Rural

Texas Standard: February 15, 2021

As the temperatures fall, along with precipitation, millions of Texans stranded or worse by winter weather. Coming up, conversations with reporters from across Texas on how Texans are weathering conditions that have brought large parts of the state to a standstill. Also, missing out on the vaccine but getting something else instead: scammed. A report from Houston. Plus a major disconnect with rural Texas: concerns that a lack of broadband is leaving some Texas towns far behind. And new efforts to reunite families separated by U.S. immigration policies. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 3, 2021

New executive orders on asylum seekers and family separation policies at the border get a lukewarm reception from advocates for change. President Biden orders an official review of the remain in Mexico policies. Some are asking why not just change the policy? Also COVID-19 and the double squeeze on nonprofits. More demand for their services, but less money to provide those services… We’ll explore. And the governor’s call for legislation to further restrict abortion access in Texas. Are republican lawmakers hoping for a fight in the high court? Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 2, 2021

It was billed as a State of the State address. But a closer reading might reveal the not-to-subtle start of a new campaign season in Texas. We’ll break down governor Greg Abbott’s 5 emergency items. Also the latest on bottlenecks in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the Lone Star State. And rural Texas, disconnected? A state lawmaker warns funding cuts could cut off internet and phone service for many sparsely populated parts of Texas. Plus a new opening for transmigrantes and how that could create new opportunities and new dangers at the border. Those stories and more today on the Texas standard:

Texas Standard: January 8, 2021

Will prominent Texas politicians who sided with unsubstantiated election fraud claims pay a price for that position after Wednesday? And what is a coup? It’s a question many Americans are asking about and arguing over after the invasion of the capitol. We’ll talk with a Texas scholar whose focus includes authoritarian regimes. And she’s one of the few health providers for miles around in a rural part of east Texas. And right now she’s overwhelmed with demand for vaccinations, we’ll talk with her. Also the impact of the pandemic on the future of Texas public schools, the week in Texas politics and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 22, 2020

50 years ago today, what many people mark as the start of the modern environmental movement. What is the state of the Earth today? During a time of global pandemic, a pause to reflect on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Also, testing for Coronavirus ramping up in the most populous counties, whats holding back similar gains elsewhere in Texas? Plus how COVID-19 is keeping em down, way down, on the dairy farm. And a Texas congressman’s claim about a German powder that kills Coronavirus: a Politifact check and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 6, 2020

Amid unprecedented scenes of empty cities and lines of cars stopped at the Louisiana border, the next front in the COVID-19 fight: finding food. As people who’ve never needed such assistance before join growing lines for food banks, we’ll talk with people who’re working to help feed Texans suddenly in need. Also in a holy week for Christians worldwide, many Texas congregants take to the cloud. And once a Go-Go, always a Go-Go? Texan Kathy Valentine’s lips are no longer sealed. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: March 31, 2020

On the front lines in the war against COVID-19: how the fight is playing out in rural Texas, and the potential health crisis few are talking about. We’ll have the latest. Also, Texas counts! We all know that, right? But many worry that Texas might miss out on an important tally that could cost Texas more than just hundreds of millions of dollars, we’ll explain. And how to make sense of Coronavirus case counts. Plus where do doctors turn for medical supplies? How the current crisis may force a rethink of the healthcare supply chain. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 29, 2020

A race watched nationwide as a test of how well democrats are positioned to take the Texas house of representatives. We’ll take a closer look at the contest to replace and incumbent Texas house republican in district 28: why all the attention, and what the outcome does or does not tells us about changing politics in the Texas suburbs. Also, with only days till the caucuses, where do Texans stand in the presidential race? Brand new numbers from the respected Texas lyceum survey. Plus a Politifact check and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 24, 2020

Houstonians shaken overnight by an explosion. We’ll explore the details. Also, we remember PBS host Jim Lehrer, the national star who spent years in the Lone star state died Thursday. Plus perceptions of U.S. troops stationed in Ukraine amid the president’s impeachment trial. And is this hemp or is it marijuana? Well, if in Austin there’s no need to fret if carrying small amounts. Also, adding and subtracting with Texas Instruments, the brand that brought us the calculators of the past is making news. All of those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: September 25, 2019

