Real Heroes

By Jon Williams

I’ve heard it said that Axl Rose, member of the band Guns and Roses, said that to become famous one has to only offend as large a group of people as possible. In the 1980s, his band did exactly that. Songs like “One in a Million” Imagerose to the top of the charts, bewildering many while enchanting the poorly dressed 80s generation. Guns and Roses became icons, heroes if you will, for a certain segment of the population.

At the same time, Madonna was paving her own path in popular culture by shocking and offending as many “traditional” Americans as she could. The “Material Girl” came into her own as a sexy role model for young women around world, and a sex symbol for young men. She never disappointed; finding new ways to shock the world during each tour and award show. Even today she is heralded as a hero to many as she “broke out” of the norms for women.

Both were given their platforms by Music Television (MTV) which was a cutting-edge media revolution. Youth flocked to “hip” MTV where new and “radical” music was always available. Remember Vanilla Ice, Milly Vanilly, and MC Hammer? Those seem like the good ole’ days, but at the time it was pretty radical. Nowadays, they seem rather calm.

The News this week has all been about Miley Cyrus and her gyrating “twerking” on stage. How she’s gone from being a hero for young girls to someone from whom you should shield your children.  ImageMy wife and I had a talk about this last night, and the lack of remorse from her parents is telling: They both know show business and the value of Axl Rose’s rule. They know that all the talk about Miley Cyrus is simply going to sell more albums and is going to  create more excitement next time she performs. “Can she outdo her last performance?” the pundits will ask. Is Miley Cyrus destined to be the next “Hero” that American culture looks back upon?

I submit to you that it doesn’t matter.  Let’s stop being offended. Let’s stop talking about it. Miley Cyrus never really was a hero to begin with. She was a young girl who had famous parents. She was spoiled rotten, and now she wants to be the center of attention… everybody’s attention. This does not, nor will it ever, make her a hero.

I want to talk about a couple of real heroes who are not only examples for our young women, they are examples for all of us.

The first is Aana Blalock.

Aana getting ready for treatment

Aana is an Air Force wife stationed in Germany. Her husband Jack has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. Together they have four children. Last year Aana was diagnosed with advanced stage Breast Cancer and has been fighting it ever since. With Jack’s multiple missions and temporary duty assignments, she has had a rough time, but she has refused to leave his side. Her parents and family have traveled from the US to Germany several times during the most difficult treatments to help take care of the kids… and Jack, but not once has she let up.

She posts in her blog on a regular basis thanking God for her boys (even her grown up one), her dogs, her family, and life itself. She has not once publicly complained. She carries on with a smile; keeping strong because that’s what true heroes do.

She is a wife, a hero to her husband. She is a mom, a hero to her sons. She is a hero to me. She is a military wife and a Breast Cancer survivor, a hero to all of us.

The next is Amanda Strader.

Amanda and Kent Strader

I met Amanda 30 years ago when I was 3 years old. Her family was the first family of missionaries to Africa that I had ever met (or at least understood). I have known her and her family almost all my life, even though she is a bit older than I. When I was 11 she married a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. I attended the wedding and was in awe as they sang Steve Green’s “Household of Faith” along with the rest of the packed audience. They left for Fort Bragg, Airborne School, and a lifetime of adventure a few weeks later. Her husband Kent is now about to be promoted to full bird Colonel, but was just recalled from a deployment to Afghanistan three months ago.  You see, Amanda was diagnosed with a rare form tongue cancer even though she’s never smoked/chewed a day in her life. She is allergic to many traditional forms of chemo/radiation, and even many medications which has made her treatment exponentially difficult. During the second week of treatment, she slipped and fell, breaking her ankle. This compounded the pain and agony of the treatment.

Amanda also posts regularly in her blog. She is always grateful to God for her family and friends. She and Kent are more than just husband and wife, they are best friends, and while they do not have any children, their separate writings show the tenderness they have for each other, the intense love they have, and the enormous faith they possess that God is in control of every situation.

You see, Amanda is a hero. She is a hero to her husband. She is a hero to her family. She is a hero to me. As a military wife and a cancer patient, she is a hero to all of us.

As a side note, when my own mother was dying of cancer, Amanda came from North Carolina and spent a week by her side, taking care of her. I’ve never forgotten that, and even if she’d never been a cancer survivor, a military wife, or any of the other, she’d still be a hero to me.

