#WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

For those who hadn’t noticed, the United States underwent a bit of a cold spell last week. NM got a lot of wind, cold temperatures, and some snow. Overall, it wasn’t that bad although it was weird seeing snow on the ground for more than a few hours. Normally, we get a snow storm and the white stuff takes a hike by late afternoon. When the ground was still covered a couple of days later it kind of freaked us out.

We got off pretty light. Power and gas stayed on and we stayed inside and ate hearty green chile chicken soup and drank thick beer. Don’t judge; it’s our way of handling adversity. The central part of the country didn’t fare quite as well with temps dropping toward 0 K. Most of the midwest shrugged itself into a parka and went about its business. Texas, on the other hand, turned into a frozen hellscape.

The problem was multifold. Partially, Texas just doesn’t see those kinds of temperatures very often and so they didn’t entirely know how to deal with all the weird solid water or the fact that the air was like breathing daggers. It’s a southern US state, more known being temperate than Arctic. As a result, most Texans don’t have the experience of dressing in layers, bundling up, and generally using the tricks that the northerners use to stay warm. Some people in parts of Texas don’t even own winter coats.

Now, when the temperature gets that cold and you don’t have a jacket, the best bet is to stay inside where it’s warm. Unfortunately, Texas had problems besides just the extremely cold weather outside. What started as rolling blackouts due to high demand rapidly turned into a Texas-sized clusterfuck with some homes losing heat and power entirely. The blame for that debacle is still being sorted out but despite some of the propaganda coming out it wasn’t caused by windmills. Natural gas supply appears to be the main culprit, but time will tell.

So, subzero temperatures plus no heat equals bathtubs filled with water were frozen solid. Pipes exploded. People resorting to setting up tents in their living rooms and huddling together to keep warm. In other words, it was a disaster. And no disaster would be complete without salt in the wounds in the form of massively overpriced energy bills, in some cases as high as $17,000. So, not only could you not get your lights to stay on, when they were on they cost a fortune.

So, yeah, total disaster. The final fallout from the winter storm will likely be in the billions plus the cost of lives lost.

In the midst of all this, Texans kept going. It’s one of the things they’re really good at. But in the face of a natural disaster, everyone could use some help. Lots of people have set up funds to assist those in need and some politicians even stayed in the country to help however they could instead of fleeing to Mexico. Even an Austin bakery got in on the action and gave away thousands of dollars in groceries. In other words, people came together. Just not the people who stood to make a massive profit off the problem. For those scavengers of human misery, one can only hope the federal government will issue a pride-obliterating smackdown.

Read the original story here

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are: Roshan Radhakrishnan , Shilpa GargSusan Scott, Sylvia McGrath, and yours truly.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

On the way to work this morning, I noticed semis hauling new propeller blades, presumably out to the wind farm on the cap rock over on the eastern side of the state where the wind blows constantly. I don’t know a whole lot about the wind farm out there other than those turbines are massive, far larger in person than you’d expect them to be. Imagine Pacific Rim’s Jaegers and you’ll get an idea of how big those things are. They cost a small fortune to put up, but they provide electricity as long as the wind is blowing. Since this is eastern New Mexico, you can assume the wind is always blowing. They don’t run on fossil fuels, they don’t generate pollution, they just sit out there and make electricity all day like bosses.

Electricity is a fact of life these days and the need for it is only going to increase. All those electric cars need juice. Cell phones need juice. TVs and air conditioners and lights and all the other things we rely on daily need electricity. Traditionally, this electric generation has been handled by burning coal – in fact there’s still a coal-powered plant up near Farmington that generates a lot of the power for the Four Corners area. The problem with coal is the same problem we’re seeing with oil, it’s getting harder and harder to find it. Sure, there’s probably plenty of it out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be cheap or easy to extract. In fact, as I understand it, all those deep south coal mines didn’t shut down because of the environmental lobby, they shut down because the mines are empty. No more coal. No more jobs.

Not to mention the pollution generated from burning the stuff.

So enter, strangely enough, Texas. Normally when you think environmentalism, Texas isn’t the first state that pops to mind. Which just goes to show, maybe some of our preconceived notions aren’t always accurate.

Texas has traditionally generated most of its power from natural gas and coal. But, with coal use dwindling, for the first time ever, Texas has generated more electricity from wind farms than from coal. In fact, wind power is second only to natural gas in energy production in Texas. While it’s probable that were economic initiatives like staying cool in the summer at stake more than a desire to curb global warming, that’s a heck of cool thing.  The fact that it helps the environment is, of course, another net positive.

Wind power: News that doesn’t suck. It blows.

Read the whole story here

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented co-hosts this month are
Shilpa Garg,
Simon Falk,
Damyanti Biswas
Lizbeth Hartz
Eric Lahti

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen

RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES!

I was reading the news today and came across an interesting article about Texas and it got me thinking about how that article would make one hell of a good book.

Texans are an interesting bunch.  Inside Texas you’ll likely never meet a nicer group of people provided you don’t go pissing on the Alamo.  Their politics, however, are the stuff of legend.  Texas is back in the news again now because they want their gold back from Fort Knox.  For the few people who have been living in a cave, on Mars, with their fingers in their ears, Fort Knox is the US Gold (and other important stuff) depository.  It’s one of the most secure places on the planet, a place guaranteed to earn you several bullets should you be foolhardy enough to try to knock it off.  Unless you’re these guys, but they were really only there for the Cheetos.

