Saturday, October 31, 2009

Damage Done By Mother Nature & Barnett Shale Gas Drillers In Fort Worth's Gateway Park

With the Tandy Hills still drying out from our most recent deluge my fallback Saturday hiking location, for the 3rd Saturday in a row, was Gateway Park.

I really wished the Tandy Hills had been dry today, it being Halloween, so I could have searched for the mysterious Witchey Tree and the Death Van. But, going to Gateway Park gives me a good chance to check on the current status of the Barnett Gas Driller's damage done to the Trinity River levee in the process of sucking water out of the Trinity River.

I found it ironic that today at Gateway Park, by the ball fields, I saw the sign you see here, warning violators that they are subject to penalty if they commit the crime of going on the game field to practice or play an ickup game. Whatever an ickup game is.

I suppose Fort Worth wants to protect the precious fields from potential damage caused by someone playing on them. Damage like ruts.

As I walked across the bridge that leads from Gateway Park to the Trinity Trails I could hear the roar of the diesel pump busy sucking water out of the river. It was real loud today due to there being no competing noise, like wind.

I was not too shocked to see that the damage done to the levee has gotten much worse, the ruts much bigger, the mud much more widespread.

I am fairly certain the violators have suffered no penalty.

The ruts and mud are so bad now that I don't know if I could have made it past the pump, like I did before, to check out what the pump intake, stuck into the river, looks like.

I saw another interesting thing at Gateway Park today. I've made mention, previously, of the boarded up boardwalk on the southwest side of the park. The boardwalk is an elaborate work of wood that takes you down to the Trinity River by a series of switchbacks. There are 2 of these in the park. I'd not seen the other one, to see if it is boarded up, til today.

The other boardwalk is at the southeast end of the park. The times I've seen this boardwalk it has been in worse shape than the boarded up with "closed" signs one.

So, I was not too shocked to see the southeast boardwalk closed. Except it was not closed by a "closed" sign. Mother Nature closed down the 2nd boardwalk. A tree had crashed down onto the boardwalk, effectively closing it. Just beyond the closure the Trinity River had deposited a lot of mud, which made a second barrier.

That's been my exciting Halloween in Texas, so far. A cold swim well after the sun came up. Looking for ruts and mud at Gateway park. And other stuff I'm forgetting right now.

The Legend Of The Witchey Tree Of Tandy Hills: A Halloween True Story From Don Young

A Tandy Hills Halloween True Story from Don Young....

Long, long ago, before Tandy Hills Natural Area, was appreciated for what it truly is, most people thought of it as nothing more than a big, empty field, a place to dump trash, roll tires down the steep hills, bury dead dogs or lose your kite. Hobo's occasionally wandered through looking for a place to sleep off a hangover. Parents warned their kids to stay away or they'd get lost and eaten by wildcats or worse, kidnapped. It was a dangerous kind of a no-man's land in the middle of the growing city.

It was especially popular with roofers as a place to dump scrap shingles. Builders putting up new homes along View Street would excavate the rich prairie soil for fill-dirt. Sometimes they would dump unused concrete, motor oil and other unmentionables.

But to certain people looking for a certain kind of love (or a reasonable facsimile on short notice), the Tandy field was also a place to hide from prying eyes. In those olden days, before their was a steel cable to keep vehicles out, you could drive a vehicle off road and right through the park. And lots of people did.

Today, there are about half a dozen bent and rusty vehicles wedged in the steep, limestone drainages of THNA. The stories of how they got there and who put them there are lost in the mists of the time passed. Except for one...

The Legend of the Witchey Tree of Tandy Hills!

No one knows for sure what happened but, as the urban legend goes...

On a moonless October night in the wicked 1960's, a handsome young eastside couple, overcome with hormonal urges, was in search of a place to... smooch, more comfortably and discreetly. Weaving down View Street in the deepening darkness of dusk, the young man finally found an opening in the curb, killed his headlights and turned the van into Tandy field.

From the road, THNA looks wide open and flat as a pancake. But the young lovers would soon discover why they now call it Tandy Hills. Following the well-worn tracks of previous interlopers they headed in a northerly direction.

Driving with the van's lights off was dangerous, but the young driver could see just well enough to guide the van down the rutted path. The bright lights of downtown Fort Worth twinkled in the west like colored stars. The sky above was cloudy and streaked with searchlights. The air was cool and a bit on the humid side. The couple's passion began to engulf them.

With one eye periodically on the road and the other eye on his sweethearts long dark hair the young man squinted into the night as he slowly negotiated the narrow road between tall stands of Indian Grass. Suddenly, out of nowhere, something struck the windshield with a muffled boom.
The couples' passion quickly cooled, like volcanic magma does when it edges into the sea, as they tried to understand what had happened. The young man tapped the brakes and drew the big van to a stop. Telling his sweetheart not to worry, he opened the glove box and reached for a flashlight.

He clicked on the light and stuck his head out the window scanning the hood looking for... he didn't know what. Feeling a little overheated and excited he nearly screamed when he saw it. There on the hood lay a startled Great Horned Owl with a dead rat in its mouth, blood dripping from both. When the girl saw it she shrieked and buried her face in the young man's red flannel shirt as the owl gathered its prey and lifted of into the darkness. The young man quickly switched off the flashlight.

By this time a light drizzle had started falling from the overcast sky. It landed quietly and tenderly on the roof of the van reminding the young man of why they came to the Tandy field. Squeezing his gals hand he moved his lips closer to hers, but she turned away. Her eyes said it all. Time to take her home.

Realizing the futility of his situation, the young man reluctantly shifted the van into REVERSE, turned the steering wheel sharply and and slowly backed up. Disoriented from the run-in with the owl and the creeping fog that had formed he put the van back into DRIVE, stepped hard on the gas pedal and headed in a... westerly direction.

The young man survived in a vegetative state for a few years, living in an old house near the park but his beautiful, young girlfriend died at the scene. But that's not quite the end of the story.

As the van speedily plummeted down the ravine at a 45 degree angle, it bounced over boulders and clipped a few old trees before it slammed with ripping force into the hard-rock creek bed. It nearly sheared the top off of a particularly robust young tree. At the precise moment when the tree was struck, the windshield of the van partially severed the young woman's head from her body.

That's also the exact moment when one tree died but...

The Witchy Tree of Tandy Hills was born!

As you can clearly see from these photographs, the original tree was cruelly deformed. The proud top half was bent sharply downwards but not quite severed. Years passed, but the damaged top did not fall away from the trunk, as one might expect. It remained intact, clinging to the trunk for some weird kind of survival.

The near-decapitated trunk eventually grew a new shoot, a robust growth that produced pretty new leaves every Spring. Each Autumn, around October, the leaves turned lovely shades of red and gold. But the broken, former top growth remained attached, surviving fierce storms and crushing drought. As the decades passed the slender branches of the old, dead treetop began to resemble long dark hair, eventually turning ashen grey, as they do to this day.

The old van, still entombed in the rocky ravine, was long ago cannibalized for spare parts. It remains hidden from prying eyes by new trees, prairie grass and briars. It's only inhabitants are a few spiders and maybe a wasp nest or two. Few people know it exists. Fewer still remember the tragedy of long ago that the rusting shell of death now symbolizes.

But on certain evenings, when walking home after dark from a hike, I hear a macabre moaning sound coming from the direction of...

The Witchey Tree of Tandy Hills!

Welcome to Tandy Hills. Come on in, if you dare!!!


PS: Do not ask where the Witchey Tree grows nor search for the vehicle that lies entombed in the abyss, else you risk a chill to the depths of your soul.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Walking With The Devil In Arlington Looking At Caelum Moor Environmental Art

Last Sunday I had to abort an attempt to check out what is being called Caelum Moor Environmental Art, due to a Dallas Cowboy football game left me no place to park. Today I figured there would be no football game and since I was in Arlington, I'd check out the satanic sculptures that have some local bible thumpers in full thump mode, predicting all sorts of dire devilish harm to come to Arlington, which is clearly ridiculous.

