It could be a great week for the East Coast

My niece in Virginia Beach, said a short while ago on Facebook: “Earthquake on Tuesday, hurricane on Saturday…this is shaping up to be a stellar week!” I’m glad of course that she is doing well as is her family and she can maintain her sense of humor.

The East Coast earthquake seems to be the topic of the afternoon. A fellow who works on my floor — our conversations have never ventured beyond small talk in the past couple of years I’ve known him — mentioned how weird the quake was. A man passing time listening to NPR while waiting on someone at the grocery store also made some mention of it. This fellow said he had lived in California and studied quakes. He said that when cool temperatures come up suddenly there tend to be more shaking.

Compared to the 80-degree nights we have been having in Southeast Texas, the last couple of nights in the area of the quake’s epicenter has been cool — in the upper 50s and 60s for lows, we’d take it — but hardly earth-shaking cold. Nonetheless, it was an interesting theory to listen to while putting the groceries in my auto.

This was the most powerful earthquake in the Eastern U.S. area in 100 years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That is significant enough. But the fact that the quake was felt in Washington, New York City and Boston — the Megapolis (BosWash) — is another reason that this is such a big event even though the quake was nothing as severe as the 9.0 quake and tsunami that hit eastern Japan in March.

The fact is earthquakes happen all the time and all around the world. An earthquake can strike any location at any time, the USGS says. The last earthquake in Texas was 11:30 p.m., Aug. 6, about 6 miles west southwest of Dallas, this according to the “Last Earthquake in … “ page on the USGS Website. Pretty neat site, actually, as is individual state earthquake histories by that same agency. Included in the Texas earthquake history was a blurb of the series of shocks that hit in the mid-1960s in the area just north of where I was raised:

 “A series of moderate earthquakes in the Texas – Louisiana border region near Hemphill started on April 23, 1964. Epicenters were determined on April 23, 24, 27, and 28. There were numerous additional shocks reported felt at Pineland, Hemphill, and Milam. The only damage reported was from the magnitude 4.4 earthquake on April 28 – wall paper and plaster cracked at Hemphill (V). The magnitude of the other epicenters changed from 3.4 to 3.7. Shocks were also felt at Pineland on April 30 and May 7. On June 2, three more shocks were reported in the same area. The strongest was measured at magnitude 4.2; intensities did not exceed IV. Another moderate earthquake on August 16 awakened several people at Hemphill and there were some reports of cracked plaster (V). The shock was also felt at Bronson, Geneva, Milam, and Pineland.”

There was a lot of local interest in these shocks in my area, not because it was spread over the news or the Internet. It wasn’t. This was, after all, 1964 in the Pineywoods of East Texas.. All the talk, as I can remember, was by word of mouth. Much of the concern centered around Toledo Bend Reservoir, which spans the Texas-Louisiana border for 65 miles and is the largest man-made water body in the southern U.S. Toledo Bend was being built during that time so some dismissed the shaking as dynamite charges, used for what in building the huge lake I have no idea. Others still, worried about building a large dam holding almost 4.5 million acre feet of water — think 4.5 million x 1 acre of water that is 1 foot deep — being built on faults capable of producing seismic eruptions as those in 1964. But just as suddenly as the quakes came did they leave.

Everyone, it seems or at least in the U.S., has some sort of violent natural aspect for which to be concerned. Where I live it’s hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes (not recently though), lightning, forest fires, marsh fires, extreme heat and humidity,  disease-ridden mosquitoes, alligators, snakes, flesh-eating bacteria from the Gulf waters, and if you believe some, Bigfoot. Those are just some of the natural threats. Oh and earthquakes, we don’t have a big risk but remember what the USGS said. At least we don’t have mudslides, like California.

Hopefully, my niece and her family and my friends on the East Coast will escape Hurricane Irene. It is bad enough just surviving everyday life without earthquakes and tropical cyclones to worry about. If my loved ones can get through that storm and the earthquake with little or no problems, then perhaps those folks might just really have a stellar week. Let’s all hope they do.


Good hair and the inexact science of compromise

BACK IN TEXAS — Coy seems to be the watchword these days among the growing crowd of would-be candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Pundits and GOP talking points distributors have thrown themselves all into a big ol’ tizzy this week over the on-again off-again presidential ambitions of Sarah Palin, a.k.a. Caribou Barbie, suddenly switched into the on-again position. A piece of interesting journalism from The Christian Science Monitor poses the intriguing question: Will Palin face her “mini-me” in Michelle Bachmann should the almost one-term Alaska governor decide to run? Meanwhile, our good-haired boy Gov. Rick Perry — between denouncing the federal government and asking for its help — is thinking of throwing, at least his coquettishness, into the presidential ring again.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets ready to lead the secession

These GOP politicians who otherwise take up valuable air on this planet are, of course, joined by declared candidates his Mormonesque Mitt Romney, his Newtwitishness Newt Gingrich, his Weirdness Ron Paul and other well and less well known Republicans such as pro-Pot former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and pro-anything that works at the time former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Coy. The rest are being coy. Coy can be cute. But it’s not so much in this case.

