Information

Why won't birds move an inch in total darkness?


One day, a bird flew inside my house. I locked the door. It landed on my TV and then I turned off the light. Then I touched the bird and it didn't even to try to fly or move.

Then I went to the kitchen and turn on the light, and suddenly it flew into the kitchen.

Why won't birds move an inch in total darkness?


Most birds are diurnal and have vision adapted for daylight. Vision is among the most important senses for most birds, so much so their eyes have evolved to be quite large -- much larger than human eyes, proportionally to body size. In order to have excellent daytime vision, many birds also sacrifice some of the cells in the retina that allow for dim lighting conditions. (These photoreceptor cells are called rods and cones; cones are responsible for color perception while rods are more sensitive in dim lighting. Diurnal birds can have a lower percentage of rods than other animals adapted for nocturnal activity.)

Falconers have been exploiting this trait for millennia, by using a hood, diurnal birds of prey calm down in darkness.

Owls are a great example of a bird that can see in very dim lighting conditions, though they can't necessarily see in total darkness. They also rely on acute asymmetrical hearing in order to pinpoint prey in extremely dark conditions.

Your avian visitor likely can't see in dim conditions in which you can still see. To avoid injury, birds will hold still and wait for light.


Symon Sez

Three Fugitives An Earlier Indicator Of American Independence? This Chuck Lost His Head

On This Date in History:

In 1649, there was a bit of a revolution going on in England. Oliver Cromwell had led a revolt against the monarchy and, on this date in 1649, 59 people signed the death warrant for King Charles I who was later executed. Now, the little turnabout didn’t last long and by 1660, the House of Stuart returned to the throne in the form of King Charles II. The second Chuck called for an amnesty for all who had played a role in his father losing his head except for three men. Edward Whalley was the cousin of Oliver Cromwell and he led an army during the uprising. He and two of his officers, John Dixwell and William Goffe, signed the document with the other 56 signers. Sensing that there was a new sherrif in town, the trio decided it was best to get out of Dodge. Dixwell went to Prussia while Goffe and Whalley set sail for Boston in the New World. Goffe and Whalley did nothing to disguise themselves and made no apologies for their actions when they landed in America.

Chuck the younger was pretty non-plussed at the prospects of the men hiding

This Chuck Lost The Fugitives

out in the colonies and mocking his authority so he posted a pretty hefty reward for their capture. By the time an arrest warrant had made its way through the formalities, Goffe and Whalley had lit out. Off to New Haven they went where they were welcomed with open arms as they had been in Boston. But, hot on their trails was a pair of gumshoes who were loyal to the king. Even at this early time in America’s history, there was some resistance to the crown as the deputy governor of the colony was slow and was uncooperative in keeping the matter a secret. I suppose the outlaws got tipped off because they used the time bought by the authorities fumbling to escape again, this time to a cave where a farmer quietly left food for them every day.

Seems Whalley and Goffe had lots of helpers who were sympathetic to their cause and they continued to get assistance wherever they went. At one point, they wanted to surrender but their advocates would not hear of it. After 4 years of futility, Charles II had enough and he sent troops to Boston to try and grab the boys on the lam. But they had moved again to Hadley, Massachusetts. While they lived in freedom in Hadley, their comrad Dixwell had left Prussia and moved to Connecticut where he disguised himself as a retired merchant. He died there in 1688. Meanwhile. Goffe and Whalley continued to live openly but did use subterfuge to communicate with their families back in the home country. Whalley never was caught and, like Dixwell, died peacefully and free in 1674.

Goffe was another matter. The story is that while the citizenry of Hadley, including some of the king’s men, were attending church when Indians attacked. From out of nowhere, a old bearded man showed up. He organized and led the town’s defense. When the danger had passed, the senior citizen disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared. Some good loyalists spotted Goffe in Hartford and promptly reported it to authorities who refused to arrest him. Goffe died in 1679.

Seems old Chuck never did get satisfaction for his father’s death and I suppose the “bad guys” ended up getting the last laugh. This perhaps illustrates that America’s independent streak had begun almost as soon as the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. One hundred years after the death of the last elusive signer of the death warrant of King Charles I, the American colonies were in full revolt and revolution against the King George III…who was about as successful with America as Chuck the Second.

Weather Bottom Line: Things turned out pretty much as I expected and many of my fears were born out. Snow White and I were quite blessed this time in that we never lost power, the cable or the phone, though the latter two lines are on the ground. I haven’t figured out how I still have the cable and the phone. Snow White was quite restless as we listened to trees cracking and crashing every 5 minutes. Poor old Piney took a beating but remains standing. So many of his big branches are gone that it looks like a Dr. Suess tree now. But, interestingly, the one lower branch remaining is the one that Snow White uses to hang the bird feeder. Today, amidst all of the carnage of Piney’s big branches strewn around the base, the birds and squirrels were nosing about looking for the bird feeder. Snow White’s Cafe was back in business by the afternoon. Again, I’m quite thankful not to have lost the power…it would have been the third time this season we would have been left shivering.

Okay, the excitment is done for now with it remaining cold through the end of the week. Flurries or largely insignicant light snow is likely on Friday. If the skies clear on Friday night, temperatures near zero would not be out of the question. But, any clouds or wind and we may only get down to the mid to upper single digits. Like that’s any consolation.

Yesterday, I pointed out the potential for another round of winter weather early next week. I see that the guys on TV are now making mention…do they read my blog? Maybe but in all likelihood they saw the same data that I did and now see it again so they are giving it some consideration. So, if this shakes out, this is how it goes. Our temperatures move up toward 4o on Sunday in advance of the next system. That makes sense…storm approaching, flow becomes southerly and temperatures climb. Then we get a cold rain on Monday keeping the groundhog in his hole which would mean more winter. That rain turns to snow late Monday into Tuesday. Right now, the GFS has increased its snow prognastication to something between 4 and 7 inches followed by more pretty cold air.

How this would materialize would fit the tv guy’s idea that we have to have cold air and then a storm within 24 hours. This past event shows the frivolity of that “rule of thumb” but this next one would prove to fit that model. Front approaches on Sunday, temps rise. Front comes through on Monday, rain. Upper level trof shows up in the jet stream and digs all the way down to the Gulf Coast and picks up a low forming off the Louisiana coast. That low zips up through the flow, brings a bunch of Gulf moisture and tosses it up over the cold air and, voila, we get more winter weather. The ECMWF also has that solution. My guess is that this scenario will play out. The question on the table would be the track of the low. If it gets picked up at the right time, it moves just to our east and we get dumped on. If it’s slow to move, then it would get shunted more to the east, say from New Orleans to Raleigh and then we wouldn’t get much snow. So, it’s out there and the prospects of another pretty decent winter event is certainly possible.


Symon Sez

Uncle Sam Makes A Lot More Than Exxon from Oil. and the Media Won't Tell You..does that make the media liars by ommission?

Exxon Recent Profit made vs Income Tax Paid

I’m a bit busy today so your benevolent dictator has suspended “this date in history” but I do have something of interest and something for you to ponder this Super Bowl Weekend. Most of the headlines you read concerning ExxonMobil and its 2008 report will shout about the company’s record profit. Here is one from Fox News that does exactly that. I chose that outlet on purpose because so many people claim that it is so biased. I personally find it biased a shade but not nearly as much as some other networks are biased in the other direction. Here is an example of even Fox News writing a story and burying the headline in favor of something that is true, but is biased in favor of the opposite side of where its detractors think it is. Here is another article on the same story from a business site related to the oil and gas industry and they do the same thing.

ExxonMobil 2nd Qtr Profit Made Vs Total Taxes Paid

Here’s my beef. Is it really news that Exxon made record profits in 2008? I mean that is what every one already knows or at least suspected. What these article bury is that in the 4th quarter, Exxon saw a decline in profits from the previous year of 33%. But the reall big part of the story that gets buried is the taxes ExxonMobil pays versus their profit.

ExxonMobil had a $45.22 Billion total profit in 2008. That is a record. ExxonMobile PAID $36.5 BILLION IN INCOME TAX. That comes to a 47% income tax rate, up from 44% from last year. Now, President Obama campaigned to punish the oil companies. I say punish because I saw a commercial here in Louisville that then candidate Obama said he wanted to impose a “windfall profits penalty.” That’s right. He didn’t even call it a tax he called it a penalty. Now, Exxon’s overall profit margin for 2008 was 10.57%. Yup. that’s it. So, the proposal basically said that Exxon should be “penalized” for making an 11% profit. How does that sound, especially when you consider that they already are paying 47% in income taxes. How much is enough? But..it gets better….

In addition to the $36.5 Billion in income taxes, Exxon Mobil PAID $34.5 BILLION IN SALES TAX. I’m not done yet. ExxonMobil ALSO PAID $45.2 BILLION IN “OTHER TAXES.

EXXONMOBIL TOTAL TAX BILL FOR 2008 WAS $116.26 BILLION WITH A FINAL PROFIT OF “JUST” $45.22 BILLION

To be fair, I bet much of that sales tax is passed on through to whom they sold their products to, which could be anyone from foreign governments to a typicalSo, the biggest winner by over 250% was…the government. Uncle Sam profits nearly 3 times as much as ExxonMobil when oil prices are high. In 2006, all of the US oil companies paid more than the bottom 75% of US taxpayers in income tax..that doesn’t include all of the other taxes that they had to pay. The corporate bigshots at ExxonMobil do not keep the money for themselves. No, they share the profits with the shareholders…everyday Americans, America Labor Unions, American Pension Plans…everyone who owns part of ExxonMobil not only enjoyed the rise in the stock price, but also in the dividends. ExxonMobil’s profits rose by 8% from 2007 to 2008 but they raised their dividend by 13% per share to $40.1 Billion.

Now, don’t you think that all of that information is much more helpful, more interesting and more pertinent to the news story than just ExxonMobil made a record profit? Isn’t it more interesting to know that government makes nearly 3 times as much money as ExxonMobil does on the business that ExxonMobil is engaged in? I’m not certain of the exact number but I want to say that ExxonMobil had paid some $250 Billion in the previous 3 years in taxes. Wouldn’t all of this type of information been helpful in your forming an opinion about the oil industry? Yet, media types, in my view, are either too stupid. are ignorant and lazy or they deliberately leave out information in order to sway your view. And you are not informed. If you want to learn truth, you cannot rely on the media.

GFS Snow Prospects Out to Sea?

Weather Bottom Line: I’m not too surprised at the data now coming out concerning the next storm. You see, quite often when the subtropical jet inititalizes a low along the Gulf Coast and then phases with the polar jet, the low will track along the northern Gulf Coast and then up the East Coast and you get a “Noreaster” with big snow for the east coast. This is also one of the more common scenarios for snow in the Dixie states. The way the models were shaping up, it was taking the low on a more inland route that would bring the storm up the Appalacians and bring rain to snow in our area with a whole mess of snow in Eastern Kentucky.

Compare to Fri Data and see how far GFS and other models have moved storm track east

If you recall, I had said the problem with this was not that the storm would not form, but instead where it would go, especially given that the storm had not even formed yet and it really even hasn’t at this time either. But, the current line of thinking makes some sense as the trof digs in a little faster and so the whole long wave pattern gets shifted east. In fact, there is some indication that the storm may end up being so far off the coast that the Northeast doesn’t get a huge dump of snow…but its too far out to really tell. We do have the prospects of a vortmax coming down from the northwest through the flow on Tuesday and there may be enough wrap around moisture from the storm that will by that time be off the mid-Atlantic coast, to wring out some accumulating snow. My guess is that if the current scenario of the track plays out, we’d get a little snow on Monday and into Tuesday. Ice is not likely and snow accumulations total would be minimal. In fact, the 12Z Sat GFS and NAM have just a half inch of snow total for the GFS and the NAM blows it off altogether. Keep in mind, if you are traveling, that the farther east or northeast you go, the greater the snow potential for those days. Also..the track is still a bit iffy. Remember it still only exists in the minds of machines and in the last 36 hours the track has been shifted east about 800 miles. Also remember US Grant’s admonission that “man proposes, God disposes.”

How To Hang A Horse in a Tree and More Snow January 30, 2009

I wonder how high the river crested?

No Fishing at Cherokee Park

On This Date In History: If you remember the photos above, you are probably collecting Social Security. Those photos are from the 1937 flood in Louisville. The 1937 flood is by far the greatest flood event in recorded history on the Ohio River. There really wasn’t much snow but there was some in the Ohio River basin. Also, the ground was pretty hard from having been freezing in many places to the runoff was rapid from a bunch of rain in the Ohio Valley. As an example, Louisville got 15 inches of rain from the 12th to the 24th of January and 19 inches for the month. The entire Ohio Valley basin received an over abundance of rain. The Ohio River in Louisville crested on January 27, 1937.

Looking West Up Broadway From Brown Hotel Roof

On this date in 1937

, the people of Louisville held their breath in hopes that the river would continue to recede from record levels of over 85 feet on the lower gauge of the McAlpine Lock and just over 52 feet on the upper gauge. The flood stage is 55 feet and 23 feet respectively.

The Falls of the Ohio is the result of a geological rise. There is a fall in the elevation of some 26.5 feet over 2 miles. The rapids were said to be spectacular with one observer in 1811 saying it was “more spectacular

Looks Like One Boat Should Be Called Titanic

than Niagara.” It was said you could hear the roar of the water from miles away. Trouble with this was that when the river was low, it was not navigatable. If you were going down stream, you took your cargo and unloaded it at Louisville and then reloaded on another vessel at Portland. The falls are part of the reason for Louisville’s existence. It was either at the end of 1830 or 1831 that the Louisville and Portland Canal opened up as a way to circumnavigate the falls in times of low water. Later, in 1870, the US Army Corps of Engineers embarked on a canalization of the Ohio River project. It would create over 50 locks and dams along the river to ensure consistent navigation. The final dam was the one at Louisville in 1925, though it has been updated many times. The last was in the 1960’s when they went from a wicker dam to a permanent structure across the entire river.

Madison and Clinton. Fred Sanford's Yard

I want to know if the canalization of the Ohio had any effect on the flood of 1937. It was the greatest flood of 175 years of civilization and evidence suggests that it was the greatest in geologial history. But…there wasn’t a series of dams on the river for all time. The role of the Corps of Engineers, even today, is not for flood control but strictly navigation. Would the flood of 1937 been less if the river had been allowed to flow freely and is that the reason why in geologic time there has not been a bigger flood? I dunno and in pragmatic terms I suppose it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t mean I’m not curious.

GFS Snow Accumulation By Tue Morning

Note Speed Max at 300 mb in relation to surface low on GFS Mon. Morning

would seem to me that the low is going to track pretty far to our east so the risk of a big ice storm is minimized somewhat and the biggest snow should be to our east. Having said that, there are two things to remember. First is that there are still several days to go and the low doesn’t even exist yet except in a computer’s dream. It will probably form but the exact track is still up in the air and a deviation of just 100 miles east or west would be a difference between hardly any snow and a whole bunch. As it stands, if it were to come out as currently forecast, then were in the 3-6 inch neighborhood. The other thing to consider is that, while it would not set up as a huge icing situation, this scenario would start out as rain, then go over to sleet before turning to snow. Freezing rain….I wouldn’t be overly concerned at this point because we would have warmed well above freezing by Sunday afternoon. However, rain on top of old snow and ice may be a problem. Anyway…its worth watching. Still thinking mid 30’s on Saturday and the 40’s on Sunday.

3 Fugitives Foreshadow Indepedence? Another Winter Storm? January 29, 2009

Three Fugitives An Earlier Indicator Of American Independence? This Chuck Lost His Head

On This Date in History:

In 1649, there was a bit of a revolution going on in England. Oliver Cromwell had led a revolt against the monarchy and, on this date in 1649, 59 people signed the death warrant for King Charles I who was later executed. Now, the little turnabout didn’t last long and by 1660, the House of Stuart returned to the throne in the form of King Charles II. The second Chuck called for an amnesty for all who had played a role in his father losing his head except for three men. Edward Whalley was the cousin of Oliver Cromwell and he led an army during the uprising. He and two of his officers, John Dixwell and William Goffe, signed the document with the other 56 signers. Sensing that there was a new sherrif in town, the trio decided it was best to get out of Dodge. Dixwell went to Prussia while Goffe and Whalley set sail for Boston in the New World. Goffe and Whalley did nothing to disguise themselves and made no apologies for their actions when they landed in America.

Chuck the younger was pretty non-plussed at the prospects of the men hiding

This Chuck Lost The Fugitives

out in the colonies and mocking his authority so he posted a pretty hefty reward for their capture. By the time an arrest warrant had made its way through the formalities, Goffe and Whalley had lit out. Off to New Haven they went where they were welcomed with open arms as they had been in Boston. But, hot on their trails was a pair of gumshoes who were loyal to the king. Even at this early time in America’s history, there was some resistance to the crown as the deputy governor of the colony was slow and was uncooperative in keeping the matter a secret. I suppose the outlaws got tipped off because they used the time bought by the authorities fumbling to escape again, this time to a cave where a farmer quietly left food for them every day.

Seems Whalley and Goffe had lots of helpers who were sympathetic to their cause and they continued to get assistance wherever they went. At one point, they wanted to surrender but their advocates would not hear of it. After 4 years of futility, Charles II had enough and he sent troops to Boston to try and grab the boys on the lam. But they had moved again to Hadley, Massachusetts. While they lived in freedom in Hadley, their comrad Dixwell had left Prussia and moved to Connecticut where he disguised himself as a retired merchant. He died there in 1688. Meanwhile. Goffe and Whalley continued to live openly but did use subterfuge to communicate with their families back in the home country. Whalley never was caught and, like Dixwell, died peacefully and free in 1674.

Goffe was another matter. The story is that while the citizenry of Hadley, including some of the king’s men, were attending church when Indians attacked. From out of nowhere, a old bearded man showed up. He organized and led the town’s defense. When the danger had passed, the senior citizen disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared. Some good loyalists spotted Goffe in Hartford and promptly reported it to authorities who refused to arrest him. Goffe died in 1679.

Seems old Chuck never did get satisfaction for his father’s death and I suppose the “bad guys” ended up getting the last laugh. This perhaps illustrates that America’s independent streak had begun almost as soon as the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. One hundred years after the death of the last elusive signer of the death warrant of King Charles I, the American colonies were in full revolt and revolution against the King George III…who was about as successful with America as Chuck the Second.

Weather Bottom Line: Things turned out pretty much as I expected and many of my fears were born out. Snow White and I were quite blessed this time in that we never lost power, the cable or the phone, though the latter two lines are on the ground. I haven’t figured out how I still have the cable and the phone. Snow White was quite restless as we listened to trees cracking and crashing every 5 minutes. Poor old Piney took a beating but remains standing. So many of his big branches are gone that it looks like a Dr. Suess tree now. But, interestingly, the one lower branch remaining is the one that Snow White uses to hang the bird feeder. Today, amidst all of the carnage of Piney’s big branches strewn around the base, the birds and squirrels were nosing about looking for the bird feeder. Snow White’s Cafe was back in business by the afternoon. Again, I’m quite thankful not to have lost the power…it would have been the third time this season we would have been left shivering.

Okay, the excitment is done for now with it remaining cold through the end of the week. Flurries or largely insignicant light snow is likely on Friday. If the skies clear on Friday night, temperatures near zero would not be out of the question. But, any clouds or wind and we may only get down to the mid to upper single digits. Like that’s any consolation.

Yesterday, I pointed out the potential for another round of winter weather early next week. I see that the guys on TV are now making mention…do they read my blog? Maybe but in all likelihood they saw the same data that I did and now see it again so they are giving it some consideration. So, if this shakes out, this is how it goes. Our temperatures move up toward 4o on Sunday in advance of the next system. That makes sense…storm approaching, flow becomes southerly and temperatures climb. Then we get a cold rain on Monday keeping the groundhog in his hole which would mean more winter. That rain turns to snow late Monday into Tuesday. Right now, the GFS has increased its snow prognastication to something between 4 and 7 inches followed by more pretty cold air.

How this would materialize would fit the tv guy’s idea that we have to have cold air and then a storm within 24 hours. This past event shows the frivolity of that “rule of thumb” but this next one would prove to fit that model. Front approaches on Sunday, temps rise. Front comes through on Monday, rain. Upper level trof shows up in the jet stream and digs all the way down to the Gulf Coast and picks up a low forming off the Louisiana coast. That low zips up through the flow, brings a bunch of Gulf moisture and tosses it up over the cold air and, voila, we get more winter weather. The ECMWF also has that solution. My guess is that this scenario will play out. The question on the table would be the track of the low. If it gets picked up at the right time, it moves just to our east and we get dumped on. If it’s slow to move, then it would get shunted more to the east, say from New Orleans to Raleigh and then we wouldn’t get much snow. So, it’s out there and the prospects of another pretty decent winter event is certainly possible.

Two Men-Two Second Chances Second Round of Ice/Snow January 28, 2009

Kirby Alive and Well With Wife

On This Date in History:

Ken Kirby is a police officer in South Carolina. He said that he was “healthy as an ox” his whole life until this past Christmas he started feeling nauseous and then had tightness in his chest and pain in his arms. On December 27, he was rushed to the hospital and he went into cardiac arrest. He died. Then he was revived. 45 minutes later, his heart stopped again and the doctors told the family that they could not get a pulse. He died again. Several minutes after the family said their goodbyes, a nurse monitoring noticed a slight pulse had returned. Kirby was back again. He had surgery and an hour after the surgery he was sitting up and chatting to the family who just a few hours prior said goodbye to the man who had died twice…and returned.Here is the local story with many details. Here’s the whole story with video. On this date in history, Ken Kirby is back on the job, a month after he rose from the dead, twice.

Richard III Jackson Assassin?

On This Date in 1835 another case of two chances was in the works. It wouldn’t happen for a couple of days but it was being planned by a handsome young man named Richard Lawrence. He had lived a normal life until around 1832 when for unknown reasons he became delusional. He really got into trouble when on this date he was fully involved in the belief that he was King Richard III! He was obsessed with the notion that President Andrew Jackson had killed his father. Now, Jackson was well known to be in the middle of a banking controversy but this one was a little different. See, Lawrence, aka King Richard III, thought that Old Hickory was withholding funds of the monarchy in US banks. So, he set out to kill Jackson.

On January 30, 1835 the 68-year-old Jackson was somewhat feeble and he leaned on the arm of a Cabinet member as he exited the House of Representatives where he had been attending a funeral for Congressman Warren Davis. Hiding behind a column in the Capitol’s east portico was King Richard III…er…Richard Lawrence. Underneath his cloak were two loaded pistols. The would be King waited until the president was just 8 feet away when he lept from behind his hiding place raising both weapons. He fired the pistol in his right hand. The sound of the exploding percussion cap was heard all around the chamber. It was pointed at near point blank range directly at the chest of of Jackson. But…Old Hickory stood firm. Suddenly, the old man raised his cane and an energy swelled once more in the old soldier as he began to chase the fleeing assassin. Right when Jackson was almost on top of him, the assailant fired a second shot from the gun in his left hand. Again…the sound echoed but nothing happened except King Richard was taken to the ground and escorted roughly from the scene.

Statisticians (obviously with nothing better to do) have calculated that the odds of two pistols misfiring at 125,000 to 1. Both guns were loaded correctly and both operated flawlessly in later tests. It was a cold raw day…and the humidity was high. Speculation is that the damp weather condition was responsible for the seeming impossible odds of failure.

Key Called Assailant A Madman!

Now, no one had ever attempted an assassination before so the courts determined that the case would be treated as a simple assault. At that time, it was but a misdemeanor. The prosecutor has become a rather patriotic figure. The Washington District Attorney who tried the case was none other than Francis Scott Key, who a few years before had penned the words to the Star Spangled Banner. Key determined that King Richard III should be treated as a mad man and Lawrence was freed with an insanity plea.

I’m not sure if he continued to think that he was King Richard III, but Lawrence did live a long time, though his life was confined to asylums where he died in 1861.

Two men� years apart…escaped death not once, but twice.

Weather Bottom Line:

I told you it would be a mess. Snow White and I had about an inch and a half of sleet on Monday night followed by about 3 inches of snow at our dwarf cottage. She managed to put out food for the little creatures of the neighborhood around Piney, our big pine tree and we had all sorts of visitors. But alas, our favorite pine tree that is home to so many squirrels, birds and bunny rabbits is in dire straights. The light rain all day has accumulated on the branches and Piney is being weighed down. Over the years he has lost some arms and I fear for the worst. I always want exciting weather and love snow but I can do without the ice…I never want freezing rain. I’ve been without heat twice already this season and don’t care to experience that again and do not wish that on anyone. But, its possible. We should continue to have frozen precipitation through the pre-dawn hours on Tuesday. While we could move up to just a shade above freezing for a time which may help melt some of the ice on the power lines and trees, the mercury will fall again. Hopefully, the precip will fall as sleet and not so much freezing rain but the odds of there being no freezing rain are not good.

NAM 12Z Tue Snow Through Wed Eve

I’ve included the NWS general forecast as well as their anticipated additional snow totals and ice accumulations. Obviously, travel will be difficult on Wednesday. The official snow total at Louisville was 4.1 inches for Tuesday and that is a record for the date, taking Louisville’s total for the season to 7.1 inches. I think the average seasonal total is somewhere around 15.5 inches. Lexington recorded 1.7 inches and Indianapolis had3.1 inches after 9pm with snow falling, meaning that the freezing rain line was farther south. In Jackson County, they were reporting .25 to .50 inches of ice on Tuesday evening. Other reports were similar.

Now, we’ve got winds from the northeast and that will insure that cold air will remain at the surface. The low has been running up from the southwest with a southerly component in the flow aloft that has brought us all of the overrunning moisture and warmer air aloft. That’s why we haven’t had all snow. Apparently someone on TV said that we can never get a major winter event with a southerly component and that is absolutely false as that is when we do get major events. Also, I had a report that a tv guy said that a storm must come through within 24 hours of cold air coming in or we don’t get anything major. This event shows the frivolity of that statement. A lot of times guys on TV say things to try to make themselves sound like experts when they in fact, are not. When I wasn’t sure, I just reported on what was happening instead of trying to make stuff up. Thats what gives TV guys a bad name. Cardosi is an ace and you won’t hear that kind of foolishness from him….anyway..enough editorializing…as the low moves by, all of the flow will turn out of the north but there will still be moisture in place. So, our temperatures will fall, not only at the surface, but aloft as well which will put us back into the ability to form crystals at the upper levels instead of liquid. So, instead of freezing rain or sleet, we will turn back to snow. I tell you what…if the 12Z Tue models are correct, then this will be a real problem and the NWS forecast totals may be too low. The NAM wants to through out .85 inches of freezing precipitation…mainly freezing rain. Then on Wednesday after sunrise, it advertises 5.4 inches of snow if you use the 10 to 1 ratio. The GFS wants to give us .72 inches of ice followed by 6.9 inches of snow on Wednesday. Keep in mind too that the GFS has another 4 inches of snow on Monday and Tuesday…but thats another story and we’ll have to wait to see how it shakes out.

GFS 12Z Tue Snow Accumulation Through Wed Eve

So…here’s the prognastication. I suspect that in many areas, the temperatures will be a shade above freezing so the amount of ice that forms may be a bit inhibited for awhile. I would think another 1/2 inch of ice is certainly not out of the question. Both models toss out a lot of snow but…I would think that using a 10-1 ratio is probably too much because it will be a wetter snow…so if we use an 8-1 ration, you get 4-5 inches of snow, which still seems to be alot. Take into account that some of it will probably fall as sleet initially so knock off another inch or so. So, lets go with 2-3 inches of snow in Louisville after the icing with higher snow amounts to the north. If you look at the model maps…toward Indianapolis, there may be about 10 inches of snow with not as much ice. Hope we all make it through this okay and we don’t lose power. Piney has already lost a big branch. We’re sad.

Tragic, Odd Day For Coaches Winter Storm Warning January 27, 2009

Coaches Are Often Held In High Regard. But Are they Above the Law?

On This Date in History: You may have read on these here pages a few days about about the Cherry Case. It had to do with the Cherry Sisters who were so awful, they were popular. People came in droves to theatres all around the country to see the terrible sister singing act just so they could hurl insults, rocks and garbage. Newspapermen were consistently cruel but one went too far when he described one of the sisters as being a matronly 50 years of age. She sued and the case became a landmark in libel law.

Well, today we have a new case that will be a precedent setting case. This past summer, a high school football coach was working out his boys when he decided they needed to run wind sprints. The heat index was high in the 90’s but that’s not too extreme for summer. At the end, one of the boys unfortunately went down and eventually died from heat stroke. Apparently the boy was using Creatine and also was on some sort of medication, but no autopsy was performed. It is an incredibly sad and tragic story for the boy and his family. They will probably never be the same. The school district had a significant delay on the follow up investigation. Now, the coach has been charged with a form of negligent homicide in the boys death and he was arraigned on Monday January 26, 2009. On this date in 2009, the coach is out on his on recognizance until the trial in March. Coaches across the nation are watching this case closely. The story is turning into one of international interest. Here is a note of interest the game has always been dangerous. President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to ban the game if the rules weren’t changed to make it more safe. A Sports Illustrated study shows that from 1967 to 1990, some 300 deaths were attributed to football with 1990 being the only one with zero deaths. Yet, this is the first time a coach has been charged with a crime.

Team That Lost Is Not Defeated

Meanwhile, on this date in 2009, a Dallas high school basketball coach is without a job. Coaches summarily are fired for losing too many games. This coach was fired for winning too big. He was the coach of a girls basketball team that last week beat another girls team 100-0. Reports are the winners were ahead 59-0 at half time and was still shooting 3-pointers in the 4th quarter with many of the starters playing well into the second half. The national public outcry was loud and the school administrators made a public apology saying it was “shameful” and an “embarrassment.” The other school’s players didn’t complain but instead said they just wanted to get better. They knew that the other girls had been playing ball for a number of years and that they were just learning. The coach couldn’t just let things lie. Instead, he responded by saying that his players had nothing to be ashamed of and disagreed with the

Heisman Didn't Get Fired, He Got a Trophy!

administration. That administration fired him over the weekend. I want to know who scheduled the game in the first place. Our team in Junior High once beat anothter team 74-0 and another team 83-3. We were just playing the game. We couldn’t just quit and lie down and if we did, the other team really would have been humiliated. The greatest college football loss was 222-0 with Georgia Tech beating Cumberland in 1916. Neither team got a first down because Georgia Tech scored every time it got the ball. Tech coach John Heisman wasn’t fired…they named a trophy for him. Some reports claim that the game was called after 3 quarters with some of the players on Cumberland going over to Georgia Tech. Now, that is shameful. It’s parents who usually get all worked up over it . But, the coach probably should have kept his opinion to himself.

Weather Bottom Line: Well, it’s here and it’s still going to be a wait and see proposition. Okay..there is the snow on Tuesday morning. It’s the sleet/freezing rain prospects on Tuesday that cannot really be said with 100% certainty. When we make a forecast, we generally do the best we have with the data available but we’re talking about such a small area of different conditions that it’s really tough what to say when you want to pin point it to a specific location. The earth is 25,000 miles around and, in this case, a

NAM 00Z Tue Snow Accumulation Through Wed Eve

mere 40 miles can be the difference between a foot of snow and sleet and freezing rain with everywhere in between getting something in between. Now, when I look at the breakdown of the 18Z Mon 01.26.09 GFS, it comes out with 4 inches of snow through Tuesday morning. Then there is about 3/4″ of frozen precip followed by another 3.5″ of snow on Tuesday night. That seems to hold with the graphical depiction of the 00Z GFS Tuesday Snow accumulation forecast. The NAM 00Z Tuesday breaks down with 6.2 inches of snow until midday Tuesday at which time it turns to over 1.1 inches of freezing precip through Tuesday night. Either way, its a mess. I suspect what will happen is that the northern part of the viewing area will see all snow and thus be closer to 10 inches if not an even foot in some areas by the time its all done with Wednesday morning. In Louisville, I kinda lean a bit toward the GFS though would think that a 2-4 inch total first followed by closer to an inch of frozen precip then with maybe an inch at best of snow on the back side on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Down south, it will be more of a sleet/freezing rain/rain/sleet/light snow

GFS 00ZTue 01.27.09 Snow Accumulation Through Wed Eve

scenario. Having said all of that, the exact totals in your backyard is really really pushing the limits of what humans can do. Remember, some of the frozen precip will fall as sleet, which is okay by me because that won’t be as much of a problem as freezing rain. I’m hoping that most of this stuff falls in frozen form. Nevertheless, I suggest you do as I am doing and that is to prepare for a few inches of snow through Tuesday morning then followed by a real possibility of icing roads and powerlines in the afternoon, especially from Louisville and points south. Hopefully, any ice won’t be overly thick and the winds not high enough to cause power outages but be prepared for that possibility. Then, expect another round of an inch or so of snow on Tuesday night and early Wednesday. Expect cold conditions to persist into the weekend when things may moderate a shade. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect into Wednesday morning.