Arlington long ago, well, about 5 years ago, sold its soul to the devil when Arlington allowed Jerry Jones to commit the worst case of eminent domain abuse in American history. I really don't think these devilish Caelum Moor pieces of rock are going to cause the evictions of thousand and destruction of 100s of buildings.

When I arrived in the stadium/ballpark area I was concerned I was heading towards another aborted visitation. There were a lot of cars parked by the Ballpark in Arlington. I was fairly certain the regular baseball season was over, that the World Series was in play and that the devil has made it certain that the Texas Rangers will never play in the World Series, at least not this year. And likely not next year.

Speaking of the Ballpark in Arlington, where no World Series game has ever been played, that's it in the background on the right. Further in the background, on the left, you can see the Titan Hypercoaster at Six Flags Over Texas. And in the foreground, you get a second look at the first Caelum Moor Environmental Art you saw in the second picture above. This piece sits out in the lake and drips water. I do not know the name of the lake that is on the north end of the Ballpark in Arlington. The Richard Greene Linear Park paved trail runs along the lake and then continues along Johnson Creek.

Now we are looking west, standing on the Richard Greene Linear Park trail in front of the north side of the Ballpark in Arlington. We are looking at the leaking Caelum Moor piece of art that is in the water with the Dallas Cowboy Stadium looming menacingly overhead. I have to admit, as much as I dislike what was done in Arlington to build that stadium, I do think it is one impressive structure. If only the area surrounding the stadium was all as aesthetically pleasing as the area between it and the Ballpark in Arlington.

I don't know where the idea came from to compare the Caelum Moor stones to Stonehenge. The only resemblance I could see was a couple of them were pillars with a stone laid on top, like Stonehenge. Caelum Moor certainly is not arranged in anyway like Stonehenge. Caelum Moor is just sort of randomly placed. Stonehenge is a circle.

The Caelum Moors in this picture look as if they are some sort of symbolic obscene gesture. The bible thumpers hopefully will not make note of that. That is another Caelum Moor to the right, looking as if it is under the tree. Instead it is standing free of the tree, right up against Randol Mill Road.

I don't know if all of Caelum Moor lights up at night, but I did see lighting by the one by Randol Mill Road.

I would not recommend going too far out of your way to see the Caelum Moor Environmental Art. But if you are in Arlington, you might find taking a look at it to be interesting. Especially if you've not seen the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium up close.

Checking Out A Johnson Creek Flash Flood Impeder Today In Arlington

I had to be in Arlington today. That is a town between Fort Worth and Dallas. It is where Six Flags Over Texas, the Ballpark in Arlington, Hurricane Harbor, the Dallas Cowboy Stadium and the Caelum Moor work of the devil sculpture installation are located.

All of these wonderful things are concentrated close to each other, walking distance once the new bridges across I-30 are finished.

My intention had been to take pictures of the aforementioned Caelum Moor. I did so. I'll blog them after I blog this.

Johnson Creek runs between the Dallas Cowboy Stadium and the Ballpark in Arlington on its way by Six Flags. Johnson Creek has been known to go into flash flood mode every once in awhile. There is a very nice paved trail called Richard Greene Linear Park that follows Johnson Creek. I used to roller blade this paved trail. Then a few years ago Johnson Creek flooded bad, wiping out sections of the trail.

Then the Dallas Cowboys came along and wiped out more of the trail, now restored and improved, as part of the new stadium project.

So, I walked the Richard Green Linear Park Johnson Creek trail today, looking at the Caelum Moor. As I walked towards the Randol Mill Road Bridge over Johnson Creek, looking at a Caelum Moor thing on my left, I saw what I thought was more Caelum Moor on the other side of the trail underpass.

When I got closer I saw that this was not more Caelum Moor, it was part of a pedestrian bridge leading to the new stadium.

It was what was under the bridge that I thought was interesting. An elaborate system of what seemed to be some sort of baffles has been installed. This is right in the area where Johnson Creek previously had done a lot of damage.

I suspect the intention of these baffles is to slow the water down to lessen its erosive power. I imagine it must be quite a wild sight, at this spot, when Johnson Creek is running high. The water flashes around a sharp bend in the creek and then hits those baffles.

There looks to have been a lot of work done to the sides of the creek to lessen the erosion.

I wonder what's been done to Johnson Creek, down by Six Flags, which got flooded the last time this creek went rogue.

I don't believe anyone has died in Johnson Creek flash floods.

The same can not be said for the creeks that flash flood in Haltom City. Have hydraulic engineers designed and installed any improvements to the Haltom City creeks, like Fossil Creek, to slow them down when they go into flash flood mode? People have died and homes have been destroyed in Haltom City flash floods.

The next time we go into flash flood mode I'm heading to Arlington to watch what happens when a lot of water hits those baffles.

Another Rainy Day & Night In A Rainy Month In Texas

I think it's rained all night long on my location in North Texas. I've said more than once, of late, that October in Texas is being like a stereotypical Pacific Northwest winter.

This morning's Dallas Morning News letters to the editor had an amusing letter on the weather subject....

Rain, rain, go away

It's been raining here all month long. My wife and I are thinking about moving to Seattle. We kinda miss its sunshine.

Marty Daneman, Plano

Plano is a town north of Dallas, slightly west of the Southfork Ranch of J.R. Ewing fame. Seattle is a town in Washington, known for the myth that it rains all the time there. Which really is only true in Fall, Winter and Spring. Summer is usually fairly dry.

If Marty moved from Plano to Seattle, today, he'd find it about 10 degrees warmer than our current 47. Some parts of the Puget Sound zone are getting dripped on, but currently Seattle is just being cloudy. Likely something wet will fall from the sky during the day there.

I heard yesterday, on the radio, I think, that all the reservoirs in North Texas are full. They have not been full for a few years. We've supposedly been experiencing a drought. But this is my first year in Texas where the greenery did not turn brown, for the most part, by August.

Due to it being in the 40s, raining and real wet out there, I decided to fore go my usual early morning trek to the swimming pool. I'm turning into a weather wimp.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Getting Queasy In Texas Looking At Pictures Of Mountains

An acquaintance of mine, Big Ed, is well aware of my morbid fear of heights. The only thing I have a more morbid fear of is my morbid fear of morbid obesity.

I have been in a situation, or two, where my acrophobia will kick in, bringing with it a very queasy, yet somewhat exhilarating feeling.

I remember that queasy feeling kicking in on the elevator ride to the top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. It is a very bumpy ride. And then when we neared the top, emergency sirens were blaring. The electricity had gone out. My nephews and I were stranded high above Vegas. We walked up to where the bizarre rides are on top of the tower to see people stuck in the roller coaster in the 115 degree August heat.

It took 2 hours to get us back to the ground. We got a free buffet out of the ordeal.

So, like I was saying, Big Ed is aware of my morbid fear of heights. Today he sent me a bunch of pictures. Looking at them caused that familiar queasy feeling. I don't remember the last time I got queasy in a mountain setting. Maybe at the top of Church Mountain in the Washington Cascades. You sort of pull yourself up the last 30 feet to the summit using a cable.

I have never gotten queasy at the Grand Canyon. I don't know why. I've been on some rather steep edges there. I might get queasy on the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

There is an overlook that you hike to from the east end of the tunnel that leads into Zion Canyon that got me a bit queasy.

I've really not had the queasy feeling kick in while driving some treacherous road like the Moki Dugway in Utah or Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in Montana. A long time ago I did drive a road that started in Redding, California and ended up at the Pacific in Crescent City that turned very very primitive, with a very narrow, flimsy, wood-planked bridge that needed crossing. I think of that road every once in awhile and wonder what was I thinking to be driving there.

