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Peggy McCracken

Let Cupid's arrow

cool before you leap

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Ah, February, the month of wine and roses. Or candy and daisies.
Whatever turns you on. Cupid is busy flinging arrows and linking up
hearts in this Valentine season.

I love chocolate, but it is not on my diet. And flowers make me
sneeze, so I don't expect a Valentine surprise. After 45 years of
marriage, it doesn't take wine and roses to cement a relationship,

It does my heart good to see lovers who have stayed together through
thick and thin for 50-60 years. They are closer now than they ever
dreamed possible back when Cupid stuck them with those arrows. Creamy
and Elizabeth McCree are one such example. Darrell and Lota Grogan are

Lota is 83, but she sang a special at church Sunday, as she does each
year on or near her birthday. Sometimes she sings one just for
Darrell, as a surprise. And I noticed Sunday night, as we sang "Let Me
Call You Sweetheart," she looked Darrell in the eye throughout the song.
They support each other in sickness and in health, as the marriage vows
require. It wouldn't surprise me to see Lota driving the golf cart for
Darrell when he's too weak to complete a round on his own.

Couples don't stick together today like they once did. They will vow to
honor and obey, "til death do us part," but at the first sign of
trouble, often one or the other wants out. Seldom does a split improve the situaTion, though. If they have children, they are bound together whether they want to be or not. It's just harder to be a good parent without the presence and support of the other half of the equation. And differences that loomed so large during the marriage are magnified after the split.

How heart-wrenching it is to watch children being batted back and forth
like a tennis ball between battling parents. And step parents. And
grandparents. And step-grandparents. And step-step brothers and sisters.
God knows it's hard enough to grow up when you have a secure, loving
home with both biological parents and real brothers and sisters. It must
be agonizing to have that security split down the middle and be thrown
into new relationships that may or may not last.

When Cupid's arrow pierces your heart, let it bleed awhile before you
leap into a permanent relationship that may not be so permanent.

"Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride
of their children." Proverbs 17:6, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



By Peggy McCracken

Watch what you say,

whether good or bad

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"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

I've repeated that children's chant many times, but the truth is, words
do hurt. Not so much when derogatory remarks are made to my face. I'm
used to that, and I just keep walking. It's when some kind soul repeats
another person's cutting remarks that it is hard to keep smiling.

All my life, I've been told not to say anything about another person if
I can't say something good. Not that I follow that advice. But had you
ever thought that words of praise can hurt a person, too?

Joseph Telushkin, a rabbi in the Synagogue of the Performing Arts, says
that for centuries, Jewish teachers have elaborated on one Bible verse
in Leviticus, "You shall not go about as a talebearer (slanderer in NIV)
among your people," interpreting it to mean you shouldn't talk about
people at all.

Here are three types of speech that Telushkin says Jewish law requires
we should decrease or eliminate: non-defamatory and true remarks about
others; negative, though true, stories that lower the esteem in which
people hold the person being discussed; and slander - that is, lies or
rumors that are negative and false.

You're kidding! Why should we not say stuff that's non-defamatory and
true? It would be hard to publish a newspaper if we followed that line
of thought.

But wait, I think I see what they're getting at. Suppose you say
something nice about a person and another person becomes jealous. That
injures the jealous person and could lead to injury to the one praised.
That's far out, I know, but a possibility. And it's also possible that
the person receiving the praise could let it go to his head, swelling him up with sinful pride.

I've seen that happen with stories I wrote about people. I like to
show their good side, and many times I've failed to let their flaws
balance the story. More than once I've seen a person I built up in a
story trip over his own ego and fall flat on his face.

Another danger is that when we start to talk about a person, we may not
be satisfied with praise. We may add, "she's beautiful, but what a nasty
disposition!" That's not going to help anything, either.

So what will we talk about? I like to explore ideas. Argue with people
who hold the same beliefs I do, but differ in the details. Share new
methods of doing old jobs. Encourage people to develop their talents.
Distill information to bring out pertinent facts.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17,

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



By Peggy McCracken

Extra! Extra! Extra!

Get your news online

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We did it! Working with a shoestring budget and an over-burdened staff,
we got "up and running" with the Pecos Enterprise Bulletin

Now you can dial 445-4321 and download the news in English that is in
the paper each day. Watch for a Spanish version to be offered as soon as
we can work out the details.

