Thursday, October 19, 2017

DFW Strikes Out In Amazon HQ2 Opening Play

This morning I learned via the Seattle Times As Amazon’s deadline for HQ2 bids closes, speculation on winner heats up article that yesterday was the deadline for metro areas to submit their bid to be considered as the location for Amazon's second headquarters.

This second headquarters thing continues even as Amazon continues to gobble up downtown Seattle. Yesterday I read Amazon has taken over the old Bon Marche/Macy's building, site of a HUGE former department store.

The article in the Seattle Times included info about Amazon's criteria for its second headquarters, along with info about what metro areas have the best shot.

A paragraph about Amazon's HQ2 criteria..

Amazon has, however, detailed its wish list of amenities for a second home — perks like a highly educated workforce and a place with a flexible transportation network.

Oh oh. A highly educated workforce and a flexible transportation network would seem to eliminate one candidate which the Star-Telegram thinks should be a shoo-in. We mentioned this particular Star-Telegram delusion in a blogging last month titled Searching For Dozen Reasons To Lure Amazon To Fort Worth.

That delusion continued this morning when I saw what you see below in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


The Star-Telegram's DFW makes its pitch for Amazon HQ2. Is your city in play? article includes a Star-Telegram produced propaganda video. In the video the Star-Telegram shows various locations in DFW being pitched to Amazon.

In the video guess which location the Star-Telegram pitches first?

If you guessed the first pitch went to that industrial wasteland of an imaginary island screwily misnomered Panther Island, you guessed correctly. Since nothing actually exists on the imaginary island the Star-Telegram used animation to illustrate that which likely will never be, but also included actual video of hapless souls inner tubing in the Trinity River.

Yes, I'm sure Amazon will see tube touting as a big selling point. It is not too difficult for an info/tech savvy company like Amazon to find out most people think the Trinity is too polluted to get wet in, and that Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision (and Panther Island) is what is known in the tech world as vaporware. Vaporware which has developed a well earned reputation as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Blurb from Star-Telegram touting the imaginary island and likely future Superfund site, that is if Trump does not totally destroy the EPA...

Leading sites in Tarrant County include Fort Worth’s Panther Island, the future Trinity River development north of downtown, and 800 acres in Grapevine that is part of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

These two are the leading sites in Tarrant County? As if there are a lot of other sites considered? That open acreage north of the airport seems like a sane candidate. Lots of nearby amenities, including that airport.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Times article also speculates which metro areas are in the lead for the Amazon HQ2 prize, using data from an economist from something called Moody Analytics. A Texas town comes in #1 by this Moody analysis. You can go to the Seattle Times article to see the entire Moody list and some of the determining criteria, but here's a blurb that will reveal which Texas town is Moody's #1....

Mark Zandi took a different approach. The economist for Moody’s Analytics, along with colleague Adam Ozimek, lined up 29 sets of data designed to match Amazon’s preferences.

To gauge a city’s business environment, Moody’s weighed things like metropolitan credit ratings, tax systems and employment growth rates. For quality of life, they used measures of the school dropout rate and arts establishments per capita.

Shake the cocktail, and Austin, Texas, came out No. 1, lifted by a low tax rate and strong job growth.

What a shock. Fort Worth is not on the list. Even with Fort Worth's impressive flexible transportation network. Amazon must not have heard about Molly the Trolley...

Throwing Thursday Back To 2006 In South Dakota Black Hills & Wall Drug

I saw this a couple days ago on Facebook, via my Aunt Jane, who I think shared this via my Aunt Judy. I am guessing Aunt Judy took the picture.

The text along with the photo...

Yet another October gathering--this time in 2006 on neutral turf in the Black Hills of South Dakota. What a great time we had when we met there for several days. We decided it was the first time since Arlene married in 1949 that the siblings had all slept under the same roof. — with (left to right) Shirley Slotemaker, Mel Slotemaker, Hank Hershberger, Arlene Barry, Ruth Hershberger, Jack Slotemaker, Gerry "Mooch" Slotemaker and Jane Slotemaker.