Don’t Eye the Wrong House Winter Storm Watch January 26, 2009

Pinkerton Logo Coined the Term "Private Eye"

On This Date in History:

On This Date in 1962, Jeffery Gordon Riley came into the world. Since that time he has come to be known as Flood Water, F-Water, Floods, F-Ditch, F-Dip, effrey and just plain F. Jeff Riley is a lot of things…and one of those things is a good friend to all who are fortunate enough to be able to call him a friend. Happy Birthday F.

A few years ago, Snow White and I were walking from Papa Johns Stadium and some event. probably a football game. We were walking back to the car and crossed the railroad tracks. Well, we were supposed to do that but I decided it would be faster walking the tracks. I started walking down the tracks and Snow White stopped, telling me to come back that it was against the law. Out of the darkness came a figure. It was a Pinkerton Man! Pinkerton Security provides the security for the railroad and he wrote me up. Snow White was right again.

Well, on this date in 1875 the Pinkertons got it wrong. The Pinkerton Detective Agency had been on the trail of Frank and Jesse James when it was hired by the railroads to catch the train and bank robbers. It was not an easy task. See, the James gang also had members of the Younger family and both the James’ and the Youngers had lots of friends and family in Missouri. Many of their relatives and friends had been partial to the Confederacy during the Civil War and considered the big railroads to be nothing but a bunch of Yankees. The same was true of the Pinkerton Agency.

Now, the men of the Pinkerton Agency were not too fond of the James Gang. Seems that one of their men, John W. Witcher, was found with a bullet hole in his stomach and much of his face eaten off by hogs. They thought for sure the culprits were members of the James Gang. Now, the Pinkerton

Allen Pinkerton Provided Security For Abraham Lincoln

Agency must have let their animosity for the James’ get to them because, even though they weren’t entirely positive that it was the James Gang who killed Witcher, they went after them anyway. They had heard that Jesse and Frank often returned to their home. So, the Pinkertons waited until the sun went down and surrounded the James home. They threw some smoke bombs or flares into the home. To there suprise, there was a huge explosion. Jesse and Frank’s young half-brother was killed and their mother had her arm blown off. When the smoke had cleared, the Pinkertons found that Jesse and Frank were never there. Guess they should have knocked first.

Jesse's Mom Missing an Arm

After their keystone cops episode, the Pinkertons backed off a bit but they kept up the pursuit. They never got Frank and Jesse. Instead, Jesse was shot in the back of the head in 1882 by one of his own men, Bob Ford, who collected the reward money. Frank turned himself in shortly thereafter but no jury would ever convict him. He remained a law abiding citizen until his death in 1915. As for his mother…she had quite the cottage business. Tourists could come by her house and for a small fee, they could here of how the nasty railroad men and their disgusting Pinkertons persecuted her poor, innocent boys. Bet that performance was worth the price of admission.

NAM Snow Accumulation Through Wed Eve 01.28.09

Weather Bottom Line:

Well, there is some consensus regarding the snow. But, things have flipped somewhat. Before, the GFS was going bonkers with snow for Monday night and Tuesday and the NAM was less enthusiastic. Now its the other way around. The 00Z Mon NAM wants to throw out about 7 inches of snow from after midnight on early Tuesday through midday Tuesday. Then it wants to toss out about .75″ of freezing rain or sleet before it goes back to snow late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The 18Z Sun GFS only wants to throw out less than an inch of snow and then freezing rain and sleet on Tuesday with some rain then back to the frozen stuff and ending with a little snow. Now, the 00Z Mon GFS has more like 6 inches of snow from Louisville north with the snow total rapidly decreasing to nothing for the extreme southern part of the viewing area. The Canadian and ECMWF

GFS Snow Accumulation Through Wed Eve 01.28.09

models both seem to prefer less snow and more sleet or freezing rain. What makes some sense is that we get some snow…say 1-3 to 2-4 inches… on Monday night and Tuesday morning before we get a fair amount of time as sleet and freezing rain. The low track would tend to push the warmer air up over the top and mess up the snow profile. Further, the one model that has it being all snow or is the most bullish on snow is the NAM and it’s been a poor performer so far this winter, in general. Bottom line remains that Tuesday morning drive to work should be interesting. We are under a Winter Storm Watch Monday Evening through Tuesday.

Do Your Job…Get Fired! Unsettled Week Ahead January 25, 2009

Mexico Got Shafted During and After The War. So Did the US Negotiator

On This Date in History:

Treaty In Spanish and English

Abraham Lincoln was a one term Congressman from Illinois. He had an arrangement with the Whig party from Illinois from to rotate the seat and so his former law partner, Stephen Logan ran in his place after one term. But, Logan lost for several reasons, one might have been because of Lincoln’s steadfast opposition to the Mexican War. He thought that the war was nothing but a land grab by President James K. Polk. But, patriotism had gotten the bulk of the public to support the war.

Trist Did So Well, He Got Fired

Well, things didn’t go so well for Mexico under Santa Anna, the same guy who lost Texas. In fact, the Mexican War started over a dispute about the southern border of Texas, which by that time had become part of the United States. So, with things well in hand, President Polk did exactly what Lincoln had accused him of doing. He sent Nicholas P. Trist to Mexico City in May 1847 to offer the Mexicans terms for surrender. But, there were mistakes and confusion and Polk lost patience with Trist and recalled him in October. But, Trist disobeyed orders and stayed in Mexico to try and finish the job. On January 25, 1848, Trist successfully negotiated a treaty to end the war. The agreement became known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and called for Mexico to accept $15 million in exchange for the end of the war and ceding the area of present day California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. The treaty was signed on February 2, 1848 (groundhog day) and in the spring the Senate voted for approval.

Trist did a great job. He ended the war and got a good deal on a good chunk of the

Looks Like A Good Deal To Me. Not Good Enough For Polk

west and southwest United States that would later yield riches far far in excess of the $15 million paid. In a twist of good timing…gold was discovered in California just the day before the treaty was agreed to. So, did he receive a hero’s welcome back in Washington? No. Polk fired him for insubordination.

As we saw yesterday James Marshall, the man who discovered the gold in California on January 24, 1848 ,died a pauper and the man who negotiated the treaty that brought California into the United States the very next day also ended up a less than glorified citizen. For most of the rest of his life, Nicholas P. Trist worked as a low level clerk for a railroad. It wasn’t until 1870 that someone figured that Trist deserved something and he was officially recognized for his achievement. He fared better than James Marshall of Gold Rush Fame…he finally got his back pay in 1871 and became the consul in Havana.

So, the guy did his job and got the results he was sent to get. But, he didn’t do it the way the President wanted and he is largely erased from history. A case of procedure trumping results.

GFS Snow Accumulation Through Wed AM 1.28.09

Weather Bottom Line:

The forecast is a bit up in the air. While some of the forecasts on TV may prove to be accurate, at this point I don’t think anyone can give anything of any great certainty for the middle of next week. We’re going to stay cold but the freezing line will be pretty close to us. We do still have some moisture working its way over us for Sunday but shouldn’t be sufficient to bring anything more than a few brief snow showers or flurries. Now, Tuesday into early Wednesday, we get a bunch of Pacific moisture coming across. We will probably see some accumulating snow Tuesday afternoon into night. Now, the GFS keeps us just barely on the cold side. It wants to give us up to 4 inches of now followed by

NAM Snow Accumulation Through Wed AM 1.28.09

some sleet and then freezing rain before it goes back to snow and then has flurries or light snow Friday into Saturday. This is the most extreme outlook. The NAM doesn’t seem too interested in giving us much precipitation on Tuesday and that’s as far out as it goes. Now, the Canadian model gives us some snow, but not quite as much as the GFS and then turns it to all rain Wednesday into early Thursday. The European keeps us cold and is kinda a mixture of the GFS and the Canadian. We get some snow and then rain or a mix on Wednesday but then it digs a trof all the way to the Gulf Coast, pouring in much colder air and bringing some snow on Friday before warm air begins lifting back from the southwest early Saturday in advance of another storm dropping down into the north central plains. Quite confusing. I would plan on some snow on late Tuesdaysomewhere in between 2 and 4 inches. Then I’d plan on a mix on Wednesday which may be a messy day…probably and interesting morning rush hour. I’d then plan on a continuation of chilly conditions. In looking at the later modeling data, it would seem to me that there is some indication that there is a slight trend in wanting to have decent snow here on Tuesday and then the sleet/freezing rain/rain combo shows up. The reason this is so difficult to pin down is because we are really really close to the freezing line and it could go either way. It is interesting that both the late GFS and NAM snow accumulations both are pretty bullish through Wed Morning. After that is the tricky part. We’ll need to stay tuned. If you want a more concise forecast at this point…call God.

Man Gets .000.000 For Gold Strike Cold Air Returns January 24, 2009

Marshall: A Tragic Gold Rush Story

On This Date in History:

From the time that the first bit of gold was found in California through the next 50 years, some $2.5 billion in gold was taken from the earth and streams. James Marshall was born in 1810 in New Jersey to a wheelright and went west in his mid-twenties. In 1845, Marshall ended up at a remote outpost in the Sacramento Valley of the California Territory. Just 85 miles to the southwest lay a quiet seaport with just a few hundred residents. It was called Yerba Buena. Soon, that quiet town would be known as San Francisco and it would become anything but quiet.

The outpost where Marshall took up residence was owned by a man named John Sutter, who is a distant relative of mine through my mother’s father. In 1847, Marshall and Sutter became partners in a sawmill operation along a creek that ran through the property. On January 24, 1848 Marshall was doing an inspection of the mill when something caught his eye in the water. He reached down through six inches of frigid water and fetched a small gold nugget worth about 50 cents. News spread quickly but skepticism ran rampant until Sam Brannon showed up on the scene. Brannon operated the store at nearby Sutter’s Fort and in May, while newspapers were calling the gold rumors “all sham…got up to guzzle the gullible,” he arrived in San Francisco waving about a bottle filled with gold dust. That was a great advertising ploy because Brannon had already bought every iron pan in town for just 20 cents a piece. After showing everyone he could the gold dust, he returned to his store where he just happened to have iron pans available for the low low price of $16 a piece. That’s a nice 8000% mark up!

Good Thing For These Guys the EPA Wasn't Around

Now, Brannon couldn’t have asked for a better spokesman than the President of the United States and when President Polk mentioned the gold strike in a December speech, every tin-horn miner and serious prospector descended on Sutter’s land, destroyed land and stole his livestock. After a year, one meat company in Sacramento made $60,000 selling Sutter’s stolen beef. Now, Marshall could have made a tidy profit without doing one bit of mining, if it weren’t for his incompetence. You see, he was the partner in the saw mill and lumber was going for $500 per 1000 board feet. Instead of cashing in, he got caught up in a dispute between miners and the local Indians and he ran off. He came back a few weeks later but decided not to protect his land claims and instead became a prospector.

Quite A Statue For A Peasant

Trouble was, he was no good at it. But others were convinced that he had the Midas touch and so they followed him wherever he went. At one point, tag-along miners threatened to string him up if he didn’t spill the beans about whereabouts of the next big gold strike. I guess his followers finally decided that Marshall was a crummy prospector because Marshall ended up doing odd jobs and becoming rather eccentric. Then, he hit the booze. I don’t know how he came up with the figures perhaps he was drunk when he estimated that his discovery had brought “Yankeedom $600 Million…Myself Individually…..000.000.” In his despair, he convinced the state of California in 1872 to grant him compensation. He received a $100 a month pension. But, in 1878 he came wandering drunk into the state assembly and his pension was revoked. When the man who discovered the first gold of the California Gold Rush died in 1885, his estate was valued at $218.82. He was laid to rest on a rise that overlooks the place where his gold discovery ultimately destroyed his life. He is honored however as in 1890, $9000 was spent on a statue that was placed at his grave. The caretaker of the grave and statue did better than James…he was paid $75 a month, which was less than the Marshall pension, but I don’t think it got revoked.

So, next time you hear of a big lottery winner whose life gets turned upside down and they end up broke, think of James Marshall. The story is nothing new. And I leave this question on the table…why is gold so valuable? Who decided it was a symbol of wealth? You can’t eat and and can’t build a shelter with it nor can you you drink it. All you can do is look at it and for some reason, covet it.

GFS Wants To Bring Snow Close. But Don't Get Too Excited

GFS Critical Thickness Wed Eve 1.28.09

Weather Bottom Line:

After pushing toward 60 on Friday, cut the temperatures in half for the weekend with highs in the upper 20’s and low 30’s. It doesn’t look like we really have a wave coming across on Sunday but just enough moisture to not only continue the clouds from Saturday but also perhaps toss out some flurries. Now, the real chance for some snow shows up late Tuesday into Tuesday night. If you look at the GFS accumulated snow solution above, you notice some decent snow totals of of to 4 inches for the extreme northern part of the viewing area, tapering off to not much by the time you get to Louisville. But, the map to the right tells the story that the GFS is telling and also what is similar to other models. This is by midday Wednesday, warmer air moves up (note the pink general freezing thickness line in pink) and the freezing line goes north. So, we turn to rain. One might expect a time of a changeover from snow to perhaps freezing rain or sleet but at this time, it doesn’t really get me all worked up about anything serious. Bottom line is that if some of you do get some decent snow, it won’t last long because rain will follow up. You can see at left the critical thickness lines by Wednesday afternoon are largely to our North. Colder air returns by the end of the week and it may be a rather messy time Tuesday night through Friday.

Can You Trace Your Roots? January 23, 2009

Levar Burton As Young Kunta Kinte

On This Day In History: On this date in 1977, a miniseries appeared on ABC-TV. This is before the widespread use of cable television so, even the large markets had the 3 networks and a few local independent stations and that was it. Now, the network executives were convinced that the 8-part, 12 hour miniseries would fail and so they purposely scheduled it for 8 consecutive nights in January before ratings began in February just to get it off the air.

If you recall, a few days ago I talked about the election of President Obama and how, prior to even the nomination, I was shouted down at work by those who said I was stupid and didn’t know anything and that there was no way America would ever elect him president. I said that they were wrong and that my generation and younger were not raised that way and that I believed that Americans in general have good hearts and are patriots who will eventually do what they think is best for the country. Too bad the executives at ABC couldn’t hear my speech in the 1970’s or they would have put this miniseries on during ratings.

You see, the miniseries was based on a book by author Alex Haley. It was called “Roots” and was the story of the generations of a family in America. The first generation was brought to America as a slave in the 1700’s. The series depicted slavery’s brutality and the effects that it had on families. It was not really sugar coated. But, I suppose the executives, like my friends, were unaware of how America was changing and all they could probably remember was the open racism of the 1940’s and 1950’s and forgot the millions of Americans who stood in concert with the Civil Rights movement. So convinced it would be a flop and be rejected by audiences, they cast familiar actors like Lorne Greene, who had starred as the stalwart Ben Cartwright on Bonanza, in the secondary roles so to

Leslie Uggams Outstanding As Kizzie

better assure audiences. Ed Asner, who had starred in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, played the part of a slave ship captain who suddenly gains a conscience. That part was added for TV…that character never appeared in Haley’s book. They added the part to make audiences feel better about their race’s role in the “peculiar institution.” While the portrayal of the slave characters showed well defined human beings and not the comical vaudevillian type nonsense that had permeated movies and TV, the network promotional announcements were disproportionately absent of the slave actors. The bottom line is that the network was ultimately surprised. They didn’t think a show that showed the white guys as the bad guys would be successful or be “accepted” by white audiences. Wrong again.

OJ In Africa? No One Bought It

For the 8 days it ran, the show averaged 45% of all televisions turned to the show and 66% of all televisions in use during the airing tuned in to “Roots.” Some 85% of all television homes saw all or part of “Roots” with 100 million people, nearly half the country, tuned in for the final episode. Told you they should have waited for the ratings period in February. With numbers like that, it’s really irrelevant what critics thought because the American people were entranced by it. I remember everyone at school talking about it every day. But, the critics had some snipes about the number of scenes involving rape, violence and

sex. I guess they wanted a sugar coated story. And some didn’t like the romantic, soap-opera-like, romantic subplots. But, perhaps the biggest criticism had to do with one casting decision. OJ Simpson played a native in Africa who tried to use his great speed to run away. People had seen OJ play football and OJ run through airports on Hertz commercials, but they weren’t too accepting of OJ Simpson running around West Africa. One that I couldn’t get over was Chuck Connors…The Rifleman. He was always good guy Lucas McCain to me and in this he was a mean, dispicable guy. I bet Micah would have slapped the cuffs on him.

Two things about this. The series was important because it brought to life something reasonably close to the awful, immoral nature of slavery…but probably in many cases wasn’t as bad as it really was. It brought about some social change in that it brought discussion to schools and in the public. It opened the doors to having African Americans gain more positive roles in movie and television production and generally portrayed in a more positive light. But, this also is an example of how the producers failed to see the change in America. They had their fixed notions, rooted in the past, and they were wrong. History is not prescriptive as it is limited to its time. Just because something happened in the past does not mean that it will happen in the future. History repeating itself is a misued cliche that should be left on the shelf and one should not form preconceived notions about the present based on the past. The times are different, people are different, society is different, the culture is different.

Weather Bottom Line: Snow White and I went out to Henry’s Ark…or Henry’s Farm…or Wallace’s Farm and fed all of the animals about 10 pounds of carrots on Thursday. We took advantage of the temps in the 50’s. The emu thought my finger was a carrot and then pulled Snow White’s hair. The entire porcupine family came out to say hello and the Zebras ran all the way from across the field and left their hay just to come take some carrots from us. They all seem so hungry that we may go out again today as Friday will be a touch warmer than Thursday. Then, that’s it….back to colder temperatures. The weekend will see highs in the low 30’s and upper 20’s. Next week looks to be seasonal or slightly colder than seasonal for much of the time. The little system is still on the board but running behind a bit with perhaps some snow on Tuesday night into Wednesday. Then it changes to sleet or maybe a period of freezing rain and then to rain by Thursday. Right now, it doesn’t look overly menacing but there are several days left on the drawing board.

Roe or Wade Through This Brief Warm Up January 22, 2009

It's Dangerous To Get Into This. But I'll Give it a Try

On This Date in History:

This subject is a little bit touchy and I do not intend to really get into the muck. This is also pretty long but I hope that you will read through it and think a bit. I mean, people have their opinions and I certainly do, but they are more in the form of things to consider. You will find I have observations from both sides of the fence. What am I talking about? Why the infamous case of Roe V. Wade that on this date in 1973 came down from the US Supreme Court. What it said was that state laws outlawing abortion were unconstitutional. In time, that came to mean that abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy could not be banned.

People love to protest and march on both sides. Does any of that change any minds? Do ads and T-shirts really make a difference. It’s all a waste of time, energy, money and effort in my book. It seems to me that changing of minds and opinions comes through long, in depth discussion and analysis of one’s own self and careful consideration. It would appear to me that people who make or by t-shirts, protest, hold signs, yell and scream or march are more interested in bringing attention to themselves and not resolving an issue. I mean, does someone see someone yelling and holding a sign and say, “hey…I’m changing my mind!”

Let me take a stab at an objective view of the history of abortion in the US. It wasn’t always illegal. In the 1700’s and

early 1800’s, apparently there were methods of women ending a pregnancy. It was called “quickening” and the best I can understand there were certain types of drugs that a woman could take. In fact, through the middle of the 19th century, there were “female monthly pills” available that induced an end to a pregnancy. But, in the 1700’s it wasn’t much of an issue. Generally for the first 100 years of the nation, abortions were legal. As it became more prominent in the 1800’s and I suppose as we entered the Guilded Age (Victorian Age in England), states began banning the practice. It became a criminal offense and the newly formed American Medical Association came out against the procedure, though some say it was because doctors wanted to eliminate the competition from abortion practioners. My source claims that the Catholic Church had no problem with quickening but by the middle of the 19th century came about and opposed abortion. Abortion laws came up in most states but really weren’t enforced too much and so if you had money, you could generally have the procedure done until the 1930’s . That is when enforcement began in earnest. By the 1960’s, states began to liberalize the abortion laws. I think by the time January 22, 1973 rolled around, some 17 states had loosened their laws.

This is how the American Medical Association has changed its definition of abortion over time according to one source: 1859-“The slaughter of countless children such unwarranted destruction of life. ” 1871-“The work of destruction the wholesale destruction of unborn infants.” 1967-“The interruption of pregnancy the induced termination of pregnancy.” 1970-“a medial procedure.”

Get A Job and Quit Blocking Traffic

Now, it’s difficult to find objective information on the history of abortion in this country. When you compare the view from the pro-abortion crowd to that of the anti-abortion crowd, its rather interesting. Go ahead and give it a whirl. I chose those two sites just as an example. There are many many others.

Here are some thoughts to consider. First off, I have some problems with terminology. Most people who are against abortion being legal call themselves “pro-life.” It is said that all life is precious. If that is the case, then those people necessarily have to be against the death penalty. If all life is precious, doesn’t that come without qualifiers? And don’t forget, there have been “pro-life” people who decided it was a good idea to kill other people through bombings and shootings. Then there is the “pro-choice” moniker for the opposing view. It seems to me that if one claims to want the government to “keep your laws off of my body” or that “a woman has a right to choose what to do with her body” then that person necessarily has to be in favor of legalized prostitution.

Further on that note, if one is pregnant and is caught being intoxicated or on drugs, often that mother is charged with

Idiotic Propaganda That Changes Nothing

endangering the life of the fetus. It’s as if there is some inconsistency there. But what about the viability? It is generally accepted that abortions are fine in the first trimester because there is no viability of the fetus to live outside of the womb. After the first trimester, they can be performed to protect the health of the mother. On this date in 1973, there was a less celebrated yet very significant Supreme Court Decision. It was Doe V Bolton and it struck down an abortion law in Georgia. In that decision, the court defined what the health of the mother meant. It said that “… that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.” So, if the mother may be affected emotionally, then that can be considered a risk to her health and then everything goes. Yet, if someone shot or beat that mother, then the assailant could be charged with two counts of assault or attempted murder. So, if the woman is emotionally unstable, its okay to terminate the pregnancy any time, but if someone beats a mother and that beating results in a termination of the pregnancy, then that person is charged with murder. Seems a bit odd. I mean, one pregnancy is ended on purpose and the other is ended by the fault of another, but the result is the same. Why is the termination of the pregnancy murder in one case but a medical procedure in the other? I don’t get it.

Now, here’s something else. If you believe that life begins at conception, then one must give that life the equal protection afforded by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It seems to me that one would then have to count those unborn lives in the census, which means that the government would have to periodically check to see if women were pregnant. One woman tried this when she drove in the high occupancy lane on the freeway in which there had to be two occupants in the vehicle. She got pulled over and claimed her baby inside her was the second occupant. If the law says that it is a life after the first trimester, then shouldn’t she have a case? These unborns protected by the 14th Amendment would have to considered for the number of representatives that a state might have. You’d also have to allow them to be dependents on your income tax. In fact, all rights and considerations and the legal requirements of parenting would have to apply, not to mention all of the other clerical things like taxes, social security numbers, etc. That seems quite cumbersome and impractical.

Ask yourself how many abortions are an abdication of responsibility. Now, there are two sides to that coin. Is it responsible to terminate a pregnancy because it would bring hardship or is it responsible to not terminate a pregnancy in which the child would begin life in lousy circumstance?

I Bet This is Real Effective. Money Could Be Better Spent

I made a lady mad one time at work. We were in the lunchroom and I was thinking out loud. I pondered the parables of Jesus. He said that one should render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God when someone ask if they should pay their taxes. Jesus did not say to lobby Caesar. (Matt 22: 15-22) Yet, I opined out loud that perhaps the churches were trying to lobby Caesar in their efforts to curtail abortion. It seems to me that the churches are trying to get the government to do their job. If the churches got out there and changed the hearts and minds of people so that they wouldn’t have abortions, then the laws would be irrlevant. No one is forced to have an abortion. Just because someone can do a thing, doesn’t mean one has to do a thing nor does it mean one should do a thing. The lady got mad and left. Abortions can be stopped if people stop considering it as an option.

As for the woman who started it all…Roe? Her name is Norma McCorvey and in this interview, she comes out strongly against abortion. She says that she felt ashamed of what she did. Consider that.

GFS Doesn't Like Snow Through Monday Night

Weather Bottom Line: Yes indeed…the heater is working and now the temperatures will be near 50 on Thursday and in the 50’s on Friday. Good thing I got a new furnace. But, I will be happy this weekend. A front comes down and brings temperatures back into the freezer. Upper 20’s and low 30’s for highs over the weekend. Perhaps a few flurries on Sunday. Then, we’re still looking at next week. The other day, the wave looked to be more of a problem for late Monday into Tuesday. My loyal reader Eric pointed out to me that a local guy claimed that you had to get moisture within 24 hours of cold coming in to get significant snow or ice. That is not necessarily true. It often happens like that, but it’s not a common rule. There are no absolutes in life and you get yourself in trouble when you start using “rules of thumb” in forecast. In any event, right now, it doesn’t look as potentially menacing as it did before. But its still going to be a chilly week ahead. Not terribly cold but still chilly.


Good Golly Godets

When brides ask me what was the most difficult dress I have ever worked on…this one tops the list. It is a Melissa Sweet from David’s bought in the Boston store and flown all the way across the country to land on my doorstep.

I could not find a good website back view of the train and the 8 godets/triangles that are added to all the vertical seams to make the skirt as wide as possible and a huge headache when producing a bustle. Can you see how wide each godet is? Each one of the 8 was over a yard wide at the hem.

This was found on Google images:

Yes, those are baby blue tennis shoes peaking out from under the satin skirt. The satin layer and lining can be bustled up with one point on their own but the remaining layers gave me fits and over 5 hours of trying and swearing in the process.

Here is a side view of an attempted solution to gathering up that train into something manageable. Yes, you see correctly…we have a pink layer lurking under the white embroidered tulle.

Trying a halter to help keep those under bust wrinkles at bay. The halter suggestion was quickly dismissed.

What was needed was to insert more boning for support:

One new center one was attached to the inside lining. Note the fact that this heavy strapless dress was only supported by 2 under bust strips so no wonder the bodice collapsed into wrinkles.

Two new side bonings will be wedged between the existing side seam ones.

The covered boning can be easily and quickly attached by hand as this dress had an inside lining and an outside lining.

Now unto the bustle…pull everything up and clamp tight to reveal the satin and lining layers and the point for bustling.

Using the top of each godet as the attaching point, I quickly realize that no matter what I do, each godet just hangs down extra long.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just pull everything into a pony tail. Wouldn’t that make quite an entrance?

OK, try another technique…pick one point with all layers together and attached at the waist.

Then hike up 4 more bustle points to clear the ground…this is not working either.

Is this a mess or what?

The side view looks OK but not the most flattering having wads of fabric on her hips.

The front view shows what could be moderated panniers.

The bride agrees that this train is a real problem and says whatever I can come up with will be fine. I really cannot send a bride down the aisle looking this sad and droopy.

So, after a full Saturday afternoon wrestling for 5 hours pinning up and down and all around…it hit me! Make the pink and sheer under layer bustled on its own. Yes, it will add 5 additional buttons and loops but it might just lay flatter and more even off the floor…could this be the solution?

With the pink layer bustled first and the white embroidered tulle layer bustled over the top with also 5 points…we see a flatter bustle and less bunching and clumping. The embroidered tulle layer will be trimmed even with the floor with scissors.

For some reason the salesperson convinced her that adding a bronze metal flower headpiece as a belt would be wonderful. It only reaches from side seam to side seam and had to be hand tacked to stop falling off the dress.

These delicate headpieces don’t come cheap.

One last trick to making this train work. To manage the godets, I hand stitched the top 12 inches of each to close them up before adding the loops 12 inches down. Yes, all 5 of the back ones were done this way. The front 3 godets were trimmed at floor level.

So happy to hand this dress over to the bride knowing that all was accomplished for her special day.

As our nighttime temps drop to almost freezing, we have just enough time to harvest the remaining veggies of the season. Corn, green and red papers, spicy peppers and zucchini, patty pan squash and on the front left…scarlet runner beans have made a nice final showing with more corn to come.

My friend Nancy is back in town the end of this month so I can share what I have been working on for her soon! Thank you to all the followers for your comments!


TPW Commission

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I guess everybody got quiet when Commissioner Jones came back. Good morning, everyone.

COMMISSIONER JONES: The gavel.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay, officially. Good morning, everyone. This meeting is called to order March 23, 2017, at 9:12 a.m. Before we proceed with the rest of our business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners.

Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting.

Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, I just want to join all of you in welcoming everybody today. Ecstatic to see this room in a standing-room only basis. I know many of you have come from all over the state to see colleagues and friends and family get celebrated and honored today in front of the Commission and we don't take that travel lightly and I just want to thank y'all for making such a special effort to be here.

Just a little bit about the sequence of events this morning. The Chairman and Commission are going to have us go through a special presentation shortly in which we have a chance, again, to celebrate some special awards and recognitions. At the conclusion of that, the Chairman is going to call for a brief recess for all of you who want to depart the Commission meeting, to go ahead and take that opportunity to leave and then he'll re-adjourn the meeting and at that time, we'll hear the rest of the items on the agenda.

A few little minor housekeeping items, if we could. Just if I could ask everybody to go ahead and silence their cell phones and if it turns out you've got an urgent call or conversation you need to have, I'd respectfully ask that you step out and do that in the hallway. Thanks for being with us today.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. I first want to announce that Action Item No. 5, Acquisition of Land, Aransas County, Approximately One Acre at Goose Island State Park has been withdrawn and we'll take that up -- put that on the agenda for a later meeting. It's withdrawn today.

Next, I would ask for consideration of approval of the minutes from the Commission meeting held January 26th, 2017, the minutes have been previously distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER LEE: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Lee.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second Commissioner Jones. Any opposition?

Hearing none the motion carries unanimously.

Excuse me just a second. Ann, could I see you for a second?

Sorry, my confusion. Next is approval of the agenda. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Morian. Second Commissioner Warren. Any opposition?

Hearing none, the agenda is approved unanimously.

Next will be acknowledgment of the list of donations. The list has been previously distributed. Is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Scott. Second by Commissioner Lee. Any opposition?

Hearing none, the motion carries unanimously.

Next is consideration of contracts, which have also been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Jones. Second Commissioner Warren. All in -- sorry. Any opposition to the motion?

Hearing none, the motion carries unanimously.

Now to special recognitions, retirement, and service awards. Mr. Smith, will you please make the presentations?

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Nice to see everybody today. We're going to kick it off with a special presentation from one of our closest partners and I know that the Houston Safari Club needs no introduction to all of you and our friend Joe Betar, their eminently capable CEO and President who's been such a fixture in outdoor sports and the hunting industry and conservation. Houston Safari Club has been wonderful supporters of our Operation Game Thief Program, the big Mule deer restoration project that our wildlife biologists have been working on out in West Texas. Houston Safari Club has been a partner of that and also our Bighorn sheep restoration project, one of the flagship conservation projects for this Agency.

You may not be aware but each year, we have a special designated Bighorn sheep tag that we provide to a nonprofit organization to auction off to raise funds for wild sheep conservation. And, of course, the goal is to put huntable sheep populations on every suitable mountain range in the Trans-Pecos and our biologists and their partners and landowners are making great headway in that regard.

