Happy 9th Annual Blue Beanie Day

Celebrating the ninth annual Blue Beanie Day. Support Web Standards! #bbd15 http://www.zeldman.com/2015/11/29/13853/

Hurricane Patricia [UPDATED]

Hurricane Patrica

(CNN) Hurricane Patricia — the strongest hurricane ever recorded — weakened slightly Friday as it barreled closer to Mexico’s Pacific coast, with sustained winds decreasing to 190 mph and gusts to 235 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory.

We’re getting ready for the rain storm of rain storms. Hurricane Ike in 2008 was the last big storm to flood this area; Patricia could be 2 times as bad. Local weatherman is predicting 3-5 inches, but the national weatherman made it look like 12 inches. Only time will tell. We may be locked in for 2 days or it might be just some rain.

UPDATE 10-24-2015 10:00

TSPatricia20151024At 7:00 AM this morning Patricia was down graded to a Tropical Storm with winds of 50 MPH. By 10:00 AM maximum sustained winds were 35 MPH – further down grading the storm to a Tropical Depression.

More then half of Texas is in for a sizable amount of rain over the next couple of days.

Texas Concealed Handgun License Shooting Test

NTCSilhouetteTargetB-27[1]Handgun CHL Requirements

Must be a .32 caliber or higher to qualify. There is no minimum caliber to legally carry as long as it is a legal pistol.

There is no longer a classification of concealed handgun license. If you qualify with a revolver you can carry a semi-automatic.

Number of Rounds Fired

The shooting test requires 50 rounds of ammunition

CHL Shooting Distances

The CHL Shooting test is fired at three distances:

  • 3 yards – 20 rounds fired
  • 7 yards – 20 rounds fired
  • 15 yards – 10 rounds fired

The majority of students pass the proficiency test when they have completed shooting at 3 and 7 yards.

CHL Shooting Proficiency Test Scoring

  • 5 points – shots fired in the X, 10, 9, & 8 rings
  • 4 points – shots fired in the 7 ring
  • 3 points – shots fired outside the 7 ring but on the silhouette
  • 0 points – shots fired outside the silhouette or off the target paper
  • Shots that hit just outside the ring but break the line count as the higher score

CHL Passing Score

The Texas CHL shooting test passing score is 175 points out of 250 points or a score of 70%. The state allows for three chances to pass the shooting test.

Remember, I have had students pass the shooting proficiency test with flying colors who fired a gun for the first time ever when they took the test.

Be still my heart

This is going to sound like a commercial that has been popular for the past decade: people with an irregular heart beat – known as atrial fibrillation or AFib or AF – are at a higher risk of blood clots and stroke. AF – in a nutshell –  is the condition of having disorganized electrical impulses driving your heart beat. The impulses normally start from the top chambers of the heart (atria) and travel to the bottom chambers of the heart (ventricles). This causes your heart muscle(s) to contract. When this happens on a regular basis you have a normal (sinus) rhythm. During AF, the electrical signals are fast and chaotic. The atria quiver rapidly and irregularly, so blood pools in the atria instead of being pumped properly to the ventricles. Pooling can lead to clotting and clots, when pushed out, can go any place in the body. If the clot goes to the brain it can cause a stroke. Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

On Wednesday, September 16, I started feeling heart palpitations in the afternoon. Thursday morning we went to see my doctor. He got an EKG on me and promptly sent me to the ER – I was having a paroxysmal atrial fibrillation event – and the hospital could administer the drugs to help slow down my heart. As I recall my heart beat was bouncing between 160 and 60 beats per minute. My blood pressure was high – something like 170 over 110.

The ER took another EKG, a chest xray, then started one IV in my right arm with medicine – something like amiodarone (Cordarone). Then they started another IV with medicine in my left arm to regulate the first medicine; it took two techs and two sticks to get the IV to take – OWW! Then I got a CT scan with contrast. This is where I thought tests were getting a little excessive. Eventually (about 5pm) they put me in a hospital room in the critical care unit (CCU). Around 7pm my heart “reset” itself and I returned to sinus rhythm.

Friday morning I got an echocardiogram – an ultrasound of the heart. I didn’t get a run down of the results – probably not much to say. The echo went to a cardiologist who came by around 2pm. By 4pm I was walking out of the hospital.

They prescribed the following meds: metoprolol tartrate (25mg), flecainide acetate (50mg). And I had to add low dose aspirin (81mg).

My doctor wanted me to start Lipitor 3 months ago, but I didn’t – I wanted to try diet and exercise. A week after the night in the hospital I had a checkup with my doctor and afterwords I went to get the generic Lipitor – so September 26 I started taking generic Lipitor (atorvastatin 20mg).

