Texas Secession? The Woes of Texanistan.

Texas

So Brexit has all the Texit folks mumbling and groaning again. Sigh…

Okay secessionists. See, here’s the thing. Let’s pretend that you actually seceded from the UNITED States of America (you know, UNITED, as in a whole country, which means secession is the most un-American thing you can actually do). What would happen?

If Texas succeeded in seceding, it would collapse and become a third-world country within a year or two. A few years after failing Texans would be begging to become part of the UNITED States again.

Why would Texas fail?

1. EVERY single United States Armed Forces base in Texas would be shut down. Not only destroying local economies, but killing off hundreds of thousands of jobs associated with those economies (and civilians working on the bases). Say goodbye to Fort Hood, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Sheppard Air Force Base, NAS Corpus Christi, NAS Kingsville, Laughlin Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base, Martindale Army Air Field, Camp Bullis, US Marine Corps Reserve Centers, Recruiting centers for all armed forces, Brooks City Air Force Base, Dyess Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, Camp Bowie, Camp Mabry, Camp Stanley, Camp Swift, Fort Bliss, Fort Sam Houston, Red River Army Depot, JRB Fort Worth, NS Ingleside. All those communities hit hard with vacated houses, massive loss of tax revenue, etc.

2. NASA would be gone. Say goodbye to the Johnson Space Center and all the businesses and jobs that support it. Say goodbye to all the engineers and scientists who will move to a new NASA location (either one already existing or a new one that will be built). Thousands of jobs gone, hundreds of homes vacated, significant loss of tax revenue.

3. The Coast Guard and all Homeland Security assets would be gone. Say goodbye to the Coast Guard in Corpus Christi, El Paso, Galveston, Houston, Port Arthur, and South Padre Island. If you need rescuing, hopefully the local county police have a boat or helicopter to come get you. Or maybe the UNITED States Coast Guard based in Louisiana will feel bad for you and come get you. Maybe. After all, they do rescue Cuban refugees. But you’d be deported back to Texas after processing.

4. The US Marshal Service, FBI, DEA, and other federal law enforcement agencies would leave Texas. No point in protecting a place that’s not in the UNITED States of America. Thousands of jobs gone. Maybe a lot of them will get lucky and moved to other states? But those that move no longer provide tax revenue to the newly named Texanistan.

5. All federal funding for education, roads, maintenance, disaster relief, etc would be gone. No more FEMA funds for San Marcos or Houston or Austin when they flood. No more federal disaster dollars after a hurricane, tornado, or seven-year drought. You think Texas roads are bad now? Wait until Texanistan has to foot 100% of the bill instead of 30-50% of it. And you think Texas school suck now? Man, wait until Texanistan celebrates the end of the Dept of Education by gutting science. I mean, who needs science since NASA no longer is in Texanistan?

6. A significant chunk of businesses would leave because they would need access to the American market – not just Texas. This would specifically affect any companies with a UNITED States government contract (mostly defense). All those companies would be forced to move outside of Texas in order to maintain their contracts with the federal government. And since there will be a massive brain drain once secession happens, a lot of tech companies will leave as well so that they can find educated employees.

7. Texanistan would no longer be privy or part to any of the treaties and agreements the United States has with bordering countries and countries around the world. That means every Texan would have to get a passport to travel to Oklahoma, Louisiana, etc. Texas would have to negotiate its own trade agreements, but until then it would be hit with every major pre-trade agreement tariff and tax. Have fun draining the coffer just to get Chinese goods in that are now suddenly two times more expensive because of extra tariffs.

8. Speaking of those borders, say goodbye to the US Border Patrol, you know those federal officers who “keep the Mexicans out?” Yeah, well, at least Texanistan has plenty of gun-toting “Minute men” (I’m pretty sure that’s a sexual reference) to take care of those ferners.

