Fracking suspected as cause of Texas earthquakes

A group of residents of a small Texas community traveled to the state capital to protest hydraulic fracturing, “fracking,” in their community that is being blamed for about 30 earthquakes since November.

frackingThis follows reports of earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio, last year that were linked to fracking wells, which led the usually business-friendly Gov. John Kasich to order the operation to shut down.

If Texas quakes are like the Ohio seismic activity, the problem could be the injection of fracking wastewater into the ground near a fault line. Geologists say the liquid can create “slippage” in faults, which triggers the quakes.

The fact that fracking has helped dramatically reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and natural gas makes shutting down fracking operations highly unpopular in some circles. But when the earth is shaking under your feet, you gotta take it seriously.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this.

 

About MLK

I hesitate to say anything about Martin Luther King on the national holiday made in his name because, I dunno, it seems kind of gratuitous. You know, yadda yadda great civil rights leader, blah blah, all that. How his dream is (or not) realized is the subject of much editorial content today.

So here goes anyway.

Yes, we’ve witnessed some pretty dramatic change in America, some for the better, some not so much. Racial inequality still exists, but it has been kicked somewhat toward the fringes of society. I grew up in a nearly lily-white neighborhood, went to almost entirely white schools (until I got to Ohio State).

My kids, though, have benefited from going to integrated schools in Akron. My son told me about a time he was at a McDonald’s with some buds and he was the only white kid in the room. His friends joked about “living the dream,” and in some small way they were.

A couple of years ago I was driving behind a school bus around Macedonia or Twinsburg. The bus stopped and two kids got off: one white, one black. They casually strolled toward home, just two kids who were growing up in the same neighborhood, no big deal. Which is kind of a big deal. That probably would not have happened much 30 years ago, let alone 50 years ago.

In Columbus, where I grew up, the city schools started busing to force integration 30-some years ago. At the time, nobody liked it. Busing was an imperfect solution to a big societal problem. And it accelerated white flight, which further exacerbated the whole segregation problem.

Over time, though, kids started making friends with kids who didn’t look like them. Fast-forward 30 years. Our lives are entwined in a much more diverse  community, although segregation certainly still exists. But not at my kids’ schools.  I didn’t really experience much diversity until I got to college and then in newsrooms, which were way ahead of the curve in terms of cultivating diversity at the workplace.

About 20 years ago, a couple of years before I worked there, the Akron Beacon Journal produced a Pulitzer Prize-winning series about race relations. They drilled deep, revealing some pretty raw emotions. It was an honest exploration that sometimes went to very uncomfortable places.

And I suppose that’s necessary before we can move on to a “post-racial” society that some (prematurely) hailed when Barack Obama was elected president. I’ve seen and heard plenty of hateful and clearly racist comments about him and Michelle Obama. Clearly, we ain’t there yet.

What’s TPP?

No, TPP doesn’t stand for Toilet Paper Power.

It’s the Trans Pacific Partnership, until recently a nearly unheard-off super-secret deal in the works between the United States and other countries situated around the Pacific Ocean.

This little-known “partnership” could have profound effects on our economy and environment if the most-worrisome aspects of it come to fruition.

Wikileaks uncorked the genie this week on some of the details this week with a leaked copy of the environment chapter, part of a reportedly 1,000-page document. Late last year the Washington Post published a primer on TPP, but it doesn’t seem to focus on what has environmentalists and unions alarmed: Namely loosening of environmental laws and consumer protection and more loss of American jobs to overseas entities.

Negotiations have largely gone on behind closed doors and Congress is expected to vote on whether to give the Obama administration “fast-track” authority to finish negotiations and send the agreement to Congress for a yea or nay vote without any chance to change or amend anything in it. Take it or leave it but you better take it, seems to be the message.

I have talked to nearly a dozen people about this, and they almost universally think this is a bad idea. So do I.

The plan is reportedly being formulated in consultation with a few hundred corporate big wigs, but small business and consumer and workers’ advocates apparently weren’t invited to the party.

