Oklahoma Bloggers Category

Congratulations to Charles G. Hill, dean of Oklahoma bloggers, on the 21st anniversary of his website Dustbury, founded in the early, early days of the World Wide Web.

April 9, 1996, was the publication date of the first edition of Charles's opinion column, The Vent, which addressed the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the approaching anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing. The Vent has appeared almost-weekly since then -- precisely 48 editions per year. Charles notes that the site shares its April 9 birthday with Tom Lehrer and Hugh Hefner: "I suspect that the seven million or so words I've tossed up on the screen since 1996 are at least slightly affected by both of these chaps."

Despite illness this past year, he has managed at least one post per day since June 23, 2000, when he inaugurated his "sort of blog."

Tens of thousands of entries since then have ranged widely to fill creatively-named categories like Almost Yogurt, Tongue and Groove, Political Science Fiction, Blogorrhea, PEBKAC, and Rag Trade. (That's culture, music, politics, news from the blogosphere, computing, and fashion, respectively.)

On the 20th anniversary, Charles explained the origins of his long-running experiment in HTML Bad Examples and Bandwidth Wastage:

In the spring of 1996, I got the ridiculous idea that I ought to have a Web site of my very own. I'm not entirely sure what the tipping point was. My workplace had sent me and the corporate IT guy to an HTML class for no reason I could determine, and I came away from the experience wondering why anyone would bother. But hey, I was in my early forties, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to have one more skill in case I had to move on; all else being equal, I reasoned, employers would rather have someone younger, or at least with lower expectations. I was a member of Prodigy in those days, and Prodigy was pleased to offer me a full megabyte of Web space at no extra cost. In a couple of hours, I had hacked up seven pages of stuff, installed links across the lot, and uploaded them through something that only vaguely resembled FTP. "Chez Chaz," the least-lame name I could think up on short notice, was hung on top.

BatesLine's first link to Dustbury was in September 2003, to Charles's comment about a Wall Street Journal staffer turned homeless freelancer. His first mention of BatesLine was earlier in the same month, the day after the passage of the Vision 2025 arena tax. We first met in January 2005, at the first-ever Okie Blogger Bash at the Will Rogers Theater in Oklahoma City.

Dustbury has always been ars gratia artis, a rarity in these times of ars gratia pecunia -- never an advertiser or even a tip jar. But in the wake of some serious medical challenges last summer and some even more serious medical bills, a concerned friend set up a GoFundMe for Charles G. Hill. As a wee bit of thanks for 21 years of interesting and entertaining content, I dropped $42 in the offering plate, and I encourage you to do the same.

There's one more reason for Oklahomans to celebrate April 22.

schoolhouse_rock-bill-as-law.pngLast Tuesday, on the 125th anniversary of the Oklahoma 1889 Land Run, Gov. Mary Fallin signed HB 2366, the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act, giving Oklahomans valuable protection in the exercise of their First Amendment rights. From the bill:

The purpose of the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act is to encourage and safeguard the constitutional rights of persons to petition, speak freely, associate freely and otherwise participate in government to the maximum extent permitted by law and, at the same time, protect the rights of a person to file meritorious lawsuits for demonstrable injury.

HB2366 was authored by State Rep. John Trebilcock (R-Broken Arrow) and is a fitting capstone to his twelve years in the Legislature. State Sen. Rick Brinkley (R-Owasso) shepherded the bill through the Senate. Reps. Mike Turner (R-Edmond), Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City), and Jadine Nollan (R-Sand Springs) joined as co-authors. The bill was approved unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee (14-0), the whole House (94-0, with 7 excused), the Senate Judiciary Committee (6-0), and the whole Senate (42-0, with 6 excused).

When the bill goes into effect on November 1, Oklahoma will have one of the strongest anti-SLAPP laws in the nation.

Ken White, a California 1st Amendment attorney, ably sums up the case for anti-SLAPP bills like HB2366:

The bottom line -- without an anti-SLAPP statute, a malicious litigant can often inflict substantial expense and hardship upon someone in retaliation for their speech, even if their claim lacks merit, and do so with relative impunity.

Some key points:

1. In a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, a plaintiff seeks to punish the defendant for expressing his opinion or stating a fact he doesn't like aired publicly by subjecting him to a costly legal process. The SLAPP plaintiff can achieve his objective -- silencing criticism -- even if he ultimately loses his case in court. The cost in time, money, and anxiety of defending the lawsuit will deter the defendant from future criticism and may also deter others from speaking out.

2. SLAPPs not only threaten political bloggers and newspaper reporters, but consumer watchdog groups and reviewers on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have been hit with SLAPPs as well.

3. The U. S. Supreme Court has issued many decisions protecting 1st Amendment rights by restricting lawsuits against written and spoken expression. For example, proving libel against a public figure requires that you prove the defendant knew he was lying or had a reckless disregard for the truth. But in practical application these protections come into play only at the end of the process, when the judge makes his ruling, or perhaps not until the case is heard by an appellate court. Even if the defendant prevails in the end, the damage has been done.

4. SLAPPs hit hardest when the SLAPPer has ample resources to sustain the prosecution of a lawsuit but the SLAPPee has to choose between (A) possible bankruptcy to defend the suit all the way to the end or (B) an undesirable settlement, which may include a promise to silence his criticism.

In response to this situation, Oklahoma has now become one of a number of states that have passed strong anti-SLAPP legislation to shift consideration of First Amendment protections to the beginning of the process and to deter malicious lawsuits by imposing costs on the plaintiff if the suit is dismissed. An effective anti-SLAPP law acts as an equalizer to ensure that you don't need a vast financial reserve in order to exercise your First Amendment rights, but it still provides for redress of valid defamation claims.

What the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act does:

The Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act authorizes a special motion to dismiss to be filed and heard early in the process. The motion must be filed within 60 days after the suit is filed, and discovery is suspended until the court rules on the motion. The hearing on the motion must be held within 60 days of its filing, (The time may be extended to 90 or 120 days under special circumstances, but 120 days is the limit.) After the hearing, the court has 30 days to rule.

The defendant must first establish that the suit is based on, relates to, or is in response to his exercise of his freedom of speech, freedom to petition government, or freedom of association.

In response, the plaintiff must establish "by clear and specific evidence a prima facie case for each essential element of the claim in question." The defendant can obtain dismissal of the case if he can establish "by a preponderance of the evidence each essential element of a valid defense" to the plaintiff's claim.

What makes this different from an ordinary motion to dismiss is that the judge can go beyond "the four corners" of the complaint. The court doesn't have to take the plaintiff's charges at face value.

If the court dismisses the case, the court is required to award court costs, reasonable attorney fees, and legal expenses as well as sanctions "sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions."

If the motion to dismiss is "frivolous or solely intended to delay," the court may award costs to the plaintiff.

Either side can appeal the court's ruling, and the appeal must be expedited; otherwise the benefit of an early motion would be neutralized.

Who is helped by the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act?

  • Newspapers, radio and TV stations, and news bloggers, particularly smaller news outlets which may not have the resources to fight lawsuits.
  • Participants in online forums who express their opinions about public issues.
  • Consumer protection organizations that rate businesses. The Texas law has been used successfully several times to block SLAPPs brought against such organizations by businesses angry about negative ratings.
  • Consumers who register their opinions about experiences with local businesses on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, and Angie's List.
  • The general public, who enjoy a greater flow of information about matters of public interest because the groups listed above are not intimidated by the threat of SLAPPs.

Some history:

Previously, Oklahoma had a very limited anti-SLAPP provision, covering only libel, but not other causes of action used in SLAPPs (like "tortious interference" or "conspiracy"), and covering only speech related to government proceedings. Oklahoma's law lacked any form of early review that could spare an unjustly charged defendant from a lengthy and costly process. It also lacked any mandatory provision to require the plaintiff in an unwarranted lawsuit to make the defendant whole for the costs of his legal defense. (Laura Long detailed the deficiencies of Oklahoma's statute in the Summer 2007 issue of the Oklahoma Law Review.)

In 1995, two trial lawyers filed suit in Creek County against members of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, a group attempting to launch a tort reform initiative petition. The suit alleged defamation, tortious interference with business relations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy because CALA criticized trial lawyers as a profession in their letter soliciting steering committee members. The lawsuit dragged on for three years and went all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. You can read a summary of the case here and the State Supreme Court decision here

The issue caught my attention way back in 2005 as one of a number of potential legal hazards for political bloggers. In 2006 and 2007, there were news stories about certain Islamic groups using libel suits to silence criticism or investigation of ties to hate groups and terrorist-supporting organizations, and KFAQ had to deal with a defamation suit from a city councilor.

