Sunday, June 26, 2011


In April and May of 2011 severe thunderstorms including several as late as May 24th and 25th, raked across north Texas – some producing hail the size of baseballs. Yikes!

These missiles went through car windows and store facades/windows with ease and severely damaged many homes. Many residents only became aware of the damage to roofs of their homes in and around Fort Worth to far north Dallas until they started to discover pieces of shingles in their gardens, substantial amounts of shingle granules in their gutters or subsequent storms that revealed now leaky and compromised roofs. We had large hail at our home and, yes, we found pieces of shingles in the garden…

Fifty American Airlines (AA) aircraft at Dallas-Fort Worth airport (DFW) — nearly one of every 12 airplanes in their fleet — were out of service for several days after the May 25th storm while repairs were made to those aircraft. Overall (though preliminary) damage estimates are in the 200-300 million dollar (US) range though that number still increases every day. The loss in revenues at AA includes the cancellation of over 700 outbound and inbound DFW flights. There was more damage at Love Field in Dallas, home to Southwest Airlines who reported eight hail damaged planes and scores of cancelled outbound and inbound flights.

Airline passengers at DFW and Love Field were hastily evacuated from their aircraft and provided shelter in the terminals. That reminded me of an incident several years ago when a tornado came over the house and I found myself in an interior hallway with two mattresses over me holding Ms. Sophie Baggins (female Maine Coon Cat) who seemed OK, even placid, despite the screaming sirens and the roar of the nearby twister which luckily never touched down.

The storm that hit DFW and Love Field ravaged our neighborhood with the sound and fury of winds to 70 mph, nearby tornadoes, hail up to half dollar size and the constant thundering symphony of the hail especially as it hit the west facing roof surfaces and wooden fencing. The next morning revealed fencing that had heretofore weathered to a nice gray patina now pockmarked with thousands of dents to a white color that made the fence seem nature’s tribute to eccentric abstract painter Jackson Pollock. I kinda like it

The hail damage to automobiles (see photo above?) even to those still on north Texas car lots was substantial and even now one can take advantage of now famous, “Hail Sales” though the old adage, Buyer Beware seems ever more applicable. Nobody wonders around here why so many dealers keep their inventory under cover.

We here in Texas have been in a moderate to exceptional drought this year and though we have seen some rain of late, it comes heavy and hard. So we go from drought and terrible wildfires (3 million+ acres to date) to excessively wet to this hail and discover once again that our hardy band of Texas Farmers continue to show great character under duress. Appears to be part of their DNA. Texas A&M reports that while the wind and hail did damage to Texas wheat and oat crops, thankfully, it was not significant.

Some residents had recently criticized the north Texas weather warning system for engaging the sirens for hail as well as our primary weather threat - tornadoes. This latest series of storms with their deadly potential has for the time being silenced their protestations. I, for one, want to be warned so that I can find cover and protection for my partner, Family, Friends, our possessions and, yes, me… Imagine what I might look like after being pummeled by baseball sized hail raining down at 100+ mph? Not pretty… but some would say an improvement…

Our northern neighbors in all of the Great Plains including Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and the Dakotas also know and understand well the phenomenon of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes and their dangers all too well.

For What It’s Worth: For my Friends and Family in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, yes, your twisters are a rare occurrence but not unheard of. The Commonwealth reminds us of the irony that until the recent devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri, the nation's deadliest single tornado was the Worcester Tornado which swept through Central Massachusetts on June 9, 1953. The Worcester Tornado was on the ground for 1 hour and 24 minutes, traversing 46 miles and at its most powerful measured a mile wide at its base, a classic F4 event on the old Fujita scale though some still maintain it would be rated an F5 under the Enhanced Fujita Damage Classification Scale given its 260+ estimated mph winds. A great deal of debate in meteorological circles still exists about the rating of this storm with many rating it an F4-F5. Indeed, its power and volume appears to have fluctuated between these ranges. Ninety-four people were killed and over 1,200 were seriously injured with 640 homes destroyed and another 3,700 severely damaged. Bottom line: None of us in the US are immune.

Back to Texas… So, while this weather report and post may seem to be old news, its consequences are now being realized. Now comes the out of region roofing contractors, some just cruising through the state, aye, fly-by-night roofing companies papering neighborhoods with pamphlets, flyers and business cards hopefully destined for the trash can. That plague of locusts probably hasn’t been as bad this year given the horrendous damage and loss of life in Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama that sucked most of the out-of-towners to more profitable venues. For those hard-hit communities it’s going to take a decade or more to repair and heal. They need Friends and advocates, not profit mongers. Thank God for the American Red Cross…

The Insurance Council of Texas estimated that this latest hail storm affected 350,000+ homes in North Texas, mostly smashing shingles and stripping them of granules — damage that can't be detected from the ground.

