Dr. King’s fight isn’t over

January 18, 2019 Leave a comment

This next Monday, January 21, is Martin Luther King Jr Day. On that day, some schools will not have classes. Blacks, whites, and other races will gather to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for civil rights. At some gatherings they will even play his “I Have a Dream” speech.

One friend, a minister somewhere above the Mason Dixon Line, posted one year trashing King, accusing him of adultery and communism. I don’t know about communism, but, well, let’s just say King was an imperfect man. Many heroes in the Bible were, also.

A few years ago I posted on Facebook, wishing everyone a happy MLK Jr. Day.

Around two hours later, I received a private message from this friend. “Do you really think blacks should have the right to vote?” he asked.

I re-read that post several times, trying to decide whether or not my friend was joking.

Finally, I realized: my friend is a bigot. I thought of another friend, Robbie, who is black but who also has one of the most brilliant minds of anyone I’ve ever met.

“I know of some white people who should not have the right to vote,” I replied.

My friend didn’t reply. A few months later, my bigoted friend unfriended me.

Maybe someday he’ll become colorblind.

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Food and fellowship

January 12, 2019 Leave a comment

knaf crew

Most of the crew from Hill Country Broadcasting. The gent with the beard on the right is from the hometown in Oklahoma of one of my mother’s closest friends.

There’s a common battle I fight with the natural introvert in me. Sure, I’m a huge extrovert when a microphone is in front of me or when I’m on stage, but away from those I prefer solitude. But, there are times I crave interaction with other adults.

The other night, I left the introvert at home and went to a gathering with other people where I work, a local radio station. We talked, ate, had dinner, and watched food demonstrations.

Some things I came away with:

…I’ll be 46 in a month, and on Thursday I tried butternut squash soup for the first time in my life. Where have you been all my life?! I asked it, so high from the deliciousness (it tasted like liquid mashed potatoes), I momentarily forgot that soup is an inanimate object. I will definitely have to buy some more when I go to the store.

…I had some red wine and took a sip. I am aware there are ardent oenophiles out there, but I just do not like wine. That’s ok. I do like iced tea and tequila (but not together).

…A lawyer was there, and I spoke with him since I know him. Want to know how to make an attorney laugh? Mention some of the lawyer commercials you’ve seen on TV. I’d rather not give hints, out of fear one or both attorneys have no sense of humor and will sue me.

…Steve the chef, who also happens to be a friend of mine, mentioned about how important fellowship is during dinner time. He was willing to answer any questions, except what his social security number was. Sheesh.

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Even chickens get stressed out

January 2, 2019 Leave a comment

Two years ago, I covered a livestock show at Fredericksburg, Texas’ Gillespie County Fairgrounds for the newspaper where I worked. My job was to get pictures of chickens.

Pictures I took included a girl hugging her chicken close, as if consoling it, a boy who built a “fortress” out of hay for his chicken to rest in. We used to have chickens when I was a kid, primarily for eggs. Sometimes we’d eat them, although it used to give me the creeps eating a chicken I “knew.” I would’ve never made it as a farmer.

Then I noticed a chicken that lay perfectly still, despite its master’s efforts to wake it. As it turned out, the chicken died. “Is that normal?” I asked one man.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Sometimes the stress of the competition gets to them.”

I never knew that. Did you know that, My Reader?

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Meeting Clyde the Cassowary

December 29, 2018 Leave a comment

 

 

These are stock photos of a cassowary. I didn’t get pictures of Clyde, unfortunately.

Many years ago, around 1998, my family and I decided to go to the San Francisco Zoo. We lived outside Monterey, California at the time in Seaside, and it was about 100 miles away. In our haste to go, we didn’t bother checking the weather forecast.

Surprise, surprise: forecast for the Fog City was rain, and lots of it.

We realized this long after it was too late to turn around and return home, and when we arrived, we decided to pick a few animals worth visiting and do that.

