Texas Liberal

All People Matter

I Like The People My Friends Have Become—Every Day Has Value

On my recent visit home to Cincinnati, I met up with a number of friends.

In some cases I took their pictures. These are the pictures you see above.

I met some of these folks in the 1980’s. Two I have met since I left Cincinnati in 1998.

Strong and long-lasting relationships make us better able to deal with the hardships of life.

Also–if we pay attention– these relationships provide us with context to understand the lives that all sorts of people lead in our difficult world.

Everybody I met up with for lunch, dinner, coffee, or a drink had a story to tell.

This is no different from any person you know.

The lives my friends lead have great worth.

I like the people my friends have become over the years.

I work hard to keep up with my friends. I’d suggest you do the same. Don’t wait for others to act.

Every person has value. Every place has value. Every day has value.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

I Was About To Write A Blog Post, But Then Got Caught Up In A Facebook Chat


I was about to begin writing a blog post a few minutes ago, when, instead, I became engaged in a Facebook chat with a friend of many years who now lives in New Zealand.

People are easily distracted in this time of so-called social media.

It is as if I am no more than a leaf in the wind.

Though I was quite glad to hear from this person who I have known since 1980.

30 years is a solid friendship and stands in great contrast to a leaf in the wind.

There are many trade-offs involved with this technology many of use each day.

It is now too late in the evening to begin the post I had intended to write this evening.

Being flexible of mind—As we are told we must be in this globalized age—I will offer up this post you are now reading as a replacement.

Above is a photo taken by a Steffen Hillebrand of Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand.

That sure looks like a nice place to visit.

I wonder if I could connect to the internet at Abel Tasman National Park and if I could call someone from my cell if I were at that park.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—Blogger Friends I Have Made

Here is this week’s Texas Progressive Alliance Round-up.

The Texas Progressive Alliance is a confederation of leading political bloggers in Texas.

(Above—Annibale Carracci’s The Butcher’s Shop from the early 1580’s. It has little to do with Texas except that folks eat a lot of meat in Texas and that this painting can be found at the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth.)

A good thing about having a blog is that you get to know other bloggers. While I’ve met some bloggers I don’t like, there are also many nice folks I’ve formed friendships with as I’ve written Texas Liberal.

These are folks who run solid blogs and who merit you giving them a good look.

Sarah V. in San Antonio writes Wandering Off. Sarah is a military wife who enjoys roaming around Texas and elsewhere with her family and sharing pictures of her travels with the blog reading public. Sarah is both friendly and insightful.

Jobsanger in Amarillo is one of the best political bloggers in Texas. He writes column length posts nearly every day about the great issues of our times. His posts are always well-reasoned and represent the voice of a true liberal.

angrystan is a blogger comrade from Austin. Stan is originally from Louisville, Kentucky which makes him pretty much my neighbor. I lived for many years just up the Ohio River in Cincinnati. Stan’s been wondering how I’m doing with my new Apple computer—I guess I could tell him I’m getting the hang of it. Stan has offered me any help I need in figuring out the new computer.

I must thank The Field Negro in Philadelphia, PA for making Texas Liberal a recent “Blog That I Am Feeling” over at his shop. The Field Negro, like Jobsanger, is a real blogging pro. (To the extent one can be a pro at something that pays little or nothing for a lot of work.) The Field Negro churns out something of value each day because he has strong beliefs he wishes to share with the you— the blog reading public.

And, of course, I’d be remiss not to include my brother Perry Dorell who writes Brains and Eggs here in Houston. Perry is a genuine real-McCoy Texas populist liberal. He and his wife Sue are also good friends with this blogger. Perry is a statesman of political blogging in Houston and for all Texas. (This means he has been blogging a long time.)

There have been other relationships I’ve made being as a blogger. I’m sorry I’ve not included them all. But I’ve hit my limit for blogging today and I’ve got to move on to other things.

The round-up—

The Texas Cloverleaf clues you in on why you can’t breathe in Denton County — gas drillers!

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has some thoughts on Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’ interim charges — including topics like feral hogs, blogging, and transportation.

On Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS, TXsharon summarizes the Barnett Shale emissions meeting in Fort Worth.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme would like the sun to shine on city doings even if city officials don’t. Continue reading

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Long-Term Friends Offer Temporary Response To Death And Give Life Context

I’m about to go to dinner here in Cincinnati with a bunch of friends I’ve had for 20 years and more.

