Archive for Soonerland

Or just wait fifteen minutes

Lynn defends the nine-season climate around here:

For the most part I actually like Oklahoma weather. We rarely have the same kind of weather long enough to get tired of it (except maybe the heat and drought in mid to late summer) and it’s an endless source of entertainment, especially if complaining is your favorite sport.

Hey, I run a blog. What do you think my favorite sport is?

(“Climate? I didn’t even see it!”)

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In lieu of a retractable bubble

The city of Moore is proposing a barrier of sorts:

Residents in south Moore will soon have a barrier protecting them from sound and highway debris.

The city is planning to build a protective wall along I-35, which will provide protection to those who live between South 4th and South 19th streets.

Moore city officials said the wall will shield residents as much as it can from daily debris, noise and strong winds.

That’s merely strong winds, not winds of mass destruction: this is not going to do much in case another EF5 tornado comes to town. I’m guessing they have some use-it-or-lose-it funding, and this was a safe, innocuous choice. (Don’t read the comments.)

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The man must love his work

Just the same, this is a sucky idea:

A constitutional amendment filed [Wednesday] by state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft would ask voters whether or not they want to replace current 12-year term limits with 16-year term limits.

Wesselhoft said House Joint Resolution 1007 would give Oklahomans a chance to cultivate more experience in their state legislators.

“Each time we term out we lose good people with a great deal of knowledge and leadership,” said Wesselhoft, R-Moore. “This empowers the lobbyist and the directors of agencies, which gives them too much influence over government.”

Or we lose terrible people who exploit the position for their own gain and self-aggrandizement, which also empowers the lobbyist and the directors of agencies.

The rule, says Wesselhoft, would not apply to current legislators. (Guess who hits the wall at the end of 2016?) And if we really want to cut the hangers-on out of the loop, we need something like Glenn Reynolds’ “revolving-door surtax.”

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Attendance will be taken

Tuesday, May 19: Brady Theater, Tulsa

Wednesday, May 20: Hudson Performance Hall, Oklahoma City

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You’re hearing this

The Tulsa Sound, says Wikipedia, is “a musical style that originated in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was a mix of rockabilly, country, rock ‘n’ roll, and blues sounds of the late 1950s and early 1960s.”

What's This I Hear cover artThere are occasional references to the Tulsa Sound in state publications, but this is the first compilation of recordings I’ve seen pop up. The prospectus:

From this vantage point, some 60 years later, and with so much water under the bridge, it’s hard to imagine just how much of a shockwave the emergence of Elvis Presley shot through the youth of America. This was no less true for the collection of young wannabe musicians who called Tulsa, Oklahoma, their home in the period of time the “Tupelo Tornado” twisted his way across the USA, leaving a trail of devastation and inspiration in his wake.

The “Tulsa Sound” would become one of the most influential strands of American Rock music in the 1970s, and beyond, and on this collection we take a detailed look at the early years of the artists that would go on to put Tulsa on the musical atlas. Featuring highlights from Tulsa pioneers like Clyde Stacy and David Gates, who would find fame as the lead-singer and chief songwriter for the massively popular Bread, this release also includes, for the first time, all 8 of the songs that the great JJ Cale recorded in his formative years in his hometown, before heading out to LA with other Tulsa friends, in search of glory.

Cale was recording as “Johnny Cale” in those days; by the time he’d signed to Liberty in the middle 1960s, he’d become JJ. (Birth name: John Weldon Cale.)

What’s This I Hear?, named for a pre-Bread song by David Gates, is due out from England’s Cherry Red label in February.

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Replete with chiefs

An amusing (for once) Oklahoman editorial this morning:

[W]e couldn’t help but chuckle when Democratic Leader Randy Bass of Lawton announced [Senate] caucus leadership positions and committee appointments. The leadership positions included one Democratic leader (Bass), two assistant Democratic leaders, a Democratic caucus chair, a Democratic caucus vice-chair, two Democratic whips, and four assistant Democratic floor leaders.

Which is, admittedly, a lot of positions to be filled by only seven legislators. (There were actually eight at the beginning of the year, but Jabar Shumate resigned a few days ago.)