As I scanned the map of exhibits, I saw one that caught my eye.

Cassowaries.

For those who know nothing about ornithology, the cassowary is considered to be the world’s most dangerous bird. It’s big, bulky, flightless, and similar in size to an ostrich. It also has razor-sharp claws on its feet. Cassowaries in the wild are shy and like to hide from humans, but like most animals, when threatened they will defend themselves. They’ve been known to kill humans.

At the exhibit, there was a fence serving as a buffer between me and the lone cassowary I saw. I’ll call him “Clyde.” I stood still, watching, excited that I was seeing the world’s most dangerous bird with my own eyes.

Clyde slowly walked up to me, watching me. I believe the fence was designed so his claws would not have fit through them. I watched him as well. He never made any threatening moves, possibly because the look on my face was a studious, respectful one. Likely, he saw me as no threat.

Finally, his interest seemed to wane and as he saw me as no threat, he walked away.

That was more than 20 years ago, and I suspect Clyde has since deceased. Sometimes I think about him and hope he lived a happy life at that zoo.

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Texas Legislature, focus on school finance reform

December 25, 2018 Leave a comment

By Richard Zowie

Note: This column was originally published in the (Marble Falls, Texas) Highlander.

The last time the Texas Legislature met, they wasted a colossal amount of time on bathrooms. Who should use which ones? Despite my conservative views, I felt this was a serious lack of prioritizing. Aren’t there bigger issues to worry about?

It does appear the legislature is choosing this time to focus on school finance reform. Thank goodness.

Of course, I doubt we’ll get much help from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. He recently took time out of his busy schedule to publicly endorse the reelection bid of U.S. Senator John Cornyn (GOP, Texas).

Patrick apparently doesn’t believe in procrastinating, as Cornyn’s seat isn’t up until 2020.

Priorities, Dan. Priorities.

Throughout my journalism career, I’ve covered several school boards. Most recently, Fredericksburg and, Marble Falls Independent School Districts. The biggest concern they’ve had in recent years: the budget. The challenge is to make sure the revenue is greater than the expenditures. If it doesn’t, you either have to make massive cuts or take from the general fund to balance the budget. And since school districts are supposed to carry the equivalent of around four months’ worth of operating monies in their general fund, there’s only so much they can take out.

Some schools, to keep under budget, make cutbacks, cancel or reduce teacher salary increases, combine jobs, do layoffs. With those schools, you have to really love what you do to continue being a teacher.

Kerinne Herber, who serves on the FISD school board, said their balanced budget for 2018-2019 came at a price.

“It took the absorption of over 24 positions over the past two years and minimal raises,” Herber said. “It has not been easy, but we had to do something.”

She and others in Fredericksburg have started a non-profit education foundation in hopes of raising “significant dollars to help out and keep funds here.”

And, of course, because both Fredericksburg and Marble Falls are property-rich school districts, this all has to be done while sending the state of Texas several million dollars per year to go to property-poor districts in what’s often known as Chapter 41, or “Robin Hood.”

Revamping the funding formula is something many public education professionals in Texas feel needs to be done. And while some have suggested ditching Robin Hood, others are reluctant, ostensibly because that would leave many property-poor school districts in the lurch as they struggle to educate their students on limited budgets. A friend who teaches in San Antonio’s South San ISD (most of the housing there is Section 8), works two jobs to make ends meet.

I asked MFISD Supt. Dr. Chris Allen his thoughts on the subject.

“I think considering poverty should be part of the recapture formula,” Allen said. “My idea is that the amount of money an ISD is scheduled to pay in recapture should be multiplied by the percentage of free/reduce lunch kids in an ISD. So for Marble Falls that would be approximately $8 million x 0.65 = $5,200,000. MFISD would keep the $5,200,000 and pay the remaining $2.8 million to the state in recapture.

“This would add money to districts with economically disadvantaged students, penalize no one, and ISDs with lower percentages of students in poverty would carry a heavier load (which seems justifiable to me),” Allen said.