In 2008, neighborhood activists opposed to the 10 N. Yale project faced legal threats from the Mental Health Association of Tulsa and Councilor Jason Eric Gomez. SLAPPs have even been used to target historic preservationists, simply for participating in the public process for approving or denying demolition permits or zoning changes.

In 2009, State Sen. Tom Adelson filed a bill (SB742) to add anti-SLAPP protections modeled after California's law, but the bill died without a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.

In 2012, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity launched the "Protect Your Voice" initiative to push for legislation giving citizen journalists the same protections as traditional journalists in mainstream media.

TrebilcockPortrait_Lrg.jpgLast fall, during the legislature's pre-filing period, Rep. Trebilcock put out a request for suggestions for legislation he should author during his final session in the legislature. I suggested anti-SLAPP legislation, and that was one of the bills he decided to pursue. I passed the research I had done on to Rep. Trebilcock, and he took it from there. Not wanting any animus toward me (particularly over my National Popular Vote coverage earlier in the session) to get in the way of a good idea, I kept a low profile on the bill, although I was happy to have the opportunity to answer questions from a few legislators.

The Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act is not the only landmark legislation Rep. Trebilcock has authored in his final session. HB2372, which protects the privacy of an employee's social media accounts from inspection by an employer, has passed the House and Senate unanimously, but in different versions. The Senate amendments are now pending in the House.

The Internet has created unprecedented opportunities for ordinary Oklahomans to make their voices heard. Thanks to Rep. Trebilcock, Sen. Brinkley, legislators of both houses and parties, the chairmen and members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and Gov. Fallin, they can now make responsible use of those opportunities for the betterment of our cities, counties, school districts, and state, secure in their protection from malicious lawsuits.


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David Van Risseghem, a long-time Republican activist in Tulsa, has set up a newspaper-style webpage, SoonerPolitics.org, which aggregates the headlines from many of Oklahoma's political blogs and news websites. I'm honored to be included. It's a great way to see all the latest blog entries at a glance.

Via TashaDoesTulsa, This Land Press's Do What Tulsa has a list of large-scale Christmas light displays in and around Tulsa. See them while you can.

Do What also has a list of New Year's Eve events in Tulsa, ranging from casual to fancy. (The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate dance looks like fun.)

Brian McCullough visited the newly-opened Soulfully Southern restaurant in Glenpool and finds it "yam good." Brian Schwartz was pleased with a chicken fried steak he had at the new Oklahoma Roadhouse in Broken Arrow.

Route 66 News reports on a new mobile-optimized website highlighting 72 Route 66 historic sites along Oklahoma's stretch of the road. Each link has text, photos, and audio, and you can have the site alert you when you're near one of the tour stops. Here's a link to the list of Oklahoma Route 66 tour stops. Route 66 News also has a link to a video interview with Arizona Route 66 preservation pioneer Angel Delgadillo, and remembers Frank Pastore, Cincinnati Reds pitcher, conservative radio talk show host, and repeat conqueror of the Big Texan 72-oz. steak dinner.

Yogi and family took a trip up Route 66 to visit the World's Largest Concrete Totem Pole, and they took lots of pictures.

Emily, the Red Fork Hippie Chick, explores the disconnect between "What I Do" and "Who I Am" and finds it disorienting.

Lee Roy Chapman, who proposed naming the area north of the Frisco tracks in downtown Tulsa the Bob Wills District, notes the George Kaiser Family Foundation's RFQ for a mural of Woody Guthrie, for whom GKFF's Guthrie Green was named and whose archives are now owned by GKFF, to be housed nearby.

Maggie's Notebook has news of an American citizen imprisoned in Iran when he returned to visit his family. The Rev. Saeed Abedini, a native of Iran, has been detained awaiting trial for his work as a Christian minister.

The Chatelaine of Raising Camelot is not amused by Jimmy Kimmel's latest infliction of emotional injury on children, but it leads her to some important thoughts on parenting and trust:

Trust doesn't have to be earned from our children: we receive it, lock-stock-and-barrel, the first time our son or daughter is placed in our arms. Look into the eyes of your newborn baby, feel her little fingers clenched around your own, listen to her sigh as she sleeps against your heart and you will hear her say, without a single word, two things. First, "I am completely dependent on you." And second, "I know you'll take care of me."

Absolute trust.

The tragedy is that in every moment to follow, we have the opportunity to chip away at that trust. Most of us don't mean to. But it happens....

So why, by all that is holy, would anyone want to hasten their child's discovery that mom and dad don't always tell the truth? More importantly, that Mom and Dad will casually lie in order to trick them for a TV stunt? Because if Mom and Dad will lie, who won't?...

Our living, daily example also trains our children what to expect from God. Will they see Him as a loving and sacrificial father or a heartless trickster ready to laugh at their misery?

Read any good Tulsa blogs lately? Let me know in the comments below.

Washington Post political writer Chris Cillizza, author of the paper's "The Fix" blog, has posted his list of the best state-based political blogs, drawing on nominations from his readers. Three Oklahoma blogs were named, BatesLine, Jamison Faught's Muskogee Politico, and Mike McCarville's The McCarville Report Online. (Cillizza's initial 2011 list is here. He plans to add blogs to the list as he gets additional suggestions from readers.)

It's an honor to be included on this list and in such august company. I am thankful for Mike McCarville's tireless coverage of the State Capitol (and happy to know that he's on the mend after recent surgery) and for Jamison Faught's mix of news, commentary, and analysis. I appreciate Mike's description of this site on his piece about the WaPo list:

Michael Bates' long-running production regularly probes Tulsa politics and prods politicians.

Probes and prods -- maybe BatesLine needs a logo that includes an endoscope and an electric cattle prod.

It seems like an opportune time to remind you that BatesLine is a great advertising value. There are a variety of options to fit your budget, including banner ads that appear above the content on every page of the site. BatesLine will be an especially good value over the next three months, as readership climbs during the run-up to the 2011 Tulsa city election. Whether a reader comes to the site's front page or googles her way to a story in the archive, your ad will be there.

Added to the blogroll

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So many people have a blog nowadays that you may stumble across a friend's blog before they let you know that they have one. Here are a few blogs of friends and associates that I've come across recently. They're worth reading, and I'm adding to the blogroll, so you'll see their latest posts show up over on the BatesLine blogroll headlines page and (as appropriate) the BatesLine Oklahoma headlines and BatesLine Tulsa headlines pages.

I've gotten to know Tulsa visionary and restaurateur Blake Ewing through his involvement in organizations like TulsaNow. He doesn't post on his blog often, but when he does post it's usually a blockbuster essay on our city's challenges and possible futures. There's been a lot of talk about his latest: "Grow up, Tulsa." (I disagree with him on a few points and may elaborate in coming days.)

English with Rae is a blog aimed at helping those learning English as a second language go beyond "This is a pen," providing examples of conversational English and American culture in context and presented in a way that makes them interesting even if English is your first language. Rae, a college friend of my wife's, spent many years in Japan and writes from her experience as a second-language learner of Japanese and with Japanese learners of English. A news item about a Honolulu restaurant adding a tip to the bills of non-English speaking guests is the starting point for her most visited article, Tipping Cows and Everyone Else, which covers three different kinds of tipping (restaurant, cow, and advice), introduces customary tipping practices, and provides examples of the Present Real Conditional form, all neatly interwoven.

Gina Conroy is an author based here in Tulsa. We know her through school, and she was my daughter's creative writing teacher. Her blog, Defying Gravity, is devoted to striking the balance in life as a wife and mom and in pursuit of her dream of novel writing. She is under contract to contribute a novella to an anthology, and a recent entry is devoted to the process and pain of cutting a 50,000-word work in progress down to 20,000. She often interviews other writing moms and dads. Many recent entries have been devoted to dreams and ambitions -- rekindling them, thwarting dream-killers, and balancing your dreams.

Urban Garden Goddess is a Philadelphia-based blogger just getting into home organic gardening. As a rookie gardener last year, Tania (a friend through blogging circles) won third prize in the individual vegetable garden category in the Philadelphia Horticultural Society's City Gardens Contest. She's also a runner, and a recent entry is about "solid eating for a solid race performance."

San Francisco architect Christine Boles and I were both active in Campus Crusade for Christ at MIT back when. Her blog illustrates some of the creative solutions she and her husband, partners in Beausoleil Architects, have devised to meet the needs of clients while respecting history and the environment. Her latest entry shows how they turned a ground floor room into a garage while preserving the bay window that makes up the historic facade. In an earlier post, she advocates for "deconstruction" and recycling of building materials over demolition and landfill. This was interesting, too: The importance of the oft-overlooked V in HVAC -- ventilation.

