Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In Texas Thinking About Going To Church & Sunday's 4th Of July Parades

It is the last day of June, Wednesday. In the picture you are sitting with me out on my bedroom balcony, looking at the slightly inclement sky.

I did not get rained on when I went swimming this morning. I like swimming in the rain, but I learned a couple days ago that I do not like swimming in a raging downpour.

It being the last day of June would make tomorrow the 1st day of July. Math is not my forte, but I am fairly certain with tomorrow, that being Thursday, being the 1st of July, that this would mean that Sunday is the 4th of July.

As far as I know I have no special plans to celebrate the 4th of July. I have no memory of what I did on that particular date last year.

Over the years of my Texas exile I have been to two Texas 4th of July Parades. Texas towns put on good parades. The first Texas 4th of July Parade that I got to witness was Arlington's. I believe this one is the biggest in the big state of Texas. It is quite a spectacle. I should muster the effort to go watch it on Sunday. Since Sunday is the 4th and we are big churchgoers here in the Buckle of the Bible Belt, I wonder if Arlington's parade is on Saturday?

Okay, I just looked it up. Arlington's 4th of July Parade is on Saturday, starting at 9am. The parade begins at West and Mitchell Streets, then turns north on to Pecan Street. Then west on UTA Boulevard, turning north on West Street, then north on to Abram Street, then south on Center Street, back west on Mitchell Street to Pecan Street, again, and then ends near Doug Russell Road.

The other Texas 4th of July Parade I've watched is the Granbury 4th of July Parade, which is also on Saturday, starting at 10am. The Granbury Chamber of Commerce website has info about Granbury's 4th of July events. I found the Granbury 4th of July Parade to be a lot of fun and very, very well done.

Interesting. A couple days ago I blogged about the Sedro Woolley Loggerodeo in my old home state of Washington. Loggerodeo has a big 4th of July parade. Washington is not in the Bible Belt. So, I was curious if the Loggerodeo Grand Parade is taking place on the 4th. Well, it is. The Grand Parade starts at 11am. Sunday, the 4th of July. I think 11am is before some church services end on Sunday, but it has been many years since I've been in a church, I may be remembering wrong.

The Lack Of Initiative In Texas

In Washington I was used to citizens taking Initiative. In Texas I don't think this is allowed.

The lack of Initiative in Texas came to mind this morning when I read the following....

OLYMPIA (AP) — It’s a busy week for initiative campaigns, which face a Friday deadline for turning in petitions.

Five campaigns have appointments to drop off their voter petitions with Secretary of State Sam Reed.

Initiative 1082, which would allow private workers’ comp insurance, turns in its petitions Wednesday. The campaign says it’s bringing about 340,000 signatures.

Campaigns need a minimum of about 241,000 valid voter signatures to get on the ballot.

Initiative 1098, an income tax on the rich, is scheduled to drop off signatures Thursday.

Three initiatives have Friday appointments: I-1053, which calls for a two-thirds vote to raise taxes; I-1105, privatizing retail liquor sales; and I-1107, which would roll back several recent tax increases.

I think the lack of any Initiative in Texas is part of what makes the elections here a bit on the boring side. As in if there was an Initiative to Legalize Casino Gambling in Texas, that might motivate some voter turnout. Or an Initiative to Control Eminent Domain Abuse. Or an Initiative to Legalize Marijuana.

Politically scientifically speaking, an Initiative is a means in which a petition is signed by a proscribed minimum number of registered voters, forcing a public vote on a proposed constitutional amendment, statute, ordinance or any number of other things. The concept of Citizen's Initiative is a form of direct democracy.

24 American states and Washington, D.C. have the Initiative form of direct democracy.

South Dakota led the way with the modern American system of Initiative and Referendum, adopting this form of direct democracy in 1898. Followed by Oregon in 1902. What was known as the "Oregon System" then spread to other states from the 1890s to the 1920s during what is known as the Progressive Era.

Apparently the Progressive Era did not progress to Texas. Although I do think on the city and local level there is some form of the Initiative method of direct democracy. I vaguely recollect some sort of petition attempt to stop the construction of Fort Worth's Convention Center Hotel.

I recollect no attempt by citizen's in Fort Worth to exercise direct democracy in the form of an Initiative Petition to force the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle to a vote.

I wonder if you can do an Initiative Petition to recall a conflicts of interest corrupted mayor in Fort Worth?

What excuse does Texas have for not having the Initiative/Referendum method of direct democracy, in this, the Greatest State in the Union?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It Has Been A Rainy Tuesday In Fort Worth With More Water On The Way

Rain dripped from above until after noon today. I don't think we've seen the last of the wet stuff. The forecast is for more wetness for the next 5 days.

Around 3 this afternoon I needed to escape from rubbing my fingertips sore on a keyboard.

So, I hiked over to Miss Puerto Rico's balcony to enjoy the slightly cool breeze and the view of the retreating storm.

Having said that. I just walked outside for a second. Wet stuff is falling again. Though not in copious amounts.

Texas in summer, in the past 2 days, has become like a Washington winter. Except warmer. But the rain seems way too familiar. Except here, in Texas, the rain falls with extreme prejudice in a volume I never saw in Washington.

Well, there was the Thanksgiving Flood in the 1990s. I remember 5 inches of rain falling within a couple hours in a Texas-style downpour. This wreaked all sorts of havoc of the flooding sort. Not flash floods. More massive than that.

In Texas you don't have snowmelt due to rising temperatures sending massive amounts of water into the rivers, because Texas removed its mountains years ago. I think around the time Texas removed its Native Americans. Mountains and Indians went to Oklahoma. I may be misinformed about this.

I remember during the Thanksgiving Flood staying up late sandbagging the dike in downtown Mount Vernon, to save the downtown. The crest of the flood was expected to breech the sandbags. A HUGE crowd gathered to wait for the crest.

Suddenly the river dropped a couple feet. It was a major what the hell moment. Within an hour it was known that a dike further down river had failed, flooding what is known as Fir Island. The release of pressure saved downtown Mount Vernon.

Massive efforts were made to repair the dike breech following the Thanksgiving Flood. And then 2 weeks later it happened again.

I sort of miss this type of weather drama. But, actually, Texas weather drama outdoes Washington weather drama, for the most part. The snow can get a bit more wicked there, it can get colder, Pacific typhoons can be a bit breezy, a Washington HEAT WAVE is a torture Texans can not imagine.

Because few people in Washington have air conditioning. Due to not needing it, except for a couple days a decade.

It has been a good last Tuesday of June 2010. Up late the night before, up before dawn's crack, learned that the Queen of Wink is okay, and hopefully safely back in Wink. And I went swimming in the rain this morning. Does not get much better than that.

My drippy forecast below....

The Queen Of Wink Was Lost But Now She Is Found With McDonald's Cheeseburgers


We can quit worrying. The Queen of Wink has been located.

Calling the Wink Police and asking them to do a welfare check was no solution to the Mystery of the Disappearance of the Queen of Wink.

If I did not suffer from slightly addled memory problems I might have realized there was no mystery to solve.

I'd forgotten that the Q of W had told me she'd dropped her phone into a watery grave, rendering it useless and she incommunicado. I'd forgotten as a consequence all stored numbers were lost. You would think a light bulb would have come on in my memory banks after getting the Queen's voice mail more than once.

And then there's me forgetting about the date of the Queen's San Antonio trip. I thought she was heading to SA in late July for a Top Secret Operation. Instead it was late June for the Top Secret Operation.

I was on my way to Wal-Mart this morning, driving in the heavy, hike-preventing rain, when I decided to call the Queen of Wink again. This time she answered. I told her I'd been worried sick. And then she hung up on me. Or the call was dropped.

