Thursday, March 26, 2015

Aunt Fancy Says It Is Not Her Fault She Has A Double Chin

This morning one of my nephews, whom I shall not name, emailed me that which you see here.

I thought this was amusing, though the number of chins seems to be off by about three.

That and Aunt Fancy would not be caught wearing a dress in any possible scenario that my meager imagination can imagine.

Other than that.

Uncanny.....

What Rank Does Betsy Price Hold In The Fort Worth Army?

That is the honorable mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price, you are looking at here, looking very stern and serious, with that stern and serious look being totally appropriate, what with the explosive military-like operation Betsy is overlooking.

Yesterday, after I blogged about the TRWD bragging about enabling people to jump in the Trinity River, someone named Anonymous made a blog comment which soon had me watching Betsy Price watching what looked to me like a military operation.

In plain clothes.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Thanks To The TRWD Fort Worth Is The Only Town In Texas Where You Can Jump In A River":

Off topic, but thought you would enjoy seeing our local leaders having a BLAST! Our City, Our Firearms! I guess it raises more $ than a bake sale.

The Anonymous blog comment included a link to a YouTube video which you can watch below.

The local leaders having a BLAST, to which Anonymous refers, in addition to Betsy Price, includes Betsy's predecessor, Chesapeake Energy's puppet,  Mike Moncrief.

In the video Betsy and Mike sing the praises of Fort Worth's army, I mean, SWAT team, which they, of course, believe to be the very best in the nation.

In the video there is some lamenting about the SWAT team being underfunded and needing money. I think this event must  have been some sort of fund raiser, which explains the "bake sale" part of the Anonymous comment.

Don't bullets and bombs cost a lot of money? There are a lot of guns being fired a lot of times during the course of this explosive video.

Does Fort Worth have a big need for a SWAT team army? The only horrific incident I can remember since I've been in Texas which would seem to have been SWAT team worthy was the Wedgewood Baptist Church murder of 7 young people, with an additional 7 injured before the killer Larry Gene Ashbrook killed himself.

The Wikipedia article about this tragedy makes no mention of Fort Worth's SWAT team being involved.

How much does Fort Worth spend on this little army, I can't help but wonder?

I also can't help but wonder if other town's SWAT teams engage in events of the sort you will witness in the video below?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thanks To The TRWD Fort Worth Is The Only Town In Texas Where You Can Jump In A River

What you see here arrived in my email a couple minutes ago. The person from whom I got this did not inform me as to from whence it came.

The subject line of the email simply said "More Blog Fod For You".

I asked from whence this came and just as I typed More Blog Fod For You a follow up text message informed this was on Facebook,  something to do with a response to a question asked in regards to a TRWD Adopt a Drain Facebook advertisement.

That TRWD entity sure is good at finding new ways to spend money on its advertising propaganda.

Anyway, apparently thanks to the Herculean efforts of the TRWD the Trinity River has magically gone from being a polluted mess of rolling brown sludge to being a pristine crystal clear section of urban river, the only one in the entire state of Texas where a community can jump in and enjoy the refreshing, clean water.

When did San Marcos secede from Texas? I must have missed that news. I rather like San Marcos. Beautiful town on the fringe of Texas Hill Country, a college town which reminds me of Bellingham in my old home zone of Washington.

I was real impressed with Aquarena Springs and the crystal clear San Marcos River which flows from the springs and scenically through the town of San Marcos at a constant 72 degrees.

San Marcos seemed to me to be a city, and thus urban. The locals, and oodles of out of town visitors who visit San Marcos, enjoy refreshing floats in the San Marcos River.

So, how can the TRWD parent of The Boondoggle, with that Boondoggle being the entity which has foisted the embarrassing Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats in the polluted brown waters of the Trinity River, claim that through their efforts they have created the only urban river section in Texas that a community can enjoy jumping in?

I tell you, the sheer raw hubris of these people never ceases  to amaze....

The TRVA Panther Island Boondoggle Wins A Boondoggle Of An Award

Yesterday Elsie Hotpepper directed me to a bizarre article in the Fort Worth Business Press titled Fort Worth's TRVA receives Urban Land Institute award, which you see screen capped here.

I don't know what has happened to the Fort Worth Business Press, but it seems to have become even more of a cheerleading, chamber of commerce, nonsense printing shill than the Star-Telegram.

For those not local, the TRVA is the Trinity River Vision Authority, also known as Panther Island, but known to many simply as The Boondoggle.

