That Sinking Feeling

By CodingStrategies on June 29th, 2018


They tell tall tales in Texas!
They love to stretch the truth.
They have an appetite for hype,
They learn it in their youth.
They tell tall tales in Texas!
They lie so easily.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the tales
From true reality. 

–  Sharon Warner






A family lived in a heavily wooded, sparsely populated area about 40 miles east of Austin, Texas. One day the lady of the house (who was not a native Texan) heard squealing outside, looked out her window and saw that a coyote had cornered a rabbit and was closing in for the kill. Having never seen a coyote before, she thought it was a neighborhood dog that planned to end the bunny’s sunny afternoon. She rushed out the kitchen door, grabbed the coyote by the nape of the neck with one hand and the rabbit with the other hand, lifting them both into the air.

The rabbit settled down quickly, so she put it on the ground and watched it hop away. This left her with an agitated coyote in the other hand. Her husband, observing her predicament, emptied some Mad Dog 20/20 (an inexpensive, fortified wine) into a doggy dish and yelled for his wife to bring her new pet to the porch. The coyote lapped up the Mad Dog; not just the first bowl, but the entire bottle. Once it had its fill, the coyote sauntered unsteadily into the woods, seemingly satisfied with the substitution of cheap wine for terrified rabbit.

The next day, the woman was outside tending her tomatoes when she felt a tug on her skirt. She looked down to find the same coyote, carrying a rabbit gently by the nape of its neck. Apparently, the coyote had developed a taste for MD 20/20, and established that the price of his desired drink was another rabbit! [Condensed from a story told by Terry Moore, Lake Bastrop, Texas]

Sometimes truth is stranger than tall tales, even in Texas. Decades of drilling for oil and gas in the Permian Basin of western Texas have left an extremely unstable landscape. Fresh water has found its way deep underground, dissolving salt layers and creating two infamous Winkler sinkholes, known as the Wink Sinks. Wink Sink 1 formed on June 3, 1980, measuring 360 feet across and 112 feet deep at the time of its collapse. Wink Sink 2 was formed on May 21, 2002 about a mile south of Wink Sink 1. It has expanded from an original surface width of 450 feet, and now stretches between 607 to 820 feet across. Various studies indicate that these sinkholes continue to gradually expand, swallowing earth, rocks, fences, a water line and a utility pole. In addition, more sinkholes could form (Wink Sink 3?), and the two large, existing sinkholes could eventually converge into a single monstrous pit.

Because it appears that the sinkhole dilation has not stopped, geophysicists continue to monitor the situation; the area around the two sinkholes contains a wealth of oil and gas production equipment, construction installations and hazardous liquid pipelines. The populations of the closest towns (Wink and Kermit) are taking the situation in stride, although the combined collapse of the Winks could be catastrophic. These tranquil, close-knit communities have clean streets and friendly people, but continue to suffer from the two severe depressions. One more major degeneration of the right water soluble mineral sediment and Wink just might vanish as quickly as its name.

To date, the only casualties of the Wink Sinks have been inanimate objects, but just in case humans tread too near there are existing ICD-10-CM codes for:

W18.42XA           Slipping, tripping and stumbling without falling due to stepping into hole or opening, initial encounter

W17.2XXA           Fall into hole, initial encounter

Y92.820                 Desert as the place of occurrence of the external cause

There is usually a kernel of truth in every tall tale. The key is to extract that kernel, analyze it and take the lesson to heart. For example, there is Pecos Bill: he fell out of a wagon crossing the Pecos River, was raised by coyotes, used a snake as a lasso and died when he laughed himself to death at a city boy pretending to be an outlaw. But in all of Pecos Bill’s mythical adventures, he never fell into a gigantic hole in the west Texas desert!