I sort of remember when mom and dad went to the Black Hills for a sibling reunion. But, I remember no details. This was the same year in which Spencer Jack's dad got married for the first time, in April of 2006.

Mom and dad did not attend those nuptials. My recollection of the reason why they did not attend the nuptials of their only grandson to get married (so far) was they did not want to make the long drive north from Arizona at that point in time. Maybe this was because they knew they would be making an even longer drive later in the year, to South Dakota.

I sort of remember asking mom and dad, post their trip to South Dakota, if they visited Wall Drug when they were in the neighborhood. I do not remember if the answer was yes, or no.

Visiting Wall Drug feels almost mandatory once you are within a couple hundred mile radius of that location, due to all the signs enticing a visit with all sorts of enticements, like nickel cups of coffee and ice cream cones for a dime.

I know mom and dad would not pass up an ultra cheap cup of coffee with an equally cheap ice cream cone...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Running To Mount Wichita Summit Not An Option

On my way to ALDI this morning I opted to detour slightly south and west in order to do some mountain climbing on my neighborhood mini-volcano, aka, Mount Wichita.

Upon arrival I quickly saw I was not alone in deciding today to do some mountain climbing.

As I drove to the parking zone the group you see on the mountain were at its base, preparing for their assault on the summit.

About the time I turned off the device which mechanically rolls my vehicle's wheels the pair you see at the summit began running towards the peak. And ran all the way.

Without stopping.

I was appalled.

Looking at Mount Wichita it somehow looks as if it should be easy to run to the top. I thought so the day I first climbed the mountain. I arrived that day, and just like today, saw a guy running to the top. I walked around the mountain and then when I felt sufficiently warmed up, I began to run up the same trail I saw that guy zoom up like an antelope leaping across the prairie.

I lasted maybe 15 feet before I doubled over, hands on knees, trying to catch my breath.

I have yet to figure out why it is so difficult and so endorphin inducing aerobically stimulating to hike to the summit of Mount Wichita. I have hiked countless mountain trails in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah and Colorado.

And never had those trails kick me in the gut like Mount Wichita does.

Maybe this is an age related malady. Next time I am in Washington I need to get to Deception Pass and hike to the summit of Goose Rock. That should let me know if it is an age related, out of shape thing. Or something else. Goose Rock is about a dozen times taller than Mount Wichita. The trail base is only slightly above sea level. Sections of the trail to the top are steep. I have hiked to the top of Goose Rock dozens of times.


By the time I got to the Mount Wichita summit that group I saw heading up upon arrival was heading down. The lady on the right did not feel as if she could make the descent whilst vertical, and so she employed a slide down the hill on her bottom method. I had not seen this done before at this location.

Imaginary Iconic Fort Worth Downtown Opens New Little Hotel With Molly The Trolley

I saw that which you see here, a couple days ago, an editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Downtown hotels? Check. Now how do we get around?

Now, before we proceed, I know it might seem as if I, well, sort of give Fort Worth a hard time, making fun and mocking various things about the town.

Most of that making fun and mocking is caused by what I have seen ever since I arrived in Texas as the bizarre Chamber of Commerce style propaganda nonsense the Fort Worth Star-Telegram spews about the town it serves poorly as the town's pitiful only newspaper of record.

To be real clear. I think Fort Worth is a perfectly fine town with a perfectly nice downtown and a few perfectly nice parks. A town with some good museums and a fun tourist attraction in the form of the Fort Worth Stockyards.

But, the Star-Telegram's tendency towards hyperbole regarding Fort Worth is annoying and I don't think serves the public responsibly, giving those who don't know better a false opinion about the status of their town.

Which must be totally confusing when such a person visits for the first time one of America's, or the world's, actual modern, progressive towns, with modern amenities, such as modern public transportation. And modern restrooms in their city parks. And sidewalks alongside their streets. And downtowns where so many people live that there are items such as grocery stores, department stores, live theater and a plethora of restaurants.

