I was back in Dallas in early May to visit with my peeps. One of the “must dos” on these visits is to eat at Whataburger, my favorite burger place. I was introduced to Whataburger in 1972 by my good friend, Eddie Hargrove. Eddie was a fellow graduate student at North Texas State University, now the University of North Texas. On one of our trips to Fort Worth, Eddie told me that I had to try Whataburger, and we did. Forty plus years later, I keep going. Denton has two stores, and it is now possible to get a burger fix at Love Field in Dallas. Even Tallahassee has a Whataburger.
Eddie realized the miracle of higher education a bit later in life. Prior to joining our graduate program, Eddie worked as a mechanic at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth. He was married and had three children. While at Bell, in addition to completing his undergraduate degree, he helped assemble Huey gunships, a helicopter that became well known during the war in Vietnam. The Huey was a very versatile ride, and could be armed with a full range of weapons including air-to-ground missiles or could be reconfigured to function as essentially a troop transport aircraft. The name Huey comes from its designation HU-1, and the HU unofficially became to be known as Huey. Many years later, the Huey was replaced by the more well know (now) Black Hawk helicopter.
My cousin George (who is responsible for this blog’s title) was also in Dallas during my visit. George works for an advertising agency in New York and was in Dallas for the filming of a promotional piece for a relatively new drug. George is a really creative guy, and comes with a very good sense of humor. It took him no time to start riffing about the horrible Dallas drivers. In particular, he focused on the spectacular nature of traffic accidents in and around Dallas. He’s right about this observation. There do seem to be more than the average number of vehicles becoming air born, cars being cut in half, truck bursting into flames, cars chasing other cars, and just plain general mayhem when a 75 mph speed limit turns into a 90 mph reality. Keep in mind that these observations are coming from someone who drives in New York City and grew up with an uncle whose vehicle talents made the crazy darting around other cars and steel supports under the New York elevated trains in the French Connection look mundane.
In addition to our discussions about the challenges of driving in Dallas, our musings included an exchange about the rise in the number of earthquakes in Texas and Oklahoma, a topic that I have written about before. The rise in the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma magnitude 3.0 or greater is startling. Beginning with zero, yes that is 0, in 2000, the number rose to 20 in 2009, 585 in 2014 and 890, leading to a new state moniker, Earthquake Alley. The run-up in quakes coincides with the significant increase in fracking that took place in Oklahoma. Cause and effect? Maybe. The CBS show 60 minutes (Bill Whitaker) devoted a segment of a recent broadcast to earthquakes in Oklahoma. There has been a shift in the search for causes, and the whole issue of petroleum-related wastewater recycling (injection) is being examined in more detail. Wastewater is produced in large quantities as the result of “normal” drilling and that wastewater is being dispatched back in the ground destabilizing the layers below, in this case the Arbuckle Foundation. So, is it regular drilling, fracking or both? It is difficult not to observe the strong correlation between the rise in fracking and the increase in earthquakes (in Texas as well). But, we teach our students in statistics that correlation does not guarantee causation. The Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, has asked for a reduction in the amount of wastewater that is injected back into the earth. The Oklahoma Corporate Commission that regulates the oil as gas industry in the state has asked oil producers in Northwest Oklahoma to reduce the level of wastewater injections by 40 percent/ Outcome? Stay tuned.
There were other headlines/stories in the news:
- Ken Starr, yes that Ken Starr, currently President of Baylor University is being very quiet about the sexual assault scandal at the school. A number of members of the football team have been implicated in the unfolding story. There is growing criticism of Starr’s leadership.
- The voters in McKinney approved a $200 million plus bond proposal, of which $62 million will be spent on a new 12,000 seat high school football stadium—only in Texas (well maybe in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania…)
- The voters in Frisco, the Texas Frisco, defeated (70 percent to 30 percent) a proposal to allow sales of alcohol in liquor stores. The citizens of Frisco will continue to have to drive to Little Ellen to buy a six pack of Shiner. However, if they are a “member” of a club they can have a drink right there in Frisco. Are liquor laws across the nation rather strange?