If you’re keeping score at home that’s 4 medicines or 6 pills per day. Ten days ago I didn’t take any meds now I’m stuck with 6 pills. My goal is to get off of the meds as quickly as possible; some internet pages say 2 years.

Just FYI, I started a new category, Health, with this post. I plan to put my health news and other things I find useful into this category.

Voter ID’s and Elections

8-6--8-12-forcastAs we enter the hottest days of of the year – the forecast calls for at least 7 days of 100+ F temperatures – the arguments of last year’s election and the Texas Voter ID law is starting to heat up too.

To recap, last year I wrote in Voter ID Law in Texas:

On Tuesday, October 14, the Texas GOP successfully appealed the blocked law.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals allows the law to be used in the November election, despite a lower judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional. The 5th Circuit did not rule on the law’s merits; instead, it determined it’s too late to change the rules for the election. Source abcnews.com

They said while it may cause harm to some voters, the greater harm would come from disrupting the election statewide.

Yesterday, the same 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Texas law “runs afoul of parts of the federal Voting Right Act…”

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2011 Texas law runs afoul of parts of the federal Voting Rights Act – handing down the decision on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the landmark civil rights law. Source: AP.org

However, the court sent the law back to the lower courts to fix the discriminatory effects. Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, said the law will stand. Ironically, he’s currently under indictment for felony securities fraud. Suffice it to say, this issue isn’t finished.

First-GOP-debate-2015Speaking of things heating up, the 2016 presidential election, which is 459 days away, is getting started with the first GOP debate tonight – brought to you by (they chose 10 debaters based on the highest average of 5 polls) and broadcasted on Fox News. The 10 are Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich. The number of potential GOP candidates is overwhelming – something like 39 have declared!

With all the drama, this is starting to look like a reality tv show: Survivor or Big Brother or America’s Got Talent. “Retiring” Jon Stewart said it best on his show last night, “[Fox News] will decide the next leader of the free world…WTF is going on here!”

I have a feeling this election is going to be colossal – colossally expensive, and a colossal waste of time on commercials. Hillary Clinton (don’t get me started) is going to start running ads this week. Did I mention we’re 459 days away from the election.


20150820-deeznutsA surging Independent candidate, Deez Nuts, is taking the polls – and the world – by storm. A 15-year-old boy from Iowa registered as a candidate under the name Deez Nuts, and the Internet loves him. The name trended on Twitter for a day. Everybody wants to know more about him. His real name is Brady Olsen.

This picture is a screen shot from the coverage of the North Carolina poll held August 20, 2015.

New Horizon Passes Pluto

Pluto from New Horizon craft 20150714Pluto was discovered/confirmed in 1930 by a 23-year old Kansas farm boy, Clyde Tombaugh, using a telescope at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

After a 2 month search for names, an eleven-year-old schoolgirl, Venetia Burney, from Oxford, England, suggested the name Pluto to her father who passed it on to an astronomy professor who passed it on to colleagues in the United States.

New Horizons’ almost 10-year, three-billion-mile journey to closest approach at Pluto took about one minute less than predicted when the craft was launched in January 2006. The spacecraft threaded the needle through a 36-by-57 mile (60 by 90 kilometers) window in space — the equivalent of a commercial airliner arriving no more off target than the width of a tennis ball. Source: NASA 2015-07-14

When the New Horizon spacecraft was launched in January 2006, Pluto was still the 9th planet. Nine months later, in September, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet. It belonged more to the Kuiper belt (or Trans-Neptunian objects) than with the rest of our eight planets.

Texas Passes Open Carry and Campus Carry Bills

Texas passed the “Open Carry” bill (HB910) and the “Campus Carry” bill (SB11) on May 31, 2015; they’re waiting Governor Abbott’s signature.

Starting January 1, 2016, you can carry any handgun openly or concealed as long as you are licensed by Texas or a state with reciprocity. By law, the handgun must be carried in a “shoulder or belt holster.” Long arms do not require a license.

The campus carry bill is set to go into effect August 1, 2016, for four-year institutions, and August 1, 2017, for public junior colleges.

Under the current version of the bill, university presidents will establish “reasonable rules, regulations, or other provisions regarding the carrying of concealed handguns,” on campus. However, the bill clearly states that universities may not establish “general prohibitions” on concealed carry. Source: TheBatt.com

There was a lot of debate about an amendment to the open carry bill that would prevent law enforcement from stopping a person who is open carrying just because they are open carrying – to have them show their license. Proponents said it was a violation of the U.S. Fourth Amendment. Opponents said it would hinder law enforcement’s ability to do their job or keep the public safe. In the end the amendment was removed.

