Columns

Tue
04
Apr

Tablets for Disaster

For most older folks, the word “tablet” brings to mind some kind of vitamin. For younger folks, a “tablet” looks like an overgrown cell phone. This is the kind of tablet we’ll talk about here.

A tablet is an electronic box into which I can place numerous digital tools called “apps” – short for “applications” or small computer programs. A tablet is basically a small computer with a “touch screen,” meaning you interact with it by touching your fingertips to the glass face of the tablet.

There are tens of thousands of apps. One of the best places to get them is the “Google Play Store.” Your tablet connects by radio waves called “Wi-Fi” to nearby Wi-Fi sources. Many restaurants, motels, and businesses have their own Wi-Fi, so you take your tablet there with you. Ask for their password, select their unique Wi-Fi name, type in the password, and your tablet searches for their Wi-Fi connection.

Wed
04
Jan

Got any prepper buddies?

One difficulty that many people preparing for emergencies experience is that as far as they know, nobody else on earth is doing it.

That isn’t true. Texas has a population of about 25 million people, and I personally know of a dozen or two who are preparing for emergencies. That may sound funny, but it isn’t supposed to be funny.

Many people who are making preparations for emergencies just don’t tell anybody else. They reason that if the word gets out, everybody who didn’t prepare will converge on their doorstep if and when an emergency occurs. And you know, they might be right?

Tue
20
Dec

The perks of growing older

Who says getting older doesn’t have its privileges? Regardless of where you live, seniors qualify for a wide range of discounts and related benefits.

These perks are offered by retailers, restaurants, transportation providers and senior organizations. They range from free coffee to discounts of all kinds. Some discounts are well-known. Others may be available, but are only extended upon request. Regardless, all have the potential to help make your Golden Years a bit more affordable!

There are a number of dedicated websites (www.boomerplaces.com; www.seniordiscounts.com, www.theseniorlist.com;) that track businesses offering senior discounts. All feature information on age requirements and other limitations that might apply.

Sun
18
Dec

Superhero Andrew Russell, family, friends and supporters

My heart is overwhelmed with joy following the Dec. 4 fundraiser for local superhero Andrew Russell’s 10th year cancerversary. It was truly a blessing and an honor to be a part of this event and if you weren’t there, you missed the opportunity to enjoy basking in the presence of someone with the sweetest demeanor, most beautiful smile and kindest heart.

​Being a superhero is a big job, and being the parents to a superhero is a huge responsibility as well. The two special people tasked with looking after our hero, Michael and Misty, not only want to care for Andrew, but to teach him to care for others as well. Instead of just enjoying the well-deserved and well-earned celebration for their family, Michael and Misty wanted to use the gala as a platform to teach Andrew what it means to help others, irrelevant to all the help and support he needs so often for himself.

Thu
08
Dec

Resources for Veterans available

    Almost 3 million Americans have served in Afghanistan or Iraq. Half have been deployed more than once.  Almost a million of those who served, live with a disability.  When they served as young men and women they gave everything they had to give and excelled at their job.  When they have returned home, America has not taken care of them as they should. Besides those who gave their life, some will love with disabilities the rest of their life. 

Approximately  300,000 homeless veterans will sleep tonight on the streets somewhere in America. In addition, almost one and a half million are at risk for being homeless; that number will rise.  Too many veterans lose their family; the rate of divorce among veterans is 47 percent higher than other marriages.  22 veterans commit suicide every day; one every 2 hours.  At least half a million veterans have PTSD.

Tue
06
Dec

Put these in your stockings

10 emergency preparedness gifts 

Thanksgiving Day is over, and across Van Zandt County, people are preparing for Christmas. While Santa Claus brings toys and candy, I’d like to suggest some durable gifts for emergency preparedness.

One of my buddies suggested an M-35 Army surplus 2-1/2 ton truck for $7,500 from Liberty Hill, Texas. But it’s too big even for a spandex Christmas stocking, and it’s too expensive. Emergency preparedness gifts need to be inexpensive and small enough to fit into your Christmas stocking. Here are my top 10 for 2016:

-BIC butane lighters with transparent sides. You can see how much butane is in them, they light every time, and if they leak butane, it evaporates. I carry matches and flint and steel, but I start my fires with a BIC butane lighter because it is easier and more reliable. For durability, get the BIC brand instead of cheap copies.

Fri
02
Dec

State Capitol Highlights

Bill filers jump to early start as legislative session nears

Just a few of Texas’ 31 Senate members and 150 House members filed a total of 523 pieces of legislation on Nov. 14, the first day lawmakers could submit legislation for the coming session.

The 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature is scheduled to convene on the second Tuesday in January, that is, Jan. 10, at noon. Final adjournment — 140 days later — is set for the last Monday in May, that is, May 29.

Now, back to those bills filed on Nov. 14. Not that it’s a competition, but Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, filed 20 bills, the highest total of any House member. Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, was the top 1st-day filer among senators and all legislators with 42 bills and one joint resolution. Zaffirini also co-authored three bills she filed jointly with Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio.

Thu
24
Nov

Keeping energy costs low this winter

It may not feel cold outside yet, but cooler temperatures will be here before you know it. Homeowners can reduce some of the rising energy costs, by winterizing their homes and vehicles before the harsh weather hits us.  
“At least once a year, make sure your home is winterized”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Taking care of basic maintenance on a regular basis can help homeowners safely prepare for winter and likely save a few dollars in the process.”
BBB advises consumers to check the following before temperatures drop:

Thu
17
Nov

Keeping energy costs low this winter

It may not feel cold outside yet, but cooler temperatures will be here before you know it. Homeowners can reduce some of the rising energy costs, by winterizing their homes and vehicles before the harsh weather hits us.  
“At least once a year, make sure your home is winterized”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Taking care of basic maintenance on a regular basis can help homeowners safely prepare for winter and likely save a few dollars in the process.”
BBB advises consumers to check the following before temperatures drop:

Tue
11
Oct

State Capitol Highlights

State opts out of federal refugee resettlement program

Texas has acted on its threat to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program, Gov. Greg Abbott said on Sept. 30.

Texas had demanded enhanced FBI screening of individuals “from terrorist-based nations” and expressed resistance to the federal government’s request that the Lone Star State increase by 25 percent the number of refugees to be resettled.  An estimated 7,000 refugees have taken up residence in Texas in the past year.

The federal government did not respond to a Sept. 21 letter from the state refugee coordinator with the Texas Department of Human Services. The letter gave notice that the state would no longer participate in the program if the state’s concerns were not addressed. 

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