I have had a time or two where I've been on my mountain bike and had the morbid fear of heights acrophobia kick on. All bike incidents happened in Moab. The Porcupine Rim Trail has a section that sort of hugs a cliff. At the Gemini Bridges Trail you come to a spot, where the bridges are, that is hundreds of feet above the valley below you. I had a queasy moment there. I also had an acrophobic moment on the Slick Rock Trail at a notorious part where you have to negotiate a tight turn on a downhill. So notorious is this section of trail a photographer lurks nearby to takes pictures of the bikers when they scream in horror. I don't know if he makes a good living doing this. I didn't buy one because I didn't scream. I was too focused on not losing control to bother screaming.

I wonder why flying doesn't bother me? I don't even remotely get a queasy feeling. Same with carnival rides. Maybe I have to be touching the ground or be manually powering a locomotion device, like a bike, for heights to make me queasy.

I have no clue as to the locations in these pictures Big Ed sent me. I'm showing you only 4 of them. There were ones of the aforementioned rides on top of the Stratosphere Tower, more mountain biking ones, more scary hiking ones and 2 guys playing tennis on top of a really tall pinnacle in Dubai. It was the close up of that one that got the queasy feeling started.

A Stormy Thursday In Texas With Ruts At Quanah Parker Park

You're looking at a stormy, possible tornado spawning, 1pm view of today's Texas sky, looking east towards Dallas, standing on the parking lot of the Eastchase Super Wal-Mart.

The series of storms has hit worse in locations other than mine. All I've experienced is a little wind and temperature fluctuations.

This morning we were headed towards 80. And then the front from the north pushed back the front from the south, in the storm equivalent of a Civil War battle, dropping the temperature to currently being 60.

It's the confrontation between HOT and COLD that brings about a tornado watch.

While all this weather battling was going on, since none of it was producing falling water, I went to nearby Quanah Parker Park to walk off some of my morning's aggravations.

Quanah Parker Park is a nice, little, well-maintained, Fort Worth park. Today I was appalled to see what looked like the sort of ruts Barnett Shale gas drillers leave in their wake at times. Quanah Parker Park borders the Trinity River, but I saw no pipelines running to a pump by the Trinity River.

I suspect the Quanah Parker Park ruts were caused by some lawn mowing City of Fort Worth workers who did not realize they were mowing on very wet ground, making a big mess in the process.

No Texas Tornadoes With HostGator

A couple hours ago I blogged about what I thought was a problem with DNS settings not pointing correctly to my new webhost, HostGator.

I figured the switch had not been made because I was still getting email using the former password.

But, unbeknownst to me the switch started happening about 20 hours ago. I figured this out when I saw email piled up when I logged into the new account.

I didn't understand why my email was still connecting, with the now wrong password. Then a light bulb turned on in my feeble brain and I thought maybe I needed to close and re-open Outlook Express. Did so, went to check email, it asked me for a password, put in the new one and now the email works.

So, I've successfully gotten my main website off the old hacking host and up and running on the new one. This makes me a semi-happy boy this morning.

In an odd coincidence, when I went to look for a HostGator image I found one from a review titled HostGator vs. Bluehost. Bluehost was the webhost I bailed on early yesterday when their tech support guy was so inept. In the review the writer was not impressed with how the Bluehost phone support person handled his questions.

Anyway, I don't think we are under a Tornado Watch any more. It has calmed down out there. HUGE rainstorm in the middle of the night. It's almost 80 out there right now, coming up on 10am. The pool was very pleasant this morning, swimming around at the crack of dawn, watching for tornadoes.

Watching For Tornadoes From The Swimming Pool This Morning In Texas

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch this morning. The temperature has taken a big upswing, as in it's in the mid 70s coming up on 7am, which is when the tornado watch expires. It is being a bit gusty out there. So far I've heard no tornado sirens.

Since we are having a heat wave I'm going to ignore my therapist, Dr. L.C.'s, diagnoses of serious derangement being in play for me to continue going swimming in what the doctor believes to be frigid, unswimmable water.

An incoming tornado matches my mood this morning. I think I mentioned that yesterday I changed the DNS settings so that my websites can move to my new webhost. Well, this morning I did a WHOIS check and learned one of the name server's IP address had been entered incorrectly. I sent off a support ticket, set to urgent. I'm sure it will be quickly fixed. But it's aggravating.

I can't wait to see what fresh hell today is going to be.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Bad Day In Durango World Getting Blue Then Gator Bit

It's been another troubling, trying day in Durango World. As you can see in the picture looking out the gloomy window to the gloomy west, it is another gray, stereotypical Pacific Northwest winter day here, in October, in Texas.

My one longtime reader may recall that I signed up with a new webhost yesterday. The new webhost was based in Provo, Utah. I like Utah. Mormons seem like real nice people. The Provo webhost called itself Bluehost. Why? I don't know. It soon made me blue dealing with them.

Within minutes of setting up the account I got email telling me my temporary URL and other necessary info, so that files could be uploaded.

None of the info I was sent worked. Last night I had had enough and was not going to talk to any more tech people. It could wait til morning.

I called about 8, after going swimming. I got a male tech guy. I prefer the female tech people. First off, they are easier to understand and always seem competent. The Bluehost tech guy had such a bad speaking voice and he spoke so fast, I had a lot of trouble understanding him. He didn't seem to understand the problem and kept being 2 steps behind. After an hour or so of making very little progress he became fixated on finding the help info I'd used to set up extensions. Here I was, pointing the tech guy to info on his website.

I gave up. I told him I'm over it. I want to cancel the account. He said he'd transfer me. I waited on hold, listening to the same awful annoying music all phone systems seem to use, and hung up.

I thought there'd be an easy way to cancel, on their website. There wasn't. So, I called back. After about 10 more minutes of annoying music a billing guy answered. He was perfectly pleasant, listened to my complaints as to why I was bailing. It was my first opportunity to vent about the frustrating experience. So, credit card got credited back.

Now I had to find another webhost. This time I looked a bit harder. One called HostGator had a lot of positive reviews. I called customer service to ask a few questions. The wait listening to the annoying music was not too long. A guy answered. I don't remember his name.

I decided to go with HostGator. Something seemed familiar about them. What sealed the deal was the answer guy told me they were headquartered in Houston and the server banks were in Dallas. This is the closest I've lived to a server bank that I was using. My first one was in Seattle, used that one for 2 years after I moved to Texas, then I got my domain and had it on a server in Hollywood. I thought Hollywood, California for a long time, but turned out to be the Hollywood in Florida. After Florida I moved to Manhattan in New York City. That one did not work out. The next move was to the one I'm getting rid of. They were based in a bomb shelter in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, then they moved to Columbus, Ohio, or was it Cleveland?

Anyway, I hope this works out with HostGator. I just mentioned to someone via my cell phone mobile talking device that I was now trying HostGator. The party to whom I was speaking said he'd just driven by a HostGator billboard. Then I remember why HostGator seemed familiar. I see that billboard anytime I'm heading back here from some place north, like the airport.

So, there you have the gory details of my miserable day. I forgot to mention, my therapist, Dr. L.C., told me she believes I must be mentally unhinged to be swimming in these frigid temperatures. She may have worded it differently.

Being Skinny While Dipping In Real Cold Water

It got down to 51 this morning. I've learned when the day's temperature stays in the 50 degree range that outdoor water quickly matches that temperature. If the day gets into the 70s and the night in the 50s the water temperature is not bracing.

This morning it was bracing. Very bracing. As you can see it was very dark when I decided to get very cold. I decided to go dipping skinny so I'd have a dry swimsuit to put on when I got out of the water. That plan worked as there was not too much out of control shivering when I got out of the pool.

When I got back to my climate controlled zone I turned on the heat for the first time since last winter.

