If and when we think about, some of us are prone to wonder how our obituary would look. Will there be anything besides the list of accomplishments and our survivors? Ten years from now, will anyone remember that we once walked this earth?
Zach Taylor, executive director of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, died suddenly Friday morning. I grieve for his beloved wife and daughters and his friends, including myself. But I realized today that Zach was one of those rare individuals who “got life right.” He had a code that he lived by and if you were his friend, you knew that code by heart.
Here’s Zach’s code, as I have deciphered it after nearly three decades of friendsship.
1. Family and friends come first.
2. You have an obligation to improve the quality of life in your city and state.
3. If you have a vision you believe in, you will be able to find others to make the vision a reality.
4. Never ask a friend to go it alone.
5. Everyone has the potential to be a leader.
Because of this code, Zach helped initiate the first Central Oklahoma planning process to address quality of life issues in Oklahoma City, was instrumental in bringing 911 to this area, worked tirelessly for Leadership Oklahoma City and helped launch Central Oklahoma Turning Point, a grass roots health initiative and that’s just a few of his projects. And, yes, he dragged me and many others along with him. Like most of his friends, I couldn’t turn him down. And, whenever, we had a vision we thought could make a difference for our community, he jumped in to help. He called it “reciprocity.” But instead of the usual meaning, if you do this for me, I will do this for you, for Zach it meant let’s do this together.
I like to imagine him now, sitting down with St. Peter and talking about Heaven’s infrastructure, clean air issues and the launching of a leadership program. Of course, he will have offered to help.
So the answer as to whether in ten years anyone will remember him is unequivocally yes, because his was “a life well-lived.”
My dog has started to adjust to her paws working like ice skates on the lawn. My fish, on the other hand, just couldn’t adjust to the cold.
The pets gave me two more things to worry about during the storm and the power outage at home.
Most important was finding a warm place to stay where Carly would be welcome. I’m extremely grateful to the family that took us in Monday night after we lost power, but my four-legged little girl was distressed there, and with reports at the time that power restoration could take as long as 10 days, I knew we couldn’t stay.
I took her to the kennel Tuesday morning while I figured out what our next step would be. Turns out the next step would just be down the street.
A friend with power offered us a spot in his house. Our dogs play well together and the location is convenient if I need to run home for a change of clothes, so it’s probably the best arrangement for us right now.
But when I went to check on our house and feed my betta, Dr. Seuss — well, he was floating in the water.
This storm is all about adjusting to the situation, and pets can make that a bit more complicated.
How are you and your furry, feathery or scaly friends coping with the changes?
Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 475-3637.
Wendy K. Kleinman
I learned about 5:30 p.m. Monday that the electricity was off at the home of my 79-year-old mother in Tulsa. She cannot see well enough to drive after dark, the roads were too slick for her to get out of her home to go elsewhere, and officials were predicting the power could be off for a week or more. So my wife and I decided to take the chance on the threat of icy roads and drive to Tulsa to “rescue” Mom and bring her back to Oklahoma City, where our home still had power.We saw a half-dozen salt trucks keeping the Turner Turnpike drivable during our trip. But the darkness and fog along the 90-mile stretch was eerie. All of the turnpike’s rest areas were dark, with only the parking lights of semi-trucks marking their locations. News accounts had indicated about 70 percent of Tulsa was without electrical service, and the temperature was holding near freezing. Entering the outskirts of Tulsa, pockets of light accented the darkened city. But most striking to me was that upon arriving at the edge of the city, heavy in the air was the smell of burning wood – it was as if all the residential fireplaces in Tulsa must have been in use at the same time.
- Don P. Brown, Features Copy Editor
A cold night without electricity turned into a fun adventure for my grandsons, Chandler Walker, 14, Calvin, 9, and Cole, who turns 7 today. When the electricity went out in their Norman home and there was no dinner, my daughter Michelle Walker cooked a “campfire” dinner in the fireplace.She used a cast iron skillet to make spaghetti, ground beef, and sauce.
The kids bundled up in extra clothes, and after dinner they roasted marshmallows on the fire.
“We had fun doing this, and the kids just loved it,” Michelle said. “We made a memory with this. We put batteries in the radio and listened to Christmas music.”
It was a relaxing family night, and they appreciated the quiet in a way they didn’t expect.
- Chris Jones, Staff Writer
There’s nothing like a disaster to bring out the spirit of cooperation and the chainsaws.On Monday morning, crumpled parts of once beautiful trees blocked five of the six roads leading out of my neighborhood east of the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman. One block in particular was a jumble of limbs, some as thick around as an oil drum. Residents, at least one with a chainsaw, joined forces, working most of the day to untangle and clear their street.