This FWBP article says the "Panther Island project, the revitalization of an 800-acre area north of downtown Fort Worth, was honored as the best “Next Big Idea” at the recent inaugural Urban Land Institute North Texas (ULI NT) Impact Awards in Dallas."

Next Big Idea? Revitalizing an 800 acre area? This Big Idea has been Boondoggling along for well over a decade, with very little revitalization to be seen. One can see a lot of property taken by eminent domain abuse. One can see a simple bridge or two supposedly under construction over dry land, creating a big traffic mess. One can see inner tube parties in the Trinity River

"For this award ULI NT sought innovative ideas with the potential to positively impact the quality of life in the North Texas region."

Innovative ideas with the potential to positively impact the quality of life? Is this a reference to The Boondoggle's Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats?

And then we have an unfortunate J.D. Granger quote...

“We are honored to have our project recognized by such a reputable organization and to have been selected as the winner by our peers. Panther Island is underway now and we are excited to shape the future of Fort Worth.” 

Honored by "our" peers? Apparently there were only two other projects in the running for this extremely prestigious award that had never been awarded before and which no one has ever heard of. The FWBP article makes no mention of what the other two projects were which The Boondoggle was deemed to be better than.

Those other two projects must have been mega-lame, not to be mentioned, and to be beaten by the also mega-lame TRVA Panther Island Boondoggle, where there is no island, where there is no funding to build the proposed project, where three small, simple bridges are being built over dry land with a four year construction timeline, where a local congresswoman's unqualified son was hired to direct the project in the hopes his mother would secure federal earmark pork barrel money to pay for the public works project which the public has never voted on.

One of Fort Worth's most articulate cranky geezers submitted a good comment after he read this FWPB propaganda....

Clyde Picht ·  Top Commenter · Utah State University
A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. In this case it appears that the TRVA is being awarded for two in the bush. It's worth noting that none of the eight major funding elements have been accomplished on time. The original cost estimate of $360M has ballooned to $908M (2009 dollars). And then there is the final insult to taxpayer injury, that being the promise to only spend $26.6M of For Worth residents' tax dollars on the project. That now has escalated to over $350M tax dollars from both bonds and the TIF. The only certainty in this pork barrel project is that JD Granger will have a lifetime job. Some vision! Some award!

Texas Is Finally HOT Enough For The First Swim Of The New Year

My Turquoise Oasis Is Warm Enough For Swimming
In years previous by the Ides of March the temperature has always been sufficiently warm to facilitate a return to my morning swim habit and its resultant endorphins acquired by aerobic stimulation.

This year has been different. Global Warming temporarily bypassed Texas making for the coldest winter since I have been in the Lone Star state.

But, the past several days have been warm, with yesterday getting into the 80s.

And so, this morning I decided to attempt my first swim of the new year to quickly find myself being surprised by how easily I got acclimated to the temperature of the pool, resulting in me having myself a mighty fine time having a mighty fine swim.

I suspect I will repeat this behavior early tomorrow morning. And the morning after that, and many mornings to follow....

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why Is The TRWD's Jim Lane Afraid Of An Evil Dallas Businessman's Imaginary Plot To Control An Imaginary Island?

That is Tarrant Regional Water District board member Jim Lane you are looking at here, holding a microphone in a photo I screen capped from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Years ago, at a TRIP (Trinity River Improvement Project) event at the Botanic Garden I was impressed with how well Jim Lane defended the seemingly indefensible Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

In the years since I listened to Jim Lane defend The Boondoggle all that The Boondoggle has accomplished can be pretty much summed up by saying "very little",

Well, there are those Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats in the Trinity River, along with the bizarre re-branding of The Boondoggle by slapping the Panther Island nomenclature on anything associated with it. And we do have those three bridges finally, supposedly, under construction, with an amazing four year project timeline to build these three little simple bridges.

Jim Lane and Marty Leonard are up for re-election in an election that was postponed a year. Running against the incumbents are Craig Bickley and Michele Von Luckner.

So far my mailbox has been free of any TRWD election propaganda of the sort that spewed in the TRWD board election which elected Mary Kelleher. I suspect this lack of propaganda is just the calm before the storm, judging by some of the quotes I read in a typically slanted Star-Telegram article about the electiion, titled Tarrant Regional Water District election highlights opposing views on board’s performance.

And unfortunate quote from Jim Lane in the Star-Telegram article...

