Tag Archives: High Plains Blogger

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.

Pondering whether journalism ethics apply to bloggers

A longtime friend of mine — and a former journalism colleague — posted an item on social media I feel like sharing here.

Because of journalism ethics, I can’t like candidate pages. Even though I might like the candidate.

My friend still writes for a major West Coast daily newspaper. He is a freelance columnist, meaning he isn’t on the newspaper’s payroll; he is self-employed, but he gets paid by the media outlet for his commentary.

It brings to mind a question I’ve had regarding my own status, as a former journalist who writes a blog that concentrates on politics and public policy … along with the occasional slice of life entry.

I, too, do not “like” political candidates’ pages. Yes, I do talk about candidates, whether I support them or oppose them. The blog allows me to lay out my own bias for the world to see and to make judgments about whether my bias comports with their own.

Do I “like” pols’ pages on Facebook? Should I continue to avoid doing so? My gut tells me that even though I no longer work for anyone but myself, I shall eschew such statements. It’s not that I want to disguise my political leanings; those who read this blog know where I stand.

It’s just that old habits hang on. I damn sure didn’t “like” these candidates while I was working for a living. I’m just not ready to start doing so now.

‘Hate’ is an ugly four-letter word

A few of the more ardent critics of High Plains Blogger have leveled an accusation at me that cannot go unanswered.

They contend that I “hate” Donald John Trump Sr. They ascribe my so-called “hatred” of the president to the constant drumbeat of criticism this blog levels at him daily … often multiple times each day.

Where do I begin? Let me start with this: The Bible I have read since I was a boy has taught me to avoid hatred of other human beings. Jesus Christ’s teachings in the New Testament are quite clear about that. He tells us to “love” our enemies. Clear? Sure it is!

Donald Trump does engender a lot of intense feelings in my gut. He assumed the presidency after campaigning on multiple themes of insult, innuendo and invective against all his foes, be they the gaggle of Republicans who challenged him in the GOP primary or the Democrat who faced him in the 2016 general election.

The president didn’t run on the basis of some deep-seated political ideology. He lacks a moral foundation. Trump’s entire life prior to his becoming a politician was based on a singular goal: personal enrichment, aggrandizement and adulation.

He has transferred all of that to the White House.

How in the world does one support such a man? How does one follow this individual’s clarion call? I cannot. I do not. I never will.

Does that mean I hate this man? No. It means that I find his presidency to be loathsome on its face, that I detest the manner he has used to treat others and that I find no redeeming personal qualities that can excuse any of that.

I am acutely aware that none of this is going to persuade those High Plains Blogger critics of my actual motivation in criticizing the president. I also am aware they’ll read these few words, laugh out loud and then respond with some push back about how my expressed feelings only are intended to disguise my actual hatred for the man who is our president.

I cannot prevent them from thinking that, nor will I prevent them from expressing it in response to anything I say on this blog. That is their call. They are welcome to express their opinion.

Hatred, though, just isn’t part of how I roll. It might look like it to those who believe that such motivation fuels these comments. Fine. Let ’em believe whatever they want.

There. I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off my chest.

Socialist? Why, I never …

I’ve been called out by a critic of High Plains Blogger.

Some fellow who I don’t know, but who reads my blog regularly, has called me a “socialist.” He likens me to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer as a socialist in their ilk.

Hmm. I need to respond to this guy.

I’ll start with this: He doesn’t know what a socialist is. A socialist is someone who believes in, um, socialism. And what is that, precisely?

Socialism is an economic philosophy that emphasizes collective ownership of business and industry. Let’s see. Have I ever advocated taking over business and industry by the government? Have I ever said that private ownership is bad for the country? No. I haven’t.

To that end, I am as much of a capitalist as this fellow who purports to know — beyond a shadow of a doubt — that I am a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool socialist.

I tend to avoid getting involved in these tit-for-tat responses on social media. For starters, many of High Plains Blogger’s critics tend to suffer from last word-itis. They have to get the last word on any exchange. So, I concede the last word to them. I’ll make whatever point I want to make, let ’em respond and then I move on.

As for the socialist rap, this individual hung that label on me after a blog post that didn’t discuss economic policy at all!

I believe, therefore, many of those who hang the “socialist” tag on folks such as yours truly are using the word as  cudgel to beat others up whenever they disagree with them on any policy at all.

To call someone a “socialist” is akin to saying “your mother wears combat boots.”

When in doubt, I rely on my tattered American Heritage dictionary, which describes socialism this way: “A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community.”

Is that me? Umm. No. It isn’t. So there.

Waiting for POTUS to deliver the goods

I wrote a blog post in December 2016 that laid out some of the things that could produce a good word from High Plains Blogger about Donald John Trump Sr.

Nearly two years later, I am still waiting for the president to deliver the goods on what I had hoped — with all sincerity — would happen and, thus, enable me to write something wholly positive about the job he is doing.

Hoping for Trump to earn praise

My strong fear now is that Donald Trump is beyond help. He cannot earn a good word, ever, from this blog.

But as I noted in the earlier blog post … there’s always tomorrow.

Maybe. Possibly.

In and out of service to post items for blog

COULEE CITY, Wash. — I knew it would happen … eventually.

We travel to hither and yon and we land in a spot where Internet service is, at best, spotty. Therefore, I am unable to post regularly on High Plains Blogger.

It’s driving me a bit batty. Blogging is what I do these days. So much to say. Feeling pressured by my own self to get my thoughts out there.

We’ll be returning to “civilization” soon. We’ll have more regular access to whatever waves enable folks like me to post musings on blogs.

Bear with me if you’re at all interested in what I might have to say. To those who aren’t interested in the least, well, enjoy your break.