Tag Archives: High Plains Blogger

McConnell may not block judge picks after all

I’m not going to be so terribly presumptuous to assume that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell read High Plains Blogger recently and may be reacting to its — I mean my — assertion that gridlock regarding judicial appointments is bad for the nation.

Still, I am heartened to hear that despite what McConnell told a radio talk show host, he really and truly doesn’t have plans to block all future circuit court and Supreme Court appointments during the remainder of President Obama’s administration.


The president has a number of circuit judge appointments pending in the Senate, which must approve them before the judges take their lifetime seats. A McConnell spokesman said the majority leader really didn’t say all those appointments were toast. They’d get a hearing and a vote, he said.

I’ve noted already that presidents deserve to select judicial appointees to their liking. That’s a consequence of national elections and Barack Obama has won two of them, in a row.

There’s still no word yet on what the Senate would do about a Supreme Court vacancy should one occur. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is said to be in poor health, but she says she isn’t retiring. She’s one of the liberals on the court. Her departure and a replacement wouldn’t shift the balance of power, at least theoretically.

If a conservative justice were to leave the court, well, that’s another matter.

In the meantime, the threat of locking down all future Obama appointments appears now to be lessening.

I’m left to wonder: Did the majority leader actually see my blog?

Nah. Couldn’t be … but it’s fun to wonder.


Reaching out into the blogosphere

My “new” life as a blogger really isn’t so new these days, as I’ve been doing it now pretty much full time for a couple of years.

But I do learn some things about the blog I created every so often.

For example, Saturday I looked at the network of sources of the page views and visitors I’ve acquired. I discovered something so interesting that I thought I’d share it here.

High Plains Blogger has been viewed by readers in 121 countries.

Why is that interesting? Well, the World Almanac and Book of Facts tells me the United Nations has 193 member nations. That means — depending on how you want to interpret it — this blog of mine reaches 62 percent of the nations of the world, give or take.

I’ve received page views from readers in Taiwan, which isn’t a member of the United Nations. So, the percentage might be skewed just a smidgen.

Still, 121 out of 193 isn’t bad.

Of the continents, Africa remains the least-penetrated. All I’m lacking in South America are Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana. Europe is almost covered. North America? All that’s left is Nicaragua. Asia? A few former Soviet republics haven’t been logged yet on the blog; also haven’t gotten anyone from Iran to read the blog.

Traffic continues to improve. I had set monthly page view/unique visitors record for seven months in a row. Traffic fell off a bit in April, but it’s coming back strong in May. I might set another record by the end of this month. Here’s hoping, anyway.

I just want to thank everyone for reading this blog.

I know I don’t please everyone with the political stuff. That’s not my intention. Actually, I like it better when I draw disagreement, as it makes me think. The disagreements keep me humble, too.

But hey, just keep reading. Comment when the spirit moves you. Share these musings with others.

Many thanks, as always.

Growing old is turning out OK … so far

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on impending retirement.

The older I get the more I learn about myself.

One of things I am learning is how adaptable I have become. Actually, I’ve know about the adaptability for some time. My family and I moved from Oregon — where I grew up and spent most of my first 34 years on Earth — to Texas. I adapted just fine.

My journalism career brought tremendous change over the course of 37 years. In August 2012, when I started sensing my days were numbered at the Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked for more than 17 years, I fell back on my last line of defense in an effort to keep my job in the face of a reorganization scheme. I told my employer: “You’re asking me to make changes in the way I do things. Well, my craft today bears next to zero resemblance to what it was when I began, so the changes you’re asking me to make amount to a tiny fraction of the change I’ve already gone through.”

That pitch didn’t work. They assigned my duties to someone else and I walked away.

Adaptability: That’s my middle name, yes?

Well, I have found a whole new world of new things to which I can adapt.

I’m still writing. This blog is one outlet. I also am writing for Panhandle PBS — the Amarillo College-based public TV station formerly known as KACV-TV. I blog about public affairs programming: PBS documentaries, news specials, Panhandle PBS’s “Live Here” public affairs program. It’s a blast, man. I’ve taken on another writing assignment, for KFDA-NewsChannel 10. I write for the station’s website — newschannel10.com — and they use those news stories as the basis for weekly on-air broadcasts. That, too, is big-time hoot.

Now I’m taking on another task. Let’s call it “managing editor in absentia” for the Quay County Sun in Tucumcari, N.M. I’ve been asked to assist in producing the paper each week — from my home, using my laptop, cell phone and e-mail communication with a reporter who’ll produce the text. I’ve implored my friend, David Stevens — who works as executive editor  for the parent company that also publishes daily papers in Clovis and Portales, N.M. — to please keep looking aggressively for a permanent managing editor. He assures me he will.

But you see, what I’ve discovered is that there really is a market out there for old guys with (lots of) gray in their hair.

I still am looking forward to retirement, although it’s looking less likely that I’m a candidate for The Pasture any time soon.

My wife and I still have plans — eventually — to relocate closer to our granddaughter and her parents, who live just a bit north of Dallas. I hope to take much of my work with me, if it’s possible. The Internet Age has made that kind of transition available, even to old guys like me.

They have that saying about hindsight’s perfect vision. Our foresight remains quite fuzzy.

Neither my wife nor I ever could have imagined this stage of our life together turning out this way.

Hey, everyone needs some surprises in life.

Adaptability makes it easier to cope with them when they show up.

Blog streak looks like it's about to end

This blog post is going to be — and I’ll be fairly brief — about my blog.

High Plains Blogger has been on a roll of late.

It has set seven consecutive records for monthly page views and unique visitors. I’m quite proud of that streak, and I’ve been none too bashful about sharing the good news with my social media friends.