This year, we provided that tag to the Houston Safari Club for them to auction off at their annual fundraiser in Houston in January. And the way that works is we donate the tag, there's usually a frenzied bidding war for somebody who gets the chance to hunt over-mature ram at one of our Trans-Pecos wildlife management areas that's guided by our wildlife biologists and technicians and 90 percent of the proceeds from the purchase of that item get invested back in wild sheep conservation and so it's a big deal.

This was a banner year for us in terms of the Houston Safari Club. They just went to extraordinary lengths to help promote that tag and raised a bunch of money for wild sheep and Joe Betar is here to say a few words and make a special presentation to the Commission that I think all of us will appreciate. And so, Joe, welcome. Thanks for coming.

MR. JOE BETAR: I'll keep my comments brief. You guys have a busy day ahead of you. So I just wanted to thank everybody on the Commission and thank everyone here today for the honor of being able to offer the desert Bighorn sheep tag this year to our membership and our attendees at our annual convention and conservation expo. This year, we were fortunate enough to raise -- the tag went for 120,000, which I believe was the second highest amount in history.

MR. JOE BETAR: We wanted to be number one, but we gave it everything we had. So today, I would like to present to the Bighorn sheep program and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department a check from Houston Safari Club in the amount of $108,000.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. JOE BETAR: Hope you guys find a place that will cash that.

MR. SMITH: Joe, I think you just single-handedly solved our budget woes. So God bless you my friend.

Next, we've got to have a couple of very, very special -- really awards for a State game warden and a Wildlife biologist. And these are provided each year, very competitive across the country and they're awarded by our partner the National Wild Turkey Federation. Again, another extraordinary organization that needs no introduction to this group. Restoring habitat, restocking turkeys, working with private landowners, introducing youth to hunting and outdoor sports through their JAKES program. They just are a fabulous partner for us and, of course, they're right in the middle of our efforts to introduce -- reintroduce turkeys in East Texas. And so just can't say enough good things about them.

And each year they present a special Conservation Officer of the Year Award and I could not be more proud of the fact that this year, the winner and honoree is Dean Fitzpatrick. Dean has been a State game warden with us for almost 20 years. He works in our Criminal Investigative Division, our Special Operations team. He does sort of our lead investigators, specially trained to do covert operations all over the state. Some of the most sensitive investigations get kicked to Dean to handle and that's true whether it's death threats against officers in southeast Texas or Austin or stolen M-4s or poaching rings that he's been asked to help apprehend criminals on, Texas poachers poaching out of state.

One of the -- one of the -- couple of interesting cases he made from a resource perspective recently was going undercover to catch some guys who were illegally selling deer and other game and fish on a commercial market. And then, of course, most recently we had a very sensitive, very visible project in which -- or an incident and case that Dean was the lead on in which an unscrupulous wildlife manager and biologist -- not employed by this Department, let me quickly say that -- illegally smuggled a hundred turkeys from out of state to stock on a ranch without appropriate permits and quarantines thereby, putting our native game and turkeys at great risk. And Dean was the one that cracked that case and led that investigation.

He's just been a model game warden for us. He does so many things behind the scenes that people don't see and don't know about. Always protecting the resource. He and his wife live in Montgomery County. Incredibly embedded in that community, coaching little league, President of the Youth Sports Association, and just really exemplifying our community-based law enforcement and we couldn't be more proud of the fact that dean is being honored this year with the 2017 Conservation Officer of the Year Award from the National Wild Turkey Federation. We're very fortunate to have a bunch of our colleagues and partners from the National Wild Turkey Federation that have come to celebrate this award, and I want to ask Larry Noble, the President, to come up to present this award to Dean and we'll get a picture. Let's give Dean a big round of applause. Dean.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. LARRY NOBLE: Well, I really don't know what to say. This is my first time to be doing stuff like this. But for all your great efforts and everything else and doing what you're doing to keep the game and fish and everything else in the state of Texas back in the water for now and for further on when our kids get grandkids, we appreciate your efforts. Thank you very much.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next award, also coming from the National Wild Turkey Federation, is the Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Conservation Award. This is one of the most preeminent awards that a wildlife biologist across the country can receive. It's named in honor of Joe Kurz, who was a wildlife biologist in Georgia who was just legendary in a host of circles but particularly for his work in wild turkey conservation. And over the years, I think that 22 of these awards have presented -- been presented across the country. And today, we're going to announce the third winner from Texas, the third wildlife biologist. So all of you will be proud that Texas, I think, leads the country in terms of our wildlife biologists receiving this award. You will remember, of course, the first one, the late Randy Fugate from South Texas and then Dana Wright from up in the Childress area. And this year, this incredibly prestigious and distinguished award was awarded to Micah Poteet out of East Texas.

Micah started, I think, at the same time as Clayton in 1993, working as a wildlife biologist in the Piney Woods. Quickly promoted to a technical guidance biologist and, of course, at that time, you had all of the big timber companies that owned so much of East Texas and Micah spent a good bit of time working with the timber companies -- Champion and Temple and International Paper and all of the hunt clubs -- and obviously, Micah has watched that landscape change dramatically over the years but he's been on the front lines advising landowners, nonindustrial private forest landowners, the big T-mows and hunt clubs and others how to effectively manage their woodlands and waters for wildlife.

Micah's great love is turkeys. Micah has always been passionate about making sure that everybody has a chance to wake up and hear that sound of a gobble each morning and he's been very interested in making sure that we bring back Eastern turkeys to their former glory days. And so he's been working closely with the our team to develop the habitat suitability index that our biologists developed with other scientists to help identify the areas that were the most suitable biologically and ecologically to restock turkeys in East Texas.

Micah also wanted to make sure that we were doing sufficient research on turkeys that we were restocking in the woods and watching their response in terms of their range utilization, habitat utilization to prescribed fire on the landscape and that vision came to fruition with the big research project that our Wildlife team is involved in with 80 turkeys that have transmitters on them and watching them and watching, again, the response to fire in that landscape. He's just done an extraordinary job representing this Agency with very quiet, steadily, steady professionalism.

A mutual friend of ours texted me this morning that's a big rancher and landowner in East Texas and wanted all of you to know that every single day, Micah Poteet brings his A-game to the Piney Woods and represents this Agency with great professionalism and couldn't be more proud of him to receive this award and I want to ask Larry Noble to come back up and say a few words before we present this award to Micah.

MR. LARRY NOBLE: Where is he at? Micah come on up here and join us. I'm kind of favorable to East Texas, too. That's where I was raised at in the big thicket. But for all your efforts and whatever you do, I haven't been up through there in a long time but I'm sure the last time I went through there, there was lots of changes going on. For your efforts and everything else, from the National Wild Turkey Federation, we do lots of stuff with Texas Parks and Wildlife but here's a nice little trophy for you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We're going to now transition into our retirements and service awards. We've got one retirements that obviously we celebrate obviously with mixed sentiments always and particularly when we're talking about Tammy Schulle. Tammy has been with us for almost 30 years. And I'll tell you, if there is a model of customer service inside this Agency, it's Tammy.

She started out in, of course, what we called our Administrative Resources team. We now call that our Financial Resources team. She worked in the boat registration section. She was responsible for collecting revenues and managing revenue streams. Did that also with hunting and fishing licenses, magazine subscriptions, fines and other law enforcement related penalties.

Just because of her vast knowledge of revenue and licenses, she was promoted in 2003 to head up our Lifetime License endowment. And so Tammy Schulle was responsible for overseeing and administering that program dealing with everybody around the state that had a Lifetime License. And I can say this: In my nine and a half years on the job, I think Tammy is at the top of the list in terms of the number of calls and letters that we have received complimenting a colleague for their extraordinary customer service and just how helpful she has been to people when they needed it most. And she's just been a great testament to the spirit and service of this Agency.

Y'all will remember when we made the big transition in 2010, the big IT transition from Verizon to Gordon-Darby. That was a big, big deal. And Tammy was on the front lines to help work on that and make sure that we built and integrated that new software system, which was so critical to the administration and operation of our hunting and fishing license system and just did a great job -- 2013, I'm sorry.

She is retiring on us after 28 years of service. Fittingly, her colleagues purchased her a Lifetime Hunting License. Let's give her a big round of applause. Tammy, come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We're going to now honor colleagues for literally decades of service and I want you to take note when I say this: Our very first honoree has worked proudly for this Department for 45 years. And I don't want any of you to take this personally when I tell you this, but Ms. Bettye Simms, who works in our Law Enforcement office out of Beaumont with Captain Ousley, when we told Ms. Bettye -- as the team calls her -- that we wanted to honor her in front of the Commission and let the Commission thank her for her 45 years of service, she politely declined and said while she appreciated that, that it seemed a little frivolous given all of the work that she had to do back in the office. And so God bless Rod for hauling her up here so we could say a word of thanks after 45 years of serving this Agency.

It's just absolutely amazing. She started out in the Lufkin Law Enforcement office when, of course, we were issuing paper licenses and so all of that was written in hand and duplicates and triplicates and you can imagine just what a nightmare that was. Bettye lived and breathed it. She was just invaluable to that office, working with our Law Enforcement related team. In 1999, she transferred over to Beaumont and quickly became the go-to person on all of the boat registration related issues on the coast. Became an expert in saltwater fisheries related regulations, both on the recreational and the commercial side. You know, she worked and trained up ten different captains over the course of her career. She's had 150 game wardens that have come to her for all kinds of motherly advice during her time and she's just been such an extraordinary ambassador for this Agency and it's also, I have to say, a little bittersweet too because she has told us after these 45 years, she's also going to be retiring and well earned, I would say. And as Captain Ousley has said, he's going to spend the next five weeks begging her to stay. And y'all help me try to do that, 45 years of service, Ms. Bettye. Bettye.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Bill McDonald. Bill is a landscape architect with us, and Bill hasn't been with us for 45 years but it's been close. He's been with us for 35 years. Started out as a landscape architect for the Department in one of the earliest iterations of the Infrastructure Division and Bill was on the front lines really of a time in which we were developing a lot of parks around the state. So Bill was instrumental in helping to develop and plan out Choke Canyon and, gosh, Lake Tawakoni and Martin Creek and Cooper Lake and Lake Bob Sandlin, a bunch of -- a bunch of big lake parks over in East Texas.

More recently, you may have seen Bill's expert handywork at the Game Warden Training Center. He designed that whole gate entry there and the firing range the camping loop that we opened up there at Palo Duro Canyon there which is just really, really a nice addition to that area the boardwalks and trails and Interpretive Center there at Sheldon Lake Environmental Center there in Houston that's been, you know, Bill's genius in terms of managing that and making sure that all of those features were well-integrated into the parks and the training centers and WMAs and hatcheries that he's work with over his 35 proud years with this Agency. So we're celebrating his 35 years of service today, Bill McDonald. Bill.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague in purchasing and contracting in our Financial Resources Division, Sherrie Haddock. Sherrie has been with us for 35 years, all out of the Austin office and she has played an integral role in the administration of this Agency. She started off in our licensing section and she, again, at the time in which we were doing all paper licenses and she was responsible for 3,000 license accounts across the state. So every time a vendor would sell licenses, they would send in weekly reports of those license sales to the Department. They all had to be processed manually. They all had then to be entered into a very clunky, awkward computer system manually and Sherrie was responsible for 3,000 of those accounts each week, making sure that they came in and were processed and that we sent the bills out at the right time to the vendors, including the two biggest: Walmart and Academy. And so she had a very, very big job and no surprise then that she was one of the leading contributors and architects to helping move the Department to what we know now, of course, as the point-of-sale system and so in which we have gotten away from all of those manual entries and people can buy their licenses directly from the vendors and online and that's just been a huge benefit to us.

Sherrie, after working in that area, moved over to the Communications Division where she was in the print shop, had a number of responsibilities there working on the earliest web design and website. She worked for the magazine for a period of time. And then in 2006, she came to work for, again, Administrative Resources in purchasing and contracting as one of our major purchasers around the state and she is now responsible for overseeing all of essentially the credit cards inside the Agency. So 1,240 credit cards, 100 travel cards, 2,500 fuel cards, and she's the one that makes sure that we dot every "I" and cross every "T" appropriately and use those cards responsibly and she does a great job of that and we're very proud of her service. Sherrie Haddock, 30 years of service. Let's thank her. Sherrie.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Cindy New, has also been with us for 30 years. And Cindy's had a fascinating career with the Agency. She started out when she was in high school, Brent, up in Quitaque working at Caprock Canyon State Park as a seasonal employee and did that through high school. Went off for a few years and then came back as a seasonal employee there at Lake Sandlin, Lake Bob Sandlin State Park. She got hired by our Force Account team and then Cindy traveled around the state helping to develop parks at Purtis Creek and Cedar Hill, among others and got hired as one of the first park rangers there at Cedar Hill State Park, just west of Dallas and near Fort Worth.

Cindy transferred over to Matagorda Island to be a park ranger there. She got commissioned as a park police officer there, helping to work on what was then a state park on the island but then decided to transfer back as a full-time park police officer there at Cedar Hill. She met her soon-to-be husband and they got married and she became the mom of their daughter or stepdaughter Jessica. Their family took off, had a son and she decided that she needed to pursue a little different line of work inside the Agency. So she went to work for our Law Enforcement team there in the Garland office, helping with, again, all of these myriad administrative functions: Dealing with the public, licenses, boat registration and titling, just helping with general customer service.

She's been a great member of our team there in that very, very busy office, helping our Law Enforcement team there in, again, processing licenses, dealing with the public. Cindy loves the outdoors. She -- in her spare time, she and her husband participate in mountain-man reenactments and she's known for her western finery. In fact, she and her family have been depicted as models in a bunch of paintings and she goes by the western name "Whiskey Rose." So 30 years of service, Whiskey Rose, Cindy New. So, Cindy.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Tedell Bradley, has also been with us for 30 years and Tedell has spent really a whole career -- a whole career, for all practical purposes -- up at Caddo Lake State Park. And I don't need to tell this body what an extraordinary place that is on the Louisiana border. Our only big natural lake, just phenomenal. A wonderful, wonderful place to visit.

Tedell started out at Caddo Lake on a job training program. He was hired part time on a seasonal basis and then he was hired as a park ranger to work at what was then Lake Lewisville State Park and he did a few months over there and separation disorder kicked in from Caddo Lake and he went back to Caddo Lake and has never looked back. And Tedell is our maintenance supervisor there at the park and so he's made -- he makes sure that everything stays as put together as we can for all of the visitors. Just does a tremendous job representing us there at that state park and today, we celebrate 30 years of service to our State Parks Division and Caddo Lake State Park, Tedell Bradley. Tedell, please.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, John Ingle. John is with our Inland Fisheries Division and he's been a fisheries technician for us for 25 years. Spent most all of his time kind of up in the North and West Texas area. Started out in our Canyon Inland Fisheries office over near Amarillo, moved over to Wichita Falls, back to Canyon, and then went to San Angelo in 1996, I guess, and has been out in West Texas for that time working on all of the things that our fisheries technicians and biologists do in terms of managing the fisheries in the lakes, working on stocking related issues, angler access, creel monitoring, habitat-related surveys.

You know, he's lived through all of the death droughts out in West Texas, the floods, the Golden algae outbreaks. You know, you name it, John has been on the front lines all with an extraordinarily positive attitude. He's incredibly proud of the team that he works with in Inland Fisheries and I think this is a wonderful hallmark to the great servant leader. John is particularly proud of his supervisors that he has worked with -- Mandy Scott, who was a district biologist for us out in San Angelo that was promoted to head up the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Complex there in Athens when Alan retired and also another biologist who at one time was his boss that you may have heard of named Craig Bonds. And John, very proud to see him where he is today and so we're honored to celebrate 25 years of service to this Agency, John Ingle. John.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague from State Parks Division, Johnny Crawford. Johnny's been with us for 25 years and I've got to tell you, Johnny is one of the first people I met when I came back to the Department, Brent, in January of 2008. The State Parks Division was having a big meeting in Wichita Falls. Yeah, they had taken over the Holidome there, the old Holiday Inn. You know, it's January and you walk in, they've got that pool and all that fake, plush vegetation and you thought you were in a tropical rainforest and Johnny unfortunately had the inauspicious responsibility of having to pick me up at the airport and I knew I was going to like him. He pulled up in this old, battered, beaten up, you know, white pickup truck with tools everywhere and just popped out of the truck with a big smile on his face as big as the state and a firm handshake and said, "Welcome to Parks and Wildlife."

And I get a chance to see Johnny across the state about once a year. Johnny started out working for us on a Force Account crew building basically screened-in cabins there at Lake Whitney State Park and then he moved up to Lubbock at the site that used to be a state park, the Lubbock Lake Landmark State Park that's now part of the Texas Tech system that, I think, they co-manage with the City of Lubbock. And Johnny was promoted to a really important position inside State Parks, which is basically a Regional Maintenance Specialist. And so he oversees a team that's responsible for all of the minor repair and upkeep in all of the parks inside a region and, of course, his region is big. It's Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyon, all the way down to Mother Neff and a lot of places in-between and so he's constantly on the road.

He and his partner, Joseph Ybarra, just live out of their trucks. They fix anything. The parks guys call them J and J Construction and they keep it all together. Twenty-five years of service, Johnny Crawford. Johnny, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague needs no introduction to this crowd, Tom Harvey, our Deputy Communications Director. Tom has been with us for 25 proud years, just part of the great spirit of this Agency. Tom had a very successful career before coming here as a reporter for both the CBS and I think the NBC affiliates at various times here in Austin. Came to work for the Department to help build up our -- really our news media program. So he started the very successful "Passport to Texas" radio show that you can now hear on a hundred different stations across the country, our video news program that our Communications team and produces and feeds to outlets all over the state.

And in 2010, when we reorganized the Communications team into kind of four different business units or workgroups, it was really Tom that coined the name to describe all of them, whether they worked on web and social media or video or radio or TV and Tom coined them all as the Agency storytellers and that's what they do. They bring the life and history and story of this Agency to people across our state every single day.

Tom has done a great job representing this Agency. Occasionally, he'll still find some time to write and very proud of the fact that in 2015, he had a magazine story on the Powderhorn Ranch acquisition in which he was honored with the very prestigious National Journalism Award for that. So he's one of those great creative geniuses that just loves the Agency, never tires out. Recently took a big trip with a bunch of the State Park ambassadors, a big hiking trip out to Big Bend Ranch to see if he could keep up with the 20-somethings for about a week and I think he done okay. Tom Harvey, we're celebrating 25 years of service. So, Tom.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague from our Inland Fisheries team, Todd Robinson. Todd is a fisheries technician up in the Grayson County area, up around Denison and Sherman, a little community of Grayson. He's been with us for 20 years. Came to us from Pennsylvania State University, where he got his bachelor's in fisheries and wildlife biologist. Was hired to work for us as a technician working up in that North Texas area. Y'all know how important that lake country is there. There's 12 or so big reservoirs that our Inland Fisheries team is responsible for in terms of managing the fisheries and the habitat and the public access for our anglers. So Todd is out doing, again, creel surveys, habitat surveys, electroshocking, gillnetting. You know, all of the myriad things that our technicians do to manage the fisheries.

He's been particularly instrumental in helping work across state lines at Lake Texoma, which is obviously one of the State's most premier fisheries and working with our colleagues in Oklahoma on Striped bass and Blue catfish and making sure that we're managing those very consistently and well across that water body.

One of the things Todd has also made it a great point to do is be very active in his community to introduce youth into the outdoors. And so he's responsible for creating a youth fishing park there in Denison in which our Inland Fisheries team will release Rainbow trout and other fish to help give kids a chance to fish as part of our neighborhood fishing and urban fishing outreach related efforts. He organized a senior citizen fishing tournament as well that he does. Again, assisting folks of all ages. Works with the Boys and Girls Clubs to make sure that those kids have a chance to get out into the out of doors and he's been a partner with Cecilia Nasti in our Communications Division. This really interesting partnership with Central Market in which we'll invite folks to the cooking school at Central Market and teach them how to cook and enjoy wild game and we'll have Fisheries and Wildlife biologists and technicians that will talk to them about the natural history and biology and management of the fish and game that they're eating and then show them how to prepare it and show them how to enjoy it and hopefully, we make a few more hunters and anglers out of it, reach an audience that we hadn't otherwise reached. And so Todd has done a great job. We're proud of his 20 years of service to this Agency. Todd, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Ya Sheng Juan, has also been with us 20 years as a fisheries biologist with our Coastal Fisheries related team. Ya Sheng started with us as the hatchery manager there at Perry R. Bass, our hatchery there in Palacious in which we do so much R and D related work. Because of his skills and background in aquaculture, our Coastal Fisheries team moved Ya Sheng down to our Brownsville field station to be our official liaison with all of the commercial shrimp farmers in the state and that's a critically important job in terms of working in aquaculture and making sure that they're responsibly managing the production of those exotic shrimp just because of water quality related issues, environmental related issues, and making sure that all of those are managed appropriately and that there's not any inadvertent impacts to other resources and Ya Sheng has been our liaison with that community, organizing meetings, making sure that they're well-trained and certified and have all their licenses in order. He really serves as a liaison for multiple agencies that are involved in the State's aquaculture program, from the Department of Agricultural to us to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. He really is an expert in his field and we're proud of Ya Sheng's 20 years of service. Let's thank him today. Ya Sheng, thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Last but not least, Doyle Wesson. Doyle has been with us for 20 years with our Infrastructure team as an engineering specialist and really his specialty is electrical engineering. And Doyle got his start part time really just in our backyard here when he was hired to oversee an operation there at McKinney Falls State Park in which we were moving the electrical lines from an overhead system to an underground cable system and so a big charge and Doyle did a fabulous job and as soon as that project was over, our Infrastructure team wisely snapped him up and offered him a full job as an engineering specialist for the Department.

Left Austin, moved to the coast there in Aransas County and for the last 20 years, he's been working at parks and wildlife management areas and fish hatcheries all over the state as our really electrical engineering specialist and has just done a fabulous job and taught electrical code to park rangers and staff all over the state that otherwise wouldn't have that kind of training or expertise. And so just, again, a critically important function to taking care of the 3,000 plus facilities that this Department has in its portfolio and we don't have a chance to thank colleagues like Doyle enough and so let's do that today. Twenty years of service, Doyle Wesson. Bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and Commission, that concludes my presentation. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Carter. And thank you everyone for sharing this -- these service awards. It's always a great pleasure for us to get to know the loyal team members we have here. It's wonderful.

All right. As we usually do, this is when we allow anyone who wishes to stay for the remainder of our meeting to, of course, stay and participate but if you wish to leave, this would be a good time to do so. So we'll take a couple of minutes to let those who wish to exit take off.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. I would like to call the meeting back to order. We'll now take up our action items, beginning with Action Item 1, Regulations Rule Review, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes and Completed Rule Review on several chapters that Ann Bright will make a presentation on. And after, of course, she finishes, we have a few people who have signed up to speak and make comments on Action Item 1.

I just want to remind those who have signed up to speak, that we allow three minutes and that we do require the comments to be relevant to the particular topic and we welcome comments but they are to be made in that framework.

So, Ann, would you please make your presentation on the regulations rule review?

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Ann Bright. I'm the Chief Operating Officer at the Department, and I'm here to wrap up a process that we have to go through every four years. And just for background, I know that you've seen this slide several times but we're required to review all of our rules every four years. We have to assess whether the reasons for having the rule continue to exist. We have to publish a notice in the Texas Register and then following this, we either -- the rules are either readopted, adopted with changes, or repealed. And I'll tell you that the Department takes this job very seriously.

So the -- our process normally involves three meetings. The first meeting, we'll notify the Commission that we're going to begin the process. In the second meeting, we will come back and ask the Commission for permission to publish proposed changes resulting from the rule review. In the third meeting -- and that's where we are today -- we will seek adoption of the proposed rules.

And this is the schedule. It's a little bit of a busy slide, but we ended up pushing off some of the January adoptions to today. So we've got quite a few rules that we're requesting that you adopt amendments or repeals of but I am going to go through this fairly quickly, as most of these changes are extremely minor.

In terms of our fees, we're not adding fees but we are correcting some statutory language. We're eliminating a couple of -- a couple of fees associated with permits that no longer exist. On the stamps, we're modifying a reference to the design and issuance and also eliminating a reference to some stamps that no longer exist.

In terms of our boat regulations, we're changing some language to reflect what is actually the current nomenclature. We're deleting references to a tax that we don't collect, and then we're changing some statutory references. In terms of our rules in Chapter 57 on harmful or potentially harmful fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants, we're making a change to allow -- to now allow the Department to waive a permit fee if somebody is reducing or seeking a permit to remove prohibited nuisance aquatic vegetation. We're also clarifying that permits allowing the removal of these have the same validity as a treatment proposal. There was some confusion there.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ann, before you move on --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- back to 57.117. I realize the proposed amendment eliminates the fee, but does it still require the permit?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good. I just wanted to make sure. Thank you.

MS. BRIGHT: Yes, it's still -- it's -- absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

MS. BRIGHT: The species on introducing fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants, there's a provision that we're propose -- or we're requesting to amend, that would basically give us some flexibility in terms of the period of the permit, the length of the permit.

On collecting broodfish in Texas water, these are really just clean-up provisions. They're not intended to make any real substantive changes. There was a reference to freshwater stamp right now. To fish in -- at all in Texas, you have to have either a freshwater or a saltwater stamp. So we just eliminated a reference there. We had a duplicative reference to broodfish permit.

And then, as you-all know, we have a permit review process and we noticed that in one of the rules, that we had failed to include the Inland Fisheries Division Director on the review panel. Clarifying language in -- also in Chapter 57. In the parks, again, we're not making any really serious changes. We had a reference to a permit. We had some redundant provisions. We had a wording change that staff thought was more appropriate. In terms of park entry passes, we had some duplicative references that we're eliminating. Again, we also had some unnecessary words. We have a provision that allows fees for a car or a vehicle full of people. So I guess if someone brings in someone else on a motorcycle, we wanted to make sure that was included. We've deleted "guided" from reference and just have tours. And then the Executive Director doesn't really issue these orders and so we just modified that language.

We combined some use fees to make it clearer. Deleted some narrow references and just moved some fees around and the last -- hoping your time on the Commission, you will never see an item more insignificant than this last item where we added a zero. The -- on the statewide oyster and fishery proclamation, there is a change that is really going to align our fishery reg -- our shrimping regulations. We had some other provisions that were changed a few years ago. We noticed that there were some that were not changed to match those.

Statewide hunting, in your materials this looks like we're making a lot of changes and really what we're doing is as you will recall in 2014, the Commission adopted some rules regarding the Managed Lands Deer Program to streamline that process. Those rules are going to go into effect for the 2017-2018 hunting year, and we needed to go back and really just clean that up in other places throughout our regulations. So there's some sections that are going to be repealed. There's several sections that are going to be -- that we're proposing to amend. And then, again, there is a modify to consolidate repeated language regarding a fee.

In terms of endangered and threatened, protected native plants, this is a list that we -- first of all, we're repealing a duplicative fee. It's in another section. We don't need it in two places. These lists of endangered and threatened plants just reflect the federal list. So we're not adding anything that's not -- or deleting something that's on the federal list. But there is one that we're deleting, and one that we're proposing to add.

On the recovery value, as you-all know, when someone takes a species that we regulate illegally, that person is required to pay civil restitution to the State. So the State has -- the Commission, you know, years ago has adopted fees for recovery values for these species. We noticed that we didn't have one for alligator eggs. So we added -- we're proposing one for alligator eggs. It was going to be based on the number of successful hatchlings. In looking at this further and actually in response to a comment, I think it was determined that a person's requirement to pay restitution should not depend on whether there were successful hatchlings. So -- and I'll talk about that a little bit more in a minute, but we're proposing to make that change to just the current market value.

These are the comments we received. On Chapters 53, 58, 57, and 59, we received no comments in opposition. Less than ten on -- in terms of agreement. On Chapters 65 and 69, we received mostly comments -- received several comments. We did receive a few that were in disagreement. On the wildlife rules, there was a commenter asking that we change the muzzleloader dates. There was also a request that we change some provisions regarding Milam County and let me get through these real quickly and then I'll tell you what the response is on those.

Similarly, there was a change regarding -- that was requested regarding Goliad County. There's a different season bag limits -- whether -- based on whether south or north of Highway 59. In talking with the Wildlife Division about these, these all affect deer. And as you-all know, we are now on a four-year cycle in terms of our deer regulations. Every time we adopt deer regulations, from a biological perspective, the Department wants to have a period of time for those to -- for staff to evaluate the biological impact of those. The last batch was adopted in March of 2016. What we would recommend that we do is hang on to these comments and when we go through the next batch of deer rules, to come back and really seriously dig into these. I think staff believe that their rules as they exist today are biologically defensible and we also have Wildlife staff if you have any specific questions on that.

Resource protection rules, I mentioned the alligator eggs and we are proposing when the Commission -- if the Commission approves the requested motion, it will reference changes and the change that we are specifically requesting is to change from the proposal to eliminate the survival rate reference. There was also a question about adding a plant and deleting a plant from the endangered species list. And as I mentioned earlier, those are only species that are either on or off the federal list.

This is an extremely long motion, and so I'm just going to kind of summarize it for you. We're asking the Commission to adopt amendments and repeals to Chapters 53, 57, 58, 59, 65, and 69 as published in the December 23rd and the February 17th Texas Register, as well as the completed rule review of those chapters, with changes including the change to the alligator egg provisions. And I'm happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any questions or comments by members?

I have one, Ann. On 69.26, the alligator egg provision, it's proposed to change it to current market alligator egg price. Would it not be more appropriate to refer to the current market value in Texas for alligator eggs?

MS. BRIGHT: That is a -- we're happy to make that change. Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Either way, I think it ought to be in Texas so that there's not some --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- vagueness argument that it's --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- alligator eggs in Louisiana where Dick has them for breakfast every morning.

MS. BRIGHT: Before I get too far in front of that one, I need to kind of look and -- Clayton?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. I -- does anybody have any problems with adjusting that definition?

Okay. All right. Thank you, Ann.

We'll now hear from those who have signed up to speak on the regulations rule review. The first speaker is Drew De Los Santos, who has signed up as neutral on this item.

MS. DREW DE LOS SANTOS: Good morning. Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Drew de Los Santos. I'm a native Texan, born and raised here and have enjoyed the Texas Parks my entire life and it's a beautiful state that we live in and must protect. And, you know, as you-all know, this is a very important vote because the rules are only reviewed every four years. And so I ask that you -- as I'm sure you will because it's your duty to take these very -- this very seriously.

And so I would like to say that I think it's inappropriate and disrespectful to the people of Texas and the parks and wildlife that you are here to protect, to vote with such people as Mr. Kelcy Warren, who has an extreme conflict --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Excuse me, excuse me. We're not going to hear complaints about whether a Commissioner is qualified or appropriate to sit. That's not relevant to the topic. So if you have comments on the particular rules or the adjustment that I suggested, we welcome it but not comments about whether Commissioner Warren should sit. He's going to sit and participate in this meeting.

MS. DREW DE LOS SANTOS: I understand that. And so especially as it concerns the endangered species, I think that, you know, it's really important to consider that, you know, as people participate in this meeting or whatnot, they may vote or take consideration with private interests in mind. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

Next speaker is Cindy Sosebee or Sosebee. I hope I pronounced it right on one of those two attempts, who has not stated whether she is for, against, or neutral on the rule changes. So first thing we'd like to ask you --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right.

MS. CINDY SOSEBEE: And it's Sosebee. You got it right on one of the times.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good.

MS. CINDY SOSEBEE: Thank you for giving me a chance to speak. I am here -- I drove from Houston -- because I'm very concerned about what things that are going on with Texas Parks and Wildlife because actually, I love our parks and our state is beautiful. I would ask that on regarding Item 1 on the agenda, I ask everyone on the Commission to please only vote in the best interest of our parks, our land, and the people and be sure that nothing is voted on that is for any private interest. That it's only for what's best for our land, our people, and our natural resources. And your job is to take care of it. So please do that properly. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Next speaker is Michelle Wilk, who has signed up to speak against the regulation changes.

MS. MICHELLE WILK: Good morning. My name is Michelle Wilk. Thank you very much for listening to me today and giving me the opportunity to speak. This is my first opportunity coming to a hearing here at the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and I'm very excited to be participating in this very transparent process and I'm very excited to share my opinion. I'm from San Antonio, Texas. A resident born and raised. I, too, am a lover of the parks and our natural spaces and believe that they serve great benefit to our community, economy, and many other aspects of our life.

