Archive for the ‘Animal Lovers’ Category

LOSING YOUR PENNSYLVANIA LANDOWNER’S RIGHTS IN THE MARCELLUS SHALE…

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Pennsylvania Representative Camille “Bud” George states this about Force-Pooling: “…Intrusive government would be depriving an individual’s property rights to benefit private companies.”

Oil and Gas Industry lobbyists have concocted another name for it:  “fair pooling.” There’s nothing “fair” about it; Force-Pooling is eminent domain in sheep’s clothing.

Let’s say a Force-Pooling  law is enacted in Pennsylvania, and, for whatever reason, you have remained unleased to any Oil and Gas Producer operating in the new Marcellus Shale play. Judging from 37 other states where Gas Producers have lobbied it into law, here’s how Force-Pooling would work in Pennsylvania:

UNBIDDEN, A GAS OPERATOR COMES TO YOU with a lease. You may chase him away, or make an attempt at negotiating more suitable terms. The Operator and his landman prove inflexible.  You are told if you don’t sign, you face subjection to the new Force-Pooling law; that, as a “holdout,” you’re in the way of the Operator’s plans to harvest gas from the surrounding countryside, thus threatening the correlative rights of the mineral owners already leased to him.

This means a yet-to-be formed PA State commission will hear your case, most probably assigning your property to that gas Operator. He has formed a more economical area to drill (it can be of any size, but it’s probably in the range of  640 to 1,000 acres)—say, a 640 acre UNIT containing  11 other owners. Of which you will now be a fractional part. To make it easy, let’s assume each of the other owners has an equal portion of the unit.

Your return will be 1/12 of the 12½% minimum State royalty unwisely agreed to months ago, and very early in the play, by your new neighbors. If monthly production from the 8 wells in the UNIT totals $80,000, you will receive only $833. (Had you not been Force-Pooled—giving up most of your production to your new neighbors—your property alone might have held one of the wells, providing you, initially, with about $10,000 per month.)

Force-Pooling might indeed prove an advantage to the neglected property owner watching his neighbors being drilled. Through an advisor, he wangles a meeting with the Operator and signs a lease on the Operator’s terms. The Operator gerrymanders this new parcel onto his approved UNIT, granting the neglected owner a generous signing bonus and a proper pro-rata share of unit royalties.

What that neglected property owner may not know, is that the Operator wanted him added to the unit in order to Force-Pool another holdout residing within the unit. (Blocking a horizontal drill path that has been quickly redirected into the neglected owner’s conveniently tacked-on parcel, the unleased holdout is now cited for interfering with the neglected property owner’s correlative rights, then Force-Pooled by the State into the Operator’s unit.)

But, just a minute…Pennsylvania doesn’t yet have a workable Force-Pooling law! Present-day gas comes from the Marcellus Shale which lies atop the Onandaga limestone…old Oil & Gas pooling laws DON’T apply.  Oil and Gas Operator lawyers and lobbyists are putting steady pressure on PA legislators to undo what they perceive as a limitation in the old laws and, furthermore, apply restructured Force-Pooling regulation to ALL new Penna. Oil & Gas wells—no matter how, where, or to what depths and stratas they are drilled.

Years roll by…. you wonder what might have happened had you been free to walk away from the whole mess, or at least negotiate a lease more to your liking—one that would have lent some control to a few developing problems:

  • You discover that gas wells decline in first-year production as much as 65%, then more gradually in following years until they expire. Shouldn’t you have been compensated with a higher royalty %?
  • Your well water may have turned brown, or have bacteria or chemicals in it that you are certain were never there. Is any redress now possible from the Operator or the State?
  • How about damage to your crops, road, woods, and piece of mind caused by the drilling of a vertical well on the surface (unexpected, when you were thinking horizontal) and the annoyance of service work going on near your outbuildings or home?
  • What about gas pipelines (the gathering system) and possibly well and frac-water transfer pipes buried atop those lines?
  • A compressor station within earshot might make sleeping difficult.
  • The resale value of your property plummets. You find your land is now “HBP,” or held by production; it will remain the Operator’s—until the unit wells are plugged and abandoned. Nothing seems to be as it once was. But you can’t leave—it’s your home.
  • Taxes rise on the yet-unproduced portion of your mineral wealth.
  • The Operator wants to drill even deeper and exploit the Utica Shale, 3,000 or more feet below the Marcellus. Will you receive  additional compensation? Do you have any say in the matter?