Impeachment and the Tex factor: how might the politics of the Lone Star State play into a renewed push for charges against the president? It is analogous to the bringing of an indict by a grand jury. And now, the U.S. House speaker has given the green light to pursue impeachment. What is Texas’ role in all this? We’ll take a closer look. Also, a new plan to get food to rural kids during those summer months they’re out of school. Plus, a Politifact check of a claim regarding Beto O’Rourke’s promise to take away AR-15s. All that and then some today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 23, 2019

It’s been a week now since the ransomware attacks on smaller towns and counties across Texas. We’ll look at how one county beat the bad guys. Also… safer than cigarettes? A warning from a Texas pulmonologist over vaping as the CDC investigates more than a hundred cases of severe lung disease linked to e-cigarettes. Plus the week in Texas politics with the Texas Tribune and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 20, 2019

The governor launches a second panel to address immediate safety concerns in the aftermath of the El Paso shooting. What’s different? We’ll take a look. Among the lawmakers assigned to the new Texas safety commission, several from the El Paso area: Democratic representative Mary Gonzales on what she hopes will come out of the newly created Texas Safety Commission. Also, why Dallas is turning to a task force to deal with rising homicide rates. And are national developers driving up college debt? All those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 24, 2019

Have you been living in the U.S. for at least 2 years? Can you prove it on demand? We’ll look at what new rules on expedited deportation could mean for Texas. Also, as Washington focuses on the Mueller report, many in Texas talking about the 18 year old Dallas born U.S. citizen, detained by border agents for three weeks without explanation. What’s making news in your part of the Lone Star State? Tweet us @TexasStandard. Plus, a change in federal rules that could take away food stamps for more than 300 thousand Texans, we’ll have details. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: June 5, 2019

U.S. tariffs set to kick in next week against our neighbors south of the border, and warnings this could get ugly on the homefront. As President Trump vows to launch tariffs against Mexico starting next week, economists warn another trade war could be a disaster for the U.S…with Texas hardest hit. We’ll take a closer look. Also, the licensing board for Texas plumbers is about to get flushed. But Governor Abbott’s promising to fix what’s become a major flap. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 17, 2019

Even after evidence of Russian attempts to hack U.S. politics, campaigns for 2020 are turning down cybersecurity help. Is that a smart move? We’ll take a look. Also, a new immigration reform plan. Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News tells us why Democrats say its dead on arrival. Plus, skyrocketing insulin prices? For a Texas congressman this one’s personal. Joaquin Castro tells us what he’s planning to do about it. And U.S. military veterans, more and more of them denied U.S. citizenship. We’ll hear what’s happening. Plus the week in politics with the Texas Tribune and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: March 21, 2019

With oil and gas revenues rolling in and the state’s savings account hitting record highs, Texas lawmakers get set to make a record withdrawal. Though the formal name for the fund makes no mention of rainy days, several days of rain back in 2017 will finally hit the Rainy Day Fund rather hard. We’ll hear where the money’s going. Also, If Joaquin Castro moves forward with plans to challenge John Cornyn for his senate seat, who’s in line to try to fill Castro’s shoes? We’ll play musical chairs. Plus why Google wants to play with you, and why it could be a real game changer. All those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 31, 2019

First the ranches, then the big cities. Come 2020, is the next great political battleground in the Lone Star State the suburbs? We’ll take a closer look. Also, senator John Cornyn now warning fellow Republicans that President Trump could lose Texas in 2020. Is the Lone Star State no longer reliably red? The answer might be found in the suburbs. And although the Permian basin’s booming, we might be on the road to a new foreign energy dependence, we’ll hear why. All that and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 30, 2019

People have been flocking to the Lone Star State for its economy, but is a good job the key to the good life in Texas? We’ll take a look at the unreported face of household hardship. One problem with the poverty line: what it fails to factor in. A new report shows more working Texans struggling with economic hardship than you might think. Also, a politifact check on the cost of illegal immigration. And it’s not just what you say but how you say it: an expert linguist decodes the Governor’s Texas twang. All that and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 29, 2019

The Texas voter fraud claim: 95 thousand registered voters may be non-citizens. But does the citizenship check violate federal law? We’ll take a look. Also, in Texas few things are more sacred than property rights, until they’re pitted against oil and gas interests. How a planned pipeline through the hill country could prove a test of Texas values. And more venture capital money flowing into the Lone Star State, reaching levels not seen since the dot com heyday. Happy days are here again? Why you might want to hold off on the party hats. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Ranch Words In Urban Life

The other day I was trying to pull out on U.S. Route 281, and the traffic was so steady that I had to wait about three minutes for an opening. As I was waiting, my father’s voice came into my head and said, “Somebody left the gate open down there.”