I can think of a catch 22 scenario where a person is forced to show their gun license: if a licensed person, who open carries, is stopped by a LEO under the suspicion that a crime is about to occur – that crime is failure to identify yourself as a gun license holder.

If the person doesn’t show their license then the LEO was right in their suspicion and they can arrest the person; they’ll search the person and find their license. If the person does show their license the LEO checks it and sends them on their way. Either way the LEO forced the person to identify.

All in all I glad the Texas legislature passed these bills. We’re living in times were force is sometimes required. There have been many instances where I said “that would have ended differently if only a (responsible) gun owner was present.” We shall see what the future holds for these laws – will the help or make things worse.

Texas earthquakes

Have you heard? We have earthquakes in Texas. The USGS thinks its because of oil drilling technique know as fracking. The oil and gas companies are silent about the earthquakes. This is a growing problem. It’ll will take several deaths and property damage before it goes to court.

Officially, the cause of the earthquakes is inconclusive, according to the USGS, but on Tuesday, a Southern Methodist University-led research team found that in Azle and Reno, towns northwest of Fort Worth, the oil and gas activities in the vicinity were “most likely” responsible for several earthquakes in late 2013 and 2014. Source: CNN.com

This was a really well-written article. I encourage you to read it. Fracking has been going on in Texas for several years now, and the amounts of earthquakes (tremors if you will) has dramatically increased: from a few every few years to 40+ in one year; most concentrated in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Here’s a fracking term to look up: flowback.

Memorial Day Ribs 2015 – Don’t Mess With Success

I started thinking about my Memorial Day ribs back on May 1st. It’s a tradition now. I’ve made ribs on Memorial Day weekend for five years! I think last year’s ribs were the best, so I don’t want to mess with success. This year I’ll oven-bake them first, then finish them outside in a smoke-filled grill; weather permitting.

Although Memorial Day Memphis Style sounds cool, I can stop calling them Memphis style because they’re more of a combination of Central Texas style and dry, Memphis style ribs. There’ll be some kind of thick, tomato-based sauce on the table if we need it. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s.

The new phrase this year is “dry brining.” Basically dry brining is lightly salting the meat 1 to 2 hours before cooking. Last year, Meathead (remember him from AmazingRibs.com) removed the salt from his Memphis Dust rub recipe. Now he applies a dry brine for 2 hours then rubs the ribs with Memphis Dust.


3 slabs (~10 lbs) of St. Louis cut spare ribs

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder

(Charro beans)
1 lbs pinto beans
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lbs bacon

1 lbs bag coleslaw mix
white sugar
cider vinegar
lemon juice

(Potato salad)
5 lbs Russet potatoes
dill relish
sweet relish
yellow mustard

Make the sides

Vincent made charro beans.

Katie made coleslaw.

Barbie made potato salad.

Bake the ribs in the oven (4 hours)

Wash off the ribs, take off the membrane, and coat them with a thin layer of kosher salt; use about 1/4 teaspoon per pound. While the ribs are brining, mix the rub ingredients together. After an hour, apply the rub and put the ribs in a 250 F oven uncovered, bone-side down, for 2 hours.

Take the ribs out, brush them with barbecue sauce, wrap them in aluminum foil, and put them back in the oven for another 2 hours. Now take the ribs out, carefully unwrap them, and check if the bones pull away from the meat. If not, wrap them up, put them in the oven, and come back and check on them again in 15 minutes. When the bones start to slide they’re ready for the grill.

Finish them on the grill (15 minutes)

You can finish them under the broiler in the oven or in a covered grill (outside). If you want to finish them in the oven, paint them with sauce, lay them in a baking pan, bones down, uncovered, about 6 inches from the broiler for 10 minutes.

If you want to finish them with a smokey grill, prepare the grill for indirect heat. When the temperature stabilizes (no flames with charcoal) place wood chips on the coals/flames. Place the ribs on the opposite side the grill from the coals/flames. Smoke the ribs for at least 15 minutes (YMMV). Check internal temperature or pull on the bones every 5 minutes.

Remember – Memorial Day isn’t about sales, or parties, or bbq. Memorial Day is about remembering fallen veterans.

Drought to Flood

Temperature and Rain 2015It was just 4 years ago that Texas was facing the worst drought in over 100 years. This year we’ve had above average rain fall. It’s making a dent in the drought.

“Human nature only remembers the near term, and we quickly forget we’ve been in drought for years. One wet spring won’t get us out of it.” A quote from Brian Fuchs. Source: The Scoop Blog with Dallas Morning News

Sometimes it feels like feast or famine.

Most of the lakes around here are closed or partially closed due to flooding. Memorial Day will be a wash out for Lake Somerville.

I guess we’ll see how long this lasts.