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Regardless of hype, look to the bright side

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
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This last weekend was an anniversary of sorts for me.

Six years ago, as I was helping my wife with an event she was managing, basically an antiquing/repurposing/handmade goods weekend show, I suffered a heart attack.

A few hours later, I suffered a second one helping my daughter make her bed.

Three days later, I was the proud owner of four bypassed arteries and three drainage tubes, and was treated to a magnificent week-long stay at Baylor Scott & White Hospital in College Station courtesy of Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

There were tears, trials, tribulations, fear, pills and more pills, rehab, and more. It was a pretty scary time.

I could focus on that and let that event be the defining moment of my life; I could drag around, woe is me, and become a burden with little hope. But I won’t.

I was told by my doctor that after all that, there was zero heart damage. None. If that’s not a bright side, I really don’t have an idea what is. But that’s a bright side.

I realize I spend a lot of ink and typing pointing out the downward trajectory of the economy, government, liberty and other things, but truly there are so many things that are positive in this country, and we’ll see that once we change our viewpoint.

For instance, East Texas really is a great place to live. There is a camaraderie here that is as welcome as it is ingrained into the fabric of the society.

There are numerous school districts that take the education of children seriously and approach it passionately.

There are elected officials that champion the rights of victims and ensure that justice is meted out fairly and equitably.

There are law enforcement officials that are just as much a part of the society as they are protectors of it, and care about keeping everyone safe.

There are legislators that skip the party lines, that care about doing what’s right instead of what will get the most votes in the next election.

There are the everyday, workaday folk that will stop by a stalled car to help, who volunteer for fire departments, who will fundraise for charities, who will work night and day to make civic events something to be proud of, and who always extend helping hands.

There are members of the military, who serve because it’s right, and there are veterans, who not only have served the country but came home and began serving the community (special shout out to VFW Post 6899, who came through in a big way for the SAAFE House this weekend).

There are so many churches throughout the area that help heal spiritually and more and give so much because it’s the right thing to do.

There’s a just and loving God above us, and that promise alone is worth the trouble that we endure down here, because, really, what does $4 gas matter to the promise of the Kingdom?

I also believe that parents need to reclaim their “sovereign rights” on the education of their children.

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An ode to my lil’ buddy

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The author and his lil’ buddy Pancho, circa 2009.The author and his lil’ buddy Pancho, circa 2009.

By Chris Edwards
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The age of 13 is a magical age in America. It tends to signal that transition, for most, from gawky pre-adolescence into something different. Not quite a full-blown teenager, but there on that precipice. There’s still fun to be had.

Thirteen, if you are a cat, is a good age. Not ancient, but not quite a spring chicken, either. Our animal family members live longer, fuller lives nowadays, due to combinations of genetics, better nutrition and of course, plenty of TLC. My little buddy Pancho still had fun to be had. He was 13.

Pancho transitioned, last week, from his handsome, tall and thin, orange and white form here into something sublime, but I miss him. I am not alright about this.

My mind keeps transitioning back to a Saturday afternoon, March 7, 2009, to be exact. I had just gotten through playing my Saturday morning solo acoustic gig at the Nacogdoches Farmers Market, when I spied, in the corner of my eye, the most adorable tiny kitten ever.

The sweet lady who carried him had made it her mission to see that as many feline and canine citizens in her midst without homes could end up in loving homes. This kitten was one she’d been fostering for a brief while, and I asked her right away if he was available for adoption. As luck would have it, he was.

Since March 7 was the birthday of our greatest songwriter, Mr. Townes Van Zandt, I reckoned I should name the little guy something to honor Townes, and so his name became Pancho (Lefty came along about a month later). I was over the moon to bring him home and tell him, “This is your new home, lil’ buddy.”

The story his foster mom had given me along with his paperwork from the vet, about his origin, was horrifying, and I blotted it out for a long time because I could not/did not want to imagine. Apparently though, the tiny orange-and-white kitten came dangerously close to becoming a coyote’s meal, but luckily a combination of his will to live and the intervention of a rescuer who saw the beast with the tiny kitten, ended well.

I often wondered, through the years, if Pancho had any brothers or sisters, or where his mama might be. Those thoughts often turned to scary “what ifs”: like what if Pancho would’ve ended up as someone else’s companion; in someone else’s home. Again, as much joy as he brought to my life, I snuffed out those thoughts about as quickly as they’d emerge.