Long-term friends create an illusion of permanence and offer at least a temporary rebuttal to the inevitability of death.

Also, long-term friends give context to life and give a greater value to what you have done in the past. When I’m with people I’ve been friends with for many years, I know that decisions I’ve made  over the years about how to spend my time and who to spend my time with, were in fact the correct decisions.

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Texas Young Democrats Event In Austin On July 15—What Can I Plug That Is Of Value To You?


My friend and fellow blogger Rachel Farris of Austin sent me a Facebook invitation today to an upcoming event in Austin.

Rachel writes the blog Mean Rachel.

The event is the Texas Young Democrats Women’s Caucus Happy Hour that is taking place at the Molotov Lounge in Austin July 15 at 6:30 PM.  The Molotov Lounge is located at 719 W. 6th street in Austin. A purpose of the gathering will be to show support for Judge Sotomayor as she seeks Senate approval to serve on the Supreme Court.       

(Above–Vyacheslav Molotov)

I’m not likely to make it to Austin for this event. I don’t think I’d go even if I lived in Austin. I’m sure I’m one of about 300 people Ms. Farris sent notice to about the function as she went down her list of Facebook friends.

Still, I’ve got this forum here and if I can give something Ms. Farris finds of value a plug —Why not? No doubt that would be better than the crap I would write otherwise.

As a further example of this sentiment—I’m very glad to have become an online member of Democratic Women of Denton County.

(Above is my profile picture for Democratic Women of Denton County. If you notice anything different about me it is that I just got my hair done.)  

My friend Judith Ford, who writes the blog Castle Hill Democrats, is a co-founder of the group. If this group has value to Judith, it has value to me.

I see that I can cough up $20 in dues and become a paying member of Democratic Women of Denton County. Maybe I should do this soon.

A few weeks ago I ran an essay here on the blog from my friend Ted McLaughlin of Amarillo about why he supports Kinky Friedman in the 2010 Democratic primary for Governor of Texas. Here is that post.

Ted writes the blog Jobsanger.

I don’t agree with Ted about Kinky. Yet at the same time, Ted is a good guy who writes a strong blog and who is a committed liberal. If I can do something that helps Ted a bit then that is what I’ll do. I know he would do the same for me.

And, of course, we should not forget that Wednesday, July 8 was the birthday of the distinguished Houston political blogger Perry Dorell.

Happy birthday Perry.

Perry writes the blog Brains & Eggs.

Life is brief and brutal. Let’s help our friends and help the people with who we share deeply-held beliefs.   

I’m happy to promote just about any Democratic or progessive/liberal event here in Texas. (or elsewhere.) Please e-mail me at naa618 at att dot net and give me the details—Or leave a comment on this post.

I’m happy to plug to all sorts of things. If you have a band– or some type of creative endeavor in life– or whatever– please  e-mail me and provide the details. This shop runs a bit over 1500 page views a day and you never know who will see a blog post.

We all have things we want to accomplish and be known for in life.  

Here is the link to the Martin Luther King sermon Unfulfilled Dreams.

Texas Liberal has the best Martin Luther King Reading and Reference List on the web.

Please don’t forget that on August 15 I’ll be hosting the most immense punk rock blast of 2009 at Newport, Kentucky’s Southgate House. Newport is just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

Thanks to my friends and thanks to all who read this blog. 

(Below–A Plug)

July 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Elvis & Communication

Sometimes I send out e-mails to be my friends just to keep in touch and to relate thoughts I’m having at the moment. Below is one such e-mail I sent today. Though I only sent it to half my list because I’m just that strapped for time today. Here is a link to read about the Elvis book I referenced in the post.  
Hello folks. This is an e-mail to stay in touch that may double as a blog post. Time is short. Today and always.
I’ve been reading a biography of Elvis Presley called The Rise Of Elvis Presley—Last Train To Memphis. It’s the first of two volumes.
I’m only to page 65, but I’ve been so interested in the author’s discussion of the emotional vulnerabilities that Elvis had and was able to convey to others. The author, Peter Guralnick, writes that in the way a young Elvis sang and interacted with others, there were clearly evident, if mostly non-verbalized, insecurities and emotional needs.
While maybe this is true for many of us, when you think of the connection Elvis gained with a wide public, it gives rise to the idea of unexpressed vulnerabilities as a starting point of communication.
If we understand our own vulnerabilities and try to reach a respectful understanding of the vulnerabilities of others, we will then have a very good starting point for useful and meaningful communication.
By communication in this context, I mean interactions that bind together our personal lives with our more public existence. Like it seems Elvis was able to accomplish at the beginning of his career.  
I’ve long held, but have yet to muster the discipline to fully express, by either direct commentary or personal example, the needed connection between our private selves and our more public selves. When the two are connected, both have more value.
By “public selves” I mean the full range of interactions with people other than ourselves.
Drawing this connection is a project I need to take up soon.
I hope all are well