Real heroes don’t need offensive gimmicks. Real heroes are genuine, they are real. They do have one common trait that you should look for: Humility.

Real heroes are all around us; you don’t have to look to the television.

Aana and Amanda, you are two of my heroes.


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Shame Shame Shame

Michael Parks, CEO
Crescent Capital Finance Group
11100 Santa Monica Boulevard
Suite 2000
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Mr. Parks,                                                                                                        August 18, 2013
Shame on you.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

As the Chairman of the Board of Directors for El Paso Electric Company, I am very sure that you are aware of the Santa Teresa to Montoya project currently underway in El Paso in which we homeowners are up in arms. We are up in arms because El Paso Electric Company, in its greed, failed to procure the proper permits and licenses; it failed to conduct the required Environmental Impact Surveys, and it has flippantly, through its mouthpieces, dared residents to take action, even when our properties were being torn down. Of course, now that we have proof that your company cut corners at the Federal and State levels, and is so cozy with the El Paso City Council as to make Betty Boop blush, your company’s assurances (aka lies) to the media to the contrary are little more than public perjury.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

Of course, from your millionaire’s perch in Los Angeles, California, a few dozen homes, a few protected owls, and a few million lost in property value in El Paso, Texas probably seems quite insignificant. Let me explain just how “insignificant” this is to us.

Last week, without permission, your El Paso Electric Company goons broke down the rock walls separating the highway (Artcraft) from the closest homes to the project. There is no eminent domain order, and as it turns out, you don’t even have the permits from the city, and by the way, public notification / input laws are just inconveniences when you are accustomed to work in a city with such a high level of Hispanics Immigrants who generally are unaware of the law and just roll over and accept your corrupt ways; and you take advantage of that cultural divide. (Some would call that racist)

Turns out, you messed with the wrong neighborhoods.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

On July 11th, in order to cover her tracks, one of El Paso’s own corrupt city council members, Ann Morgan-Lilly called a meeting in which she tried to “sell” this project (along with backup from the El Paso Electric Company goon Mary-Beth Stevens in case she misspoke). Her own “expert” came in and explained to us that our local property values would “only” be diminished by the “insignificant” amount of 5% to 10%. With the average home being worth $150k in this neighborhood, your project, in addition to breaking all the laws, killing all the wildlife, and putting our heath at risk, is diminishing our lower-middle-class home values. For the soldier who just bought his home with his VA loan last year and had little equity in his house, he is now “below water” by $15,000 (half of his annual salary) due to YOUR INSIGNIFICANT LITTLE PROJECT. (Which will make you what… a few hundred million dollars?)

Shame. Shame. Shame.

In conclusion, El Paso Electric Company, under your watch has broken law after law. It has flippantly diminished the home values of thousands of El Paso residents, while you reap your millions in Los Angeles, California.

I’m sure you don’t care about us Texans at all, but let me tell you something, when your stock price begins to dip because of the SHAME that this project has brought El Paso Electric Company, you will remember this letter.

Shame on you sir, shame on your entire company. You are not corporate citizens, you are corporate rapists and plunderers.


Jon Williams


Micheal K. Parks

CC: AP, Los Angeles Times, CNBC, FoxNews, Fox Business, DrudgeReport, UPI, MSNBC


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Editorial Note: This public shaming represents me, Jon Williams, not the attorneys representing Artcraft Neighborhood Association or even any of the other homeowners. I’m pretty ticked off, can you tell?

The Great Dust Bowl of the Texas Panhandle

Hey! I wanted to come y’all that I had to write a college paper the other day of my favorite place. I currently live in Missouri, but I was born and raised in Texas. I thought I would share my essay paper with you!

— By Amy Barnes Jordan


The great dust bowl covers a wide range from eastern New Mexico, Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle and the Texas panhandle. I was born and raised in the Texas panhandle. It is my favorite place to be. From the wide open range to the never ending sky, the Texas Panhandle is not only my favorite location, but it is also what I call home.
As you enter the Texas panhandle, the first thing you see is the landscape, and how it resembles a scorched desert. The land is flat and rugged. You can see as far as the eye can see. Tumble weeds roll ungracefully across the dry, desolate landscape. Trees are scarce, and ones that have survived look as though they are screaming for water. Most would find this type of landscape repulsive, or an eyesore. To me, it is the most beautiful place in the world. Not only do you notice the dry, scorched earth, but you quickly notice something that strikes awe within you; the Texas sky. Whether you are driving in the morning, evening or the middle of the night, you can always find yourself intrigued by the Texas sky. The sunsets and sunrises are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. At night, you can see every single star with great detail. Hence the song lyric “The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas!”