As time moved on, that little squatty kitten grew up to be a long, tall, skinny and athletic dandy of a feline specimen. He was a cat’s cat who loved his catnip and treats and loved eating anything piscine.

He was chill as a kitty could be, but also quite active, and could jump higher than any cat I’ve ever seen. But of course, if you had spring-loaded jackrabbit-esque feet like Pancho did, you could probably jump that high, too.

He carried himself with an uncommon grace and self-assuredness, and every year, from his first full year onward, he would grow a ridiculously epic mane, starting in the fall. It would start to wane in the springtime, yet he still had something of a mane to show off, even in the summer months.

Sometime in the past couple of years, I had taken to calling Pancho “Animal Man.” He had a few nicknames, among them “Panchito,” “Mr. Mane,” “Panchy” and “Tailymane,” but the “Animal Man” handle came from my observation that he was like a little man inside of a cat’s body.

Sometimes I would sit with him and just imagine what he would be like if he were human. I’m pretty sure he’d have impeccable manners and have a great fashion sense. He’d probably resemble someone like David Hyde Pierce’s Niles Crane character, yet with a physique like Abraham Lincoln’s.

A few years ago, Lefty, who is Pancho’s lynx-point Siamese life-mate, was horribly ill; ill to a degree that his vet did not expect him to recover, yet he did. While he was so sick, I could see how worried Pancho was. Years prior to that, when Lefty was stricken with a brief sinus infection, it was the same concern, with Pancho wanting to get into the pet carrier with his brother, to ride to the vet’s office with him.

Although Lefty is now robust and recovered, I still figured, inevitably, that someday, he would pass before his beloved Pancho, and that Pancho would be beyond lost.

Now, it might be the most heartbreaking thing of all to watch Lefty wandering around, looking lost; knowing he is trying to find his brother.

They mourn losses around them. They know what’s going on. Although they might not express things with the same language you and I may use, our animal friends and family have feelings, souls and lives to live.

So if you are reading this and you have fur-covered family members, whether they’re young, old or in-between, give them a little extra attention today. If you have time in your busy day, why not pick up some special treats at the store for them and go home on your lunch break and treat them to a surprise.

After all, you are their world.

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Your newspaper has been busy growing

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PublisherPointsThere was a time in my life I did not understand the need for stability, status quo, holding down a solid fort or keeping things consistent. 

Then, about the time I hit the age people generally embrace this type of security, everything in the business I chose to make my career started changing ... drastically ... quickly. The bottom line is for the past several years, the newspaper industry has undergone change and we have worked to change and grow with the times.

Some of you may not realize what changes this newspaper has made to remain relevant, and a healthy part of the community and East Texas. I invite you to take look at our progress: 

1. We now provide news on several platforms. These include: a print newspaper delivered via USPS and sold on newsstands, an e-edition newspaper delivered via email, twice weekly news updates (Monday Morning Coffee and Weekender Updates) also delivered via email in the form of a newsletter, social media news updates, and finally, a news website available 24/7 at eastttexasnews.com. 

2. Our reach is over 110,000 people each month on five different platforms in our region of East Texas. This is an excellent opportunity for advertisers to get people into their stores or websites to buy their product or service. We provide a stable and consistently growing amount of traffic with our news readers. 

3. Our company also has several magazines including a monthly real estate guide; a quarterly regional magazine the East Texan, a bi-annual Houston County magazine, and an annual magazine in Polk County and Tyler County. 

When you visit easttexasnews.com, please enter a contest and/or encourage your friends and family to enter. It is fun, community related, seasonally inspired, and you might just win a great prize. You are also able to track legal notices that appear in this county and around the state of Texas. Soon, we will be adding obituaries for viewing and online research. 

It is an honor to provide news and advertising opportunities to this community and East Texas. You are the reason we exist. Anytime you want to discuss something, please contact me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the staff at your newspaper. 

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Hollow Men

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Jim Opionin

by Jim Powers
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We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men…
                             T.S. Eliot

The modernist poet T.S. Eliot wrote this poem in 1925. He was writing in post WW1 Europe and was concerned with a sense of hopelessness at the time. The poem is much longer than this first stanza, but the theme set first here continues.

“Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralysed force, gesture without motion;” pretty much sums up his characterization of the Hollow Men, men who are spiritually and morally empty. They, in fact, have no values at all, living lives that are meaningless.