With my number now available to her, the Queen of W called me back. It was during the course of the following conversation I learned she was heading west on Interstate 10, leaving San Antonio, after a successful Top Secret Operation, and heading back to her Wink Realm.

For some reason the Queen of Wink mentioned Cheeseburgers. Ever since then I've had me a craving for a Cheeseburger.

I am not too embarrassed to admit I like the basic, simple McDonald's Cheeseburger.

When I finished talking to the Queen I went into Wal-Mart where the first thing I come to is a McDonald's. I was sorely tempted, sorely tempted, I tell you, to get me a McDonald's Cheeseburger. It is a testament to the extreme strength of my willpower that I resisted the temptation.

For now.

I have not had a McDonald's Cheeseburger since the first week of 2009, when my mom and dad were here and we went to one of the World's Most Unique McDonald's, in Dallas.

A couple years ago I made a blog for a pair of poodles who have since run away. Those poodles liked McDonald's Cheeseburgers. On and on they'd go about their McDonald's Cheeseburgers.

Before the pair of Cheeseburger loving poodles ran away, I made a video of them trying to get a bite of a Cheeseburger from me. Now, when Betty Jo Bouvier. the Wild Woman of Woolley, saw this video she thought it was terribly mean to tease the hungry poodles in such a manner. Rest assured, in the end, they got their Cheeseburgers...

Up Before The Crack Of Dawn In Between Storms In Fort Worth

You are looking at the crack of dawn on the last Tuesday of June, from my bedroom balcony.

You would think you are looking at a blue sky, but you aren't.

For some photographic reason not understood by me, when I aimed the camera at the cloudy sky, with the sun just starting to light up the place, the picture turned out to be sort of black and blue.

The forecast is for more possible storming today.

Yesterday, early in the evening, about 7, it was raining hard. I thought the idea of going swimming in the rain sounded fun. And it was. Til the rain turned into heavy duty downpour mode. And then I started hearing thunder rumbling. Having been badly boomed by a ground zero lightning strike earlier in the day, I figured it was probably a good idea to get out of the stormy pool.

A rare thing happened last night. I stayed up til past midnight. I was afraid I was in for an insomnia night, but that didn't happen and, despite going to bed late, I got up before dawn cracked.

I have an inkling I am in for an interesting day. And don't ask me what's for lunch, because I don't know.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Good Fort Worth Thunderstorm For The Last Monday Of June

Well, the day may have dawned blue, but this afternoon my zone of Texas has turned very stormy.

It was 96 out there when I went hiking on the Tandy Hills around noon. Cloudy but HOT.

Around 3 I was over at Miss Puerto Rico's to fix something on her computer when the sky turned ominous and the thunder I'd been hearing booming in the distance got way closer.

I took a picture of angry sky from Miss PR's balcony and then headed back here.

The air felt charged with energy. And then the wind started up. I wandered around enjoying the incoming storm and then sat on a lounge chair by the pool to watch the storm.

And then the rain started up. I was under a tree so I was able to stay dry. For awhile.

I could feel the temperature dropping. It felt good. When I realized I was starting to get wet I decided it was time to take shelter.

When I opened my patio door to take a picture a flash of lightning exploded right in front of me, with the boom at the same time as the flash. I've only had this happen once before. It's a bit unsettling.

As you can see we have plummeted almost 24 degrees. The rain is now letting up.

This has been our 3rd Thunderstorm in 5 days. With more in the forecast for tomorrow.

It's been 20 minutes, at least, so I am assuming the close encounter lightning strike did not start a fire. Looking out my computer room window I can see a tree knocked over.

The only other "damage" that I've seen is my swimming suit was blown off the balcony to the ground below, to be rescued when it dries out.

Monday On The Tandy Hills Listening To Traffic Noise & Mating Cicadas

As you can see, looking west from the Tandy Hills at the stunning skyline of beautiful downtown Fort Worth, it is cloudy here this last Monday of June.

So far, no rain has dropped.

I enjoyed the hill hiking very much today. For the most part. For some reason, the noise from the I-30 freeway seemed way louder than it usually does.

Maybe the cloud cover was bouncing the traffic noise back to earth today. There are locations in the Tandy Hills where usually I hear only the sounds of nature being natural in the Tandy Hills Natural Area. But today I heard traffic noises all over the hills.

It's the mating season for cicadas. It was only during heavy duty outbreaks of the cicada mating noises that the traffic noise was blocked out today.

I was also serenaded by mating cicadas while I was in the pool this morning.

A new noise is now assaulting my eardrum. I hear thunder rumbling in the distance.

In Texas With Incoming Rain & Melting Ice Cream

You are looking out my computer room window at the dawn of the last Monday of June 2010.

As you can clearly see, it's the dawn of another beautiful day in Texas.

However, as Monday unfolds it may get a bit less beautiful, or even more beautiful, if your idea of a beautiful day is rain. As in there is a 50% chance of the wet stuff falling today. Supposedly.

Speaking of wet stuff falling. Sunday afternoon Miss Puerto Rico called me, desperate for my help. Miss PR had told a friend of ours that she'd deliver her a waffle cone from Braums. When I was told of the mission I thought it had amusement possibilities. I ended up being correct in that assumption.

The Braums drive through ordering was like something out of a sit-com, only more so. As in, if this was in a scripted TV show you'd think they were exaggerating it way too much.

Miss PR's accent is not very strong. She clearly said "A waffle cone with vanilla and chocolate."

The Braums person said "One Coke with hot fudge?"

Miss PR said no, then repeated her order.

The Braums person then said, "You want 2 small cones, one vanilla, one chocolate?"

Again Miss PR corrected the order and again the Braums person would get it wrong. We went through 5 cycles of this, both me and Miss PR were cracking up. I then, really loudly and really clearly, and with no accent, said, "we want 1 waffle cone with vanilla & chocolate."

That'll be $2.15 at the window, the Braums person then said.

With the waffle cone securely in my hands we were now in a rush to deliver it. Did I mention we were in Miss PR's air conditioner-less jeep? At almost 100 degrees. Within 10 seconds the ice cream began to drip. Miss PR called the ice cream recipient to tell her to be outside ready to accept the melting ice cream in about 20 seconds.

The ice cream cone successfully changed hands and I was not rendered too sticky by the ordeal.

I suffered through way too much Miss Puerto Rico drama over the weekend.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

At Oakland Lake Park With Mental Confusions & Problems With Out Of Control Mice

I was in no mood for heavy duty hill hiking today, due to a variety of reasons, the least of which isn't the fact that I've got my feet aching, well, more accurately, aching by feeling like they are burning.

I've no clue what is causing the burning sensation. I am fairly certain I've not walked barefoot through a jalapeno patch.

But, I needed to get out of here and breathe what passes for fresh air in this polluted part of Texas in which I live.

So, I went to Oakland Lake Park to walk around Fosdic Lake. Now, can you tell that the picture of the Oakland Lake Park sign was not taken today? Note that the trees are devoid of leaves.

I forgot to take my camera with me. This forgetfulness concerns me. Last night I forgot to bring my camera over to Miss Puerto Rico's, missing out on a good photo opportunity.

Had I had my camera with me today I would have taken pictures of the beaches that have emerged on Oakland Lake Park, due to the lake shrinking.

Switch of subject back to my mental malfunctions. I mainly use my laptop computer rather than my desktop version. This I do because the laptop can run two monitors. This is very convenient when one is a major multi-tasker such a myself.

Long ago I bought a wireless mouse to use with the laptop. At some point in time I got a USB mouse to use with laptop, because I had it in my head that the wireless mouse wasn't working. So, I went to Target and got the USB mouse.