I drove here from San Antonio, Texas, this morning in order to speak on Action Item 1, which is regarding the regulation rule review and whether or not we should adopt the proposed changes that Mrs. Bright just went over. And I am speaking before the Commission today to oppose any vote on the adoption of the proposed changes to regulations. It is inappropriate for this Commission to make any regulatory changes so long as such blatant corruption is occurring. I do not need to name names because I know that will probably upset you but as a lifelong Texas resident, I'm incredibly disappointed and yet not surprised that the State could not manage to find another competent Commissioner who is not an oil --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Excuse me --

MS. MICHELLE WILK: -- tycoon on the Forbes wealthiest people --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- excuse me. Ms. Wilk. Ms. Wilk you are excused from commenting any further on this because you're attacking Commissioner Warren, and that's off topic. Thank you very much. We'll hear the next speaker.

MS. MICHELLE WILK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Olka Forster, who is also signed up to speak against it, please come up and tell us why you're against the proposed rule changes.

MS. OLKA FORSTER: Hello. Good morning. My name is Olka Forster. Nice to meet you. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to come here and speak. I want to say thank you so much for the work that you do for the State and for the parks -- for the parks and wildlife that are here.

So I wanted to start off with a bible quote and this quote says -- it's Matthew 3:64 -- and it says that "No man can serve two masters for either he will hate one or love the other or else he will hold the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and money."

So with that being said, I want to congratulate you, Commissioner Warren, for being a 13th top billionaire. Lucky No. 13 in Texas --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ms. Forster --

MS. OLKA FORSTER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- you're excused. Thank you.

I want to remind folks that this Commission enjoys and wants to hear comments from members of the public on items we're considering. We value that input, but we do ask respectfully that you limit your comments to the particular action item and not about complaints about whether a particular Commissioner is corrupt or not or is competent to serve. If you have issues with that, I suggest you take them to the appropriate body but we're not going to waste the other members of the public's time hearing off-topic comments.

So the next speaker is Dr. Tane Ward, who is also noted as being against Item 1. So we'll hear from Dr. Ward on why he is opposed to these changes.

DR. TANE WARD: Good morning. Thank you all for your time. I'm interested in the adoption of rules in general because I think rules are important. Rules are an embodiment of the values that we carry when we're doing our work, and you are all here to serve the values of the people of Texas. People who want to protect the land, protect the wildlife, protect these parks and I think that is valuable work in general to do. And it's been commented upon that the nature of the Commissioners serving is not something that is -- that matters when we're talking about the adoption of rules. Several people have brought up Commissioners just now and you've told them that it's not important and I think it absolutely is important. Each of you --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dr. Ward --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dr. Ward --

DR. TANE WARD: -- with specific values --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Excuse me, Dr. Ward.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Please address the particular rule changes and not a particular Commissioner.

DR. TANE WARD: I'm addressing the concept of rules. It's very important --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: The concept of the rules is not the topic, sir. It's these particular rule changes and we welcome --

DR. TANE WARD: There are rule changes --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- your comments on these --

DR. TANE WARD: -- that are missing. There are rule changes that are missing.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, that's not on topic. What about these rules are you against? What specific rules do you have a problem with and why? We welcome those comments.

DR. TANE WARD: We all -- many of us here have a problem with something. It is corruption.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. You're excused, sir. Your comments are off topic.

DR. TANE WARD: It is somebody who is making millions of dollars --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You are excused, sir.

DR. TANE WARD: -- off of other people's backs.

MR. VANNOY: Thank you for your comments.

DR. TANE WARD: That is not the value of --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You are excused, sir.

The next speaker is Lisa Fithian, who is noted as being neutral on the proposed regulations changes.

MS. LISA FITHIAN: Good morning. I seem to -- as I watch this process go forward, I feel less inclined to offer the niceties that I've seen other people offer here because I don't feel like there's mutual respect going on for people's concern. So in one of the rules, you talked about -- I have a couple things about these rules, and I may not understand enough but the concept of talking about alligator eggs and market value. Like, what does market value have to do with protection of our parks and wildlife?

And that is, I think, one of the underlying concerns that you see coming from people is that what has happened in the State of Texas where we both value our parks and we want to go through all these rules to protect them but we have such clear conflict of interests in how our systems have been set up. You talk about exotic species rules, and I know it's about water and all but you have people on the Commission that engage in exotic species. That's a conflict of interest. It's a conflict of interest.

So part of what we see here is concerns about not just the rules of what's going -- like, our deer and this and that but about the integrity of the whole thing and that when we have a conflict of interest that's so blatant and when we have a Commission that's not willing to address that in a real way, so I don't know if I've got my little -- I've got a little bit more time to here, so I'm going to continue until I get closed down but this stake of our land and our water and our air and the future in this country and for the generations -- as your mission says you are about, protecting this for generations. When we are, you know, applying a business model to our management of our resources, it changes how we make our decisions and it changes the terms by which we think it's okay to make these decisions.

And as a community of people who benefit from the land and who honor it and who see ourselves as stewards -- because I think that's part of what's happened is that this land which was originally indigenous land where the indigenous people were stewards of this land --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Ma'am, which specific rule are you -- which chapter --

MS. LISA FITHIAN: What I'm talking about --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- Chapter 53, Chapter 57, Chapter 59 --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- Chapter 58 --

MS. LISA FITHIAN: Okay. Well --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- 65 or 69?

MS. LISA FITHIAN: Well, I'm talking about maybe finances. Maybe why don't we talk about finances or parks if you want to go to the rules because what I'm talking about is how we steward the land. How do we rule --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Which chapter? Which chapter are you addressing? I'm confused.

MS. LISA FITHIAN: You know, honestly, I am not going to buy in to the bureaucratic -- getting buried in rules and bureaucracies when we're talking about the quality of our life, the quality of our democracy because our democracy and how it works is directly related to how we treat the land, how we treat people.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So you're not addressing any one of the chapters that I've just --

MS. LISA FITHIAN: Well, I'm telling you right now --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- mentioned?

MS. LISA FITHIAN: -- that on the exotic species things, you have some conflict of interest on this board.

COMMISSIONER JONES: You've got six choices. Which one is it?

MS. LISA FITHIAN: I'm telling you that on the alligator eggs, that market value -- thinking about applying market value so that we can eat whatever deal with alligator's eggs -- and, again, I may not understand it but I'm doing the best I can.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't think you do. This is establishing a fine for people who take eggs illegally.

MS. LISA FITHIAN: Well, that --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But thank you. Your time's up. We appreciate your comments this morning. Yes.

MS. LISA FITHIAN: Kelcy Warren --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you very much, ma'am. You are excused.

MS. LISA FITHIAN: -- you need to resign from this board. You are undermining the integrity of the entire process and you should be ashamed of yourself for allowing him to continue to be on this board.

MS. OLKA FORSTER: Corruption.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. The last speaker --

MS. OLKA FORSTER: Pipelines and (inaudible) --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You are excused, ma'am, from this meeting for disrupting a public meeting.

MS. OLKA FORSTER: We know the facts. You know the facts. You and Tomi Lahren can both suck it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I apologize to those of you who are here to discuss these particular rules and to hear comments on, for this disruption.

The last speaker who signed up on the proposed rule review changes is David Cortez, who is noted as being neutral and representing the Sierra Club.

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: Good morning. Mr. Buggs, it's good to see you. I've got a few friends in this room. My name is Dave Cortez. I'm born and raised in El Paso, Texas. And, you know, I'm here to speak on Item No. 1, regulations and rules review.

Actually, I'm kind of a fan of regulations and rules review. It's something I look at for many State agencies. You know, I grew up in Franklin Mountains State Park and before I begin my formal comments on Chapter 57.399, I want to thank the staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife who worked so hard to make this Department run. The staff, you might be listening to this. I have spoken to many of you. There's many I haven't spoken to and just want to say thank you.

The land from El Paso to Balmorhea to Shafter is my family's ancestral homeland. It's where we come from dating more than a century back, more than a hundred years ago after they migrated from Chihuahua and Zacatecas and the Rio Grande, the San Solomon Springs that's in by blood. It flows throughout my body, and I speak to you today with that in my heart. I recognize --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Cortez. Mr. Cortez --

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: -- I missed the discussion around the Executive Session --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No. Excuse me, Mr. Cortez. Just a second --

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: -- of your rules review --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Cortez, just a minute. Are you videoing --

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: So it would be inappropriate --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- these proceedings?

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: -- to speak against this rule?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Excuse me. Are you videoing these proceedings with your cell phone?

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: I'm videoing myself. It's a selfie.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm just asking.

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: Yeah. Is that okay?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It's fine with me. I just was -- I was asking for --

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: I'm not filming anybody else here. I'm just -- this is a live video.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Please proceed and limit your comments to the rules.

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: Sir, I would love to finish my comments that I was just speaking about. Let's see. You threw me off my line. I think that's very rude. I want to be clear about that because I was saying your rules review, it would be inappropriate for me to speak against this rule. Chapter 57.399, okay, which I already spoke about and raised a minute ago before I was so rudely interrupted. You speak about making sure certain designees are appropriate members of a review process. That's a good process. I appreciate that type of scrutiny of making sure that you have appropriate folks reviewing decisions and I'm wondering why a similar process about appropriate persons in a decision-making process, isn't being applied to the issue around the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area that was brought up and tabled on November 3rd and it has not been brought back up before this Commission.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What do you have to say about the Inland Fisheries Division Director or his or her designee.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- designee --

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: I'm not speaking about that. I'm speaking about the --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Excuse me, excuse me --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Excuse me, excuse me --

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: I will be happy to take --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- Inland Fisheries --

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: -- questions after I finish my comments, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: No, no. I need to clarify what you're speaking to.

COMMISSIONER JONES: That rule 57.3 --

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: -- I would like to finish my comment.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, you might not get to finish your comment, sir.

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: This is highly inappropriate. I'm representing an organization and speaking --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You're time is up, sir. You're excuse.

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: -- on an issue. I'm representing an --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You're time is up, sir. You are excused.

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: I can't finish? I will not leave because you will not allow me to finish my comments. I'm here officially on business and you stopped me.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You're time is up. You had three minutes. You're excused, sir.

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: I pray for all of y'all's integrity. I don't know how --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. This --

MR. DAVID CORTEZ: -- you work this way. You're the wealthiest man in Texas, and you have no integrity by standing up for this man.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Again, my apologies --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Water is life. We cannot live without water. Our bodies are made --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You are excused, ma'am --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: -- of water.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- for disrupting --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: -- our earth is made of water --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- this meeting.

Will you please escort her out?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: If we don't have water, we will all die. We will all die. I need my water so I can live.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You have it in your hand. Good luck.

Is there anyone else in the audience who wishes to speak on Action Item No. 1?

All right. Hearing none, at this point, I'd ask are there any comments from the Commission or questions from the Commission?

Is there a motion for approval? Commission Scott motion.

COMMISSIONER LEE: I'll second.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Lee second. Is there any opposition to the proposed rule changes as tweaked on the alligator eggs?

Hearing none, the motion carries unanimously. Thank you.

Action Item 2, 2017-18 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules. Ken Kurzawski, will you please make your presentation? I think you're going to be joined by Tiffany Hopper and Mark Lingo or maybe later, sorry.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes. Good morning, Commissioners. My name is --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Why don't you just a second --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- a few people are leaving. Let's give them an opportunity to leave.

All right, sir, please proceed.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Thank you, Commissioner. Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski, Inland Fisheries Division and I'm here today to go over again our proposed changes to freshwater fishing regulations and to apprise you of the public comments we received on those proposals.

First one was on Bedford Boys Ranch. A small lake in the -- in Bedford in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. That was recently drained and renovated and our local staff is assisting the city there with improving fishing conditions on that lake. We're interested in providing some good fishing. Bass and sunfish are easily overharvested in small lakes. So we're proposing to change the rules there for catch-and-release for those Largemouth and Smallmouth bass. Keep some fish in there. Let people -- give people something to catch and we are stocking catfish and Rainbow trout in there for those people who wish to harvest some fish.

Next on the Devils River, it's one of our most unique rivers in Texas. People go there for the whitewater paddling and also for the Smallmouth bass fishing. Smallmouth bass were stocked into Lake Amistad in the late 70s and early 80s and those populations -- those fish have made their way up the Devils River and produced some good fishing in the Devils River. Current bass regulations there for -- overriding for the river are for Largemouth and Smallmouth, it's the statewide regulation, 14-inch minimum and five-fish daily bag but we did implement a special regulation for Smallmouth bass on there from Baker's Crossing down to Dolan Falls, an 18-inch minimum and a three-fish bag and we had that on there 1994 to protect the -- those Smallmouth, the quality of that Smallmouth bass fishing.

Currently, anglers and outfitters and the local residents are reporting some declines in the bass fishing in that area. Over the last ten years or so, we've had more publicity. We've had more outfitters. We've been working ourselves to improve the river access and that is more people on the reservoir increases the fishing pressure and that may be affecting those populations, certainly the catchability of those populations. That water body, the river is difficult to sample but from some of the information we've obtained there, the fish are growing well. We have seen some reductions in our catch rates and a small decrease in the growth of those fish over time.

What we're proposing to change that, is to propose that we do catch-and-release for Smallmouth and Largemouth bass and we're going to implement that from State Highway 163, Baker's Crossing, down to Big Satan Creek. That's approximately 38 miles, and Big Satan Creek is on the downstream boundary of the Dan A. Hughes State Natural Area. What we're looking to do there is to maintain the bass abundance of the population and hopefully maintain the angling -- angler success there. Protect against potential overharvest as use increases down there and the catch-and-release philosophy kind of fits our management philosophy for the Devils River and our state natural area properties of more of a wilderness, minimal use type strategy. And it also does address some of the stakeholder concerns we've been hearing down in that area.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ken, before you move on to the next topic, is -- what's the thought behind beginning the proposed catch-and-release at the Baker's Crossing take-in or put-in, as opposed to not taking it upstream further?

MR. KURZAWSKI: There's almost -- there's very little public access above that. That's -- there's some mostly private property above there. Almost no fishing from the public fishing goes on above that. So it's -- as far as the bass population there, it has no impact on the rest of the river. Baker's Crossing, that's historically where all the public access starts on the Devils.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, but even if it's more public pressure from Baker's Crossing down, would there not be some benefit to imposing the -- first of all, be more consistent and easier, I think, to under -- for people to understand that the entire stretch of the river we're putting catch-and-release, but wouldn't there be some benefit to doing that upstream?

MR. KURZAWSKI: We did discuss that when we were, you know, discussing the regulation early on and our staff -- as we said, we don't -- we don't see any public access on that area. So it's really -- it doesn't have any impact on the regulation one way or the other. We could do it. It just -- we don't -- we didn't see any benefit and since Baker's Crossing is a recognized landmark where everyone starts, we chose that for that reason.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: By we could if the Commission --

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, we could.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- were so inclined, we could ask you --

MR. KURZAWSKI: Sure. We could extend that up. It goes up -- I think it goes up into one more county, up above this -- up into Sutton County from Val Verde County, so.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Thank you. Sorry to distract you there for a minute.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Oh, no problem.

And next, we are making a change for -- regarding a bass species, Alabama bass, that was previously considered a subspecies of Spotted bass. We use as our official nomenclature the common and scientific names of fishes put out by the American Fisheries Society. They changed the name to that. We did stock the Alabama Spotted bass as it was previously known in one reservoir in Texas, the Alan Henry. So to account for that, we have to name that species, add it to the game fish definition, put it into our statewide regulations, and also adjust the regulation on Alan Henry. We have a special regulation that covers previously Spotted bass in there and we'll just change that name to Alabama bass.

And last changes on Kirby Lake, which is a reservoir in Abilene. The City had an ordinance limiting various aspects of fishing there to pole and line and some other gear restrictions. That's been on there a while. It wasn't enforceable. There was a lot of confusion on that. Since it wasn't passed by the Commission, it wasn't enforceable for our game wardens. The City finally went around and removed that in December, 2016. We do have excellent catfishing there. We have a special regulation on catfish in that reservoir and we're hoping to further -- sort of a conservative measure -- protect that if people were going to allow to use jug lines, throw lines, and trotlines, those type of passive gears. And our proposal was to prohibit the use of those three methods in Kirby Lake.

This is a compilation of the public comments that we received on that. Among the first three, we did receive some in opposition to Devils River. A lot of those were just in the interest of maybe allowing limited harvest there, maybe one fish or so. Most people were -- even in that case -- were generally in favor of those more restrictive regulations. And as you can see on Lake Kirby, we did get quite a few comments on that one and there was a number of them that were opposed. Most people -- those people were interested in wanting to use some of those passive gears, like primarily jug lines on Kirby Lake.

And based on those comments, we don't recommend any changes for Kirby but we -- based on the number of negative comments in opposition on Kirby Lake, we are deciding to pull that proposal to ban those jug lines, throw lines at that time. So specifically, we would have to delete these sections of the code: 57.973(g), 90 covers the jug lines, 21(b) covers the throw lines, and 22(c)(ii) covers the trotlines.

As I mentioned, we got a late start on that into December. We didn't really have an opportunity to get out and talk to the anglers before we -- as much as we would have liked to and that there's just a lot of general confusion from the previous ordinance and some of that led to some of the people opposing that. And so we're interested in, you know, having our staff go back to the anglers there and talk to both -- to the people involved in the issue and possibly pursue some changes in the future, so.

And that's all we have. If you have any other additional comments?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I just want to clarify that last point on Kirby Lake. As I understand the recommendation by staff about the jug lines, throw lines, etcetera on Kirby Lake, your recommendation is still the same in terms of what is best for the lake, what is best for the anglers, what is best for the fish, etcetera. You just need some time to have some conversations with the --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- local folks to make sure everybody understands what we're doing and why we're doing it?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Correct. That's where, you know, we -- when we put these regulations on, we like to talk to people. We did put a -- that same lake, we put a special regulation on catfish a few years ago. We were able to get out, talk to people and we got some general agreement with them. You know, we just didn't seem to have the time to do that. There would be theoretically another -- you know, if we wanted to come back, there would be another year period because those rules -- right now, those gears are legal on Kirby Lake and, you know, we would -- if we waited another year, it would be September to August of next year and it would also give us an opportunity to go out there and see how many people are using those methods to give us an idea. You know, is that going to be an issue with -- mainly our concern there is certain times a year, jug lines are very proficient at taking large Blue catfish and we do have a good population of Blue catfish over 30 inches in that reservoir and we could -- we'd have an opportunity to go out there and see if that's having an impact, so.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anyone else have questions or comments?

We'll now hear Tiffany Hopper, who I think is presenting for Mark Lingo. Tiffany, welcome.

MS. HOPPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Tiffany Hopper with Coastal Fisheries Division. I'm here this morning to give you a brief summary of the proposed changes to the saltwater regulations, as well as a brief summary of the public comments that we've received on these proposals.

Specifically, we have proposed regulation changes for Gag, Black grouper, Nassau grouper, and Hammerhead sharks. Three species in this case: The Great Hammerhead, Smoothed Hammerhead, and Scalloped Hammerhead shark.

So I'll begin with the regulations for the Gag and the Black grouper. For both of these species, the current federal minimum size limit is 24 inches. In the State of Texas, our current size limit for Gag is 22 inches and we do not currently have a size or bag limit for Black grouper. Our recommendation for Gag is to increase that size limit to 24 inches and for Black grouper, we recommend establishing a size limit of 24 inches and a four-fish bag limit.

Among the public comments that we received for these two proposals, 88 percent of those comments were in support of the regulation change for Gag and 83 percent were in support of the regulation change for Black grouper.

Moving on to Nassau grouper, the Nassau grouper has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. However, we currently have no bag or size limit for this species in the State of Texas. So we have proposed establishing a catch-and-release only bag limit for Nassau grouper. And we received public comments on this proposal and 89 percent of those were in support of this regulation change for Nassau Grouper. Lastly --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before you -- sorry.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before you move on to Nassau grouper, what federal rule, if any, exists with respect to Nassau grouper?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But didn't -- aren't we trying to parallel the federal rule with Gag?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, on Gag and Black grouper, the federal minimum size limit is 24 inches. Ours, twenty -- is twenty -- currently 22 and you're proposing to go to 24, which is to parallel with federal --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And I'm saying in the Nassau grouper, did we -- do we -- are we taking into account that it's not permitted to be caught at all and --

MS. HOPPER: Yeah, we're paralleling the federal regulation.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm sorry. I'm not following you.

MR. RIECHERS: Director of Coastal Fisheries, Robin Riechers. What it -- basically, it's prohibited, which is the landing is prohibited but certainly there's still the possibility of a hook-up and so we are trying to just parallel here and make them a catch-and-release species only here in Texas.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But can you actually target the species?

MR. RIECHERS: Yes, you can. I mean, they're still very popular -- I should say very popular. Some of the species, you can target them but the goal, obviously, is a catch-and-release species. We catch very few of these anyhow. Mostly seen in Florida. But certainly in Florida, they can still have hook-ups. It's just that their take is prohibited.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.

MR. RIECHERS: Sorry for that confusion.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

MS. HOPPER: All right. I will move on really briefly here and talk about the proposals we have for the Hammerhead sharks. This would apply to three species: The Great, the Scalloped, and the Smooth Hammerhead shark.

So current federal minimum size limit for these shark species is a 78-inch fork length, which if we convert that, that's a 99-inch total length that would be the federal minimum size limit. The current size limit here in Texas is 64 inches total length. So we recommend increasing the minimum size limit to the 99-inch total length for these three species of Hammerhead sharks. Among the public comments we received on this proposal, 74 percent of them were in support of this regulation change.

And with that, I'd be happy to answer any other questions that any of you might have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioners, any questions or comments?

Okay. Tiffany, thank you very much for your presentation.

We'll now hear from Brandi Reeder. Welcome, Brandi.

MS. REEDER: Good morning. Good morning again. My name is Brandi Reeder. I'm the Fisheries Law Administrator for the Law Enforcement Division. Law Enforcement is requesting a change in the statewide recreational and commercial fishing proclamation, Section 57.973, to no longer allow commercial crab and finfish fishermen to fish up to three traps north of State Highway 146.

Again, on the lower right-hand side of the slide, you can see State Highway 146 highlighted in the red box. To the north is I-10 and to the west is 610, noting the saltwater boundary. This shows -- this clearly displays the amount of water this regulation covers, making detection of violations incredibly difficult. This area is also covered under the Texas Department of State Health Services, who has issued a fish and shellfish consumption advisory for catfish and Blue crabs due to presence of dioxins, BCPs, and organochlorine pesticides. There we go.

We would recommend that the language in 57.973 reflect that it is unlawful to fish for commercial purposes of crab trap in waters north and west of Highway 146, where it crosses the Houston Ship Channel in Harris County. And, again, as far as public comment, we have had none.

And with that, we'll make a recommendation to adopt the sections if you have no questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Commissioners, any questions? Discussion?

All right. Thank you, Brandi.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: We have no one signed up to speak on Action Item 2. So at this point, I would ask for a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commission Morian. Second Commissioner Scott. All -- sorry. Anyone opposed to the motion?

Hearing none, the motion carries unanimously.

That brings us to Action Item No. 3, 2017-18 Statewide Hunting Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules. We'll begin with Shawn Gray. Welcome, Shawn.

MR. GRAY: Good morning, Vice-Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, my name's Shawn Gray. I'm the Mule Deer and Pronghorn Program Leader and this morning, I'd like to seek adoption of the proposed Pronghorn regulation changes into the Texas Register.

As I briefed you yesterday, the Commission adopted new Pronghorn regulations in March of 2013, to allow landowners to determine their own harvest strategy for bucks through an experimental system in the northern Panhandle. This is a different approach when it comes to Pronghorn management, as in other areas we use a limited quota system where permits are issued to the landowners therefore, we proposed these rules and adopted them as a pilot project.

TPWD has conducted this pilot project over the last four hunting seasons and staff have monitored populations through annual ariel surveys and mandatory harvest check stations. Staff have also used hunter and landowner opinion surveys to support -- to evaluate support for continuing and expanding this experimental system. Staff believed after the experiment, if data suggested minimal or no decline in Pronghorn numbers, sex ratios, and average buck age structure and even hunter success, then no negative biological impacts would occur with a landowner-controlled system for bucks.

Here is a map of our current Pronghorn herd units in the northern Panhandle. Those in red are where the experimental season are being conducted currently. Herd Units 8 and 17 are around the Dalhart area, and Herd Unit 25 is around Pampa. These were selected because they're representative of habitat, landownership, Pronghorn population parameters, and permit demand and utilization throughout the northern Panhandle.

As I shared with the Commission in more detail yesterday, preliminary population data do not seem to indicate negative biological impacts with the experimental system for bucks however, some data are inconsistent and staff would like to continue the pilot project in the same areas in hopes better defined trends develop. Based upon data gathered from hunter and landowner opinion surveys previously presented to the Commission, hunters and most landowners support the experimental system and its expansion to other areas in the northern Panhandle. Therefore, staff propose to continue the experimental system within the same three areas and expand the experimental system into two -- into three new areas and monitor for another four hunting seasons.

Again, this is a map of our current Pronghorn herd units in the northern Panhandle. Those in red are where we're currently conducting the experimental system. Those in blue are where staff would like to propose -- or we did propose to expand into and these would give us a much larger, contiguous acreage in each area for the experimental system and provide more information to better evaluate the impacts on Pronghorn.

Public comments that were germane to the proposed Pronghorn regulation changes taken from public hearings and our website, indicate that all respondents support the proposed Pronghorn regulation changes. And this concludes my portion of the statewide hunting proclamation. Before I turn it over to Dave Morrison, do y'all have any questions concerning this adoption?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioners, any questions or comments?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: We'll now call Mr. Migratory Bird, Mr. Dave Morrison.

MR. MORRISON: Mr. Chairman, Commission members, this morning I'm not going to be talking about migratory birds but I am going to be requesting your approval to move forward with some changes to turkey regulations in the statewide hunting proclamation.

With that, again, and what we're proposing today is to clarify some language with respect to spring turkey seasons in the Angelina Natural Forest, as well as clean up some language that was put in for the youth spring turkey season dates in the North Zone and we're also requesting that -- your approval to eliminate the designated check station working in our rules right now.

With respect to Jasper County, Angelina National Forest lands are all closed in Jasper County. So the entire national forest is closed to turkey hunting, but we want to make sure that everybody understands that all public and private lands in Jasper County are open to turkey hunting. Several years ago when we really got into our Eastern turkey restoration and what have you, we had the opportunity to open those seasons. At the time, we wanted to make sure we knew how many birds were being harvested. So we implemented a designated check station to get information on those birds.

Since that time, we've implemented a web-based, app-based approach to gather that information. So thus the need for a designated check station is no longer. So we're requesting approval to eliminate that language in our rule.

For the youth spring seasons in the North Zone, back in 2014, this Commission took action to expand the youth turkey hunting to coincide with the late fall deer season. Somehow inadvertently, that language was carried forward in the Texas Register and added onto the spring season thereby adding about, you know, 12 days of spring youth turkey season, which was not the intent of the Commission. And so what we're requesting is to remove that language and put back what the intent was: To have the weekend before the spring turkey season and the weekend after for youth turkey hunting. Still provide youth hunting, not that long season that was inadvertently published.

There were no public comments on any of these. And with that, I will be happy to take any questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just a point of interest or information. We're still introducing those Eastern turkeys up in that part of the world?

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir, we are. We actually concluded our restoration here recently. We -- we were shooting for 100. We actually got 116. We put those on three different areas, and so we're still moving forward with our restoration areas.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Good. So on this season, are there any Rio Grande turkeys also up there or is it strictly the Eastern? I've heard the deal about how east of the Trinity, you know, it goes to where the Eastern is the only one that really seems to do well.

MR. MORRISON: We're actually doing some research on some of our WMAs where we're trying to find out that very answer. We're putting the Easterns and Rios. We're going to find out which one does the best to kind of guide our decisions.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anyone else have any questions or comments?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Ellis Powell, will you please make your presentation. Welcome, Ellis.

MR. POWELL: Good morning. Good morning, Commissioners. My name's Ellis Powell. I'm the Wildlife Law Administrator for the Law Enforcement Division. Today, staff is proposing the adoption to clarify the boundary in Val Verde County for deer and turkey zones. As I spoke yesterday, this does not actually change the boundary. It's just a clarification in the language.

Currently, it reads that portion of Val Verde County located both south of U.S. Highway 90 and east of Spur 239. The proposal would change to read "South of a line beginning at the International Bridge and proceeding along Spur 239 to U.S. Highway 90 and thence, to the Kinney County line."

Again, this is not an actual boundary change. This is how it shows on the map in the Outdoor Annual. With that, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts -- we would recommend the adoption of 65.40 and 65.64 concerning the statewide hunting proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in February 17th, 2017, issue of the Texas Register.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, Ellis.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does any Commissioner have any questions for Ellis?

Okay. Then we will now hear from two individuals who have signed up to speak on this item. The first is Brian Schreckenbach -- I hope I'm pronouncing that right -- with Blackfoot Guide Service in Slaton, Texas.

MR. BRIAN SCHRECKENBACH: Slaton.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Slaton. I'm sorry.

MR. BRIAN SCHRECKENBACH: No worries.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Welcome, sir.

MR. BRIAN SCHRECKENBACH: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And you're against this. So let's hear why you're against it.

MR. BRIAN SCHRECKENBACH: Well, I'm Brian Schreckenbach. I own Blackfoot Guide Service up in Lubbock, Texas. I'm one of the largest waterfowl outfitters in the Panhandle and I've kind of been nominated to speak on the dove regulations.

Talking with Mr. Morrison, he said with the Trump administration, things have been frozen. But dove season has gone into, I guess, November and we want to ask you guys to take the last two weeks of the first split that goes into November and add it onto the second split and take it into January, so just for our hunters. So our morning goose hunts, we don't have anything for hunters to do in the afternoon. So we have 20 outfitters and they're sitting in the hotels in the afternoon with nothing to do.

So with afternoon dove, they would have something. You know, Bluebird afternoons, we can't do ducks. If it's cold, they can't do cranes. So dove would be great for them. So what we're asking to do, you know, during November, nobody is shooting dove anyway. Everybody is deer hunting, right? And January, there's no deer season. So if you guys actually switched over dove, it would give everybody, you know, a chance to shoot dove.

So we're just asking you to take the last two weeks of the first split and then just take it over to January. So just something simple. So I know you can't do it know. Like I said, Mr. Morrison said Trump's frozen everything but just asking just take it two weeks from the first split and switching it over to the second split, giving our hunters something to do. So, thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, sir.

Anyone have any questions?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I have a question. Are there doves there in --

MR. BRIAN SCHRECKENBACH: Tons.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: -- that time of year?

MR. BRIAN SCHRECKENBACH: Oh, tons. Yes, sir. So, and it starts about December 18th and it's plenty good but during that Christmas break, you know, all the outfitters are off, you know, for Christmas, of course, right? And then we've got those five days and it's really, really good but, you know, we're going to end December 31st and we run the whole month. And Mr. Morrison said we've got until, I guess, January 25th. The federal regs go until January 25th. So we could actually go until then and we've got birds until then, but we've got anywhere between 200 and 400 -- 200 and 400 hunters out there. Like I said, there's 20 outfitters and we just -- you know, we've got plenty of hunters. Just nothing for -- you know, there's no pheasant season going on or anything like that. We've got plenty of birds. We just -- nothing to chase.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, it's certainly something we can look at next time.

MR. BRIAN SCHRECKENBACH: Please soon. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I actually think migratory birds will be in May, won't they? I mean, we'll -- sorry. It will be done as in previous years?

MR. SMITH: No. Actually, Vice-Chairman, sorry. Because of this issue with the federal administration and the transition there, they're lagging behind with respect to their setting of the federal framework and so we discussed this yesterday. So we're going to have to go back to the old system in which the Commission basically authorizes me -- after we get the federal framework approved -- to come back to the Chairman and then consult about the final decision and then inform the Commission of that. So we will be making a decision.

Dave, if you want to come forward and just address that again? It probably good to get that out on the public record.

