Tag Archives: High Plains Blogger

Blogging brings a particular joy

My calling as a full-time blogger gives me so much joy, it’s difficult to chronicle all of it.

It keeps me in the game of public policy and politics-watching; it allows me to have my voice heard and my “throat” cleared; it reaches a wide audience that includes those who like what I have to say and those who, well, dislike my message.

I want to speak to the particular joy I receive from those critics, the folks who take the time to give me grief.

They aren’t likely to comment on those matters with which they agree. I have some series going: I write about my Chihuahua mix dog, Toby; I comment on the retired life my wife and I enjoy; I now am writing about the joy that my career as a journalist gave me over nearly four decades.

When I turn my attention to issues relating to Donald Trump and my critical view of the man’s presidency, that brings out the critics. They dust off their weapons and fire away.

Yes, I enjoy getting ’em riled. Not because I want them fired up, that I want to cause them heartburn or cause anxiety attacks. My joy comes only in knowing they, too, are engaged at some level.

Bear in mind this important note, though: No one is required to read these musings. We’re all free to look the other way, to ignore whatever it is that is posted under the name of High Plains Blogger.

That these critics choose to read it and then to comment tells me that (a) they want their blood pressure to increase or (b) they cannot get enough of whatever anger they have pent up inside of them.

Whatever, man.

I know it’s too much to ask these critics to share these messages. I ask only one thing: Just keep reading.

Many thanks to you all. Some of you keep me humble. All of you, though, keep me energized.

Hooray! Blog sets page view/visitors record!

I am now going to use this forum of my very own making to boast just a bit. I’ll be brief.

High Plains Blogger has just set a record for yearly page views and unique visitors. The end of the year is still about three weeks away.

This blog has increased annual page views every year since its inception. Perhaps the news that it’s setting a record isn’t much to boast about.

Too bad. I’ll do it anyway.

I owe the good year for this blog to one tremendous month. February brought this blog its biggest single day of page views and unique visitors; the daily average for February was by far the best monthly average I’ve recorded. It carried me to the end of the year on put this blog on pace to set a record.

I want to thank those of you read the blog. Whether you agree with its world view is beside the point. I appreciate your readership very much. I also appreciate those who share my musings with your own social media networks, with the hope that those with whom you share are spreading the word even farther.

The next year allows me to turn the page, to start over. I hope 2019 is even better than the record-setting year we’ve just recorded.

Taking a break from the rough-and-tumble

This blog is taking a brief hiatus from feasting on its main menu of political prey, namely the president of the United States.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the absence of Donald Trump-bashing on High Plains Blogger. For those who believe as I do about the president, don’t give up on me; I’ll return to the feast in due course. For those who oppose my view about the president, I apologize in advance . . . for the same reason I have given to those on the other side of the great divide.

My focus the past couple of days has been on the death of a great American, the 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush.

I am trying to imagine a major American public figure who has led a more full and enriching life than President Bush. Perhaps I need to think harder about it, but I keep coming up empty.

GHW Bush led the fullest of lives. I want to honor that life. I have discussed a bit of policy regarding his time in the Oval Office hot seat. Yes, I had issues with him as president. I didn’t vote for him either in 1988 or 1992. However, when someone as devoted to his country as President Bush was passes from the scene, I find it wholly appropriate to set aside those differences and honor a life well-lived.

I don’t know at this moment when I’ll get back into the battle over the current president’s mounting difficulties. I might wait until after President Bush is buried later this week. I might suit up before then.

For the time being, I’m enjoying the break I’m taking from the rough-and-tumble of what is unfolding before our eyes.

I’ll see you on the flip side soon.

Blogging streak hits a milestone

Congratulations to me!

High Plains Blogger has just reached a milestone of sorts. Today represents the 730th consecutive day of posts on this blog.

That means for two years I haven’t missed a day posting some sort of musing — or spewage, depending on your point of view — on High Plains Blogger.

I have no intention of slowing down. Now that I’ve hit the two-year mark, I am drawing a bead on Year No. 3 — and beyond.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing these posts. It means a lot to me to continue this pursuit.

Critics keep us all humble

You know already that I love my calling as a blogger. What you might not know — at least not yet — is that I also love the critics who read this blog.

I’ll admit that my love for them is more of a “biblical” nature. But I love them nevertheless.

