Thursday, January 31, 2008

Texas is Still Burning

More wind and more wildfires in the forecast for today. So far, unlike last year's wildfires, I've only faintly smelled the smoke. The closest wildfire to me has been about 3 miles away, this time,
and it was not a big one and was quickly extinguished.

On a non-Texas wildfire related matter. You who ardently read every word of my Blog, yeah, both of you, may recall me mentioning that whenever I get gas I call my mom in Phoenix to tell her how much it cost. I got gas yesterday, $2.66 a gallon for unleaded at a QT up in Southlake. So, I called my mom with my gas report. That and to wish her happy birthday.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Texas Burning

Yesterday a low-pressure system bumped into a high-pressure system that then mixed in a cold front that combined to cause hour after hour of 40 - 60 mph winds. The wind knocked down power poles which caused sparks which caused wildfires. Two of the fires were blamed on smokers tossing their cigarettes to the ground. One of the smoker caused fires burned 15 houses, another grew to be over 2,000 acres.

How do they figure out that a fire was started with a cigarette, one can't help but wonder?

Today it is supposed to blow hard again, but not as hard as yesterday. Currently the sky is very blue, very clear, as you can see from the view from my back porch. And it is very cold.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blow Hard

No, someone did not call me a Blow Hard. Not today anyway. Here in north Texas we are currently being blown by a hellacious windstorm. Most hellacious non-tornado windstorm I've been blown by since I've been in this windy state.

Today started off pleasant enough, reaching a high of about 68 around noon. And then the winds started up with the temperature dropping. I was out in this for a couple hours. I don't remember almost getting knocked over by wind before. But when I got out of my newly restored (from yesterday's near death experience) van, I had trouble walking and then the wind caught the post office's door and slammed it into me.
Power has been off and on. But the worst of it is there are dozens of out of control wildfires. You can smell the smoke and the air has taken on a pinkish hue.

One great benefit of a good Texas windstorm is it does what few else here do. The wind cleans up the litter. Well, more precisely it sweeps the littered areas clean and moves the litter to concentrated collection points, like lines of trees and fences. It is sort of fun to be out in it in a well-littered zone and play dodge litter as the pieces come flying at you.

Just as I hit the PUBLISH POST button WeatherBug went off with a Warning. I'll copy and paste it below. It's one I'd not seen before. A "Red Flag Warning". Are we under eminent threat of a commie invasion?

Red Flag Warning... Updated National Weather Service Fort Worth TX 1200 PM CST Tue Jan 29 2008 Montague-Cooke-Grayson-Fannin-Lamar-Young-Jack-Wise-Denton-Collin- Hunt-Delta-Hopkins-Stephens-Palo Pinto-Parker-Tarrant-Dallas- Rockwall-Kaufman-Van Zandt-Rains-Eastland-Erath-Hood-Somervell- Johnson-Ellis-Henderson-Comanche-Mills-Hamilton-Bosque-Hill- Navarro-Freestone-Anderson-Lampasas-Coryell-Bell-Mclennan-Falls- Limestone-Leon-Milam-Robertson- 1200 PM CST Tue Jan 29 2008 ... Red Flag Warning Remains In Effect Until 6 PM CST This Afternoon Across All Of North Texas For Very Strong Winds And Very Low Humidities... ... Fire Weather Watch Remains In Effect Wednesday Afternoon... Strong West And Northwest Winds And Very Low Humidities Will Continue Through The Afternoon Across All Of North Texas. Sustained Wind Speeds Of 30 To 40 Mph With Gusts In Excess Of 50 Mph And Relative Humidities Ranging From 10 To 15 Percent Will Lead To Extreme Fire Weather Conditions Through Early Evening. The Winds Are Expected To Diminish This Evening. Return Southerly Flow And Low Humidity Will Lead To Very High Fire Danger Conditions Across All Of North Texas Wednesday Afternoon. A Fire Weather Watch Is In Effect For All Of North Texas Wednesday Afternoon. A Red Flag Warning Means That Critical Fire Weather Conditions Are Either Occurring Now... Or Will Shortly. A Combination Of Strong Winds... Low Relative Humidity... And Dry Vegetation Will Create Explosive Fire Growth Potential. Avoid All Outside Burning And Welding Today. Do Not Toss Lit Cigarette Butts Outside. Report Wild Fires To The Nearest Fire Department Or Law Enforcement Office.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Near Death Experiences

There are bad days. And then there are even worse days. Today fell into the latter category. As in Near Death Trauma type bad day. Combined with having to go to the airport to get a militant Puerto Rican.

I don't know if I'm going to muster the energy to stay up til 8 to watch El Presidente give his last State of the Union speech. Last based on assuming, of course, that he does not stage a coup near the end of his term and declare himself President for Life.

So, I needed to be at the airport by 2 to get the aforementioned Puerto Rican. About 11am I decided to go back to Oakland Park. It's about 3 miles from here. I was driving, singing along with Pink about what I could do with my hand tonight, when suddenly my van started making a horrible noise. And shuddering. I quickly pulled off the road into a parking lot.

Flat tire.

No problem. I've had a flat tire before. In Death Valley, back in 1994. Same vehicle. I really hate to shop for cars. I recollect the same problem that time. As in we could not figure out how to get the spare tire loose from the thing that held it to the underside of the van. Luckily that time I was traveling with a group of 6, two of whom were in another van. Their spare fit mine. So, no problem, we drove the 5 miles to where we were staying that night, Stovepipe Wells, and then the next day got the tire fixed in Bishop, California, where Lulu found us a great place to have lunch. Yes. Lulu was along on this trip.

So, what to do. I'm stranded, I can't get my spare. But I did have my bike. So, I got the bike out and head back here where I could get another car. The only route back to here is through this zone called Boca Raton. Boca Raton being an extreme high crime area with gangs and random murders. The pedaling was being real difficult and then I realized my rear bike tire was low. I pedaled now in fear of an eminent bike tire flat. I make it back here to find the other car would not start. After fiddling with the ignition it finally ignited. Then I drove back to the van and took off the tire.

I was running out of time to get to the airport. I called one of the Puerto Rican's other friends to see if she could run to the airport. She couldn't.

So, I get to the tire store. Bought 2 new tires. The tire guy put the new tire on the rim. I headed back to the van, certain it would be stripped to total nakedness due to the bad area it was stranded in. But it wasn't.