Texas State Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) is married to a high school classmate of mine. Last year he defeated an incumbent Republican in the primary and went on to election in November. His blog has only a few entries, but they provide some insight into the 2011 Texas legislative session and the budding conflict between fair-dealer and wheeler-dealer Republicans. He is an author of HB 1937, which would prohibit TSA groping in the absence of probable cause. His article -- Dividing the Apple -- about the tough budget decisions facing the legislature, is worth reading. An excerpt:

Civil government has nothing except that which it takes from We the People. Unlike God, the government cannot create value or substance out of nothing.

When the Federal Reserve with Congress' approval "prints more money," it simply increases the number of federal reserve notes ("dollars") that are being exchanged in our economy for goods and services. The increase in the number of federal reserve notes in circulation does not represent more wealth. It merely divides the same value of goods and services in the economy into smaller parts. If you divide an apple into 4 parts or 8 parts, it is still just one apple.

The Texas legislature cannot create wealth either. It has no money except that which it takes from We the People. It can divide the apple of wealth we enjoy and redistribute it, but it cannot create more apples.

Even so, we are running out of apple. Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, the portion of the apple that our state government consumes has grown by 45% over the last decade (that number is 87% without any adjustments). As the state's portion has grown, Texas families and businesses have had to settle for a smaller portion to feed themselves.

As first steps to budget cutting, Simpson has called for cutting all corporate welfare from the budget and reducing administrative overhead in the common and higher educational systems. His name popped up in a recent AP story:

Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, put together an odd-couple coalition of Democrats and Republicans to approve an amendment zeroing out funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts and redirecting it to services for the elderly and disabled.

Channeling tea-party-like, populist anger right back at his own leaders, Simpson also has railed against hundreds of millions of dollars in what he calls "corporate welfare." It happens to include Perry's job-luring initiatives, the Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technology Fund.

"These parts of the budget are more protected than schools and the weak among us," Simpson said. He failed to redirect the money, but not before raising a stink among Republicans.

Congratulations to Charles G. Hill of dustbury.com, Seigneur de Surlywood, the doyen of Oklahoma bloggers, who marks his 15th anniversary on the World Wide Web today. I hope you'll take a minute to drop by, thank him for blessing us with 15 years of wit and wisdom, and wish him many happy returns of the day.

Charles's interests are wide-ranging -- pop culture and pop music (ancient and modern), politics (local, state, and national), Thunder basketball, urban planning, cars, exotic female footwear, to name but a few. The combination of interests produces enough strange search engine queries to justify a weekly feature highlighting the select strangest. Somehow he manages to write intelligently and amusingly about each topic he takes up. (I envy his brevity; as faithful BatesLine readers are no doubt aware, concision is not my gift.)

Somewhat like the fictional females Charles has cataloged, one of the best features of dustbury.com is... not exactly invisible, but certainly not as visible as the blog. I refer to his weekly column, The Vent, a longer-form essay (but still to-the-point), which also began 15 years ago today. Here's his next-to-latest Vent, a look forward to the site's 20th anniversary. And the one before that: An exegesis of the song "Honey" -- Bobby Goldsboro's 1968 hit -- with a surprising (to me at any rate) conclusion.

Here are some links, briefly introduced, to blog entries of interest around Oklahoma. A few may be a month or two old, which is a reflection on how far behind I am.

First, some blogs that are not necessarily new, but they're new to me and are worth a visit:

Joy Franklin is a Stephens County-based photographer, and her blog Expedition Oklahoma is filled with beautiful photographs of our great state. A few recent entries: the Glancy Motel on Route 66 in Clinton, an old abandoned family farm, Monument Hill, on the Chisholm Trail near Addington.

If you're on Facebook, you should go and "like" Expedition Oklahoma. As of yesterday, I was the fifth "like-er" and Joy's work deserves far more recognition than that. You can also follow @ExpeditionOK on Twitter. Although I'm only a rank amateur photographer, I can identify with a couple of her tweets from earlier today:

I think I enjoy photography because it takes away the need to have a friend to go places with you. #sadbuttrue

I can be a loner without looking like a loser. #photography #cameraismyfriend

Random Dafydd grew up in Tulsa is based in Bartlesville. In addition to his main blog he has blogs devoted to Tulsa Architectural History, medieval art and medievalism, his work as a surgical technologist, and Celtic and British folk music. I liked his latest entry on "The Weekend Scrub":

The surgeon gave me the specimen, said it was ileum. A bit later the circulator asked me what we calling the specimen. I told her ileum, or Troy, her choice. She said "Oh".

Nobody gets my jokes.

An entry from May explains why our legislature should encourage the widespread deployment of defibrillators by providing unqualified immunity to owners of the devices, notwithstanding the self-serving objections of the trial lawyers:

If you have a heart attack in public, what is your chance of survival? It depends. If there is not a defibrillator near by, 6%. If there is one, 50%. Modern defribillators are marvels. It takes five minutes of training to learn how to use one. Actually, since they are designed to talk the uninitiated though the process it doesn't even take that....

Many states offer some form of immunity to owners of defibrillators. If a local convenience store owner buys one, and has to use it, and the patient dies, then the store owner can't be sued, even if the store owner used the device incorrectly. California offers qualified immunity. The store owner only has immunity if they jump through several hoops, including training employees in the use of the devices and monthly checks of the equipment for good working order, and developing a written plan for their use. Failure to jump through every hoop loses the store owner immunity and exposes them to liability. Of course, standing there and watching the customer die exposes the store owner to no liability at all. Given his legal environment, many business owners rationally choose to not buy defibrillators.

Now for some quick links:

Natasha Ball reviews a kid- and parent-friendly cafe recently opened in Owasso.

Tulsa Food Blog suggests you pick up a cup of coffee from a locally owned coffeehouse on your way to see the spectacular Christmas light display at the Rhema campus in Broken Arrow. In the comments, I pointed out that Stonewood Coffee and Tea Company is just a mile or so from Rhema, on the east side of 161st East Ave (Elm Pl), just north of the Broken Arrow Expressway.

Steven Roemerman says that the T in Bartlett stands for Totally Inept (twice), particularly when it comes to river development in Tulsa, referring to the December 3 open letter from Jerry Gordon, who developed the Jenks Riverwalk and apparently was working on a similar plan for city-owned land in Tulsa. You can see a sketch of Gordon's concept (named "Belt Street River District) at the bottom of his website's Projects page. (The sketch is via Nick Roberts, who was unimpressed.)

Man of the West has an extended quote from Bones of Contention about Rudolf Virchow, a renowned late 19th c. German anthropologist and the father of the science of pathology, and his diagnosis that the first Neanderthal skeleton was that of a victim of rickets.

Preserve Midtown believes that timely code enforcement with meaningful penalties would prevent wasteful demolition of neglected older homes. When an irresponsible owner allows a house to fall to pieces, the city winds up condemning and demolishing it at taxpayer expense and the basis for ad valorem tax drops to the value of the bare ground. If demolition is unavoidable, Preserve Midtown suggests giving an opportunity to salvage architectural elements and materials (e.g. hardwood flooring, bathroom fixtures) that would otherwise go to the landfill. I'm reminded of a suggestion Recycle Michael Patton made some years ago -- charge those seeking a demolition permit for the full cost of disposing of the debris.

Mike McCarville is keeping up with developments as Oklahoma's newly elected officials and new legislative leaders name their teams. A recent entry lists the members of the Senate Redistricting Committee named by Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Brian Bingman. Sen. Dan Newberry (R-Tulsa) will be the point man for northeast Oklahoma, freshman Sen. Kim David (R-Wagoner) will head up the congressional redistricting committee, and Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre (D-Tulsa) will be one of the co-vice chairmen representing the Democrat minority.

Stan Geiger came across his mother's 1952 tax return and crunches some numbers that illustrate the huge rise in the Social Security tax rate. He says there his mom has more documents from that period that he may analyze; I hope he will. I can't think of anything better than original documents from the past to put the present in proper perspective.

Nick Roberts has posted his wishlist for central Oklahoma City development in the coming year. The blog entry packs some great urban analysis. It's sad to read how OKC is squandering the Core2Shore opportunity with superblocks (which never work) and poor placement of the convention center. He's also worried about development stalling in Bricktown and the city's failure to follow through on plans to promote downtown housing growth. (I don't appreciate his frequent call for OKCers with bad urban planning ideas to be sent to Tulsa. We don't need them here either!)