To be in Texas is to feel like a big warm blanket has been wrapped around you. From the weather to the way people treat you, you will always feel a warm welcome. In my hometown of Panhandle Texas, people wave at you as they pass you on the street. Whether they know you or not, you are a friend of theirs.

No one knows a stranger, and they are always quick with a smile and a “Hey y’all!” Not only do the people make you feel at home, but just step right into my grandmother’s kitchen and scoot yourself up to the table, and be prepared to understand what southern hospitality, and southern comfort mean. My grandma’s sweet iced tea is legendary, as well as her mouthwatering cooking. I recommend the Sunday dinner of roast beef cooked to perfection.


That leads me to the smells of Texas. Just thinking about the smells strikes a nerve so deep in my heart that I am overwhelmed. I can smell the wildflowers and the gently plowed earth as the gentle breeze blows out of the west. I can also smell the cattle feed lots that blow in on that same wind. When I would complain about the smell, my grandfather always told me “Honey, that’s the smell of money.”

In conclusion, there are many things to love about the great dust bowl of the Texas panhandle. From the sights, the smells and the feeling you get once you have spent some time there, you will never want to leave. I live in Missouri now, but I will always call Texas my home sweet home.


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Colors of Texas

by Robin Sallee


Texas isn’t usually the place that comes to mind when thinking of beautiful scenery, especially West Texas, but Texans are unique in their ability to see beyond the obvious. Texas has an extremely wide array of browns, yellows and greens with fields, pastures and open ranges sprawling out as far as the eye can see (literally). Don’t forget all those pump jacks dotting the horizon, what would Texas be without those?Image

Now look closer….

One of the most beautiful sights in Texas  is the Purple Sage that springs up along the highways and in the fields and pastures. The color, so bold, looks as if  paint has been splashed across the mundane landscape, and begs the eye to take it in and etch it to memory.Image

Then behold the sight as the color blue comes to life in the petals of the Bluebonnet that sprinkle the fields, begging for the attention that it deserves. The colors of the state flower range from pale Imageblue to almost purple in its multi-faceted beauty, calling the attention of Texans and non-Texans alike.

Now look across the brown expanse. A true Texan will tell you that we like not having all the clutter of trees and mountains to block our view of the incredible sky. Texas skies reach the heavens with the lightest of blues and the fluffiest of clouds that rush by as if they are sailing the oceans. Then in a Texas heartbeat, that same sky can turn the angriest of dark blues and explode with brilliant white, fiery lightening. As we say in Texas, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a while and it will change!

Behold the Texas sunset! The sun slowly sinks toward the brown horizon and the sky suddenly explodes into Pink. The rose pink stain spreads across the horizon slowly fading into a variety of oranges and reds, before it slowly disappears into the brown sea of the open land.


Not man made, but the red, white and blue that flies above the homes and businesses of Texas, tell us that we are where we belong. That star reminds us of our night skies with stars galore and how vast our homeland is. We are a state of people that proudly call this, seemingly colorless scene, home and we see deeper and further than the eye can… we see with our hearts. We raise our flags in tribute to our home. God Bless America and God Bless Texas!


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Need a Push at 3 AM

Author Unknown


A man and his wife were awakened at 3:00 am by a loud pounding on the door. The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push. “Not a chance,” says the husband, “it is 3:00 in the morning!” He slams the door and returns to bed.
“Who was that?” asked his wife… “Just some drunk guy asking for a push,” he answers. … “Did you help him?” she asks “No, I did not, it’s 3am in the morning and it’s bloomin’ well pouring with rain out there!” “Well, you have a short memory,” says his wife. “Can’t you remember about three months ago when we broke down, and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of yourself! “God loves drunk people too you know.”
The man does as he is told, gets dressed, and goes out into the pounding rain. He calls out into the dark, “Hello, are you still there?” “Yes,” comes back the answer. “Do you still need a push?” calls out the husband. “Yes, please!” comes the reply from the dark. “Where are you?” asks the husband. “Over here… on the swing,” replied the drunk.