I got the new tire back on the van. Now I had a new problem. I had 2 vehicles. I did not want to leave one behind. I called for help and got another driver. It was now coming up on 2pm. I'd not had lunch. I was dirty. I had grease on my hands. I should have been at the airport.

And then the phone rang. It was the Puerto Rican, already on the ground, waiting. I told her it would be a half hour. She didn't seem too annoyed. And she seemed relatively sober.

I was finally on my way to the airport, had dodged the possible much worse outcome of having a tire blow out at freeway speeds where I could easily have lost control and ended up toasted in a fiery multi-car accident. Little did I know, as I drove onto the airport property, that I was heading towards an even bigger, toasty, fiery, blowout.

I got to Terminal C, drove to Arrivals, easily parked and saw the Puerto Rican standing on the sidewalk waiting to be picked up, talking on her phone.

So, I'm thinking this has all worked out well. I walk across the street, certain she has seen me. I walk up to her. She pays no attention to me. Her luggage with wheels is sitting next to her. So, I wheel off with it and head to the van. Certain she'd see me. I look back after I cross the street and she is still just talking away.

I put her luggage in the van and as I slam the door shut I hear an eruption of screaming "help, police, I've been robbed". A couple of women next to her were laughing and pointing at me. And that's when the Puerto Rican got real loud. And it was all in Spanish.

She got mad at Arnold Swarzenegger once for saying that Puerto Rican's were angry people with bad tempers. I told her, uh, you are angry people with bad tempers. And she goes, well, that may be true but he shouldn't be saying it.

Anyway, those were the two explosive events in my day in Texas this fine January day, both violent, both life threatening and both likely preventable with better maintenance and attention to details.

Stephenville UFO Related Photo

Sunday, January 27, 2008, approximately noon, I was walking at Oakland Lake Park in Fort Worth when I saw what appeared to be an alien spacecraft. The Stephenville UFO in broad daylight I wondered? But there were no spinning lights, and it wasn't moving, just hovering above some houses. Alien abduction perhaps? The object was a very unearthly shade of blue that was quite displeasing to the eye.

Luckily I was at Oakland Lake Park to take photos for a webpage. And so I got a good pic or two of the Fort Worth UFO. Or what I thought was a UFO.

Locally, the powers-that-be seem to be attempting to cover up this possible UFO sighting by claiming the object is a water tower. I don't believe them.

Just like the UFO spotters in Stephenville, I saw jets in the sky when I spotted the Fort Worth UFO. But they appeared to be passenger jets heading to D/FW Airport. No jets appeared to be circling the supposed water tower.

The State of Hillary's Union

Time flies way too fast. Seems like only yesterday millions of Americans were shocked we had a new president who won with a couple million votes less than the popular vote winner. And now tonight we get to watch the last State of the Union address of Bush II.

Speaking of ruling dynasties. Each day seems to bring more bad news for Hillary. Over the weekend Caroline Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama. Saying all her life people had told her how they'd been inspired by her father, but til now she'd never felt inspired by a presidential candidate. (go here to go to Dallas 40 years after Caroline's dad's assassination)

And then, as if that was not bad enough news for Hillary, over the weekend her first husband Bill got a rather heated call from Caroline's Uncle Teddy. Apparently Uncle Ted objected to Bill's ever more strident attacks and misrepresentations.

Ted told the Clintons he was going to also endorse Obama. This means America's top 2 Democrat family dynasties, the Clintons and the Kennedys, are now at odds with one another and Hillary has lost another key piece of support.

It sort of seems things have begun to spin out of control for Hillary. It was also in the news this morning that meetings were held with Hillary advisers this weekend in which it was decided they needed to reign Bill in, that he was doing more harm than good.

Mitt Romney had an amusing line at the last Republican debate, something along the lines of "Do we really want Bill Clinton back in the White House, with no job and too much time on his hands?"

I hope Mr. Bush doesn't come up with anything scary tonight. No 2008 version of "Axis of Evil". No new threats of imaginary weapons. Maybe he'll just tell is about his retirement plans, part of which became known this weekend with the news that he plans to buy a house in Dallas. That can't be good for property values in whatever neighborhood he lands in. I hope it isn't mine.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hillary Hillary Hillary

Remember when Bill Clinton began to be taken seriously in his first run for president? Remember how the press kept finding things in his past to hound him about? Things like how he managed to not get drafted during the Viet Nam War. Things like the degree to which he inhaled marijuana. Things like extra-marital affairs. Now, except for the extra-marital affairs, most of what Clinton was being hounded about had happened, or hadn't happened, a long time prior to the hounding.

Now, one might wonder what might be lingering in Hillary's past that will be trotted out to cause her embarrassment. I think we can rule out extra-marital affairs. That just seems unlikely.

But, Hillary does have some rather interesting history. Little of which she admits to in her auto-biography, "Living History". Like her involvement with the Black Panthers and her work with a communist lawyer. Now, hitting someone with the antiquated 'commie' smear really likely won't fly these days. But then again, it would seem Hillary has some explaining to do about some things she left out of "Living History".

For instance, Hillary attended Yale Law School in 1969, which was a large area of activity on behalf of the violently racist Black Panther organization. In "Living History" Hillary writes,

"The world and its realities came crashing down on Yale in April 1970, when eight Black Panthers, including party leader Bobby Seale, were put on trial for murder in New Haven. Thousands of angry protesters, convinced the Panthers had been set up by the FBI and white government prosecutors, swarmed into the city. Protests broke out in and around campus. The campus was bracing for a huge May Day rally to support the Panthers when I learned, late on the night of April 27, that the International Law Library, which was in the basement of the law school, was on fire. Horrified, I rushed to join a bucket brigade of faculty, staff and students to put out the fire and to rescue books damaged by flames and water."

According to the records Hillary did quite a bit more than lift water in a bucket brigade. Both Hillary and Bill Lann Lee, (who later became President Clinton's head of the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division), helped organize the pro-Panther demonstrations at Yale. Hillary also served on the Board of Editors for the Yale Review of Law and Social Action, a socialist alternative to the school's traditional review. Its fall 1970 issue was devoted to the trial and glorifying the Black Panthers.