April isn’t looking so good. Just six days into the month and I’m sensing a trend that suggests my streak is going to stop at seven. That’s all right. I’ve enjoyed a good run and I’m hopeful it will resume soon.

This blogging adventure has pretty much consumed my life for the past, oh, couple of years.

I don’t have a full-time job. I’ve three part-time jobs — and I enjoy them all immensely. Two of them involve writing: One of them is for Panhandle PBS, based at Amarillo College; the other one, which I just started in early February, is for KFDA-NewsChannel 10, the CBS-TV affiliate in Amarillo. They’re both blogs. The PBS blog discusses public affairs programming; the NewsChannel 10 blog looks at on-going news stories in our region and the station is good enough to broadcast an on-air report based on the blog I’ve posted on the station’s website.

The third job is as a customer service concierge with a Toyota dealership here in Amarillo.

But writing is what I love to do. I was blessed to pursue a fulfilling career in print journalism. It was a 37-year run that ended in late August 2012. My work with public and commercial TV stations allows me to continue to working on my craft.

My first post-newspaper-career passion, though, is my own blog. I truly enjoy venting, ranting, raving, commenting, critiquing public affairs on my blog. Occasionally I veer into what my wife and I call “life experience.”

I guess the purpose here is to ask you to keep reading High Plains Blogger. If you think you want to share it with your friends, well, have at it. I’m anxious to reach more people and to have them comment on my musings.

Do not worry about hurting my feelings if you disagree with my particular political slant. Most of my neighbors and most of the people I encounter daily disagree with me. That’s the nature of living in this part of the world.

Let me know what you think.


Blog starting to get traction

Blogging has become something of an addiction for me.

No, I don’t need an intervention. It is a way for me to continue doing what I have loved doing for nearly 40 years, which is to string words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into essays.

I do this because it makes me happy.

My daily journalism career ended in August 2012, but I’ve continued writing.

High Plains Blogger has been my release of sorts. I am happy to report some good news regarding this blog.

I have just set my sixth consecutive monthly record for page views and unique visitors. The previous record, incidentally, came in January — which has 31 days; February, of course, has just 28 days, but another record fell this month anyway. I feel like sharing that with those of you who follow the blog, are kind enough to read it and some of whom are kind enough — or angry enough — to provide responses to the opinions expressed on this blog.

Are my numbers great? I don’t consider them great. Some of my friends also have longstanding blogs and they report the number of daily “hits” that far exceed my relatively meager totals.

That’s the bad news. The good news? Well, my blog’s monthly totals have grown more than 200 percent since I moved the blog onto this Word Press server in July 2013. The way I figure it, if it grows another 200 percent of so in the next 18 months, then we’ll be talking about some serious numbers.

Several aspects about the blog’s growth intrigue me. The blog hits are coming from all around the globe. Readers from virtually all of Latin America have looked at the blog. Asia — from the Middle East to the Orient — is filled in with hits, along with Europe. And just recently, viewers in Africa have been looking at the blog.

Those who read the blog know that it’s mostly political, looking at issues from a center-left perspective. I seek to veer from the humdrum of politics on occasion to talk about family matters and to look ahead to the day my wife and I retire fully and we hit the road in our recreational vehicle.

The blog has given me joy in writing it. I don’t expect it to be a joyful experience for everyone who reads it, given that not everyone agrees with my world view. That’s all right, as long as folks remain engaged.

Thank you for reading High Plains Blogger. It’s been a hoot.

Much more is on its way.





In need of a blog intervention

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on impending retirement.

My name is John and I am a blogaholic.

There. It’s out there for all the world to see and read. How do I know this?

Well, I have just returned from a four-night vacation in one of the most beautiful regions of Texas and I was in and out (mostly out) of Internet service for the entire time. It drove me crazy. Nuts. I was getting fidgety, nervous, looking for things to occupy my time when we weren’t touring cool sites or just relaxing in a spring-fed pool.

My wife and I ventured to the Davis Mountains region. We stayed at a first-class state park in Balmorhea. We met many nice and helpful folks.

We parked our fifth wheel, set up camp and went about enjoying our time away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Except that I am a blogger. I do it for myself and for Panhandle PBS, the local Amarillo public television outlet based at Amarillo College.

I did get three blogs posted during those four nights on the road. It was, however, a challenge.

I figured out that I could write my text on a Word document and save it to my laptop, which now goes with me wherever my wife and I go. I couldn’t get any Internet connection inside the fifth wheel, but I could get it outdoors. So, I would write my text on the Word document, then try to connect to the ‘Net outside and get this stuff posted. It would work — some of the time.

But here’s where it gets sticky and where I can justify a possible need for an intervention: I spent a fairly fruitful, extremely rewarding and modestly successful career in daily print journalism. For nearly 37 years I cranked out copy like there was no tomorrow. I got pretty good at it.

Then, on Aug. 30, 2012, it all came to a crashing halt. The skills I had applied for more than three decades were deemed by the higher ups at the newspaper where I worked to be no longer relevant in today’s changing media environment. They called it a “company reorganization.” I’ll call it something else that is not suitable for this venue, as I shy away from four-letter-word profanity.

My point is that after a lengthy career of writing text and then getting it published immediately, I cannot shake the desire to do that very thing — even as my wife and I evolve into fully retired folks. We’re not quite there, but we’re well on the way.

But if I’m going to continue blogging on politics and other things under my own High Plains Blogger and provide public affairs TV commentary for PanhandlePBS.org, I’ve got to figure out how to cope with traveling into regions of the country that aren’t as well connected as others.

Do I need help? I’m all ears.