Perfect October Weather Calls for a Day Trip

A Texas longhorn grazes on the dam of a pond

After the long, hot Texas gulf coast summer, one almost feels that these near perfect days and nights are something deserved.  The low humidity and temperatures in just the 80s in the days and into the low 60s or even 50s at night bring smiles to faces, and more than just the dogs seem to be frisky.

It’s the time to get out and enjoy the refreshing Texas countryside.  This week is the fall version of the Round Top Antiques Fair, a twice annual affair that over the years has spread itself out further and further.  There are vendors of many types housed in tents, sheds, old houses for miles around the little hill country town.  Sitting about half-way between Houston and Austin, Round Top makes a good destination for a day trip.

Going early in the day, the attendance seemed somewhat sparse, but the incoming bumper-to-bumper traffic later indicated that business was going to pick up for the vendors.

For sure, neither the sellers, buyers, nor those just going to have a great day could be disappointed by the weather.

A tranquil setting greets visitors at Marburger Farm Antiques

Bright Texas sun creates shadows from sale items on the walkway

Not the Big Kahuna, but the Big Banana

Colorful lampshades among the great variety of items for sale

Why, Oh, Why Did These Two Have To Die?

The news was not good today.  An article in this morning’s Houston Chronicle hit me hard.  At only 13 years old, Asher Brown, a middle school student in the Cy-Fair school district in which I live took his own life, probably as a result of his being bullied because he was thought to be gay.  Then only minutes later I see in a breaking news article that there is a shooter somewhere on the campus of UT-Austin.

What is it in a young boy that would cause him not to want to live?  What’s happened to schools?  His parents said they had been reporting the bullying to school officials and nothing had been done.  I looked up the district’s safety pledges for students, and they seem to be good ones.

From the Cypress-Fairbanks I.S.D. Student Code of Conduct 2010-2011:

Secondary Safety Pledge
Recognizing that every student has the right to a safe environment where everyone is treated with respect:

  • I understand that I have an essential role in school safety and violence prevention.
  • I will immediately report any threats of violence, suicide, presence of weapons, explosives or drugs to school administrators, allowing them to investigate and determine the seriousness of the report.
  • I will do all I can to stop harassment of others.
  • I will promote the acceptance of individual differences, recognizing that diversity contributes to the strength of my school.

What the school did to prevent this situation, we don’t know.  What kind of home life this boy had we don’t know.  What we know is that this boy used a gun that he got from his step-father’s closet.

Then in Austin, we find out that the shooter, Colton Tooley, used an AK-47 to kill himself in one of the libraries on campus.

Why are guns so easily accessible to kids?  Why does any private person need a gun like an AK-47 or bigger?

I’m not against having guns.  But why do some people need so many guns?  Why does anyone except for the military or a S.W.A.T. team need large automatic or semi-automatic weapons?   Estimates say that “there are about 80 million gun owners in America with a combining total of 258 million guns.”   That means that the average gun owner has 3 guns, but I’m betting that many of these 80 million just have 1 gun, and about 25% have a lot more than 3 guns.  Our population is about 350 million people, so if there are 260 million private guns out there;  that’s still more than enough for each adult to have one if the guns were just divvied up.  (Make note that the powerful anti-gun control lobbying group, the NRA (National Rifle Association) has only 4.3 million members.)

I know you could never take guns away from gun owners, but what could be done is put a moratorium on the manufacture of guns for a couple of decades.  We really just don’t need any more guns being made.  There are enough.

What there aren’t enough of are details in either case to lay direct blame for these tragedies.  One thing is certain, though, when a 13-year old and a 19-year-old find reason to take their own lives and have such easy access to guns, it seems like we do not live in a very nice country.

Bluebonnets–Blankets of Color in the Texas Spring

Checking Out the Bluebonnets

Checking Out the Bluebonnets

Last week I put up a new banner photo, but I didn’t mention where it’s from. Actually, during a rain shower, I jumped out of my car and took a few shots of the bluebonnets on the esplanade on Washington near the entrance to Memorial Park.

It’s the time of year for bluebonnets (the state flower), which grow wild in the meadows of Texas, especially in the Hill Country around Austin. For a few weeks each spring, these elegant sprigs pop up with rows of miniature “bonnets” on them, producing a lush blanket of blue along roadsides and in the adjoining pastures.

Getting a Good Whiff

Getting a Good Whiff

These days, many Texas roadsides are seeded with bluebonnets and other native wildflowers, which all started with the Highway Beautification Act of the 1960s, a project spearheaded by then Lady Bird Johnson, wife of a Texan, President Lyndon Johnson.

A Burst of Color

A Burst of Color

Today I went back to the esplanade with Annie to try out my new digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix S230, which I just got yesterday to replace my old one, a Canon Powershot S410, which had started having lens problems, making every photo look psychodelic. I had been holding off getting a new camera, using the still setting on my JVC Everio Camcorder, but I’m glad I got it. The best thing about it is that it has a touch-screen menu. Actually, that’s not the best thing; the best thing is it’s easy to use. I figured out how to take both still shots and video and get them loaded onto the computer the first day! I have to say that I never really understand how to use all of the functions of the Canon.

(Here’s a little video I took with the same camera.  As you can see, it took lots of coaxing to get some of the other shots.)