9. Say goodbye to all those customs agents at the border and shipyards as well.

10. Speaking of customs agents, what about all those shipyards that have federal contracts? I guess that work will go to Louisiana and Alabama (they could use the extra money). Maybe the cruise lines will still come in after Texanistan spends five years negotiating a new contract? After all, Texanistan would be a foreign country, so there are international laws they’d have to follow in negotiating a new porting contract with the Texanistan government.

11. Radar coverage and flood warnings and tornado warnings? You need those? Yeah, too bad. The NATIONAL Weather Service just left as well. Maybe Bobby Joe with his rain gauge on his mud truck can take care of the weather forecasting for you. Then everyone can “Heehaw” as the tornado siren.

12. Say goodbye to Social Security checks when you retire. Say goodbye to Medicaid/Medicare as well. Say goodbye to every federal benefit you were looking forward to. Federal scholarships, federal flood insurance (there is no private flood insurance, BTW, so good luck with all that Texas flooding).

I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist. Now I’m sure there’s a lot of secessionists reading this list and yelling “Hell yeah!” for every departure I’ve mentioned. That’s all fine and dandy until they no longer get their Social Security, Medicaid, or food stamps or disaster relief.

Be careful what you wish for. You just may regret it.

Stupid Hurts 001

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20160525-28: Kansas Storms

Lane, Nick, and I all arranged to be off work Thursday and Friday in order to chase in Oklahoma and Kansas. We had glorious plans, but plans don’t always go as planned. And boy oh boy did this trip not go as planned!

I arrived in Denton, TX at my hotel Wednesday night. The hotel’s WiFi didn’t work and because it was a cheap ass Howard Johnson’s (yeah, those still exist), they didn’t care at all. So I checked out a day early. The owner doesn’t give his employees the ability to refund nights. Was the owner there to do it? Nope. It took 48 hours before he refunded my money back to my debit card.

While waiting on Nick and Lane to arrive my inverter fried and the engine in my car started making this weird sound. The sound went away after I stopped and restarted the engine and it drove just fine as we went to Walmart to replace my inverter.

Lane calls and says he’s going to be late because he’s stuck in traffic. While waiting I notice that the 127,500 miles for the next oil change sticker in the window actually says 121,500. There’s an ink smear that made it look like a seven instead of a one. So I have to go get a last-minute oil change while Lane and Nick head to drop off their vehicles.

Two hours later we’re finally heading north (three hours after when we originally wanted to leave). We have to race north where storms are already developing in Kansas with Enid, OK as our next destination. From Enid we see development north of us and head toward Kansas. We watch it develop an overshooting top, but it was moving too fast for us to catch up to it. So we decided to head to the storms in west Kansas instead.

Our original target as we were heading north from Enid, OK.

Our original target as we were heading north from Enid, OK.

As we came into Greensburg, KS we got to see amazing mammatus clouds and then some great structure, a forming shelf cloud, an awesome wall cloud, beautiful lightning, and some 1” hail. We got to hang out under the whale’s mouth and watch the rear lightning on a passing cell while two more cells came in from the west of Greensburg. We ran into a mini chaser convention in Greensburg, including the two mobile radar vehicles and their chase team.

Mammatus east of Greensburg, KS

Mammatus east of Greensburg, KS

Then we saw it. The most beautiful sunset the three of us had ever seen. A cell to our SW with a developing wall cloud, a cell to our NW with heavy rain shafts with the sun behind the shafts coming through, but making the sun appear to be an obscure yellow dot, all while there was a whale’s mouth above us and a shell cloud to our NE. All moving very slowly and while finger lightning illuminated all around us. It was mind blowing and gorgeous.

One example of  the amazing sunset that night.

One example of the amazing sunset that night.

We then started back toward Enid. We were making good time and suddenly the cruise control failed and the engine was running at 5,000 RPM at 50 mph. We tried going from neutral and back to drive, going to third gear and back to drive, turning the engine off and back on, but nothing worked. So we drove at 45 mph at 4,000 RPM in order to not burn the engine out. The goal was to get to Enid, get a hotel, and check it in the morning when local mechanics were open.