During the summer of 1971, Hillary moved to the west coast to become a law clerk at the Oakland firm of Treuhaft, Walker and Bernstein. The public record shows that Clinton worked for Robert Treuhaft, a member of the Communist Party USA and Harvard-trained lawyer for the party.

Citing public sources, Peter Flaherty's book, "The First Lady" says that "Hillary was recommended to Treuhaft by some of her professors at Yale. She was looking for a 'movement' law firm to work at for the summer. As it turns out, Hillary would continue her association and support of the Black Panther cause while working as a law clerk for Treuhaft." Flaherty also states that Treuhaft told Herb Caen of the San Francisco Examiner, "That was the time we were representing the Black Panthers, and she worked on that case." Mrs. Clinton's involvement with Treuhaft is a known occurrence.

Hillary continues to do her best to deny this, even though a New York Times obituary of Treuhaft (who died in 2001), said that he had "accepted a young Yale lawyer named Hillary Rodham (now Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton) as an intern." A British newspaper, the London Times, said that "generations of liberal lawyers were groomed under his [Treuhaft's] tutelage, including a young Yale law student named Hillary Rodham." The Harvard Law Bulletin said about Treuhaft, "He belonged to and served as attorney to the Communist Party of the United States for many years and defended the civil rights of groups such as the Black Panther Party, Vietnam War draft resisters, and members of Berkeley's free speech movement."

The way things seem to be going for Hillary, what with her big loss to Obama in yesterday's South Carolina primary, somehow losing a huge lead, according to last month's polls, but ending up yesterday with half the number of votes as the winner. So, maybe Hillary's time is coming to an end. Maybe. But if Hillary does well on Super Tuesday I think we can expect those debating her to fling some of her past in her face. It would seem only fair, since it was she who started the fight in last Monday's debate when she made the bizarre accusation that Obama was somehow a Reaganite due to a perfectly innocent remark he made.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The gray gloom finally lifted. I am hopeful this is not just a temporary lifting. This morning when a cloud of fog burned off to reveal, once more, the fine Blue Sky of Texas, I felt uncharacteristically happy for a moment or two. I was starting to develop a very serious bout of SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder) as the days of gray stacked up one after another. The air even managed to warm up a little bit. To 60. It almost makes me want to go swimming.

But instead of swimming I went to the balcony of the apartment which I've been tasked with looking after, basically feeding the cat, while the owner is in Puerto Rico attending to her bi-annual Puerto Rican Nationalist duties.

The balcony is on the third floor, in a building on the top of a hill, thus affording a good view of what passes below. It can be both entertaining and unsettling what one sees from that vantage point at times.

I don't know if it rises to the level of being unsettling, but it seems every Saturday there is this Fort Worth area car dealer who has a small plane flying over the freeway trailing a banner. I would think this would not be allowed as it is very distracting to be driving and to look up to try and read what is flying above you.

So, I was minding my own business, enjoying the balmy temps, sitting on the Puerto Rican's balcony, sipping a mint julep, when I heard the drone of a prop plane. And then the weekly Saturday Huggins Honda banner came into view. Is this not both visual and aural pollution?

As I sat on the balcony, slowly sipping my mint julep, and feeling evermore relaxed with the SAD symptoms fading further and further, I looked down to see a Fort Worth transit bus pass by. On the bus in bold letters it said "POWERED BY NATURAL GAS".

Well, also in my view from the balcony as I sipped my mint julep is a
Chesapeake natural gas drilling operation. These drilling operations are all over this area, to the consternation of many and the profit of few.

So, I was thinking, as that bus passed, why no one local has proposed that since these buses are being powered by natural gas and since that is what is being sucked out from under us here in this blessed zone of Texas, why not use some of our gas to power our buses and remove the fares, the masses then more willing to use mass transit and less cranky about not getting any benefit from having to put up with all the noise, pollution and aggravation of all this Barnett Shale natural gas drilling. It seems perfectly fair and logical to me. Which means it will never happen.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Heath Ledger & the Olsen Twin

When the masseuse and the cleaning lady found they were unable to wake Heath Ledger why did they use his cell phone to call an Olsen Twin on the west coast 3 times before calling 911?

If I were to find someone who appeared to be dead, with myself not being a medical professional, I think I would err on the side of caution and call 911, unless it was totally obvious that the person was dead. And even then I can't imagine why I would use the dead person's cell phone to call an Olsen Twin on the west coast.

I fear this sad story is going to be one of those gifts that keep on giving, like the sagas of Anna Nichole Smith, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

Stephenville UFO Update

Apparently some citizens of Stephenville have grown weary of the UFO brouhaha and fear becoming a Texas version of Roswell, New Mexico, feeling somehow embarrassed by their perception that the rest of the planet perceives Stephenville as the new Flying Saucer Capital of the World. I think it'd be a better plan to just sit back and enjoy the attention while it lasts. Which won't be long, most likely.

Meanwhile a town near Stephenville, which was also under assault the night of the UFO invasion, that town being tiny Dublin, named after a town in Ireland, known in Texas as the only source of the original version of the state drink of Texas, that being Dr Pepper. The Dublin plant is the only Dr Pepper brewery which still makes the sickeningly sweet cherry flavored concoction with pure cane sugar.

So, the powers that be in Dublin, unlike those in Stephenville, see the media circus surrounding the supposed UFO as an opportunity, with the director of Dublin economic development, Sandy Reed and members of the Dublin Rotary Club, plotting how the UFO could be a good thing for Dublin.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that a Cleburne, Texas native, Jason Leigh, who the media, such as NBC Weekend, labeled an expert on UFOs, turned out to be a bit of a crackpot. What a shock. Seems that 10 years ago Mr. Leigh attacked a Veterans Affairs Center in Waco with his Jeep because he was cranky about his veteran's benefits. After a standoff that involved the threat that he had enough explosives in his jeep to turn downtown Waco into a flower garden, Mr. Leigh surrendered and eventually received a short sentence.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Don't Mess With Texas

One of the things about Texas that immigrants from other states, states like Oregon or Washington for instance, notice when they move to Texas is the astonishing amount of litter. It's everywhere. Floating in lakes, floating in rivers, blowing along highways, blowing across fields of green. It's everywhere.