As we close out 2018, one thing we remember was Cornyn’s counterpart, Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, barely won reelection over U.S. Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke (Democrat, El Paso). If Republicans want to keep Texas red in the future, they’d better start paying closer attention to the issues that truly matter.

Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, as opposed to restrooms.

Richard Zowie blogs about writing, current events, Christian issues, and, occasionally satire. Post comments here or email them to:  fromatozowie@highlandernews.com

Thoughts on ‘The Ranch’

December 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Season 3 is in the books for the Netflix show The Ranch. Starring Ashton Kutcher, Sam Elliott, Debra Winger, Elisha Cuthbert and, until recently, Danny Masterson, the sitcom follows the Bennett family as they work to overcome their dysfunction while trying to work the family ranch and keep it solvent. The show is set in the fictional Garrison, Colorado.

At the end of the third season, Rooster is gone and is presumed dead (I think his departure is deliberately ambiguous in case producers decide to bring Masterson back; he has been accused of sexual harrassment), Beau is considering selling the ranch or, at least, controlling interest. Hank the barfly is still a barfly whose dream phrase is “A round of drinks on me!” Colt’s inability to communicate with his wife, Abby, has led to their separation. He has other problems, such as his inability to sell his herd at a profitable price.

A few observations…

I know it’s on Netflix and not on prime time, but, sheesh: my late father-in-law, who swore like a sailor, didn’t cuss THAT much. I sometimes use profanity, but there are certain words I don’t use unless I’m angry.

Maybe I’m being harsh, but I think it’s becoming safer to say that Colt is an alcoholic. Rooster, definitely.

I’m a little glad Rooster is gone. Despite Beau’s tear-ridden eulogy talking about him being a good rancher, all Rooster seemed to do was drink and chase women–and sometimes women who weren’t completely single. He has the depth of a coffee cup saucer.

If the two sons showed their father proper respect, they could probably get a lot more done on that ranch. They are aware their father fought in the Vietnam War. Wouldn’t common sense tell them that might have a bearing on some of his anger and stubbornness issues? Seeing people die in front of you in a war that wasn’t exactly popular isn’t a “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” experience.

It’s commendable that Kutcher often casts his That 70s Show co-stars. However, considering how much it’s said Winger hated doing the movie An Officer and a Gentleman and how much she disliked working with Richard Gere, it’s unlikely we’ll see Zack Mayo on the show anytime soon. No chance of him carrying her out of the bar.

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Returning to radio

December 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Richard at AM 910 KNAF

This picture is a reminder for me that it’s time to get off my lazy butt and lose weight.

Starting in a few weeks in 2019, my life will see some changes. Currently, five days per week, I drive from Fredericksburg to a newspaper in Marble Falls, making sure I’m drinking water and soda (not together, of course), to ensure I have enough energy for the drive back and forth. Sometimes on the way home, I’ll stop at a convenience store and take a 10-minute nap before getting a final boost of caffeine on the way home.

Soon, my 104-mile round trip daily will turn into three miles. Gas stations will curse me, angry that they no longer will make a killing off of me.

Currently, I work part-time at Hill Country Broadcasting. I work Sunday mornings on the air at AM 910 KNAF Fredericksburg, the Voice of the Texas Hill Country but also engineer football games for the Houston Texans on its sister station, FM 105.7 KNAF (simulcast in FM 103.1 KEEP Bandera), the Deuce. There’s a third station: FM 107.9 KFAN, Texas Rebel Radio. My duties include weather reports, live news, talking about songs.

My previous experience in radio includes AM 630 KSLR (four years) and AM 550 KTSA (six months, before moving to Michigan for a full-time job), both in San Antonio. I also worked 2.5 years at Gospel 1230 WMPC in Lapeer, Michigan.

Sometime down the road, perhaps I’ll share a few stories. We’ll see.

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