We made it another 20 miles to Cleo Springs, OK when the car simply quit driving and wouldn’t respond to the gas pedal being pressed. After pushing the car to the shoulder we called AAA to get a tow truck started to bring us to Oklahoma City.

Why OKC instead of Enid? The plan was to leave the car in OKC with a scrap yard and rent a car. Then I realize I don’t have my credit card on me, just my debit cards. Rental car companies don’t take debit cards, at least none that I have ever dealt with. So we have to come up with a new plan and have no idea what we’re going to do at this point except go to a mechanic in OKC instead of a rental car place.

Hours later we’re cramped in the back seat of a tow truck. The tow truck dropped the car off at a mechanic we found and went on his way.

We made a reservation at a more expensive hotel than we wanted. We get there (it’s 5 am at this point) and they cannot find my reservation. A call to corporate and they finally find it. The A/C in the room is not working correctly. At this point we are so exhausted that we no longer care and go to bed sweating. We overslept and didn’t get to the mechanic until almost 11 AM. Can you really blame us at this point for oversleeping?

We talk to the mechanic and he immediately says, “We don’t work on transmissions, but even if we did we wouldn’t be able to get to you until Tuesday.” He was at least willing to listen to us and take a precursory glance and then recommend a local mechanic who worked on transmissions. After a second and third mechanic got involved they determined we had a leak and came up with a possible temporary solution to at least get us home: fill the transmission fluid up over and over again to maintain pressure until we got home. We filled it up and the car drove just fine.

We bought jugs of transmission fluid and hit the road to Denton, TX. We made it 60 miles. We pull over, let the engine cool, and fill the transmission back up. We made it 15 miles and repeated the process.

This time we only made it 5 miles before a huge plume of smoke appeared behind us. We had a little less than two miles to the next exit and struggled to get there, leaving a trail of smoke behind us. We found an abandoned parking lot near the exit and pulled in with the engine smoking, screeching, and whining.

At least we made it off the Interstate. Totally dead at this point.

At least we made it off the Interstate. Totally dead at this point.

We notice that the back of the car is literally covered in transmission fluid. The “leak” was not just a leak, but a transmission that exploded and blew all the fluid out. Transmission fluid is literally dripping down the back of the car, from the rear window to the exhaust pipe.

Transmission fluid literally dripping off the back of the car.

Transmission fluid literally dripping off the back of the car.

The tow truck, which is really a Ford F150 with a trailer bed, shows up and wenches the car up on the trailer and gets us to Denton, TX. The plan for the car is for Nick to sell it to a local scrap yard and send me the money (and keep a fee for himself, of course). Lane heads off to his house in DFW while Nick uses his truck to drive me back to Austin.

We are 70 miles north of Austin when we get a flat tire. Yep. That’s right. Another f&*%ing car problem! Seriously? To make it more interesting, there’s a nail in the spare tire. UGH!

A flat tire just 70 miles from home...

A flat tire just 70 miles from home…

While waiting on another tow truck, a car pulls over to see if we’re okay. We tell him we have a flat and a spare, but we’re missing the lift rod for the jack and the lug nut remover. He offers to help. He pulls out a large tool box, cardboard box to lay on, a really good jack, etc.

I turn to Nick and say, “You realize this is a scam for us to pay him, right?” Nick replies, “Yeah, but he’s cheaper than a $100 tow truck.” He never asked for money and even refused the money we offered him, but of course that’s part of the schtick, where he ultimately accepts it, at our insistence.

The nail in the spare wasn’t piercing the air and the spare was fully inflated. We made it to Austin at 1 am and went immediately to bed.

All the hassle. All the problems. All the suffering. All the trauma. It was all worth it because we spent time together. We saw beautiful storms. We saw an amazing sunset.

Some more pictures from the chase:

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20160417: Austin, TX Flooding

On 4/17/16 lots of rain came into the Austin area. We were under a severe storm threat, but not severe storms materialized, just lots of rain and flooding. Joining me on the chase was Suzie and Krystal from the Austin Weather Enthusiasts.