Back when I was working for a living, I found that critics performed a service for me. They kept me humble. They occasionally would chastise for something I wrote and then might offer a perspective I hadn’t considered. On the rarest of occasions, I might change my mind on an issue.

I also provided a service to them. I figure it was of a more health-related nature. They would read my columns or editorials that I authored for a newspaper and they would hyperventilate. Then they would call me up, chew my rear end out, have their say, hang up and perhaps feel better having gotten whatever bothered them off their chest.

I only can presume that I had oxygenated their blood sufficiently during their rants to cleanse their cardiovascular system.

Just don’t call me “Doctor,” OK? Fine.

My blog critics do the same thing for me and I do the same perhaps for them.

I don’t cherish these individuals, mind you. I accept that every commentator — whether he or she works for a publication or is “self-employed,” so to speak, as I am, cannot possibly please everyone who reads their words.

And yes, High Plains Blogger critics continue to keep me humble. I long have subscribed to the tenet of taking my work far more seriously than I take myself. That tenet holds true to this day.

Keep the criticism coming. Yes, I like the praise more than the criticism. The critics, though, keep me on my toes.

Hoping for perpetual Wi-Fi on these journeys

COPPER BREAKS STATE PARK, Texas — I was sweatin’ bullets last night, man. You see, I have this streak going that I want to maintain and I feared that a lack of adequate Internet connection at our RV site was going to derail the streak.

High Plains Blogger has managed to post something for 715 consecutive days. We pulled into our RV site near sundown at this wonderful state park, but once we got settled, I found that my cell phone service isn’t the best, which might have deprived me of the ability to post a missive on my blog.

Never fear. It comes and goes, but it mostly stays.

That brings me to my point. Our retirement journey is taking us hither and yon across the country. We want — and intend fully — for it to continue for well past the immediate or moderate future.

One of the aspects of RV park-site shopping, though, will have to include Wi-Fi availability. That also must include cell phone availability. Why the linkage? If I cannot connect to a viable Wi-Fi network, I can use my handy-dandy smart phone to provide me with the “hot spot” I need to connect to the Internet.

However, if I don’t have enough cell phone strength, the hot spot is rendered useless. (My tech-savvy sons will enjoy my relative “fluency” in this kind of techno-speak.)

So, to keep the blog going — for better or worse, depending on who’s reading this stuff — I need to stay connected to the big ol’ wide world of Internet telecommunications.

My wife and I do enjoy parking our RV in more rural settings. However, we aren’t yet into what they call “primitive camping.” We like the amenities associated with most RV parks: water and electricity and sewer service when it’s possible. I consider one of those amenities to include Wi-Fi service.

I am retired, for sure. I am not surrendering to old age. If my noggin is still functioning and if I can still strength sentences together, I’ll keep this blogging thing going for as long as I am able.

For those of you who say you enjoy these musings, I’ll do my best. For those of you who say you dislike them, but can’t stop reading them … too bad.

Can’t stop writing … the streak goes on and on!

I have to write a boastful blog post about … my blog.

I’ll be brief, but here goes.

I post High Plains Blogger via Word Press, a perfectly fine platform. It has begun reminding me daily that I am on a heck of a streak. As of today, I have posted blog entries for 711 consecutive days.

Let’s see, two years comprise 730 days, so I’m only 19 days away from establishing a two-year streak on this blog.

Some of my friends have expressed some measure of amazement that I post as much as I do on this blog. Some call me “prolific.” Some of them say they like what I have to say. Others say they dislike my point of view … but they read it anyway.

I’ve actually had a critic or two stop reading my blog items, only to return to reading them. They are quick to offer criticism; once in a while they might write something that supports what I might say, although those instances are less frequent than the criticism I get from them. One critic and I got into a snit and he said he was done with my blog. He was gone. Then he came back and he is among those critics who is quick to fire off a comment that takes me to task. Hey, that’s OK. It goes with the territory.

I just wanted to brag a bit that I’ve got a 711-day streak on the line. I intend fully to keep growing it for as long as I can continue to string sentences together.

For better … or worse.

Socialism = red herring

Socialism is the newest four-letter word we can add to our political glossary of epithets.

The problem with the word, though, and the way it is tossed around is that those who oppose socialism hang the label of “socialist” on folks for the wrong reasons.