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir. Again, my name is Dave Morrison. As Mr. Smith said, when the -- with the administration change, basically all rulemaking got froze, got delayed until they had an opportunity to look at it. We learned a couple of weeks ago that that did impact our ability to move forward on the migratory game bird proposals, simply because the timing of publication of the Federal Register has been delayed. So what we are requesting is, as Mr. Smith said, once we get the final approval from the Service that, "Yes, it is published," then working through Executive Director Smith, through the Chair of the Commission, then we can adopt them.

We used to do it this way quite frequently in the past because we had two different systems back then. The gentleman is correct that the framework allows from September 1 to the 25th and this Commission can pick days anywhere in-between, provided we don't exceed the number of splits and you guys know all of that part. So we will be coming forward hopefully -- fingers crossed -- in the next couple of weeks to finalize this, but we're still waiting on the final word from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do you have any particular reactions at this time that you're prepared to make or share with respect to his request or suggestion?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You may need time to think about it. I'm not trying to put you on the spot.

MR. MORRISON: Well, honestly -- no, it's fine. Honestly, where those days go doesn't matter. I mean, the biology of the bird is we can start from September 1 and run to the 25th. The decision of where you put those days is your decision. We make proposals every year and by and large, you know, what we come up with is accepted by the Commission but how you want to distribute those days is your call.

From a biological perspective, from a youth's perspective, from what hunters want, you know, we'll give you the frameworks and we will suggest what we think this is but ultimately, that decision is yours. So his suggestion is not a problem.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. I think Commissioner Scott --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just briefly, if you would, make a note on that issue so that it doesn't fall through the cracks so that when we start evaluating when you finally get approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, that we need to -- we need to start addressing what your recommendations are. Just don't let this one fall through the crack.

MR. MORRISON: Well, I can appreciate that comment but once we get the approval from the Service, then we really do need to react. So if there was something that this Commission would like to consider more in depth as a group, certainly whenever Executive Director Smith goes to the Chair, he could remind him then but he would not have the opportunity to pass it by this group. And so if there was some substance to this idea and you guys would consider it, I would suggest that maybe sooner rather than later because once we get that final approval --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Carter, he just dumped you in the grease. You've got to -- you've got to remember.

MR. SMITH: So, yeah. No. And we absolutely will remember. I think a couple of things I'll say -- and thank you, Dave, for dumping me in the grease as you said so elegantly, Commissioner Scott.

In all seriousness, it's a great point and we need to hear from our outfitters and hunters up in the Panhandle about, you know, what their options are. Obviously, we're trying to maximize hunter opportunity here without impacting the resource. I think what Dave would tell you is the amount of hunting pressure as you look at it across the board on the tail end over the first or the second split is very negligible compared to the overall hunter activity throughout the course of the season. So it just becomes, you know, kind of a value decision about where we try to create the most opportunity for the most people.

You know, this proposal that we brought in front of you was, of course, brought through your Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee and so it was vetted and discussed through that committee and that resulted in the recommendations that were brought to this Commission. I think the gentleman that has come from Slaton has brought an excellent point. Let us take that under advisement. I want our folks to talk with him about that to understand more of those opportunities and where they exist and how that reconciles with other opportunities throughout the zone, including those who have asked us to put more days on the backend of the first split and that's the delicate balance here that we're trying to walk, but we definitely can consider it within the framework.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah, go ahead.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Following up with you -- as I've done for a couple, three years -- when are you going to be trying to change -- we're trying to change those zones. You had to get the data and all that. Is that next year?

MR. MORRISON: We were -- if I may --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Or, well, I guess I should -- I guess I should say that I'm assuming, which you know what that does.

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: But I'm assuming that with these rules and changes that are now being -- are looked at from D.C., that's going to have an effect on what we were working on, right?

MR. MORRISON: No, sir. No, sir. All this was, was a delay for the new administration to come in and make sure that they were comfortable with everything. With respect to your question in the South Zone, our proposal does consolidate the Special White-wing in South Zone and provide those weekend -- those first two weekends in September. In -- in the 2018-19 hunting season, that is the timing when we will be able to establish the fixed date of September 14th for the entire South Zone to get all weekends. So that really is not part of this discussion. That is part of the rulemaking that the Service has already gone through. So whenever we get our next year's package, that should be part of it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Anyone else have comments? Questions or comments?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: No. I would just like some more input and if we can't get that this year, well, it's something to consider next time.

MR. SMITH: You bet. Yeah, thanks.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, Dave.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And thank you, Mr. Schreckenbach. Hope I --

MR. BRIAN SCHRECKENBACH: Schreckenbach.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Schreckenbach, sorry. Appreciate you making the effort to come present your comments today on this issue.

MR. BRIAN SCHRECKENBACH: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. The next speaker on this Action Item 3 is Natasha Nolan, apparently of Austin, who is neutral.

MS. HALLIBURTON: Chairman, I got word that she was not going to speak.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. She's elected to pass on making her comments, and there is nobody else signed up. So at this point, are there any comments from the commission?

Is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Scott. Commissioner Galo second.

Hearing none, the motion carries unanimously.

Next item, Action Item 4, a wonderful action item, Local Park Grant Funding. We'll begin with Dana Lagarde on Urban Outdoor Recreation Grants. Welcome, Dana.

MS. LAGARDE: Thank you. Let's see here. Good morning. My name is Dana Lagarde. I'm the Local Park Grant Manager for the State Parks Division and today, I'm going to be -- excuse me -- I'll be presenting our recommendations for funding of 37 local park grants across the State of Texas.

Funding from a portion of the State sales tax on sporting goods and from federal offshore gas royalties, provide matching grants to local governments for the acquisition and development of public parkland. We have available funds through the Texas Recreation and Parks Account in the amount of $8,709,081 the Texas Large County and Municipality Recreation and Parks Account in the amount of $5,761,477 and we have $1,397,935 in the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund money. The total equals approximately $5,868,493.

We have five grant programs that we are funding this round. They're all based on population. We have the Urban Outdoor Recreation and the Urban Indoor Recreation, which is for communities over 500,000 in population. We have the Nonurban Outdoor and the Nonurban Indoor, which is for communities with under 500,000 in population. And we have the Small Community Recreation Grant, which is for communities 20,000 and under in population.

As of October 1st, 2016, TPWD received 65 eligible applications requesting $25,283,389 in matching fund assistance. Exhibits A through E rank the projects in descending order based on each grant program scoring criteria previously adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Staff recommends that TPWD Commission adopt the following motion: Funding for 37 projects listed in Exhibits A through E in the amount of $15,868,493 is approved. I'd be happy to answer any questions at this time.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions or comments?

Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER LEE: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Lee --

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, we've got a few folks.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Oh, I beg your pardon. My apologies. Thank you. I apologize.

All right. We've got our first speaker on the park grants is Ricardo Garcia from the City of Mercedes. It's unclear whether you're for, against, or neutral. So we would ask that you clarify that when you come up and then --

MR. RICARDO GARCIA: Mr. Chairman, I will yield to the Mayor of the City of Mercedes, who's also signed up.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. But are you for the proposal?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, sir, very much. So you defer to Henry Hinojosa, Mayor of the City of Mercedes, who is signed up to speak for. Welcome, Mayor.

MR. HENRY HINOJOSA: Good morning. Henry Hinojosa, Mayor of City of Mercedes, located in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. And we first of all, applaud your efforts in doing what you do for the citizens of Texas and protecting our lands. As mayor, I can certainly appreciate and applaud. It's not easy sitting up there, making those decisions.

We are currently developing our second city park that sits adjacent to a dome shelter that we have completed. It withstands 200-mile-an-hour winds, and is also our second recreation center for our youth. We appreciate that -- the 500,000 that hopefully y'all will pass to further go a long way in developing our second city park.

We have recently finished a walking trail that's a mile and a half and we received a $500,000 grant from the Knapp Medical Foundation. And we received $125,000 grant from the Valley Baptist Hospital Medical Foundation for exercise stations throughout that walking trail. So we're hoping that with the $500,000 grant that we receive from Texas Parks and Wildlife, it will go further in developing tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball fields to enhance the quality of life of our citizens. So with that in mind, we thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Let me say -- speaking for myself but I believe for the others, I think they would share this view -- that we really appreciate your leadership for your families and youth and the citizens there and nothing more important than trying to develop city parks and create opportunities within inside the city. So good job. Thank you very much for coming today.

MR. HENRY HINOJOSA: Thank you and God bless all of y'all. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. The next person who has at least turned in a card as a potential speaker is Hollis Rutledge, Jr. Do you still -- you wish to observe only or --

MR. HOLLIS RUTLEDGE, JR.: Observe only.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But you're in favor?

MR. HOLLIS RUTLEDGE, JR.: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Just wanted to make sure. Thank you for coming and signing up.

All right. Moving to the next area, would be Mark Fury, Harris County Precinct 3 for Parks, and you wish to -- it's unclear whether you're --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Welcome --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- Mr. Fury, and please address the Commission.

MR. MARK FURY: Chairman and members of the Commission, I just wanted to say thank you for your consideration of the staff's recommendation to fund the Environmental Education Center in John Paul's Landing Park. This is a park that's under development in west Harris County on the Katy Prairie and we look with this Education Center with the collaboration with you to memorialize for future generations and for schoolchildren, the Katy Prairie and its significance historically in the State of Texas.

I want to just take a minute to thank Dan Reece and Roxane Eley on the staff, and also Diana Foss who helped us tremendously in developing this grant application. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you very much for coming. Appreciate your comments.

The next speaker, also Harris County Precinct 4, is Dennis Johnston who is signed up as for this proposal. Welcome, Mr. Johnston.

MR. DENNIS JOHNSTON: Thank you, Commissioner. Thank all of you Commissioners for inviting us here today. I appreciate the opportunity. My name is Dennis Johnston. I'm the Park Director for Harris County Precinct 4, representing Commissioner Jack Cagle who couldn't make it today.

I just wanted to say Harris County is a huge precinct. Precinct 4 is 1.2 million people estimated and growing very fast. Harris County, 4.3 million people. Our precinct alone if it was a state by population, would be the 43rd largest state in this country if you just measured by population. The type of grants like this Urban Outdoor Grant, which we applied for and are in consideration of, is an important grant for a large metropolitan area like that. And I just want to say it's a great resource for us. You know, our resources are stretched across a huge area amongst a very large population and I wanted to say -- give -- say my appreciation to you guys for supporting and funding grants such as that Urban Outdoor Grant.

Our project is the Alabonson Park Project. It's a partnership with the City of Houston, who provided the land Texas Parks and Wildlife, who's providing $1 million and Harris County, which will provide $2 million in matching funds, as well as in-kind and equipment. Building parks today, we used to be able to build them for -- open them up for about one to two million. Now, it's three to six million to open a park door nowadays. It's very expensive. So we really appreciate you guys making a difference in these -- especially in these underserved neighborhoods where this park will go.

Thank you again, Commissioners. I want to say my appreciation for Tim Hogsett and Dana Lagarde for all the work they did. I know I have to score playgrounds and proposals every now and then but scoring hundreds of grants has to be a huge, huge task. And we want to thank everybody here who has worked on this in their Grant Staff Division. We appreciate the work being done by Texas Parks and Wildlife, and we hope to see you at the grand opening of the park.

And on a personal note, I just want to say thank you for the fish stocking program. I'm also a scout leader, and we had a great time with the trout this year. I took out the boys and over half of the boys caught their very first fish in the trout stocking program, that we also partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife through Harris County Precinct 4. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Scott's got a -- just a second, Mr. Johnston.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Who was -- who's the County Commissioner that you -- where you are in Precinct 4?

MR. DENNIS JOHNSTON: Precinct 4, Jack Cagle. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Thank you.

MR. DENNIS JOHNSTON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Johnston, thank you very much for your good work and for making the effort to come address us today.

Next speaker for the City of Rockdale, Chris Whittaker, who is noted as being for the proposed grants. Welcome, Mr. Whittaker.

MR. CHRIS WHITTAKER: Chairman and Commissioners, thank you very much for this opportunity to speak today and thank you for the opportunity to support Rockdale. We are putting in splash pad in our economically disadvantaged part of Rockdale, where we're actually getting 30 new affordable housing units over the next year. So it's really kind of turning around that part of the community and we're appreciative of your Commission and what you're doing to support our city. So thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you so much for coming today to address us. Appreciate your support.

The next speaker on behalf of Houston Parks and Rec Department, Mr. Joe Turner. Welcome, Mr. Turner. Welcome back, I should say.

MR. JOE TURNER: Thank you. Good morning, Commissioners. How are y'all today? I would just like to come forward and thank you for your pending approval of the grant program, particularly our grant program -- our urban grant program -- for Avondale Promenade Park. We're very appreciative of this. This is a very urban, small park and that contribution is going to allow us to develop this park in the Montrose area. We're very appreciative of that.

I would like to tell you also this is toward the end of my time as Park's Director in the City of Houston and I would like to appreciate and tell you that since my time, we have taken almost $17 million in grants through this Agency and to that, we thank you for that from the Parks Department. We would never be able to do what we have done in the last 13 years. To Diana Foss, who was amazing for us with our Bat Program in Houston. Thank you to Diana, who we've already heard Tim Hogsett Justin Rhodes, who actually held his regional meeting out at Lake Houston Wilderness Park. We took that from the State Park system approximately 11 years ago. And two people here probably don't remember this date. I did not know it actually until somebody posted something on Facebook today. Five years ago, Carter Smith and Commissioner Morian were at the grand opening of the Lake Houston Wilderness Park, which I calmly call the roast of Joe Turner. You had to be there to see it. And to Brent Leisure and Carter Smith, thank you for what you do not only for our urban park systems, our other park systems but also our State Park system. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, thank you very much for making the effort to join us and address us today. Commissioner Morian, I think, wants to --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: No. I just want to tell everybody Joe is retiring. He's been a tireless champion of parks in Houston, and I've watched his work and Houston is a much better place park-wise for Joe's hard work. I don't even want to know what you leveraged that 17 million into, but it's a big number.

MR. JOE TURNER: I have a long list, but we won't do that today. How's that?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, thanks for your service and Houston is going to miss you. So thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you very much, Mr. Turner.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. The next speaker from Bexar -- representing Bexar County is -- I'm sorry -- Ms. Betty Bueche as representing Bexar County is wishing to observe only. Do you want to address the Commission?

MS. BETTY BUECHE: Since you called me, I will just say thank you very much for considering our grant application for Hot Wells County Park. This is on the Mission reach of the San Antonio River, and is within the boundary of the area that is protected for the World Heritage designation of the San Antonio Missions. So the proposal is that this will become a new county park immediately across the river from the portal that leads to Mission San Jose and will very much contribute to the further development of the World Heritage area in San Antonio. Thank you again for your good work. I know you don't know this but in 1975, I was hired as your first woman park superintendent. So I'm back home. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, thank you so much for reminding of us that important fact. That's great and also for making the effort to come and for your good work on behalf of the county.

All right. I think that is -- I have called everyone who has signed a card to speak on this Action Item 4. Have I missed anyone?

All right. Is there any discussion or any comments from members of the Commission?

Hearing none, I will entertain a motion for approval. Commissioner Lee.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second Commissioner Jones. Anyone opposed?

Hearing none, the motion carries unanimously. Thank you all and congratulations to those very worthy recipients.

All right. The Action Item 5 has been withdrawn at this time. So that takes us to Action Item 6 and a mystery guest, who's going to talk about Acquisition of Land in Matagorda County, 453 Acres at the Perry R. Bass Marine Fisheries Research Station. Sir, please identify yourself.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth, and I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item pertains to a proposal to acquire 453 acres in Matagorda County adjacent to the Perry R. Bass Marine Fisheries Research Station.

The station is only 40 acres of land, which includes a small cluster of buildings, lab buildings, offices, and ponds. The site was acquired in 1967. Our specialty there is fisheries genetics and fisheries population dynamics, marine fishery population dynamics, and I think we probably lead North America, quite frankly, in the quality of marine fisheries research that we do. And we've outgrown that facility and so for several years, staff has been keeping eyes open for an opportunity to acquire land that would enable us to expand those facilities.

Last year, we became aware of a tract basically across the street the Research Station that was available for sale. After several months, quite frankly, of discussing that with the broker for the owners, we agreed on an option to purchase. We do have some funds available to us from a grant award from the Restore Council. These are civil settlement funds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

You can see the relationship of the subject tracts to the Perry R. Bass Research Center. There's an 11-acre tract adjacent to the Research Center. It would provide us an area of for a needed new saltwater intake for the ponds and then there's the larger area that has some uplands that are about 10 or 11 feet above the bay level. It would give us some much higher ground to build these new needed facilities on.

You can see from the Spit looking across the lake, that it's a very, very productive natural resource, 40 or 50 acres of oyster beds just in that small lake, as well as seagrass beds and you can look across the lake and see those uplands that, again, would provide ideal location to expand the research facilities themselves.

We've received no comments regarding the proposed actions and with that, staff recommends that the TPW Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 453 acres in Matagorda County for addition to the Perry R. Bass Marine Fisheries Research Station. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any comments or questions from the Commission?

I have a question. On the chart -- or, sorry, the aerial. What are all the little rectangles that are some in green, some in gray that are there in the bottom just above the -- or to the left rather of Sartwelle tracts?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Those are actually commercial fish and shrimp farming operations.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, sir. Well, Mr. Bass would be very, very pleased with your good work and staff's good work on this.

Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER LEE: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Lee. Second Commissioner Warren. Any opposed?

Hearing none, the motion carries unanimously.

All right. Thank you on that one. Now, we'll go to Action Item 7, Acceptance of Land, Brazoria County, Additions to the Follets Island Coastal Preserve. Ted, will you make your presentation on that?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the land conservation program. This item pertains to the Follets Island Coastal Preserve. Y'all initiated that conservation project back in 2014, with -- when you authorized us to acquire 441 acres of land that straddle that barrier island from the Gulf to the Christmas Bay/Drum Bay system about 25 miles southwest of Galveston, about 50 miles south of Houston.

At the time, we identified an area of about 1400 acres, including the 441 acres that we acquired in 2014. It's undeveloped land that straddles the barrier island, again, from the Gulf all the way to the bay system, all being very high quality coastal habitats and desirable for addition to the coastal preserve. We've been working closely with Trusts for Public Land since that time. They've been successful acquiring some grants and some donations to acquire additional tracts.

Last year, you authorized adding 230 additional acres to the 441 bringing that coastal preserve up to 671 acres. There's still about 800 acres to be acquired. Trusts for Public Lands continues to get grants and donations and has two or three additional tracts under contract now. Rather than coming back to you each time one of these tracts is closed to request your permission to add it to the coastal preserve, we thought it prudent to ask you to just go ahead and authorize the Executive Director to accept these tracts as Trusts for Public Lands acquires them and closes those, as long as they fit those parameters for conservation and for expanding the conservation area, the conservation initiative.

The Trusts for Public Lands is looking at probably acquiring three to five more tracts in this year and in 2018, for another four to 500 acres. It's getting us pretty close to that goal. We've received no comments regarding the proposed action, and staff does recommend that the Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of land consistent with the goals of the Follets Island Coastal Preserve in Brazoria County. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any comments or questions by members?

All right. Thank you. Boy, that's great work, Ted and we're indebted to the Trusts for Public Lands very much. So please let them -- let their representative know how much the Commission appreciates their diligence and good work on this.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I'd be very happy to do that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Scott. Second Commissioner Galo. Any opposed?

Hearing none, the motion carries unanimously.

Our last agenda item is a briefing item, Nature Tourism Programs. Shelly, welcome and please make your presentation. Shelly Plante.

MS. PLANTE: Good morning, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Shelly Plante. I'm the Nature Tourism Manager here at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, in the unenviable spot of being between you and lunch. So I'm here to brief y'all about three nature tourism programs here at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department but first, I want to tell you a little bit about why nature tourism is big business here in Texas.

While many of you know, we have 2.2 million anglers who spend $2 billion a year in our state -- or in our state. And then 1.1 million hunters who spent a little over $2 billion. We also have 4.4 million wildlife watchers here in Texas, and they're spending more than $1.8 billion in our state and providing close to 150,000 jobs. It truly is big business. We also have quite a few paddlers in our state. While in America, more Americans canoe, kayak, or raft than play soccer and that's five years and up soccer players. So little league teams. We also have more than 1 million paddlers in our state. So this is an area that we're interested in, and we want to help people engage in nature through paddling tourism.

Additionally, we at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are very interested in connecting people to nature. This connection is important as we all know because people develop an appreciation for nature and habitat conservation through experiencing nature. So providing programs such as the ones I'm going to tell you about, we are helping them connect to why habitat conservation is important, why what Parks and Wildlife's mission does is very important to them personally.

We're also helping communities because they're seeing economic benefit through sustainable tourism using natural resources. They're learning that by preserving natural resources, they're going to be attracting this wonderful nature tourist to their region. So to that end, while Parks and Wildlife has many nature tourism programs -- that's what we're in the business of -- I'm here to brief you about three of them: The Great Texas Wildlife Trails Program, the Great Texas Birding Classic, and the Texas Paddling Trails Program.

First, I want to talk about the Great Texas Wildlife Trails Program. With the number of birders and wildlife viewers in our state and additionally, the fact that we're second in the entire nation with the number of species of birds that we actually have, decided in 1996 to create the Great Texas Wildlife Trails Program with the Coastal Birding Trail. This trail really unified existing sites and helped develop some new ones that gave a unified marketing platform for local communities.

Now communities were able to buy in to a program by just conserving wonderful sites that tourists could visit, that we would help promote. We gave them a larger reach to reach more wildlife viewers in our state. And these trails include both public sites, private sites, as well as all of our state parks and there really is a large variety. People can experience whatever they like. We have just hiking trails and boardwalks to full-blown visitor centers with high-end interpretive signage. So there really is something for everyone on these sites.

We now have over 920 sites on the Great Texas Wildlife Trails, and that is including five different regions. As you see here, there are five different trail signs that you'll actually see along highways throughout the State of Texas and they're regionally specific and we're really excited because we're starting to work with TxDOT to update these signs. The program has been around for more than 15 years and we're -- more than 20 years at this point -- and we're looking forward to working with TxDOT to update signs, add signage for the new sites that have come on board, and we'll be working on that over the next year or two.

With the completion of all the trails that happened in 2010, we were in a really good position to update our website. So we did that in 2013. We were able to update this and make this more user friendly, more mobile friendly, and people can get this kind of information from the trails on the go. They don't have to have the paper map if they don't want. They can do this on their mobile phone, on their laptop, and their iPad.

We also started updating the maps themselves. Since we started printings in 1996, some of the information was getting outdated and last fall, we actually completed updating all nine maps. So we now have very up-to-date information to arm nature tourists with as they go out and explore Texas. Additionally, with the new website, if site need to be updated in-between printings, we have a very nimble, easy way to go in and make the information online accurate to date as of today.

So with that, we're starting to really advertise the trails again. We're actively promoting it to give people information on where they can go wildlife viewing in our huge state. So we're doing this with magazine advertising in Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine, as well as Texas Monthly. We're also starting to sending out e-mail information. So we're doing seasonal e-mail blasts that tell people about unique wildlife viewing opportunities that are seasonally appropriate and we're highlighting sites along the trails throughout the state. So we can really use this as a way to bump up people's reasons to go out throughout the year, not just on vacation but there are reasons to visit different parts of the state at different times of the year because they're going to have different wildlife viewing experiences.

We are also now on Facebook and so we have created a Facebook page and we're able to start posting more regularly. If something really amazing happens with Texas wildlife viewing, we can tell people about it right away. We just launched the final of the nine map revisions and we did that at Bonham State Park up in Fannin County just two weeks ago and so that actual -- that post got thousands and thousands of views. We had video and we had photos and it got people engaged and interested in prairies and piney woods wildlife viewing.

Not only are we really excited but it's great to see that communities are incredibly excited about wildlife viewing opportunities. If you watch ads, which I do, our partners really have started including wildlife viewing and birding in much of their national advertising. So you see them highlighting the fact that they're a birding local, and that is really amazing. They're seeing that connection through economics, wildlife viewing, natural resource conservation, and bringing tourists into their location for the unique things they have to offer.

So I would like to point out that in 1996, we were the only state doing this. No one had ever unified wildlife viewing sites along a driving trail and Texas pioneered that. And now here we are, 20 some odd years later and over 40 states have followed our model. When you see magazine articles or stories about wildlife viewing trails and birding trails, they always mention Texas. We are the grandfather of birding trials. They mention that we were the beginning, and that's something we can be proud of to this day.

So as a result of the wildlife trails and this interest in wildlife viewing, in 1997 we decided to launch an event here at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department called the Great Texas Birding Classic. This was created as a way to really highlight the wildlife trails year after year and infuse money into conservation grants that support the Texas Wildlife Action Plan through people participating in birding and this was a coastal event for the first few years. In 2013, we shifted this to a statewide competition and it really is for everyone. We have events for young, old, male, female. We have kids. We have teens. We have adults. We have mixed-age teams and it really is fun for everyone and there are enough different categories that people can really find their niche.

So here we have a group of people at Resaca de la Palma State Park, a little birding center and they're doing a big sit. They're literally birding from a 17-foot diameter circle for a day to see how many birds they can see. And here we have a college professor who takes her students out each year as a spring trip and a reward for making it through her class and being avid enough in birding that they want to go birding with their professor in April. We also have a human-powered event where people can go biking or hiking and families are doing this. With the mixed-age teams, we're seeing a lot of interest in families going out for the Birding Classic in one of our tournaments and, in fact, one mom made this her Mother's Day wish several years in a row. She said, "All I want is y'all to be on my team and go out birding with me on Mother's Day," and, yes, the Birding Classic does cover the time period of Mother's Day.

So we also have youth teams where kids can just get together and be their own team and so we have several youth birding clubs throughout the State of Texas that take part. We also have siblings, such as these on the right and they're brothers and sisters that get together and do this team every year with their mom as their mentor. And then we have several categories that allow us to really highlight how wonderful our parks are for birding. So we have a state park tournament. We have a tournament called the Texas Two Stop. Here we have a team at Goose Island State Park participating in the state park tournament two years ago, and this category has really grown. So we're really seeing people look to our state parks as a place to visit and go birding in the spring.

So when we expanded this event in 2013, we solidified the dates. It's April 15th to May 15th every year. People can count on it. They can be really flexible with what date they choose and we have some new categories to make it easy for novices, as well as experts to part and feel like they have a place and really streamlined things. We took a lot of things online, and we made a lot of wonderful partnerships to make our job a little bit easier.

At Parks and Wildlife, we're always trying to do more with less and be really efficient with how we use our resources and so we've partnered with some amazing organizations, from Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, Cornell Lab of Ornithology's eBird has a Texas portal that we partner on and then Audubon Texas helps us run our award ceremonies every year but we also have corporate sponsors and community sponsors, such as Toyota, the Texas Ornithological Society, Port Aransas Chamber, NRG Energy, and Swarovski Optik, who come back year after year either supporting teams or are actually sponsoring the event.

So in the first 20 years, we've had really amazing success and by going statewide, we have started having most successful events ever. Last year, we had 113 teams participate in our 20th anniversary, which included over 750 participants in the Great Texas Birding Classic and that was a 40 percent increase in participation from the previous year. As a result of that, the sponsorship dollars and registration fees, we were able to donate $36,000 in conservation grants to support the Texas Wildlife Action Plan, bringing our total for the full 20 years to $880,500 that we've donated to on-the-ground enhancement, acquisition, or restoration projects.

So as I said, in addition to wildlife viewing, we're very interested in paddling and paddle sports and I'd like to share some details about the Texas Paddling Trails Program. Due to that growing number of paddlers, we really, as an Agency, wanted to figure out a way to increase boater access, angler access, and community involvement on our waterways and create family friendly paddling trips. And when I say "family friendly," we were really focusing on trips that people could do in a half day or a day and know that they're going to encounter another public access site that they can get out on.

So we began the statewide program in 2006. We did have seven initial coastal trails that were created here internally back in the 90s and those are still in the program today and we've started finding community partners for each of those. In 2006, we did launch our first inland trail, the Luling Zedler Mill Paddling Trail. So that became Trail No. 8 but we are now, ten years later, looking at 72 paddling trails across the State of Texas and growing.

So we are continuing working with community partners to connect paddlers and to enhance communities ability to have this as a tourism attraction, to really see that river or lake in their backyard as an opportunity for economic development. This team is very small, but mighty. We're a cross-divisional team here at the Agency and in addition to Melissa Parker and Ron Smith in Inland Fisheries, Zack Thomas in Coastal Fisheries, and myself in Communications, we do work with park managers and other park staff when we have trails at state parks and our unique strengths in areas of expertise have really helped this program be a success, I think.

Some of our -- some of the things that we're really proud of and highlights for communities are that we have a very easy application process. We work hand in hand with the community from the start to figure out if the trail's a fit, if they need to do any enhancements and then we have these communities who are so amazingly interested in boater access and engaging the paddlers within their communities and who are traveling, that we are always working. We always are work on at least a dozen paddling trails at a time and through that, communities have benefited from program branding and marketing. They know if they have a Texas Parks and Wildlife paddling trail, that their visitors know that there's a certain standard that they can expect. They can find the information at the access sites. The sites are going to be maintained. The community is involved and engaged and then we have these kiosks at every single access site that provide additional information for the paddlers, which is great for Texas Parks and Wildlife and for the community because we're able to give water safety information. We're able to talk about ethics on the water and water conservation messaging that we might want to share, whether it be a lake, a river, or a bay. Fishing and wildlife information, telling them what they can catch, what they might see, and telling them about invasive species issues in our state. These really give us a lot of opportunities.

And much like the other programs, we do market and promote them. We do magazine advertising. We do advertising through e-mail and we've seen the communities come where they're including paddling, as well. So they've gotten very creative and I've seen communities who host flotillas, river clean-ups. They might have nature festivals. They'll do fliers that they have in their local restaurants or their local convenience stores. They've created canoe clubs around their paddling trail. So these paddling trails have really been a start for them to promote their area for paddlers and embrace the water within their own city.

The paddlers also receive benefits. They now have improved and maintained water access sites and like I said before, they're half-day/full-day paddles. They know what they're coming up to if they see a Texas Parks and Wildlife paddling trail. They have emergency numbers at their fingertips. They have kiosk information, as well as information online. They have maps of the trail that they're going to visit, and it really is -- makes it very easy for people to try to get started in paddling or people who are already into it to find new places to go visit.

And so our newest trail just launched two weeks ago, the Mission Reach Paddling Trail near downtown San Antonio. And with this, we're looking forward to the future. We're looking forward to, in the next year, updating our website, making it more user friendly, making it mobile friendly, updating our maps online, and really moving this to a level where people can access everything in their hand, on their phone, and be ready. We're also looking forward to working with more communities.

And with that, I'm happy to answer any questions that you might have. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any questions, comments by members?

Shelly, great report, as Commissioner Scott just said. Does Billy Hassell -- did he donate this?

MS. PLANTE: Yes, he did. So you each --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: He's a wonderful artist.

MS. PLANTE: You each received the Sierra's Birding Classic poster that just came out last week. It just came off the press. So y'all are the first people to receive it, other than Carter. Don't say anything.

MR. SMITH: You didn't have to tell them that, Shelly.

MS. PLANTE: But, yes, Billy Hassell donated the use of his work and we're going to use T-shirts and we've had an amazing response. People have really responded to this artwork, where they don't even -- if -- even if they're not participating, they're wanting to know how to have a version of this.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, this is exciting. Kudos to you and your team members. This is wonderful. Nice report.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you.

At this time, I declare that we have completed Commission Meeting business and we are adjourned at 11:55 a.m.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, we hereby affix our signatures this _____ day of ______________, 2017.

_________________________________________
T. Dan Friedkin, Chairman

_________________________________________
Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

_________________________________________
Anna B. Galo, Member

_________________________________________
Bill Jones, Member

_________________________________________
Jeanne W. Latimer, Member

_________________________________________
James H. Lee, Member

_________________________________________
S. Reed Morian, Member

_________________________________________
Dick Scott, Member

_________________________________________
Kelcy L. Warren, Member

STATE OF TEXAS )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as hereinbefore set out.