June 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Virtues Of Longtime Friendships

Few subjects closer to my heart than that of the benefits of longtime friendships. I’m lucky to have a strong network of people I’ve known for many years. I hope they feel I do a good job keeping in touch.

I’ve made a video on friendships and how they can connect to the larger world.   

I’ve been pleased with Facebook as a way to keep in touch. It’s true that on Facebook you can load up with people you don’t really know. But when you’re in contact with someone you have good history with, it does not take much to feel connected. Even a small exchange can make a big difference.

One can also call, write letters or visit with friends.

It is also good to know that friends we make today will in time be longtime friends.

A recent New York Times article deals with the subject of longtime friends. From the article—

“Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. A large 2007 study showed an increase of nearly 60 percent in the risk for obesity among people whose friends gained weight. And last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.”

You can read the full article here.

We don’t give our friendships enough thought. We’re very centered on the idea of family in this country, and that’s fine I suppose, but people need as much support as they can find.

When we let old relationships lapse, we’re letting go of a big chunk of our time and personal history. The things we did in the past have value and connection to who we are today.

We would all be well-served to consider our friends more so than we now do. We formed relationships with these people because we liked them and maybe also because we had a place and time in common. These things mean a lot in an impersonal and fragmented world.

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Relationships | , , , | Leave a comment

A Video—Connect Your Relationships To The World Around You

The video above, which runs just over two minutes, was made first for my friends to view. I’ve decided to run it on the blog as well.

The video is about how a friendship that may seem to exist in isolation, is in fact connected to the larger world. It’s about how we can apply creativity to our relationships and see that we are linked to each other in ways we may not always think about.    

In some respects this video is a continuation of the theme I discussed in my first blog video. (Please click here to see that video.) I feel that if you speak to people in an intelligent and plain manner about day-to-day things, that you will find creativity and optimism.

The video above makes specific reference to my friend Tejal. Below is a picture of Tejal. This post is not so much about Tejal as it is about a larger point, but it’s great to be able to get her in the blog.    


April 13, 2009 Posted by | Relationships | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

25 Things About This Blogger—With Paul Revere Painting

I’ve been tagged for one of these 25 things about me lists on Facebook. Vanity compels me to comply. I’ve not yet posted this on Facebook. It’s just that I need a blog post for today.

I like Facebook. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with folks.  If any of the blog reading public would like to add a friend who is also one of America’s leading bloggers…..well, I can’t help you.  But if you’d like to add me, my name in Neil Aquino and I live in Houston. Look me up and I’ll add you on. The more the merrier. 

Here we go—

1. Anything good about me, or good in my life, is in large part due to my wife. Anything bad is my doing.

2. I’ve had four clear-cut best friends at points in my life. One is my wife. One was a grade school kid I’ve long lost touch with. One is just beginning the study of Chinese medicine in Portland, Oregon. I still exchange e-mails with her on and off.  The final one is the only I can’t have a decent conversation with anymore. I’m appreciative of her friendship at one time in my life, but I don’t regret the inability to converse with her now.

3. Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off giving up the blog and writing a letter to a friend each day. I give a fair amount of thought about the best ways to communicate.

4. I work hard to maintain friendships across the years and across what are now often great distances. I’m mostly successful with this. Yet I have room to do better.

5. When we keep up with friends, I feel we provide our lives with a measure of permanence that offers a rebuttal to death. We are saying there is a source of stability in an existence marked by things moving away from each other. Longstanding relationships also give a greater relevance to the ways we’ve spent our time in life. When you have a friend for a long time, it’s evidence that you made a good decision many years ago. 

6. I feel you can define family in anyway you choose.

7.  I wish I had the ability to be an artist of some kind. I’d like to be able to  paint a picture. I’d paint a picture of people in a way that conveyed who they are. I’m lucky to have seen in person Copley’s painting of Paul Revere in Boston. Below you see that painting. It’s my favorite.  In this painting, Mr. Revere is both a worker and a thinker. 


