Wednesday, June 26, 2013


At 6:57pm tonight, Texas executed Kimberly Lagayle McCarthy, the 500th person that the state has put to death since it reinstated the death penalty in 1982.

Good SCOTUS: DOMA And Prop. 8

I am thrilled about today's Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and Prop. 8.  Truly, very thrilled.  Marriage equality is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time and these decisions move us closer to the day when true marriage equality exists across our nation.

I would be jumping for joy if yesterday's SCOTUS decision had not instilled in me a terror that we are going to have to go back and fight yesterday's civil rights fights All Over Again.  More later.


Word on the street (or at least from the Lone Star Girl's Twitter examinations) is that our own South Texas Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa was the brilliant dude who produced a screen shot of the time stamp of the SB 5 vote showing that it happened after midnight and then the screenshot of the altered record that was falsified in a desperate, failed attempt by Texas Republicans to pretend that it happened before midnight, thus foiling their evil plots!

Chuy!  Chuy!  Chuy!


Sine Die!

When I got home from work yesterday, the Lone Star Girl had Senator Davis' filibuster of Senate Bill 5 live streaming on the computer and was regularly updating her friends online, so there was no computer for me.  And we were up way, way too late watching it all go down.  I have to go to work in a few minutes, so I will address yesterday's  Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act later, but at least something good happened in Texas.

Senate Bill 5 would have banned abortions in Texas after 20 weeks. The really bad provisions in it, however, were about regulating clinics where abortions can be performed.   Under the false auspices of safety, the Bill required so many regulations  - that are not required for more dangerous outpatient proecedures - that only around seven of the clinics providing abortions in Texas would have remained open.  Texas being larger than most countries and already having laws in place that require that women to set up appointments and go get rape-by-proxy transvaginal sonograms before getting an abortion, the hours that a woman would have to travel, before and after an abortion under the bill, put extreme obstructions in the way of a woman exercising her constitutional right, and would often make it impossible.  

It was basically the bill to bring back death-by-coat-hangers.

The Republicans did everything to bring Senator Davis down.  They dishonestly called points of order that blatantly relevant arguments about the bill that she was explaining were not germane.  Since Senator Davis must sometimes wear a back brace, when she had to put it on during the filibuster, they called a point of order about her getting assistance in putting it on.  I guess if my daughter had been filibustering and had needed her epi-pen, that would have been a point of order, too.  

The Republicans shut down the filibuster but could not shut down Texas women and their supporters.  Senators Watson, Van De Putte (so sorry for the loss of your father, Senator), West, Zaffirini and Whitmire worked hard to keep things going until midnight and when the Republicans completely ignored Senate procedures to move forward with their vote, riots very nearly broke out in the gallery.  I thought the Republicans  were going to need the Rangers to get out of there alive, y'all - it looked scary.

Since many Senators could not hear the vote before midnight when the Special Session ended, it could not be enrolled and it is dead.

Wendy Davis for Governor!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saith the Lone Star Girl: Go, Broncs!

On Wednesday, the Lone Star Baby and I took the Lone Star Girl down to Edinburg for a tour of the University of Texas-Pan American.  She has been determined for months and months now that this is where she is going to college, no matter what anyone else says.  She did the research herself and I can't find any flaws at all in her reasoning, although many people around us are rather dismayed at her choice.

The Lone Star Girl is biology-bound with an eye towards medical school, which is, from all the sources we've seen, at an all time high of Crazy-Impossible-To-Get-In-To.  This being the case, she has her eye on the conditional acceptance programs that a small number of Texas medical schools run at a small number of Texas universities (JAMP is at more, but requires more financial need than we have).  These are special pre-med programs that students may apply to and, if they are accepted into the pre-med program (which is decided by the medical school), and they maintain the minimum GPA set by the program and get the MCAT score set by the program, they are automatically accepted into the medical school.  UTPA has more of these programs than any other university in Texas and a truly excellent acceptance rate from the programs into the medical schools with which they have the relationships, meaning that the students are making the grades and the MCAT scores needed.  Also, even outside of the conditional acceptance programs, the acceptance rate of UTPA students into medical school beats the amoebas out of the state average.  The Girl figured this out all by herself and has spent a good deal of time convincing me.  As far as I can tell (and my middle name is not Meticulous-Ann for nothing), she is right on the money.  The college and career counselors at her school concur and are firmly behind her plan.  The only person I know with real family-and-friends ties to the faculty agrees.  

Random family members and other people, however, are aghast.

Many people have an attitude about South Texas schools - believing firmly they they are not good enough for a very good student like the Lone Star Girl.  Like most big schools, however, I think the truth is that there are strong programs and weak programs in these schools.  That may not be true of the flagship schools, but I think it is pretty true of all the other state universities.  I would love the Lone Star Girl to go to UT and get to try living in Austin for awhile, but she is not interested in being a small fish and, honestly, UT does not give almost anyone significant money.  As for A&M, she does not want to go that far and she does not want to be at such a bastion of conservative tradition, even if they would give her money, and what they would offer might well still leave an awfully lot to loans.  

So much for the flagships.

UTPA's biology programs seem very strong.  At least three major Texas medical schools - UTHSC, UTMB and Baylor -  seem to think so.  It's what she wants.