Awhile back the USB mouse started acting real screwy, so I went to Target and bought another.

And then a couple days ago the second USB mouse started causing problems. Lots of problems. It was being real frustrating.

So, not remembering what I thought was wrong with my laptop wireless mouse, I plugged in its USB receiver and turned on the wireless mouse. I was surprised to see the mouse light up. I thought I remembered it quit doing that. And then I was pleased to find that the wireless mouse is working just fine.

Now, I'm thinking that me thinking that the wireless mouse was broken was the result of one of my overly vivid dreams, or possibly a sleepwalking episode.

I've long known I have to test a premise, that seems surprising, to make sure what I'm thinking is reality based.

So, I've wasted I don't know how many dollars buying mice I don't need.

And my feet continue to burn. And with all these woes plaguing me, my therapist, Dr. L.C., is currently not attending to my various needs.

The Mystery Of The Missing Queen Of Wink

Have you seen these Eyes in Texas? They belong to the Queen of Wink.

The Queen of Wink has gone missing. The last I heard from the Queen was a text message on my phone. Sent from a Doctor's Office.

Last weekend the annual Roy Orbison Festival took place in Wink. There has been no report on the festival on the Queen of Wink's blog.

Some have speculated that maybe the Queen of Wink is despondent over not winning this year's Pretty Woman contest at the Roy Orbison Festival. I highly doubt this would cause any despondency in the Queen of Wink due to she being Wink's most well known pretty woman, even though not this year's official Roy Orbison Pretty Woman.

The Queen of Wink has also gone missing from Facebook. I think the last I have seen of her on Facebook was mentioning looking forward to going to a possibly Mafia run Italian run restaurant. I don't know where this restaurant is located, likely Midland or Odessa. I don't think Wink has an Italian restaurant.

I've emailed the Queen of Wink and called. To no avail. I would send a text message, but I don't know how to do that.

If the Mystery of the Missing Queen of Wink does not resolve itself in the next 24 hours, I think I'll call the Wink Police and ask them to do a welfare check, or whatever you call it when the police go check on someone.

The Mystery of the Missing Queen of Wink is very perplexing.

Sunday Morning Looking Out My Computer Room Window & Thinking About Last Night's Fight At Miss Puerto Rico's

You are looking at the last Sunday of June view from my computer room window, looking out at my bedroom balcony.

As you can see, it is a blue sky Sunday. Currently, at 9:48:25 it is 84.3, heading into the high 90s. We have yet to have a 100 degree day this summer in my zone of Texas.

I don't know why, because it has not been cooler, but my pool water was refreshingly cooler this morning. Or so it seemed.

Last night I was over at Miss Puerto Rico's. The view from her balcony reliably provides entertainment, particularly on Saturday night, as humanity in various forms passes by on various forms of transportation. Including walking.

We witnessed a rather heated confrontation between a guy, who was being very stylish by wearing his pants down below his underwear, and a plus-sized gal who did not seem to have sufficient material to cover her assets properly.

After about 10 minutes of hollering and shoving a Fort Worth police cruiser cruised by and stopped. The officer calmed the combatants and then continued on his way. I did not have my camera with me, which is very rare, so I could not photo document the droopy drawer and floopy boob fight.

I don't know if I'm going to go get aerobic on hills today. Swimming for an hour seems to provide a bit of an endorphin fix.

I'm making Chinese food for lunch today. A stir fry of turkey, red peppers, broccoli, onion, garlic, celery, cabbage, ginger and duck sauce, with spring rolls and brown rice. Lunch will be around 1. Don't be late.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

HOT Hill Hiking & Fort Worth Train Traffic Vexations

It was 95 when I hit the Tandy Hills sometime around 3 this afternoon. A breeze was busy blowing so it did not feel too HOT.

And those big, puffy, cotton ball clouds took turns blocking the sun, which brought some HEAT relief.

I only hill hiked for about 45 minutes. When I had had enough I headed to the Beach Street Wal-Mart Supercenter. When I was stopped at the Randol Mill Road light, by Town Talk, I saw a slow moving freight train was blocking access to Wal-Mart.

So, I figured I'd go stand in the Town Talk cooler and maybe find something new, even though I was at Town Talk yesterday. Well, I found nothing new. I did cool off, and then left.

The train was still blocking Beach Street.

I did not want to get stuck in a train jam, and I needed to be at a particular location by 4:30. So, I headed back south on Beach Street and headed to an alternative Wal-Mart on Meadowbrook.

Now, what's bugging me right now is how can a large city, like Fort Worth, population over 700,000, allow trains to block major roads? Why are there not overpasses, or underpasses? Arlington is worse when a train comes through town.

The little town I lived in in Washington, Mount Vernon, had train tracks running north and south through town. And there were some roads that were blocked by the trains. But, Mount Vernon had at least 2, maybe 3, non-blocked alternatives, as in roads that went over the railroad tracks. And maybe one that went under, if I remember right.

I can't think of ever being stopped by a train in Seattle. I know a large part of the Seattle train tracks are underground in a tunnel, thus creating no traffic problems. You can get stopped by a train along the Tacoma waterfront, but, like Seattle, and unlike Fort Worth, there are ways around the train, overpasses and underpasses. And bridges.

I know part of the problem, here in Fort Worth. And Arlington, is the railroad tracks and roads were put in place long before so many people clogged up the place. And infrastructure adjustments have not kept pace with the population growth. So, freight trains slowly make their way across the Dallas/Fort Worth zone, wreaking havoc with the flow of traffic.

With the locals, apparently not realizing it doesn't have to be this way.

It's very perplexing.

Snorkeling Topless in Austin's Barton Springs Pool

No. That is not me snorkeling in my swimming pool. The snorkeling took place down in Austin, in Zilker Park's Barton Springs Pool.

Barton Springs is a man-enhanced natural springs. In the 1920s Austin dammed the springs to create a bigger swimming hole. And added sidewalks and other park-like features.

In the 1940s a bathhouse was added.

You can go swimming in Barton Springs Pool all year long. Just like my pool. Only Barton Springs stays warmer. The temperature ranges from 68 in winter to almost 72 in summer.

Admission is free from November til the Ides of March. A fee, ranging from $1 to $3, is charged from mid March til October. Barton Springs is open from 5am til 10pm. The admission fee starts getting charged at 8am. That gives early birds 3 hours to swim before paying that big entry fee.

On Thursdays Barton Springs Pool closes from 9am til 7pm for cleaning. Once a year Barton Springs is closed for several weeks with the floodgates fully opened so the pool totally drains for heavy duty cleaning.

Barton Springs closes during heavy rain due to Barton Creek being prone to flooding and overflowing the diversion dam.

Barton Springs, in addition to swimming and snorkeling, also provides a nice sunbathing zone on the green slopes that surround the Springs. And, with it being in liberal, free-spirited Austin, topless sunbathing is permitted for both genders.

You'll need to go to another Austin location, Hippie Hollow if you feel the need to go both topless and bottomless.

Watch the YouTube video below to see what it is like to go snorkeling in Barton Springs. Notice the big eel that is snorkeling with you in Barton Springs Pool...

A Bright Texas Saturday Morning Walking With My Neighborhood Lizards

This morning my right knee felt the need to go on a nice, easy walk. So, I decided to do something I've rarely done.

As in, take a walk around my neighborhood.

I saw some wildlife. One of which was a little Chihuahua. It was a cute Chihuahua. It looked like that Chihuahua who recently won an Ugliest Dog in the World Contest, in a total travesty.

A short time after seeing the cute Chihuahua I came upon an equally cute pair of lizards. The two lizards were about 3 feet apart, facing each other on the trunk of the tree you see in the picture.