Our street and really the entire neighborhood in the last several weeks sprouted innumerable yard signs heralding and advertising the repair or replacement work of myriad roofing companies – a phenomenon that according to experts will last at least another two years - just from that one late May storm. A once quiet neighborhood is now characterized by the cacophonous pounding of hammers. When I was with ELK I noted estimates that some 60% of their overall business was replacement/repair as opposed to new home starts. With that latter figure now way down there is no doubt that the replacement percentage is much higher.

Given our dynamic, historical and most recent experiences we offer several recommendations if you have experienced roof damage. First, don’t do business with an out of town firm – use local companies – there are a lot of great ones here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a great place to consult if you are looking for a starting point.

Secondly, consider using one of a variety of contractors/consultants to evaluate the condition of your roof – one that doesn’t have a vested interested in selling you a roof. Like a buyer appraising a product they may want to buy – you stand the potential of not getting a fair price or in this case, an accurate evaluation of your roof’s condition. A neighbor confided in me that one company told him that his whole roof needed to be replaced when, in fact, it only required the replacement of a few shingles. Another nearby house had a brand new roof installed. Their “old” roof was maybe five years old and in good condition. Our damage was $600+ to mostly repair shingles on the westward facing ridge lines.

Third, don’t use a company that is going to sub out their work. You are paying for the expertise of that firm, not just folks with a pick-up truck and a willingness to brave 140+ degree roof temps. Putting on a roof is an engineering art, not a menial chore. I was talking with a crew member installing a new roof in the neighborhood and he didn’t know the name of the roofing manufacturer or the difference between a three-tab or architectural shingle. Yikes!

If you determine that roof replacement is your only reasonable, legitimate option, consider purchasing wind and impact resistant shingles (Class 4) that also have a fungus/mildew/algae resistance capability such as those manufactured by GAF-ELK. The high profile, laminated fiberglass ELK “architectural” products are especially hardy though note there never really is any total guarantee against weather related damage. Mother Nature can be ferocious… You may pay from 10% to 50% more for these high performing shingles but the long term investment in these products is well worth it. We have an ELK roof.

Lastly, impressed or not with your first roofing contractor, always get three estimates and at all times in writing, signed and specifying what they will perform and the guarantee/warranty on their work. We note that you may not always choose the lowest bid, rather the one bid and contractor for which you have the greatest confidence.

So now as over thirteen major wildfires burn throughout the state of Texas, the prospects of thunderstorms, rain, tornadoes and that pesky hail now appear remote. With the influence of a “Little Girl” aka the “La Nina” phenomenon of warmer than usual Pacific Ocean temperatures which redirects the jet stream causing severe drought in Texas, some almost wish for the return to our violent weather – but, then again, maybe not.


Ned Buxton

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


While the Dallas Cowboys, Stars and Texas Rangers have dropped the ball (or puck) lately, the Dallas Mavericks have earned our total respect by giving Dallas and north Texas (and the State of Ohio) another reason to be proud – yet one more championship. The way that they did it, however, was the real story. If you saw all the championship series games then you understand once and forever the value of sportsmanship and TEAM vs. the arrogance and loneliness of “I” – Miami Heat style. Congratulations and well done to all the globally-inspired Dallas Mavericks, 2010-11 NBA Champions who despite all odds proved once again that good guys can win.

The only way the Mavs could beat the Heat was with an old fashioned, team approach to the game. With grit, character, dignity and a selfless loyalty to each other they always seemed to be able to rise above the level of play of their opponents sometimes to the consternation of their fans. The Mavericks give, “You Gotta Believe” a whole new meaning. You always knew that they would bounce back – and they did witness overcoming a fifteen point deficit to win game two against The Heat.

The Mavericks were able to defuse the potential of Miami’s Big Three (LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh) and proved once again that talk is cheap especially when arrogance and immaturity seem to be a big part of their game. No doubt they are incredible athletes, perhaps the best individual players in the game, but their lack of humility and humanity gives away their absence of character.