Safety comes up a lot in these conversations with various people and that is definitely an argument that gets me worried and web-surfing, believe it.  No matter how much I believe that this argument is mostly racism talking and then getting spread around until nice people believe it, too ... we are also talking about my kid, so I am going to want to be sure that's all it is.

Except that you can't really be sure, can you?  That's the hard part.  

In the last five years, the Texas-Mexico border area has become a horrible, violent, terrifying drug war - on the Mexican side. The cartel members certainly cross over to Texas and even live here, but so far there is little evidence that they are killing uninvolved Americans on this side of the line.  Crossing over these days is not an acceptable risk (to me), but are Texas towns like Brownsviile and McAllen safe?  That is the question.  There have always been racist, alarmist people who never felt safe that close to the border but they were never worth listening to.  Since things have gotten so bad across, it is harder to say.  I have read stories about things that have happened, but they happened in places like North Texas and Chicago, too, not just the Texas border.

I have heard a lot of people describe Brownsville as super-dangerous and scary now, but the Girl and I have spent plenty of time in Brownsville for Girl Scouts and it is really, truly fine, as much as any real city ever is.  I would feel completely comfortable with the Lone Star Girl going to school there.  I have not spent any real time in the McAllen/Edinburg area in recent years, though, so I have nothing to go on.  

It seemed fine when we visited, however, and all the students seemed like regular smart, busy college students who felt safe and at home on their campus.  I have to admit that the campus (and town) has nothing on the gorgeousness of other South Texas universities like UTB and TAMUK, but beauty is not a giant factor in the Girl's decision.  She says it looks like UTSA which she visited for a UIL event recently, so much so that she thinks the state must have used the same designers for the two campuses.  

We had a very nice tour of the campus and the dorms and a meeting with the Biology department, which was very encouraging about her chances of acceptance into one of the programs but which also gave good advice about how to be competitive.  The person we spoke to knew about her high school and knew it had an IB program.  She was completely thrilled when she saw the chart that showed how much college credit which IB test scores would garner at the university, saying that they seemed to understand IB credit better than any other school she'd seen.

She still sounds convinced.  I'm proud of how maturely she has approached this whole process so far.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Joy: Water Park

Yesterday, we celebrated the Lone Star Baby's ninth birthday with a family trip to the water park where her sister works.  The water park is great fun but very expensive so I am having to be rather firm in making it clear that is not the sort of place we can go more than once in a summer (and, really, that is pushing it), which is a little hard for the Lone Star Baby to totally grasp, when her sister gets to go whenever she likes.

We stayed from the time the park opened until when it closed.  We met up with two friends of hers from school and they played for awhile.  I found myself reluctantly watching various other children who seemed to be completely unsupervised as well - water and unsupervised children is a combination that gives me the heebie-jeebies. At such times, I always think of a friend of mine who used to fold such unsupervised children so gracefully and willingly into all of her family's recreational activities that I am humbled at my comparative reluctance.

The Lone Star Baby has now gone on all of the slides there and even made me go on one of the super-high ones (twice), though I do not exactly cotton to heights.  The motion of the wave pool eventually got to her as well as the rest of us, though, and after that, we spent a lot of time going around and around the lazy river, which was alright by me, although not as lazy as I might have enjoyed as I needed to be a horse and various other characters.  It was fun to see the Lone Star Baby get her utter fill of the experience.

Definitely a summer milestone for a summer when experiences need to be packed in to the small available moments.  The Lone Star Baby says she is glad she picked this instead of a birthday party this year.

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to Lone Star Pa and to my fathers and to all of the good daddies out there!  I hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy Birthday To My Little Ravenclaw

Happy Birthday to the Lone Star Baby!  My baby is already nine - this does not seem possible.

It has been a very Hogwarts birthday, with a dash of ponies thrown in for fun.  Instead of a proper party, the newly minted nine-year-old has requested a family water park trip this month, so that is what we are going to do.  Favorite presents included a Ravenclaw wall banner and a Hermione wand.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Joy: Mud Pies And Other Recipes

While pulling books about Jane Addams and social policy analysis out of the This-Is-Me bookshelf in my living room to take to the empty bookcases in the new office, I found my tiny, long-lost copy of Mud Pies And Other Recipes:  A Cookbook For Dolls by Marjorie Winslow. 

I am pretty sure I ordered this book from Chinaberry when the Junior Woman was a toddler, intending to hold it until she was just reading - and then I forgot about it before she reached that age... and the season of mud pies passed.  

I remembered it in recent years when the Lone Star Baby and friends were making all manner of concoctions in the backyard, but could not find it.  I was so happy to find it and give it to the Lone Star Baby today.  She is on the outer rim of her season of mud pies, but it has not yet passed her by.

Happy Birthday, Lone Star Pa!

I love you!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Summer Joy: Flags & Wreaths

With all the hustle and bustle of the end of the school year and preparing to change jobs, I have been quite remiss at changing the seasonal decor.  Today, we switched out the spring garden flags and door wreath for the summer, though, and I am working on the nature table.


Saturday, June 01, 2013

Heard While Listening to The-Mouse-Themed Radio Station

"I guess that was before fracking because the people under the sea didn't know what fire burning was."

Flying Up

On Thursday night, the Daisy/Brownie Troop had their Bridging and Flying Up Ceremony and became the Brownie/Junior Troop.  My little Girl Scout is a Junior now!


So apparently I am the mother of a high school senior now.  So.  Very.  Wrong.