Steve Bannon, a former adviser to then President Donald Trump, was sentenced yesterday to four months in prison and a $6500 fine for Contempt of Congress in refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena. The Department of Justice prosecuted him, a grand jury indicted him, a jury found him guilty, and a Judge sentenced him. But that judge then announced that Bannon could remain a free man pending an appeal. Bannon is a wealthy man. He could stretch the appeals process potentially out for years. The Judge’s decision to stay the sentence was a gift Bannon did nothing to deserve.

The problem I have with this result is that it is unequal justice. You or I, unless you have much more influence than I have, would have likely been held in jail pending the trial, much less allowed free pending appeal. After all, there was no question about whether he was guilty. He defied a lawful subpoena. Simply said he wasn’t going to participate in the legal process. Why is he still a free man? Modern times.

More concerning, though, is what Bannon represents. Bannon is a Hollow Man. He has made it explicitly clear that he has no core values. He respects no law, no government, no man other than himself. He advocates anarchy, says he wants to deconstruct democracy and the state. He is a wealthy man whose only interest is personal wealth and power. The concerning thing, though, is that he is surrounded by an increasingly large number of very powerful Hollow Men that have embedded themselves in positions of leadership in our government and society. Including a lot of judges.

I guess the thing I most can’t understand is why people I know have values themselves seem to be drawn to men who have no values. Men who have publicly flip-flopped over the years as easily as they change their socks each day. 

Donald Trump was a Democrat before he was a Republican, Pro-Choice before Pro-Life, he notoriously doesn’t like to pay his bills, cheats on his taxes, lies to banks, drops people the moment they disagree with him. He is a Hollow Man with no core values, only wealth, power and control of others interests him. And yet, millions of people believe he is the Messiah, sent from God to save the earth. Steve Bannon wearing nicer clothes, who also wants anarchy, to deconstruct democracy and the state.

I’m not hopeful we are going to survive as a society much longer. If we are no longer willing to examine our own values, and reject people who have no values, then we are lost. If we are willing to vote against our own interests, supporting people who clearly hate democracy, then there is no hope.

These midterm elections may be the last democratically held elections in this country. I’ve heard too many republican candidates refuse to say they would accept the outcome of the midterms if they did not win. I have heard several of them say they would not. They seem determined to end democracy, win or lose. Despite the very real risk that this could be a failed election, and the end of democracy, voting is the only shot we have at saving it.

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Decision making time

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Horace McQueen ColumnBy Horace McQueen

November is coming up fast—and what cattle folks have on tap for winter has to be addressed. What grass most of us have left is going fast. Winter pasture programs are few and far between. Moisture is the limiting factor. And for our producers the cost factor and timing doesn’t work out. The cost of fertilizer and seed is just too much of a gamble. High dollar hay and added protein in the form of cubes or molasses blocks or lick feeders will see lots of use. If the hay is exceptional quality—10% protein or more—it can carry a cow through tough times. But if the cow is nursing a calf, store-bought protein has to be added. 

Sale barns are recording big runs of cattle. At the same time feedlot buyers are backing off on their price offers on yearlings. Then there is the problem with what looks to be a severe lack of wheat acres for winter grazing. Those lighter weight calves that would normally be bought for wheat grazing have lost a lot of their allure to buyers in recent weeks—with some calves down as much as 20-cents a pound from a month ago.  One thing for sure is that the number of cows will be limited at least for 2023-24. That could well result in some high dollar breeding cattle over the next three years. Some folks are planning to keep raising cattle while others are getting ready to clear the pastures of bovines. Regardless, we will have a smaller cow herd and a reduction in the number of ranchers as we move forward. 

For producers who want to see a top notch set of Brahman cattle, the Cow Country Congress is coming up this Friday, Oct. 21. The multi-county event takes place at the Windy Hill Ranch at 3414 FM 1452 just outside Madisonville. Registration starts at 8 a.m. The cost is $20 a person and a chuck wagon lunch will be served. Program topics are the economic outlook for the cattle business, agricultural law issues, embryo transfer technologies in a drouth and lots more. After lunch a tour of the ranch is on the agenda. Call the Madison County Agents office to reserve your place at 936-348-2234.

And this about Texas A&M and the record number of students enrolled this fall. The report is that 74,829 students are signed up. The A&M enrollment is the largest in the state of Texas and one of the largest in the nation.

For this go-round, that’s –30—This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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