Oklahoma Hospitality

About halfway across the country now in Oklahoma City.  The general aviation airport here, Wiley Post, has an 8000′ runway, longer than many of the major airports back East.  Avgas is ridiculously cheap:  $2.20/gallon at the self-serv pumps.  A quick drive in a brand-new Ford Taurus borrowed from the Millionair FBO brought me to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, formerly the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

The paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Russell, and Remington were fantastic as expected.  The outdoor koi pond underneath a statue of Buffalo Bill was a pleasant surprise.  The volunteer docents were a good source of entertainment.  For example, according to the Death Penalty Institute of Oklahoma the state has the second highest per-capita rate of executions in the U.S.  This fact had come to the attention of some German tourists and they asked the volunteer how he could be happy living in a state that executed convicted criminals.  He responded “Different countries have different justice systems.  We Oklahomans execute murderers.  People in other countries execute their Jewish neighbors.”

Just next door to the museum is County Line Barbecue.  After serving up some brisket and black-eyed peas, Terri explained how the old gun culture documented at the museum lives on today:  “Generally I don’t shoot at animals but we get too many alligator turtles in the pond behind our house and I don’t want them getting at my 3-year-old daughter.”  What kind of gun works best for turtles?  “Oh I generally use a 12-gauge shotgun.”  Isn’t that rather unsporting?  “That way the turtle is divided up into lots of little pieces that sink to the bottom for the fish to eat and he doesn’t go to waste.”

29 thoughts on “Oklahoma Hospitality

  1. I guess a 12ga. would do the job. Remember those alligator snappers can be the size of a manhole cover and weigh as much as one also.

  2. You didn’t happen to catch the Joshua Bell concert last night, did you?

    The audience was asked to sing “God Bless America” before the performance. It was very odd.

  3. That’s a very funny story. What’d the Germans say? And what does Dr. Phil think of the death penalty?

  4. Neither the WWF nor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Threatened and Endangered Species Listing program lists the alligator snapping turtle as a threatened or endangered species.

  5. In Oklahoma the alligator snapping turtle is listed as a category 2 species of concern. What this means is that scientists believe there is reason to be concerned about the population but there isn’t enough information to decide on its status.

    The turtle is listed as endangered in indiana and Illinois, threatened in Texas and Georgia and a special concern most of the rest of it’s range. In short, it isn’t doing particularly well due to over-hunting, and habitat loss and pesticide runoff.

  6. Phil, people don’t double-space between sentences anymore. You’re showing your age and your manual typewriter roots. Double-spacing after periods was called “French spacing,” and was taught in typewriting class back when typewriters were mono-spaced; it went out with the IBM Selectric. In the DTP world, everyone just seems to know this (and FrameMaker even has a mode that enforces it and prohibits sequential spaces). In the typesetting world (Linotype, Monotype), there were manuals like “Hart’s Rules” and the GPO Manual of Style. How did this bizarre and eyesorely custom manage to survive with you? Should we call it “heirloom typography”?

  7. Having moved to Oklahoma City from San Antonio just over a month ago, I have to say it’s not a bad place to live, and sometimes things surprise you. I live in downtown’s warehouse district, Bricktown, and near my apartment is an E85 (85% ethanol) gas station, right here in the middle of “oil country”.

  8. I just read this link that someone posted here: http://www.extravalue.com/alligator.shtml and it just makes me think that we humans suck as a species. We have no business plucking poor little helpless animals out of the wild and selling them for cash. Imagine you’re a parrot. You’re sitting in a tree one day, and next day you’ve been stuffed into a cardboard roll with no food or water, stuck into a suitcase and mailed to America so you’re body can be sold to some schmucky 12yr kid who will probably forget to feed you. Or you’re shark swimming around minding you’re own business when suddenly someone drags you out of the water, cuts your fins off and toss you back into the ocean to die? I’m always happy when I hear stories of hunters who shoot and kill someone’s kid by accident because they thought it was an animal. Let them know how it feels to be on the receiving end.

  9. For what it’s worth Alisa, I don’t have much sympathy for your brand of environmentalism. This feel-good, ‘how would you feel’ argument might work well on children, but saying you like to see people accidentally shot only helps brand everyone who is seriously concerned about these issues as a psychopath. There are very good reasons why conservation is important to us humans. We depend on environmental diversity, clean water, and clean air all or which are becoming more rare every day. I encourage you to dig a little deeper into the issues to get to the real powerful arguments rather than trying to get the world to empathize with a parrot.

  10. The museum volunteer’s remark was plain mean if the German tourists were younger than 60 or so.

  11. Mark,
    I was writing my reactions to that particular website on animals not about all environmental issues. Of course conservation is important to us humans but I don’t see too much of that going on. If that was the case, we wouldn’t be loosing our rainforests or animals to extinction. I think it’s pretty nausiating that animals are killed because their body parts are thought to have aphrodisiac properties and there’s nothing wrong in saying so. Besides, half the population on the planet are psychopaths & doesn’t give a rats ass about humans, let alone plants and animals. There are mothers that would love nothing more than to see their sons blow themselves up to bits in order to kill a whole bunch of other people who don’t share their same religious beliefs. But that’s for another blog….