Still, the electorate should not feel bad for the badly outnumbered Democratic caucus:

The Democrats’ numerical challenges also were reflected in their committee assignments. Every Democrat will serve on eight committees or appropriation subcommittees. As a point of comparison, there were Republican senators who served on just five committees or subcommittees last year. If Democratic legislators make every one of their assigned meetings, no one can accuse them of not giving the voters their money’s worth.

And you have to figure that the GOP isn’t going to hold 40 out of 48 seats forever, just out of sheer fractiousness.

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Approved by the Bureau of Appropriate Clothing

They’ll get my hoodie when they pry it off my (up to that point) warmly insulated body:

After consulting with the Department of Public Safety, Senator Don Barrington (R-Lawton) has authored a bill that would make it unlawful to wear a mask, hood or covering during the commission of a crime or to intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place.

There are provisions. Such as, pranks of children on Halloween, religious beliefs and special events like a parade, masquerade party or weather.

But if you wear a hood with ill intentions, you could be slapped with a misdemeanor fine of $50 to $500 and or one year in jail.

I grumbled about this earlier:

This is the epitome of “Well, let’s give the prosecutors something else to hang on ‘em.” And the first time some woman in a burqa gets busted for something like shoplifting, what you’ll see hitting the fan will not be at all halal.

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Although not Rainier

Not only do we obsess over the weather forecast, we’ve been known to review old forecasts:

For more than three weeks Oklahoma has been wrapped in fog, dark clouds, and just a flannelly cocoon of winter weather. We are not built for this much darkness! I really don’t know how people in the Pacific Northwest cope with it. So yesterday we all felt refreshed just seeing the sun. I went for a quick little 3 mile run wearing only a light jacket, and I had thoughts like better get the pool opened up soon!

“Light jacket” makes sense: the inversion layer sitting above us has produced indifferent highs but uncharacteristically above-freezing lows.

The National Weather Service properly caters to this tendency:

I missed that little bit of sunshine, being stuck in Post-Vacation Recovery Mode, but we’re actually getting some today. Which is good, since I am told that there’s no parking left at Byron’s, or as no one dares call it, Booze R Us.

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Meanwhile, up in the sky

The spring storm season in this place lasts 14, maybe 15 months. On the upside, when the sirens pipe down we get a glimpse of something like this:

There was a tornado warning at the time, at a far corner of the county.

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For which they stand

Because, you see, this kind of stuff is important:

Ruling [Thursday], Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bernard M. Jones denied Oklahoma City Public Schools’ request for an injunction that would force Locust Grove and Oklahoma City Douglass High Schools to replay their Class 3A quarterfinal game, or to replay the last 64 seconds of the game, starting from when a mistaken rule enforcement cost Douglass a touchdown to which it was by right entitled.

And God forbid anyone should fail to get something to which it is by right entitled. Meanwhile, there exist issues of lesser import:

You, O Fine Reader, being the perceptive sort of person that you are, will probably have noticed that no one is threatening to go to court over Douglass test scores or building facilities, or the fact that the statewide testing mark for the school dropped from a C+ in 2013 to a D- in 2014, or that nobody noticed that school staff had let so many academic requirements slide for the class of 2013 that the discovery only a fifth of them could graduate was not made until November 2012.

None of those things are worth disturbing a judge and packing a courtroom for, apparently.

It’s all in the priorities. And in this state, that’s football, followed by Everything Else.

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A hard day at the office

I might have expected something like this on Black Friday, but not on the following Monday:

An employee of Walmart in Ada faces felony charges after allegedly setting two fires in the bathrooms at work Monday morning.

Police say Lois Smith, 49, lit a fire in the trash can of the women’s bathroom and lit another fire in the trash can of the men’s bathroom.

Says the police spokesperson:

“[W]hen confronted she said that yes she had done it, that she was stressed out at her job and was upset so she started the fires.”

There are four degrees of arson in this state; this will be at most second-degree. (First-degree requires that the structure burned be an actual residence, and that it be 85% destroyed.)

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Half an anchor

Lett’s reply: “Look! I have no legs.”

This has to be a first: a female television anchor with no legs.

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Eaker than thou

The City of Durant has been requesting proposals for runway improvements at Durant Regional Airport-Eaker Field, south of town. What they want is an overlay on the existing 17/35 runway, to improve its surface, and to extend it beyond its current 5,001 feet. Nothing is planned for the secondary runway, 3000 feet, oriented 12/30. Proposals are due in tomorrow.