And convention centers where real conventions take place, flooding a town's downtown with thousands of visitors and filling a town's downtown hotel's thousands of rooms in dozens upon dozens of downtown hotels.

And then there is Fort Worth.

So, we have this editorial which triggered my latest bout of finding the Star-Telegram's propaganda to be annoying. The impetus for this editorial is the apparently stupendous fact that a small 114 room Fairfield Inn has opened in downtown Fort Worth.

Whoop-de-doo.

And that new hotel will soon supposedly be followed by six more new hotels, downtown, adding a whopping 1,000 rooms.

Again, whoop-de-doo.

Let's go through this editorial looking at some of the choice bits of propaganda nonsense...

This influx has the potential to further redefine our iconic downtown. And it comes just in time.

These seven hotels have the potential to further refine Fort Worth's iconic downtown? Seriously? Iconic? You in other parts of America, or the world, is there anything about Fort Worth which is even remotely iconic to you, which you recognize as being Fort Worth when you see it? Other than the possibly "iconic" Fort Worth Stockyards sign at the Stockyards?

This redefinition of Fort Worth's downtown comes just in time? How is that? Well, the next paragraph tells us...

As XTO Energy prepares to relocate the majority of its workforce from downtown Fort Worth to Houston, we’ve got an opportunity to continue the thoughtful approach stakeholders and planners have engaged in with respect to downtown.

So, how does yet one more corporate entity bailing on downtown Fort Worth get somehow mitigated by new hotels being added to Fort Worth's downtown?

I tell you it is one absurd paragraph after another. And so the next is...

Our wonderful mix of old, which is evident in our building facades and brick streets, and new — Sundance Square’s redevelopment — is unique.

Unique? Have these people been to any other town's downtown? The mix of old and new and the Sundance Square redevelopment is unique? What does that even mean? Will Fort Worth, well the Star-Telegram and the downtown proselytizers, ever gonna drop this embarrassing "Sundance Square" nonsense? It makes no sense to continue to refer to part of your downtown as such. Just stop it.

And then the next paragraph...

Our vibrant, livable, walkable downtown is unmatched by our neighbors to the east.

Vibrant? Livable? Unmatched by the neighbors to the east? A typical dig at Dallas, born of Fort Worth's well deserved civic inferiority complex. Downtown Fort Worth is livable? The relatively few people who live there have no downtown grocery store, no department stores, no vertical malls. Limited public transportation. Has the Star-Telegram been to downtown Dallas since way back when Amon Carter made his last visit?

Skipping ahead a few paragraphs...

The hotels bring the prospect of more people — and more business — to Fort Worth, enabling many to experience all downtown and beyond has to offer.

All downtown Fort Worth has to offer? Like what? I've been to many a big city downtown. There are some nice elements to Fort Worth's downtown. But, it ain't nothing special. And how does the Star-Telegram get the gall to spew this type nonsense when something like Heritage Park lingers on as a boarded up embarrassing eyesore homage to the town's storied history, at the north end of this unique downtown few tourists visit?

The following two paragraphs are so embarrassing...

More concerning is our ability to effectively and affordably move visitors throughout downtown and to show them what lies beyond the center. From the Museum District to the Stockyards, there is opportunity to connect visitors with our cultural touchstones. But using public transportation to reach these places is far from ideal.

Molly the Trolley, the bus that looks like a trolley that was first introduced in 2009, as of August is charging patrons to ride around downtown. The move was met with opposition from some area business leaders. A planned shuttle called Dash will take riders from downtown to the West Seventh area, also at a cost. Both charge $2 for a single ride or $5 for the day.

Fort Worth's cultural touchstones? I have been to downtown Fort Worth many times and somehow have never seen or touched any of those cultural touchstones.

Molly the Trolley? Yes, you in grown up parts of America and the world, Fort Worth has a downtown transit system consisting of a bus made to look like a trolley. I have seen this and it is much more embarrassing in person than simply reading the words "Molly the Trolley"..

The big city downtown of which I am as familiar as I am with downtown Fort Worth is that west coast city named Seattle.