I got a new web host yesterday. Every previous time I've switched hosts I have been quickly able to upload files. This time the account was not set up correctly. I was on the phone way too much yesterday with my soon to be ex-host and am procrastinating calling the new host.

I might as well get it over with. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Old Hometown Bikini Coffee Baristas At The Foxy Lady Latte

I seem to be blogging a lot lately about my old home zone. I guess it's because those wacky Pacific Northwesterners generate some goofy news of a different sort than the news I find goofy in Texas.

I knew of the current fad in the Puget Sound region of espresso stands being manned by girls in bikinis.

This type thing would seem to be something that there would be in Texas, but substitute snow cone stands for espresso stands. There are so many strip joints in Texas, few of those exist in the Northwest, it seems logical that Texas would be the place where scantily clad females sold beverages in little drive-thru stands.

The "bikini barista" stand I read about in my old hometown newspaper, this morning, is called Foxy Lady Latte. It's the first in Skagit County. The county to the south, Snohomish, made embarrassing national news a couple months ago when some of the Snohomish "bikini barista" stands were raided for providing additional services.

So, I'm a little surprised that one of these has opened in Skagit County. The Foxy Lady Latte is managed by Kymm Rivers. She talked her boss into opening up Skagit County's first "bikini barista" joint in June. Apparently Kymm had worked in one of the Snohomish County "bikini barista" stands.

Business has been brisk for Foxy Lady Latte. 75% of the customers are male. Some customers verbalize surprise that a place called Foxy Lady has coffee brewers working in bikinis.

I never bought into the espresso fad when I lived in Coffeeland. Paying 3 bucks for a tarted up cup of coffee just seemed dumb to me. That and I hated the lingo you had to use when ordering a cup of coffee. It always has sounded so pretentious to me. I'll have a Double Tall Mocha Frappacino Skim with Whip. I have no idea if that means anything.

The Blue Sky Of Texas Does Not Fit My Blue Mood

Not a good day in Durango World. My website got hacked again. This time only 2 pages, but Google flagged every page with their dire warning that "This website may harm your computer."

I learned I had a problem a little after 6 this morning. I called tech support. Calling tech support you get Americans, not the Ukrainians you get if you use the online tech support. I got Jen.

Jen told me I'd get a call back in an hour or so and that the problem was being handed off to their best tech guy. I did not hear back in an hour. I called again. This time I got Robert. Robert knew Jen. Robert checked on why I'd not been called back. After 5 minutes of listening to awful music Robert told me the process was taking longer because the best tech guy was being real thorough. Robert told me Jen would call me back when it was all done.

Two hours later Jen called. Told me everything should be fine now. And that the ftp.deny and ftp.allow files had not been correctly set. I told Jen I get told this after each incident.

After lunch I found that FTP does not work. Trying to connect generates a "denied by access rules" message. So, I called again. This time Dave answered. Dave knows Jen. I asked to speak to Jen. Dave put me on hold and came off hold to tell me Jen was on a break but would call me as soon as she got back. That was about 10 minutes ago.

Just got a call from Jen. FTP is now fixed.

After my first talk with Jen, this morning, I was so aggravated I was hoping a dip in a very cold pool would be salubrious. It wasn't. I had the phone sitting beside the pool, waiting for that call that came hours later.

Around noon I had to get out of here. Went to close by Quanah Parker Park for a walk. That's the Quanah Parker Trail, well, actually, the paved trail that leads out of the park, I don't know if it is in the park, but wherever it was it had a lot of water on the trail.

And yes, today was the final straw. Despite it being a major, BIG pain, I'm moving my websites to another host. After I'm successfully divorced from my current host marriage I will blog the bloody details and name names.

5 Year Old Romanian Boy Strongest In The World

This video of a 5 year old Romanian strong boy/man named Giuliano Stroe is a bit disturbing. Apparently there are several YouTube videos of the kid performing feats of strength. The kid has been lifting weights since he was two. I couldn't even do a pull up til I was 15. He is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest 10 meter hand walk with a weight ball between his legs.

I'm guessing there are a lot of people trying for that 10 meter han walk record.

I found the boy's abs of steel disturbing. And the strange way he winked at the camera.

I must go lift weights now.

Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct Comes Down In A Simulated Earthquake

I mentioned the Alaskan Way Viaduct a couple days ago. And that it's set to be replaced by a tunnel before Mother Nature destroys it with an earthquake.

I did not know the sea wall also needs fixing. I did not know there was a sea wall.

Something about a big tunnel, next to saltwater, in a town that regularly gets the shakes, seems counter-intuitive to me.

Supposedly the other big tunnel that runs under Seattle, that being the combo bus/rail tunnel, is designed to make it through a very strong earthquake. I would not want to be in the Seattle bus tunnel or any of its stations during a quake.

Seems to me Seattle is really pushing its luck with this $4.2 billion tunnel/viaduct replacement project. The viaduct won't come down until the tunnel is finished. What happens if the Big One quakes during the construction phase?

This morning in the Seattle P-I, online, I watched a YouTube video of a simulation of what would happen to the sea wall, the viaduct and the waterfront if another big quake strikes, as strong as the last big one, known as the Nisqually Earthquake, with an epicenter 30 miles closer to Seattle and lasting twice as long as the 15 second Nisqually Earthquake.

The video gives you a good look at the Seattle waterfront and a real good simulation of what an earthquake might do....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fort Worth 350

Okay, I admit my Adult Attention Deficit Disorder causes me to miss a lot of things. That and no longer reading a daily hard copy newspaper. I know I have been reading 350, this or that, a lot lately. You might say 350 has become a bit ubiquitous, if you had a tendency to use polysyllabic words that render your prose to be a bit on the dense and ponderous side of wordsmithing.

Apparently this 350 deal is a Global Warming thing. Reducing CO2 gas to 350 parts per million. I'm guessing we are way over that 350 mark here in gas-happy Fort Worth. We've got more gas-spewing holes poked in the ground in Fort Worth, Texas than any other large city in the world. We are quite proud of that record and intend to keep it, not matter what blows up or gets polluted.

A short time ago I was sent an urgent request to help with the proper insertion of a YouTube video. I did the insertion without watching the video. I figured it had something to do with Senior Citizen issues, due to who sent the urgent request. After I stuck the code where it needed to be I decided to watch the video. Imagine my surprise when it had nothing to do with oldsters.

The YouTube video is about Fort Worth. And that 350 thing. Forget about the 350, for now. If you've never been to Fort Worth and have no idea what it looks like, well, this video does a good job of showing you this town. You'll see the Tandy Hills, museums like the Kimbell and the Modern in what Fort Worth calls "The Cultural District", the Fort Worth Stockyards, Longhorns, Barnett Shale drillers sucking water out of the Trinity River, downtown Fort Worth, including the parking lots known as Sundance Square, I forget what else, but I can guarantee if you watch the video and had no clue what Fort Worth looks like, after you've watched it, you'll have an idea of what Fort Worth looks like. I even think we got a look or two and heard a word or two from Fort Worth's #1 Watchdog, Don Young. Look for a wise-looking guy with long gray hair.

A Dog Runs Wild In The Rain In Fort Worth

That is the dreary Monday noon, Fort Worth, Texas view a short distance from Miss Puerto Rico's balcony. We had some thunder late last night. It didn't boom too long.

The rain has lasted much longer than the booming. It wasn't dripping too much on me when I went pooling this morning. The water didn't feel as cold as yesterday. That's always a good thing.

You're heading to the Post Office with me in the picture. On my way back, in this same location, a cute little puppy was walking on the road as if it thought it was a car. Vehicles stopped on both sides of the road, including me, trying to get the dog to safety.

Eventually I drove on and left the matter to Darwinian selection. I can be heartless when I don't know what else to be in a particular situation.

It's time for lunch. I hope little Toto made it home safe.