Historical note: Ira Clarence Eaker, who attended what was then Southeastern State Teachers College in Durant, was commissioned in December 1917, and 24 years later got his first star and a job organizing the VIII Bomber Command in England, later the Eighth Air Force. As commander of the Eighth, he delivered an address to the British garrison, including this pithy sentence: “We won’t do much talking until we’ve done more fighting. After we’ve gone, we hope you’ll be glad we came.” The character of Major General Pat Pritchard in the 1949 film Twelve O’Clock High is based largely on General Eaker. He died in 1987, aged 91.

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Go thou and don’t do likewise

Acts 5:12 (KJV):

And by the hands of the Apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one Accord in Solomon’s porch.

If you’re not an apostle — there were only twelve, after all — or anywhere near Solomon’s porch (Solomon’s Porsche, maybe?), you probably should not try this yourself:

A Catoosa teacher has been suspended with pay after she was accused of piling kids into her [Honda Accord] and putting two kids in the trunk to run an errand.

The school board set a hearing for the teacher to fight a possible firing.

Parents claim Heather Cagle left Wells Middle School with 11 kids and drove to Wal-Mart to get snacks.

The Lord, who driveth a Plymouth, would not approve:

Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my Fury.

(Via Fark.)

Update, 23 December: She’s been sacked.

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Report from the polling place

In the 2012 election, I wandered in at the usual time — just before 5 pm, two hours before the polls close — and got out in half an hour with ballot #1211 for the precinct. For a mid-termer, I figured half the time and half the turnout would be more than acceptable.

And it was a little busier than that: I cast #783 at 5:07 pm. There was no line, really, but there was only one booth when I signed in, and fortunately, I’d already made up my mind on most of the races. (I admit, I totally forgot Lieutenant Governor.)

A few folks had address or identification issues, but so far as I could tell, no one at the time was being turned away: provisional ballots are not exactly routine, but everyone on site knew the procedure, which is always a good thing.

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Sports shortage alleviated

RadioInsight reports on recent sales:

Fred & Evelyn Morton sell 96.5 K243BJ Oklahoma City to Tyler Media for $100. The translator is currently operated by Tyler as CHR “Now 96.5″ rebroadcasting 107.7 KRXO-HD2, however the application states Sports “The Franchise 2″ 1560 KEBC Del City will be the originating station.

Because, you know, there just aren’t enough spots on the dial where you can get sports in this town.

The Now 96.5 programming seems to have landed on K225BN, at 92.9, where it will at least have 200 watts to play with instead of 120. It won’t be interfering with KBEZ Tulsa, also on 92.9, though it’s going to be a mess where fringe-reception areas meet.

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No endorsements

Not this year, anyway; this year’s ballot is unrelievedly meh. (At least in the Second Congressional District, you have the option of voting for a dead guy.) The only local candidate I view with anything resembling enthusiasm is Forrest “Butch” Freeman, who’s done a heck of a job as the country treasurer. At least county-level offices aren’t an embarrassment these days; the three commissioners seem to be busting a nut to get things done without breaking us. (I will definitely be voting for incumbent Willa Johnson for District 1, who is not messing up; there have been years when this was too much to expect from a commissioner.)

Otherwise, I am motivated these days mostly by the possibility of disposing of incumbents. Most incumbents in this state being Republican, this means I’ll have to pull the virtual lever for some Democrats. Fortunately, in this state Democrats tend to be Democrats as I remember them from my younger days, instead of the neo-Stalinists that get all the national press coverage.

If you’re still contemplating the race for governor, Joe Dorman answered some questions from The Lost Ogle, and Mary Fallin didn’t. Hard to tell which of the two is less persuasive.

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Turn down the weather machine

Stephanie Bice won the Republican runoff for Senate District 22, in west Edmond and northern Canadian County; there is no further opposition, so she will take her seat after the first of the year. Between now and then, we can only hope that she will improve her grasp on what is and isn’t possible:

Preventing droughts? Are we hiring an Equestrian weather patrol? Because last I looked, the jet stream and the clouds didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to what we want. We can certainly mitigate the effects of drought, but anything beyond that is out of our hands.