2009-ok-blog-pol-con.jpgJust a quick note on the run: Many thanks to my fellow Oklahoma bloggers for honoring BatesLine with the Best Political Blog (Conservative) award. I'm particularly honored given the competition -- second place went to the excellent McCarville Report. (Happy anniversary, Mike and Ann!) And congratulations to the rest of the honorees for the 2009 Okie Blog Awards. I was especially pleased to see Dustbury honored as Best Veteran Blogger, Tasha Does Tulsa recognized with two awards -- best Tulsa blog and best culture blog -- and Erin Conrad Photography for best blog design. Irritated Tulsan had a couple of second place finishes, but as a weekly contributor he can claim a share of The Lost Ogle's Most Humorous Blog award.

I'd give more shout-outs, but I have to run. Thanks again to my fellow Okie bloggers for the great honor.

Photographer Erin Conrad has decided to blog every day this month:

That seems like an appropriate thing to do for the shortest month in the year.

Blog every day of it.

So perhaps I should try to do the same -- get back in the habit of posting on a daily basis. (Erin's posts are bound to be prettier than mine, but I'll post anyway.) So here's a roundup:

Speaking of Erin Conrad, she posted a very sweet photo on Sunday.

Tulsa area bloggers are gathering at Joe Momma's Pizza downtown (1st & Elgin) on Thursday, February 4, 2010. 40 bloggers have RSVPed, and now there are some contests and prizes to encourage even more to attend.

@TashaDoesTulsa has a Twitter list of independent Tulsa businesses to which you can subscribe, as well as a list of Twittering Oklahoma bloggers.

One of those blogging tweeters, Cindy W. Morrison, encourages her fellow bloggers to take a 31-day challenge to optimize our blogs with social media.

And if you're an Oklahoma-based blogger, the deadline for nominations for the Okie Blog Awards is Wednesday, February 3, 2010.

Tulsa Gal has a biographical sketch of Alfred E. Aaronson, a founder of the Tulsa Historical Society and leader in the development of Tulsa's city-county library system. Earlier, she took a stroll down Boston Avenue's past.

Irritated Tulsan seeks your votes for January's Tulsan of the Month. And Mr. M (with the munching mouth) frolics in the snow.

Yogi's Den has a collection of stunning photos from the Hubble Space Telescope. Don't be worried by the URL -- it's all safe for work.

You can always find the latest posts from a selection of Tulsa-based blogs on my BatesLine Tulsa headlines page.

Tulsa blogger meetup

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Tasha Does Tulsa, Tulsa Project, and Art of Manliness are sponsoring a Tulsa Blogger Meetup at Joe Momma's Pizza, 1st & Elgin downtown, from 7 - 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 4, 2010. Click the link for details.

Blogger meetups are great fun. It was five years ago this weekend that a number of bloggers from around the state and elsewhere gathered at a coffee house in Oklahoma City for an informal "Okie blogger bash." There have been a couple of statewide blogger roundups since then.

I hope to be at this one and will, barring a conflict with business travel, kid activities, or Mom's night out. While this is a Tulsa blogger meetup, I'm sure any blogger with the ambition to travel to the event from outside the city limits would be welcomed warmly.

RELATED: Nominations are open, through February 2, for the 2009 Okie Blog Awards, founded by OkieDoke's Mike Hermes and administered this year by Jennifer James (aka JenX67). Just like the Academy Awards, the Okie Blog Awards are nominated by active Oklahoma bloggers and only active Oklahoma bloggers are eligible to vote. (That link explains precisely who qualifies to participate.)

Grief, observed

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Two recent posts on the subject of grief, both by Oklahoma bloggers, deserve your attention.

C. Michael Patton (the theologian from Edmond, not the recycler from Tulsa) lost a sister to suicide six years ago. He was encouraged to write a "grief letter" to his sister and to share it, so he's posted it to his blog. He writes of her encouragement to him as he pursued teaching theology, her struggling with doubt and depression, and how her tragic death has fired his passion for grounding people in solid theology, as a way of preparing them to deal with the inevitable grief and loss of this life.

Those of you who followed Brandon and Susie Dutcher's blog through the roller coaster of their daughter Anne Marie's brief life have seen up close how that works. In the latest entry, Susie writes about
the help and encouragement that has come during this time of deep sorrow -- help from the Bible, from others who have lost babies, from books and sermons. (She links to several helpful sermons by John Piper, whom she says "is about the best when it comes on teaching and preaching on sovereignty and suffering.") She concludes:

So yes, help has come. The awful pain is still there, and seems only to get worse because I miss Anne Marie more and more each day. But sometimes I forget that if it didn't hurt so bad then it wouldn't be called suffering. And in this suffering, God is helping me "to feel in my bones and not just know in my head that God is for me" and that "behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face."

It's been too long since I've done this, and here I'm going to try to do it on three hours sleep. My day is just about to end as yours is getting started. Here are some posts of interest from blogs in Tulsa and around Oklahoma:

Tasha Does Tulsa has a list of things to do around town now that your kids are off school because of the bitterly cold temperatures for Thursday and Friday. I'm intrigued by the Sand Springs Museum's exhibit of classic toys.

Mad Okie wonders about the "mother" depicted in a frequently-seen internet ad.

Mike McCarville has the latest on Army Lt. Michael Behenna of Edmond, who was sentenced to 20 years for killing an al-Qaeda operative in Iraq. Behenna is seeking clemency and also appealing the verdict on the grounds that the prosecution withheld expert testimony that would have exonerated Behenna.

Pollster extraordinaire Chris Wilson links to news that portable electronic signature gathering equipment is being developed by a Silicon Valley firm called Verafirma. The idea is to make it easier to solicit signatures using social media and gather signatures using smartphone apps. Wilson asks, "Are we ready for this?"

At Choice Remarks, Brandon Dutcher links to a quote from Lt. Gov. Jari Askins about the fiscal wisdom of the HOPE initiative, on the ballot in November, given the current economic realities. The initiative would peg Oklahoma education expenditures to those of surrounding states. According to a story in the Edmond Sun, a study by the Oklahoma House of Representatives indicates HOPE's passage would require a 40% tax increase or a 20% across-the-board cut of non-educational spending.

On his personal blog, Brandon says his daughter's avid interest in Sports Illustrated is "another reason to come courtin'."

Laurel Kane, owner of the Route 66 landmark Afton Station, traveled down Admiral Pl. in Tulsa, a Route 66 alignment from 1926-1932, looking for roadside history and snapped a few photos in the process. (Admiral was also the alignment for State Highway 33 and -- at various times -- US 75 and US 169, so it continued to attract roadside development long after 66 was shifted to 11th St.)

Emily, the Red Fork Hippie Chick, is looking for activist songs as part of a unit for her class. She knows a lot of left-leaning songs, but she wants to be balanced, so she's looking for songs from a conservative perspective (and not just -- Irritated Tulsa will be pleased to know -- "Toby Keith bleat[ing] about putting a boot up somebody's arse"). She's also looking for items people are willing to loan to create a hippie decor for her classroom.

Speaking of Irritated Tulsan, he has a list of Tulsa's top 10 places not to wake up dead. And his weekly Tulsa Tuesday post at The Lost Ogle reports "Downtown YMCA Moves, Creates Really-Homeless People."

Tyson Wynn gloats about the Corporation Commission's decision to use an overlay instead of a split to handle the 918's lack of available phone numbers. (My friend Dana Murphy was the only commissioner to vote the sensible way -- for a split. Area codes should indicate area.)

Lots of interesting articles on all manner of topics by Lynn Sislo over at Violins and Starships and by Charles G. Hill at Dustbury. But you knew that already, or should have. Lynn has a list of 12 things that every woman needs, including a "lifetime supply of drama repellent." Charles reports that he has written over 2 million words, and that's just since the start of his second decade of blogging.

Straight Shooter shares her two New Year's resolutions.

Yogi, lucky fellow, got to hear Hot Club of Cowtown at Cain's Ballroom last Saturday night.

Finally, The Pioneer Woman turns 41 today and has posted a gallery of old photos (with old hairstyles) to mark the occasion.

Yet another linkfest: I washed, dried, folded, and distributed seven loads of laundry yesterday, so I'm lagging behind. Meanwhile, Tulsa area bloggers are turning out plenty worth reading.

In a post titled, "Why I am a Republican," Man of the West relates the evolution of his political philosophy, having started out as a Ayn Rand-inspired Libertarian, then moving to a conservative perspective under the influence of the Bible and writers like Francis Schaeffer. He had been registered as an independent, but "In registering Independent, I began to see, I, and other conservatives like me, were actually making it easier for the Republican Party to continue its slide into political and philosophical incoherence." He came to see the Republican Party as the only hope for promoting and electing officials who would pursue conservative policies.

So I changed my registration to Republican. I vote in the primaries, and I always vote for the most conservative candidate available. But please understand: it's not the Republican Party per se that matters to me; it's the election of conservative candidates. The Republican Party is not my nation, and certainly not my God. The Republican Party is merely a vehicle. And if and when that vehicle isn't getting me where I want to go, I feel free to abandon it, or its candidates.