I don't know if this was some sort of territorial facedown. Or a mating ritual. I watched the 2 lizards for about 5 minutes and then gave up waiting for something to happen.

I have seen more lizards of various sizes this year than all my previous years in Texas. Do lizards thrive on the increase in air pollution?

There is a slight plague of wild plum trees in my neighborhood. I have seen locals picking the plums. Apparently they make good jam. But, it seems most of the plums end up on the ground, making for some careful walking to avoid getting shoes stuck with sticky stuff.

It's noon. Time to make some lemonade, BBQ some burgers, mash some spuds and cut up some watermelon.

Saturday Morning Looking At Me From My Computer Room Window Swimming

You are looking at the Saturday morning zoomed view from my computer room window of me getting wet in the pool.

We are back with completely clear of clouds blue sky again, after Thursday's and Friday's thunderstorms.

I pooled for over an hour this morning. It's a pleasant way to start the day.

I'm wandering around taking pictures of a construction project this morning.

I'll be wandering around the Tandy Hills, today, late in the afternoon. That's my current plan. Subject to change.

BBQed burgers, garlic mashed spuds and watermelon is on the menu for lunch. Don't be late. The burgers will quickly be gone.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Afternoon Texas Thunder Booming

Around 3, this afternoon, thunder started booming again.

Last night's thunderstorm was the first in a long time. I don't remember the last time I heard Texas thunder boom two days in a row.

Due to a lot of trees, I do not have a very wide view of an incoming storm from inside my abode.

So, when the thunder started booming I went over to Miss Puerto Rico's balcony, hoping to get a picture of a lightning bolt.

But, while I continued to hear thunder booming, I saw no bolts. After about 10 minutes I gave up the hunt for an elusive lightning bolt.

But, as you can see from the view from Miss Puerto Rico's balcony, the sky was in stormy mode.

Now, an hour and a half later, coming up on 5, calm has returned. For now.

Quanah Parker Park Big Oak Tree & Homeless Shelter

The sky started to drip as soon as I got out of here, intending to go to Oakland Lake Park to walk around Fosdic Lake. And then on to Town Talk.

Instead I went to Quanah Parker Park which is on Randol Mill Road, which is the same road Town Talk is on.

The dripping at Quanah Parker Park was significant enough to have caused unwanted wetness. I walked through the drips til I got under a big oak tree.

I'd not paid attention to the Quanah Parker Park big oak trees before. They must be the Texas equivalent of Old Growth trees.

With the old growth oaks likely born well before Quanah Parker was born to his Anglo mom, Cynthia Ann Parker, who'd been kidnapped by the Comanche when she was 9, eventually becoming one with the tribe and hooking up with the Comanche chief Peta Nocona, then giving birth to Quanah, who became the last great Comanche chief.

And a major legend in these parts, with all sorts of places named after him, like Quanah Parker Park and Parker County, where July 10 the Parker County Peach Festival will take place. After he helped settle the Comanche people on the Kiowa/Comanche/Apache Reservation in what is now Oklahoma, Quanah Parker became a wealthy rancher, often visiting Fort Worth to conduct business. He had 5 wives and 25 children. Many Texans and Oklahomans claim to be related to Quanah Parker.

I saw something troubling at Quanah Parker Park today. A hapless soul was using the covered picnic area as a homeless shelter. At least that was the assumption I made.

It's time for lunch now. I made an Eggplant casserole type thing with Parmesan and Mozzarella. With oven-fried chicken breast and watermelon.

I'm hungry. Talk to you later.

A Cloudy Friday Morning In Texas With Tattoos

You are looking at the Friday morning view from my computer room window. The morning view does not look all that much different from last night's thunderstorm view, but it is not storming this morning, cloudy, but not storming.

And only 79 degrees. Brrrr. Not quite cold enough to light up the furnace. I do not remember opening windows this time of year in my previous Texas summers.

It is not currently raining, but the forecast is for a 30% chance of some more thunder and precipitation. It likely won't happen. Yesterday's storm was not in the forecast.

Betty Jo Bouvier, she being the Wild Woman of Woolley with badly burned hair, is currently in San Francisco consuming Rice-a-Roni and Jello. I do not know if this is related to the burned hair.

Another Washington friend of mine has really gone off the deep end. By deep end I mean out of character behavior. I shan't name this individual, but I will tell you what she did and is doing. She painted her nails black. Now, that really is not all that deep endish. But, after the nails went black she got several tattoos.

I am not a fan of tattoos.

And what is the reason for this Wild Girl stuff? Well, the now tattooed, black nailed Washington girl is taking off on a 4 day Harley trip. Yes, that is correct, the tattooed, black nailed, leather wearing Wild Girl is a Biker Chick. Riding with a gang of other Harley riders.

Speaking of walking on the wild side, I don't know where I'm going to get my endorphin fix today. Last night's rain may have muddied up the Tandy Hills. Then again, the hills were so parched they likely were able to swallow up a lot of water. I guess I'll find out.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Thunder Is Rolling Thursday Night In Fort Worth!

That is the Thursday at 7 in the early evening view from my computer room window. You can not hear it, due to my picture taking skills not including audio ability, but right now Thunder is Rolling.


Real LOUD.

It is raining hard with a bit of hail tossed in the mix.

And windy.

This was totally not predicted by our weather predictors. And WeatherBug is silent. Worthless. I need to remove WeatherBug from my computer.

Today, at noon, looking north, from Arlington, I could see a heavy rain squall in the distance, creating a strange vertical line in the sky. So, I knew rain was possible today.

But. What is happening out there right now is a drenching. A major downpour. The first in a long, long time.

I turned off the A/C and opened my windows. I'm loving the noise and the smell of the rain. And the loud booms of the thunder.

The rain is coming down in sheets now.

I must go now, and prepare to batten down the hatches.

Getting Wrapped Up In Spider Webs At River Legacy Park In Arlington

You are looking at a fork in the mountain bike trail in River Legacy Park, today, a short time after noon.

I had not been to River Legacy in a long time. I don't think I've ever seen the trails in such good shape.

I managed to get a bit lost in one of the new "challenging" sections. The River Legacy mountain bike trails have become a bit of a maze, as the miles of trails have grown, with the most maze-like being the new "challenging section."

It took me about a half hour of going up and down steep little hills and going the wrong way at junctions, before I made my way back to the main trail. By then I was a super sweaty mess. Who had forgotten his water bottle.

I saw no animals of the mammal or reptile sort today. No armadillos, no snakes, no boars, not even a squirrel. I've never seen River Legacy critter free before.

But, I did see a lot of spiders. And a lot of the spiders had made webs across the trail. I've never seen so much spider webbing before. In some spots the spider webs made trees look white. I've not seen this out of control spider webbing phenomenon before.

What with absence of critters and the over population of spiders it causes me to wonder if the eco-system at River Legacy has gone awry.

Is Carter Avenue Saved? TxDOT Submits Notice Of Proposed Highway Right Of Way Natural Gas Pipeline Installation

This morning Fort Worth's Lone Ranger, Steve Doeung contacted his Band of Bloggers to inform the Band of Bloggers that TxDOT has moved ahead on its plan to allow Chesapeake Energy to run a non-odorized natural gas pipeline on a route that does not run under homes.

Steve Doeung has been battling the City of Fort Worth and Chesapeake Energy for a long time now, trying to save Carter Avenue from having a possibly explosive pipeline run under their homes.

The legitimacy of Steve Doeung's objection to this threatened violation of his security was recently validated by a fatal natural gas pipeline explosion last month down by Granbury.

Steve is of the opinion that it is time to celebrate. Below is Steve Doeung's message to the Band of Bloggers. And you....