Living Like Kramer Ticketed For Driving Shirtless In Dallas While Speaking Spanish With No Seatbelt Clicked

I have heard comments a time or two that I somehow remind someone of Seinfeld. I never ask if they are referencing the TV show or Jerry Seinfeld, the person. I just choose to take the remark as some sort of compliment and move on.

And then this morning the oh so ubiquitous "Anonymous" commented that my adventures are reminiscent of Kramer's life on Seinfeld. I'm having a little more trouble choosing to take this comment as some sort of compliment than I do the more generic Seinfeld reference.

The Kramer comment was in reply to a comment Jovan made about yesterday's blogging about the Caelum Moor.

Jovan is not another "Anonymous." He has a face. I've seen it. In photo form.

Below is a slightly abridged version of what Jovan said....

"How is it that you always stumble upon all these really cool things? I just googled Caelum Moor and was met with some very interesting stuff. You must just attract off-topic cool stuff. Now, when I make it back to Dallas, I suppose I'll be having to check out things in FW and Arlington. I'll make sure to being going on like afternoon on Tuesday..."

Until Jovan asked me I had no idea I stumble upon really cool things.

Like I already said, "Anonymous" commented on Jovan's comment. The "Anonymous" comment was funny. "Anonymous" said....

"Hey Jovan--remember that "Texas is like a whole other country!" (from PR materials). The Fort Worth (formerly Cowtown but now Tasertown or Drillville) and Arlington (i.e. Jonestown--eww!) area are really putting a set of new meanings to that PR slogan. Of course, don't drive in Dallas if you "don't talk English", comprende amigo? Be sure and get Durango to take you driving shirtless without a seat belt slowly near the famous (or infamous) Carter Ave. area. This is not meant as an insult but I keep thinking that Durango and his adventures are very reminiscent of Kramer's life on "Seinfeld". G-g-g-giddy up!! Come visit our new "country" soon, Jovan---if you dare."

Jovan previously commented on the Dallas cops giving tickets to people for not speaking English problem that "Anonymous" references. About getting a ticket for not speaking English Jovan said...

"I'm now going to see if I can get any tickets for not speaking English. I already speak Spanish -- should be no problem! I'll make sure to direct all cops to this page, hahaha. If I get one, I'll make sure you send you a picture of my lovely ticket. Okay, I'm not going to actively try to get a ticket, but next time I get pulled over there will be no English!"

Jovan, go for a combo, drive in Dallas, real slow, speaking Spanish, with your seatbelt and shirt off. So far it is not a crime to drive shirtless in Fort Worth, if you're a man. I'm not sure about Dallas. It probably is a crime there to drive shirtless. Dallas tries to be more refined and sophisticated and driving shirtless is not very refined or sophisticated. Unless you're really HOT. Which I always am when I'm driving shirtless.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Devil Made Me Do It Today In Arlington At The Caelum Moor

That's the original location of the Texas Stonehenge, known as Caelum Moor. It has been in hiding since sometime around 1996, due to almost 2 dozen evangelical preachers complaining that the Caelum Moor was attracting wiccans and pagans.

God forbid.

A preacher from Stephenville, that being the town that sees UFOs, Michael Tummillo, posted on his website the news that "Occultic landmark resurrected near home of the Dallas Cowboys." And then warned Arlington about a demonic backlash. And claimed that this outrage is a mockery of Christianity and that those near the Caelum Moor and the Dallas Cowboys were in a "dance with the devil."

So, today I felt I really needed to go see the Caelum Moor and take some pictures. Little did I know that the devil was already busy.

I figured Sunday would be an easy time to go into the congested zone by the Dallas Cowboy stadium. It's a mess of freeway construction. I knew I had a problem when I saw the freeway emergency signs were playing a message about stadium traffic congestion.

I was talking to Tootsie Tonasket when I got off the freeway, so I'm a bit confused as to where I exited. So much has changed. I think I exited on Collins and soon found myself on the new road that runs between the Ballpark in Arlington and the new Cowboys stadium.

I had no idea people were being parked on lots so far from the stadium. I was barely off the freeway when I saw the first $40 parking lot. All the parking lots around the Ballpark in Arlington were parking cars at $40 a pop. I had never seen a tailgate party before. Today I saw hundreds, maybe thousands. They put up a canopy and BBQs. It smelled good.

Then the Caelum Moor came into view. And the new stadium. It was a bit hectic, trying to get a look without running into anyone or thing, but I have to say, what I saw looked cool. I wanted to park. But there was no place to park without shelling out $40. I'd not seen the outside video boards fired up on the stadium before. It made that impressive structure look even more futuristic. And out of place.

I saw a lot a long ways from the stadium charging $60 to park. As I continued south I kept expecting to find a place to park, close enough that I could walk back and take pictures of the Caelum Moor and the tailgate parties and the parking signs and the stadium's video screens.

I was quite a distance south of the stadium when I saw a FINA gas station selling parking for $40, with the Jack in the Box across the street doing the same. I gave up.

Later I was in my neighborhood Super Wal-Mart and the checkout girl asked me what I'd been up to. Why do you ask? Do I look frazzled? She said, yes, you do. I told her I got stuck in the traffic mess by the new stadium. She told me that the Super Wal-Mart by the stadium sold parking and let people have tailgate parties.

With the Caelum Moor bringing the devil to Arlington, and to the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones particularly, one can only fear what sort of fresh hell is about to descend upon that hapless area now. I thought the devil had already taken control of that zone when he worked in cahoots with Jerry Jones to commit the worst case of eminent domain abuse in American history.

Caelum Moor is one part of what's been quite a day. I don't want to talk about the rest of it. It's just too convoluted.

A Tale Of Two Cities: Fort Worth and Seattle's Public Works Projects

That is the Alaskan Way Viaduct you're looking at in the picture, looking south to the Seahawk's football stadium and the Mariner's ballpark, both of which were built without booting anyone out of their home.

I have blogged about the Alaskan Way Viaduct previously while comparing the way things are done in Seattle with how stuff happens in Fort Worth.

When I make a comparison between Seattle and Fort Worth I invariably get a comment from the ubiquitous "Anonymous," a very thin-skinned Anonymous, saying "we get it, Seattle good, Fort Worth bad," not getting that what I'm actually doing is comparing 2 large cities with which I am very familiar, but which have very stark differences.

Both towns have large projects in the works. One absolutely needed, the other not. The needed one being the Alaskan Way Viaduct which needs to be replaced before it is torn down by an earthquake. The not needed project being Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision. That vision being destroying the confluence of the West and Clear Forks of the Trinity River to build a very little lake, an unneeded flood diversion channel and some wetlands restoration.

If I remember right the canals have been dropped from the Trinity River Vision along with the signature bridges, as the price tag nears $1 billion.

In Fort Worth this public works project was foisted on the public with very little input from the public.

Contrast that with what the Governor of Washington, Christine Gregoire said at the recent document signing ceremony that started the Viaduct replacement project, "We've had nearly 10 years of public meetings, town halls, interest group briefings, thousands of public comments. We have ended the debate, we have made the decision, we have selected the option that will forever change the face of downtown Seattle. This will make a huge difference in the face of the city. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In six years we will able to stand on or near this spot and look across and be able to see the waters of Elliott Bay, you'll be reconnecting Pioneer Square with the water, downtown with the water, we'll have a great place for our public to come."

I've been following the debate about Viaduct solutions since shortly after I moved to Texas. I've always found the way issues get debated, in Washington, interesting to follow. The lack of any real debate, here in Fort Worth, with the public pretty much used to things being done the Fort Worth way, as in run like a Company Town, has been real interesting to me.