And that brings him to the impending election:

At the time of writing, there's a candidate for Tulsa mayor--Dewey Bartlett, Jr.--that campaigned in the primary as a "conservative," despite having previously endorsed a pretty liberal Democrat for re-election, despite having supported some very questionable local governmental maneuvers, and having, in his first ads, made rather obvious reference to local conservatives via referring to people's partisanship and "bickering." In my estimation, he appears to have less loyalty to the Republican Party than I do--I certainly never endorsed Kathy Taylor's re-election--and is running as a "conservative" for no other reason than that he knows that being a liberal is political poison in this city. In his case, the vehicle isn't getting me where I want to go, and I refuse to put any "gas"--money or time--into it.

Elsewhere in the Tulsa blogosphere:

Steven Roemerman doesn't like Lucky Lamons's legislation to require pseudoephedrine to be sold only by prescription and he points out the unintended consequences of restrictions on pseudoephedrine sales. (I agree with Steven that phenylephrine -- the drug being substituted for pseudoephedrine in many cold products -- just isn't as good at unblocking sinuses.)

Don Danz has some sweet photos of his boys, including his middle son's third birthday and his smallest learning to pray.

Scot Law remembers his uncle, pianist Larry Dalton, in the latest episode of Goodbye Tulsa.

The Pioneer Woman has some reassuring words for those suffering from the October Homeschooling Blues.

Stan Geiger takes a closer look at what the stimulus money coming to Oklahoma is actually stimulating:

From down the turnpike, Steve Lackmeyer's OKC Central blog presents a post on Oklahoma City's future by Nick Roberts. Nick thinks the core-to-shore plan needs to be reworked, but beyond his interesting ideas on that topic, I really like this guiding principle that he sets out:

In order to visualize Downtown OKC in 2020 we have to visualize Downtown OKC in 2000, and 1990, and so on. Most importantly I think we need to visualize Downtown OKC in 1920, 1930, and 1940. OKC needs to go back to the future to a time when it had excellent downtown parks, a great streetcar network, and downtown vibrancy.
Links from bloggers and websites in Tulsa and around Oklahoma:

MeeCiteeWurkor looks at a traffic fatality that killed a bicyclist. The trail led to the Sinclair refinery parking lot and the question: Does Sinclair Hire Illegal Aliens?

An 1829 letter from President Andrew Jackson, informing leaders of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations that they would have to leave the southern states, has been found. (Via Blair Humphreys.)

Yogi gives a panhandler his lunch and ponders whether shelters and soup kitchens are enablers rather than true helps: Yogi's Den: A Homeless Guy, Leviticus 23:22, and my Lunch

Tasha suggests several more ways to get to know Tulsa, including Twitter and parenthood.

Emily was given a lovely 1946 linen postcard of Tulsa's Webster High School.

Stephen and Elizabeth Thompson spent a week touring famed diners and dives around Oklahoma and Kansas, and recorded the results in their blog Foodies Gone Wild: Oklahoma & Kansas edition.

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane has a new costumed mascot, replacing old mascot Huffy the Hurricane, Powdered Toast Man's doppelganger.

aRdent Voice wants you to see his wife Lori Sears' portrait drawings

Freedom of Information Oklahoma has some interesting stories:

Remember Marc Sherman, who was a midday talk show host on KRMG? He has a blog: Marc's True News

Jason Kearney considers the case of a Tulsa youth pastor on "The Biggest Loser" and asks Is It a Sin To Be Fat? (And congrats to Jason on his third blogiversary.)

TulsaGal has the story (with photos) of Tate Brady, namesake of Tulsa's Brady Street, and some wonderful photos and information on the Akdar Theatre, which later became Leon McAuliffe's Cimarron Ballroom.

Irritated Tulsan's guest poster bestandworstofokc offers 10 ways to annoy your coworkers.

Stan Geiger thinks high-speed trains might work in the Los Angeles / Las Vegas corridor but has reasons to doubt their utility in connecting Tulsa to Oklahoma City.

Bill Yates, who blogs about neuroscience research, has a surprising post about children, video games, and attention.

Jack Lewis remembers the way the basketball coach pushed his own son to excel and draws a lesson from that about God's love for His childrenCatoosa's Coach Commisky and God's love

Of recent note in local blogs:

At Choice Remarks, Brandon Dutcher salutes State Rep. Jabar Shumate (D-Tulsa) for his efforts to expand school choice with a bill that will allow tribal governments to sponsor charter schools.

Tulsa Chigger has posted a 1934 Chicago Tribune cartoon lampooning the New Deal, headlined "Planned Economy or Planned Destruction." In the corner of the cartoon, a Trotsky-esque fellow writes a placard: "Spend! Spend! Spend under the guise of recovery -- bust the government -- blame the capitalists for the failure -- junk the constitution and declare a dictatorship." Chigger writes, "Strangely similar to our situation now, isn't it?"

Chris Medlock writes about State Sen. Randy Brogdon's upcoming announcement as a candidate for governor and the impact of a Scott Pruitt candidacy on the race.

Owasso blogger James Parsons wonders about the conservative credentials of another GOP gubernatorial possibility, former Congressman J. C. Watts, who has spent the last seven years as a corporate lobbyist.

Yogi gets quote of the week honors: "I love little 'creases' in time and space." Me, too. He's referring to unexpected places like an Italian mining community in southeastern Oklahoma named Krebs that boasts legendary Italian food. Yogi recounts a recent visit to Pete's Place -- it's been too long since my last meal there.

OKDad is working on a mystery: A statue of a farmer, erected for the American Bicentennial in 1976 and currently under restoration, turns out not to be a bronze after all, but "some sort of hardened concrete-plaster hybrid." "He was planned as a bronze. Molds of him were made in preparation for a bronze. Funds were apparently raised for him to be cast in bronze. The papers from July 4, 1976 (the day he was dedicated and unveiled) clearly state he is a statue of bronze stature. So, where's the bronze?" The mystery is still unsolved, but here's the latest development.

Rod Dreher has posted an 1999 article by Russell Hittinger about how a Benedictine monastery came to be established in Cherokee County. (Driving directions on the monastery website include prayers to St. Jude and St. Benedict in the event of high water. Irritated Tulsan might advise prayers if you decide to follow the restaurant recommendation on the same page -- I've eaten at said restaurant three times and never had a problem.)

Irritated Tulsan's Tulsa Tuesday post last week on The Lost Ogle: Tulsa's Worst Remodels, including a Pizza Hut turned adult novelty and lingerie shop, a Wal-Mart-to-church conversion and a KFC (complete with bucket on the sign) turned chiropractor's office. (I wonder if you can still get a chicken wing there -- either the food kind or the wrestling kind.)

Down the turnpike:

Steve Lackmeyer has posted a series of videos featuring urban planner Jeff Speck's comments on downtown Oklahoma City. The latest segment hits a harsh reality in Speck's comments: When you optimize a street for moving cars at high speeds, you inherently make it hazardous for pedestrians. Here are the three earlier entries in the series:

Jeff Speck Video No. 1 on urban parking
Jeff Speck Video No. 2 on giving people what they want
Jeff Speck Video No. 3 -- outlook for downtown

JenX67 has a gorgeous photo of nightfall in OKC's Plaza District.

Nick Roberts has an interesting chart showing Oklahoma City's population by decade since its founding. Noting the massive growth the city experienced in the 1920s and 1950s, he wonders whether, despite great rankings in a variety of categories, OKC will ever again be a place to which people flock.

Finally, congrats to Blair Humphreys and the MIT design team for their victory in the 2009 Urban Land Institute design competition. The design is for a transit-oriented development to replace big-box and strip-mall retail in Denver.

Chris Medlock is back to blogging, having moved his blog to a domain with a matching name, www.MedBlogged.com. Since relaunching, he's written about both local and national issues, including the strange case of Obama excluding the press from a ceremony in which he was to receive an award from a press organization.

His most recent entry includes audio of Pat Campbell's comments on his show the Monday morning after KFAQ cancelled the Chris Medlock Show. Pat has kind words to say about Chris, and he made it clear that the cancellation of Chris's show reflected the station's economic situation, not Chris's performance.

Shortly before Pat's arrival in April 2008, I was informed that my weekly segment on KFAQ, which had run continuously since September 2003, was being discontinued. I was told that I might be called on from time to time to talk about a particular local issue that I covered here or in my UTW column. (And indeed that happened, with occasional appearances with Pat, Chris, and Elvis, most often with Chris, although the time of day didn't always allow me to participate.)

