. The thing is, ordinary citizens have no idea about these terminologies and science theories. That’s just like fictional story created in a imaginary context. In the context the author creates, things make sense, and yet they are not true.

Japan invaded China during the World War II. China built several museums to remember the war. In China, every student learns about the war in schools. The hatred from history still exists, and that leads to an important reason why rumor spreads.

One reason that rumor prevails is that it gives people what they want, or it confirms people’s imagination. As long as someone presents the information with the six elements of news, and it fits people’s appetite, it spreads quickly.

Critical thinking skills are important to individuals. Unfortunately, most people don’t think rationally and objectively because doing so requires energy, time, and may even cause anguish and exhaustion. However, without thinking rationally and independently, people will be always following their feelings, create false emotions and make bad decisions.

Winning, and What Comes After

Last week, my fellow Journalism Mass Communications (JMC) colleagues and I attended the annual Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA) conference in Fort Worth. There we attended seminars on how to improve our craft. We also competed against colleges and universities statewide in on-site and mailed in competitions. As is well known by now, KACU cleaned up, and usually does at this event’s competitions, consistently beating out the even likes of TCU’s prestigious Schieffer School of Journalism. I believe Charlie Sheen put it best when he said, “Winning.”

Now it’s pretty easy to get a big head over this, and many people would. At last year’s awards ceremony in Kerrville, when my name kept getting called for 1st place, I wasn’t sure how I should feel. I’m anything but a conceited or overly proud person, but I had obviously hit a good groove. After I got home, I also began to wonder what I should do as far as my journalistic work from that point forward. It had already seemed like I hit the top… where do I go from here?

Many sports heroes retire when they feel satisfied with their career. But I’ve barely started mine. What’s worse is that you don’t get any judges’ feedback on your entries, so you don’t know where, if anywhere, to improve. There was one mailed in competition that I got 2nd place in: Radio Production, where I entered my weekly radio show, “Eye on Entertainment.” As a result, I changed up its format, and made it a longer, 10-minute show. One of these new format shows won 1st the Gutenberg student competition late last year, so I considered it a success.

Fast forward to last week’s awards ceremony in Fort Worth. I still won awards in each competition I entered, but there weren’t as many 1st’s as last year. “Eye on Entertainment” even got second again in Radio Production. Now, don’t get me wrong. I was still proud of these accomplishments, but the big question in my mind was if I had actually taken a step backward? Was last year a fluke?

After mulling this over the past week, I realized that wasn’t the case. Even if I had a perfect year of placing first in every competition I entered, the competition is going to improve for next year, and the challenge is to always continue to improve with them. I already know of ways to continue to improve my craft for next year’s competition, which would be my last year of eligibility for the contest. More importantly, the professional world is a completely different ballgame, and I have steps to take for my work to make the cut in that hostile environment. So, in a way, I don’t have time to get a big head over the results. I have to reformulate my strategy constantly to keep up with this rapidly competitive battlefield.

What Does A Government Shutdown Mean?

I’ve been following the debates in Washington that could lead to a government shutdown by the end of today.

For those who haven’t been following the news, here is an update.

Someone asked me, “What does this actually mean? The country can’t actually stop everything, right?”

To be honest, I didn’t have an answer, but this perked my “journalistic ears.” I begin looking into it and found an interesting article about the last time the government had a major shutdown for 21 days back in 1996. Here’s a link to the story from Miller-McLune.

So what did I find out? What should we expect?

While most government officials aren’t even sure who would still have to report to work, there are a few that we can be assured will stay working, according to Miller-McLune:
• Air traffic controllers
• Deployed troops
• Airport TSA screeners
• The U.S. Mint
• Federal prison guards
• Congress and the Office of the President
• The Treasury
• The Postal Service
• The Border Patrol and Coast Guard

It’s still pretty clear that millions will be pained by potential shutdown. There are some issues that I think will have some major impacts among the “common folk.”

The IRS will not process any paper returns during this time. This will affect me personally. I had to make a change to my tax return and the IRS required I submit it through the mail. Now I am stuck wondering when my check will come. As a broke college student, this bums me out a little.

Also, living in a military town  brought about another issue has been buzzing among some of my enlisted friends. US troop’s pay could be delayed. I have many friends that are supporting families solely on their military wages.  What will they do without their check?

The Federal Housing Commission will suspend loans. Small businesses and homeowners would be denied loans for a certain time.

Social Security and Medicare would continue working, although medical research would be halted.

The list could go on.

Until the deadline, stay updated with the government’s progress towards a compromise through CNN’s live blog.

Food Optimists

The ACU Locavore Club will host the Just Food Fair at ACU’s Moody Coliseum with renowned author Joel Salatin.

The Just Food Fair is intended to help students and ACU discover how locally grown food systems can benefit particular aspects of agriculture, community, culture and the body. Educating students and ACU about the Locavore Club philosophy is the goal of the Just Food Fair.

The philosophy of the Locavore Club is “to promote the health, environmental, social and spiritual benefits of locally-grown food, and to participate in sustainable, small-scale agricultural systems,” according to the club Facebook page. The fair will host a farmer’s market from 4:30-6:30 pm tonight.

“The Just Food Fair is a more equal and just system to produce and consume food,” said Jon Camp, assistant professor of communications.