“If you want a Dallas businessman having control of the Panther Island project and controlling the future of your water, vote for the other guys,” Lane said. “This race is about a water district has planned for the future and continued growth with Integrated Pipeline that can handle our water needs for the next 20 or 30 years and continues to search for other sources of water.”

I read the above and thought to myself are these ethically challenged miscreants actually going to trot out the Dallas Businessman Boogey Man again like they did the last election? Spewing stupid propaganda claiming that an evil Dallas puppeteer, Monty Bennett, was behind a nefarious plot to take over the TRWD.

Somehow I don't think the Dallas Boogey Man nonsense is going to have any traction this time. Or are the locals more easily duped by nonsense than I give them credit for?

After publishing the print version the Star-Telegram amended the online version of this article adding a retort from Mr. Bennett....

Bennett disputed Lane’s assertions in an email.

“The entrenched incumbents continue to try and scare the voters with grandiose stories about an evil Dallasite trying to steal their water,” Bennett said. “This is absurd. For the record, I have no interest in Fort Worth’s water, or the Trinity River Vision or the Integrated Pipeline project.

“I’ve successfully blocked the TRWD from snatching my mother's family land in east Texas. My only interest now is to help Mary Kelleher continue the fight against a heavy handed government agency, with numerous allegations of corruption, cronyism, and self-dealing, that treats citizens, including me, very poorly while neglecting its core duties of water provision and flood control.”

Oh my, doesn't Monty Bennett sound like the devil incarnate? How dare a landowner fight to keep his land from being snatched. The nerve. And for this man to own a business, or two, in Dallas, why this is such an outrage there should be a law outlawing such a thing.....

UPDATE: A few minutes after publishing the above I heard from Elsie Hotpepper, telling me the shocking news that the plot by the evil Dallas businessman to take over Fort Worth is further along than I had realized. Apparently in addition to being an evil Dallas businessman, Monty Bennett is also an evil Fort Worth businessman due to his owning two downtown Fort Worth hotels, those being the historic Hilton and the Ashton. Shocking. What's next? Hearing that Monty Bennett has bought controlling interest in The TRWD's Woodshed Smokehouse? 

Spencer Jack Jones Is Now A Young Author Going To College

The last time Spencer Jack's dad called me I recollect mention being made of Spencer Jack possibly taking a night class at Mount Vernon's Skagit Valley College, with that class being a learn to speak Spanish course.

I vaguely recollect Spencer Jack's dad making mention of Spencer Jack winning some writing award.

I saw that which you see here this morning on Facebook, via Spencer Jack's dad, Jason Jones.

From Jason's Facebook post, and its photos, I gleaned that Spencer Jack spent a fun day at the aforementioned Skagit Valley College as part of something in its 28th year called "Young Authors".

I do not know what Spencer Jack has authored. I do know that at 8 years old Spencer Jack is already an avid reader, reading way above his grade level.

In the Jones family for several generations the oldest sibling is always left handed. I'm left handed, Jason is left handed, each of the eldest cousins of my various Jones aunts and uncles are left handed.

With only one or two glaring exceptions none of the left handed Jones are organized sports playing fanatics, as in the playing baseball, basketball or football on a team type sports playing fanatics.

For the most part all the left handed members of the Jones family have more evolved verbal skills than the right handers, so I would be very surprised if it turns out that Spencer Jack is a right handed anomaly.

And I have no idea why I have never thought to ask if Spencer Jack is left handed....

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Bertha Debacle Has Me Wondering How Long Til Fort Worth's Boondoggle Becomes A National Embarrassment

I read an interesting article in the Seattle Times this morning, titled U.S.snoozes while rest of world invests in infrastructure.

The article was interesting for a couple reasons, with the main reason being a look at  how America has fallen behind the rest of the world in the building of infrastructure megaprojects.

The article detailed some of the world's current megaprojects, like a subway tunnel under London and a rail tunnel under the Alps.

The other reason this article was interesting is it provided a real good example of how differently news is presented in a real newspaper of the paper of record sort, such as the Seattle Times, and how news is presented in a newspaper like the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

I'll copy that which contains that to which I refer...

The tunnel meant to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct seems to say much of what is wrong with American infrastructure. At $3.1 billion just to replace the viaduct, it sounds outlandishly expensive. Bertha, the tunnel-boring machine, was only recently rescued from useless underground purgatory. It was stuck so long it became a national embarrassment. 

Okay, can you spot what is in the above sentences which you would never read in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram with its patented Chamber of Commerce type propaganda cheerleader type covering of what should be local news?