The change made sense: The station was launching a two-hour daily program devoted primarily to local issues, hosted by an expert. There really wasn't a need for my segment to continue. It was fun while it lasted, but I haven't missed having to get up extra early every Tuesday.

But now that there isn't a Chris Medlock Show, it would make sense to add a regular local politics segment alongside all the other weekly segments on the Pat Campbell Show. And it would make sense for that segment to feature the insights of a former city councilor and mayoral candidate named Chris Medlock.

MORE: Muskogee Politico notes that KFAQ has reposted the final week of podcasts of the Chris Medlock Show; MP calls it a "good start." Steven Roemerman says the gesture is "too little, too late."

Some notes from around the Tulsa blogosphere:

Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton has updated his website. On his City Council News page, he's posting city government documents. Recent entries include an update on the Public Works contracts put on hold because of Federal bribery indictments and a spreadsheet from the Tulsa Police Department with two years of crime statistics. On his blog, he has links to articles and editorials of interest, on such topics as the economy, law, and national defense.

I'm happy to see MeeCiteeWurkor back online. His latest entry is about plans to unionize the City of Tulsa's Information Technology department.

Steven Roemerman was on KTUL last night commenting on his earlier story about Taco Bueno outsourcing its drive-thru order-taking.

The story reveals that old media is still struggling with new-media terminology: "Roemerman even wrote a local blog about his experience." Actually, Roemerman is a local blogger who has a local blog and who wrote an entry on that local blog about his experience.

Irritated Tulsan is celebrating the first anniversary of his blog, and this week he's been blogging like it's 1979. An entry about Forgotten Tulsa Stories from the 1970s remembers the Tulsa Babes women's pro football team. Today, Mr. M (with the munching mouth) is visiting downtown.

The Babes mention had me struggling to recall the name of the Glenn Dobbs-coached semi-pro team that played Skelly Stadium in 1979. It was the Tulsa Mustangs. The Football entry in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture says that the Mustangs played five games of a 15-game season, then folded. This webpage says the team played in 1979, which sounds about right to me.

Continuing on in stream-of-consciousness fashion about short-lived pro sports teams of the 1970s, here's a 1978 People story about Bobby Delvecchio, a 21-year-old from the Bronx who was the bull-riding star of the Tulsa Twisters major league rodeo team.

Going further back to the '60s, Yogi, the Crusty Gas Guy, has an interesting post on Brutalism right here in Tulsa (not brutality, but the architectural style of the '60s and '70s that seeks to be brutally honest and unadorned about its materials). Yogi points to the Civic Center Plaza as an example of the style, which spawns some good discussion in the comments, including a defense from fans of modern architecture, including Shane Hood. I like SandyCarlson's comment: "True to its material seems like a weird idea. Like asking the cake you baked to be obvious about its flour. Why?"

DoubleShot Coffee Company is celebrating an anniversary, too. It's five years old, and they'll be throwing a birthday party on Saturday, March 14, from 7 p.m. to "whenever."

Yesterday at lunch -- I spoke about blogging at the spring workshop for the Ad Program at the University of Tulsa -- I mentioned that some companies give prizes to bloggers to give to their readers as a way to help the blogger build traffic and to help the company reach new customers. Someone asked me if I'd done much of that, and I noted that it was the mommy bloggers who seemed to get prizes to give away. (E.g., the Pioneer Woman giving away a $500 Apple Store gift certificate in a contest (now closed). Then again, I'm not likely to draw over 16,000 comments on a single blog entry.)

Now I see that two mommies who blog, Natasha Ball and Holly Wall, have teamed up on a giveaway post, which also contains a great overview of arts events this weekend in Tulsa -- theater, sculpture, photography, Shakespeare -- if you can't find something fun and interesting to do in Tulsa, you're just not trying. The contest involves answering an opinion question about the arts in Tulsa. The prize is tickets to "Educating Rita" at the PAC for tonight (Thursday).

Natasha is running a second contest -- this one's for a $20 gift certificate to the downtown fresh-Mex restaurant Eloté's first night of being open for dinner, also tonight. This one involves answering an opinion question about downtown dining.

There aren't very many entries yet, so your chances are good. Give it a whirl!

Okie Blog Awards: Best Political Blog, 2008

My deepest gratitude to my fellow Oklahoma bloggers, who have named BatesLine the Best Political Blog for 2008. It's especially meaningful to be recognized by fellow bloggers who know what it is to write content for public consumption day-in and day-out. And it's particularly encouraging during what has been a very stressful time.

Congratulations to the other winners, particularly to Tulsa-area blogs: Confessions of a Pioneer Woman for Best Overall Blog and Best Looking Blog, Rocks in My Dryer for Best Writing Blog, Tasha Does Tulsa for Best Culture Blog, and Decisionally Challenged for Best Humor Blog. (Yogi's Den came second for Best Culture Blog.)

Go check out the rest of the winners, and check out the rest of the nominees as well. As Mike Hermes, who founded this competition in 2005 and has been running it ever since, noted, "We are all winners to be a part of a thriving Oklahoma blogging community."

There are three bloggers that deserve a great deal of the credit for that thriving Oklahoma blogging community. Mike Hermes of Okiedoke is one of them, for his Okie blog roundup feature and the annual awards. Kevin Latham is another, for creating the BlogOklahoma webring. And then there's the doyen of Oklahoma bloggers, Charles G. Hill of dustbury.com, who has, for as long as I remember, made special note of his fellow Oklahomans in his blogroll and called attention to them by linking worthy posts. Their work has made this blogging community possible. Whatever our other affiliations, these three have helped us recognize what we have in common.

The nominations are in and the voting is underway for the 2008 Okie Blog Awards. Voting is open only to active Okie bloggers, but even if you don't fall into that category, you should click that link and explore the nominated blogs. It's a great way to learn about new blogs and to catch up on what you've been missing.

I was especially pleased to see Jeff Shaw's Bounded Rationality recognized with two nominations (political and commentary). Natasha Ball was nominated twice as well for two different blogs: Tasha Does Tulsa and My Life As Told by Food, which combines cuisine and autobiography in a fascinating way. Rookie Irritated Tulsan got a well-deserved nod in the humor category. Red Fork Hippie Chick was nominated in the inspirational category. And I see many more friends and blogging acquaintances on the lists, next to blogs I look forward to exploring soon.

Dustbury is up for best overall blog, which is inappropriate in my opinion. Charles G. Hill shouldn't have to compete for an award that should be named in his honor. (The Charles G. Hill trophy for best overall blog -- could we call it the Chazzie for short -- would, of course, be a statuette of a finch.)

Thanks again to Mike of Okiedoke for all the hard work he puts into this process.

This week's cover story in Urban Tulsa Weekly is a profile of Tulsa's growing blogging community. The piece features:

Dan Paden's No Blog of Significance

Jeff Shaw's Bounded Rationality, which is celebrating its second anniversary. (Congratulations, Jeff!)

Emily Priddy's Red Fork State of Mind and Indie Tulsa, her husband Ron Warnick's Route 66 News, and their blog about "green" living, the House of the Lifted Lorax.

Irritated Tulsan's Irritated Tulsan

Alternative Tulsan's Alternative Tulsa

Last but not least, Natasha Ball's Tasha Does Tulsa, who regularly puts the lie to the oft-heard whine that "there's nothing to do in Tulsa." There was a very sweet and touching quote from Natasha in the story:

Many local bloggers herald UTW's own Michael Bates' "Batesline" as the gold standard of Tulsa blogging. When Natasha Ball got her first congratulatory comment about her blog from Bates, Ball said, "I was elated. I danced around the living room. I even cried a little. I was star-struck, I guess. I was happy to know I would start to reach more readers, too, since several of the local bloggers with established readerships had told their subscribers about me."

There are many more Tulsa-based bloggers. I wrote about a bunch of them two and a half years ago. Commenters on this week's story have posted links to several more.

It's exciting to see Tulsa's blogging community continue to expand and diversify. The more the merrier!

Bobby's back

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I'm happy to note that Bobby of Tulsa Topics has several new entries up -- a commentary by Kent Morlan about the downtown stadium trust and the oligarchy that put it together, a visit to Espresso by the Book in Gardner's Books, and an item about his work as an industrial computer specialist working on control systems for natural gas production, a job that has taken him to Tunisia, Massachusetts, Texas, Boston, and Montana, among other places.

Welcome back to blogging, Bobby -- hope you'll continue to bless us with your observations and commentary.

Some recent finds worth telling you about:

Here are two fairly new "news around town" blogs devoted to Tulsa: Tulsa Loop and This Tulsa.