Matthew Hale, senior communications major from Uvalde serves as president of the Locavore Club. Hale said that the ACU Dining Services are more open to the thought of switching to the Locavore philosophy than he thought. Hale believes the switch in philosophy is a choice of morality.

“Real food truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth,” Hale said.

Joel Salatin, a Virginia farmer and author of You Can Farm, will be the featured speaker. Salatin raises livestock at Polyface, Inc using natural methods for feeding and production of meat. Salatin made an appearance in the 2008 documentary film, Food, Inc. examining commercial farming.

“He’s a real crazy farmer guy,” Hale said.

Salatin and the Locavore Club ate at Bonterra Blu in Clyde last night where Chef Joel Trublood has a similar food production philosophy as the Locavore Club, according to Hale. Dinner is $50 per plate with all proceeds going to the Locavore Club. Locavore members served tables and had a maxed capacity.

In the middle of the Just Food Fair, Salatin will speak during a 2-credit Chapel forum from 5-6 pm. He will sign autographs until 6:30 pm. The World Famous Bean will be offering an organic meal option for dinner. The meal will cost two meal plans.

Salatin’s final stop will be in the Brown Library Atrium for a coffee house discussion where Salatin and a 6-7-farmer panel will discus farming philosophy and local farming missions.

Spring Has Broken, and In Some Places More Than Others

Spring has sprung

The grass is ‘riz

I wonder where the flowers is…

~Anonymous

It’s safe to say that once temperatures hit 90 degrees, spring has hit the Big Country, or at least whatever bit of spring we end up with. As any West Texan with a sense of humor (or perhaps cynicism) will tell you, the four seasons of West Texas include Pre-Summer, Summer, Post-Summer, and Christmas. “Pre-Summer,” the season we’re entering into now, is known for its shorter, less intense bursts of summer heat coupled with the few remaining breaths of the strong “Post-Summer” winds.

This time, many Abilenians are welcoming the coming of Pre-Summer due to a longer, harsher “Christmas” weather season than in recent memory. For nearly a week, Abilene was covered in a thick shell of ice in what many have dubbed, “The Snowpocalypse.” But even in the depths of Christmas, West Texas weather never ceases to amaze. Both the week before and after the Snowpocalypse, high temperatures in the lower 80s were recorded, as the ice tried to thaw, then tried to re-freeze, then finally thawed. This strange temperature zig-zag is nothing new to residents of the Big Country, however. Another West Texas anecdote is that if you don’t like the current weather conditions, wait about five minutes. When I mention this oft-quoted saying, many people tell me, “Oh, that happens everywhere!” It’s clear to me that these people have never been to the southeast region of Louisiana.

Before my time in Abilene I used to live in the New Orleans suburb of Chalmette, Louisiana. It’s a small refinery town located about 6 miles east of the crescent city, and just barely 3 feet above sea level. It was the site of the famous “Battle of New Orleans,” where American forces dealt the final blow to the invading British army in the War of 1812. (The war had actually ended a month earlier when the Treaty of Ghent was signed, but that news didn’t make it to them until a month after this battle. Now, aren’t you glad we have Twitter?) Chalmette is also (in)conveniently located by the Gulf of Mexico and near the mouth of the Mississippi River. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, the town was all but destroyed by what some eyewitnesses described as a tsunami-like deluge of floodwater. But Chalmatians are tough, and the town is coming back. In five years many of the businesses have reopened, and its streets were home to many Mardi Gras parades this past carnival season.

Natural disasters aside, our location bordering on two bodies of water means one thing weather wise: humidity. We got a lot of rain and when it wasn’t raining it was still incredibly humid. We have much less of a winter than Abilene. The winter before Katrina was the first snow we had in over a decade. There’s even less of a difference between seasons. Also, unlike Abilene’s swinging weather vane, Mother Nature made it clear by 10 AM what the weather was going to be like for the rest of the day. If it was going to be a hot, sticky summer’s day, you felt the sweat pouring down on the back of your neck by mid-morning. If it was going to be a gloomy rainy day, it was all coming down well before lunch. If it was going to be just plain cold… you get the idea. That’s not to say we didn’t have an unpredictable summer rain in the middle of a clear day every once in a while, but it wasn’t nearly as sporadic as pouring rain one hour, sunny sky the next as I’ve personally observed many times in Abilene.

But they say variety is the spice of life, and many people like it just fine when the weather can change at the drop of a hat, while others prefer if they can easily plan their day based on the current midmorning conditions. Northerners may have thought Abilene’s “Snowpocalypse” this past season was nothing special, while many Chalmatians like myself jump at any chance to experience even a slight bit of snow. Each area’s climate is unique and has its upsides and downsides. Some people pack up and move if they don’t like a town’s climate. But speaking as someone who’s lived through contrasting climates, I feel you ultimately learn to enjoy the weather you live in. You bloom where you’re planted, or transplanted as the case may be. I’d be okay moving back to a place like Chalmette one day even knowing first hand what nature can do to you in a place like that. In many cases it’s a number of other factors that keep us in a certain place, such as people we know, or memories we’ve had. In my opinion, the weather is merely the backdrop in front of which our lives take place, and sometimes the set designer can’t make up his mind!