In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram today there was interesting litter news. Among typically goofy Star-Telegram verbiage, as in this gem, "Since its inception in 1986, the acclaimed Don't Mess with Texas slogan has attracted celebrities like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson. And it has helped dramatically reduce litter across the state."

Acclaimed slogan??? Who acclaimed this slogan? Is this typical Star-Telegram exaggeration? I'm surprised the article didn't say that
states far and wide are green with envy over the Don't Mess with Texas slogan. And the slogan has dramatically reduced litter? Yikes. This means it actually used to be worse than it is now?

I've no idea how the following data was acquired, but according to litter surveys of the Texas Department of Transportation in 2001 1.25 billion pieces of litter were thrown on Texas. By 2005 the amount of litter had fallen below the billion pieces mark to a mere 827 million pieces of litter.

From 1995 to 2001 there was a 51% reduction in litter. From 2001 to 2005 litter was reduced 33%.

And now this truly astonishing statistic which sort of goes to show why it is still such a mess out there in Don't Mess with Texas land. 55 percent of Texans admit that they throw litter from their vehicles while driving the roads of Texas!

There is a Don't Mess with Texas website. It is not known how many Texans have visited this website or how many Texans know they are not supposed to Mess with Texas. I suppose one can extrapolate from that 55 percent who admit to being litterers and assume they have not been exposed to any of the acclaimed don't litter slogans or the Don't Mess with Texas website.

Now, go pick up after yourself.

Stephenville UFO Air Force Update

Eye witness reports of those who saw the Stephenville UFO claimed that Air Force type jets were chasing the UFO. Air Force spokesman denied that any U.S. military aircraft were in the area.

The Air Force has now changed its story.

The military now admits that 10 F-16s from the 457th Fighter Squadron were training between 6 and 8pm January 8 in the Brownwood military operation area, which includes Stephenville and Erath County.

Major Karl Lewis, spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at Naval Air Station Fort Worth told reporters he had no information as to how or why the original misinformation was dispensed. And he had no idea whether or not any of the pilots saw anything unusual.

It is not known if the pilots were asked if they saw anything unusual or the identity of the pilots or why this information is not available.

It is believed that the military was forced to change its story due to the Freedom of Information Act being invoked.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Real Lulu

I just got a call from Lulu, in high umbrage mode, being pretty much incoherent. She just got back from her doctor who diagnosed her with Walking Pneumonia and prescribed all sorts of meds and an inhaler.

Last night Lulu somehow managed enough strength to write something in her Blog. But, she did not have the strength or presence of mind to realize she posted twice, the second one slightly different than the first.

When she called this morning I mentioned her double post. As she hacked away, likely blowing all sorts of bad stuff on her computer, she looked at her Blog and claimed to not see the double post. At great effort, on my part, I got her to focus long enough to see the extra post. Lulu then said she did not have the strength to fix it and asked if I would fix it for her.

And so I did. And when I fixed it I added the drawing of a sick person you see above. So, Lulu gets home from the doctors, and before she even takes her meds or sucks on her inhaler, she checks her Blog. She saw the drawing you see above and apparently this caused a major apoplectic fit. So, she called me demanding I stop whatever I'm doing and fix this at once. I told her to just go delete it herself. She claimed she couldn't figure it out. It would have taken way too long to help Lulu locate the delete button on her keyboard, so I just removed it myself.

Now, I guess I should be a bit more tolerant of Lulu's currently amped up eccentricity, what with her pretty much currently knocking on Heaven's Door. And it is not like I don't know she is extremely, almost pathologically, high maintenance. And it did give me something to blog about.

Speaking of Lulu's chronic illnesses. A few months ago Lulu and her first husband went to Maui. Lulu was sick when they left. He got sick there. It was the flu. They cut their vacation short, by what logic I've never understood. It would seem to be easier to be sick in a tropical paradise than in Tacoma in winter. So, Lulu had to push her so-weak-he-could-not-walk first husband through the airport in a wheelchair.

It is not known how many people Lulu and her first husband made sick by getting on a plane in such a contagious condition. They could easily have started an epidemic. Now that is something to get into a state of high umbrage over, sick people going out in public making other people sick. But to work yourself up to a state of upset over a little cartoon of a sick person, well, I really don't know what to say.

It is a wonderment to me that Lulu is not sicker due to what she eats when she's ailing. As in it is all chocolate derivatives. Primarily hot fudge sundaes, hot cocoa and s'mores. Lulu does not make her s'mores in the Girl Scout fashion over a fire. What she does is roast the marshmallow over the flames of her gas range top, sticking the marshmallow on a fork, getting it nice and toasty and then slapping it on graham cracker with a huge chunk of chocolate. I have seen this process repeated up to 6 times in one feeding.

To change the subject from Lulu, which is always a welcome relief, my Internet connection was uncooperative for a couple hours today. The problem was my router. It is so annoying to feel so dependent on something and to feel like it's such a major thing when you can't connect to the Internet. It's like some sort of addiction. I don't think it is healthy. And the trend line is ever worse. Like years ago when I went up north first thing I'd do was set up the computer wherever I was staying so I could do email and work on websites. Then about 4 years ago I started lugging a laptop with me, which is not easy, particularly switching planes involving long walks through an airport, carrying a big carry-on and the laptop. Or using the restroom facilities. Try standing at a urinal with heavy items hanging off your back and neck.

I flew north right after Katrina, leaving D/FW late, like 10pm. The plane was full, to my surprise. with Katrina refugees. I was seated next to a refugee mom and one of her kids. The two older kids sat behind us. They were heading to Bremerton to her sister's. We switched planes in Vegas. Previously this had always involved moving to a plane at most 2 gates over. This time the gate was way at the other end of the airport. And the moving sidewalks were not working. I'd asked if she'd like help getting to the next plane, not knowing we'd be hiking what seemed miles.

So, I was carrying my big backpack and my laptop and one of the kid's bags. I had one kid with me. He and I moved fast, got separated from the mom and the other kids. Went back and found them. They had to stop because the little girl had to throw up. Made it to the gate. Benefit of helping, she watched my stuff while I used the restroom facilities.

We got to Seattle at 3am. As soon as we landed I called Lulu (Oh Good God, we are back to Lulu) to make sure she was heading to get me. I got her voice mail. I helped the Katrina victims get to baggage claim, helped them get all their giant duffel bags. I had not reached Lulu and the refugee had not reached her sister.