This Tulsa has a very cool logo (featuring the BOK Tower, the Mid-Continent Tower, and University Club Tower), and they encourage readers to submit links of local interest. (If you've missed Beef Baloney, the site has a video with Matt Zaller interviewing Bill Hader and talking about growing up in Tulsa.)

TulsaLoop aspires to be "Your Tulsa City Guide," offering a calendar of events, a list of attractions, and news about happenings around town.

I noticed Kick the Anthill when the blog weighed in on the CAIR-OK EEOC complaint against the Woodland Hills Abercrombie Kids store. The three bloggers cover a wide range of topics:

We're a small group of ants that got tired of getting kicked, so we decided to kick back. We're mad about movies, conservative politics and our Christian faith. Safe to say we're just mad in general. We also like to yak about Oklahoma (which, seemingly coincidentally, is just one gigantic anthill itself) and other completely random things. Thanks for joining us.

I've already been following Terra Extraneus, but I just noticed that blogger Terry Hull has a separate, personal blog, with entries that link to things I need to read, like this one about someone who makes more than $100,000 a year blogging, and this entry linking to Writer's Digest's 101 Best Websites for Writers.

I've come across a number of blogs devoted to real estate and development in Oklahoma: The Journal Record has a blog called Oklahoma per Square Foot, covering the commercial real estate industry in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Oklahoma City homebuilder Jeff Click writes Modern Land Run.

Blair Humphreys dreams about Oklahoma City's future on his blog imagiNATIVEamerica. Right now he's in living car-free in Boston, where he's studying planning and urban design. Here's a great post, illustrated with photos and maps, about what makes for pedestrian friendliness.

Nick Roberts is a fellow right-winger and urban advocate who has just started blogging at A Downtown ontheRange. He lives in Calgary, but considers Oklahoma City his adopted hometown:

Obviously OKC is a very special place to me, and I'd rather not be away from it at this point in my life, but I promise I will come back home better positioned to leave the kind of impressions that I would want to on my adopted hometown. Whether I settle down in OKC, or Galveston where I was born, remains up in the air, but the only thing certain at this point is that I am hardly finished with OKC. I want this blog to have the same kind of impact that Doug Dawg, Steve's OKC Central, and other blogs have had, in informing readers about the life of urban OKC, and perhaps Tulsa, too! And I will be making comparisons to beautiful Calgary whenever possible, just for the purpose of expanding you guys' horizons.

A couple of other bloggers are in Oklahoma but a long way from where they grew up:

Sarah, Brit Gal in the USA, moved here from the UK after falling for an Oklahoma man she met in an online backgammon room. Her blog helps you expand your transatlantic vocabulary with a "Brit Word of the Day" -- Wednesday's word was bollard.

Stuart Campbell, the Dusty Traveler, is from New Zealand, and he's been photographing scenic spots around Oklahoma, including the Wichita Mountains, Red Rock Canyon, Turner Falls, Maysville, and Natural Falls. He finds it a challenge to capture the grandeur of the Great Plains:

Big mountains are dramatic. A big lake is peaceful. A big city is bustling. The plains are just BIG. There is a lot of space with nothing going on and it is hard to capture nothing and make it look spectacular.

Some secrets I am discovering; color- go early or late but the middle part of the day dilute the color. The sky- watch what is happening above as the clouds are fascinating in themselves and can add to a wide open space. Find things to put in the picture -- whether it be natural or man made it can add character to a scene.

But capture it he does. Click that link and have a look at our photogenic home state.

I found many of these new blogs via the BlogOklahoma web ring -- a list of nearly 900 Oklahoma-based blogs, with brief descriptions for each. To give you an idea of how Oklahoma's blogosphere has exploded, BatesLine joined in March 2004 as blog number 39. The latest addition to the web ring -- yesterday -- is called I Don't Think I'm a Grown Up Yet -- number 861. And it's not an exhaustive list: The oldest Oklahoma-based blog of all isn't a member of BlogOklahoma (which is akin to Switzerland not joining the United Nations -- when you're Switzerland, you don't need to join the UN to prove yourself as a peace-loving nation-state).

Terry Hull of Terra Extraneus, an Oklahoma City-based blog about the law, is looking for other Oklahoma "blawgs." So far he's found six -- five based in OKC, but only one based in Tulsa, the Oklahoma Family Law Blog by Dan Nunley.

I have a blawg in my blogroll that Terry hadn't yet encountered: Opinions from Oklahoma & the Northern District: Legal Decisions from Oklahoma State and Federal Courts. 28 entries were posted there between June and December of last year, but nothing since then.

A blawg can be a way to promote both your own practice and a broader understanding of the law, not by offering specific legal advice, but by explaining legal issues you encounter in your practice in terms that are understandable to lay people.

If you're an Oklahoma attorney actively blogging about legal issues, drop by Terra Extraneus and leave a comment.

If you're an Oklahoma attorney interested in blawging and you need an example to inspire you, I'd encourage you to check out Likelihood of Confusion, an award-winning blog about copyright, trademark, and intellectual property law by Ron Coleman. Ron is general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association, and he was a tremendous help in my dealings with the Tulsa World.

I've added three more blogs by and about Oklahoma to my blogroll. You'll see new entries from these blogs pop up on the powered-by-NewsGator blogroll headlines page. (I'm thinking it may be time to break out the Okie blogs to a separate page. What do you think?)

Random Dafydd (that's the Welsh version of David) grew up in Tulsa but now lives in Bartlesville. His blog covers Tulsa history, ancient manuscripts, and many other topics. Here are a couple of his recent historical entries: Tulsa before the railroad: Taylor Postoak Home and Tulsa Architecture, Hooper Brothers Coffee. The latter entry includes photos of the historic building on the edge of downtown at Admiral and Iroquois.

Green Country Values, which covers politics and regional events. Here's an entry about a trip last Saturday to the Lavender Festival and Stone Bluff Cellars. Blogger Jenn also has the scoop on U. S. Rep. John Sullivan's Private Property Rights Protection and Government Accountability Act, which addresses eminent domain abuse in the wake of the Kelo v. New London decision.

Finally, Save ORU chronicles the rebuilding of Oral Roberts University's finances and credibility. reacts to the AP report of declining enrollment:

It's something that should have happened long ago, after years of struggling with a crushing debt and a corporate culture of fear, Oral Roberts University has another major hurdle to overcome. Since its beginnings, ORU has taken on the role of a "surrogate parent/guardian" for its students. Whether you were 18 or 40 -if you lived in the dorms -you had a curfew and an RA telling you to clean your room. Adding insult to injury, it cost you a pretty penny too, and up until 2001, you had to wear business attire to attend classes.

With tuition costs soaring and more students footing the bill for their own education, they want to be in control of their college experience. ORU has improved over the years with the adoption of more customer-service oriented approaches, but the recent scandal has made many of the most forgiving students and parents take a step back and ask "what am I really getting for my money?"

(I found that last blog via Club Fritch, the blog of two ORU graduates, Ryan and Gillian (Rowe) Fritzsche, who are now in the film industry. They have a category called ORUgate.)

If you have a blog that you think would be of interest here at BatesLine, drop me a line at blog at batesline d0t com.

Oklahoma-based but internationally-renowned blogger Lynn Sislo hits the half-century mark today, and she's rather pleased about it, because it gives her an appreciation for technological advances that the younger set merely takes for granted:

You have to be my age (or nearly so) to understand how seriously cool and awesome all this stuff is. I don't want to be old but I'm glad I'm old enough to get it. And I can hardly wait to see what they come up with next.

Even as young as I am I claim the right to be a curmudgeon and to talk about how we did things back in the day and to say we were right, because we were. I know; I was there. I claim the right to be a know-it-all and to give unsolicited advice because I do know more than most folks. One of the benefits of being 50, you see.

Go wish Lynn a happy birthday.

If you live in Oklahoma and run a blog, you are eligible to nominate blogs, vote for blogs, and maybe even win an Okie Blog Award. This will be the third year for the peer-driven awards, founded and run by Mike Hermes of Okiedoke.com, one of his many wonderful efforts to build an Oklahoma blogging community.

You'll find the rules for participation and the categories here. Nominations close on September 8.

This process is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to new Okie blogs, even if you aren't a blogger and aren't eligible to vote. The Blog Oklahoma web ring has 458 members, so there is a lot of unexplored territory out there. If you have or know of an Okie blog that I ought to check out before I submit my nominations, please leave a comment below.

I came across an item about Tulsa-based blogs while looking for info about Tulsa's Coliseum -- the stories were on the same page in the April 2007 Tulsa People.

Writer Andy Wheeler mentions this blog and two others: Indie Tulsa, which spotlights locally owned businesses and Alternative Tulsa, an left-leaning anonymous political blog. Included in the list of blogs is a non-blog, the Voices of Tulsa forum, founded and run by MeeCiteeWurkor.