Hey Band of Bloggers:

I'm sending you what I finally got from TxDOT.

I ran this alternative plan by a couple of different pros in two different states who know about the subject and they both said that it looks legit and show serious intention of constructing. One of the consultants, who is an industry insider, warned that with these companies "you never know if they will follow through on their commitment".

Please note that, its a large easement but only one 8-inch pipeline, which is 1/2 the size (and 1/3 the original size they wanted) of the pipelines that CTK wanted to place under front yards. It appears that an 8-inch pipeline is adequate. Or is this the largest/most risk that TxDOT is willing to allow in their right-of-way?

I'm not sure if this is the so called "final approval" announced by councilwoman Kathleen Hicks on 04/30/10 or not. In any event, her office had ignored my and a few other citizens' requests for more details about CTK's plan that had allegedly been submitted to TxDOT starting in 12/09. CTK's silence is also perplexing.

So, this is the ONLY detailed document (and verification that CTK actually submitted a design plan) that I am aware of that a citizen has seen. Of course, the Startlegram and other media outlets had no interest in pursuing such basic journalistic follow up details as this.

What would you think about my planning a community-wide event to celebrate this victory and to share this information with the public? It would be fun, inform the community (hopefully media will be forced to cover this denouement of the Carter Ave. saga---the scandal part is to come), and force CTK to follow through with this plan. Ideas?

Thanks again for the crucial roles that each of you have played in this battle. WE deserve a celebration, one which THEY apparently DO NOT want to see happen (thus the silence ?)

Steve Doeung

Another HOT Texas Thursday With Fuzzy's Tacos & No Peptomobile Taking Me To TCEQ Meeting

You can see looking out my computer room window that the sun is starting to shine a light on the darkness, this Thursday morning, with it already 83, without the sun providing HEAT.

Is today going to be the first day of summer to hit 100 in my zone of Texas?

I mentioned yesterday that I got attacked by a vicious biting bug on the Tandy Hills whilst doing some late in the Wednesday afternoon hiking. This morning the bug bite is very red and does not look good. But it is not sore, does not itch. I've not had a bug bite like this before.

I will not be exposing myself to any vicious Tandy Hills bugs today. Instead of heading west, around noon, I'll be heading east, to Arlington, to get a vehicle license sticker, walk around Veterans Park and go to Arlington's Chinatown to get some Asian goodies, like Sweet Chili Sauce.

Tonight I may be going back to Arlington to Fuzzy's Tacos at 510 East Abram Street (very close to where I'm getting a license sticker today) at 6:00 for tacos and adult beverages before heading 3 blocks west to Arlington's City Hall to watch TCEQ squirm while hearing citizen input regarding TCEQ's ineptness in addressing the pollution problems plaguing the Dallas/Fort Worth zone.

Arlington's City Council Chambers is located at 101 West Abram Street. The meeting lasts from 7pm til 9pm.

I do not know if Elsie Hotpepper is going to the TCEQ meeting and Fuzzy's Tacos. I do know I won't be relying on the Elsie Peptomobile to transport me there, due to the Peptomobile's unreliability.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

HOT Tandy Hills Hiking With A Bad Bug Bite & Being Thankful For Being Thoughtful

You are looking north on the newly refurbished, courtesy of the Fort Worth Water Department, Tandy Highway, deep in the Emerald Forest of the Tandy Hills, about 4, on this Wednesday, 3rd day of summer, afternoon.

When I hit the hills it was 99 degrees with a Heat Index of 103, not a lot of wind.

I got to the Tandy Hills at half past 3. I desperately needed an aerobic endorphin fix. I hill hiked for over an hour.

Today, whilst hiking in the HEAT, it occurred to me that it would be a real good thing if shaded sitting opportunities were randomly available in various locations in the Tandy Hills Natural Area Sanatorium.

During all the years of my Texas exile I don't recollect getting a single bug bite. In Washington no spring or summer passed without multiple mosquito bites. And mountain hiking in Washington required heavy doses of bug spray or you'd find yourself badly bug bitten.

Well, today I got a rare Texas bug bite. On the back of my right hand. I did not feel it when I got bit, but noticed it soon after I exited the hills. I can see where the bug's stinger poked a hole. Around the hole there is a quarter inch circle of redness. It seems to be getting redder and bigger. It does not itch or sting.

On a non bug bite related totally different subject. This morning I got an email from my Big Sister. She thanked me for being thoughtful. It made me feel good that she thanked me for being thoughtful. Thanking me for being thoughtful is the first nice thing I recollect my Big Sister saying to me for at least 4 years.

It is weird how a little thing, like being thanked for being thoughtful, can put me in a good mood.

If you don't hear from me in the morning, blog-wise, it likely means this bug bite was more serious than I think it is now...

Out In The Almost 100 Degree HEAT Getting A Seedless Texas Watermelon

98.1 at about 10 minutes til 3. Heat Index of 105. Yes, it is HOT.

I have been out in it very little today. Well, there was that hour in the pool this morning, but it was only in the 80s then.

I went north to Southlake around noon. Went to Sprouts Farmers Market. I don't think I'd been to Sprouts since ALDI opened.

I got myself a big locally grown seedless Texas watermelon at Sprouts.

After Sprouts I headed back south, down Precinct Line Road, to ALDI. Not very many customers at the Hurst ALDI. Is ALDI not catching on here? I like it. I wish one was closer to where I live.

By the time I left ALDI a nearby bank's temperature sign said it was 99. Those type signs seem frequently inaccurate.

To you who live in cooler climates I'll tell you one survival technique I've learned to use to work around the HEAT.

If it is almost 100 degrees it makes it a bit difficult to buy anything frozen or in need of refrigeration, if you are going to be making multiple stops with the vehicle's A/C not running.

To deal with this problem I have a big cooler. This works well. I make it back here with the frozen stuff still frozen and the cold stuff still cold.

Well, I am out of here in a bit. Heading to the Tandy Hills. That should be interesting. It is not being as windy as I wish it would be.

A Bumper Peach Year In Texas

A couple days ago I blogged about the upcoming, July 10, Parker County Peach Festival.

In that blogging I said I had not heard if this was being a good year for peaches, in Texas, or not.

Well, I have now learned that Texas extension agents and peach growers are predicting a record peach harvest, possibly the best since 1982.

Last year's freeze in late spring and hail damage ruined the peach crop.

This year's extra cold winter is just what the peach trees needed to get them being extra bountiful.

Peaches are grown in other counties in Texas besides Parker County. Hill County, for instance, where Jamey Vogel, who owns a peach orchard, says "We've got the makings of a tremendous crop."

Parker County extension agent, Jon Green, agrees with that sentiment, with Parker County also having a bumper peach year.

The best of the peach picking runs from June 15 through July 25. I've got myself a real strong hankering from some fresh peaches.

Another HOT Summer Wednesday In North Texas

You are looking at the Wednesday morning view from my computer room window. Of late each day's morning view is pretty much the same as the day before, except for yesterday, when I was up well before the sun was.

It is not yet 10 in the morning and it's already 88 with a Heat Index of 92, heading to a predicted high, again, of 100. Maybe today we'll hit the century mark. We didn't hit the predicted 100 yesterday.

Tomorrow we get some HEAT relief with the forecast high being only 98. With a cloud or two. Currently there is no chance of rain in the foreseeable future.

Last summer we stayed fairly green here in my zone of North Texas. We are currently only 2 days into summer and it is already browner than it got last summer. Grass has trouble staying green in the Texas heat.

I was pre-occupied til well into the afternoon yesterday. So, I did not get my endorphin hill hiking fix. That made 2 days in a row of withdrawal from aerobic stimulation.