Gradually the airport emptied til we were all alone, just me and the refugees. Finally Lulu called, said she'd slept through the alarm, that she was 20 minutes away. Eventually, after what seemed hours, Lulu drove up. I gave the Katrina refugee my cell number and told her to call if her sister did not show up. I took over driving from Lulu and drove to my sister's house in Kent. My sister was on vacation at Yosemite, the keys were hidden in the BBQ out back. Lulu drove away and I pretty much passed out from exhaustion, vowing to never travel with that damn laptop again.

I've been back 3 times since. With the laptop.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I am Woman Hear Me Roar

After a long cold tiring day, I decided to succumb once again to my cathode ray addiction and sit down for some TV viewing, intending to watch my favorite nonsensical show, Prison Break, and then catch the last half the South Carolina Democrat Presidential Primary Debate.
But, before I get to the debate, and what a debate it was, I must mention Prison Break. For the most part the show is filmed here in the D/FW zone of Texas. Currently most of the show takes place in a prison in Panama. I discovered after going for Tex-Mex for lunch at Esperanza's in the Stockyards that a part of Fort Worth's history was being used as a prison. I was surprised I had not read mention of this in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram because that paper never misses a chance to brag about anything remotely brag-worthy. Like if at any point in their life a person somehow touched Fort Worth or its environs that newspaper will say something like "Fort Worth Native, Bill Paxton", or like yesterday the Seattle band Foo Fighters was in town. One of the band members lived in Fort Worth for a short time when he was a toddler. The article labeled the guy (I can't remember his name) a Fort Worth native. They actually interviewed him and asked what he remembered of Fort Worth. "Nothing" was his reply.

So, it was surprising to me that the Star-Telegram did not have a big article talking about Fort Worth becoming a mecca for major Hollywood productions, with cities far and wide Green with Envy. Ironically, the one and only reference to the Stockyard Ruins being used as a TV set was a little blurb that said something like "The Fox TV Show, Prison Break, is using an abandoned Dallas area meat processing plant as a prison." Now if you knew how obsessed many Fort Worthers are over Dallas, referring to something taking place in Fort Worth as being in the "Dallas area" is pretty much a misdemeanor here, maybe a felony.

I remember reading the reference to the show using a Dallas area abandoned meat processing plant and wondering where it was. So, I was quite surprised to be driving in the Stockyards zone, driving by the old Swift-Armor meat plant that I call the Stockyard Ruins and seeing a guard tower where none existed before. And then it dawned on me what it might be. I Parked and made my way to a viewing point through a gate and was looking right at the Sona Prison in Panama, complete with palm trees that died in our first freeze here of the year.

Speaking of dying in a big freeze, back to last night's debate. So, I was watching Prison Break, came to the first commercial, switched over to CNN to see if the debate was being interesting. I never went back to Prison Break. I got to the debate right when Hillary and Barack started their now infamous verbal battle. I believe this was the wildest debate I've ever seen and I pretty much watch them all. Usually the crowd is told to be quiet, not to applaud, not to boo, warned that violators of this policy might be removed.

Well, last night apparently there was no such warning, that, or the moderator, Wolf Blitzer, realized that what started as a debate had turned into a World Federation of Wrestling Match and crowd participation only helped with the spectacle. So we had loud cheering, clapping, booing, hissing. And a lot of laughing.

There has been sniping between the Clinton and Obama camps for a couple weeks now. Last night was the first time the pair directly shot barbs at each other, rather than through their surrogates, like Mr. Bill. The best zingers where when Barack accused Hillary of being a lackey for Wal-Mart to which Hillary accused Barack of working for Chicago slumlords.

All in all, I think John Edwards won this debate. Obama seemed a bit shell-shocked, like he was being hen-pecked. Hillary once more seemed to be the toughest of the three. And not in a good way.

This morning I finished Dick Morris's book "Because He Could" where he pretty much shreds Bill and Hillary. One part of the book details the Clinton's epic fights that many witnessed over the years. Another part pretty much made a real good case that it was Hillary who caused the worst of the Clinton scandals, the worse being refusing to let Bill settle the Paula Jones case out of court, which then led to Bill committing perjury, which then led to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Hillary was completely the cause of Travelgate, as well, despite the Clinton denials. Anyway, it is a good book. I recommend it.

Update: I liked the Morris book I finished this morning so much that this afternoon I got his latest book, the one where he counters Hillary's "Living History" book. His is called "Rewriting History". So far I'm only a few pages in and there's some good stuff. Like a section of Hillary's more bizarre bouts of getting caught in really weird lies. Like when she claimed to be named after Sir Edmund Hillary, he being the recently deceased first climber of Mount Everest. Trouble is Sir Edmund became a known name well after Hillary Clinton was born. And then there was the incident where Hillary made up a bizarre story on the Today Show, telling Katie Couric that Chelsea had been jogging around the Twin Towers when they were struck on 9/11. Trouble is Chelsea said later that she was miles away on the other side of Manhattan watching the nightmare unfold on TV, just like most of us experienced it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK DAY & Civil War Re-Enactments

It is a cold and drippy Martin Luther King Day here in Texas. And once more I am dead dog tired having been up since 4am. I brought the Puerto Rican Terror to the airport early today. And just like I said she would be, when I mentioned this yesterday, she was deep into her cups. I think it was wine this time. At 7am. She called me from San Juan a few hours later and sounded sober. I think she prefers the second leg of her Puerto Rico trips to be sober because she is in a little prop plane in which the ride has turned scary a time or two, particularly the last time, on her return, when it had to make an emergency landing, and the rest of the journey to San Juan had to be in a taxi that went over the speed limit all the way to the airport. She called me when she got to San Juan and insisted I bring a bottle of vodka to the airport when I picked her up a few hours later. I'm passive aggressive, though, so somehow I forgot the booze.