If you focused on the "national embarrassment" phrase, you found that which you would never find in the Star-Telegram in covering any of Fort Worth's many embarrassments.

Actually, I think the Seattle Times was doing a bit of humble bragging. Is the ordeal of the stuck Bertha tunnel digger actually well enough known, nationally, to be a national embarrassment?

Can you imagine reading something in the Star-Telegram like "The slow motion Trinity River Vision project, well into its second decade, has become a national embarrassment, with so little accomplished in such a long time."

Or, "The Trinity River Vision's TNT exploding fanfare to mark the beginning of construction of three bridges over dry land, to connect to a non-existent island, has become a national embarrassment."

Or, "The hiring of a Fort Worth Congresswoman's son, J.D. Granger, to be the Executive Director of the Trinity River Vision project has become a national embarrassment in the parts of America in which nepotism is seen as unethical and corrupt."

Or, "The Trinity River Vision's Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats in the polluted Trinity River at a venue called Panther Island, where there is no island, has become a national embarrassment."

There is another reason, besides the Star-Telegram's tendency to gloss over and sugar coat, that the Star-Telegram does not refer to any of Fort Worth's foibles as "national embarrassments".

That reason would be the fact that it is fortunate for Fort Worth that the town really is not on America's radar screen. The rest of America knows nothing about Fort Worth's many boondoggles, hence Fort Worth is spared, for now, from being a national embarrassment.

Methinks that may change, sooner than  later.

At some point the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle will reach the level of being 60 Minutes expose worthy.

It will be very amusing watching Kay Granger squirm as a 60 Minutes reporter asks  her to explain how it was that her son, a low level county prosecutor, was deemed to be qualified to run a public works project for which she was expected to secure federal dollars.

Or when that 60 Minutes reporter asks J.D. Granger to explain, in detail, how it is that building three bridges over dry land saves money and why it is those three small, simple bridges are projected to take four years to build.

Or when 60 Minutes asks J.D. Granger to take them on a tour of Panther Island  At that point America will be giggling and Fort Worth will have finally achieved national embarrassment status......

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Seattle's MarketFront Project Has Me Freshly Wondering Why Fort Worth's TRV Boondoggle Has No Project Timeline

No, that is not an artist's rendering of some aspect of the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle you are looking at here.

What you are looking at is an artist's rendering of something called the MarketFront Project.

I was reading the Seattle Times online this morning when the headline Seattle Council Expected to OK $34 million for Market Expansion caught my eye.

In Seattle if you say something about "The Mountain" you are referring to Mount Rainier. If you say something about "The Market" you are referring to Pike Place Market.

The city's $34 million contribution is just part of the $73 million MarketFront Project.

I'd not heard, previously, about a plan to expand Pike Place. If you have ever been to Pike Place you know it is a sprawling, multi-level development. Expanding on that had me curious as to what that expansion would be.

Reading the article soon had me thinking what a contrast between this and that which one might read in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the slow motion project known as the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle. That being a project with no project timeline, building oddball things like bridges over nothing connecting to an imaginary island.

And taking an astonishing four years to build those three simple little bridges to an imaginary island.

The Pike Place MarketFront Project has an actual project timeline, unlike Fort Worth's Boondoggle.

The following sentences in the Seattle Times article also served as an interesting contrast to Fort Worth's Boondoggle...

The project work is supposed to take about 18 months, but the complete vision for the Market’s expansion won’t be realized for much longer. That’s because the machine digging a new tunnel under downtown Seattle to replace the viaduct is almost two years behind schedule.

Imagine that, an actual project with a complete vision with a timeline of 18 months, with a rather valid excuse as to what will keep the project from being completely finished on time, that being a problem with the world's biggest tunnel boring machine causing a two year delay before the Alaskan Way Viaduct can be torn down.

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, I have yet to read an explanation as to how it can take four years to build three very simple, very small bridges, with pretty much zero engineering complications.

With the excuse that building the bridges over dry land is to save money due to making construction easier. There will be no water in the un-needed flood diversion channel until the Trinity River is diverted into the channel, rendering as nonsense the claim as to why these bridges are being built over dry land, as if there was any other option, until water is purposefully diverted under the bridges.

So, what is Seattle getting for that $73 million 18 month project?