Seattle is smaller, population wise, than Fort Worth, but its downtown is HUGELY bigger. Public transport in the downtown Seattle zone consists of a subway under downtown with multiple underground stations. With bus transit on the surface. A monorail connects downtown to one of Seattle's 'cultural districts', known as Seattle Center. And there is a real trolley or two or three, running on rails. There is an enormous downtown convention center which dwarfs downtown Fort Worth's, both in size and in number of conventioneers. The Seattle downtown has dozens of hotels, new ones being added regularly, without the local media making absurd proclamations about such being anything of out of the ordinary significance.

And, unless it has changed since I was last transiting around downtown Seattle, it is free to use the buses to get around downtown. And that downtown covers an area which transposed to a map of Fort Worth would be as large as Fort Worth's puny downtown extended all the way to the Stockyards and what Fort Worth calls its Cultural District, and West 7th.

I tell you, the differences between a modern progressive liberal city and a backwater, non-progressive ill-liberal city are stark, including the quality of their newspapers...

UPDATE #1: We were curious as to how many hotel rooms there are in downtown Seattle, compared to downtown Fort Worth. Well, according to a Seattle Facts website called Visit Seattle there are 13,265 rooms available in downtown Seattle, with 10,099 available within an 11 block radius of the Washington State Convention Center.

Meanwhile, according to the Star-Telegram's editorial, "And speaking of those conventions: When a significant event comes to Fort Worth, the current stock of accommodations — or about 2,500 rooms — is sold out."

About 2,500 rooms in all of downtown Fort Worth, which sell out during those few times a significant event comes to Fort Worth?

Maybe the Star-Telegram should focus less on the opening of a small downtown hotel and more on why so few significant events come to downtown Fort Worth, and why so few people choose to live in that iconic downtown.

UPDATE #2: Look At Fort Worth's Industrial Wasteland Boondoggle Location For Amazon HQ2 for another look at the delusional Fort Worth Star-Telegram propaganda about downtown Fort Worth, including links to a look at downtown Fort Worth being a ghost town on the busiest shopping day of the year.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Shadow Of The Sikes Bike Thin Man Getting Goosed

This morning I rolled myself on a long bike ride, wearing sweatpants to keep out the semi-cold.

This evening, when the sun was in set mode, I rolled myself on a shorter bike ride, wearing my warm weather biking attire.

By morning the chill will likely have returned.

As you can see, via the photo documentation, the late in the day setting sun casts a golden glow in North Texas.

When I stopped to take a picture of the Sikes Bike Thin Man no other people showed up in the photo.

Accurate photo documentation of Sikes Lake this evening would have documented the throngs of people out having themselves a mighty fine time in the extremely pleasant weather.

Accurate photo documentation of Sikes Lake this evening would also have documented the throngs of geese behaving much more actively than they behave in the morning.

Hundreds of birds, mostly geese, make Sikes Lake their home. At times the flocks of geese act very territorial, like they resent sharing the paved trail. Some will make a stand, waiting til the last second to flutter away from the incoming bike.

There are often fishermen and women fishing in Sikes Lake. Evening seems to attract a lot more line casters, hiding in the shadows of the trees and bridges, I assume so as to better trick the fish to bite their hooks.

The paved trail around Sikes Lake is illuminated. There are multiple emergency alarms posted around the lake. Along with multiple gazebos with drinking fountains. And a modern restroom facility. In other words, not every town in Texas is as backward as that Texas town I lived in prior to moving to Wichita Falls...

Thinking About Riding My Bike To Mount Vernon To Visit George Washington

My handlebars at the location you see here may have you guessing I flew my bike to Washington, D.C. and then pedaled the short distance from downtown to visit George and Martha's famous house named after the town I lived in in Washington before arriving in Texas.

Now that you're making me think about it, George and Martha's last name is the same as the name of the state I lived in prior to arriving in Texas. What a  pair of coincidences.

I used to live in Mount Vernon, Washington, and George and Martha Washington also lived in Mount Vernon, only in a state called Virginia.