One aim of the on-line newspaper is to make it accessible to rural
areas where our carriers don't go. I know many of them depend on radio
and television for their news - and those are good sources. But radio
and television have to make their stories short, so you only get the
highlights. We have to cut some of them short in the paper, too, but we
won't have to do that on the computer. So tune in for all the details.

Because we are offering a little more on the bulletin board, we set the
price just 50 cents a month higher than the newspaper price. It's still
a bargain at $7.50 per month. When you sign up, you will be given a
password for access. If you're thinking of just dialing in without
paying, forget it. It won't work.

This is a cooperative effort, with all the staff pitching in. When I
first broached the subject of electronic publishing, Mac was skeptical.
We would need someone well-versed in computers to set it up and make
it work, he said. No, I argued. We can do it ourselves, with advice from
some of those well-versed people who were eager to have the news online
for themselves.

And sure enough, they came through like troopers.

With some struggle, we installed a program to compress the data to
about half size and a communications program to speedily send it over
the telephone wires. Now, daily, the editor of each section combines all
his or her stories into one file. Then the composition staff imports the
file into Windows Write and codes the headlines so they will stand out
in big, bold, black type.

Next, I archive those files in Winzip to put them into a package and
compress them. Before opening the communications program Host Mode to
allow people to access that compressed file, I have to close the fax
program, which uses the same modem. That's why the Bulletin Board is
only online between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. When it's on, we can't send or
receive faxes.

Someday soon, we hope to have a separate computer and telephone line
for the Bulletin Board, giving local subscribers the option to download
news at any time of the day or night - and to write back to us if they
choose. That seems like a simple method of writing letters to the
editor or giving anonymous news tips.

You folks out there in the hinterland who get your newspaper by mail
should watch for our World Wide Web address. That is my next project.

"The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise
seek it out." Proverbs 18:15, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



By Peggy McCracken

Winter allergies

give itch to scratch

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Today's paper is filled with livestock show results, so I won't comment
except to say that I survived it, despite coughing that sounded like my
lungs would explode any minute.

Moms may have worried that I would spread germs around for their kids
to catch. But what I have is not contagious - it's allergies. I am
blaming the humongous cedar tree just outside my bedroom window;
possibly a wall decoration made from wintergreen that I received at
Christmas; mildew left over from summer; maybe dust and maybe all of the

Now comes a press release from some drug company, titled "When winter
allergies rub you the wrong way." Boy, do they ever!

In this case, though, they give advice on relieving itchy eyes. Yes, my
eyes itch, but that's not the big problem just now. In case you are
struggling with that problem, though, I will pass on their advice.

Allergic conjunctivitis is an ocular reaction to airborne pollen, says
Kovak-Thomas Inc., maker of drops to relieve the itch. "Ocular reaction"
is the city term for itching eyes, in case you don't have your
dictionary handy.

You may not think to blame allergies for mid-winter itching and
coughing, because we think of spring and fall as the most intense
allergy seasons. But nearly half the country is not bound by the
calendar. In fact, an allergy wheel I had at one time showed February
and one other month (maybe November) to be the only low-pollen months in
this area.

Whether it's allergens or something else making your eyes itch, don't
rub them. That will just make it worse. You can get eye drops that will
relieve the itch. Or use my favorite home remedy: epsom salts dissolved
in water, boiled to kill germs and cooled before bathing eyes with it.

If that doesn't work, you may want to see your doctor just in case it
is a viral or bacterial infection. You will also want to avoid wearing
contact lenses for extended periods, wash your face and hair regularly
to get the pollen off, wear glasses or goggles to help protect your eyes
when outdoors, refrain from drying sheets, pillow cases and clothes
out-of-doors, and avoid over-medicating.

For more information about ocular allergies and a free brochure,
Caring for Your Eye Allergies," write to Acular/KTI, PO Box
1515, New York NY 10101-1515.

"Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge."
Proverbs 23:12, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose
column appears each Tuesday.



By Peggy McCracken

Little change in law

trips up stray reporter

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Is my face red! Last month I researched and wrote an article about
Texas having open range for livestock except in specified areas where
voters have enacted a stock law.