For example, there was their premature, infamous celebration when in game two and that fifteen point lead, James and Wade danced and cavorted (Wade made the shape of a V with his arms) all in front of the Dallas bench. Dallas righteously motivated stormed back with a 22-5 run and won the game, 95–93. Pathetically, right before Game five of the NBA Finals cameras caught James and Wade making fun of Dirk Nowitzki’s illness during Game four. Dirk had played brilliantly while battling a sinus infection that caused a soaring 102-degree fever during Dallas' Game four win. James and Wade spun the incident like it was all deliberate, just a jab at the press who they knew would, “blow it up.” Right… If you believe that I have some swamp land for sale…

The Mavericks played with that fire in the belly and the Heat despite all their press looked fatigued and lackluster – almost passive. They had no explanation except to finally concede that the Mavericks were a better team with an underrated defense. Wade in an unusual fit of maturity commented, "It's like a puzzle and their pieces came together a little bit better than ours." Heat coach Erik Spoelstra commented, "Maybe it's as simple as it being a rite of passage before we have to move on and take the next step." That may be so, but it sure appears all up in the air for The Heat whether they will be able to jell into a mature Team with all the hype of, “The Big Three” who apparently believe all their press clippings. The Miami Heat anthem embarrassingly proclaims, "We Already Won" though they know now - paraphrasing the old Merrill Lynch slogan: "You win games the old-fashioned way. You earn them."

King LeBron James still avoiding a mature, productive contemplation of his lackluster performance and the Heat’s loss has now invoked the Lord Almighty in a tweet following their game six loss, “The Greater Man upstairs know when it’s my time. Right now isn’t the time.” As if God cares who wins the NBA Championship… Yes, it’s deflection of the first order… Go look in the mirror… Having said that - if The Heat ever do jell as a Team, only God can help the rest of the NBA… It’s all up to General Manager Pat Riley to make that happen.

In stark contrast to previous Heat histrionics television cameras followed Dirk Nowitzki who seemingly overwhelmed pulled his jersey over his face and ran off the court following the Mavs victory. No “Vs”, dances or mock punches for Dirk, just the sudden realization and emotion of that final victory and the accomplishment of his goal. This man is a true role model.

Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban in a show of True Blue Grit and class asked an aging Don Carter - the man responsible for bringing the NBA franchise to Dallas in 1980 - to accept the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. Carter still in his trademark cowboy hat later commented, “It is truthfully a championship for all the people who have ever cared about basketball…” Well done, Sir

While the Miami Heat ponder what to do with their huge “oops” inventory of t-shirts and hats proclaiming their 2010-11 NBA championship all we need do is invoke a line from their anthem, “No need to play no more games.” As Jacquielynn Floyd of the Dallas Morning News wrote today, “Time for the parade.”


Ned Buxton

Sunday, June 12, 2011


We’ve been following the transgressions, then the lying and ultimate sometimes emotional confession of New York Representative Anthony Weiner (D) who now occupies that not so lofty plateau that puts him at the height of arrogance and stupidity all at the same time. What in God’s name was he thinking? I’ve followed a lot of Weiner Threads to include some of the most recent constituent popularity polls and the question posed to New York Voters – Should Weiner resign? More later…

I wondered how Weiner Friend and political satirist extraordinaire Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central would handle this. Well, Jon dug in, addressed the issue at the expense of his Friendship, entertaining us all in the process. Jon Stewart’s coverage of “Wangover” was creative by being excruciatingly honest with one especially poignant moment being the revelation that Weiner had apologized to Bill Clinton for his actions? Apologies for what - with Stewart offering that it had to be for, “copyright infringement.” Already a big fan, I now have an increased respect for Stewart…

Last Friday I ran across Jacquielynn Floyd’s column in the Dallas Morning News and was gobsmacked by her continuing extraordinary ability to reduce any issue to its basic components and then cut to the chase. Her most recent comments on Weiner say it all for me. If you aren’t from around here and don’t get the Dallas Morning News you can do no better than follow her columns at Floyd comes by her award winning reputation honestly having managed an obit desk and, of course, her work with the now defunct but oft remembered Dallas Times Herald – my Father’s employer for thirty years. Her post Sexting won’t make you sexy – or even hip follows.

“Goggle-eyed as we are over the titillating indiscretions committed by New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, I’m not sure we’re asking the right question.

The talks and the blogs and even we in the stuffy old mainstream media are frantic with speculation: Should he resign? Did he tweet from the office? Will the wife dump him?

They’re missing the larger point, which is: What compels a grown-up, mentally competent man to behave like he’s living in a Porky’s movie? Why does an adult person of power and influence not only commit tasteless misdeeds, but commit them in a manner so palpably, humiliatingly juvenile?

Here’s some important breaking news: Grainy photographs of your own crotch, in its gray-washed underpants, with homey photos of the wife and the pets visible in the background are not sexy.

They do not make women — not twenty-something college students a generation younger than you, not battle worn blackjack dealers who have heard every pickup line in the galaxy, not lonesome hard-luck gals stuck in some distant Texas scrub town — swoon and pant breathlessly that they need to loosen their bodices.