Anyway, that is not Mount Vernon, in Virginia, my handlebars are pointing towards. That is Sikes House in Wichita Falls, on the MSU (Midwestern State University) campus. Sikes House is where the university's president resides, not the American president.

I took a roll around Sikes Lake this morning, which is adjacent to Sikes House, then crossed Midwestern Boulevard to the MSU campus, eventually leaving the campus to head east to a big neighborhood with dozens upon dozens of big mansions, many of which mimic other famous American homes, such as Jefferson's Monticello, Madison's Montpelier, Jackson's Hermitage and Trump's Mar-a-Lago.

I made that last one up.

I should photo document some of these mansions. It's the biggest collection of such I have ever seen outside of Beverly Hills in the Los Angeles zone. One or two of them have State of Texas Historical Markers.

My favorite mansion I roll by looks as if it was inspired by, or designed by, if such were possible, Howard Roark. One would have to be familiar with something called The Fountainhead to understand what I am talking about.

Well, enough about that. I wonder if it easy to ride ones bike from downtown D.C. to Mount Vernon? To be clear, I'm talking about biking to the Mount Vernon in Virginia, not the one in Washington...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Lake Wichita Dam Drink Discovers Misbehaving Utility Box

Today in the noon time frame, with the outer world chilled, or heated, depending on ones temperature expectations, to a degree somewhere in the high 50s low 60s range, with the air in pretty much dead calm no wind mode, I decided rolling my wheels on the Circle Trail to the Mount Wichita mini-volcano seemed like it would be a mighty pleasant mighty fine time.

And it was.

Near the Lake Wichita Dam's spillway I opted to stop to hydrate.

This stop was at the cyclone fence enclosure you see above. The cyclone fence enclosure encloses a manhole type thing which is an access to what looks to be a device which opens a giant valve, likely to release excess water from the lake should the need arise.

Someone, likely bratty children, has tossed dozens of large rocks inside the enclosure. But those rocks seemed to do no harm.

However, there is a box mounted to the fence inside the enclosure which was wide open, exposing the switches and electronics which reside inside the box. This did not seem like an intended steady state for the status of this box.


I doubt one of those aforementioned rock throwing brats climbed inside this cyclone enclosure, what with such entry blocked by the three rows of barbed wire you see in the photo at the top. So, misbehaving brats is not a likely explanation for the open utility box.

I hope someone re-secures this box before some dire act of Mother Nature somehow zaps it and causes the electronics to open the valve that drains the lake, with Wichita Falls waking up to find a dry lake.

Then again, an accidentally drained Lake Wichita might speed up the seemingly stalled Lake Wichita Revitalization Project, which seems to be doing its revitalizing real real slow...

1956 Fort Worth Trinity Floodway Vision

Yesterday my favorite D/FW ditzy dame, Elsie Hotpepper, directed me to that which you see here.

The caption accompanying the photo...

Dedication of Fort Worth Floodway Project of the West and Clear Fork of the Trinity: Estil Vance, Joe Hogsett, Jim Wright and Col Harry D Fischer (April 5, 1956) 

Does this photo document the fact that what we now know as the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision actually began way back in 1956, well over half a century ago, rather than a more recent starting date, early in the beginning of this new century?

In other words, has America's Biggest Boondoggle been boondoggling along since 1956, in various ever changing forms?

In its current form, when it began, before evolving into being a sponsor of river floating beer parties, what used to be called the Trinity River Vision touted itself as being a much needed flood control project combined with being a much needed economic development project.

One would think the 1956 version of the Fort Worth Floodway failed. Thus requiring this "update" of the Fort Worth Floodway.

But there has been no floodway failure in the downtown Fort Worth zone ever since those levees were built and paid for by the rest of America, way back in the 1950s.

However, downtown Fort Worth does regularly flood in the West 7th zone. But what has become America's Biggest Boondoggle does nothing about that particular flooding problem...

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Wichita Falls Blue Sky Leads Me To Fort Worth Boondoggle's Signs To Nowhere

What you are looking at here is one of the bluest skies I've seen since I've been in Seattle.