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That whole civic-duty thing

Something called BadVoter.org will query a name in the State Election Board’s database and return the number of days it’s been since that person was handed a ballot. (Anything under 365 is considered “good.”) Presumably, this will empower you to nag your neighbors, or at least Ree Drummond, who, they say, has missed several elections.

This sort of thing, to me anyway, has just enough of the busybody about it to make me think it’s a Democratic get-out-the-vote scheme, and indeed Matt Silverstein, the designated Democratic sacrificial lamb against Senator Jim Inhofe this year, is promoting it on Facebook. (Read the comments, if you dare.) I, of course, figure that everyone knows when I vote, because I post about it here.

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Save me a slice of cake

Applying for a marriage license

Facing the clerk are Sara Michelle Yarbrough and Lauren Marie Tidwell, the first same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license in Oklahoma County, after the Supreme Court let stand federal appeals-court rulings that struck down bans in several states, including Oklahoma.

I’m willing to bet they’re smiling.

SCOTUSblog reports:

With not a single dependable hint of its own constitutional view of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court in one fell swoop on Monday cleared the way for gays and lesbians to wed in a batch of new states — starting first in five more states, and probably adding six more in the coming weeks. If that happens in all eleven, it will mean that same-sex marriages would then be legal in thirty states and Washington, D.C.

In seven one-line orders, released without explanation and with no report on how any Justice voted, the Court surprisingly refused to review any same-sex marriage case now before it and, in the process, prepared to lift a series of orders that had delayed such marriages while the issue remained in the Court. Almost no one had expected that to happen.

It may take a few weeks for the Court’s action to take effect in real-world terms, in the geographic areas where federal appeals courts have struck down bans in five states — the decisions that the Justices have now left intact.

For “a few weeks,” read “an hour or so,” at least in the case of Oklahoma.

(Photo by Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman.)

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Texoma bailing

There are exactly two commercial radio stations in Durant, Oklahoma, population 17,000 or so, and they and a nearby sister are changing hands:

Texoma Broadcasting sells AC “B99.7″ KBBC-FM Tishomingo, Country 106.3 KLBC Durant, and Oldies 750 KSEO/94.1 K231CE Durant, OK to Mid-Continental Communications for $2.45 million.

On the one hand, that’s a fair chunk of change for two FMs and an AM daytimer with a low-power FM translator outside any major metropolitan area. Then again, the buyer, Kinion E. Whittington, is a gynecologist in private practice in Durant, which suggests to me that he’s probably going to be keeping those stations right where they are, rather than apply for relicensing to somewhere across the Red River and then moving into north Dallas, as I might have expected.

As long as I’m mentioning Durant radio, I probably should bring up KSSU Power92FM, actually at 91.9, operated by, and presumably for, students at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Their Web page is, to be charitable, a work in progress.

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Your 2014 State Questions

Only three this time around, and two of them are kissing cousins. (Okay, they’re not about cousins, or kissing either, but they did sort of grow up together.) As always, I have my own take on all the measures under consideration, and also the ones that aren’t.

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Checking those streams

Sometimes a paragraph just jumps out at you from the front page:

Oklahoma City Public Schools is the only district of comparable size in the state without an employee drug-testing policy in place, said Rod McKinley, the district’s chief human resources officer. “I don’t know why things didn’t happen in the past,” McKinley said.

Okay, that was technically about a paragraph and a third. Work with me here.

Now what I want to know is this: which of these two justifications will be invoked?

  • “Hey, all the other districts of comparable size have this, why don’t we?”
  • “Our schools are getting failing grades! Do you think it could be — drugs?”

Samuel L. Clemens was technically not available for comment.

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Political branding

Most campaign signs are boring as hell, perhaps because the people running campaigns are mortally afraid of doing anything to which J. Random Independent can possibly object. In this century, I’ve seen only two I thought were memorable: the simple blue square used on some George W. Bush stickers in ’04 that said simply “W” and across the bottom “The President,” and Barack Obama’s O device, which has now been beaten to death and beyond. State and local candidates don’t even get that much.

Connie Johnson for Senate emblemConnie Johnson — “Constance N.” Johnson just sounds too severe — is the Democratic candidate for the US Senate seat being vacated by Tom Coburn. All her campaign material contains this little emblem, which strikes me as having all sorts of subtleties to it.