Crude propositions from Internet strangers do not represent the apex of their romantic aspirations. That’s one reason they’ll betray your ostensibly private communications for a paycheck or a few minutes on TV.

Here’s another valuable tip: Despite our bulletproof faith that Internet-based social media are hard-currency proof of edgy hipness and cultural sophistication, Twitter and Facebook are not inherently cooler than nickel postcards and rotary phones. When you reduce the most complex of human ideas and emotions to the guttural text argot of “U R hot,” you sound like an imbecile, regardless of the medium. LOL, fool.

From a purely technical standpoint, it’s a by-the-book sexual-infidelity-by-a-politician scandal. There’s the Lie and Bluster phase, the haughty effort to Rise Above It, the Tearful Public Apology, the angry debate over whether They’re Piling On Because He’s A Republican/Democrat, the Lucrative Rehabilitation as a Cable News Commentator. Later, when the story finally starts to lose its legs, we’ll all draft another round of windy rhetorical think pieces about Powerful People Who Risk It All.

Rep. Weiner’s surname adds effortless fuel to the fire, even for those stodgy outlets that don’t purposely take cheap shots (from the CBS News website: “Video: Weiner probed by House members”).

But what really sets this guy apart from the routine sex-scandal pack is the creepy childishness of it all. The Twitterfied effort to sound racy and flirtatious — the clinical discussion of specific sex acts, the narcissistic fascination with his own man tool — comes across as repulsive and kind of sad in a person of his age and prominence. For all their salacious interest and inexhaustible Weiner puns, the New York and Washington-centric media types fueling this barn fire keep treating him like he’s still a youthful, Clinton-era wunderkind, instead of a seven-term congressman in his middle 40s.

I don’t care whether the guy resigns or not. That’s up to his constituents, or perhaps his conspicuously unsupportive colleagues in the House.

But here’s a final scrap of unsolicited advice: “Sexting” is for dimwitted, attention-starved teenagers. Grow up.”

Well done, Jacquielynn Floyd.

So, what’s the fallout and what kind of support is Weiner getting from his constituents in the 9th Congressional district? On June 9, the very credible NY1 (Time Warner Cable's 24-hour news channel in New York City) and The Marist Institute for Public Opinion (MIPO) reflected that 56% of registered voters in Weiner's Congressional District wanted him to stay in Congress while 33% thought he should resign. While this is a slim margin, major races have been won with lesser majorities. Weiner may be safe for now, but at what cost? He is now apparently on a voluntary leave of absence and has been removed from all House Committees. Up to this point he has been a very vocal critic of the Republican Party and their agenda. So, now, how can anybody take him seriously as a respected voice for the loyal opposition?

It would appear that the folks in the 9th Congressional District are getting exactly what they are paying for. Comments of supportive constituents like, “As long as he is doing his job” indicate to us that respect, honesty and integrity apparently are not part of that job description in the 9th Congressional district. Whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green or any other party – these behaviors should not be tolerated. Should a House Ethics Committee inquiry be far behind?

More fallout: CBS News has reported a 30% drop in Tweets from Congressional Democrats (18% from Republicans) immediately following the Weiner debacle. Best we just keep some thoughts and questions to ourselves and think twice before we hit that send button.


Ned Buxton

PS: The great wiener cartoon in this post was used with permission of Jerry Fuchs of Jerry is a very talented Georgia-based artist who creates cartoons, illustrations, and animations for local, national, and international clients. He would also appear to have a great sense of humor…. We encourage your collaboration with Jerry. Aye, NB

Monday, June 6, 2011


May 24th has again come and passed and I once again celebrated my natal day or the anniversary of the day of my birth. Many of my non-Canadian Friends and acquaintances have heard me use the term natal day and they, perplexed, warrant an explanation which presents once again the opportunity for good conversation. In a world that seems hell bent on rushing to abbreviate and synopsize our language sometimes to its detriment a la our social networking abbreviations and acronyms (LOL, AFAIK, FWIW, IMHO, OMG, TMI, et al) maybe we can look back and resurrect some oldies that still relate to our world. I’ve felt for a long time that natal day should be one of those terms revived for no other reason than its different and rarely used. In a previous post on May 29, 2009 NATAL DAY - WE ALL HAVE ONE we discussed its significance so no need to dwell on that here.

So what do these yearly anniversaries have to do with us now, especially as we traverse our sixties and beyond? Well, waking up each morning (not being “defunct”), motivated by the dog or not, is a cause for celebration. As Les Mis so proudly celebrates – One day more. Harold Camping could probably spin his numerology voodoo and come up with something he feels important but, probably not to the rest of us.