I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such were reported by me or under my supervision, later reduced to typewritten form under my supervision and control and that the foregoing pages are a full, true, and correct transcription of the original notes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of ________________, ________.


Wu-Wei Awareness Training

01 Friday Mar 2013

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Wu-wei (無爲) is action in harmony with oneself and the surrounding world. It has been variously been interpreted as ego-less action, effortless action, unforced action, intuition, non-intervention in or non-interference with the nature of the world, but its highest form, the mystical form of wu-wei subsumes all of them, rejecting the notion of human agency except in a supervisory capacity (awareness). Ganying (感应, stimulus-response or resonance) is the mechanism of wu-wei, sourcing action either from the patterns of the Tao and Tao currents or from Te and inborn nature.

    Therefore the sage puts his person last and it comes first,
    Treats it as extraneous to himself and it is preserved.
    Is it not because he is without thought of self that he is able to accomplish his private ends?
    TTC ch. 7 Lau, D.C., Tao Te Ching, New York: Penguin Books, (1963) p. 11.
    However, there is a difficulty. Knowledge must wait for something before it can be applicable, and that which it waits for is never certain. How, then, can I know that what I call Heaven is not really man, and what I call man is not really Heaven?
    ChuangTzu ch. 6 Watson, Burton, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, c. 1968, p. 77.
    See also I-Ching: Resolving Intense Synchronicity In An Acausal Universe.

A mirror-mind meditation can give basic experience of ganying. Then, to be a traveler in wu-wei is to live inside a persistent, yet aware, meditative state (a light trance) throughout the day and throughout life, even in the face of stressful circumstances. The conscious mind seems to stop interjecting itself against autonomous sensation and action, as the body moves to achieve some goal or life destiny. Basic meditation teaches subjects to enter a light trance just by fixating on their rhythmic breathing and freeing their thoughts. They exit the trance when the session ends.

In meditation exercises, the meditative state is not meant to persist beyond the designated period. Training a persistent, meditative state involves two stages: entering an awareness trance at will and an activity to demonstate ganying. The ganying activity here is a flute meditation, which requires both awareness of the instrument and of the self, while simultaneously resonating with Te and Tao. The awareness trance is held with a visual metronome, a flashing light that pulses the optic nerve to restrain mental activty. In brief, this wu-wei training teaches one to play a flute meditation while held in an aware trance state.

In this training, the breath is diverted to inspire a flute, so a flashing light serves as a visual metronome for deep relaxation. People who experience seizures when staring at flashing lights or are unable to enter trance with a visual aid could try listening to a rhythmic acoustic sound, like a drum beat or even a musician’s metronome. A 7-Hz binaural beat played in open headphones (the kind that don’t block outside noise) has proven effective at establishing a meditative state.

Whatever type of hypnotic metronome, it should be adjustable, if possible, to select the best parameters for generating an aware trance state. For a flashing light, a continuously-variable strobe works best, if the brightness can be toned down (or cover with layers of light absorbing fabric or paper). Bicycle safety lights work well too. I have tried many bicycle safety lights, some with a slow-fast flash option. None had continuously-variable flash rate, yet many could induce a trance state of varying depth. I recommend testing bicycle lights at the store before buying (see below for a testing procedure).

The color of the light matters too. If bright white hurts the eyes, maybe an orangey amber or a tranquil blue will solicit a trance. Color figures prominently in ancient visualization technique. In this passage from the Secret Instructions Of The Holy Lord On The Scripture Of Great Peace, a visual meditation to heal the body advances through a series of color changes:

    This light will initially be red, with prolonged practice it will turn white. After another long stretch, it will turn green. As you penetrate these lights, they will come nearer and nearer and eventually merge into one brilliance. Nothing is not illuminated within the hundred diseases are driven out.
    Kohn, Livia, Introducing Daoism, Abingdon: Routledge, c. 2008, p. 138.

Flasher Testing Procedure

Note: Testing hypnotic metronomes in public can be unsafe, if there are people nearby who will take advantage of someone in a trance state.

1. Turn on and select a flash rate.
2. Cup the hands together with the light at the center and hold at a comfortable distance from face.
3. Stare at the light for up to one to two minutes. A good flasher should induce relaxation and slight drowsiness, but not to the point of falling asleep.
4. Try a different flash rate, if available. Repeat from step 1.

Warning: This type of training really can put you into a trance state. If someone nearby takes advantage of the situation, your subconscious may receive unwanted subliminal conditioning. Train in a safe location.

1. Mount the blinker on a pedestal or stand to raise it to a comfortable height, if needed. In the picture above, the blinker is a multifunction headlamp with an elastic headband, secured around the stand of a floor lamp.

2. Set the flute down at a convenient location in front of the light.

3. Set the light to flash at a rate that relaxes into a light drowsiness, but does not induce sleep.

4. Sit comfortably in front of the light in a standard meditation position and stare into the light. Adjust the brightness, if needed, so that the light does not hurt the eyes.

5. Watch the light and begin a meditation session. When you feel very relaxed and find it difficult to actually think (the flashing commands your attention), slowly float your mind to surface and acknowledge the sensations resonating inside of you.

6. When you are ready, slowly pick up the flute and play a spontaneous meditation, with eyes focused on the light throughout, without breaking the trance.


Ecology, Progress And Activism: A Classical Taoist Environmental Philosophy

30 Sunday Dec 2012

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[Intermediate Revision: October 28, 2015]

Although ecological damage is now one of the most pressing issues in China’s political domain, the country does not have a tradition of environmentalism. (Citing Chan, Jonathan, “Ecosystem Sustainability: A Daoist Perspective” in Ip, King-Tak, Environmental Ethics: Intercultural Perspectives, New York: Rodopi, c. 2009, p. 133.) Yet, Taoism has been called a “nature” religion and philosophy. From the TaoTeChing ch. 25, Humanity follows Earth, so people both live on the Earth and respond to the Earth’s transformations, and hence Humanity is integral to nature. Throughout the classical scriptures are references to flora, fauna, landscapes, the heavens and most especially, flowing waters (rivers, pools, oceans) as representations of Tao. Taoists observed nature and learned their wisdom from nature.

From these observations of nature, there must be an underlying philosophy of the environment, a framework for environmental conservation, that when identified could instruct a naturalistic and effective response to environmental distress. As China modernizes and utilizes the land and resources on a massive scale, the lack of a formalized environmental philosophy has allowed the proliferation of a multitude of damage into its once pristine ecosystems and landscapes. Paralleling the progress of its scientific and industrial revolutions (beginning in the 19th century), air pollution, water pollution, desertification, contamination of the food chain are a just few examples of ecological damage plaguing modern China. (See, e.g., Jamieson, Alastair, Beijing Olympics were the most polluted games ever, researchers say, The Telegraph, June 22, 2009 and Carlson, Benjamin, Waterless World: China’s ever-expanding desert wasteland, Global Post, Dec. 15, 2013.) Frustration with the inadequacy of the government to address and correct the damage has pressured Chinese citizens to engage in civil disobedience against the polluting businesses and against the government itself. (See, e.g., Rabinovitch, Simon, Pollution protests force Chinese U-turn, Financial Times, Oct. 28, 2012 and Hatton, Celia, Baby milk rationing: Chinese fears spark global restrictions, BBC News Business, April 10, 2013.) Thus, without an environmental philosophy, China not only faces a threat to its ecological well-being, but also to its social harmony.

Taoist philosophy recommends passivity and observation of the “myriad things” of Creation as they rise and fall (TTC ch. 16), without interference with the natural world. At the time when the classical texts of Taoism were first codified, around 2500 BCE, environmental concerns were virtually non-existent. (Gottlieb, Roger, The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, c. 2006, pp. 237-8.) Nevertheless, as such concerns have emerged in the current age, classical thought and metaphysical understanding can meet the challenge to address these modern issues. From the observation that the sage “leaves no trace” in the world, to the Principle of Equalization that is the basis of Taoist restoration, to the recognition of progress as inevitable change in the development of the world, Taoist metaphysics and mystical philosophy and theology can provide a comprehensive system of thought and counsel to deal with environmental crises.

In Taoism, ecological change by civilization can be interpreted as belonging to the natural transformations of the Earth, because Humanity is part of nature. However, as the extraction and utilization of resources has scarred the Earth, people have responded to the damage and have been developing a cultural philosophy for conservation. Despite Taoism’s pacifist stance and its laissez-faire doctrine of wu-wei that nominally does not resist or combat any kind of change, a preliminary distillation of an environmental philosophy from religious Taoism has provided support for political activism to increase awareness of the need for resource conservation and ecological repair. (Ho, Peter, China’s Embedded Activism, New York: Routledge, c. 2008, p. 9.) Civil disobedience can sometimes be a natural course of action in accord with Tao and inborn nature. Originally, the way of non-contention and wu-wei would seem to preclude confrontational environmental activism, which can be viewed as an attachment to a status quo and antagonistic to change and transformation. Yet, in the patterns of Tao, the lines of force that harmonize the myriad things, there can sometimes be seen naturalistic conflict and confrontation.


B. THE THE PRINCIPLE OF EQUALIZATION

    Therefore the sage takes his place over the people yet is no burden
    takes his place ahead of the people yet causes no obstruction.
    That is why the empire supports him joyfully and never tires of doing so.
    It is because he does not contend that no one in the empire is in a position to contend with him.
    TTC ch. 66 Lau, D.C., Tao Te Ching, London: Penguin Books, c. 1963, p. 70.

As stated in TTC ch. 66, the sage is able to preserve his body and energy reserves, because he does not jeopardize his life or endanger his health by contending with others. Preservation of the human body as microcosm can be broadened philosophically and metaphysically to preservation of the environment as macrocosmic body. (See, e.g., TTC ch. 13 Lau, Tao Te Ching, p. 17: “He who loves his body more than dominion over the empire can be given the custody of the empire.”) As the body organs carry on the body’s functions and require the body’s support services to survive, so the organisms on the Earth carry on the processes of the Earth and require the services of the Earth as a whole to survive. Thus, a Taoist-based response to pollution and other environmental catastrophes can be understood from the importance of ecological processes to the macrocosmic body that represents the unity of all things in a Taoist universe.

The stable holistic state results from the careful balancing (equilibrium-making) of opposing metaphysical forces within Tao and within the myriad things of the universe. (See Taoist Creation Theory.) All things have an internal balance of yin-yang energies. (See, e.g., TTC ch. 42 Lau, Tao Te Ching, p. 46: “The [myriad things] carry the yin and embrace the yang and through the blending of the material force (chi) they achieve harmony”.) If there is an imbalance, illness can result, so the system automatically tries to restore the equilibrium. Restoration is a natural characteristic of a Taoist system and it redistributes energies until what is excessive and what is deficient are no longer excessive or deficient. The Principle Of Equilibrium is given in the first quote below from the TaoTeChing ch. 77, a philosophical representation of the metaphysical Principle Of Equilibrium. The second quote suggests that equilibrium is a dynamic process that refreshes and renews living things. The undesired fullness in the verse refers to a polarized condition which has frozen the balance to its maximum state.

    Is not the way of heaven like the stretching of a bow?
    The high it presses down,
    The low it lifts up
    The excessive it takes from,
    The deficient it gives to.
    It is the way of heaven to take from what has in excess in order to make good what is deficient.
    TTC ch. 77 Lau, Tao Te Ching, p. 84.
    Who can be muddy and yet, settling, slowly become limpid?
    Who can be at rest and yet, stirring, slowly come to life?
    He who holds fast to this way
    Desires not to be full.
    It is because he is not full
    That he can be worn and yet newly made.
    TTC ch. 15 Lau, Tao Te Ching, p. 19.

This next quote from the ChuangTzu ch. 10 illustrates the Principle of Equilibrium in action. It begins by attacking the so-called sages who would interfere with thieves and bandits. Allowing such criminals their freedom restores the natural order. Because these sages are given too much credibility and power, they polarize society. In that similar pattern of thought, the conditions of drought and flood polarize and damage the landscape. Only when drought and flood distribute, when sageness and lawlessness balance, then equilibrium is achieved and the world will be peaceful.

    Cudgel and cane the sages and let the thieves and bandits go their way then the world will at last be well ordered! If the stream dries up, the valley will be empty if the hills wash away, the deep pools will be filled up. And if the sage is dead and gone, then no more great thieves will arise. The world will then be peaceful and free of fuss.
    ChuangTzu ch. 10 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 109.

A story in the LiehTzu ch. 5 applies the Principle of Equalization to “deal with the world”. Things in the world are most stable with the pull and give forces on a thing have been made equal. This paragraph introduces the story about a fisherman, Chan Ho, who could catch a huge fish with just a single strand of silk for the fishing line by “equalizing the give and pull”.

    Equalising the give and the pull is the ultimate principle of dealing with the world. The same applies to the things within it.
    Equalising. Let a hair hang so that the give and pull are equal. Pull too hard, give too easily, and the hair will snap, because the give and pull are not equal. If they were kept equal, nothing that snaps would snap. Men doubt this, but there have been those who knew that it is so.
    LiehTzu ch. 5 Graham, Angus, Book Of Lieh Tzu, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, c. 1990, p. 105.

Therefore, government policies based on the Principle Of Equalization distribute resources to areas of need for a harmonious society. If the status between things has been disrupted so that the forces of give and take no longer balance, then the result could be ecological damage and disorder. To restore order, the imbalance must be repaired or a new balance must be attained. Humans are part of nature, so that a restoration by human activity qualifies as a natural restoration within the system, if the action happens naturally, without deliberation or artifice, in accord with wu-wei and one’s inborn nature.


C. THE EQUALITY OF THE MYRIAD THINGS AND IMPLICATIONS TO ECOLOGICAL DAMAGE

From an individual point of view, when there is ecological damage, the decision to stem the damage and repair often depends on the perception of the impact of the damage. In many regions, before a project initiates that could have serious consequences on the environment, the parties involved often commission an Environmental Impact Report to identify any significant damage to the environment. Some damage seems to merits more attention than other damage. For example, the loss of a habitat for an endangered species may demand more attention than a localized blight on oak trees. Classical Taoism does not consciously distinguish, as an exercise in preference, between degrees of environmental impact.

The essence of Taoist ecological theory originates with Taoist Creation Theory, according to which all matter forms from condensed energy and all things, though separate, belong to the whole of creation, without cognitive distinction. Their membership in the whole, however, does not guarantee compatibility, because the energies and shapes of things differ. Their membership in the whole does confer an equality of existence (that is, the Principle of Equality does not make them the same and identical). The pumelo tree, for example, planted away from its native lands, receives incompatible chi energy that stunts its growth. Similarly, ecological damage caused by contaminating pollutants can turn food and living places toxic by altering the energy characteristics of the resource.

    However, although the shapes and energies of things differ, they are equal by nature, none can take the place of another, all are born perfect in themselves, each is allotted all its needs. How do I know whether they are large or small, long or short, similar or different?
    LiehTzu ch. 5 Graham, Angus, The Book Of Lieh Tzu, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, c. 1990, p. 99.
    In the countries of Wu and Ch’u there is a big tree named the pumelo. It is a green tree which does not fade in winter its fruit is red and tastes sour, and eating its skin and juice cures fits. It is treasured in the midlands, but when planted North of the Huai it changes into a dwarf orange. Mynahs do not cross the Chi, and badgers die when they cross the Wen. It is climate [地氣 di qi or ground chi energy] which causes this.
    LiehTzu ch. 5 Graham, The Book Of Lieh Tzu, p. 99.

From the Principle of Equality, all things are within Tao without preference, but all things are not the same. The myriad things change rank and position continuously. The temporal inequality of things leads to patterns within Tao. When people exist in harmony with the whole, the whole is stable and different organisms within the whole may be seen as following a stable pattern in Tao. As the patterns change, so the motions of harmonious organisms change with them. Note that a Taoist universe is organized as nested spheres of influence. In the first passage below, the quote from the TTC ch. 25 depicts a correlative model of the cosmos, each layer following the layer above it. The verse “Man follows the way of Earth” suggests that the patterns of the Earth (embodiment of nature and of Great Yin energy) have direct impact on humanity and that humanity is influenced by higher layers indirectly. The second and third passages below give examples of Tao patterns in nature and of the concretization of Tao patterns into a legal code. See Anarchy And A Classic Tao Of Laws for a discussion of law as a static implementation of Tao patterns.

    Man follows the way of Earth.
    Earth follows the way of Heaven.
    Heaven follows the way of the Dao.
    And the Dao follows the way of spontaneity.
    TTC ch. 25. Wang, Keping, The Classic Of The Dao A New Investigation, Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, c. 1998, p. 231.
    Honor and lowliness, precedence and following are part of the workings of Heaven and earth, and from them the sage draws his model. Heaven is honorable, earth lowly – such are their ranks in spiritual enlightenment. Spring and summer precede, autumn and winter follow – such is the sequence of the four seasons. The ten thousand things change and grow…., a constant flow of change and transformation…. If you speak of the Way and not of its sequence, then it is not a way….
    ChuangTzu ch. 13 Watson, Burton, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, c. 1968, pp. 146.
    “He told me,” said Chien Wu, “that the ruler is one who issues canons, patterns, rules, and regulations on his own authority. What men would dare not obey them and be transformed by them?”
    ChuangTzu ch. 7 Mair, Victor, Wandering On The Way, New York: Bantam Books, c. 1994, p. 67.

The Equality of Things is the point of view within wu-wei. That viewpoint collapses conscious distinctions into unity and substitutes “inaction” or wu-wei for dualistic thinking, so that there is no more deliberate or intentional action but only the “natural course of things”. (See, e.g., Littlejohn, Ronnie, Confucianism: An Introduction, New York: I.B. Taurus, c. 2011, p. 97.)

    “Only the truly wise man knows that interchangeability leads to uniformity. Instead of dwelling on the distinction of things, he follows their ordinary course”.
    ChuangTzu ch. 2 Wang, Zhuangzi, p. 25.

To follow the ordinary course of things is to follow Tao and its transformations instinctively and to live life with a minimum of likes and dislikes that harm the inborn nature. (See, e.g., ChuangTzu ch. 12 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 141: the five conditions that harm inborn nature.) In the metaphysical domain, this philosophy that values all life on equal terms and places human beings within nature, not above it or outside it, leads to specific practices that interface with nature. In the passage below, the sage in ancient times treated human beings, animals, insects and even spirits as more alike than different. The myriad visible things of the real world are constituted of condensed chi energy. The invisible spirits have their own reality of vaporous chi energy. (See, e.g., Fung, Yulan, A Short History Of Chinese Philosophy, New York: Simon & Schuster, c. 1948, pp. 298-300: neo-Confucian teaching about li and chi China: Five Thousand Years of History and Civilization, Kowloon: City Univ. Of Hong Kong Press, c. 2007, p. 363.)

    There are ways in which the intelligence of beasts and birds is by nature similar to man’s…. In the most ancient times men and animals lived together and walked side by side. In the time of the Five Emperors and the Three Kings, the animals were frightened away and scattered for the first time. In our own degenerate times, they crouch in hiding and flee to their lairs to avoid harm.

In the classic texts, the equivalence of things manifests in stories of natural actual physical transformation and psychic-induced (meditation, visualization, conscious and unconscious dreaming) transformation between species (from the high to the low and back). The remembered experience of such transformations across species barriers develops the individual’s perspective in living the transformed life and in the appreciation of the holistic world. In dreams, the most common form of psychic-induced transformation, people can experience the equivalence of all life first hand, changing into animals, plants or insects and interacting in different microcosms.

    I, by the name of Zhuang Zhou, once dreamed that I was a butterfly, a butterfly fluttering happily here and there. I was so pleased that I forgot that I was Zhuang Zhou. When I suddenly woke up, I was astonished to find that I was as a matter of fact Zhuang Zhou. Did Zhuang Zhou dream of the butterfly or did the butterfly dream of Zhuang Zhou? Between Zhuang Zhou and the butterfly there must be some distinctions. This is called “the transformation of things”.
    ChuangTzu ch. 2 Wang, Zhuangzi, pp. 39-41.
    You dream you’re a bird and soar up into the sky you dream you’re a fish and dive down in the pool. But now when you tell me about it, I don’t know whether you are awake or whether you are dreaming…. Be content to go along and forget about change and then you can enter the mysterious oneness of Heaven.
    ChuangTzu ch. 6, Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 88.

The very first story in the ChuangTzu is about the connection between environment and physical transformation between species (or between stages of existence of a single species), one in water and one in the skies, traversing microcosms and adopting multiple perspectives. A huge fish (K’un) that swims in the sea transforms into a huge bird (P’eng) that flies. When the story is read as an ecological tale, each incarnation depends on a suitable habitat to support the creature. Without great wind and great water (also symbols of the Tao), Kun/P’eng would not survive. Hence the loss of ecological habitats would affect a stage of development of K’un or P’eng, which have preprogrammed needs for particular environments. For organisms that live in one type of habitat, the loss of that habitat could lead to unfulfilled life or even no life.

    IN THE NORTHERN DARKNESS there is a fish and his name is K’un. The K’un is so huge I don’t know how many thousand li he measures. He changes and becomes a bird whose name is P’eng. The back of the P’eng measures I don’t know how many thousand li across and, when he rises up and flies off, his wings are like clouds all over the sky. When the sea begins to move, this bird sets off for the southern darkness, which is the Lake of Heaven.

    If water is not piled up deep enough, it won’t have the strength to bear up a big boat. Pour a cup of water into a hollow in the floor and bits of trash will sail on it like boats. But set the cup there and it will stick fast, for the water is too shallow and the boat too large. If wind is not piled up deep enough, it won’t have the strength to bear up great wings. Therefore when the P’eng rises ninety thousand li, he must have the wind under him like that. Only then can he mount on the back of the wind, shoulder the blue sky, and nothing can hinder or block him. Only then can he set his eyes to the south.
    ChuangTzu ch. 1 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 29.

Beyond physical transformation within the lifetime of the organism, Taoism’s “big view” recognizes that things can transform in life cycles, in rebirth, almost like reincarnation except that rebirth can be in the form of an inanimate objects. (See, e.g., ChuangTzu ch. 6, Watson, p. 84: “perhaps in time [the Creator will] transform my left arm into a rooster…, my right arm into a crossbow pellet…, my buttocks into cartwheels”.) The macroscopic viewpoint of Taoist Evolutionary Theory of living things sees fantastical transformational scenarios in an extended or aggregated life. A single extended life lives and dies many times before its return to mystical origins.

The picture above compares Darwinian Evolutionary Theory and Taoist Evolutionary Theory. In the Taoist theory, things begin from mysterious “seeds”, transform in many lifetimes and then return to seeds. During the span of the aggregated life sequence, a seed of life can go from single cell organism to leafy plant to innumerable celled mammals, from living in puddles of water or anchored to a stationary plot of soil to roaming open grasslands to an airborne existence high in the mountains. Each stage of this extended life needs different environmental support. Thus, even though humans live on dry land at this developmental cycle, they could swim in water or soar in the air in another cycle of their aggregated lives.

    The seeds of things have mysterious workings. In the water they become Break Vine, on the edges of the water they become Frog’s Robe. If they sprout on the slopes they become Hill Slippers. If Hill Slippers get rich soil, they turn into Crow’s Feet. The roots of Crow’s Feet turn into maggots and their leaves turn into butterflies…. Green Peace plants produce leopards and leopards produce horses and horses produce men. Men in time return again to the mysterious workings. So all creatures come out of the mysterious workings and go back into them again.
    ChuangTzu ch. 18 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu,
    “Who can look upon nonbeing as his head, on life as his back, and on death as his rump?” they said. “Who knows that life and death, existence and annihilation, are all a single body? I will be his friend!”
    ChuangTzu ch. 6 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 84.


D. TAOIST RESPONSE TO ECOLOGICAL UTILITY AND DAMAGE

Ecological change can arise from careless damage or despite careful utility. One is fate the other is destiny. In the metaphysical realm, destiny is a metaphysical word for cosmic or spiritual DNA, sourced from Tao that defines the construction of a thing, its behavior and how it changes (and then fate would be those forces that change the thing but are external to the effect of the DNA). (See Taoist Creation Theory.) The autonomous universe described in the TaoTeChing ch. 42 must be capable of governing itself by executing its genetic code to direct growth and transformation. That mystical genetic code (configured energy) is housed in a thing’s wu-soul called Te (德) or Virtue. The image below shows the Te for a person, but all the myriad things have Te, including the universe itself.

In the case of either fate or destiny producing ecological change, classical Taoism does not seem to distinguish between them as “good” and “bad” or “right” and “wrong”. All ecological change occurs in the world as natural forces operating on a unitary macrocosmic body. In the first quote below, microcosm and macrocosm seem to fuse. Shan Ch’uan views the universe from beyond “space and time”. What is good for the earth is good for the body and together they transform the land according to the patterns of the seasons. In the second quote, the fantastic changes in the aged human body are due to the work of the “Creator” and the forces of Yin and Yang. Master Lai, who is dying, frees himself of being bound to things by dwelling in “the order of things”, transforming without resistance, without the disobedience of resentment. Then in death, he is able to join with the Creator and “wander beyond the [existential] realm” “in the single breath of heaven and earth”. (ChuangTzu ch. 6 Watson, p. 87.)

    Shun tried to cede the empire to Shan Ch’uan, but Shan Ch’uan said, “I stand in the midst of space and time. Winter days I dress in skins and furs, summer days, in vine-cloth and hemp. In spring I plow and plant – this gives my body the labor and exercise it needs in fall I harvest and store away – this gives my form the leisure and sustenance it needs. When the sun comes up, I work when the sun goes down, I rest. I wander free and easy between heaven and earth, and my mind has found all that it could wish for. What use would I have for the empire?
    ChuangTzu ch. 28 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 309.
    Master Lai said, “A child, obeying his father and mother, goes wherever he is told, east or west, south or north. And the yin and yang – how much more are they to a man than father or mother! Now that they have brought me to the verge of death, if I should refuse to obey them, how perverse I would be! What fault is it of theirs? The Great Clod burdens me with form, labors me with life, eases me in old age, and rests me in death. So if I think well of my life, for the same reason I must think well of my death.
    ChuangTzu ch. 6 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 85.

By living life carried along the currents of fate, without challenging or struggling against bad fortune or desperate situations, one travels in the spiritual plane and remains free of the earthly world. Therefore, in one respect, classical Taoism treats ecological change as something to ride above, like the transformation of the seasons, oblivious to any negative impact from ecological change. In another respect, the natural world can see ecological change as an imbalance, Then the Principle of Equilibrium manifests as a counterbalancing force to restore the environment. Either way, a Taoist in wu-wei does not choose, but learns, acts and responds to the world without conscious deliberation.

D1. Adapting To Progress

Classical Taoism expresses a strong bias against progress and advancement of civilization on grounds that they draw people away from simplicity and towards cleverness. The proliferation of inventiveness and invention adds to the Great Confusion in the world by interfering with inborn nature and one’s ability to follow Tao. People, whose inborn natures have been distorted by this accumulation of knowledge, can disrupt the natural order of things and bring chaos to the world. In the quotes below, the main effect of progress is the confusion produced by all the clever knowledge. The third quote warns about relying on machines which can innately damage human nature with the complexities of association and which ultimately could result in the loss of Tao itself.

    Of old those who excelled in the pursuit of the way (Tao) did not use it to enlighten the people but to hoodwink them. The reason why the people are difficult to govern is that they are too clever.
    TTC ch. 65 Lau, Tao Te Ching, p. 69.
    When superiors are genuinely fond of knowledge but lack the Way, all under heaven will be in great confusion. How do we know this is so? The more knowledge there is of bows, crossbows, hand-nets, stringed arrows, and snares, the more the birds in the sky above are thrown into confusion. The more knowledge there is of hooks, bait, nets, throw-nets, pull-nets, and basket traps, the more the fish in the water below are thrown into confusion. The more knowledge there is of palings, pitfalls, rabbit nets, and gins, the more the animals in the marshes are thrown into confusion.
    ChuangTzu ch. 10 Mair, Victor, Wandering On The Way, Honolulu: Univ. Of Hawaii Press, c. 1998, p. 88.
    The gardener flushed with anger and then said with a laugh, “I’ve heard my teacher say, where there are machines, there are bound to be machine worries where there are machine worries, there are bound to be machine hearts. With a machine heart in your breast, you’ve spoiled what was pure and simple and without the pure and simple, the life of the spirit knows no rest. Where the life of the spirit knows no rest, the Way will cease to buoy you up. It’s not that I don’t know about your machine – I would be ashamed to use it!”
    ChuangTzu ch. 12 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 134.

Yet, progress can be understood as programmed societal growth and development, embedded in the cosmic DNA that is present in all things within Tao. The sage is the “comprehender of the true form and the completer of fate”. (ChuangTzu ch. 14 Watson, p. 158.) Thus, it is the role of the sage-ruler, when confronted with progress that perplexes or polarizes the people, to restore their equilibrium or determine a new balance of the traditional and the progressive. The sage-ruler does precisely that by banishing the confusion of progress and rebalancing the people to their natural inclinations with wu-wei.

    When the sage governs, does he govern what is on the outside…? He makes absolutely certain that things can do what they are supposed to do, that is all. The bird flies high in the sky where it can escape the danger of stringed arrows. The field mouse burrows deep down under the sacred hill where it won’t have to worry about men digging and smoking it out.
    ChuangTzu ch. 7 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 93.

Therefore, where there is progress there must also be a countering to stabilize the changing people and landscape. If balance were not restored or if the restoration were inadequate, then there would in indication of the imbalance in the natural environment. In these two quotes from the ChuangTzu, an imbalance in Great Yin and Great Yang produces opposite phenomena simultaneously (delight and sorrow, profit and loss, fire and rain, immortality (pagoda tree symbolic) and death. The simultaneous appearance of opposites re-enacts a feature of Creation (see Principle Of Mutual Arising in Taoist Creation Theory). Double Creation or Creation inside Creation signals the end of Tao (the part of Tao which is the existential universe or Tai-ji)

    When the yin and yang go awry, then heaven and earth see astounding sights. Then we hear the crash and roll of thunder, and fire comes in the midst of rain and burns up the great pagoda tree. Delight and sorrow are there to trap man on either side so that he has no escape. Fearful and trembling, he can reach no completion. His mind is as though trussed and suspended between heaven and earth, bewildered and lost in delusion. Profit and loss rub against each other and light the countless fires that burn up the inner harmony of the mass of men. The moon cannot put out the fire, so that in time all is consumed and the Way comes to an end.
    ChuangTzu ch. 26 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 294.
    Ever since you began to govern the world, rain falls before the cloud vapors have even gathered, the plants and trees shed their leaves before they have even turned yellow, and the light of the sun and moon grows more and more sickly.
    ChuangTzu ch. 11 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 119.

While the sage-ruler helps the people find their inborn nature in a natural response to progress. Additionally, because all the myriad things embody the sacred through their connection (Te, the wu-soul) to their Cosmic Mother (Wu-ji – see Taoist Creation Theory), the people can follow the guiding patterns of Tao, which can be seen in the everyday world, without resort to consecrated places or special areas ritualized as sacred.

To those who would damage the environment in the name of progress, the TaoTeChing teaches the wu-wei doctrine of “leaving no trace,” because if it’s possible to utilize a resource imperceptibly, so that there is no detectable trace of damage, then there is no imbalance. As early sources of the modern wisdom of leaving wild nature untouched, the following passages from the 3 classic texts suggest that those who are one with Tao move through the world leaving no trace, by not disturbing the world.

    A tree that can fill the span of a man’s arms
    Grows from a downy tip
    A terrace nine storeys high
    Rises from hodfuls of earth

    Whoever does anything to it will ruin it
    Whoever lays hold of it will lose it.
    TTC ch. 64 Lau, D.C., Tao Te Ching, New York: Penguin Books, p. 71.
    If the fate of the times had been with them and they could have done great deeds in the world, then they would have returned to Unity and left no trace behind.
    ChuangTzu ch. 16 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 173.
    [T]he great horses of the world might be extinct, vanished, perished, lost such horses raise no dust and leave no tracks.
    LiehTzu ch. 8 Graham, The Book Of Lieh Tzu, p. 169).