Today I have to be in Hurst in the noon time frame. The earliest I could hit the hills today will be around 3. By then the air should be rather HOT. If there is no wind blowing, like the semi-dead calm of yesterday, I may bail on hill hiking for the 3rd day in a row.

I am already beginning to deteriorate from the lack of exercise. I may be mis-diagnosing my deterioration. I did spend almost an hour in the pool this morning.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fort Worth & Seattle: A Tale Of Two City's City Councils

You are looking at the skyline of downtown Seattle. That body of water is not a town lake, it is Elliott Bay. Elliott Bay is part of Puget Sound. Puget Sound is part of the Pacific Ocean.

Those big white boats are called ferry boats. Because they ferry cars and people to various locations on Puget Sound.

Where the ferry boats dock is called the Seattle Waterfront. Hovering above the Seattle Waterfront is this thing called the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a double decker elevated highway, that is obsolete, dangerous, a noisy eyesore and about to be replaced by a deep bore tunnel.

For the deep bore tunnel to work a new Elliott Bay Seawall must be built. The sea wall holds back the sea, sort of like an underground dike.

Now, here in Fort Worth, we have a water control project known as the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle. Spending around a $1 billion to build a little lake, an unneeded flood control diversion channel, 3 bridges and, maybe, some canals.

The citizens of Fort Worth have not been allowed to vote on the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

Now, contrast that with the following taken from the Seattle P-I, regarding the replacement of the aforementioned Elliott Bay Seawall....

"The Seattle City Council could hold off until 2011 before asking voters to approve a bond measure or levy to finance construction of a new Elliott Bay Seawall, according to a briefing Monday.

Replacing the seawall is a large piece of the $841 million in projects the city has agreed to complete as part of the $4.2 billion plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bore tunnel.

Mayor Mike McGinn has proposed a 30-year $235 million bond measure, which he wants to send to voters in November.

According to a City Council staff report, the council could hold off on a decision for the bulk of seawall financing until 2011. Seawall construction is expected to start in 2013 and finish in 2015. A preferred design isn't expected to be chosen until 2011.

The council's special committee on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement also was presented Monday with two more potential financing packages for the seawall and other work related to the viaduct replacement. Altogether, the city must come up with $302 million in "unsecured funding," meaning the council must create new taxes to pay for it."

What a contrast with the Fort Worth City Council, which spends its time debating things like giving handouts to corporate failures, like RadioShack. And other nonsense.

Up Before The Sun Thinking About Sundance Square Parking Lots

You are looking at the view from my computer room window a few minutes before the sun arrived to light up the sky and the ground beneath.

Even though the sun had not yet arrived it was already 81 degrees out there.

I think today we may make it over 100. 81 degrees before the sun arrives would seem to give the sun a head start on making it really HOT here today.

Yesterday was my weekly scheduled sabbatical from salubrious aerobic endorphin-inducing hiking. Endorphin withdrawal did not make me too grumpy yesterday. But, I need to hyper oxygenate my blood today or I fear bad things will start to happen.

Overnight Fort Worth's Sundance Square parking lots managed to spark controversy with someone named Doohickie suggesting that Steve A's rantings on the subject are paranoid. And Doohickie denies being either me or Tracy Gilmore. This confuses me greatly.

I didn't find Steve A's rantings particularly paranoid. But, I have to admit, I am not the most perceptive person on the planet.

Regardless of my level of perceptiveness, Sundance Square and its parking lots continue to be perplexing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fort Worth's Sundance Square Parking Lots

This afternoon I was reading Steve A's DFW Point to Point blogging, Sweet Homebound Tailwind. Steve A made mention of the collection of downtown Fort Worth parking lots known, collectively, by many, as Sundance Square.

I then commented on Steve A's blogging, verbalizing my appreciation that someone else noticed that there is no square in Sundance Square, with the closest thing to a square being the collection of parking lots.

Now, it is very unusual in a large city's downtown for land to be used for parking lots. Usually a downtown city's land finds much higher value uses. Than parking lots.

Within a very short time of me commenting on Steve A's blog I got an email from the Marketing Director of Sundance Square, Tracy Gilmour. Tracy Gilmour kindly tried to alleviate me of my Sundance Square ignorance by telling me that Sundance Square is 35 blocks of downtown Fort Worth, with a lot of buildings being restored to their former glory and awards being given for this effort.

Well, that's nice. But, the thing is, a lot of towns have an area they call their town square. It often goes by other names, like Seattle has Westlake Center. Westlake Center is a town square.

Fort Worth has no town square. The closest thing to a town square is the parking lots across from the Reata, the Bass Performance Hall, Flying Saucer Emporium and Barnes and Noble.

If you are going to put up signs pointing people to something called "Sundance Square" you really should have something that is a town square. Without such a thing one defaults to the only thing that resembles a square, that being the downtown Fort Worth parking lots.

Maybe downtown Fort Worth should actually turn one of the parking lots into a town square and call it Sundance Square and re-name the current development project, now known as Sundance Square, to something like Sundance Downtown Re-Development Project.

It's good marketing to accurately label things.

Below is the email from Tracy Gilmour, subject line, "I have seen you post about Sundance Square before."

I would really like to give you some correct information about Sundance Square. We own 35 blocks of downtown Fort Worth. The development is entirely privately owned, not subsidized in any way by the City of Fort Worth. It was named after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. SSQ is a collection of both new and very old buildings. Much care has been taken in restoring the buildings back to the original such as the Knights of Pythias Hall at the corner of 3rd and Main. The Building which houses the Flying Saucer at 4th and Commerce is one of the oldest in Sundance.

On Main Street we are restoring the Jarvis building front back to as close as we can to an original front. This building is considered the oldest building on Main Street. We have over 50 buldings in Sundance so it’s much more than a collection of parking lots. We are proud of the awards we have one, especially the award of excellence we received earlier this year from the Urban Land Institute. I know you like to comment on all aspects of your experiences so maybe this will give you more to write about. If you will review the write ups on it will give you a very brief summary of each building.

Sundance Square encompasses property from 2nd to 5th streets and from Lamar to Elm that is an approximate boundary as our boundaries are made up of the buildings we own.

Escaping Noise By Spending The Summer Solstice Afternoon At Miss Puerto Rico's

You are on Miss Puerto Rico's balcony, looking east, towards Dallas, on this first day of summer of 2010.

I believe the Summer Solstice occurred at something like 6:23 this morning. With the sun beginning its relentless march towards shorter days and winter.

I was in the pool, busy swimming, when the sun decided to head south. The thermometer in the pool, this morning, claimed the water temperature was 86. The air was 81.

In other words, we are at that time of the year when the water in the pool is not all that refreshing, in the cool you off department. But a shower using only cold water, now that is still a bit refreshing, though that water is getting warmer too.

The reason I am over at Miss Puerto Rico's, this afternoon, is because the noise from painter's power washing was getting on my nerves. It is really easy to get on my nerves.

So, I hauled my laptop over to Miss Puerto Rico's DSL connection. It may be really quiet here, but her computer chair is very uncomfortable. And her high maintenance cat, Tasha the Nazi, resents my presence. She likes to spend her day sleeping on this computer chair. So, I am being subjected to a lot of loud, scolding meows. And a few vicious hisses. So far the monster has not attacked me.

Today Tootsie Tonasket proposed that I become her houseboy. I don't see that happening. It would be way too much culture shock, going from the wilds of Texas to the wilds of remote Eastern Washington. Though the hill hiking out Tootsie's backdoor would be nice.

The Queen of Wink remains missing. Last I heard from the Queen was her announcement that she was conducting a Yoga Demonstration in downtown Wink on Friday morning. I worry that a Yoga Demonstration in downtown Wink might be an arrestable offense in West Texas.