These cumulative rites of passages from infancy to our ultimate passing allow us to mark and express our appreciation (giving back) for successfully making that journey or at least surviving it… In this day and age that is, indeed, a great accomplishment. This is an annual milestone and opportunity to contemplate the past noting that we have paid our dues for yet another year, gauge our status and rededicate ourselves to the attainment of our near and long term goals. The passage of decades (30, 40, 50, etc.) and certain of our natal days carry special cultural and legal significance, witness the 16th and that magical 21st birthday when you become independent and “official”.

And those celebrations certainly stimulate the economy witness the greeting card industry alone that counts gross sales in excess of 7.5 Billion (US). So, we are doing our patriotic duty and continuing to stimulate our economy to an ultimate recovery by celebrating (or acknowledging in some fashion) our natal days.

But, what about our calendar and the significance of that date and how it was calibrated? Everything is relative and based on where we are in time and assuming a start date. We can thank Roman Emperor Julius Caesar who had the right idea and in 45 BCE ordered the reformation of the existing Roman calendar year to one (the Julian calendar) that consisted of twelve months based on a solar year moving the beginning from March 1 to January 1. The Julian calendar survived for over a fifteen hundred years (formally until February 24, 1582) but for a variety of reasons (mostly Christians trying to get Easter to remain constant with the Spring Equinox) was ultimately superseded by the Gregorian Calendar that solved that conundrum but took most of the kicking and screaming new world nations three centuries or more to implement (that Protestant v. Catholic thang). Some extraordinary laggards included Russia which had to wait for its revolution to embrace the Gregorian in 1918 while the last European country to adopt the Gregorian calendar was Greece in 1923.

The basis of that calendar is retained today and we still see evidence of the old Roman calendar in the names of her months though they represent the old system. In Latin September means seventh month, October means eighth month, November means ninth month, and December means tenth month. Yes, two months off….

When England - now out of step with most of the rest of the “civilized” world - finally capitulated and adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, it applied to all of her colonies as well. That also meant that some folks born under the Julian calendar [now known as the Old Style (OS)] changed their natal day to coincide the new Gregorian calendar aka the New Style (NS). Well, this has really screwed up those motivated and sincere contemporary genealogists among us (mostly Brits and North Americans) who couldn’t reconcile the eleven day (11) difference between the two calendars. We know better now

One such example is fellow Gemini - King George III of England (see 1760 coronation portrait above) of porphyria and dementia fame who was born on May 24, 1738 well before the 1752 adoption of the Gregorian calendar. Yet, many if not most historical sources including our good Friends at Wikipedia reflect his official date of birth as June 4, 1738 (NS) though they concede his real date of birth in a footnote. To do so is technically wrong as George III was born on that 24th day in May, 1738 (OS) forever and a day - eleven days prior to that June date – whatever calendrical system you use. Well, we can only imagine this monarch’s relief when he realized that he would remain a Gemini whether OS or NS. Born in the old and died in the new…

George III had a tumultuous reign and though beloved by most of his subjects for his piety and faithfulness, was hated in the American Colonies for his heavy handed policies and ultimately his stubborn pursuit of victory wanting to "keep the rebels harassed, anxious, and poor, until the day when, by a natural and inevitable process, discontent and disappointment were converted into penitence and remorse". That, of course, never happened and despite one later disagreement that resulted in the war of 1812, we remain comfortably close Friends with our British allies. Given the celebration of our continued alliance, we think it appropriate to record and clarify for all posterity the correct date of birth for King George III.

George III was crowned king in 1760 some eight years after the English adopted the Gregorian calendar. We have seen that as Monarch George III and his scriveners and historians rightfully assumed the position and took one for his people. If England were to righteously enter the 18th century in her leadership role then the Monarch’s specifics should reflect the new system. Given that his loyal subjects were wont to formally celebrate his birthday (some still do), adoption of the NS would have been imperative. Unfortunately due to dementia in his later life, George probably didn’t know or care what day that was… By the way, if you haven’t already seen the 1994 film, The Madness of King George, do so. It is an accurate and engaging glimpse into the personality of George III and the woeful, though evolving, state of 18th century medicine.

So we remember natal days today and note that while I have little in common with George III (OS), Queen Victoria (NS), Julius Caesar Germanicus (OS), Bob Zimmerman (NS) and several other May 24th babies they continue to inspire me in my life’s journey.

As I rush towards threescore and ten years young I remember the poignant words of Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain on his 70th natal day that say it all for me, "The seventieth birthday. It is the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit (Bolivia’s Akapana Pyramid?) and look down and teach--unrebuked." I am almost there…my senile rapture… as I lay my course, “…toward the sinking sun with a contented heart.”


Ned Buxton