Rico, Kowalski, Private, and the Skipper.

Rico, Kowalski, Private, and the Skipper.

It must be my writer’s mind that looked at that story about Texas wanting its gold back and saw not just strange goings on, but the framework for an excellent thriller.  So, in honor of the day after the 4th of July, let’s take a look at a story in the news and see if we can’t plot it out into a seriously cool book.

Now, normally I don’t write out full plots or character sketches of any of my books.  I’m what’s called a pantser, in that I write by the seat of my pants, so this is an exercise in changing and growing as an author.

Plot: Texas is transporting its gold from Fort Knox to the safer shores of Texas proper.  The gold is essentially untouchable now and will be completely untouchable once it hits the Texan border where every Texas Ranger in the state will be waiting to receive it.  Even this guy:

Already practicing his spinning back kick.

Already practicing his spinning back kick.

We’re talking a pretty serious amount of money in a relatively small package.  According to the article we’re looking at about $650 million dollars that takes up about twenty square feet.  Gold’s heavy stuff, though, so it will take some serious hardware to haul it off and you can rest assured the gold will be guarded by a bunch of trigger happy dudes with machine guns.  The convoy won’t be stopping from the time it leaves Fort Knox, Kentucky until it’s safe in the bosom of Texas.  Depending on the route the convoy will go through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas or Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, and Oklahoma.  If they’re smart (and can damn well bet they will be), there will be two convoys, each taking a different route.  Of course, it’s also possible the gold will be airlifted out.  That would be the smart way to do it, but one guy with a surface to air missile can ruin the whole plan, so for the purposes of the narration, we’ll force them to take the longer overland route.

The guys driving the convoy and the Texas politicians who want their gold back will be the good guys.  For now, anyway.  We’ll have a twist in the plot.  At any rate, we need some bad guys.  A small team should suffice, with all but two of them being disposable.  The head of the team will be a former Recon Marine (Marines are less commonly used than Army or Navy Special Forces and are also cooler anyway.  Semper Fi).  He’s tough, but smart, and was sold down the river in Iraq or Pakistan when he and his team were caught behind enemy lines.  We’ll later find out one of our Texas senators sent them into the village for nefarious purposes and made the call to abandon him to his fate in that Mid East Hell Hole.  His partner will be a woman from that region.  She saved him after he dived to save her brother from stray machine gun fire from either Taliban or pre-ISIS forces.  Together they made it out and made their way back to the US to take care of the Texas Senator who ordered the strike to cover up his drug running side-line.  There will be some others, including a getaway driver who just had a kid (movie speak for you’re gonna die before the show is over) and a completely loose cannon that jeopardizes the whole mission when he gets greedy.

Did a GIS for Loose Cannon and got this.  It'll do.

Did a GIS for Loose Cannon and got this. It’ll do.

On the “good guy” side of the lawn we’ll have another special forces guy in charge of the convoy.  He’ll know our hero and be the guy that turned and walked away from a fire fight when the Senator told him to.  He’s a greedy bastard but he’ll have a change of heart and redeem himself before the end of the book.  He’ll also get killed in the end, but he’ll die a hero’s death, so it’s all good.  We’ll also see more about the Senator and his various wheelings and dealings.  There will be a smattering of other characters, mostly disposable.

By a twist of fate and the blessings of Fortuna, our anti-heroes manage to find the right truck and get the gold.  This should take less than a third of the book.  The second act will introduce the twist.  This is where we’ll find out more about the Senator spearheading the whole drive to get the gold back to Texas and his ultimate intentions for it.  He wants it back, safe and secure in Texas, so he can use it to buy a Mexican drug cartel or bribe officials to look the other way while his Mid East drugs are brought up through Mexico into Texas.  That’s why he sent our good guy’s team into that hell hole and that’s why he abandoned them when they didn’t find what they were looking for.  He’s using the backdrop of the war to camouflage his international drug ring.

shocked

An evil politician? NO WAY!

When our politician learns his gold has been hijacked he does the only logical thing he can think of: send in a handpicked team of Texas Rangers lead by Slag Rockjaw to get the money back.  Rangers are supposed to be incorruptible, but these guys fell from the purer faith when copious amounts of money were thrown at them.

Now the Rangers are hunting the Marine and his partner, the former Army spec ops guy is hunting the Marine and his partner.  The Marine and his partner have a shit ton of gold but they’ve also uncovered evidence (during the heist they’ll find a note from the politician to some cartel leader) that the politician is not on the up and up.  When the Army spec ops guy joins the Marine it will be the end of the second act, but they’ll be trapped in a shack, surrounded by Texas Rangers.

Through some kind of chicanery the group will escape and start to make their way to Dallas where they’ll turn the gold over to the people of Texas and spill the beans about our bad Senator.  The Texas Rangers are tracking them, though, and the Rangers never miss their mark.  Gun fights will ensue, the Army spec ops guy will join the “bad guys” and, together, they’ll fight off the Texas Rangers.  The final battle will be between the Marine and the head Texas Ranger, mano a mano, in a knife fight to the death in the middle of the Texas desert.

lobsterknifefighting

In the falling action, or the denouement if you’re so inclined, the Senator will attempt to escape to Mexico, only to be captured by Texas Rangers and brought to justice.  Our hero and heroine will marry and all will be right in the world.  We’ll also find out that our hero managed to secret away a couple gold bars (a fact recognized by the Rangers but considered an okay thing considering what they did), and they’ll live happily ever after.