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Aug. 30, 1996

By Mac McKinnon

Spotty rains affect

attitude of everyone

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I've written a lot about how dry everything is and how the lack of rain
has affected everyone's attitude.

Now that we've had some rain, have you noticed the change in attitudes?
It just seems that everyone is a little happier. Plus, the cooler
temperatures have contributed to that feeling.

Have you also noticed that this old desert country, so dry and dead
looking only last week, is now green almost everywhere you look. And for
the most part, we haven't had that much rain.

I know that my yard is looking a lot better than it did and we water
real often to try to keep it looking nice. But watering is just not a
substitute for a good rain.

But as several farmers and ranchers have said, we haven't had enough
rain for the drought to be declared officially over or even close to
being at an end.

Here in the desert, there's always a drought going on. That's just part
of being in the desert. But it always amazes me that things can green up
so fast with just a little bit of rain.

I'm reminded of the story of a rancher who walked out of a feed store
in a nearby town several years ago right after a big rain storm. A
friend of his commented about what a wonderful rain they'd just had.
"Yeah," the rancher said, "but I remember that's just how a drought got
started once before."

So, many of us, especially those who depend on the land for a living,
are consumed by weather. That's apparent to those who read this column
on a regular basis.

The rain we've gotten thus far has been spotted and scattered. Many
have gotten more than they need but the problem is it came in a hurry
and didn't have time to soak in.

Hopefully, we'll get some more rain soon. I particularly hope that
people in South Texas and along the Rio Grande get rain as many lakes
are very low right now. This not only affects boaters and those who fish
but the water supplies for many cities and towns plus irrigation water
for many farmers.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mac McKinnon is editor and publisher of the Pecos
Enterprise. His column appears on Wednesday and Friday.


Military cutbacks

will be painful

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Those who argued - and still do - for continuation of the 157-year-old,
all-male tradition at the Virginia Military Institute say the Supreme
Court's 7-1 decision to end the practice is a blow to educational

Those who support the forceful decision say it moves VMI into the
modern era, in which it must as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote,
"accommodate women, who today count as citizens in our American
democracy equal in stature to men."

The ruling, based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment,
struck down Virginia's attempt to establish a "separate but equal"
program at another college that, the court said, "would not give its
graduates the advantages of a VMI degree."

About 15 percent of the institution's graduates go on to military
service. Many, through various connections and associations, assume
positions of influence in a variety of fields in Virginia and throughout
the United States. It is the advantages of this type of experience that
the court sought to make available to women.

In his lone, but impassioned, dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia objected
that "change is forced upon Virginia, and reversion to single-sex
education is prohibited nationwide, not by democratic process but by
order of this court." Scalia cautioned that state education officials
would be reluctant to challenge the court's reasoning in the VMI case.

While discrimination, as practiced for so long by VMI, could not be
allowed to continue, the court acknowledged that there is no "one size
fits all" approach to education.

We agree. Worthwhile single-sex experiments are being conducted across
the country, particularly in troubled inner cities.

These efforts should be allowed to continue (and nothing in the court's
opinion prohibits them), for they are motivated by far different
concerns than Virginia's attempt to maintain a sex-discriminating status


Backroads of America

draw retired bicyclist

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He was left for dead along a lonely New Mexico road, and another time
he broke an elbow. But little things like that didn't stop John Triggs,
54, from completing his 13-month, 17,300-mile bicycle odyssey over the
backroads of the connected 48 states, Canada and Mexico.

He hauled along 65 pounds of gear and rode by himself without a support
vheicle. He completed his epic journey in August 1994, and tells his
story in the book, "America at 10 Miles Per hour," to be published in

A widower with two grown sons, Triggs broke open the piggybank, took a
year off and pedaled after his dream to see America close up. He camped
out in all kinds of weather, wore out 16 tires and had 49 flats, ducked
unruly traffic and dogs and got to see the country as few people have
ever seen it - all with his own muscle power without using an ounce of

He met a group of paraplegics pedaling bikes across the country with
their hands, people who lived on their bicycles, a Cuban refugee, a lady
biking solo across the country, a man who biked and played his guitar at
the same time, and people from all walks of life in out-of-the way
places along the many backroads of America on this trip of a lifetime.

America at 10 Miles Per Hour is available for $17.95 from Mid-Continent
Publishing, P.O. Box 172167B, Kansas City, KS 66117.

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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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