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Pitches and Catches

Some of the topics we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

As seems to happen every four years, Texans are making pitches for why they should be the next president. Plenty of ballplayers make catches with gloves handcrafted at the Nokona factory in North Texas. Plus there could soon be a new high-tech way to catch a break from the glaring sun.

Water Above, Water Below

Texas was officially deemed to be drought-free in July for the first time in five years, but concern about water availability continues.

A multimedia project called Our Desired Future aims to help Texans understand where their water comes from and how the state’s water resources can be managed for long-term viability. The Texas Center for Policy Studies project includes tools and maps to help users better visualize their area.

Although there is some 500 times more water underground than above in Texas, more groundwater is being removed each year than is being replenished, leading to the overdraft of all of the state’s major aquifers.

In Texas law, groundwater is the property of the landowner; surface water is the property of the state.

Another Texan in the White House?

Raise your hand if you’re NOT running for president. More than 1,200 people have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, including a handful of candidates with Texas ties, making 2016 the eighth consecutive presidential campaign to include Texans.

Sen. Ted Cruz wants to be president. So does former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who, in addition to being born in Midland, was raised in Houston and educated at the University of Texas. Bush is the son and brother of former presidents—George H.W. and George W. Bush, respectively.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who was raised in Lake Jackson and attended Baylor University, and Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who was born in Austin, also are running. Rick Perry’s name is on that FEC list, but the former Texas governor has since bowed out of the race.

Research by Smart Politics, a nonpartisan political news website based at the University of Minnesota, came up with this list of major party or notable independent Texans who have run for president:

Gov. Sam Houston: 1852, 1860 | Houston entrepreneur Jesse Jones: 1928 | Speaker of the House John Nance Garner: 1932, 1940 | Lyndon Johnson: As U.S. Senator in 1956; in 1960 before becoming John F. Kennedy’s running mate; and when he ran for re-election as president in 1964 | U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen: 1976 | Former U.S. Rep. George H.W. Bush: 1980, 1988, 1992 | Former Gov. John Connally: 1980 | Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul: 1988, 2008, 2012 | Businessman Ross Perot: 1992, 1996 | U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm: 1996 | Gov. George W. Bush: 2000, 2004 | Gov. Rick Perry: 2012

Catching Up With Nokona

Visiting the Nokona factory is baseball glove heaven for kids and adults who love the smell and feel of a leather mitt and relish the emotions they evoke. (See this month’s feature story Factory Tours.)

Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan proclaims on the Nokona website that when he was a 7-year-old boy in Alvin, the first glove he got from the hardware store in town was a Nokona.

The first professional baseball player to endorse Nokona gloves was Detroit Tigers catcher Rudy York in 1934, the year the factory in Nocona started producing handcrafted gloves, according to Chip Sivak at Nokona. York later switched to first base, the position he played for most of his career.

Windows That Control Sunlight

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin say they have developed technologies that can let in light without transferring heat or block light while allowing heat to pass.

Delia Milliron of the chemical engineering department and her team demonstrated how, using a small jolt of electricity, a nanocrystal material could be switched back and forth, enabling independent control of light and energy. By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce heating and cooling costs.

“This material could be ideal for application as a smart electrochromic window for buildings,” Milliron says.

By the Numbers: 69,783

On August 10, for the first time in Electric Reliability Council of Texas history, the grid operator broke the 69,000-megawatt demand threshold.

Peak demand for electricity reached 69,408 MW between 3 and 4 p.m. and then jumped to 69,783 in the next hour. The previous record had been set four days earlier. Much of Texas experienced scorching temperatures the first half of August, and energy demand soared as residents continuously ran air conditioners. One MW is enough to power about 200 homes during periods of peak demand.