They don’t know — or choose to ignore — the true definition of the word. Yet we hear it all … the … time! It comes from those on the right and the far right. It is meant to tear down the ideas of those with whom they disagree.

Socialism defines an economic system that spreads public assets around. Government takes over private industry and distributes assets to everyone the government represents. Here is one definition I found: a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

I heard Donald Trump — yet again! — toss the s-word out there during a recent campaign rally. He said Democrats are not-so-closeted socialists who want to destroy our way of life, our economic system, our prosperity. He and his allies contend — and they are largely, but not entirely correct — that socialism doesn’t work.

I have been accused of being a socialist by readers of High Plains Blogger. They make me laugh. For starters, I’ve never posted an entry on this blog that espouses the economic benefit of a socialistic society.

Why is that? I am not a socialist! I am as much of a capitalist as any of my friends who happen to oppose the views expressed in this blog.

I have not endorsed the idea of Medicare for all, or a single-payer health care system, and I damn sure haven’t endorsed the notion of the government nationalizing heavy industry.

And yet …

We hear critics of those who tilt left accuse them of being socialists, of wanting the government to do everything. They say we lefties are in favor of creating something called a Nanny State.

C’mon, folks! Let’s get real!

Socialism — and those who believe in it — have become a convenient political rallying cry at right-wing rallies. Hey, whatever works, right? It’s working for those level these accusations against those who oppose them.

It damn sure is working for the president of the United States, who got elected by stirring up fears and anxiety of voters in precisely the right states to win an Electoral College majority in 2016.

Stoking those fears and leading the cheers of those who believe this nonsense is no way to govern.

Why write about red-light cameras? Here’s why

A social media acquaintance of mine — and I do not know this fellow personally — posed a question about why High Plains Blogger keeps writing about red-light cameras.

He implies that I am fixated on the issue, suggesting I reckon that I am devoting too much attention to it.

Hmm. Here’s my answer to my acquaintance — who’s a frequent critic of this blog.

I write frequently about the issue because I consider it a public safety matter. I also believe that cities that deploy these devices are correct to rely on a technological advance that assists police departments in their enforcement of traffic-safety laws and municipal ordinances.

It’s merely a matter of opinion and I am aware that others do not share it. I believe in the technology. I believe the Texas law that allows cities to use it is not being abused by local authorities.

The Texas Legislature stipulated some strict provisions on the law. It requires cities to use revenue generated by fines paid by motorists who run the red lights strictly for traffic improvements. I urged the Legislature to act while I was working for the Amarillo Globe-News; I wrote personal columns and editorials on behalf of the editorial board imploring the Legislature to act. I have continued beating that drum in my retirement years. I also have applauded Amarillo’s resistance to taking down the cameras despite the overheated protests from a vocal minority of residents.

The cameras take a picture of offending motor vehicles; cities then mail the citation to the registered owner of the vehicle, who then is required to pay the fine. He or she can appeal the fine to the municipal judge.

I answered the social media acquaintance with a semi-snarky response, telling him that I intend to keep writing about it. I’ll reiterate my answer here.

Public safety is important enough for this blog to keep raising the issue.

Gov. Greg Abbott vows to urge the next Legislature to rescind the enabling law, provided he’s re-elected on Nov. 6. If he does and the Legislature follows his lead, you can bet I’ll have a whole lot more to say on this issue.

That, dear reader, is my story and I’m sticking to it.

The scourge of doctored ‘photographs’

Oh, how I fear “photos” such as the one pictured here.

It’s fake. Phony. Doctored. It purports to show Donald Trump lending a hand to someone trapped by Hurricane Harvey’s floodwater. It’s not. The original is of some Austin Fire Department personnel in that boat helping the individual who was caught by Mother Nature’s wrath.

The picture is just one of those scourges that media folks — and that includes bloggers such as yours truly — must deal with on occasion.

This image is quite obviously doctored. The president is depicted in a suit and tie with no life jacket. That’s a serious non-starter.

But the Internet has produced its share of curses in this new media age. The ability to transmit doctored images intended to put individuals in a negative light or in a falsely positive light is just one of those curses.

We full-time bloggers need to be careful about these images. I work for myself. I have no one but myself to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Doctored images present immediate challenges that can bite us hard where we don’t like being bitten.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am happy to acquaint myself with much of this 21st-century technology. However, not all of it gives me pleasure. It does keep me more alert to the potential danger that these images can present.