Used to be, reliably, the bluest skies I ever see are in Seattle, and the hills the greenest green.

But this last visit, not so much, til my last day in Washington when the sky cleared of smoke and the deep blue sky returned along with the mountains. But, with the lowlands not all that green due to a lack of incoming water.

My local blue sky is scheduled to darken later today with a cold front arriving along with lightning strikes.

Prior to the incoming frigidity I decided to go on one more HOT bike ride, rolling my wheels around Sikes Lake to MSU and Hamilton Park.

MSU (Midwestern State University) accommodates me quite politely. With special signs marking spots reserved for parking my bike. I don't know why they use my middle name rather than my first name. I suppose fewer letters makes the signs cheaper to make.

Speaking of wasting money on signs. And who isn't?

Couple days ago Elsie Hotpepper told me she spotted a bizarre big directional sign on Interstate 30 south of the Fort Worth downtown, directing drivers to "PANTHER ISLAND PAVILION".

Where there is no island and the pavilion is a sad shack stuck on the banks of the Trinity River.

Why would America's Biggest Boondoggle waste even more money on even more senseless signage, one can not help but wonder?

Are those big billboards still up touting PANTHER ISLAND BRIDGES IN MOTION, near where American's Biggest Boondoggle installed that bizarre million dollar homage to an aluminum trash can at the center of that roundabout near where The Boondoggle has been struggling to build one of those bridges for years?

Progress in motion. Apparently The Boondogglers have no sense of embarrassing irony.


I took the above photo way back in February of 2015 and blogged about all the bizarre Boondoggle signage I came upon whilst walking in the area of the imaginary pavilion on the imaginary island and the imaginary world class urban music venue. I blogged about this at that point in time in a blogging titled Taking A Look At The Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's Products.

And now, apparently The Boondoggle has installed a sign on the I-30 freeway directing people to that non-existent pavilion on that non-existent island.

American's Biggest Boondoggle has been boondoggling along for most of this century.

Does anyone know, or care, how much money The Boondoggle has spent on all its propaganda? The signage, the websites, the quarterly mailing. Who has the contract to produce all this useless propaganda? I suspect the culprit is a crony of J.D. Granger or one of the other members of the nepotism riddled gang whose fingers are in this public trough.

Anyway, nice bike ride today. Thanks MSU for the reserved parking...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mr. Prickley Finds Grandpa Simpson On Facebook

This morning when I checked in on that bastion of highly evolved social interaction known as Facebook I was amused to see a comment from one of my pseudo Friends, who I refer to as Mr. Prickley, making reference to my irascible nature, telling me in my old age I have become a left wing Trump version of Grandpa Simpson.

What a horrible thing to say about the lovable father of Homer and Grandpa of Bart, Lisa and Maggie.

I really don't know what possible reason Mr. Prickley had to suggest such a thing.

I may have suggested that Mr. Prickley's Dudley Do Wrong persona wore on my nerves with the relentless detailed debating of subjects where it seems sort of obvious the debaters had not the slightest real clued understanding of the subject being debated. With opinions firmly anchored in stone, not to be sculpted free with any amount of informed reasoning.

But Grandpa Simpson? I can not remember the last time I have been so offput. Okay, that's not true, I do remember the last time I was so offput. It was last night.

Anyway, this morning was the first I've been called Grandpa since last summer.

I was having myself a mighty fine time in Tacoma's wave pool in, I think the name was Kindle Park. Maybe spelled different than the Amazon book reading device.

So, Theo was going all over the pool with me, hanging on as we dodged waves whilst waiting for the Big Kahuna to come crashing towards us.

About an hour in to the wave pooling a classmate of Theo's started tagging along. I forget her name, but it was obvious she had a first grade crush on my nephew Theo.

During one of the respites when the big waves ceased for a short duration Theo's girlfriend asked him if I was his Grandpa. Theo said no, he's my Uncle, not my Grandpa, Theo said with a you silly girl tone.

If I knew then months later the subject would come up I would have asked Theo's girlfriend if I reminded her of Grandpa Simpson...