The upper section of the plaza, near Victor Steinbrueck Park, will house 47 new outdoor day-stalls for Market farmers and artists, shielded with a glass canopy. Tucked below and accessible from the lower section of the plaza will be 12,000 square feet of retail space for artisan-food purveyors such as Old Stove Brewery. Under the plaza and new shops, the PDA will build a garage with about 300 parking spots. The existing lot has 88. The project will include some delicate work because the century-old BNSF train tunnel runs directly below. The other chunk of the project is a new building with 40 units for low-income seniors. The bottom-floor apartments will be live-work units opening onto the plaza. The city’s waterfront plan calls for a massive overlook walk bringing pedestrians from an Elliott Bay park promenade uphill to the Market plaza.

Wow.

What a contrast with anything I have read regarding the Fort Worth Boondoggle's Billion Dollar Vision.

What would The Boondoggle do if part of their project involved delicate work over an old train tunnel? Dither til the tunnel disappeared?

I am almost 100% certain Seattle and its actual millions of visitors will be enjoying this Pike Place MarketFront upgrade long before any vehicles drive over any of The Boondoggle's bridges to  The Boondoggle's imaginary island....

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Complex Space Needle Built In Less Than One Year While In Fort Worth...

Before we continue with our popular series of bloggings about feats of complex engineering which were completed in time frames which make the four year construction time line of the Fort Worth Boondoggle's Three Bridges Over Nothing seem even more bizarre, what with The Boondoggle's bridges being very small, simple bridges being built over dry land.

Okay, that above sentence ran on so long I forgot where it was going.

Now I remember, before we continue I must correct an error I made in yesterday's blogging titled I Wonder Why The Citizens Of Fort Worth Can Not Vote To Be Part Of A Global Transformation? Someone named Anonymous kindly pointed out that the link to the Atlantic Magazine article about the Bayonne Bridge reconstruction was incorrect. It is a very good article about a very complex feat of engineering, which I am sure you will find interesting.

Now, back to today's feat of engineering and its construction timeline.

The Seattle Space Needle.

Built as the centerpiece of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, known as Century 21, when the Space Needle was built no one opined it would become an iconic symbol of Seattle, or that it was any sort of signature structure.

But, that is what the Seattle Space Needle became, not only a signature symbol of Seattle, but an iconic landmark of the entire Pacific Northwest.

It is having seen actual iconic signature landmarks which can cause me to find it so bizarre when Fort Worth propagandists make claims along the line that three very ordinary bridges being built in slow motion are signature bridges which will become iconic symbols of Fort Worth.

How do those who spout this type nonsense do so with no cringe of embarrassment?

As you can see above, via a screen cap gleaned from Wikipedia, construction on the Seattle Space Needle began on April 17, 1961, and was completed December 8, 1961, in far less than a year.

The Seattle Space Needle was a far more complex feat of engineering than Fort Worth's simple Three Bridges Over Nothing.

For a few years the Space Needle replaced Seattle's Smith Tower as the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. The Space Needle is 605 ft. high and weighs 9,550 tons, with half of that weight underground, making the Space Needle strong enough to withstand 200 miles per hour Category 5 level hurricane winds and a 9.1 magnitude earthquake.

Unlike Fort Worth's Three Bridges Over Nothing the Seattle Space Needle was built with a sense  of urgency, what with it needing to be completed and ready for prime time by the opening of the Seattle World's Fair on April 21, 1962.

From the Wikipedia Space Needle article...

With time an issue, the construction team worked around the clock. The domed top, housing the top five levels (including the restaurants and observation deck), was perfectly balanced so that the restaurant could rotate with the help of one tiny electric motor. The earthquake stability of the Space Needle was ensured when a hole was dug 30 ft (9.1 m) deep and 120 ft (37 m) across, and 467 concrete trucks took one full day to fill it. The foundation weighs 5850 tons (including 250 tons of reinforcing steel), the same as the above-ground structure. The structure is bolted to the foundation with 72 bolts, each one 30 ft (9.1 m) long.

467 truck loads of concrete taking one full day to fill the Space Needle's foundation? What if the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle acted with that sort of urgency? Which one would think it would, what with the vision pretending to be a supposedly vital flood control and economic development project.

And might I add, the Seattle World's Fair and Space Needle came about without employing a Seattle congresswoman's unqualified son as project director.

Methinks if J.D Granger had been put in charge of the Seattle World's Fair project we would still be waiting for the fair to open. But in the meantime we would have likely have had some might fine Rockin' the Puget Sound Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats in the crystal clear water of Seattle's Elliott Bay, but with no ridiculous bridges being built over actual water to any of the Seattle area's actual islands....