Now comes Robert Gamboa from Coyanosa and shows me a change in the law,
enacted by the Texas Legislature in 1987, that prohibits livestock from
running loose. Egad. I missed that in my research. That's what I get
for trying to look up stuff myself instead of asking someone who knows.

Robert brought me a copy of the Agriculture Code, Chapter 142, which
deals with estrays. Now don't ask me why they call stray livestock
"estrays." My computer's thesaurus doesn't recognize the word.

I had seen that word on a legal notice posted on the Reeves County
Courthouse bulletin board. It seems someone's bull had been found where
it didn't belong, and the Reeves County Sheriff's Office was looking for
the owners.

Article 142.003 of the Agriculture Code says that if a stray animal
wanders onto your property, you shall report it to the sheriff. Then the
sheriff notifies the owner - or impounds the animal if he deems it dangerous to the public. The owner of the stray animal may redeem it by
payment of fees and damages to the owner or occupant of the property
where it was found.

But you can't fool around about reporting the stray animal. You gotta
do it within five days if you want reimbursement for maintenance and damages. If the property owner and animal owner can't agree on the amount of payment, the justice of the peace will make the decision.

If the owner cannot be identified, the sheriff is to advertise the
animal's description in the newspaper and post a notice in the

As near as I am able to determine, the changes in the code are
primarily that the stray animal's owner must pay damages to the property
owner where it was found.

Gamboa interprets that to mean there has been no open range in the
state of Texas since March 1987. "Farmers and ranchers don't know about
this law," he said.

That does put a new light on things. No longer will drivers on farm and
county roads have to worry that they will run over a million-dollar bull
and have to pay the owner for it. And the bull's owner could be liable
for a big hospital bill and a new vehicle.

But don't take my word for it! I was wrong once.

"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and
renounces them finds mercy." Proverbs 28:13, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.



By Peggy McCracken

Guru unable to find

on-ramp to Internet

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I had to laugh when I read Mac's Friday column in which he calls me a
computer guru. Ha. Even if I fully understood the five computers in my
domain and could make them do all the wonderful things they are capable
of, (which I can't) I'd still be way behind. Technology advances at such
a blinding rate of speed, today is already history.

As I write, our computer that has a connection to the outside world is
downloading a web browser from CompuServe that will allow me access to
the Internet and World Wide Web. So far, I haven't been able to find the
on-ramp to that wide information highway.

I have done a little preparation of copy for the Web with askSam's
hypertext markup capabilities. If you are as uninitiated as I was a few
weeks ago, let me explain hypertext. It is a computer language that
allows you to set a bookmark at a specific place in a file, then set a
prompt in another location that will cause the cursor to jump to the
bookmark when you click on it.

With a Web browser, you can click on a hypertext link in a file in
Florida and jump to another one in Maine. Or, keeping it local, we can
set a bookmark in a story, then create a hypertext link in another file
that will allow you to jump from one file to the other. Or within the
same file. In other words, a hypertext link moves you to wherever the
bookmark is set.

That's fascinating to me. If you've ever hunted through a year's worth
of newspapers for a particular story or picture, you know how much trouble it can be. But if all those newspapers were archived on a computer, with hypertext links to particular stories, you could jump to them with one click of a mouse.

Once I get us online - which I hope will be before my 61st birthday the
last day of this month - I plan to save those daily "pages" for future
reference. Maybe this time next year we can find any 1996 topic
instantly with the click of a mouse. Wouldn't that be nice?

We had hoped to have a home page on the World Wide Web by this time,
but Dick Alligood is having some problems getting a local access number
set up. We know you can't afford long-distance charges to access the
Internet, so while we are waiting, we will put our daily paper on a
bulletin board. By dialing a local number, you can access it here at the
office without paying long-distance charges.

Don't let anyone tell you that computers make us into anti-social
"nerds." I have found that computers are so complicated I have to have
someone help me understand them. My survey group has been invaluable.
Without their feedback and advice, I would not be able to do any of this.

"I am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man's understanding..."
Proverbs 30:2, NIV.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise writer and editor whose column appears each Tuesday.
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Copyright 1996 Pecos Enterprise
324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321