The Pennsylvania legislature has just pleased the Oil & Gas Industry by voting down a severance tax on gas production; will it next please the Industry by coming up with a new Force-Pooling act?

Those legislators who have chosen to support the passage of Force-Pooling into law must know they are on the edge of public defiance—the abrogation of Article 1- Section 1 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution, stating that citizens have certain “inherent and indefeasible (that which cannot be lost; inalienable) rights,” including those of “acquiring, possessing, and protecting property and reputation”; as well as Article 1 – Section 27, saying: “the people have the right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment.”; and lastly, making a mockery of Article 1 – Section 10: “…nor shall private property be taken or applied to public use without the authority of law and without just compensation being first made or secured.”

Is your Pennsylvania State Representative or Senator on board with the Oil & Gas Industry — or YOU?   Better call or write them for an answer!

BUMS OF LAS VEGAS…

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Visitors to Las Vegas may not be aware that a  part of their number are the truly indigent–the down and outer. You won’t bump into them on the bus, train, or plane, or on your arrival at McCarran International Airport. Just when they do  arrive in Vegas, and what their means of transport might be, often remains a mystery. But arrive  they do, and many become full-time residents.

Let’s be clear who I’m talking about. These are not  gamblers who  find themselves suddenly broke; they are the ragged, the unbathed, the often quarrelsome folks who have lived like this for months or years on end – those who have found themselves taking up space on Earth without  a means of  support. More than a few are obvious mental cases, thrown to the elements by some governmental authority that closed the facility where they were housed.

Why do such people choose Vegas? Think about it…it’s warm here nearly the whole year round, it’s got thousands upon thousands of monied tourists to hit up for a handout, and even more interesting, it’s got a county and city police  trained to humanely handle the indigent and steer them to shelters–steer them, that is, if they will go. Many won’t, and end up establishing residence in the flash-flood drain pipes under the Strip casinos and the downtown casino and commercial area.

Clark County drain pipe bums were recently featured on a Sunday morning TV network show. The existence of vagrants in this hidden network of  pipes came as a surprise to me. I visit Vegas more often than most, but these huge conduits for flash-flood waters are not something most of us would ever have cause to search out. The TV show was not helpful in pinpointing exact locations, but it was obvious that hundreds of vagrants call these dry drainage pipes home. God help them when infrequent  desert rains set off  flash-floods, a certainty several times a year. Cruel as it seems, their few belongings will be destroyed, along with the  food and bedding  they have squirreled away in these lonely steel tubes. The drainage pipes become the  scene of chaos, heartbreak, and – most probably – death for some.

Roaming Fremont Street (downtown Vegas) you’ve probably noticed uniformed, helmeted cops, dressed in black uniforms, patrolling (the touristy part under the Fremont Experience light show canopy) on speedy  two-wheeler Segways and bicycles. In conversations with several of these cops I found that the bums roaming the downtown area are a major source of concern to the police department – and why would they not be? In addition to breaking up fights amongst the indigent, the police do their best to separate  them from the  gaze of tourists. One city policeman told me that Medicare and the ACLU are active in legally and medically  sheltering any Vegas vagrant seeking help. Numerous vagrants claim they are subject to “depredations and acts of cruelty” at the hands of the Las Vegas and Clark County police – sour grapes on both sides. Take a look at what I’ve observed while strolling downtown Las Vegas:

MOUNTED BUMS:  vagrants on battery operated senior citizen scooters. They’re not racing around out of control – the cops see to that. Only a few bums have managed to set themselves up this regally. One even carries a pet dog  in a  satchel, a Pomeranian! A favorite hangout for this particular bum is the bandstand plaza  west of the Fremont hotel and casino.

SUN-SOAKER BUMS:  love to crouch against the east wall of the Four Queens hotel/casino (far enough off Fremont so that you don’t quite see them) and, as the name applies, soak up the sun like lizards. If they have imbibed or shot up  a bit too much they may spread out lifeless, there at the foot of the wall, face-up on the narrow sidewalk…a group obviously near the end of their rope.