For one, few as those dots are, they make for a plausible representation of the state of Oklahoma, which, well, kind of looks like that, though the Panhandle is of necessity exaggerated, inasmuch as it’s only 34 miles north to south.

For another, there are two blue dots and three red ones; this hints at the actual electorate, where the Republicans hold a plurality, albeit not close to 60 percent. And the blue occupies the leftmost portion of the grid, the red on the right, with both colors in the middle.

This is pretty impressive stuff for a Senate campaign, especially one for a two-year seat — although truth be told, what I really want to know is how the campaign managed to make a woman older than I am look younger than my daughter, a task which should require, I would think, more than mere Photoshop proficiency.

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The thinnest possible mud

This crossed my stream Tuesday evening:

What’s it all about? Algae:

“We’ve had it tested with Tulsa Health Department and everything is within the limits,” said [Assistant to BA City Manager Norman] Stephens.

Stephens said the culprit is algae blooms.

“We had a substantial amount of rain this year,” said Stephens, “that created a high amount of algae bloom and organic material like that in the water and that created the slight smell.”

The current Drought Monitor (as of Tuesday, 9/9; 9/16 results will be up tomorrow) might argue with “substantial,” except for the area of BA that spills into Wagoner County. (Then again, that new water plant of theirs is way the heck out on 361st East Avenue, which might as well be in Arkansas.) We’ve had sporadic outbreaks of similar, um, fragrance down here in the 405, though they seldom last longer than a day or two.

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Hardly seems fair

Jennifer McClintock saw this being vended at the State Fair of Oklahoma this week, and decided “Pretty sure I’m going to pass on this one”:

Scorpion Pizza at State Fair of Oklahoma

Apparently it was a big hit in Calgary back in July:

The owner of the Pizza on a Stick stand says she’s the sole scorpion pizza vendor at Stampede, and confirmed slices are expected to return this week.

“I’m hoping Thursday, but definitely by Friday,” Percsilla Larue told the Herald. Her stand ran out of $10 scorpion pizza slices Monday after demand was higher than expected.

“People love it. I had one guy come back twice for more slices,” said Larue, who describes it as “crunchy.” She said staff were surprised by how many people came asking on last Thursday’s Sneak-a-Peek.

I dunno. You tell me that a pizza with scorpions on it is sixty bucks, and the first thing I’m going to ask is “How much is it without scorpions?”

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The latest whiz kids

I admit to a certain difficulty trying to determine a motive here:

Imagine going to Walmart only to find that what you need is off the shelf. Not because it’s out of stock, but because it’s been soaked with doe urine.

Arrest and booking reports show that the damage amounted to more than $2,500.

I mean, who carries this stuff around? Besides deer, I mean, and they get rid of it as quickly as they can.

Police said Cody Hudson, 18, and Jon Ohlman, 24, sprayed doe urine on toys, fabrics and shoes inside the Walmart near East 96th Street North and Highway 169 in Owasso.

I’m guessing the culprits, nabbed right across the street, were not exactly fawned over.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Added to the colander of saints

“Lose the glasses,” they told me when they took the picture for my driver’s license. “Too much glare.” Good thing they didn’t shoot the top of my head.

Then again, I’m not a Pastafarian:

It may sound like a joke but an Enid woman says her Oklahoma driver’s license features a unique symbol of her religious freedom.

It may even prompt a giggle, but for Shawna Hammond, the spaghetti strainer is a symbol of freedom.

“It doesn’t cover my face. I mean you can still see my face. We have to take off our glasses, so I took off my glasses,” Hammond said.

Letter of the law, doncha know. And this is the law:

According to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s rules, religious headpieces cannot cause shadows on your face and the photograph must present a clear view of your face.

Hammond declares herself to be an atheist, her manifest devotion to the Flying Spaghetti Monster notwithstanding.

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Walking off from the runoff

I cast ballot #290, according to the machine, at 4:53 pm. With competitive races in both parties, I think I was expecting a few more than that. Still, there are lots of folks wedded to the concept of “Runoff, schmunoff.” Perhaps one of these years we can do the Instant Runoff thing.

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You’re watching GOTV

Does the process of Getting Out The Vote require that you, you know, actually get out once in a while? I’m one of those weird people who thinks it does.

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