Soon you will need a program for the players. And, I am not talking about a television program hosted by his Donaldness Donald “The Donald” Trump.

Such a wide-open field makes for a more-interesting race sometimes. In this case, the race might evolve into a contest in which  of the biggest harebrain crackpots might be nominated rather than the traditional GOP “good party man.” If this next presidential challenge doesn’t finish off the Republican Party as we know it, then I don’t know what will.

But what if the dog actually catches the car? What will Fido do with it?

My prediction is that a Republican president taking office in 2013 will not be the cure-all for all those, supposedly, long-suffering GOP and/or Tea Party boosters. An example is the furor over the state of Texas failing to receive a major disaster declaration from Spring wildfires.

FEMA rejected a request earlier this month by Gov. Good Hair for a declaration that would help reduce the state and local fiscal burden for those wildfires that have scorched more than 2.2 million acres across Texas. Perry said at the time of the rejected request: “It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency.”

This is the same governor who shocked millions of Americans by saying Texas could secede if it wanted to do so.

“We are very proud of our Texas history; people discuss and debate the issues of can we break ourselves into five states, can we secede, a lot of interesting things that I’m sure Oklahoma and Pennsylvania would love to be able to say about their states, but the fact is, they can’t because they’re not Texas,” Perry said.

The governor must have been tossing back cold Lone Stars at the Dixie Chicken when Texas History was being taught during his college days at A & M.

An 1845 joint congressional resolution annexing Texas allows, theoretically at least, the state to divide itself up into five states. That doesn’t mean Texas would leave the United States. The Civil War took care of that notion. That was after Texans turned their back on one of its most revered figures, then-Gov. Sam Houston. The leader whose troops defeated Mexico at San Jacinto and who was later president of the Republic of Texas and a U.S. senator for Texas — before Texas he also served as governor of and a U.S. representative from Tennessee — was removed as governor because of his strong opposition to secession.

Knowledge of Texas history  aside, Perry has appealed the ruling for no disaster declaration and the Obama administration’s contention that almost $40 million in grants to help battle Texas wildfires was sufficient.

In addition to the millions already granted to Texas, federal help has come in the form of wildland firefighters from 35 states. Many of those who have helped battle fires across the state are from so-called “hotshot” crews which come from three federal agencies, Native American tribes as well as from the states of Alaska and Utah. The U.S. military has likewise lent assistance in the form of helicopters and air tankers.

Having the federal government take an additional burden of the funding for fighting these fires would be welcome and might have been readily deliverable to the state. Unfortunately, Perry and his faux secession act as well as a number of Texas congressional members made that declaration a non-starter.

An increasing number of Republicans were elected to the U.S. House from Texas over the past decade. Yet, few of them have found access to power and have spent more time obstructing and less time working with the administration. Congress members from the state with more tenure and more oomph might have grabbed the president’s ear or found ways to, as that great scholar Larry the Cable Guy says: “Git R Done.”

Sometimes it takes a little more than just sending someone to Congress who is of your party preference. Also, the notion of a House member serving only one or two terms is ridiculous. It takes that long just to find your way from the Capitol to the congressional office buildings.

It seems cruel to say that voters who think the federal government should fork over millions every time their governor says: “Go,” only have themselves to blame. But that is about the gist of it. People who want ideologues in office and get them are often disappointed. Life isn’t easy to stand for your principles unbending. I have seen the word politics defined as “the art of compromise.” Perhaps it is more an inexact science. Although, “compromise” remains an essential particle.

When it comes to picking the next nominee to run against President Obama, perhaps something more substantial than nice hair and a pretty smile might be entertained by Republican voters.


News overload continues

The “Great News Overload” continues. So much is going on of interest, to me at least, I hardly know where first to turn.

Perhaps it is a flip-up between the nuclear crisis in Japan — a little radiation goes a long way — and Libya where the UN Security Council has approved the use of  “all necessary measures to protect civilians from military actions by forces of Muammar al-Qadhafi. Yet another way to spell this lunatic’s name.

Maybe I am in the minority but I think the decision by the UN, which is backed by the Arab League and the U.S., is a right one. I just hope that all necessary measures which includes a “no-fly” zone is a) Not too late in the game and b) Something that will not drag our country into a third combat front. It is my understanding many military types are not for it, of course, the military leaders with any sense never want to put their young men and women in harm’s way. Let’s just hope this goes right.

Radiation in Cali? I don’t think the sky is falling quite, yet. I still don’t know what all is happening with the Japanese nuclear reactors. Looks like I might watch some CNN later on today.

Have a good weekend. Here’s hoping that all your news is good. Cheesy, I say? Ah yeah buddy.