The Great Contraction Experiment

I’m documenting this now before we go over the cliff so that in a few years we can look back and see if the sentiment and predictions were correct.

In keeping with a recent and occasionally controversial trend of public universities seeking savings through consolidating services, the Texas A&M University System Thursday announced a plan to overhaul its the information technology infrastructure. Source: Texas Tribune.

Staff sentiment is not good. People are saying at worst it will fail and we’ll have to redo it. At best, they say, it will lead to frustration when work isn’t done quickly. People like having a readily available IT person on staff that they can go to and get their problems fixed quickly. They don’t like having to wait or being told they can’t do something or being told they have to do it this new way because the “system” no longer supports their old way.

In regards to backlash, Sharp is quoted as saying, “Probably, the people running the IT system are not going to be crazy about the report,” he said, “Because it doesn’t say good things about the people running IT.”

Texas A&M System contracted Deloitte Consulting to audit the System and produce a recommendation. Their plan says it will save $20 million per year for the next 10 years. There was also internal audits and PriceWaterhouseCoopers was contracted for an administrative study. All of these studies were looking for every dime to make IT and Human Resources and Finance more efficient.

Savings from the first few years of the new plan would be put into a new financial/payroll system.

The most immediate expenditure stemming from the announcement will be the purchase of new payroll and financial systems, Stone said. He said the outdated systems used across the system should be replaced within three to five years for an estimated cost of $30 million. Source: The Eagle

So we’ll see if this great contraction experiment pans out in 5 to 10 years. Stay tuned.

Preppers, Schmeppers


So I saw this video on YouTube, and needless to say it kinda pissed me off. I left this comment:

If the number of preppers out numbers those that are steering us to doom, why don’t the preppers come up with a solution to prevent doom? Why except someone else’s fate? I’m sick and tired of hearing prepper doom and gloom. Get out there and work, spend, and tell others to do the same…like those people making sounds in the background of the video; picturesque setting doesn’t sell impending doom.

You can watch it on YouTube at “WHEN will the SHTF?!?! MainePrepper and PatriotNurse

She’s ThePatriotNurse and he’s MainePrepper.

Ethel Merle Cook Hodges

October 15, 1937 – March 10, 2014

Ethel Merle Cook Hodges, 76, of League City, Texas, went home to the Lord on March 10, 2014. Her family will receive guests during a visitation from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Friday, March 14, 2014 which will be immediately followed by a Celebration of Life, both at Memorial Funeral Chapel in College Station, Texas.

Merle was born in Bryan, Texas on October 15, 1937 to parents Marvin Morris and Ottie Mandy (Lambert) Cook. She attended Stephen F. Austin High school in Bryan, Texas. She had many jobs in her lifetime from a soda jerk as a teenager, to a travel agent, to tax preparer, business owner, and as a cashier in the MSC at Texas A&M University before retiring to League City, Texas.

Merle was a devoted mother, grandmother, great-grandmother (GiGi), aunt, sister, and friend. She loved to fellowship with family and friends, loved to travel, was an avid reader, and enjoyed music immensely. Merle had an adventurous spirit, an infectious laugh, and a sparkle in her eye with every smile. She was loved by many and will be greatly missed.

Merle was preceded by death her parents, her siblings Barbara Ella Knight, W. Roderick “Rod” Cook, Morris Lewis Cook and Pansy O. “Pam” Pivonka. Survivors include her son and daughter-in-law Dr. John Hodges Jr., and Patty Hodges; daughter Teresa “Terri” Rogers; daughter and son-in law Barbara Alice Lobdell-Siems and Christopher Siems; sister-in-law Sue Cook; grandchildren Sara Eveland, Steven Hodges, Vincent Lobdell, Katie Lobdell, and Jake Lobdell; great granddaughter Presely Eveland, as well as many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Merle’s name to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The 2014 Primary Election in Texas

Unlike 2012, the date for the 2014 Primary isn’t changing – it’s March 4. Early voting is February 18 – 24, 2014.

Here’s a look at who’s on the ballot.

* Indicates incumbent

U.S. Senate (Texas)

U.S. House of Representatives (District 17)

Texas Senate (District 5)

Texas House of Representatives (District 14)

Texas Governor

NOTE: Governor Rick “Good Hair” Perry is not running for a 4th term.

Texas Lieutenant Governor

Texas Attorney General

NOTE: Greg Abbott is vacating the position to run for Governor.

Texas Supreme Court

Chief Justice

Place 6

NOTE: Jeff Brown’s term doesn’t end until December 31, 2016, but he must run in 2014 to keep his position.

Place 7

Place 8

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Place 3

Place 4

  • Jani Jo Wood (R)
  • Kevin Patrick Yeary (R)
  • Richard Dean Davis (R)

Place 9

  • David Newell (R)
  • W.C. “Bud” Kirkendall (R)

Texas Courts of Appeals (District 10)

Place 2

  • Rex Davis (R)*

Comptroller of Public Accounts

  • Debra Medina (R)
  • Glenn Hegar (R)
  • Harvey Hilderbran (R)
  • Raul Torres (R)
  • Mike Collier (D)

NOTE: Could not confirm if Susan Combs is stepping down.