SPITTING-ANGRY BUMS: I caught half a dozen of this variety hunched against the 3rd Street (east) wall of the Fremont Hotel and Casino about 6:00 a.m. one morning. That wall apparently retains heat from the prior day’s sun. A bicycle cop had politely asked them to move out before morning  tourists began to fill the plaza beneath the Fremont Street Experience. One rose and defiantly told the cop where to go. To his credit, the officer maintained his cool. I gently inquired of the bum where he hailed from and received a string of epithets and spit that would have cowed Arnold Schwarzenegger. I quickly found myself in sympathy with the cop.

ELITE BUMS: This is a very different  bum, a gaily costumed type who will be a close (or proximal) facial match for the celebrity impersonated. A favorite  is “Elvis” and his companion “The Showgirl.”  Neither sings nor dances, they simply pose in the evening for photos, when the light show attracts thousands. This couple is young, the girl most attractive, well-coiffured and costumed – although Elvis would do himself a favor in losing a good fifty pounds. They probably make a fair living out of their dress-up.

Perhaps the most amazing of the elite is the “living statue”, clothed in a greenish, gold-spangled set of tails and top hat. His skin is rubbed with a non-reflective cream-colored compound which leads you to believe he’s inert. When a tourist draws closer to examine the statue, it wordlessly – ever so slightly – moves. Then stops! This performance goes on for hours, attracting entranced viewer after viewer. Tip money flows generously to this incredible poseur.

On another night, twenty feet from Fitzgeralds’ main entrance, I caught a striking black girl in a statuesque pose. Tall and slim, with the striking build and facial features of a New York high-fashion model, she was scrupulously dressed in a white wool pullover sweater, tight green skirt, and black stiletto heels. She too was immobile, but so shocking was the vision she presented (for Vegas, that’s a real statement!) that she actually caused the crowd to part around her. I watched for fifteen minutes:  no money changed hands; no one spoke to her; she spoke to no one. Was this a prostitute?..a mental case?..a classy vagrant with a bad formula?  Dunno, but I had to give up typing that one. Such elite bums mean you no harm; they are simply trying to survive in their own inventive way.

STRIP BUMS: Most generally found on the crossover walkways above and alongside the busy Strip traffic lanes. They are of  three types: WATER-SALESMEN BUMS, COLLAPSED BUMS, and SMUT BUMS. The water-sellers hold out $1 clear plastic bottles of water (God only knows what’s in them, or where the bottles came from) and keep pulling bottles from scarred foam coolers as quickly as tourists totally parched by the desert heat chug down the contents. The mode of salesmanship is rude and crude, delivered as you might to a prisoner about to be guillotined.  Out there on the strip, the collapsed bums are truly collapsed: they’re sun-baked all colors of a roasted chicken; they can be found not only sprawled dead-center on crossovers but sometimes on the floor of the senior citizen elevators at either end.  Smut bums sell nothing directly. They are paid to dish out promotional brochures chock full-o-sexy young gals and phone numbers. I am told that the services offered by the young ladies pictured consist largely of a con-job. If you want to be party to an elaborate and expensive sexual scam, accept one of the brochures and start dialing.

Aren’t you pleased to have learned a bit more about what awaits you in Las Vegas? And aren’t you very glad that what happens in Las Vegas, manages to stay in Las Vegas?

3 ACES NOW ON KINDLE; READERS IN THE NETHERLANDS…

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

The Kindle production of 3 ACES is now downloadable from the Kindle Store. You will find every word faithfully reproduced from the soft-covered paperback production, along with the chapter indices, interstate highways, and military map pages so necessary in filling out my interwoven story of a distraught young woman (Dawn Carlisle, the great granddaughter of the Sioux chief Red Cloud), a solitary truck driver (Abner Weaver, the SF recon Vietnam vet.) and Pip, my injured half-breed pit bull. It’s a great way to take along  my 3 ACES story on your August vacation or a weekend trip to the beach.

On Wednesday of this week, in downtown Las Vegas, I was enjoying an afternoon swim in the rooftop Binions’ pool far above Fremont Street, when a lithesome female form popped from the water. Perfect English, delivered with the hint of a Rhineland accent, and her soft smile had me at ease before I realized I was face-to-face, conversing with “Gonne” of the famous Jack and Gonne team from the Netherlands. The three of us agreed to meet later on, down at the Four Queens bar, street-side on Fremont. Along with a round of drinks, Gonne gave me a formal request for a copy of 3 ACES, which I was happy to fill from the last one remaining in my luggage.