Dad’s been gone 30 years now, but those sorts of metaphors still live in my head, as they do for a lot of us Texans. We may have mostly moved from farms and ranches to cities, but our language is still peppered with these expressions of pastoral life. As T. K. Whipple, the literary historian pointed out, we live in a world our forefathers created, “but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, what they lived, we dream.” You cannot have the influences of the frontier or country life disappear in just a generation or two. It hangs on in interesting ways, in our myths and in our language.

One place that we can witness it with some vibrancy is in the farm and ranch expressions or metaphors that survive in our digital age. Here are twelve I’ve rounded up for you.

“I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.” It’s used to infer the poor likelihood that a given investment or prediction will come true. “Well, yes, Congress might decide to work together for the greater good, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.”

“To mend fences.” It means to make peace. “You might want to mend fences with Jayden. You’re likely to need his friendship one day.”

“Dig in your heels.” When cowboys were branding calves and roped one, they had to pull hard against them and were told to dig in their heels. Now, the phrase is used for any act of taking a tough stance. “We’re diggin’ in our heels on this contract.” Similar to “sticking to our guns.”

“Take the bull by the horns” is a good one. Face your troubles head on. Yet a similar saying warns against careless assertiveness: “Mess with the bull and you get the horns.” That expression was made particularly popular in classic films like The Breakfast Club and Some Kind of Wonderful.

“Don’t have a cow!” Bart Simpson made it world-famous. Of course, he added “man” at the end. It is about anti-empathy. I can’t validate your over-reaction. The earliest known printed use of “don’t have a cow,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was found in the Denton Record-Chronicle in 1959. The phrase appeared in quoting someone who said, “He’d ‘have a cow’ if he knew I watched 77 Sunset Strip.” Proud it showed up first in Texas.

“Till the cows come home.” That means a long time, long time. It’s almost as bad as waiting for “pigs to fly.” “Until the cows come home,” perhaps originated in the Scottish highlands. They let cows out to wander lush pastures in the spring and it would be a long time before they would make their way home. It also refers to cows coming home to be milked in the early morning hours.

“Maverick” is well-known. It is used to brand someone as a non-conformist. It is named after Samuel Maverick, a Texan who allegedly didn’t brand his cattle. That isn’t the entire truth, but that is what many have come to believe, and so that version of the story has stuck.

“All hat and no cattle” is one of my all-time favorites. I used it recently in a conversation with a teenager and he said he had never heard it before and didn’t know what it meant. I explained that it was similar to “all bark and no bite.” He didn’t get that one either. I guess trying to teach ranch metaphors to a teenager is like “herding cats.” In fairness, I didn’t understand his saying that I seemed “salty” either.

“Riding shotgun.” This started as means of naming the guy who rode on the stagecoach next to the driver, generally holding the shotgun to ward off bandits. It’s still being used 150 years later. Even modern teenagers still yell “I got shotgun!” as they run to the truck.

“Hold your horses.” Just wait a minute. Let’s think about this calmly before we jump right in and regret it. “Hold your horses, Jim. I can’t buy your truck until I talk to my wife, first.” I also like that we still measure engine power in “horses” – 400 horsepower.

“I’m on the fence about it.” Taking that new job in the oil patch in Odessa? Not sure. Still on the fence about that.

I guess the most popular metaphor of all from ranch culture is “BS,” meaning “nonsense.” It’s difficult to accurately trace its origins and attempting to do so leads us into a thicket of art form itself.

I used the word recently while giving a talk in the state Capitol building. I was asked afterward if I thought that was an appropriate term to use in such august surroundings. I said, “I imagine the expression has been used more than a few times here in the legislature, and probably, even more often, impressively illustrated.”