The high today is still predicted to be 100. But I don't see that happening. It is past 4 and currently only 96.7, according to WeatherBug, with the Heat Index making it feel like 99.

Tomorrow is predicted to hit 100, too. And then a cold front moves in, lowering the high to 98 on Wednesday. Brrrr.

The Parker County Peach Festival Is July 10

The Parker County Peach Festival, surrounding the Parker County Courthouse Square, in Weatherford, is one of the biggest festivals I've been to in Texas. The only ones bigger, that I can think of, are Canton's First Monday Trade Days and the Fort Worth Main Street Arts Festival.

There is one thing that makes the Parker County Peach Festival different than any other Texas festival, that I know of, and that difference is that the Peach Festival lasts only one day.

Not Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, just one day. Saturday, July 10. This enormous sprawling festival goes to the bother of setting up for only one day.

Why? I don't know.

I found out the Parker County Peach Festival was a one day deal several years ago when I went to Weatherford on a Sunday, thinking I'd go to the Peach Festival. Only to find the Peach Festival was already history. I ended up at Weatherford's Iron Skillet Truck Stop's buffet. It's a fun buffet. I don't remember if peach cobbler was among the desserts.

If you are within driving distance of the Parker County Peach Festival and you've not previously experienced the peaches, well, it's worth the drive.

Admission is $5 for adults. Kids under 12 are free. The Parker County Peach Festival is open from 8 am til 5 pm.

To get to the Parker County Peach Festival take Interstate 20 to exits 406, 408 or 409. Follow the signs to multiple parking lots with free shuttles to take you to the Peach Festival.

The parking lots are at the First Monday Trade Days grounds, Weatherford College, Weatherford 9th Grade Center (old Weatherford High School) and Hall Middle School.

A Handicap Shuttle is available at the Weatherford 9th Grade Center and Handicap Parking is available at the Palo Pinto entrance to the festival.

I do not know if this is being a good year for Parker County Peaches. Bumper crop, or not, you'll find peaches for sale in various forms at the Parker County Peach Festival. Boxes of fresh peaches, peach julep, peach cobbler, peach ice cream, all sorts of peach stuff.

The Parker County Peach Festival is the first summer event I attended in Texas where I saw the mister method of cooling used, as in there are several walk through misters to help cool you down.

I'm hoping to make it to the Parker County Peach Festival this year. If the forecast is something less than 100 degrees.

Summer Is Here With The Longest Day Of The Year

You are looking south from my balcony patio, early in the morning, in Texas, on this, the longest day of the year. The Summer Solstice, June 21.

Tonight the sun will set in my zone of Texas at 8:21.

If I were in Seattle tonight I'd see the sun set at 9:11.

Here, in Texas, when the sun sets, it quickly gets dark. Further north, like in Seattle. Or Juneau. When the sun sets the light seems to linger. There likely is some astronomic explanation for this.

Monday is my therapist prescribed no hill hiking day. So, there will be no hill hiking for me today. I'm hoping this does not make me grumpy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Durango Blues Late Bloomer Tandy Hills Wildflower & Bratwurst

It is less than a day until the Summer Solstice. Even so, wildflowers are still coloring up the Texas prairie and the Tandy Hills.

Though in diminished numbers.

In the past couple days a new wildflower has shown up, it being, like myself, a late bloomer. I have seen this wildflower in only one location on the Tandy Hills, with maybe 10 separate plants in a small area, with 2 foot, give or take an inch, stalks, with clusters of blue blooms.

Until corrected, with the correct name, I am calling this wildflower the Durango Blues Late Bloomer Wildflower.

It was in the 90s when I hit the hills today, much earlier and cooler than yesterday. A good breeze was blowing. Quite pleasant. I am currently consuming 3 large bottles of water during these ordeals. I think I'll up the dose to 4 bottles.

I called my dad at the start of hiking to do the Happy Father's Day thing. I got the answering machine message where my dad is being a poet, "We are not available to talk on the phone, please wait for the tone and leave a message." Or something like that.

After my German lunch of Bratwurst and Kraut I decided a rare afternoon swim, and lounging in the sun, seemed like a good idea. And it was.

But, now I'm sort of feeling a bit worn out.

So, I think I'll walk over to Albertson's and buy a chicken. That seems like the sensible thing to do in my worn out condition.

A HOT Father's Day in Texas With HOT Coffee

It is Father's Day, Sunday morning and you are looking out my computer room window at me drinking coffee and reading the paper, out on my new bedroom balcony patio, soon after the sun lit up the place this morning and prior to having myself a really long swim.

It is now almost 10 in the morning and currently 85 with a Heat Index of 88. I wish the heat would finally burn off the humidity so we can get rid of that vexing Heat Index annoyance making it feel HOTTER than it actually is.

The forecast is no longer for 100 for the first day of summer, which is tomorrow, Monday. The first 100 degree day of summer is now, supposedly, going to happen on Tuesday.

Elsie Hotpepper is no longer missing. But, I still have no idea where she is. In many ways.

Yesterday I channeled my inner African-American, again, and made soul food for lunch. Today I am going to switch to Germany and have bratwurst and sauerkraut for lunch. I'm thinking this is sort of anti-soul food.

Lunch will be sometime in the 1 o'clock zone. Don't be late.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lost Sunglasses Ridge & Other Saturday Texas Miscellania Like Whataburger

You are looking north at what I call Lost Sunglasses Ridge. So named because this is the location, on the Tandy Hills, where I managed to lose my sunglasses on Easter Sunday. And found them again, a month later, hiding in plain sight.

I was on the Tandy Hills late today, for an hour and a half. I don't know how many gallons of liquid I lost, but it was substantial. I'd agreed to ferry someone to a nearby location, with me doing my salubrious hiking and then picking up the aforementioned person at the nearby location.

Well, the pickup call came later than I'd anticipated. That's okay. I'm in endorphin bliss so nothing makes me cranky.

Change of subject.

There are currently over 2,500 postings on this blog. All those postings are indexed by Google. Consequently I can get comments to a blogging I wrote over 2 years ago.

This can be a bit confusing.

One of the subjects I've blogged about that has generated a lot of comments, is various bloggings about Only Child Syndrome. I was surprised to see yesterday that one of those OCS bloggings has over 60 comments.

For awhile Google had me the #1 Only Child Syndrome expert in the world. I have not checked it in awhile. But, I know I'm no longer the go to guy for people trying to figure out what the deal is with Only Children.

Today I got 2 comments to a blogging I wrote way back in January of 2009 regarding Whataburger and what a travesty of a burger joint it is. You can click the link and read the comments from today. One from the mother of a 16 year old son who is currently being a Whataburger victim. And another from a disgruntled Whataburger customer who is running a What a Boycott of Whataburger.

I have never set foot in a Whataburger. The tacky looking orange striped buildings are enough to offput me. I have no idea if Whataburger is a Texas only franchise or if it spreads its particular brand of badness throughout the South.

I fear Texas may regulate its burger industry with the same attention to detail and quality and customer/citizen well-being as Texas regulates the oil and gas industry.

Elsie Hotpepper has gone missing again. The last I heard from Elsie was on Friday when she asked if I would make a TRV website. I don't know what TRV means, for sure. T.errribly R.ude V.illains? T.he R.evolutionary V.anguard? I don't know.

And then there's the Queen of Wink, who also has sort of gone missing. But I actually know why the Queen's gone missing. This weekend is the annual Roy Orbison Festival in Wink.