Related to the idea of “leaving no trace” is counterbalancing. Against any destructive notion of progress, leaving no trace could also involve counterbalancing to restore a resource to an untouched-like state. In the TTC ch. 25, Man is said to be one of the 4 “great things” in the universe, after Heaven and Earth which represent the two great Creative forces. In that respect, Man is sometimes regarded as the stabilizing force after Great Yin and Great Yang. (See LiehTzu ch. 1, Graham, The Book Of Lieh Tzu, p. 19.) Unlike other inhabitants of the earth, people have the ability to drastically transform the entire planet very quickly, because they can may consume resources without counterbalancing. By re-arranging things, it is possible to correct and re-balance ecological damage.

The method of counterbalancing is implied in the TaoTeChing ch. 2 which introduces the metaphysical Principle Of Mutual Arising, which states that a thing and its opposite come into existence simultaneously. It later appears in the TaoTeChing’s “Three Treasures” (compassion, frugality and humility) that all people have. They can be used to neutralize dire consequences and destructive forces arising from one actions or external circumstances within one’s sphere of influence. (See TTC ch. 67 Lau, Tao Te Ching, p. 71: “Being frugal one could afford to extend one’s territory….”)

Counterbalancing can achieve equilibrium either by rearranging a system or by exchanging with an external system. In the first quote below, monkeys who received less food protested, but acquiesced when the same amount of food was offered in a different configuration. In the second quote, two patients of P’ien Ch’iao have hearts that are mismatched to their ambitions. The treatment is to switch hearts, so that they adequately counterbalance their ambitions.

    There was a keeper of monkeys in Sung who loved monkeys…. Before long he found himself in need, and decided to give them less to eat. Fearing that the monkeys would not submit to it tamely, he played a trick on them beforehand: ‘If I give you three chestnuts in the morning and four in the evening, will that be enough?’ The monkeys all got up in a rage. ‘Will it be enough if I give you four in the morning and three in the evening?’ The monkeys were all pleased and lay down again.
    LiehTzu ch. 2 Graham, The Book Of Lieh Tzu, p.
    ‘Your ambition is greater than your energy,’ said P’ien Ch’iao to Kung Hu, ‘so that you are capable of forming plans but seldom come to decisions. Ch’i Ying’s energy is greater than his ambition, so that he rarely thinks ahead and comes to grief by acting irresponsibly. If I exchange your hearts you will benefit by the equalising of ambition and energy.
    LiehTzu ch. 5 Graham, The Book Of Lieh Tzu, p. 106.

D4. Alternatives To Resource Use: Third Eye And Chi Energy Nourishment

But if leaving no trace is a prescription for utilizing nature and yet preserving it in a pristine state, there are alternatives to destructive scenarios in the furtherance of progress. For example, the mystical means to “leave no trace” is to explore the world through some form of “third eye” or clairvoyance (see Metaphysical Third Eye: A Beginning Lesson), because the seer doesn’t have to go outside. As a mystical and metaphysical text, the TaoTeChing, along with the other classical scriptures, teach connection with Tao as the ultimate means to obtain knowledge. The TTC ch. 47 has been often interpreted to promote outward meditation for connecting to a metaphysical Tao in order to “know the world”, which can be discerned in the patterns of local, “ordinary” nature.

    Lao Zi denies the value of practical experience or learning [and] advises a contemplative approach to the true knowledge of all things…. However, knowledge as such does not mean an accumulated amount of cognition or a vast range of information of the phenomenological world.
    Wang, Keping, Reading The Dao: A Thematic Inquiry, London: Continuum Int’l, c. 2011, p. 72.
    TTC ch. 47 Ames, Roger and Hall, David, Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation, New York: Random House, c. 2003, p. 150.

The “mysterious female” from the TaoTeChing ch. 6 is the portal between the interacting energy fields of Great Yin and Great Yang, through which the myriad things of Creation flow into the universe. According to the He Shang Gong (河上公) mystical commentary of the TaoTeChing, the word “mysterious” is a coded reference to the nose. The 5 breaths (ambient chi energy) can be inhaled through the nose and stored in the heart to nourish the body. (Chan, Alan, Two Visions Of The Way, Albany: SUNY Press, c. 1990, p. 140.) Taoist adepts can learn to ingest this ambient chi in place of actual food.

    The spirit of the valley never dies.
    It is called the mysterious female.
    The door of the mysterious female is called the root of Heaven and Earth.
    Flimsy and continuous, as if barely existing.
    Yet use will never exhaust it.
    Chan, Alan, Two Visions Of The Way, Albany: SUNY Press, c. 1990, pp. 139-40.
    [T]he sovereign takes sustenance from the “essence of all that is life in the universe” and does this by making his food come from the four corners of the universe. The Taoist proceeds in the same way but nourishes himself with exhalations and light, not with the substantial food of ordinary persons. He also “eats the universe,” but in its most subtle and nascent form.

    The absorption or ingestion of cosmic exhalations must gradually become the adept’s basic nourishment. Only this will enable him, through his identification with what he eats, to become weightless and luminous, to disappear and to take flight.
    Robinet, Isabelle, Taoist Meditation: The Mao-shan Tradition of Great Purity, Albany: SUNY Press, c. 1993, pp. 177-8.

D5. Utility of the Land

Things that transform can rely on many habitats. What was suitable in one stage of growth may not be suitable in a subsequent. Thus, environmental damage may not directly impact an organism in one stage of life, but could be dire in another stage of life. The two stories below directly address the peril of lost habitats. The first story below about a fish gasping for air on land suggests that environmental catastrophes must be addressed immediately and adequately. The fish is a “messenger from the East Sea”, so it is a harbinger of impending catastrophe as well. The second story accuses those who dig up land for useful resources of destroying the land for living. Damaging use alters the land by changing its inborn nature and ruins it for any use – even by other living things. In that story, the land after digging becomes useless, and then is ignored by those seeking its original utility. Thus, in a sense, uselessness protects things from harm, but if the uselessness results from damage, then those things may have lost their value to support other life as well.

    Zhuangzi flushed with anger and said, “When I was on the way here yesterday, I heard someone calling me. I looked back and saw a carp in the cart-rut. I asked it, ‘Come over, carp. What are you doing here?’ It replied, “I am a messenger from the East Sea. Will you save me with a bucket of water?’ I said, ‘All right. When I meet the princes in the state of Wu and the state of Yu, I will try to persuade them to divert the water from the West River to welcome you. Will that do?’ The carp flushed with anger and said, ‘I have lost my normal environment and have no place to stay. I can survive with a mere bucket of water, but if you talk to me like this, you’d better look for me in the dried fish market!’
    ChuangTzu ch. 26 Wang, Zhuangzi, p. 463.

“No, it would be useless,” said Hui Tzu.

D6. The Utility And Inborn Nature Of Sacred Things

The damage to a thing’s inborn nature both affects its existential value and spiritual presence in the world. The destruction of natural landscapes occurs when people utilize the land or the resources on it in a destructive manner. Therefore, in addition to conservation by spiritual or mystical use of the land, another means to conserve resources is to conceal or ignore their utility. The ChuangTzu and LiehTzu suggest that the sacred aspect of the resource, superseding the utilitarian aspect, can be leveraged to protect its inborn nature by guarding its physical appearance. Then people need only recognize its “true form” to protect it as a spiritual resource.

    After Shi the Carpenter arrived at home, the shrine oak appeared in his dream, saying, “What other trees are you comparing me with? Are you comparing me with useful trees? Hawthorns, pear trees, orange trees and pomelo trees are all fruit trees. The fruits will be torn off as soon as they are ripe…. For a long time, I have been trying to be useless.

    When Shi the Carpenter woke up and told his apprentice about his dream, the apprentice said, “If it aims at uselessness, why should it have served as a shrine?”


E. A TAOIST ANALYSIS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM

Even limited environmental damage can affect the whole community, because where it impacts an individual, the individual functions as part of the whole community. Where environmental damage does not affect an individual in this life, it can impact that person’s aggregate life. As in the story of K’un the fish and P’eng the bird, transformation can relocate a person to a new life with different requirements of setting and resources.

If such settings and resources in the present or the future were to vanish, then the individual may contend for existence according to their inborn nature. The horses in the first quote below were born to roam free on the plains and attempts to tame them train the worse and unnatural behavior. The second quote below suggests that attempts to suppress inborn nature can inherently produce a disharmony that resembles contention. Because the end result of such seemingly inexplicable contention cannot be known, therefore, one should follow one’s destiny and allow events to unfold naturally and without artifice.

    When horses live on the plain, they eat grass and drink from the streams…. But if you pile poles and yokes on them and line them up in crossbars and shafts, then they will learn to snap the crossbars, break the yoke, rip the carriage top, champ the bit, and chew the reins. Thus horses learn how to commit the worst kinds of mischief.
    ChuangTzu ch. 9 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 106.

Opposition to change is a type of change itself. By the Principle of Equilibrium, all growth and change, programmed (destiny) or random (fate) could be challenged as potentially disharmonious, as potentially destabilizing, within the microcosm of the individual and within Tao. However, these natural forces that counter change and attempt to maintain or restore the status quo operate instinctively, so that such apparently disharmonious forces do not have to violate wu-wei. Tao is lost where there is failure to reset the balance. Thus, civil disobedience can be a natural reaction to ecological damage.

Where there is unremedied environmental catastrophe, the intense patterns of Tao reflect a severe situational deficiency, and they influence people to do things not always in accordance with the Principle of Non-Contention, because following Tao is a spontaneous (自然 zi ran) act (see Anarchy And A Classic Tao Of Laws and Littlejohn, Confucianism: An Introduction, p. 98). Within the living body of the universe and according to the Principle of Equilibrium, the myriad things serve as agents of the regulatory system of Tao, of the environment, to heal ecological damage. (See also Internal And External Patterns In Medicine.)

As explained above, classical Taoists follow inborn nature and destiny, aspects of one’s core of Te (soul), to cultivate Te for harmonious living and to wander with the Creator in afterlife. In the cultivation of one’s pattern of self, the soul attains a degree of immortality, of permanence that survives the cycles of change, because it is existentially empty and permeated with non-Being (無 Wu), the “substance” of the cosmic mother (無極 Wu-ji). (See Taoist Creation Theory.)

    The forms and bodies held within them spirits, each with its own characteristics and limitations, and this was called the inborn nature. If the nature is trained (cultivated), you may return to Virtue (Te), and Virtue at its highest peak is identical with the Beginning (Tao). Being identical, you will be empty being empty, you will be great.
    Heaven and earth are unending, but man has his time of death. Take this time-bound toy, put it down in these unending spaces, and whoosh! – it is over as quickly as the passing of a swift horse glimpsed through a crack in the wall! No man who is incapable of gratifying his desires and cherishing the years fate has given him can be called a master of the Way.
    ChuangTzu ch. 29 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 330.
    To be born normally, coming from nowhere, is the Way. When a man follows a course consistent with life, and lives, so that although he dies when his term is up he does not perish before his time, this is normal to follow a course consistent with life and perish before his time is misfortune.
    LiehTzu ch. 4 Graham, The Book Of Lieh Tzu, p. 83.

When moving in wu-wei, one cannot contend, but to the careful observer engages in wu-contention or contending without contention. In the first passage below, Chuang Tzu’s response to the King of Ch’u is wu-contention, an early form of non-violent civil disobedience. In the second, the contending response rises to the level needed to express outrage. There, the civil disobedience self-aggrandizes as it simultaneously erases the self. The extreme disobedience does not preserve the self and life, and ends in early death, suggesting a life not fulfilled, destiny not attained.

    Once, when Chuang Tzu was fishing in the P’u River, the king of Ch’u sent two officials to go and announce to him: “I would like to trouble you with the administration of my realm.”

Chuang Tzu held on to the fishing pole and, without turning his head, said, “I have heard that there is a sacred tortoise in Ch’u that has been dead for three thousand years. The king keeps it wrapped in cloth and boxed, and stores it in the ancestral temple. Now would this tortoise rather be, dead and have its bones left behind and honored? Or would it rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud?”

“It would rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud,” said the two officials.

    ChuangTzu ch. 17 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 188.
    Pao Chiao made a great show of his conduct and condemned the world he wrapped his arms around a tree and stood there till he died. Shen-t’u Ti offered a remonstrance that was unheeded he loaded a stone onto his back and threw himself into a river, where the fish and turtles feasted on him. Chieh Tzu-t’ui was a model of fealty, going so far as to cut a piece of flesh from his thigh to feed his lord, Duke Wen. But later, when Duke Wen overlooked him, he went off in a rage, wrapped his arms around a tree, and burned to death. Wei Sheng made an engagement to meet a girl under a bridge. The girl failed to appear and the water began to rise, but, instead of leaving, he wrapped his arms around the pillar of the bridge and died. These six men were no different from a flayed dog, a pig sacrificed to the flood, a beggar with his alms-gourd in his hand. All were ensnared by thoughts of reputation and looked lightly on death, failing to remember the Source or to cherish the years that fate had given them.
    ChuangTzu ch. 29 Watson, The Complete Works Of Chuang Tzu, p. 330.

Then, to reach destiny, one should live out one’s full allotment of years in furtherance of destiny, which life may be shortened or burdened by the lack of resources and habitats. The benefit of studying the danger of ecological damage is the realization that the natural and supernatural co-exist within the matrix of creation (e.g., gods and mortals, animals and plants, all communing together. Hence, what is natural is also supernatural, and what is ordinary is also sacred. The loss of the natural world could prematurely end the destiny of mankind. In meditation on ecological awareness, one rediscovers inborn nature and can interpret the state of the world in its external patterns. These patterns form because visible universe is an energy fluid with eddies and currents (see, e.g., ChuangTzu ch. 19 Wong, RongPei, Zhuangzi, Hunan: Hunan People’s Publishing House, c. 1999, p. 311: “I … finally followed the fate. I dive with the swirls and float with the torrent…. That is why I can swim freely in waters”) and guide people to a life beyond the cycles of change.


DIY PVC Flute-Shakuhachi Conversion 2 (Flared Mouthpiece)

13 Tuesday Nov 2012

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This project is a re-write of the first PVC Flute conversion project. The main difference is the instructions for direct-shaping of a flared PVC shakuhachi mouthpiece. The wider blow edge and flared opening result in an instrument that plays easier, more in tune in the second octave, and is more comfortable on the lips. The pre-conversion flute was cut from 1-inch PVC pipe with an inside diameter of just 3/4-inch, which is not much space for the lower lip. Progressively thinning the PVC wall expands the inside diameter to almost 15/16 of an inch. While the first project was updated with instructions for modifying the narrow mouthpiece, I decided to compose a separate article for converting PVC flutes directly to the thinned mouthpiece, because the procedure might be confusing to anyone who is researching the conversion of an existing PVC flute or the construction of a new one or from scratch.

Here’s the background story: During a recent relocation, a 3-section PVC flute in my collection sustained damage in the headjoint, a crack over the cork stopper. Instead of throwing it away, I saw it as an opportunity to salvage it by converting it into a Shakuhachi flute for Taoist flute meditation. The original flute was well-made, could sound in 2 octaves and output a strong low D. It had a total of 9 holes (7 tone holes, including a C thumbhole, and 2 footjoint resonance holes). It also had a long tuning slide, an advantage for Shakuhachi conversion because any reduction in the interior length of headjoint could be balanced by pulling the slide out. Tunable 3-piece Shakuhachi are rare in the marketplace – a great reason to convert an existing flute. I’ve seen used 3-piece flutes for $50 US or less. The picture above shows the front and back of the converted Shakuhachi. That lone hole on the back is the C natural thumbhole – good for “pinch tuning” the second octave. With the better intonation of the thinned mouthpiece, I rarely need it and tape it closed.

Converting a 1-piece flute or any flute without a slide will mis-tune it, but it should still be suitable as a meditation flute. If a flute is made from standard PVC piping (true of many plastic flutes sold online), the original tuning might be preservable by cutting the body or headjoint in half and joining the sections with a PVC coupler, sold at hardware and home improvement stores. A coupler can add an inch or more to the flute’s length. The picture above shows my flute with its copper tenon slide and with a PVC coupler slide. Note: PVC couplers and the rims of the joined sections and may have to be sanded down a little on the inside to allow for slide adjustability and to smooth out turbulence in the air flow.

Flutes made from other materials could be cut and joined with metal tubing or by reaming softened plastic tubing to fit. While I have not seen a 3-piece flute “kit”, flute makers might be willing to sell pre-made PVC flutes with a “blank” headjoint for conversion at a reasonable price. Otherwise, the adventurous determined to assemble a tunable 3-piece shak should stop by a local home improvement store to check the inventories of PVC Schedule 40 piping and couplers or copper tubing for tenons and tuning slides.

A Shakuhachi conversion can be excellent experience for learning the basics of flutemaking, a skill highly prized by Zen flute students who view it as part of the mystical experience of suizen. Sensei Sasaki, the master teacher of performer Ray Brooks, scheduled annual trips for his students to a bamboo grove to harvest stems for the perfect Shakuhachi. (Brooks, Ray, Blowing Zen: Finding An Authentic Life, Tiburon: HJ Kramer, c. 2000, p. 80-81.) Of course, it’s best to learn by making a flute from scratch with natural materials, but in the United States, bamboo groves are impossible to find, and people who live in cramped apartments don’t have space for tooling flutes.

The plan of action for my flute was fairly simple: cut off the end of the damaged headjoint with the stopper and re-cut the embouchure hole into a Shakuhachi windway. To preserve the original tuning (diatonic, D major), I measured the expected reduction in the interior length of the headjoint, beginning from the position of the stopper or cork inside. In the picture above, the cutting and sanding for the new windway would chop off nearly an inch total. The 2-inch slide on my flute would easily compensate.

The particular model flute in this project has been discontinued. However, it’s crafted from standard Schedule 40 white PVC piping (1 inch outside diameter, 3/4 inch inside diameter), the basis of many PVC flutes (side-blown and end-blown) sold today. These instructions could apply to conversion of an existing plastic or wood transverse or fipple flute or the design of a new Shakuhachi from schedule 40 piping. Unlike some other PVC Shakuhachis, the blow end of this revised headjoint has not been expanded with an adapter ring. The aesthetic of the slender headjoint belies the complex, breathier tone. Note: only those who have experience playing a non-fipple flute (preferably Shakuhachi) should attempt this project, because the tuning procedure necessitates playing the instrument.

The picture above shows the flute before and after conversion. In my research for this conversion, I read many pages about Shakuhachi design on the web. I recommend that prospective flutemakers do the same before tackling this kind of project. Work slowly unless one already has experience crafting flutes. Some days, I would work on the flute for 15 minutes and wait until the next day to continue to give myself time to digest and process the progress I was making.

Meditation/cultivation flutes can have very individual, complex sound characteristics, rough, screeching and shrill by the standards of other flutes. While almost any size plastic or wood simple flute could be converted, I do, however, recommend choosing a long, low flute for Shakuhachi – 1.8 shaku (in low D, D4 above middle C) or longer. In a Taoist flute cultivation replicating the sound of the universe, one should remember that the actual universe vibrates about 50 octaves BELOW human hearing.

Conversion Method:

1. With the flute’s headjoint lying on its side and the cork-end facing left, mark a point just past the rightmost edge of the embouchure hole. Following the measurements for the new windway shown in the above diagram and setting the mark as the bottom of the windway, draw an outline of the new windway around the embouchure hole. Mark the top of the windway and draw a perpendicular line around the headjoint to mark the cutoff.

Note: the cutoff must be clear of the stopper or cap on the headjoint. Shift the measurements down if necessary to remove the cork entirely.

2. With a rotary cutter or small hand saw, cut off the back end of the headjoint along the circumscribed line. I left a tiny bit more material so I could sand it flush with the line later.


3. Lay a sheet of 220-grit (very fine) sandpaper on a flat surface. Sand the windway and the rim of the headjoint until it is flush with the circumscribed lines. Then check windway measurements (7mm depth, 18mm top width) and the angle of the windway – it should be close to 27 degrees, measured at shown above.

4. In this step, sand the windway in one direction only – by drawing the blade edge back towards you (shown in red). Hold on the windway face down on the sandpaper. Applying LIGHT pressure, sharpen the blade in 4 or 5 strokes.

5. Insert a thin roll of cardboard into the headjoint to support the blade. With a sharp hobby knife, cut off cleanly any bits of plastic still hanging on the blade, carefully following the contour of the blade. Alternatively, try picking off any stray fibers on the blade with tweezers. ANY sanding on the blade will affect the sound, so avoid sanding the blade or do so very sparingly.

6. Wipe off any dust on the headjoint. Test the headjoint for sound and positioning. Try to sound the headjoint by blowing a note. Vary the angle of the windway against the lips and the shape of the embouchure to find the “sweet spot”. Then test the headjoint installed in the body of the flute for sound and comfortable positioning. Try to sound notes in two octaves. During sound testing, until the windway angle can be fine adjusted, it can help to tape the lower half of the mouthpiece to partially block leakage.

If the flute plays as desired, then skip the next step.
For me, the tuning is finished only when I can play 2 full octaves with stable notes in a gentle airstream and comfortable positioning. The final specifications of the flared windway on my flute are:

windway opening: 18mm
windway length: 7 mm
windway angle: 27 degrees

7. If the sound is not focused or the hand position uncomfortable, reshape the windway with these guidelines:

Tuning Notes:

  • the steeper the angle of the windway (Ɵ in the diagram approaches zero), the more horizontally the flute must be held to produce a tone.
  • the longer the windway (distance from the opening to the far blowing edge), the more unstable the tone.
  • The wider the opening of the windway, the easier it is to form the second octave (e.g., when sanding, apply more pressure at the opening of the windway).
  • A longer windway favors the first octave (e.g., when sanding, apply more pressure to the far edge of the windway).
  • A smaller windway (narrower opening, shorter depth) favors a more pure tone.


8. To flare (progressively thin) the mouthpiece, gently apply a fine rotary sander to the inside wall at an angle, tapering it from the original 1/8-inch (3mm) to about 1/16-inch (1.5mm) or less, and then smoothing with a handheld scrap of 220-grit (or finer) paper. The depth of the flare is about 1/2 inch (8mm). DO NOT thin the PVC under the windway or blow edge. The flaring could be accomplished with sandpaper only. I would wrap sandpaper around an AA battery as a shaping tool. The flare-out should be slightly rounded, not a straight angle.

Test play the flute again as in step 6.

9. The flute is held pressing the end against the chin. If needed, cut out an indentation opposite the windway for a chin-rest. A rotary tool is not required. It could be shaped and finished with coarse and fine sandpaper wrapped on a form like an AA battery.

10. Lightly bevel any sharp edges on outside edge of the mouthpiece (do NOT bevel the windway) with 220-grit paper. Below is a denim roll carrier I made for the flute. Because the windway is fragile, I protect the headjoint by capping it with a PVC coupler.





Sulfuric volcanoes

All volcanoes produce sulfur. Sulfur mines are in fact predominantly volcanic affairs Europe used to get most of its sulfur from the slopes of Etna. The Bardarbunga eruption affected Iceland badly and raised SO2 levels even at times in Ireland. Effusive eruptions can be particularly bad because they don’t loft the gas as high: more stays at ground level.

The sulfur emissions from Kilauea are particularly well known. An overview of its emissions can be found at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=1379. To summarize, during the Pu’u’O’o eruption, the emissions averaged around 2000 tons of SO2 per day, although during the initial fountaining it as as high as 30,000 tons in a day. The outlook vent increased the emissions to 5000 tons, but at the expense of Pu’u’O’o where the emissions strongly declined. The lava clearly degassed at the summit before traveling down the rift. The Puna eruption was a sulfur disaster. Summit emissions went to 10,000 tons SO2 per day, but the Leilani rifts managed as much as 50,000 tons per day. After the eruption ended the emissions went down to less than 1000 tons per day, mostly from the summit. Before 1986, it was a few hundred tons. It shows how variable the emissions are, and how closely tied to the eruptions. The impact has been clear. Downwind from the lava channel, the vegetation has lost all it leaves. Upwind, the landscape has remained green.

Above we gave a number of 9 Tg of sulfur per year for all volcanoes. (The number for Hawaii given above is actually for SO2 rather than S: including the oxygen doubles the mass.) The average emissions of 2000 tons per day gives 0.36 Tg of sulfur per year. Kilauea in its normal state (Pu’u’O’o) is therefore not a major source of sulfur for the world. The Puna eruption is more significant: it produced roughly 1.5 Tg of sulfur, or one-sixth of the entire average volcanic produce per year. Still, it is very minor compared to the human production, bad for Hawaii but insignificant further afield.

What about the rest of the world? The image below shows the main volcanic sulphur emitters of the past 40 years. Kilauea is there, but is not the largest. The caption has a link to a movie showing when the eruptions happened.

From https://volcano.si.axismaps.io (the link shows a nice movie). Blue: earthquakes orange: volcanoes green: SO2. The symbols show events between 1960 and 2017 SO2 monitoring only started in 1978.

Going back further, the largest emitter over the past 300 years was Tambora, with an estimated 60 Tg of sulfur. Laki ranks a close second: it produced some 50 Tg. Other major events were Krakatoa (16 Tg), Pinatubo (8.5 Tg) and Santa Maria (6.5 Tg). (Remember that 1 Tg is equal to 1Mton: both units are used in the volcanic iterature.) These values are not particularly accurate, by the way. As a rough indication, a VEI5 explosions will produce 1 Tg of sulfur, and a VEI6 some 20Tg, but with large variations. It seems that the sulfur comes from a different part of the magma chamber, and therefore does not scale linearly with eruption magnitude.

Map of Io, made by the USGS and the British Astronomical Society. The active volcano Pele has a lava lake.

One of the many benefits of the end of the Puna and Pu’u’O’o eruptions is that Hawaii no longer suffers from ‘vog’. The word stands for ‘volcanic smog’ and refers to the mist of sulfur particles that hangs around, reduces visibility and irritates the throat. When the outlook vent opened in 2008, the vog around the crater went through the roof (figuratively speaking) and health concerns led to the closure of the crater rim drive (the explosion hurling rocks on to the parking area was also a factor, of course). The trade winds tended to blow the vog southwest, keeping the main populated areas clear but Pahala was in the line of the sulfurous haze. When the trade winds died down, as happens regularly, the vog would spread elsewhere and affect Hilo. An interesting tidbit: the trade winds only extend up to 2 or 3 kilometers. If the haze gets higher, it spreads the other way, towards America. Kilauea was not active enough to reach this far. But Mauna Loa is much more energetic and is also much higher. Its eruptions inject directly into the higher air flows.

The expression ‘vog’ first appeared in the mid 20 th century. The effect has of course been known for far longer: it is not unique to Hawaii. In fact Hawaii gets off rather lightly. During the Bardarbunga eruptions, sulfur smells were noted in Ireland. And it can get much worse. Laki led to ‘vog’ across northwestern Europe. The word wasn’t known, of course: even ‘Smog’ (originally smoke fog, before it became a byword for L.A.’s chemical haze) was still in the future. Instead these events were called ‘dry fog’. They were not just minor health hazards. Laki’s sulfur-smelling dry fogs became killers. Tens of thousands of farm workers died in the UK and the Netherlands, from breathing the toxic particles. Laki was the Volkswagen diesel engine of its time, and a repeat of Laki would definitely break European air standard regulation.

The summer of the year 1783 was an amazing and portentous one, and full of horrible phænomena for besides the alarming meteors and tremendous thunder-storms that affrightened and distressed the different countries of this kingdom, the peculiar haze, or smokey fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man. By my journal, I find that I had noticed this strange occurrence from June 23 to July 20 inclusive, during which period the wind varied to every quarter without making any alteration in the air. The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon … ” (Gilbert White, 1788 “Letter LXV.“ The Natural History of Selborne )

This dry fog was at ground level and the sulfur directly affected people and plants alike. The aristæ of the barley, which was coming into ear, became brown and weathered at their extremi- ties, as did the leaves of the oats the rye had the appearance of being mildewed so that the farmers were alarmed for those crops . . . The Larch, Wey- mouth Pine, and hardy Scotch fir, had the tips of their leaves withered . . . The leaves of some ashes very much sheltered in my garden suffered greatly . . . All these vegetables appeared exactly as if a fire had been lighted near them, that had shrivelled and discoloured their leaves (Cullum, 1786. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Abridged volume 15, 604.)

Many people in the open air experienced an uncomfortable pressure, headaches and experienced a difficulty breathing exactly like that encountered when the air is full of burning sulphur, asthmatics suffered to an even greater degree. […] the fog caused a great extermination of insects, particularly amongst leaf aphids. (Brugmans 1787, A physical treatise on a sulphuric smog as observed on the 24th of July 1783 in the province of Groningen and neighbouring countries., Leyden).

Europe did not know what had hit it. People attributed it to a great meteor, or the earthquakes in Italy. It took three months before news from Iceland reached Europe and rumours began of an eruption of Hekla. The Laki fissure wasn’t discovered until ten years later, and the link between the dry fog of 1783 and Laki was only understood after Krakatoa, a century later.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

UFOLOGY NOT DEAD- Texas Sightings Reports - 3/15/10 to 3/31/10

For those disgruntled UFO 'bloggers' who think that Ufology is going down the tube and no sightings are being reported, take heart. If Texas sightings are any indication, the UFO research business is on the upswing.

Turn your countdown clock back to 11:00 PM (6AM my ass), pick up your cameras, your compasses, your "nocs", your note pads and pens. Summer hasn't even gotten here yet and business is booming.

You want another Stephenville? Were close! The later half of March was punctuated with sighting of mysterious lights in the Texas counties of Callahan, Comanche, Eastland, Erath, Hood, Palo Pinto, Stephens and Taylor. For some, the belief is that the lights were simply military flares from training exercises in the Brownwood MOA but not all of these sightings can be so easily explain.

Here are the Texas Sightings Reports for 3/15/2010 through 3/31/2010, which were submitted to MUFON. Included are the NUFORC reports for the entire month of March. Enjoy!
-SW

Note: Reports are "as is".

MUFON Case # 22324
Date: Some time in the 1960s
City: Houston
Region: Texas
Summary: early 60's-orbit of moon

my brother were looking at the moon from our front porch--moon was extremly bright-full-very clear--my turn to look through his new birthday present (i think) telescope. very good for the era..i saw something come from the right side of the moon--like 1/8" off of the moon ( icould see black between the curve of the moon and the object)--it came across to the left--went behind to the dark side but never came out again--of course he never believed me--i havent said much about this for a long time--folks thought i was making up a story--my brother said it probably a bug--it was no bug--i brought this up again a couple of months ago to two of my brothers--they said you bet and we started to laugh. this was before anyone walked on the moon--after sputnik--i kinda thought it was those pesky russians--another failure to the moon maybe. sam

MUFON Case # 22329
Date: 2010-02-16
Time: 22:10
City: Mesquite
Region: Texas
Shape: Square/Rectagular
Distance: One mile or less
Summary: Rectagular black craft moving very slow apx 500 feet with 4 dim red lights. NO FAA lights. 1 dimensional. like a flat black sheet of paper with lights on each conner.

On fab 16th 2010 apx around 10:10 - 10:15 PM I was coming back from the store and was walking between the house and next door. It was just flooting across the sky right over my next door neighbors house at apx 15 to 20 mph. It was solid black. So black it was like a void in the sky. At apx 500 feet more or less it seemed to move in a stright line no sound at all. I would never have known this thing was above me if I didn't look up. It had 4 dim red lights on each conner on the craft. Solid, not blinking. It was moving wast to east. No FAA lights. I don't think I remeber ever seeing a brick flooting in the sky before. It only had one dimension! Not 2 or 3 dimensions just one.. like a flat sheet of black paper it was so flat that it was out of my sight in 30 seconds.. I guess cause it was flat and one dimensional. The very dim lights could have been plasma vents to keep it up in the air.. I dunno.. just a guess. It was a drop jaw moment for me. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I always wanted to see a real UFO for myself all my life. Actually after seeing this thing and thinking about it it gives me the willies. I reported this to the Mesquite, Texas police dept. Nobody else reported this thing and I could tell the cop that called me back was laughing at me for reporting it.. I ask him if anyone else reported this and he said no I was the only one. I reported it like 3 or 4 days later. Didn't think the police would do much about it anyways but thought it might help just to document the sighting. This was my "First" UFO sighting. I wish I had a camera handy but the one I do have is only a 4 mega pix camera and seeing the UFO was so dimly lit I don't think it would have been a very good picture or video.