If the Partnership deal is not done properly, we could see more lead-tainted toys from overseas, more imported foods contaminated with e. Coli or salmonella, more inferior products made in sweat shops that pay pitiful wages to exploited workers, maybe even have our environmental and consumer safety laws challenged by foreign entities who don’t have our best interests in mind.

I’ll have more on this in a day or so.

Stay tuned.

Get Smart

At long last I have upgraded to a smart phone. I feel smarter already

Droid

Feeling smarter already

Yes, at long last I have succumbed to the siren call of the smart phone. I didn’t really NEED a smart phone, except that my old dumb phone had taken one too many tumbles in the parking lot. A hinge was already damaged, and the last drop severed a link to the display screen. So I was literally dialing/receiving blind. Texting was rendered useless, which is kind of a problem cuz my offspring text more than they actually call. Up to this point, I had been perfectly happy with the old beater. It was like basic transportation: It got me from Point A to Point B.

Still, it’s a significant upgrade from the old flip phone, although it also has a drawback or two.

Advantages:

* Better Internet access, including wi-fi, and now I can do that Facebook Thang on my phone.

* Cool ring tones, although I think I lost my Theme from Archer ring tone

* Much better photos. The old phone made fuzzy, low-rez globs. Which could be interesting in an artsy-fartsy sort of way.

* I can do selfies, which the kids say is all the rage.

Disadvantages:

* Much shorter battery life. All those apps take a toll.

* Need the owner’s manual to figure some of this stuff out. Although once you learn the basics it’s pretty intuitive. Figured out how to turn on wi-fi all by myself!

* All this Internet access can get expensive in a hurry.

Plumbing Nightmare, Chapter 6

This tale of plumbing woe is fraught with woulda- coulda- shouldas. Alas, it was not to be. And so I have a basement with soggy carpeting, soggy insulation and soggy not-so-drywall. This is yet another chapter in the saga of my hate-hate relationship with the plumbing in my house. Not familiar with the history? Curious? Follow the bread crumbs here.

Long story short: We had a well-publicized spell of unusually cold weather with temps dipping into the sub-zero teens and wind chills south of 30 below. I thought to leave my faucets on a slow drip overnight Monday but, oops, forgot.

Of course the pipes on my outer walls froze, meaning no water in the kitchen.

After a day of ventilating warm air behind the walls, I managed to get cold water restored to the kitchen sink, but hot water stayed stubbornly blocked.

So I was hopeful (delusional?) that the situation would resolve itself once things thawed out Wednesday.

I was wrong.

Stepped out briefly to get a newspaper (old habits die hard) and when I got back I heard an all-too-familiar sound of trickling water. Good thing I was around to shut off the water supply or the whole basement, which is finished, would have been flooded. Pool table and all. As it was, I still vacuumed up about 10 gallons of water.

Plumber is coming Friday a.m.  because, although I have some plumbing capability, installing and soldering pipe is not in my toolbox (yet). Today I tore out the drywall, guesstimating the source of the leak. It took two tries, but at least I didn’t have to tear out the entire wall. My drywall installation skills are rather limited as well. Repairs? Check. Spackle? Check. Paint? Check. Install entire walls? Eh, not so much.

The culprit was a pipe joint leading to the outside spigot. It simply came loose. Looks like it wasn’t even soldered! Well, having fixed plenty of other half-assed “upgrades” from previous occupants, I’m not surprised.

Anyway, below is the photographic evidence of my latest plumbing travail.

It can be truly said that this is a hole in the wall.

It can be truly said that this is a hole in the wall.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

pipes4

This nearby waste line was the scene of a plumbing crime several years ago. They didn’t use PVC cement and of course it eventually came loose, leaving a stinking pool of kitchen wastewater in the same corner of the basement as my current situation. That occurred on a Christmas Eve. With company over. Naturally.

pipes6

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

Oh, look! A shut-off valve one foot away from the damage. Hidden behind the drywall. Brilliant!

Oh, look! A shut-off valve one foot away from the damage. Hidden behind the drywall. Brilliant!