  12. Thanks for the link, Slacker. The Stephen Coles post was especially interesting, and I had completely forgotten “The Mac [PC] is Not a Typewriter.” Coles’ comment about HTML rejecting double spacing (just like FrameMaker), led me to look at Phil’s HTML: he is putting in non-breaking spaces to get around this (  or  )

  13. I can’t believe so many people are concerned about whether or not use double space after a period. What kind of global issue is that? Let me go back and re-read the prozac post…

  14. Saying “Murders and Mexicans” in this case is clearly redundent. They are not offing the guy because he’s a Mexican. They’re offing him because he’s a murderous criminal asshole and he deserves it. The world court can stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

  15. Ah yes, us simple Americans once more getting criticized by those superior Europeans.

    Europe in the 20th Century: 20 million dead Ukrainians, 6 million dead Jews, Gypsies, and other inconvenient folks, millions dead in WWI and WWII.

    We Americans may be a simple lot, but we haven’t killed any Mexicans or Canadians in great numbers since the 1800s. Aside from murderers, rapists, and horse thieves.

  16. By the way, since we’re comparing atrocities PatrickG, it seems fair enough to mention all those Native Americans, approximately 12 million just happened to get in the way of the progress of the settlers. I studied this in high school here in Oklahoma. “felling Indians and trees with equal equanimity”, to roughly quote Tocqueville.

    Speaking of frontier justice, it may even be plausible to include the victims of those other settlers in the tally, because the U.S.provides Israel with decisive diplomatic support for the continued, illegal occupation of palestine. Roughly 9 billion in total aid (approximately half of all U.S. foreign aid goes to this single country with no oversight mechanism. By comparison the staff for Turkey is about 100 people accounting for every dollar.)

    Mr.Greenspun, glad you enjoyed the Oklahoma hospitality enough to pass along anecdote implying that the German tourists bore some culpability for the Holocaust. Kind of makes you wonder…

  17. Re. “French spacing”, shouldn’t that be “Freedom spacing” now? I must say it sounds so much cooler. It might even come back into fashion. 🙂

  18. What are people’s thoughts on “gMail” from google? I heard it was a hoax. 1 GB: Wow! I’ve got email going back years and it’s only like 20% of that, including attachments. Real or hoax?

  19. Oklahoma is blessed with a large number of airports. Just about every town of any significance (pop 2,000 +) has an airport. Quite a few were former military fields including the monster at the Clinton-Sherman Airport at Burns Flat. 13503 ft x 150 ft. I beleive that it is the third longest runway in the US. I couldn’t find any quick way to confirm this.

    Next time you come out this way, you should fly into the airport at Weatherford, Ok and check out the Tom Stafford Air and Space Museum.

    in W’ford

  20. As of 2:20 pm 4/1/04, gmail seems like less of a hoax than it did at 8:00 am. I even put in for an account.

    For as long as I can remember, Oklahoma has seemed like one of those, ‘Y’all ain’t from around here, BOY!’ kinda places and I have never felt very comfortable there. I did spend a night there on a cross-country trip, sept 9, 2001. I spent a lot of time thinking about the federal building and the nut-cases that felt oblidged to blow it up, I even drove past it (in my u-haul, no less) on the way out of town. It occupied my mind for the next thousand miles. Two days later it seemed like a distant memory.

    As far as shooting critters and all goes, my great-grandfather and grandfather always carried some sort of rifle, just in case they had to shoot some critter or human that they felt particularly threatened by. I feel that things are way too civilised these days to even consider it. I suppose that not everybody is on the same page on this concept.

    Phil, hope you get to continue west, there are some interesting sites in az such as the Pima county air and space museum (with a sr-71 and a pregant guppy) and the tucson titan II silo museum. These goodies make carrying a rifle for self protection look like baby toys.

  21. So, why is double-spacing after a period bad? It’s what I’ve always been taught 🙁

  22. (1) The pragmatic reason is that you can’t: HTML and professional DTP software won’t let you. Trying to get around it causes more problems (like the spaces at the beginning of lines in Phil’s postings when the break occurs after the first space. (2) Read the history of this at the link posted above. (3) Forget what you were taught and forget logic and just look at the page; squint: you can see holes in the text, not good. (4) Since type designers and layout software designers assume people will not be double-spacing, font designs, kerning data, and software spacing algorithms are designed to get good results with single spaces (and remember, a “space” doesn’t have a particular fixed width; it’s what remains after all the computations are done for justification, kerning, etc.).

  23. I’m chuckling at the “turtle is protected” posts because it reminded me of a story I heard growing up in Oklahoma.

    This woodpecker was just hammering away at the side of this guys house. He spent days trying to spray it away with the hose, sicking the cat on it, etc., all with no luck.

    One morning he was fed up. It was 6am and the woodpecker was making a huge racket.

    As he walked outside a neighbor watering the lawn said “you can’t shoot that bird, it’s protected!”

    He grabbed the shotgun, walked outside and chambered a round. He then took careful aim and atomized the bird with one shot.

    To which the guy replied “ain’t nothin protecting that bird…”

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