Next day, they were on their way to San Francisco and I was packing for the trip back home to the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Only then did it dawn on me that, when they returned to the their home across the Atlantic Ocean, I would have my first known readers in the Netherlands. What a nice way to end a fun-filled week in Vegas….

ODE TO MY FRIENDS, THE SPAMMERS…

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Having just set up a new desktop computer – my old faithful homebuilt crashed after eight years of steady use – you can understand why I haven’t posted much of anything these past weeks. Another reason is that I just got tired of mostly putting stuff out there for you spammers to make money from. Yes, after two years of writing blogs, that I hoped would stir up interest in my 3 ACES website and perhaps an occasional purchase of my novel, 3 ACES, I’ve come to the realization that perhaps the only guys and gals (if you really have a corporeal form) voraciously gobbling up my blogs are you Spammers.

I honestly didn’t know what a Spammer was. So I had to look you up on the internet, just like you looked me up. Except that I find you really aren’t a “you” at all. What you are is a “spambot,” some kind of spider that goes crawling around looking for peoples’ work to glom onto and send out in bundles that somehow makes you a lot of money with the tap of a computer key. Doesn’t sound very nice to me. Or ethical either. But you are going to do it, just like Congressmen who ply their trade of scamming the public by accepting bribes from business through middlemen (and women, often their own relations) called lobbyists. I guess your Spammer middleman is the very same implement that I am using to get this blog message out. Does that make me a kind of Spammer scammer too?

I know a few people have run across my blogs and read them for pure enjoyment. I’ve actually received comments from such people, and can tell you that it really makes my day when that happens! It’s not a regular occasion, mind you, but it’s sure welcome.

Well, I hope the content of this blog will sail out there with the content from the others. And maybe whoever ends up using my content to promote their own business will have little twinges of embarrassment when they read this content that they have purchased from the Spammers in question and stop giving them business. It’s really not right.

As for all the kind folks who have said nice things and posted legitimate comments to the articles on my 3 ACES site, keep ’em coming!

MEMORIES OF CHUKCHI, OUR CHRISTMAS DOG…

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

It seems so long ago…atop the mountain, at Button Top with my wife, Susan, and two growing children, Nick and Gwen…Christmas approaching, the kids yearning for another dog. Truth to tell, so was I.

While I was away on a business trip, my wife had been forced to bury our friend, “Irving,” an exhausted, cast-off collie who had, one winter evening,  limped into our family circle out of a blizzard roaring through the surrounding woodland. The bedraggled Collie entertained us through that next summer with numerous porcupine chases, all ending painfully for Irving – though happily enough for “Dr. John,” our local veterinarian over in the town of Meshoppen. Irving’s porcupine adventures came to an end one sultry summer day, in the shade of my wife’s car where the old fellow breathed his last. My wife, along with a visiting woman poet and the children, solemnly laid Irving to rest in the clearing behind the cabin. (more…)

WHAT’S A DOG DOING IN MY TRUCK? – OR HOW “PIP” POPPED INTO 3 ACES.

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Whenever you pull alongside a big truck and glance up at the driver, you may spot another face staring down at you, that of man’s best friend. Truth is, many drivers – not to put down their womenfolk, at home with the kids – welcome a dog’s company. Reciting your troubles to a canine pal won’t get you any answers; on the other hand, it won’t produce any criticism. When you’re all done kvetching to your four-legged friend, what you will get is an impulsive slurp or two on the kisser accompanied by an enthusiastically wagging tail. Your long haul pooch is happy just to have you all to him or herself.

A trucker faces often impossible delivery deadlines, grueling hours behind the wheel, arguments with his dispatchers, and telephone battles with the home front – if there’s anything left of the marriage after a few years of regional or long-haul driving. You want to rest assured there’s no one breaking into your cab while you’re in a truck stop shoveling down a meal or enjoying a good, warm shower; a snarling beast steaming up the windows of your truck is a wonderful deterrent. (more…)

 

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