Lulu called today when I was up at the north end of the D/FW Metroplex in the boomtown of Flower Mound. Lulu is being deathly ill with a cold. She sounded awful. I wanted her off the phone, she was not pleasant to listen to, like a wheezing, stuffed up old man is how she was sounding. Lulu has developed a somewhat deep voice in her later years, sort of like what happened with Lucille Ball. I believe Lulu's voice is now quite a bit deeper than her first husband's, which sort of makes their world more logical these days since she has always been the macho one in that relationship. Though he is 100% purebred German and has a nasty Nazi-level temper when provoked, when he yells it is rather high pitched and thus not all that intimidating. Now Lulu does not even have to yell and her voice is intimidating. All Lulu has to do is give you the look and you know there's gonna be trouble.

So, change of subject and I'm being too lazy to insert a horizontal line to make note of a change. So, it's Martin Luther King Day. There were interesting transcripts of phone conversations between MLK and LBJ in the paper today. They were quite supportive of each other. Interesting in the context of the odd brouhaha between Miss Hilllary and Mr. Obama of late over who gets credit for the advances in Civil Rights during the 60s.

I think since I've been in Texas I've only seen the results of the Civil Rights Movement, I've not seen a single incident of the type which made it necessary. I have been to a Civil War Re-Enactment, the Civil War was sort of a major Civil Rights Movement. I don't know if Martin Luther King would have approved of Civil War Re-Enactments, but I'm pretty certain he approved of the results of the Civil War.

The last of these Civil War Re-Enactment photos may be a bit disturbing. The wounded get brought to the field hospital where amputations take place. They make it look very realistic, including sawed-off limbs and rats sniffing about. The soldier getting cut on contributes to the realism by screaming real loud. And some of the women in period costume get the vapors and swoon. Quite a spectacle. And you can observe it all while gnawing down on a BBQ turkey leg that you can purchase for only $3. (U.S. currency only, no Confederate notes allowed)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's Bedtime

It's not even 5pm but I'm feeling like it's bedtime. But I must stay up for 3 more hours to watch the finale of Amazing Race. I could set the VCR to record it but I somehow usually screw that up. So, why am I dead tired? I think it must be because I've been up since about 3am. I woke up then and about 4am I decided if the Sunday paper was here I was going to get up, make coffee and read the paper. And so I did. I'm not sure I can manage to string together words in my current condition.

We'll see.

In the Sunday paper there was a lot of info about the Stephenville UFO. It's been so long ago now but I can see I then blogged about this and posted it at 4:41am. The morning seemed to pass fairly quickly as I did various tasks, most computer related.

About 7am I took the meat off a couple chickens because I'd decided I wanted to make Chicken Tortilla Soup today. That decision sort of determined how the next few hours went. Yesterday I'd decided I wanted to go to Tandy Hills Park today and take a photo of a tower.

That tower being the Fort Worth Space Needle, modeled after towers in Seattle and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This may seem a bit goofy and may not seem to your eyes to look anything like the Seattle Space Needle or that tower in Paris. Fort Worth has a long history of building things modeled after things in other places. The Fort Worth Space Needle is Fort Worth's second major homage to Seattle, the first being a public market in Fort Worth claimed to be modeled after Pike Place in Seattle. You can read all about that here. Another big Fort Worth project that has not quite gotten started yet is called the Trinity River Vision. Basically they want to take a perfectly fine river and turn it into a lake with canals. For awhile they were claiming it would make Fort Worth the Vancouver of the South. Then I think someone from Fort Worth actually went to Vancouver and realized how goofy it was to think turning a river into a lake with some canals would make Fort Worth into the Vancouver of the South. Seems more like Fort Worth is trying to copy the success of San Antonio's Riverwalk. Which, I guess, would then make Fort Worth the San Antonio of the North Part of Texas.

So, after I got my pics of the Fort Worth Space Needle (that's the pic at the top) I headed to Arlington to Chinatown to get vegetables for my tortilla soup. The vegetable buying was uneventful. I always enjoy going to the Hong Kong Market. Usually I am the only non-Asian in the store. It always makes me feel very tall when I'm there. It's a very well run store, the clerks are all whizzes, sort of the anti-Wal-Mart. I got giant red peppers today. And some more Chinese Garlic. Among other things.

So, I'm going from making a rude Wal-Mart remark in the above paragraph to now telling you I left the Hong Kong Market and headed to the Super Wal-Mart across from the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium. As I headed in that direction I remembered I wanted to take pics of the industrial wasteland that the south side of the stadium will face. I think visitor's at the Super Bowl of 2011 are going to be appalled when they see this. Maybe there are plans to use more eminent domain abuse and clean it all up.

So, Wal-Mart went fast, in and out very quick. Then headed back here to make the tortilla soup. On the way back here I needed gas. When I get gas I call my mom in Phoenix and tell her how much it cost. If I don't make a gas call within a reasonable amount of time my mom calls me and asks why I'm not buying any gas. So, our gas conversation was going fine, but my phone started doing the bloop bloop noise. And then it made an explosion noise. I'd forgotten the short bloops bloops indicated the battery was low. So, I got back here and plugged the phone in and called my mom back to tell her I'd figured out what was causing the bloop bloop.

Then as I was finishing up the tortilla soup I started getting calls. And voice mails. When I finally got around to listening to the messages they were from this former alien heading back to her home country whom I guess I said I'd take to the airport tomorrow and she was getting a bit concerned that I was going to bail on her. I don't like taking her to the airport because she requires a high level of fortification to get on a plane. Well, actually, she requires that for just about anything. She flies out at 9:35am. I'll drop her off 2 hours earlier. She will be drunk. I don't know how she manages to get through security. The last time I provided this service I swore it'd be the last. My issue that time was with the return pickup. Of course, she was a bit tipsy, having been in Miami for 4 hours with her sister. Back at D/FW one of her pieces of luggage turned up missing, this turned into a big brouhaha, much of it in Spanish with Puerto Rican swear words flying about the airport.

Okay. I can not type another word. I'm exhausted. And the Chicken Tortilla Soup wasn't all that great.

Stephenville UFO Photo Update

The Stephenville UFO photo that appeared on Friday, taken by a Kentucky truck driver, has now been identified as a MFO, a serious downgrade from UFO status. A MFO is a "Misidentified Flying Object".

Scientists who have examined the photo have decided the object in the photo is a little-known atmospheric phenomenon known as a sun dog, so named by Native Americans back long before UFOs started visiting. A sun dog is caused by ice crystals suspended in the air, reflecting sunlight through high clouds.