In the end, Seattle, Washington and King County decided on the $4.2 billion tunnel option. When the viaduct was built, 56 years ago, Seattle was not the tourist mecca it is now, no cruise ships docked in town, the waterfront was a working waterfront, not a tourist attraction. The Alaskan Way Viaduct has long been an eyesore, a real noisy eyesore. I'm thinking when this project is completed in 2015, or thereabouts, it is going to cause some major good things to happen on Seattle's waterfront.

So, that's how a Seattle public works project happens, it being a much more ambitious and expensive project than Fort Worth's little lake and flood diversion channel, that won't be finished, if it does get finished, til sometime a decade or more in the future.

In Seattle there is a lot of debate, a lot of arguing, a lot of input, and in the end, something good happens.

In Fort Worth the public is pretty much left out of it, there is no real debate.

And there really is no actual problem that is being solved, as in Fort Worth is already protected from bad flooding by huge levees that were built after a bad flood in the 1950s. Did Federal dollars help build those levees? Are Federal dollars being used to build the unneeded flood diversion channel that will, supposedly, replace the levees which are already doing their job, which were likely built with the help of taxpayer money?

If the Fort Worth and Tarrant County public got to have input there would likely be a consensus that no money should be spent on the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle until money is spent to fix the deadly flash flooding creeks of Haltom City.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Of A Muddy Gas Driller's Mess At Fort Worth's Gateway Park With A Missing Kayaker

Too much rain this week made it likely the Tandy Hills are not dried out enough for my usual mud-free Saturday hiking. I decide to go see mud at another Fort Worth park, that being Gateway Park and the Trinity Trails.

I was not disappointed, mud-wise. That location I've mentioned a couple times now, due east of the Beach Street bridge across the Trinity, where a gas driller runs a pipeline across park property to a diesel pump that sucks water out of the Trinity River.

The pump was not running today. But the gas boys had been at the pump. That was obvious due to the fact that the damage done to the levee and the park grass was much worse than it was when I was at the same location on Thursday to take a picture of the Trinity roaring over the dam/bridge.

Another view of the muddy ruts left on top of the Trinity levee. On the south side of the river, immediately east of the dam/bridge, the latest bout of high, raging river water has eroded off the dirt/grass top part of the levee, exposing a large area of the huge boulders that, apparently, were used to build the giant dam-like levees. I've asked before and have not heard an answer, how is it that the gas drillers get away with this bad behavior? Are they in cahoots with the local power structure? Or something like that?

Now, this was an odd scene, the Trinity River had lowered a bit since I saw it on Thursday, but it was still roaring over the dam/bridge. Why did someone, nowhere to be seen, wheel a kayak down to where the launching dock usually floats, but is currently in malfunction mode due to the flood? Where was the kayaker? A little gust of wind could easily blow the kayak into the water and over the dam. Was the kayaker actually considering launching from this location, so close to going over the dam? I saw no vehicle up by the building that stores kayaks, where the kayakers park.

If you look on the other side of the river, in the kayak picture, you can see the eroded area I referenced above.

Carter Avenue & The New London School Explosion

No, that picture is not the aftermath of a natural gas explosion on Carter Avenue in Fort Worth. The picture shows what remains of the New London School in the town of New London in East Texas.

By March 18, 1937, un-odorized natural gas had accumulated, unbeknownst to anyone, under the school. The gas ignited, with a big explosion, killing over 300 children and teachers, to the horror of the world, including Adolf Hitler, who sent his condolences.

It was this explosion that brought about the mandate that added a strong, detectable odor to natural gas.

However, Texas is back again allowing natural gas to be piped under children without an odor added to it. The natural gas is known to be corrosive to pipelines. It seems fairly sensible and logical that a homeowner would not want non-odorized natural gas piped underneath their home. Or the yard their kids play on.

This issue is what has the people who live on Carter Avenue upset. They don't want Chesapeake Energy piping odor-free gas under them.

Several of the Fort Worth Bloggers have been blogging about Carter Avenue, including the Fort Worth Star Telegraph. A few days ago the Star Telegraph blogged about Carter Avenue, in a blogging titled "Why YOU Should Care."

"Why YOU Should Care" generated several comments. Several of which were of the brain-dead, moronic sort that I often get when I complain about the eminent domain abuse that occurred in Arlington in order for Jerry Jones to build a football stadium. Comments from people with no understanding of what eminent domain is and who actually believe that Jerry Jones could not take people's homes without their consent.

So, the Star-Telegraph empathized with the plight of the Carter Avenue Dwellers. This brought comments from Barnett Shale natural gas drilling shills. They have been known to comment to my blog when I mentioned something scandalous about Chesapeake Energy. Within a short time of posting I'd see the FeedJit stats light up with hits from Oklahoma City (Chesapeake Energy Headquarters). And then the boilerplate comments would come. Soon the Texas bloggers getting the comments figured it out, made fun of the shills, using them for blogging fodder, sort of causing a they-are-shooting-themselves-in the-foot type effect.

And now the shills have found a new target for their shilling. I had intended to copy and paste the best examples of shilling comments that "Why YOU Should Care" generated, and then comment on the comments. But I've pretty much already done that. So, go to the Fort Worth Star Telegraph and read "Why YOU Should Care" and read the comments.

And also read my Texas Natural Gas Explosion blogging about the New London School Explosion and Chesapeake Energy, with videos.

Texas Natural Gas Explosion

UPDATE: The powers that be in Texas are still allowing un-odorized natural gas to be piped under children. So, I am re-posting this because I think it is relevant to the Carter Avenue Scandal in Fort Worth.

One of Chesapeake Energy's propaganda techniques, when someone objects to the location of one of their drilling operations, is to paint the objector as an out of touch iconoclast stuck back in time.

I don't mind being an iconoclast. Below, I'll be showing you two videos of Texas natural gas explosions. The first occurred on March 18, 1937, two months before the Hindenburg blimp blew up in New Jersey. The Hindenburg disaster is etched in America's memory, well those American's who remember such things. Sadly our numbers are dwindling. Few Americans know of the New London School Disaster.

In 1937, out in East London in East Texas, natural gas pipelines running under the New London School, unbeknownst to anyone, because no odor was detected, because, at that time, no odor was added to natural gas, leaked. The gas was trapped under the school and began leaking from the trap into enclosed crawlspace that ran the 253 foot length of the school.

Students had been complaining of headaches for some time, but no one investigated as to why their heads were hurting.

And then sometime after 3:05, that fateful day, an instructor, Lemmie R. Butler, turned on an electric sander. It is believed that a spark from that sander ignited the explosion that destroyed the school, killing over 300 students and teachers, in the worst school disaster in American history.

Adolf Hitler sent his condolences. Walter Cronkite was sent to New London on one of his first assignments and throughout his career he continued to say this was the worst thing he ever covered.

As a result of what happened in New London, Texas, it was mandated an odor be added to natural gas, that being the sulfur smell we are all familiar with.

Chesapeake Energy's Propagandists will claim that modern technology has solved all the technical problems that might have made drilling for natural gas and transporting it in urban pipelines, safe, like those pipelines now being run all over, under Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Pipelines under homeowner's yards, under their streets, pipelines through which natural gas flows that HAS NOT YET HAD THE SULPHUR ODOR ADDED.

Below is a newsreel type video of the New London School Disaster. Below that a more recent Texas natural gas explosion.

The Chesapeake Energy Propaganda Purveyors claim their industry is safe, that modern technology has solved all those little problems that existed in the last century, that we are living in the age of I-Phones, Flat Panel TVs, the Internet and Space Shuttles, that we don't live in an age where things blow up. Oh, scratch that last one on the list. Accidents happen, but not in the Chesapeake Energy world.

Below is video of a natural gas explosion that occurred in Texas on April 29, 2007. I guess Chesapeake Energy has made tremendous advances since that date and this type thing is no longer possible.