MUFON Case # 22373
Date: 2010-03-18
Time: 22:00
City: Mesquite
Region: Texas
Shape: Circle,Sphere
Summary: Moon Shaped LARGE Cheshire Cat Smile Moving 20 mph NW shifting colors

Observed what appeared to be the MOON. but the bottom was lit up like a "smile " warm yellow shifting to orange and red over a 35 minute span moving NW at about 20 mph before disappearing below the horizon.
3 Witnesses. not including myself.. 3-18-2010 MESQUITE TEXAS

As big as the Full moon initially and observed( thought ) to be so until motion was noticed over a 35 minute period moving NW. and logic kicked in that the moon does not Wax and Wane from top to bottom.

Cheshire Cat Smile best describes its appearance, but the darker shadow above the smile indicated a full circle obviously darker than the background sky color. Complete circle. Very LARGE.
Observed a small, but..long wispy white cloud moving below it from left to right for a period of about 7 seconds.. appeared much like steam.. but in a straight line under the object, moving from left to right.. only once..

Altitude approximated at 700 feet plus or minus , and the size was too big to cover with a thumb outstretched when it disappeared below the horizon..

initial color was what would be expected from the moon. yellow and warm.. shifting slowly to orange and then red over a 35 minute time frame..

Very slow moving.. but covered approximately 5 miles over 35 minutes.. moving north west.. not always in a completely straight line.

Directly over I-30 E and W bound lanes and Gus Thompson Road. moving towards NWHY and Easton before disappearing behind trees and below the horizon.

Object definitely moved LEFT or WEST before disappearing behind the trees because a light pole was between me and it and I could see when it was centered and when it was more on the left of the pole.

Girlfriend noticed a bright dot what she thought was a Star initially upon the very first moments of observation , under the object on the left side. By the time i got out of the car passenger seat. the dot or star had disappeared.. approximately 20 seconds later.

The white cloud appeared about 12 minutes later and rapidly dissipated in a few seconds after moving from left to right under the object..

We all walked as far as we could down the parking lot to watch it go to the horizon , until we were stopped by a wooden fence, which we climbed on to to look over for the last 5 to 7 minutes of the sighting.

Object was too big to cover with a thumb at arms length when it was furthest from us.
When it was closer to us.. it was as big as the full moon. circle shape intact, but with the smile UNDER it. not on the RT.SIDE as the moon would appear. at this time of the cycle..

The moon also does not "set" in 35 minutes at 10:00 pm to 10:35 pm in Dallas Texas.

3 other witnesses , not including myself..

It was actually Beautiful at first. thinking it was the moon. until we realized it was moving.. and logic started kicking in. that the moon does not do that. especially with the SMILE underneath. not on the side.. and shifting colors.

Now to answer the questions.
1. in the Parking lot changing a thermostat on a car.. just move to a dry parking spot to check for leaks..
2.First noticed the object thinking it wa sa beautiful moon.. with a BIG CAT SMILE.. and Hugged to it thinking it was beautiful.. actually twice before we realize it wasn't the moon.
3.We thought it was the moon. but not like we had ever seen before.. because it was lit or smiling UNDER it.
4.ROUND, as BIG as the FULL moon, but like an eclipse where you could see the darker circle above it.. like 5/8 darker and 3/8 lit on bottom. yellow like what you would expect the moon to look like.
At first we did not notice the movement. looking for leaks under the car and picking up tools.. job was completed. It took several minutes for it to dawn on us that it had MOVED from where it was .. because we went to look at it a 3rd time and it was OUT of sight and we had to walk to see it again.. in a very few short minutes. We thought we had lost it until we got to the wooden fence and looked over it.. and saw it again nearing the Horizon line ( IE getting LOWER) and shifting colors to orange and them finally red very slowly smooth color shift.
5. feelings and emotions. DISBELIEF. second guessing. what was it what did we see.. where did it go.. and then reacquired it for the final few minutes when we walked the length of the parking lot to the fence. approximately 400 to 500 yards further than where we were initially..
Actions. Pure observation.. amazement. discussion. comparing what we all saw ( 4 of us ) making sure we were all awake and seeing the same things. We watched it until it was no longer there. and the SKY where it was Lit up slightly brighter and white where it would have gone.. this lighter area lasted for several minutes until it faded away also after the object was no longer visible..

Much discussion in the parking lot during and after the incident .. approximately 30 minutes or more discussing it and what to do about it..

We even retraced out steps .. where we first saw it, and walked the 400 yards again back to the fence to see if the sky was still white where it disappeared. it WAS NOT.

After the sighting. a mix of 'excitement' and 'who is gonna believe this' feeling. and how can we find out if more people saw it.

It was DIRECTLY over a INTERSTATE HIGHWAY FULL of traffic in both directions moving SLOW for at least 5 minutes or more.

6. lost sight of the object as it got lower to the horizon and much further from us.. approximately 5 miles or so away.. we watched it go behind some trees as its shifting to red color and the smile was getting smaller and as it went behind the light post. it was centered on the light post and moved to the left of the post right before disappearing from OUR sight lines on TOP of the Wooden Fence. You could see the tree branches in between us and the object as it moved slightly left or west and we lost sight of it.. Immediately after we lost visual. the horizon sky around where the object was lit up white .. like a baseball stadium light haze.. and this change was immediately noticed and commented on.. After we talked about it there for 10 minutes and started walking back taking about it.. we decided to go back again and double check the white in the sky to see if it was still there. and it was not.. that was 10:35 Pm 3-18-2010

Note: For Dallas, Texas on March 18, 2010, Moorise- 8:25 AM, Moonset- 10:46 PM

MUFON Case # 22414
Date: 2010-03-15
Time: 17:15
City: McKinney
Region: Texas
Shape: Circle
Duration: 00:00:01
Summary: Horse hoof like UFO

I was in the park with my wife and dogs. I took random pictures of the sky. I do this from time to time. I did not see the pictures untill today.

MUFON Case # 22437
Date: 2010-02-26
Time: 03:00
Region: Texas
Duration: 03:10:00
Summary: im not reporting a ufo siting this is an experiance with what ive found out to be after research a Grey

I'm needing help and someone to contact me as soon as they can id rather not talk about my event and what I experianced online I feel it may indanger me. I was visited by what I believe is to be a grey and I need to speak with somone very soon

MUFON Case # 22464
Date: 2010-03-03
Time: 20:10
City: Strawn
Region: Texas
Shape: Circle
Distance: One mile or less
Summary: Rural Palo Pinto County UFO Sighting

i was coming out of a oilfield lease in rural palo pinto county.A few miles to the east of the hohertz road area.i spotted 4 large lights pulsing in the night sky ahead of my truck.They were about 1/4 of a mile away and maybe 300 ft. above the ground.I continued to travel in the direction of the lights but they disappeared.There were no signs of any aircraft in the area.This is was my second sighting in 7 days.Closer than my last sighting.Same horizontal pulsing lights that seem to vanish when im about to take a photo with my phone.ive been working nights my whole life.There is something strange going on out there lately.This is something i have never seen before.ive seen about everything you could see in the night sky and could explain most of it.

MUFON Case # 22471
Date: 2010-03-22
Time: 00:00
City: Stephenville
Region: Texas
Shape: Unknown
Summary: Bright Orange Light Pattern in Sky

I was driving down US 67 into Stephenville. We were staying the night in the area to visit Tarleton State the next day. This was my first trip to the area. I was with two passengers. I jokingly looked at the sky and said, "Holy Shit, of course we have to see a UFO in a one horse [cms/tg/pd] town." All three of us looked up and saw 6 bright orange lights that looked like street lamps high in the sky. The lights turned off one by one rapidly. My friend tried to get out his camera but it was too late as the last light went out.

The light caught our eye because it was right above us, when we noticed it, we knew it wasn't anything we had seen before. I was thinking it could be a radio antenna, but it never came back on. The object was stationary.

After we saw it, we just tried to guess what it was, and rationalize knowing that it could not have been a UFO.

MUFON Case # 22479
Date: 2010-03-25
Time: 03:17 GMT
City: EL PASO
Region: Texas
Shape: Disc,Egg,Oval
Duration: 01:28:16
Summary: BRIGHT LITE HOVERING IN SPINNIN MOTION

I WAS LAYING IN BED WHEN I HEARD AND SAW A HIGE BRIGHT LIGHT HOVER OVER MYU HOUSE. I RAN OUT TO SEE WHAT IT WAS AND IT JUS SHOT OFF HIGH INTO THE CLOUDS. IT WAS VERY BRIGHT AND WHOULD CHANGE COLOR. IT HOVERED IN PLACE FOR ABOUT 5 MINUTES AND THEN STATED GOING UP AND SOWN SIDE TO SIDE ALL IN ONE PLACE. NO AIRCRAFT IM AWARE CAN DO WHAT MY EYES WITNESSED LAST NIGHT. IT WAS CHANGING DIRECTIONS AND GOING UP AND DOWN WITH AN OBLITERATING SPEED. I RAN INSIDE MY HOUSE AND RECORDED SOME OF THE ACTION. I HAVE A MINUTE OF FOOTAGE

MUFON Case # 22506
Date: 2010-03-17
Time: 06:10
City: Amarillo
Region: Texas
Summary: We did not notice anything till we download the picture in our PC

In the early morning of 3-17-2010 we left Amarillo taking I-40 west.
Was just a beautiful day, blue sky no cloud.I was driving and my wife was taking pictures. We noticed the object in the picture the day we downloaded in our pc.

MUFON Case # 22523
Date: 2000-03-10
Time: 18:30
City: Fritch
Region: Texas
Shape: Blimp
Duration: 00:20:00
Summary: we were jumping on the trampoline and suddenly a ufo was right next to a tree we freaked out but we went to get a camera and it was gone

me and my friend were jumping on the the trampoline we were trying to jump and see over our appel tree i finally jumped over it and i saw something at the corner of my eye so i got off and put on my shoes went over to see what it was and right there it was a very thin ufo with a half globe on top of it me and my friend went in to get our phones to take a picture but when we got out it was gone

MUFON Case # 22550
Date: 2010-03-10
Time: 17:30
City: Round Rock
Region: Texas
Shape: Cone,Disc,Egg
Duration: 00:30:00
Summary: they put something in side me

HELP HELP HELP im becomeing one

MUFON Case # 22558
Date: 2010-03-14
Time: 23:55
City: Breckenridge
Region: Texas
Summary: brilliant red/orange light seen by two witnesses

It was about 5 minutes till midnight, I stepped outside with my small dogs. The sky was clear, stars plentiful, a beautiful evening. I called one of my dogs back to me but he was interested in something in our driveway, so I walked out away from the house and that is when I saw an orange colored light to my Northwest, traveling East. The object suddenly stopped and remained still. It was now located a few degrees west of due North and perhaps 5 degrees above the horizon. It never moved from that position, which was probably close to being directly over Crystal Falls. At first I thought it might be an emergency helicopter, as we are not quite a half mile from the local hospital. It only took a few seconds to be sure that it was not. After watching for a few minutes, I ran inside and told my spouse, "You need to see this!" I grabbed my binoculars, flung open our front door and pointed. He saw it. He grabbed my binoculars but they were set for me, so he grabbed the other set of binoculars and looked again. We discussed it and agreed we were seeing the same thing. The light would be a deep red, then it would change to a brilliant orange, then brighten even more, to a yellow white. Every time I spoke out loud that it should come closer, or get brighter, it would flash brightly, then it would dim to red again. What we saw was an horizontally elongated light, with something bright hanging down from the bottom center, like a narrow "V". As we watched, I began to be able to see a slight outline of an object, that the light was attached to (see depiction). The light was mounted to some type of structure. Seen from our perspective and without aid, the light was approximately 3 times the magnitude of Venus at it's closest to earth. The light appeared to be several miles away, yet through the binoculars it was fairly large. After being able to see a faint outline of the object that the light was attached to, I'd have to say the object in total, was massive. I took several photos with my small digital camera and watched the object for slightly over an hour.At approximately 01:06, as my spouse and I watched, the light flared up to several times it's original size, then as if by flipping a switch, the entire object disappeared. We both stayed awake until 03:00 but the object did not return. I have had many sightings but this is only the second time that my spouse and I have witnessed something like this together. From my perspective, the object (light) flared brightly and disappeared, while my spouse thinks it exploded, then disintegrated. Whatever it was, we both watched it for over an hour before it disappeared in a flash. Note: This is my own personal sighting. Photos were taken only seconds apart. Depiction shows how the structure appeared, as I viewed it through my binoculars. My spouse and I are in agreement about the 'appendage' appearing to protrude from top and bottom of the light, though he had trouble making out the structure around it. -SW

MUFON Case # 22569
Date: 2010-03-30
Time: 20:10
City: Abilene
Region: Texas
Duration: 00:45:00
Summary: Orange/Amber Lights in the Sky Again

Well its been a few months since i've last reported these but we saw it 3 seperate times tonight in the same exact part of the sky over a 45 minute period. Would come out very bright orange-ish color then quickly fade out. Nothin much more to add ..

MUFON Case # 22573
Date: 2010-03-31
Time: 00:32
City: El Paso
Region: Texas
Shape: Circle,Saturn-like,Star-like
Summary: Red object in sky moves away from appraoching airplane

My friend and I were looking at the stars at around 8:45p.m. when we noticed a strange red dot in the sky. At first we thought it was a star, but the object was moving in a circular pattern. About 15 minutes later an airplane was approaching the strange object. When the plane got close the object rapidly moved away in the opposite direction, and started moving once again in the same circular pattern.

MUFON Case # 22585
Date: 2010-03-31
Time: 20:35
City: Carbon
Region: Texas
Shape: Sphere
Summary: 5 large amber orbs in a horizontal line about 35degrees above the horizon over Carbon, TX. Appeared out of nowhere, one after the other in sequence, i.e. 1,2 3 4 5 then stayed on steady, no blinking, then all went out. , then reappeared in diff form .

We live on a farm not far from Hwy 6 and Carbon, Texas. My husband and I went out on the patio, facing the west, after dinner around 8:35 PM on Wednesday, March 31st. By the way we had lasagna, a salad and water, no alcohol. I was setting in a rocker facing the southwest, my husband was in a rocker facing the northwest. I was looking toward our pecan orchard directly to the south of us. All of a sudden I saw 5 bright amber colored orbs in the sky about 35 degrees above the horizon. They just appeared and stayed on steady and didn't move. They appeared to be overhead and just west of the city of Carbon almost 3 miles south of us. When they appeared it was like they came on in sequence, 1,2 3 4 5, real fast. The front light would go off as the back light would appear, but always 5 lights stayed on solid in a row.

I told my husband, "what the hell is that" and when he saw my eyes and heard me he turned his head quickly to the south and he saw them too. We both got up out of our rockers and headed south into the lawn and stood there for a good minute or so watching these lights. He said that's not an airplane. I said it's not a meteor show either or a comet or a star. My mind was trying to process just what this was and if it was anything similar to anything I had ever seen before. There was no noise. The adrenilin was flowing and my heart was in my throat. I had never seen anything like this. I was scared. They were moving to the east. They would disappear for several seconds then reappear a little further east in a different formation almost like if you spread your fingers out on your hand and hold it up to the sky, there would be a large orb at each finger tip. They were large amber lights in the sky. They were not blinking lights, just solid lights that would appear and stay on solid, then all would disappear for a few seconds. They didn't move in a straight line. Each time they appeared they would be at a different level off the horizon from 10 to 35 degrees.

I ran inside to get my camera while my husband stayed in the yard and continued to watch. While I as inside I called the sheriff's dispatch and reported it and ask if they had an officer in the area to ask him to look to the south toward Carbon to see if they could see it. I ran back out side and my husband said they had moved farther to the east and lower on the horizon maybe about 10 degrees. They looked like they were headed in the direction of Stephenville. We stood there for a good 15 minutes to see if they reappeared but they didn't. Sadly, I didn't get my camera in time. I was too in awe of this thing to leave to go inside and get it.

MUFON Case # 22587
Date: 2010-03-31
Time: 20:30
Status: Submitted
City: Abilene
Region: Texas
Duration: 00:10:00
Summary: Two Nights in a row of strange Amber/Red/Orange lights

Ok this is two nights in a row now. Im starting to feel like a broken record here. This time they came on in in a row of 4-5 lights but quickly faded out within' a few seconds. Then they came on a 2nd time this time it looked more like a triangle and the lights were all red when it was in the formation of a triangle. If I had to quest i'd say the from each point of the triangle was at least a mile long. so im assuming if my math is correct it had a diameter of 3 miles? Not sure if triangles have a diameter but you know what I mean. It was once again the south east of Abilene.

MUFON Case # 22591
Date: 2010-03-31
Time: 20:29
City: Breckenridge
Region: Texas
Shape: Oval,Sphere,Star-like
Summary: Several orange/white lights appear, then disappear several times.

My spouse and I saw some strange lights south/southeast of Breckenridge, Texas, at 8:30 PM this evening. The lights were in the direction of Eastland but possibly further south. I spent the last hour before dusk, planting beans and peas in our plowed field. I had just finished for the day and was standing at the NE corner of the field, with a clear 360 degree view of the sky. I was observing a few stars barely discernible above me when something made me look to my south. Suddenly a bright white/orange light appeared, then 4 more next to (east of) it. The four came on all at once. They all blinked off at the same time. These lights were approx. 10 degrees above the southern horizon. They lights only appeared for a few seconds each time. I ran to the house, yelling for my husband to "Come quick, UFOs!" (I didn't know what they were at the time, still don't). I grabbed my binoculars and by the time we got to the field, the lights were gone but as we stood there, a light appeared, then 3 more in a loose triangle formation. They all blinked out at the same time, then slightly further east they all appeared again. Each time they blinked out, they would appear a bit further east until I could no longer see them because of the treeline. Moments later, we saw at least 1 jet flying into that area and it was tiny in comparison to the lights. After the lights were gone, my husband said, "What is that?" He pointed up at about 65 -70 degrees ESE and said, "Watch that star, it's moving." I watched it through the binoculars. I told him it was probably a satellite but then the object did something that satellites do not do, it altered course from ENE to due east and then a few moments later, it disappeared. I contacted Robert Powell (MUFON) and described what I had seen. We discussed it and he sent me a video of flares he had taken sometime earlier. My husband (a military aviation veteran) and I watched the video. The flares in the video did not resemble what we saw tonight. My husband is adamant that what we saw were not flares and I do not believe they were either. Evidently we were not the only ones to see these lights tonight. I have a blog called "Lights in the Texas Sky". A short while ago, someone posted to my blog what they also saw this evening and it matches very closely to what Joe and I saw. Here is their report/comment: "tonight 3/31/10 around eight thirty PM we saw about 10 flashing lights. it would appear for about 1-3 seconds as a bright orange light, dissapear for about the same time, then come back. but when it reappeared, rather than there only being one there would be multiple. this is about our forth time to see these things and we only see them at night but they are always the same thing. an orange light that flashes a few times then dissapears and we dont see it again the rest of the night." If I hear back from the poster, I will send any information to Mr. Powell. I am including in this report, 3 depictions of what Joe and I saw. Thank you, SW.

MUFON Case # 22597
Date: 2010-03-31
Time: 20:35
City: Dublin
Region: Texas
Distance: One mile or less
Summary: Several blinking objects appeared then burst into larger orange lights then disappeared

My son and I were driving home to Dublin from Cottonwood Baptist Church on Highway 6 at about 8:30 p.m. When we got about a mile outside of Dublin proper we noticed two blinking lights in the sky. They were blinking white and blue and were very subtle looking. Then they turned big and bright orange. They sat there for about 15 seconds then dimmed to the subtle flashing lights again. Then they turned the bright orange again. But this time just one of the orange lights had a stream of 5 or 6 lights come from it. Then those went out and the orange lights dimmed to the flashing lights again. They then began to speed across the sky and then more lights showed up. Once again they turned bright orange then dimmed and sped around then brightened again. Sometimes there would just be one light sometimes there would be several . . . as many as 4 or 5. Only one time did I hear a sound from them. It sounded like a jet had flown by but it came from the lights. After watching them for about 20 minutes doing this repeatedly I had to leave. But I came back about 10 minutes later with my son and daughter this time. We looked for them again but never saw them. While we were sitting there though two jets flew by at a very high rate of speed and within 5 minutes two more flew by. I do have pictures but have not been able to download them to my computer yet. They are still on my iphone.

MUFON Case # 22599
Date: 2010-03-31
Time: 20:30
City: Eula - Cross Plains
Region: Texas
Shape: Sphere
Distance: Over one mile
Summary: Orange lights appeared. up to 5 . in straight vertical lines. then 4 in horizontal lines. then in circles

Lights appeared south east of my house in Abilene Texas. 15 or so degress on the horizon putting them in Callahan county around hgh 36 somewhere near the Pecan Bayou or Eula area. I was sitting on my back porch when I first saw them at 8:30 on March 31'st. First I saw one light. then two lights. then 5 lined up in a straight vertical line. the next sighting they were 4 horizontal. each time they lasted just a few seconds. the whole event was just about minute and 1/2. I got my wife to see witness them also. She saw up to 3 lights and then went back to her TV show. I told her to bring me some aluminum foil. I'm 57 years old lived around planes all my life. I can tell you the type of jet plane flying over by the engine noise and sound. I have seen flares, afterburners, lights. these I cannot explain. They were like little 'm' s or spheres and mostly orange. they had no comet tails. they did not move once they appeared. They did appear in different locations each time. but not too far from their last appearance.

What got my attention was a plane was landing at Abilene Municipal Airport when the object appeared behind the plane. I thought the plane might be in trouble and started to call 911 to report it. I watched and the plane went on to land but the lights were still appearing behind the plane. The aircraft landing was a probably a commercial flight coming from DFW. This is the second time I have seen the lights. First time I just blew it off. told my wife and she got a good laugh. Not this time.

Fort Hood is 180 miles southeast of Abilene and I'm sure I could not see activity from where my house is. I have seen many dog fights from aircraft around Lake Brownwoood area but these were not afterburners or flares that are dropped to confuse heat sinking missles. I have seen those before at many air shows. they are like sparklers that drop in altitudes. these would just appear and disapper quickly.

MUFON Case # 22604
Date: 2010-04-01
Time: 00:00
City: Waco
Region: Texas
Summary: Invisible

I realize the irony of today being April 1st but I will swear an oath that what I am saying is true and correct. The weather was so nice this morning that I decided to prop my front door open and have a smoke outside my office this morning. While enjoying my smoke and watching the clouds move rapidly North, I saw a contrail from what I at first thought to be an airplane. Looking closer I noticed something wasn't quite right so I grabbed my 10 x 50 binoculars to take a closer look. I observed the contrail moving rapidly and consistently from North to South but there was nothing that I could visibly see that was creating the trail The trail seemed to be appearing out of thin air, there was no aircraft. The event lasted only a few minutes. There were two separate cloud layers this morning and the event was occurring below the top layer.

MUFON Case # 22610
Date: 2010-03-29
Time: 21:02
City: Arlington
Region: Texas
Shape: Flash,Oval,Star-like
Distance: Unknown
Summary: FLASH - RED LIGHT OBJECT SPLIT INTO 2 AND BOTH WENT INTO DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS

Around 21:00 on March 29th, 2010, I took my two dogs out to do thier business before bed. As always I looked up to see whats going on in the sky. I saw the usual air traffic from DFW coiming and going. I did see somthing heading east that caught my eye. I saw a flash at first I thought it was another plane and it's FAA lights blinking off and on, but as I watched the object contunue to move to the East it split into two craft and went into different directions. One object went North and the other stayed on it's original path. The object heading North moved in an eratic pattern until I lost it in the haze. The second object move in steady pattern. The two objects were identical in size, shape and color. the shape was hard to determine due to the lack of light but if I had to guess it would be circiular. The weather was clear, breezy and hazy. The moon was out but not emitting alot of light. I see planes flying in the sky all the time coming and going to all the airports around the metroplex, but I've never seen anything like this before.

NUFORC REPORTS for March, 2010


NUFORC Report S74527
Date: 3/2/2010
Time: 05:00
Location: Austin, TX
Shape: Unknown
Duration:30 seconds
Object with unusually large and luminous lights seen hovering completely still 100 yards off the highway.

Driving at 5:00 AM on I-35 in S. Austin, a object with unusual lights was seen about 100 yards off of the interstate, hovering completely still about 300-400 feet in the air. The object had larger and more luminous lights than normal, with one steady blue light and one slowly blinking red light. The driver approached the object and it was completely stationary. First impression was that the object was some sort of tethered balloon with lights, but subsequent events ruled out this possibility. Upon passing underneath the object, driver noted that the body of the craft appeared to have a very unusual shape, possibly triangular, though it was difficult to see under the conditions. The object remained stationary for the duration that the driver could view it in the rear-view mirror. Driver then made a u-turn on the interstate as soon as possible to return to the sight of the spotting. Upon returning approximately 2 minutes later, the craft was nowhere to be see! n, which was thought to be unusual since if it had been a hovering helicopter he would have expected to see it moving off into the distance. Driver wished he could have seen the object move to obtain more information, but it seems likely that the object was an unusual craft of some sort.


NUFORC Report S74537
Date: 3/4/2010
Time: 11:00
Location: Canyon Lake, TX
Shape: Other
Duration:2 seconds
Large object falls straight down then jetfighters chase after it.

Saw 6 inches to side of telephone poll approximatly 30 miles away an object,large, black strange shape possible trianglar teardrop mix, fell straight down, no trails no turns no spins just straight down. then about 20 minutes after 4 jet fighters flying rather low flew in exact direction the object fell.


NUFORC Report S74560
Date: 3/5/2010
Time: 20:37
Location: Buffalo (near), TX
Shape: Light
Duration:10 seconds
Changing Light near Buffalo, Texas

At 2037 (looked at clock right afterward) tonight traveling south on I45 in Texas near Mile Marker 166 my friend and I witnessed a bright white light that turned red then green and faded out. It came down at about a 45 degree angle and turned horizontal before winking out. The light was also heading in the southern direction parell to the interstate. It was approx 150’ feet of the ground when it disappeared. I could not tell its shape that it happened very quickly. We saw it for only about ten seconds. I remarked to my friend that he just saw his first ufo.

I have personally seen several ufos that I have reported- I am a Professional Truck Driver. My friend is a Professional Oil Field Equipment Salesman.


NUFORC Report S74608
Date: 3/9/2010
Time: 03:00
Location: Riesel, TX
Shape: Sphere
Duration:5 minutes
Screeching noise with bright light.

It was storming heavily all night long, I went outside to call a friend and smoke a cigarette.
When I called we were talking for about 3 minutes and then I stated to here a screeching noise.
Well, I figured living in the country that it was probably just a bird, such as an owl, but then a light appeared. The light was flickering, I assumed that it was a helicopter but then I remembered that it was storming pretty badly ten minutes prior to this. After about 5 minutes, it disappeared.

((NUFORC Note: Witness elects to remain totally anonymous provides no contact information. PD))


NUFORC Report S74958
Date: 3/9/2010
Time: 20:50
Location: San Antonio, TX
Shape: Sphere
Duration:30 minutes
3 Morphing Red Sphere Lights No Sounds.

The ufo had 3 morphing red sphere lights. It was coming from the northeast going south then disappeared. It went so fast past my neighbors house it made their car alarm go off. When it got to my house it stopped for about 5 seconds and then took off. And this ain't the first time i've seen one, In the february of 08 i had my first encounter. this would be my second. THIS IS NOT A HOAX.


NUFORC Report S74636
Date: 3/11/2010
Time: 10:00
Location: Poth, TX
Shape: Triangle
My husband noticed something outside in the sky, He called for me and I went outside we noticed something in the sky kinda low just hovering in one spot for a while it had a red and white light, we noticed the UFO moving slowely towards our home, I ran inside to get my camera and started taking pictures, The UFO moved closer towards our home went right over us, as it got closer we saw it shaped in triangle or diamond shaped, it had lights in each corner, it moved right across from us over our home and continued fading into the sky, It was very quiet and made very little noise.
I recorded UFO and got several pictures.


NUFORC Report S74706
Date: 3/17/2010
Time: 08:50
Location: Converse, TX
Shape: Disk
Duration:2 min
I saw a disk like a mirror,big,fast and quite,it made no noise,it was a sight to be seen.

I saw a disk,with no light coming from it.It was fast and low,i did not here any noise,and as it went over my head and into light it blended into the light and i could no longer see it. man it look like mirror it was a sight to see.


NUFORC Report S74761
Date: 3/22/2010
Time: 21:00
Location: Dublin, TX
Shape: Light
Duration: 30sec
5 balls of light faded in then out over dublin tx

There was one big light that came on for about 5 seconds then it faded away then 3 more lights faded in and left with in 15 seconds and then 3 very fast moving objects flew through where the lights had been and continued to go staight until disapered out of sight.


NUFORC Report S74768
Date: 3/23/2010
Time: 01:45
Location: El Paso, TX
Shape: Changing
Duration:unkown
Bright white light along the side of mountain, that changed shape and cast a huge glow around it.

Location: I was in the East side of El Paso, TX looking towards the West. The objects were just behind the mountain ridge on the west side. So it was on the other side of the ridge and down a long the side of it just slightly out of my sight. The El Paso ridge is for the most part barren and too steep for anyone drive on. Only helicopters could get to where the lights were located.

Description: I could not see the craft itself, but the light coming from it was extremely bright. In order for human technology to reproduce how bright it was, it would need to be a large collection of flood lights in one place. I could just see the very edge of the light source, before the shape of the light changed and appeared to actually be two craft crossing paths over and over again. As the lights moved around, it would cast a lingering haze on the clouds nearby that would resemble a lightning strike in the sky (the light did not flutter though like lightning does, it was constant). The color was pure white, this never changed about it. There was no blinking lights that would suggest man made craft.

I live nearby an airport, and have become very used to identifying different craft in the dark. None of our craft can produce such a bright light that far away. I see this ridge every night at the same time, it has never been there before. So these lights were probably not caused by any sporting event (also why would you have a sporting event at 1:45 in the morning?)


NUFORCE Report S74825
Date: 3/29/2010
Time: 21:01
Location: Arlington, TX
Shape: Light
Duration:2 MINUTES
Reddish-lights traveling erractically.

Around 21:01 on 03/29/10 - I was taking my two dogs out for restroom break when I looked up at the moon. The moon towards my right or east postion. I was checking out the moon when I noticed a flash - at first I thought it was a planes FAA collision lights blinking, but it only blinked once. As I contunued to watch the object travel towards the East I noticed it splitting into two objects. One object headed North and the other kept traveling towards the East. I was able to watch both objects for a couple of minutes until they disapeared into the night. The weather was clear and breezey with a slight haze covering the sky. The objects were identical - both round and reddish - moving fast and erratically. I've worked near the airport for almost 12 years and Ive never witnessed anything like that before.


NUFORCE Report S74860
Date: 3/31/2010
Time: 20:30
Location: Ablene, TX
Shape: Light
Duration:2 Minutes
Bright Orange Lights in South East Sky around Abilene, TX

There were many sightings other than mine that night. Five lights in bright orange appearing in straight line, then 4 across horizontal, later they formed a triangle with just 3 lights. my wife witnessed them also. The blogs were full of sightings at the same time. I pegged the site to be around Cottonwood, TX in Callahan County. I made this judgement call by reading other blogs, pulling out maps and pin pointing where I thought they were. I am familiar with flares, afterburners, landing lights, etc. I live around Dyess Air Force Base and know nearly every military aircraft. These lights were something I cannot explain.


NUFORCE Report S74885
Date: 3/31/2010
Time: 20:00
Location: Glen Rose, TX
Shape: Light
Duration: 10 minutes
Orange orbs west of Glen Rose

Heading west on hwy 67, in Glen Rose, I saw 2 lights west of town. The sun had set but the sky was still light. They would turn on, then off. The one on the left (south) would glow orange, then the other one on the right would turn on, so to speak, and glow orange. They would dim to red and then both would turn off. This occurred 3 times with a duration of maybe 5-10 seconds. Both lights appeared stationary. I got to the top of chalk mountain and pulled over at the picnic area where I got out and looked for 5 minutes and never saw them.

Case numbers link back to original posts on MUFON and NUFORC.
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