Those who claim to have seen the Stephenville UFO are being interviewed by members of the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON. MUFON is having people draw what they think they saw. The data will be studied and eventually MUFON will make a determination as to what occurred in Stephenville.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Barbecue & Longhorns

I'm going to the Fort Worth Stockyards today. I think. It is very very cold out there, in the mid 20s now at 10am. Cold weather feels way colder in Texas than it used to feel up in Washington. The Stockyards should be well stocked with people today due to the Stock Show taking place in another part of town. I'm planning on taking video, hopefully of the Fort Worth Herd. The cows and cowboys should be on the move, even though it is cold.

It's been so cold I've been unwilling to go outside for any aerobic activity, so I'm starting to atrophy. And go stir crazy.

While at the Stockyards I had planned on going to Riscky's Barbecue for All You Can Eat ribs. Only $7.95 for the next 2 weeks. They are real messy, but you are supplied with a roll of paper towels. But Riscky's is fun only if you can Eat All You Can while sitting on a picnic table at their outside patio where you can watch herds of people, cows and horses walk by. By afternoon the prediction is a high of 45. I somehow don't think that will be a comfortable temperature for sitting outside eating messy barbecue ribs.

Yesterday's post about the Stephenville UFO has been getting a lot of kooks (Freudian slip, meant looks, not kooks) from all over the world. This morning someone from Hiroshima was looking at it. But it is the Russians, not the Japanese, who seem to be way too interested in the Texas UFO. Maybe it was a Russian military experiment gone awry.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stephenville UFO Photo Evidence

UFO mania continues unabated here in Texas, almost as fervently as the post-mortem mourning over the recent Dallas Cowboys tragedy that has much of this region reeling. It is not known, at present, if the Stephenville UFO had anything to do with the Dallas Cowboy's loss in their first playoff game of this century or if Jessica Simpson is in anyway involved in either the Cowboy loss or the Stephenville UFO.

What we do know is a Kentucky truck driver snapped a photo of the UFO. You can see that above. Below, near the end of this post, you can see our exclusive seen only here photo of a UFO.

It has been reported that some Stephenville citizens have begun wearing aluminum foil helmets to protect their heads from potential UFO initiated death rays. Those who have seen the UFO report that it is a large silent cigar shaped object flying low and fast with lights of changing colors rotating counter-clockwise escorted by other objects that look like military aircraft, like helicopters.

Stephenville town secretary, Cindy Stafford has taken to wearing a green alien mask. One of the town's car dealers has put up a sign offering to make a deal on a UFO trade.

Media from around the world have descended on Stephenville including representatives of a Washington based UFO research group some members of whom think the government conspires to keep the UFO reality a deep, dark secret.

I snapped this UFO photo yesterday, not realizing til I saw the Kentucky truck driver's UFO photo that what I saw was not some sort of sun-related cloud phenomenon, but in actuality was an invading alien from a galaxy far away.

Size Matters Not

I am currently being vexed by about 300 email spams a day. The trend seems to be more and more of it. I’m vexed because it is annoying, I’m vexed because it takes time to deal with it, I’m vexed because it has caused me to miss email I wanted to see, I’m vexed because I don’t understand the underlying economics of the spam and I’m vexed at what most of the spam is selling. I mean, what is the motive? Who is sending this stuff? And why? Do some fools actually click on the spam links and actually buy stuff?

About 10% of the spam deals with trying to repair my bad credit, trying to get me a new mortgage, trying to end my chronic obesity, trying to get me to update a bank record at a bank at which I have no account, or fix my Ebay or PayPal accounts.

The other 90% of the spam deals with (I insert a warning here, the following may not be suitable for young readers even though this is not Family Day, read the ‘Startlegram’ post to get the Family Day reference), as I was saying, the other 90% of the spam deals with concerns about my most private of parts. There is concern about its size, with endless offers of ways to end my embarrassment regarding my most delicate of shortcomings. And then there is also a lot of concern about how well my most private of parts performs, with multiple offers of multiple ways of amping up my most private part’s performance to top notch performance standards that will meet the most exacting needs of the most critical of critics and have those on the receiving end singing my praises and recommend me to their friends, neighbors and co-workers.

What further vexes me is no one else I know gets these offers. How did the annoying spammers discover I am in need of this help? Who told them? Was it you? Well, it needs to stop. I have learned to live with all my various shortcomings and all my various performance problems and I’m not going to grow any bigger or perform any better at my ripe old age so just drop these attempts to fix me.

Not that I don’t appreciate the concern.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wild Wild West

Last night the phone rang just as I was getting ready to go to Krogers to get a gallon of milk (skim, $3.50). It was Lulu. I put her on speaker phone so I could continue putting on pants and shoes. Lulu stayed with me as I left my place and headed to my van. These are like little virtual trips to Texas for Lulu, a world away from her idyllic paradise in the shadow of Mount Rainier.
As I drove into the Krogers parking lot I saw a Fort Worth police cruiser pulling in, lights flashing, siren blaring. As I got out of the van I saw the cop slowly approaching the store. As I got closer to the entry I saw a huddle of people around a woman, a slightly obese stereotypical Texas woman looking a tad unkempt. As the cop approached her she put up her arms in the position you see on TV when a cop puts on the handcuffs. Apparently she had had experience with the procedure. On the ground in front of the woman was a spilled grocery bag that seemed to have spilled out what looked like pharmacy type products.

Within a couple minutes I'd bought my milk and was exiting the store, still talking to Lulu. I'm quite the multi-tasker, able to talk on the phone while going through the self-checkout. When I stepped back outside I was surprised to see that the incident had escalated. There were now 5 polices cruisers with lights flashing, with an equal number of officers. There was a fire truck with firefighter emergency guys doing something to the woman who had wanted handcuffs that looked like some sort of tubing, as if she was on an intravenous drip. She was sitting on the ground, conscious, no handcuffs.

It was quite noisy and must have sounded dire and scary to Lulu who was screaming something along the line of "what sorta hell hole do you live in?" I explained it was not a hell hole, it was east Fort Worth, Fort Worth, known locally as Where the West Begins, with that wild west tradition held up regularly by incidents like the one last night at Krogers.

I was almost back to my van when I saw a MedStar ambulance drive by. I said to Lulu I think they called in an ambulance but it missed the entry. I saw it then turn around and head into the parking lot.