Meanwhile, I've got Chesapeake Energy back drilling across the street, again. So, do not be fooled by thinking that once they are gone, that they don't show up again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dallas Texas Police Issue Dozens Of Tickets For Not Speaking English

This morning I read in the Dallas Morning News that a rookie Dallas cop, Gary Bromley, had ticketed a Mexican national, Ernestina Mondragon, who had a driver's license, for not being able to speak English.

I am not making this up.

And now, late in the afternoon, Levi Johnston, who is now one of my regular news sources, via Twitter, tweeted the news that by this afternoon the story had changed.

Now, we learn it was not just one isolated rookie incident, instead, dozens of tickets have been issued, in Dallas, for not being able to speak English.

My great-great grandpa came to America, from Holland, unable to speak English, and never learned the language. But his descendants are all quite fluent with the language.

Sarah Palin really should have worked harder at keeping Levi in her realm. He seems to be quite a wise guy at only 19 years old.

Below is Levi's Twitter Tweet about the Dallas Cops Non-English Speaking Ticket Scandal...

"39 tickets issued to Mexican workers 4 not being able to speak English in DaLLAS TEXAS WTF? TEXAS IS ONE CRAZY STATE."


Well, this Texas boy had himself a very aggravating morning this second to last Friday of October. A couple days ago someone dangled money in front of me to get me to figure out a WordPress blog theme thing called THESIS.

I was about 2 minutes in when I decided THESIS was a piece of outdated junk that belongs back in 1999.

But, for reasons unfathomable to me, there are blogging gurus who swear THESIS is the best blogging thing in the world. And I know simple saps who listen, without critical questioning, to blogging gurus, and then buy in to what they are selling. So, THESIS gets bought.

I'll tell you how bad this piece of junk is. The BIG problem was the THESIS user could not figure out how to upload their logo to their THESIS blog. This is a rather elemental part of any publishing software I've ever used, be it blogging or print. The ability to easily insert an image where you want it.

But not with THESIS. Logo uploading is among the many missing features. To upload a logo in THESIS I had to search for a solution. The THESIS style sheet had to be altered with code injected.

No big deal. Been there, done that before. So, I'm logged into THESIS. I open the custom.css file. I copy the code. I save the file.

However, THESIS, upon saving, changed a key part of the code from 880 pixels to 8800 pixels. Trust me, that creates problems. So, I delete the extra 0 and save again. Nope. Still there. I delete all the code and save again. Nope. Still there.

I've been down this type road enough times that I know to backup a copy before altering. So, I went through several steps and used FTP to overwrite the file that the idiotic THESIS thing would not save correctly.

By that time it was 10 in the morning. I'd missed my morning swim. I'd been up fiddling with this stupid thing since 5am.

And now I was mad. Which means I was gonna keep at it til I got the stupid logo to work.

It all had to be done outside the criminally bad THESIS mess, using Windows Notepad and FTP. By 11am I had the logo uploaded and on the blog.

Six hours to do something that would take me all of 20 seconds using the blogger system I'm using to write this blog.

If I've not been clear enough, let me be clearer.


Men's & Women's Toilet At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Yesterday when I picked up Miss Puerto Rico at Terminal D at D/FW Airport, due to being stuck in the airport way too long due to a stuck piece of luggage I noticed something that I don't believe was there to be noticed on previous visits to D/FW.

As in the signs for and pointing to the entities formerly named "Restrooms" have been changed to "Men's Toilets" and "Women's Toilets."

I don't know for sure why, but something about this struck me as being really tacky.

While standing in the airport, waiting for the luggage to get unstuck, I asked a few others what they thought of the signage. Strange, different and never seen that before was the general opinion.

The signs are not accurate. Yes, there are toilets in the former restrooms, but there are also sinks, diaper changing tables and for the men, urinals. It could be very confusing for someone desperately searching for a sink to wash their hands.

High Water Rapids On The Trinity River In Fort Worth

That is the Trinity River in east Fort Worth in flood mode Thursday around noon. The river had come down from its highwater mark, but was still roaring over the Gateway Park/Trinity Trails Dam Trail Bridge.

This was the location I showed you a few weeks ago, near Beach Street, where gas drillers were sucking water out of the Trinity River. The gas pump was busy pumping yesterday, but I could barely hear it over the roar of the water.

The river had dropped about 10 feet by the time I saw it. You can easily tell the highwater mark by the line of litter left behind.

It is back being clear here in North Texas again with a beautiful blue sky. But it is cold. Mid 40s when my usual going to the pool time came. I decided I didn't need to go swimming.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stuck Bag American Airlines Drama At D/FW Airport

Miss Puerto Rico's return to Texas was a bit bumpy. In San Juan, American Airlines insisted she check in the bag that she had carried on in Dallas.

Miss Puerto Rico had resolved to never check in a bag with American Airlines again after they lost a bag filled with all sorts of goodies and despite multiple filings of claims for restitution, American Airlines did not make good on their mistake.

I knew Miss PR's plane was late. When she landed she called me. I was barely on my way and was surprised she was on the ground. She told me, no problem, we are stuck on the tarmac til a gate opens.

The traffic jamming was terrible on the way to the airport. I was sure I'd be late, even though Miss PR was stuck on the tarmac,

I arrived at the terminal. D. The new International Terminal. I called. Miss PR was off the plane and waiting at Baggage Claim D16. This is when I learned she had been forced to check in a bag with the notoriously incompetent American Airlines baggage handlers.

I got to Baggage Claim D16 to see the bizarre sight of a guy standing on the moving baggage carousel, yanking on what looked like a briefcase stuck in the baggage conveyor belt.

Multiple attempts were made to get the Emergency Shut Off button to turn off the conveyor belt. But it would not stop.

Eventually someone somewhere was able to stop the thing.

Various people tried to pull the stuck bag loose. To no avail.

After about a half an hour the woman you see in the picture, above, took off her stiletto heels and climbed up on the carousel to try and extract the stuck bag. She was on the phone at the time. She had some connection to American Airlines and was making all sorts of phone calls to all sorts of people to get someone to come fix this.

Eventually a guy showed up with tools. There was a lot of secret agent type communication between the guy with tools and someone in control of the conveyor belt about reversing the motor to reverse the conveyor belt and free the briefcase.

After what seemed like a really long time the conveyor belt reversed, to no avail. It's resistance detection shutdown feature worked.

So, then the guy with the tools used a jackknife, which none of the fliers had, due to those, you know, flight safety rules to combat terrorism, to free the briefcase.

Then he told the guy on the other end of his secret agent communicator to put the conveyor belt back in forward mode.

Soon the baggage moving sound was heard, lights flashed and the conveyor belt and carousel were moving again. There was some cheering and applause

Miss Puerto Rico's unwillingly checked in piece of luggage was 3rd to arrive.

A happy ending to a very weird visit to D/FW Airport.

Now, to be clear, I do not believe this bizarre incident was an American Airlines problem. It was a D/FW Airport problem.

Why did the Emergency Shut-off not work? Why was the design of the conveyor belt such that something could slip through and jam up the conveyor belt? Why was the conveyor belt not designed in a way that if something did get stuck that it could easily be released, by, I don't know, maybe pulling a lever and creating a gap between the belt and the chunk of metal that the briefcase got stuck in.

Anyway, yet one more Airport Adventure courtesy of Miss Puerto Rico. And due to all this aggravation it cost 2 bucks instead of 1 to escape the airport, due to being detained through no fault of our own. Outrageous. I want my dollar back.

Texas Wind Chime Noise Pollution

UPDATE: I've been scrolling through old bloggings, looking at the ones that have accumulated a lot of comments and re-posting if I think the comments are funny or good or both funny and good. The comments about Wind Chime Pollution are funny and good...

I hate wind chimes. I think they are a public nuisance. I think anyone who would hang a wind chime outside their abode is a public nuisance. I am not alone. If you Google "wind chime complaints" you will see that wind chimes annoy people all over the world.