Click on an image to see the full size.

Brushy Creek near Round Rock, TX.

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Spicewoods Springs at Bull Creek:

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Another section of Bull Creek. This road was not closed, but everyone we saw driving down it turned around.

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20160308-09: Austin, TX Storms

Lane and I were back at it on 3/8/16 and into the wee hours of 3/9. Nothing severe, just flooding downtown Austin, like here at East Riverside.

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It may not look that deep, but it was deep enough at the curb that it almost came over my hood:

We also came across this, which apparently floods so easily there are permanent signs for it:

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As we continued looking for flooding we happened across this incident. We still have no idea why this person accelerated so quickly from the side street and then ran away. The incident was reported to the Austin Police Department. It’s a bit hard to see in the video because it’s so dark, but if you go full screen you should be able to see the truck lose control, run into the median, swipe the light pole hard enough to knock it down, and then he gets back on the road and continues driving at dangerous speeds for flooded streets.

Music TIme! Valentine’s Day Edition! 2/14/16

It’s time to put MediaMonkey on shuffle again, but this time with the filter “Love” so that it only plays songs with the word “love” in them. It’s Valentine’s Day, so it was either “love” or “murder.” I decided to go with “love.”

Suzie and I pretty much boycott this commercial holiday that has no relationship to love anyway. Seriously, go look up the origins of the holiday. Instead we do cool stuff without all the hearts and candies: like going to the Gothic Ball in Austin!

ARTIST: Happy Mondays
SONG: Sunshine and Love
ALBUM: …Yes, Please!
YEAR: 1992

ARTIST: Plastic
SONG: Lovesong
ALBUM: [kunst]Stoff
YEAR: 2002

ARTIST: Deine Lakaien
SONG: Flowers of Love
ALBUM: 1987 (The Early Tapes)
YEAR: 1987

ARTIST: Praga Khan
SONG: Supersonic Lovetoy
ALBUM: 21st Century Skin
YEAR: 1999

ARTIST: Legacy of Music
SONG: Don’t Love Me Anymore
ALBUM: 4[ward]
YEAR: 2009

Yes, it’s the Kenny Rogers song, but it’s sooooo much better than the Kenny Rogers song.

ARTIST: Wolfsheim
SONG: Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town
ALBUM: 55578
YEAR: 1995

ARTIST: SPARK!
SONG: Making Love With The Boots On
ALBUM: 65 Ton Stål
YEAR: 2007

ARTIST: Apoptygma Berzerk
SONG: Love Never Dies, Pt. 1
ALBUM: 7
YEAR: 1998

Yes, it’s an ABBA cover! We all love ABBA, either openly or secretly. And Erasure does a lot of ABBA covers and they are all just as great as the original songs by ABBA!

ARTIST: Erasure
SONG: Lay All Your Love On Me
ALBUM: Abba-Esque
YEAR: 1992

ARTIST: Club 8
SONG: Less Than Love
ALBUM: Above the City
YEAR: 2013

ARTIST: ABC
SONG: The Look of Love
ALBUM: Absolutely ABC: Best of ABC
YEAR: 1982

Bronski Beat with Marc Almond from Soft Cell. Well, you know it’s gonna be awesome!

ARTIST: Bronski Beat (feat Marc Almond (official))
SONG: I Feel Love
ALBUM: Age of Consent
YEAR: 1983

ARTIST: The Buggles
SONG: I Love You (Miss Robot)
ALBUM: The Age of Plastic
YEAR: 1980

ARTIST: Agonised By Love
SONG: More Love – More Suffer
ALBUM: All Of White Horizons
YEAR: 2007

ARTIST: CYLIX
SONG: So Much For Love
ALBUM: Alpha
YEAR: 2010

Got to see IAMX in Birmingham, AL of all places. I hope I’ll get to see them again.

ARTIST: IAMX
SONG: This Will Make You Love Again
ALBUM: The Alternative
YEAR: 2006