8. I wish I had the time in life to be as creative as I feel I could be. I could gain a measure of that time by the better application of self-discipline.  

9. I feel that both the material events in our lives, as well as the thoughts that we think, all need context. Nothing exists alone. We need to know what came before and what may come after.

10. I think one can merge the public and private aspects of life in ways that give greater meaning to both. The two should not be divorced from one another.

11. I often wonder how one can combine a strong desire to be alone with a need to communicate. Hopefully, I’m able to do this in a way that is neither (fully) stand-offish or involves being around to much. (Though in truth, I’ve not yet figured this mix out.)

12. I have a good memory. I recall some things with such clarity that I feel the events I’m thinking about are taking place again.  This makes me wonder that if man is the measure of all things, than does not the abilty to retain and relive our memories challenge some of our concepts of time? The past is present in our thoughts and as a guide to our future actions.    

13. If each morning we could take just a few moments to assess our lives and our goals for the day, that would be an act of creation and imagination we could accomplish each day.

We could create time and time again. We could do so in a way that builds upon what came before, so that even an act of creation comes with context. I want to have the discipline to be able to do this.

14. I’m not convinced our leaders really believe most Americans have a viable economic future. At least in relation to how we have lived before. 

15. I’ve never spent a night outdoors and I never will unless forced to do so by a bad turn of events.

16. Just because your life is very good, does not mean it is entirely the life you want. Expressing this thought does not detract from the good things in your life. 

17. I’d like to live on an island.

18. I feel at home when with the wife, when at the ocean in Galveston, Texas, when writing, and when reading.  I also felt at home when I was at a bar called the  Jockey Club in Newport, Kentucky. That place has long been torn down.

19.  Much about the practice of politics bores me. I did not like most people I met when I worked in politics. Though the time I spent involved in politics was worth it.

20. I’m proud of the fact that my name has been on the ballot twice. Once as a candidate for Democratic precinct executive a Hamilton County, Ohio. I was the only candidate and won with about 15 votes cast in my little voting precinct.  That was, I think, in 1992. I got a certificate of election from the county. In 1997, I ran for the Cincinnati Board of Education and won about 10,000 votes.  I finished 9th of 12 with the top four being elected. I was endorsed by Stonewall Cincinnati and by a number of unions. Beyond being glad I had not finished last, I felt that I had done well in the voting.

 21. The best non-fiction book I’ve read is S.E. Finer’s three volume history of government. The best novel I’ve read is The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.  

22. I’d like to start volunteering somewhere. I have a place in mind.

23. I’m lucky.

24. I think we can balance a strong and autonomous personality, with the need for collective action in our political lives. What could be better than free citizens making the willing choice to work for common ends?

 25. I’ll end where I started—Anything good about me, or good in my life, is in large part due to my wife. Anything bad is my doing

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Art, Blogging, Books, Cincinnati, Galveston, Houston, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Politics, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It Is Excellent That There Are Many Different Ways We Can Conduct Our Important Relationships

In my reading of the Pulitzer Prize winning Paul Revere and the World He Lived in, I made note of the fact that Revere had letter-writing relationships with two cousins in Europe he would never meet.  

When I read this, I put the book down. I thought about how excellent it is that our relationships can take so many forms. That we can even have bonds with people we never meet in person.

Maybe Paul Revere and his cousins exchanged enough letters over a lifetime that they came to feel  they knew each other well. 

Today, beyond the ability to meet face-to-face, we have the phone, e-mail, and, just like Paul Revere, letters. We have cars and jet planes to help us meet people that in the past we would have never met, or met much less often.

When we are not communicating with people who are important to us, we have the ability to give them some thought and to ponder what we will say the next time we get the chance to communicate. 

I’ve written in this blog that I am not a bridge-builder. This is true. I have only the time and resources that I have, and I make no effort to pretend I can stomach everybody I meet.

I try very hard with the people who are in my life.

Our lives often feel they are out of control. That we are on a pace faster than what we wish was the case. Our relationships often suffer in such circumstances.

The very good news is that with discipline and imagination, we can have many excellent relationships even when life is demanding. You just have to work at it and realize that your efforts are appreciated.