On another street, I saw several people trying to clear the road of limbs with handsaws. I knew then that my chainsaw – that screeching two-stroker that had just helped clear my driveway and that of a neighbor of fallen oak tree limbs – must do its part. Returning with the saw after the others who were here had left, I hacked at the limbs blocking the street. Before I was halfway through moving them, another guy driving a pickup pulled up and began helping haul them to the side. Turns out he was considering buying a home in the neighborhood and had been just passing through that morning.
Most residents in this heavily wooded addition had their own adventures with falling limbs. Limbs landed on my roof, on the neighbor’s roof and on power lines connected to each of our houses. I helped the neighbor clear limbs from her power line and propped up supports beneath a giant cracked limb that had stretched but not severed my home’s power line. With each limb that leaped to its death, there were the same sounds. First there was the sharp, echoing pop that reminded me of cracking ice of glaciers in Alaska, followed by the sound of falling ice and debris and the thud of whatever it landed on.
In my backyard, that was almost me. As I stood in front of a storage shed, a 35-foot cedar tree gave way and, fortunately, landed across the top of the shed instead of my head. My shivering at that point had little to do with the ice that showered down on me.
David Zizzo, Staff Writer
Last night we learned the hard way how fragile the pear tree is. A big section of it came crashing down on our roof about 10 p.m.
When we ran outside to assess the damage, my wife hit the ice on the driveway and went down hard, as well. She bounced back up, but our tree appears to be down and out, maybe for good.
This is the second — and probably last — time a section of our tree has come down. Wind brought a third of it down two years ago.
We’ve decided to have the remaining sections of the tree taken out. It was a tiny thing when I brought it home in the trunk of my car in 1994.
We know that our loss is tiny compared to what thousands have endured throughout the state during this ice storm.
But everyone in our family will still mourn the loss, especially our children, ages 11 and 9. They are both pleading with us not to take it out.
I’ve been around newspapers … specifically The Oklahoman … for a long time. Today, I”m covering my first live event for the paper as its energy reporter.
So for a cub energy reporter, to have an opportunity to cover Harold Hamm, CEO and chairman of the board of Continental Resources, Inc., “Buddy” Kleemeier, president and chief executive officer of Kaiser-Francis Oil Co., Aubrey McClendon, board chairman, CEO and a director of Chesapeake Energy and Larry Nichols, chairman and CEO of Devon Energy Corp., is about like covering the oil and gas Superbowl of Oklahoma.
I’d love to tell you what they said. And I will — in tomorrow’s The Oklahoman.
Jack Money, Business Writer, The Oklahoman
The first discussion of the day here focuses on Oklahoma’s “Fossil Future,” dealing with Oklahoma’s Oil and Gas industry. Participants include Debra K. Higley-Feldman, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Sam Langford, manager of planning, acquisitions and commercial development for Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent in Tulsa, Robin Stead, a past commissioner on the Oklahoma Marginally Producing Oil and Gas Well Commission, and Howard L. Ground, manager of governmental and environmental affairs for PSO of Oklahoma.
Higley-Feldman told audience members about the USGS’s work to catelouge oil and gas resources in the nation, while Langford talked about excitement being generated by the Woodford Shale in southeast Oklahoma among players in the gas exploration industry, including his firm.
Stead told audience members marginally producing oil and gas wells remain a significant part of the nation’s energy industry and will continue that role for decades to come, while Ground is telling audience members now about carbon capture techniques for coal-burning power plants.
Jack Money, Business Writer, The Oklahoman
The idea here is not just for the panelists to give presentations, but the audience to participate in the discussions.
To facilitate that, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission incorporated an “audience response system” into the conference.
“It is our first time using it,” says Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Corporation Commission.
Audience members basically are asked to just hang little plastic keyboards the size of name tags around their necks. When presenters ask a question, audience members can respond by pressing the keys on their keyboards. The keyboards are linked to a computer and program that tabulates the responses, which then can be shown on a center screen.
“We will be doing questions throughout the day … even writting them, depending on what audience members say during discussions,” Skinner says.
“It looks like a little calculator. I don’t klnow if experience in texting is a plus, but we will see. The younger people, I’m thinking, will do quite well.”
By Jack Money, Business Writer, The Oklahoman
Welcome to the Oklahoma Energy Summit 2007, in Oklahoma City.
The conference might be termed a first-ever meeting involving a diverse group of constituents who include conservationists, environmentalists, oil and gas industry leaders, wind power and solar advocates and more.
Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, says interest in the summit is high. The room at the Oklahoma History Center where the summit is being held holds 232 people; 261 people are attending and another 50 people are waiting to get in.
“And they are from all across the state,” Skinner says.
By Jack Money, Business Writer, The Oklahoman