I tell you, of all these things worrying me, missing people, getting stranded on HOT hills, bad Whataburgers, I forget what else, the thing that troubles me more than anything is poor ol' Betty Jo Bouvier's once more ruining her hair in a blaze of fire.

Tomorrow is Sunday. I anticipate a day of rest. With a Father's Day call to my dear ol' dad.

Slap TCEQ AT June 24 DFW Smog Meeting

On Thursday, June 24 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is holding its first meeting in four years about Dallas/Fort Worth Smog.

The meeting is to take place from 7 to 9 pm in the City of Arlington City Council Chambers at 101 West Abram Street in Arlington.

This is a Public Meeting.

So. What is this meeting about?

Well. Last summer D/FW violated the federal smog standard, despite a Texas plan to not let that happen.

This failure gave this region of Texas the dirtiest air in the state.

Now, Texas has to come up with a second plan. At the June 24 meeting TCEQ, supposedly, will seek opinions from citizens as to what anti-pollution measures need to be implemented.

Now, I'm thinking in a fair, sane, sensible, responsible world giving TCEQ your ideas might be a good idea. But, this is TCEQ we are talking about. Widely believed to be corrupted by too much industry influence tainting the agency's actions.

I guess it is good to be optimistic and hope for the best. So, the North Central Texas Clean Air Task Foce, in cooperation with Downwinders at Risk, Environmental Defense Fund, North Central Texas Communities Alliance, Public Citizen, Sierra Club and Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project urge you to act on June 24.

And show up in Arlington to give TCEQ a piece of your mind and the bitch slapping the agency and its lackeys so richly deserve.

66% Of Skagitonians & I Have No Interest In The World Cup

I must say, before I say anything else, that I am not much of a sports fan, professional, amateur, any of it.

Watching someone play a game seems way too passive to me. Not that I've ever been drawn to play any of these games that seem to enthrall way too many people.

The only sport I have ever enjoyed watching is basketball. Basketball is fast paced. To get to the professional level you have to be a highly evolved athlete with the control and athleticism of a ballroom dancer. You'd have to be a Dancing with the Stars viewer to get how true that is.

Over the years, before Aubrey McClendon stole the team and moved it from Seattle to a forlorn existence in Oklahoma City, I have no idea how many Seattle Supersonics games I've seen in person. Even playoff and championship games.

I even enjoyed watching my sisters play basketball in high school and college, even though I find, generally, girls playing basketball to be somewhat excruciating to watch, but not nearly as excruciating as watching girls play softball.

I went to the very first game the Seattle Sounders played in Memorial Stadium in Seattle. I'd never gone to a soccer game before. I enjoyed it. Mostly because the place was packed, the people were wildly enthusiastic and Mount Rainier hovered to the south. A very nice setting.

The World Cup is currently underway. Bizarrely, to me, this is the world's biggest athletic event. Bigger than the Olympics?

My old local newspaper, the Skagit Valley Herald had a poll this morning, asking "What do you think about the World Cup?" 66% said they had no interest. 15% said they loved it.

I suspect my opinion about soccer and its worldwide, except for America, appeal may be in need of adjustment, but this is what I think. Sports that are popular in America are expensive, that being basketball, football, baseball and hockey. All require special facilities, and some, special uniforms.

All soccer requires is a flat piece of land and a ball. So, the poorest country in the world can afford to play soccer.

Soccer is extremely simple. Back and forth, up and down the field, occasionally taking a shot at the goal.

A game can end in a tie. Like, I believe, the World Cup game between the U.S and, I think, the U.K., did.

There are no breaks in soccer. It just goes on and on and monotonously on. Not exactly commercial friendly for American TV.

America may have way too many entertainment options, compared to a lot of other nations. In other words, soccer, here in America, competes with a lot of far more exciting, far more entertaining things to do and watch.

In my humble opinion.

I really don't think it is possible for soccer to ever attain the popularity in America that it holds on much of the rest of the world. It seems it has been decades now that I've been reading that soccer is finally taking off in America, that this is the year soccer comes in to its own in America.

I think the only way that could happen is to alter the game and Americanize it. Get rid of the goalie so that there is a lot of scoring. Have multiple timeouts so cheerleaders can do their thing. Have a big break between halves so there can be a halftime show.

Full disclosure, I have never made it through more than a couple minutes of a World Cup game. For all I know there is a big half time break with a big half time show. I doubt it though.

Okay, I'm done with my semi-politically incorrect diatribe of the day.

Looking Out At Texas While Drinking Coffee On My New Patio

You are looking out at the Saturday morning, 2 days before the Summer Solstice, view from one of my computer room windows, looking out at my newly refurbished bedroom patio balcony.

I like the change. It's more like a sidewalk cafe.

I drank coffee and read the paper out on the new balcony this morning. It was very pleasant. After drinking coffee and reading the paper I went swimming. That was also very pleasant.

It may be 2 days before summer, yet this morning the air felt pleasantly enough temperatured that I opened the windows. I do not recollect ever doing this at this point in the year, in Texas, before.

It is not even 9:30 yet and we are already at 83 degrees with a Heat Index of 87, heading to a high, again, of 98.

Monday's high, with Monday being the first day of summer, is predicted to be 100. If we hit 100 on the first day of summer, I'm thinking this is an omen of a very HOT Texas summer. Very HOT.

I have now closed the windows. It is totally possible they may not be opened again until the cold winds of fall begin to blow.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Turner Falls Park In The Arbuckle Mountains In Oklahoma

Every year around this time the number one most visited page on my Eyes on Texas website becomes Turner Falls Park in Oklahoma.

Apparently a lot of people want to visit a waterfall, rare in these parts, see some mountain scenery. Also rare. Go swimming in the crystal clear water of Honey Creek. Go hiking, cave and castle exploring. Do some camping. Stay in a cabin. Or just go for the day for a picnic.

Turner Falls Park has several concession stands selling a variety of good stuff. Like snow cones. And other edibles.

On weekends you'll find arts and crafters selling their wares.

The first time I drove north, out of Texas, crossing the Red River to Oklahoma and then north past Ardmore, I was perplexed at signage indicating I was passing over or through something called the Arbuckle Mountains. Mountains? I saw no mountains. The freeway has a scenic overlook. I stopped. I saw nothing scenic.

And then, on an August Saturday, early in this century, Turner Falls was the destination. Turner Falls is only a few miles west of Interstate 35. Soon after you exit the freeway you find yourself surprised by what amounts to being sort of scaled down mountain type scenery. Complete with a mountain type, twisting and turning road.

You come to an overlook which looks down on Turner Falls. That is that view, zoomed in the photo at the top.

Back during the Great Depression the CCC built trails in Turner Falls Park, including a rock trail that leads from the overlook to the Honey Creek valley below. This is one of several locations in the Turner Falls zone that are not comfortable for anyone with any degree of acrophobia.

In summer Turner Falls falls a bit less water than it does after a heavy winter rain. When I saw Turner Falls in August the falls was a pleasant trickle that you could swim under. When I saw Turner Falls in winter that same activity would have likely been not a good idea.

That is Turner Falls in August in the picture, being a pleasant trickle of a waterfall. That is yours truly being that little pinhead in the water, with the falls hitting me.

I have met locals who claim to have never seen a waterfall. I've also met locals who claim they've never ventured north to Oklahoma. I've also met locals who claim they've never seen a mountain.

I'm thinking if you are a local, as in Texan, and have never seen a waterfall, mountain or Oklahoma, have yourself a fun daytrip and head north to the Arbuckle Mountains this summer.

Heading to Turner Falls you'll drive right by the 5th biggest casino in the world, that being WinStar World Resort Casino, just a couple miles north of the Texas/Oklahoma border. It was in that casino I had the best coffee I have ever tasted. And a really good buffet.