Commissioner of the General Land Office

  • David Watts (R)
  • George P. Bush (R)
  • John Cook (D)

NOTE: Jerry Patterson is stepping down to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Commissioner of Agriculture

  • Eric Opiela (R)
  • J. Allen Carnes (R)
  • Joe Cotten (R)
  • Sid Miller (R)
  • Tommy Merritt (R)
  • Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III (D)
  • Jim Hogan (D)
  • Richard “Kinky” Friedman (D)

NOTE: Todd Staples is stepping down to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Railroad Commissioner

  • Becky Berger (R)
  • Malachi Boyuls (R)
  • Ryan Sitton (R)
  • Wayne Christian (R)
  • Dale Henry (D)
  • Steve Brown (D)

NOTE: Berry Smitherman is stepping down to run for Texas Attorney General

Texas State Board of Education Member (District 8)

  • Barbara Cargill (R) – Next election Nov. 2016

District Courts – Brazos County

85th District Court Judge

  • Kyle Hawthorne (R)

NOTE: Judge J. D. Langley is stepping down.

272nd District Court Judge

  • Travis Bryan III – Next election ?

361st District Court Judge

  • Steve Smith (R)*
  • Margaret Meece (R)
  • Michele Esparza (R)

Justice of the Peace – Brazos County (Precinct 4)

  • Rose Jones – Next election ?
  • Louis Garcia Jr (R)
  • Tommy (Shannon) Duren (D)
  • Larry J. Johnson (D)
  • Christina S. Butler (D)
  • Darrell Booker (D)
  • Manuel “Manny” Aguilar (D)

District Attorney – Brazos County

  • Jarvis Parsons – Next election Nov. 2016

Sheriff – Brazos County

  • Chris Kirk – Next election Nov. 2016

 Read More

Quick Review of 113th Congress

On October 17, 2013, we narrowly avoided defaulting on the national debt when Congress voted to fund the government for another 4 months and raise the debt ceiling for 5 months.

The agreement funds the federal government in place of an annual budget through Jan. 15, 2014 and lifts the debt limit through Feb. 7, 2014. Source:

It’s a good time to record the names of those involved so that come November 2014 we won’t forget at the voting booth.


The Senate is divided into 3 classes, and each class has a 6 year

This means 1/3 of the Senate is elected every 2 years. The next election for 33% of the seats is November 4, 2014.
The current Senators from Texas are Rafael “Ted” Cruz (R-TX)[Class I] and John Cornyn (R-TX)[Class II].


The current Senate Majority Leader is Harry Reid (D-NV) [Class III]. The Minority Leader is Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [Class II].

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives has 435 members, each representing a district in their state. Each representative is elected to a two-year term. The next election for all seats is November 4, 2014.
My current Representative from Texas District 17 is Bill Flores (R-TX).


The current Speaker of the House is John Boehner (R-OH).
The Majority Leader is Eric Cantor (R-VA). The Minority Leader is Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
This and a lot more information is available on Wikipedia: 113th United States Congress.

The day the government shutdown (again)

It’s bad enough that Congress hasn’t passed a budget in 4 years (Obama signed FY 2010 in March 2010, 5 months after it was due) – but on October 1, 2013, the money ran out, again, and 800,000 government employees were furloughed, forcing the government to shutdown.

This picture was taken a few days later.


“This photo of a boy in a monkey costume outside of Washington’s National Zoo has gone viral and helped symbolize the impact of the government shutdown.” Source:


Replacing the Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) on a 2005 GMC Yukon

My speedometer was sticking so I wanted to get it fixed. I learned that in most newer GM vehicles – probably ones with electronic odometers – that the whole instrument cluster comes out. The GM dealer will charge you an arm and a leg for about 15 minutes worth of work that you can do yourself.

Doing a Google search I found that several shops offer Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) repair/replacement. The catch is you are without a car while you ship it off and wait for it to return. I think it was worth it. I used because they’re cheaper than the other guys, and they repair in 1 day rather than replace in several. I also found their YouTube video – GM Instrument Cluster Removal – when I was researching “How To” repair/replace/remove the IPC.

$30.00 shipping outbound
$19.95 shipping inbound
TOTAL: $199.94

GM Dealer quote: $550.00

I saved $350.06!

Replacing Vent Valve Solenoid & Purge Valve Solenoid (EVAP Valve) 2005 GMC Yukon

When you get a check engine light, your parts store can test it with a little electronic device – ask for the check engine light tester.

They go by many names, but look for EVAP Valve or Vent Valve Solenoid & Purge Valve Solenoid. The one in the rear of the car, near the gas tank, is known as the “Vent Valve Solenoid Canister.” The one in the engine compartment is called a ” Purge Valve Solenoid.”

Replacing the one in the engine compartment did the trick. I’d start by replacing that one first then test it.

$25.97 Vent Valve Canister (fuel tank one)
$35.72 Purge Valve (engine compartment one)
TOTAL: $61.69

GM Dealer quote: $281.00

I saved $219.31!