It looked like they intended to do a monthly feature of Tulsa-related web links, but I don't see that it continued in more recent issues.

But there was this piece, in their Tulsarama-themed June edition, showing how the price of a home, a gallon of gas, college tuition, a postage stamp, and a movie ticket had changed since 1957. Family income rose faster than the official rate of inflation, and University of Tulsa tuition rose at five times the rate of inflation. (A year at TU would be $4,334 today if it had kept pace with the cost of living. Instead it's $20,669.)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics online Consumer Price Index calculator, 100.00 in 1957 has the same buying power as 735.54 in 2007.

Congratulations to fellow Tulsa blogger Steven Roemerman on his confirmation as a member of the City of Tulsa Sales Tax Overview Committee. It's a sign of his manifest intelligence and civic-mindedness that he was nominated by the man whose election he tried to prevent. Roemerman was a fervent supporter of former Councilor Jim Mautino, who was defeated for re-election by Dennis Troyer.

The Sales Tax Overview Committee monitors the spending of the "third-penny" sales tax fund for compliance with the list of projects promised to the voters. I know that Steven will be a diligent watchdog, and he should have some interesting insights into city finances to share with us on his blog.

Calvey in Iraq

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Former State Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Oklahoma City) is a captain in the Army National Guard, and he is finally getting his long-awaited opportunity to go on active duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While he's there, he'll be keeping a blog about the experience, called "Calvey in Iraq: From State House to Bunkhouse." He received his deployment orders on Thursday and leaves today for Fort Bliss, Texas.

Kevin is a sharp guy and his departure from the State House (he ran for the Republican nomination for the 5th Congressional District) is a loss for Oklahoma. I'm looking forward to his reports from the scene in Iraq and hope he'll also share some reflections on his time in the Legislature.

Be sure to keep Kevin and his new wife (they wed on December 29) in your prayers.

There's a new Roemerman!

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... and it's a boy! Click the link to see pictures and to add your congratulations to Steve and family.

Happy birthday, Jan!

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Okie Blogger Round-Up round-up

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The 2006 Okie Blogger Round-up was a fun event and a good start to what everyone hopes will be an annual tradition. Much credit belongs to Mike Hermes of Okiedoke, who started the planning on this over a year ago. It was well organized, and there was never a dull moment. Thanks, too, to Kevin Latham of BlogOklahoma.us and ITLnet, particularly for providing a WiFi router for all us bloggers to use during the event and for allowing someone (me, in fact) to take it home as a door prize.

Sean Gleeson led the opening Blogging 101 session, and Dan Lovejoy led the advanced blogging panel discussion, joined by Sean, Kevin, and Kurt Hochenauer of Okie Funk. The sessions were well-done, and I learned plenty of new blog tricks.

I came in late -- I had been helping my 10-year-old son get his Lego entry for the Tulsa State Fair ready to take over to the fairgrounds -- but registration was handled very smoothly by Redneck Diva,, her sister Taterbug, and Babs of Conversation Station.

Through Okiedoke's weekly Okie round-up feature, the Okie blog awards, and the Blog Oklahoma webring, which now includes 343 blogs, Mike and Kevin have done more than anyone else to introduce Oklahoma's bloggers to each other and create a sense of community.

It was great once again to see most of the folks who joined us for the much smaller Okie blogger bash a year and a half earlier. While I didn't expect anyone to come all the way from New York this time, I missed seeing John Owen Butler and Dwayne the Canoe Guy, aka Mike Horshead.

(Dwayne has a fairly new blog called Matching Dragoons, devoted to 1970s DC comics bounty hunter Jonah Hex. What I love about this blog are his regular features of comic book mail order ads from the '70s -- e.g., combat games with exploding pieces -- and the Weekly Wonderous Moment in Comics -- often featuring gorillas. Look for "Pitchman-a-go-go" and "Weekly Moment" in the sidebar at Matching Dragoons.)

Mike was wise to give us a three-hour break between the afternoon roundtables and the evening activities. There was plenty of time to grab a leisurely dinner and do a little sightseeing or shopping before the awards ceremony commenced.

I had dinner at Bricktown Brewery with three other veterans of the earlier blogger bash -- Charles G. Hill, Don Danz, and Dan Lovejoy -- and for the first time got to meet Dan's lovely wife and co-blogger Angi and their adorable and well-behaved three-year-old son Elijah. Charles kindly picked up the tab for me and Don, in consideration for traveling a relatively long distance to be there.

Before heading back, I took a brisk stroll around Bricktown, enjoying the perfect temperature and the cloudless skies. Don headed off to the Apple Store. (Tulsa doesn't have one yet.)

At the awards ceremony, I sat with Brian of Audience of One and his beloved Terri, Steph Waller, Lynette Erwin, and AKA Monty. I wasn't familiar with Steph or Lynette, but I had read read AKA Monty's blog on occasion and Brian's blog fairly regularly.

The highlight of the awards ceremony was seeing Charles win for Best Overall Blog and giving him a standing ovation. Given his decade of excellence in Internet publishing, the Okie Blog Awards trophy ought to be named in his honor. (Mark your calendars for next year's Chazzies.)

After that, some danced, some blogged, many drank, some did all three. (I blogged.)

I had been suffering from a strange shyness most of the day. I felt comfortable around the folks I knew, but awkward making small talk with people I was meeting for the first time. That's normally not a problem for me, and I meet new people all the time with the civic and political stuff I do. But Saturday, when I met someone new, I wanted to say, "Ah, would you excuse me for a moment while I read a few pages of your blog so I can hold an intelligent conversation with you?" I was embarrassed at the thought of asking a blogger a question to which, were I a faithful reader, I would know the answer. Eventually I got past that and had some good conversations.

The evening closed with a screening of the documentary Mozartballs, which featured Steph and Lynette, along with three other people who feel a special connection to Mozart. The Mozartballs of the title are the Echte Salzburg Mozartkugeln -- chocolate, marzipan, and praline candies which come individually wrapped in gold foil with a picture of Wolfie himself. The film has been shown on TV in Europe and at Cannes, and an expanded version will be released in the US this fall on DVD. I wouldn't be surprised if it pops up on the Bravo channel.

I stayed around to see the film mainly because, as the two big kids are both very interested in classical music and have studied Mozart's life and music in school, I wondered if it might be appropriate for my children to see. (It's not.)

I made it home about 1 a.m., tired, but glad to have made the trip and looking forward to the next one, hopefully with a bigger Tulsa presence.

Other bloggers review the round-up:

And here again are links to the official list of 2006 Okie Blog Award winners, the Flickr photo pool for the event, and videos of the event on YouTube. And Bill Bauer has photos and audio, too.

Blogger Roundup photos

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Charles G. Hill and Dr. Jan and Betsy of the Ugly Girls Club

No time to write much now (time to finish my column), but I'll point you to the Flickr photo pool for the 2006 Okie Blogger Roundup. Above, Charles G. Hill, winner of the 2006 Best Overall Blog award, is congratulated by his adoring fans, Dr. Jan and Betsy of the Ugly Girls Club.

Bloggers can dance?

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2006's best overall Okie blogger Charles G. Hill is at this moment on the dance floor with not one, not two, but three lovely ladies. (Pictures to follow later, assuming I don't find the cash-filled plain envelope in the previously arranged location.)

UPDATE: Because of the underpowered flash on my digital camera, Charles gets a reprieve. (And thanks for dinner, too, Charles.)

UPDATE (2): Don Danz's flash worked just fine.

UPDATE (3): There's video!

2006 Okie blog award winners

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Quickly dashed off on the Treo -- will add links later:

Corporate: Oklahoma Wine News
Inspirational: Counseling Notes
Commentary: Two-Headed Blog
Culture: Blog Oklahoma
Writing: Audience of One
Unusual: 3:40 am
Layout: Taste the World
Audio: Daily Bitch
Humor: Ramblings of a Redneck Diva
Family: Rocks in My Dryer
Political: Okie Funk
Overall: Dustbury

Congrats to all the winners, particularly to Charles G. Hill of Dustbury, who also received a much deserved standing ovation.

Okie Blogger Roundup is underway


I came in late, but I'm here at the first ever Okie Blogger Roundup at the Bricktown Central Plaza Hotel. Sean Gleeson is the lecturer for the session on basic blogging. Dan Lovejoy is running the presentation laptop, and looking around the room I see nearly all the folks I met at the January 2005 Okie blogger bash: Jan the Happy Homemaker, Charles G. Hill, Don Danz, and Wild Bill. There are about 25 folks here now; I expect to see more for the advanced seminar and the awards ceremony and social hour later.

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