Some towns have ordinances to control how wind chimes can be used, how loud, how many and how close to a neighbor.

Humans have different tolerance levels for annoying noise. Some people are not bothered by noise, others are. I happen to be one who is. I think someone else's right to a noise stops at the point I have to hear it.

One of my siblings has a low tolerance for repetitive noises. And the soothing sound of a waterfall. I have the soothing sound of a waterfall outside my bedroom window. I like it. I've got the window open right now, listening to it. And the wind. I can hear wind chimes in the distance.

When you have low tolerance for annoying noises you can be driven to extreme measures. I've seen my sibling with the low tolerance for repetitive noises come unglued at a dear elderly lady who was trying to locate some photos to show on her digital camera. Each time she pushed the button there was a beep. Sometime after 10 beeps my sibling started to lose her composure.

Little camera and phone beeps don't bug me. But those gas-powered leaf blowers do. They should be banned.

Yesterday as I sat in the Wal-Mart Neighorhood Market parking lot trying to talk to my sister, an idiot pulled up with rap-like type music blaring so loud I had to get out of the vehicle and walk away from the noise so I could continue to talk to my sister.

With the wind chimes I have been driven to extreme measures, as in some time ago one of my neighbors had the wind chimes from hell. Three of them. They actually were more like wind gongs. I called 911 to complain that my hearing was being damaged. In Texas I got no help from the authorities to help with my serious case of being victimized by noise pollution.

So, I had to take matters into my own hands and launch a guerrilla operation. Under cover of darkness, I put on my camo wear, put on a ski mask and slithered my way to the location of the wind gongs. I figured I had about a minute, tops, if I was heard, before the noise polluters could make it outside. So, I moved fast, grabbed the gongs and ran fast. I disposed of them discreetly the next day.

That's my personal solution for dealing with wind chimes that disturb my peace. I don't recommend it for everyone.

Miss Puerto Rico Is In Miami Heading To Cold Flooding Texas

That's the Thursday 10am in the morning, balcony view, in what is likely the last in the current "View From Miss Puerto Rico's" series.

As you can see a layer of gray is blocking our usual view of a Texas blue sky. We have had a big delivery of rain in the past 24 hours. The Trinity River is above flood stage in some locations. A weather alert just informed me that the West Fork of the Trinity River will be flooding parts of Grand Prairie until sometime Friday.

The majority of you reading this are not Texans. So, I'll explain that Grand Prairie is east of Arlington, west of Dallas. Arlington is where the Dallas Cowboys play football. The Dallas Cowboys do not play football in Dallas.

Near as I can tell Dallas thinks the entire Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex zone is all Dallas with the 50 or 60 Metroplex towns, like Fort Worth, Arlington, Frisco, Grapevine and all the rest, being Dallas neighborhoods.

So, now you know why it makes perfectly good sense for the Dallas Cowboys to build a $1.2 billion new stadium in the Dallas neighborhood of Arlington and still call themselves the Dallas Cowboys.

The aforementioned Miss Puerto Rico called a few minutes ago. She is now in Miami. She was not pleased when I told her what the weather is like here. When I went in the pool this morning, at 7, it was raining and 61. Now, 3.5 hours later it is not raining, but it is windy and the temperature has dropped 10 degrees.

So, I picked up a coat for her when I was over at Miss PR's taking my daily balcony picture and feeding the cat. I told Miss PR to stay inside the terminal til I got the coat to her.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Driving Too Slow Without A Seatbelt In Fort Worth

Update: It is a couple months since I was ticketed for not wearing a seat belt while driving 10mph in Fort Worth. I complied with the ticket and indicated I wanted a jury trial to plead my case that I had not violated the spirit of the law. I have not heard back from Fort Worth. Case Closed. End of Update: On to Original Post....

Like I said in the previous blogging, I had myself a run-in with Fort Worth's version of the law today, soon after I was done hiking the Tandy Hills.

I got in my vehicle, started it up, turned on the A/C and started to drive. Big Ed put on his seatbelt. I was too sweaty to want to put on my seatbelt and did not see the need, til I reached Beach Street, since I was driving, slowly, on residential streets.

I drove til View Street hit Barron, took a right. Soon thereafter I saw flashing lights in my rear view mirror. What fresh hell is this, in this hell I'm living, I wondered.

The cop walked up. My window was already down, due to trying to cool off. "What's wrong, officer?" I asked.

"I need to see your license and insurance." I gave them to him.

"Why were you driving so slow?" the cop asked.

"We'd just finished hiking the Tandy Hills and were overheated, I wasn't thinking about driving too slow."

The cop then pointed to Big Ed and said, "He just put on his seatbelt when he saw the flashing lights, didn't he?"

I think this clucklehead cop was thinking he had himself a major bust.

"No," I said, "he put his on before I started moving. I said to him, why do you want that on, it's too hot?"

"I pulled you over because you were driving so slow I could see you weren't wearing your belt," the cop said.

I said, "I saw no need, since, like you said, I was driving slow, I was going to put it on when we got to Beach Street."

This seemed to be one of those cops, like that one who caused a scandal in Dallas, with a lack of an ability to correctly read a situation and make a good call. Instead this cop reinforced the dumb cop cliche, being yet one more example of why law enforcement is held, by so many, in such low esteem.

So, the cop disappeared to his Forth Worth Police Car. After 15 minutes he came back, had me sign something that said "CUSTOMER COPY" at the top. He said something about having 11 days to make an appearance. "That it was all detailed on the citation."

Okay, let's not even talk about the obvious, as in, I'm a grown up. If I choose not to put my seatbelt on when I'm all hot and sweaty and know that I'm going to be driving slow on some residential streets, that is my business, only my business and it certainly is not the business of the Fascists who run Fort Worth like a bunch of crazed Neo-Nazis, over-running bars, beating patrons, throwing innocent people face down on parking lots.

The citation tells me I can go to for more information about my ticket. So, I go there. There is no information about anyone's specific ticket. You can download a fine schedule, which was another bizarre thing. On that fine schedule there is no mention of what the fine is for driving slowly through a residential neighborhood, while sweating profusely without your seatbelt on.

Til today, I had not gotten a traffic ticket, of any sort, in years. Back in modern civilization, when I lived in Washington, a ticket clearly spelled out the fine, your options for paying the fine, or disputing the fine. This idiotic Customer Copy I got in this Third World type municipality has south of the border shakedown written all over it. You can barely read the print. It is small and faded. I'm sure a large number of people can not make sense of what they are expected to do.

Parts of America have really gone off the track. There are reasons we have a higher % of people behind bars than any other nation on earth, us, who are brainwashed to believe we live in the Land of the Free. If you lived in the Land of the Free you could not be stopped by the Gestapo because you were driving slowly through a residential neighborhood, sweating profusely, while not wearing your seatbelt.

Thomas Jefferson was right. For a Democracy to stay free you need a fresh revolution every 20 years or so. I feel like revolting.

I was able to decipher, among my options, that I can have my "case" heard in front of a jury. I believe that will be the option I take.

From what I've heard of other's experiences, the way this works in Fort Worth, is nothing you say to the judge will change anything. I don't even believe they are real judges in the way we think of them in the more advanced parts of the country. The idea that you have to go before a judge, because you didn't have your seatbelt on, explain the extenuating circumstances, with the judge under no obligation to take those into consideration, before imposing what amounts to being institutionalized theft.

I tell you, you people of Fort Worth, this is the corrupt system you get when only 6% of you turn out to vote for your city government. This town needs a revolution and a cleaning up of a very corrupt house.

As you can see, Fort Worth may try to stifle my right to choose to temporarily leave my seatbelt off, but there is not a thing they can do to stifle me from using my right to say whatever I want, to whoever I want, whenever I want. With all do respect to the Fort Worth Court and Police System. All do respect. Which is they are due none.