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Books, Relationships | , , , | 1 Comment

250,000 Page Views & 3,000 Comments—Thank You Blog Reading World

I’m fortunate to be able to report that this blog recently passed 250,000 page views and 3,000 comments.  While that’s chump change for some blogs, in the scheme of things it’s a good showing.

Even better, after a slow start my first year blogging, Texas Liberal has averaged 735 page views a day in 2008. When you consider all the content on the internet, it’s pretty good to get that much traffic to your own small corner of the web. 

I appreciate everyone who has read the blog and thanks to all who have commented.  

Thanks my close friend Bill back home in Cincinnati for his many comments. Thanks to Laz at Last Row for reading the blog and posting comments when readership here was much smaller

It’s been great to make new friends with fellow Texas political bloggers such as Perry at Brains and Eggs, Ted at Jobsanger, Danny at There…Already and Steve at Whosplayin?  

I’ll always have kind regards for friends of the blog such as skippy the bush kangaroo, The Field Negro and A Wide Angle View of India.

Hello as always to Citizen X and Alex Ragsdale who were both on-board from the start.   

Apart from Texas Liberal, I am also one of eight featured political reader-bloggers at the Houston Chronicle and I post regularly at Where’s the Outrage? WTO? is out of North Carolina and is the home of the Dr. Errington Thompson podcast.  

Blogging is–for the most part—fun. You get to have your say. Maybe some readers will see things your way. Maybe not. I feel I have–for the most part— been true to my personality while writing Texas Liberal.  It is good to have these small measures of success. 

On now to my goals of 1,000 hits a day, 500,000 total hits and 5,000 comments.

September 1, 2008 Posted by | Blogging | , | 5 Comments

College Advice—Anybody Can Study, But Don’t Neglect Making Friends

Young people across the nation will be starting or returning to college over the next few weeks.

Here is the advice of a college graduate who is now 40–Anybody can study, but don’t neglect making friends.

I know college costs a lot of money and I realize how important it can be to job prospects. I know many students are working hard to pay for classes. I understand all this.

I would just tell you that in college you have a measure of personal autonomy without all the responsibilities of so-called adult life. It may not seem that way now, but it may well later.

I’m not suggesting you go out and get drunk every night. I’m suggesting that you look for friendships that will last when you are done with college. I still keep in touch with a number of people I met in my college years. These are people who have known me now for 20 years or more. These friends give my past added meaning. They help me look at the future with the knowledge that I’ll have people I like and trust in the years ahead.  

The older you get, the harder it can be to meet new people. It’s possible of course, and hopefully you’ll never stop making new friends. But, for my money at least, even if you are a social butterfly all your days, little outside of a great marriage is better than people you’ve known for almost a lifetime.

So hit the books—But don’t let your social life slip by you. Think about who you know and who you think might be with you for the long haul.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Relationships | , , , , | 2 Comments

I Have A Longstanding Friendship That Does Not Work Anymore

I have a longtime friendship that doesn’t work anymore. This relationship has been one of my most important friendships for many years.

I met this person when we were both in college. I’m 40 now. Over the years we’ve kept in close touch and visited each other in the different cities we have lived in since college.

At this point however, we are barely able to make a phone call work. There is not much to say and there’s an awareness that certain subjects may lead to disagreement. 

We have much less in common than we did before. Increasingly, we see the world and react to the world in different ways. Nobody has done anything wrong. It’s simply that things change.

Our differences have emerged slowly and with a minimum of conflict. 

I’m hesitant to give up on relationships. I’ve not given up on this relationship. Yet the breach is real.

I’ve thought hard about best to proceed with this while keeping a door open. Relationships often play out over a lifetime. If we could get along well for almost 20 years, it’s possible we might be able to be close again. This is one reason I’m glad that we’ve not exchanged harsh words.

While I don’t have the affection I once did for this person, I do feel loyalty for the years of friendship. I think this loyalty will continue. I see this loyalty as a possible building block for a renewed relationship.

Sometimes a friendship does not work as it once did and you might decide to give up on it.  In some cases that might be the best course. 

Here, I’m pulling away from the relationship until I feel it might work again. Since we’ve mostly avoided conflict, I figure we might have a chance down the road

I don’t know if this will turn out for the best. I do know that you can’t recreate longterm friendships and that every effort should be taken to keep them working to the extent possible.

October 30, 2007 Posted by | Relationships | , | 4 Comments