I saw nothing in the morning Star-Telegram about last night's incident. Just like I never saw anything about an incident of a couple days ago when I returned from hiking Tandy Hills Park to see 2 female cops, slowly making their way to a closed dry cleaner, guns at the ready, speaking into those shoulder communication devices you see on cop shows.

I've grown used to the occasional notice being put on my door telling me there has been yet one more armed robbery in the neighborhood, advising that caution be taken when out after dark. Since I've been in Texas I've happened upon one murder scene, after the fact, several murders have occurred in my neighborhood, including that nationally reported one of a few years back where a woman, I think it was a woman, ran into someone who got stuck in her windshield, so she drove home and parked in her garage and left the victim to slowly die. And then got rid of the body. I think, if I remember right, her defense was she was tired and didn't notice the man stuck in her windshield til a few days later.

I probably should get a gun and holster if I'm gonna keep living here. Or some mace. Can the general public buy tasers?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

The Fort Worth Stock Show is currently open for business. The Stock Show is pretty much like a state fair only it's held in the depths of winter. It started off on Saturday with the world's biggest non-mechanized parade. That means there are no motorized vehicles pulling anything and a lot of horses making messes. I've been to the Stock Show Parade twice. It's an entertaining parade except for one slightly jarring note. That being that the parade route is not cleared of vehicles parked on the side of the road. So in many places along the parade route you share space with a car while trying to get a good look at what is passing by.

I've been to the Stock Show & Rodeo twice also. The first time being barely after moving here. We had rodeo tickets. I'd not gotten over my aversion to country music by that point in time and so the rodeo was pretty much torture for me. It's held in an ancient colisseum called the Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium. The Stock Show used to take place in the Stockyards, but for some unfathomable reason it was moved to
Fort Worth's Cultural District. Yes, Fort Worth has so much culture an entire district had to be built just to contain it. The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo runs from Jan. 11 to Feb. 3.

I highly doubt I'll go to the Stock Show this year. Last year's Stock Show Parade was cancelled due to an ice storm. Here in Fort Worth they call this Stock Show weather.

I did go to the latest
State Fair of Texas. It's in Dallas. I'd gone to the State Fair once before and enjoyed it a lot. The second time, not so much. By 5pm I was tired of it and bailed. This year's State Fair of Texas seemed like it'd been taken over by car dealerships. It was a major turnoff. But I did get some good video of the Midway. Midway is State Fair Speak for carnival.

Click the play button twice to start the
video of the State Fair of Texas

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Stephenville UFO

I was peacefully minding my own business sipping on some salubrious Tension Tamer tea, watching the remaining 3 Democrats debate in Las Vegas when my peace was rudely shattered by my cell phone's annoying ring. I then had to hunt down the phone and saw it was Lulu. All day long I had been plagued by incoming calls with the caller not I.D'd, saying only "private number". These calls came in about once an hour. I don't answer calls when I don't know who is on the other end. The 8th time this happened the caller left a voice mail. It was Lulu. I called her back. She'd somehow messed up her cell phone settings again.

Anyway, so Lulu called disrupting the undivided attention I had been paying to what had been a somewhat entertaining debate. Hillary was acting sort of macho tonight, while John Edwards almost had a teary moment to two. Barack Obama is very articulate.

Oh, back to the Lulu call. Her first husband had told her that UFOs were invading the Texas town of Stephenville. Lulu wanted to know if I was close to there and if I'd seen any UFOs. This was the first I'd heard of the UFO invasion. I told Lulu I would keep an eye on the sky. And then I tried to once more concentrate on the debate. But I couldn't. Those trivial issues those candidates were yammering about paled in comparison to the UFO invasion spectre Lulu had raised.

So, off went the TV and to the Internet I went, Googling "Stephenville UFO". And what to my surprised eyes did appear but link after link about the Stephenville UFOs. Stephenville is down in the Dinosaur Valley/Creationism Museum area. UFOs don't seem much of a stretch.

I'd put some links to the articles in this post but that's a lot of bother and you can just Google it for yourself. It's my bedtime.

Pedal Pushing

I pedaled the mountain bike trail at River Legacy Park today with Miss Brady. On the way to Arlington, while still in Fort Worth, east Fort Worth, on Meadowbrook Lane, stopped at a light, I looked up and was surprised to see the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the roof support arches clearly visible in the distance. So, apparently the new stadium will be visible from Fort Worth. I'm guessing you'd have to be up in one of the many tall skyscrapers in Dallas to be able to see the Dallas Cowboys Stadium from Dallas. Visible from the ground in Fort Worth, but not in Dallas, I'm assuming. I suppose I should drive over to Dallas to see if I can see the stadium lest I opine something erroneous. But that would be way too much bother so let's just assume you can't see the thing from the ground in Dallas.

Back to pedaling. Went just under 9 miles. It's fun to have someone to bike with. Since I've been in Texas that's been rare. When I first arrived in Texas a fellow Washington transplant known as Big Ed would go biking with me. But there was an incident each and every time, usually a flat tire. On the final bike ride with Big Ed he managed to come up with something quite novel to ruin the bike ride. Somehow while going up a short hill Big Ed got his baggy shorts hooked on one of his pedals. This ripped his shorts off him. He was not wearing underwear. Somehow, using his t-shirt and his ripped shorts, he was able to cover himself up enough to make it back to cover without getting an indecent exposure ticket.

And then there was this Texas native I met years ago, a west Texas boy, born and raised in some town named Bug Butt or something like that, out by Midlands/Odessa. I refer to this person as Gar the Texan. Had not heard from him in awhile, til recently. He's a Libertarian. Ran for Congress on the Libertarian ticket and lost. A couple years ago Gar the Texan married an ex-communist from the former East Germany. She may have been born after East Germany ceased being communist, so maybe she isn't an ex-communist. I'm almost 100% certain she's not a former Nazi.

Anyway, Gar the Texan got a mountain bike and roller blades and hiking boots. He'd never been on a hike before so I drove him to
Dinosaur Valley and Turner Falls Park. Hiking he was able to do, for the most part, but biking and blading, not so good. He claimed to have health issues. Slight exertion did seem to quickly leave him wheezing for air and green of color. Which made little sense to me because he appeared to be in good shape, not overweight, except for carrying an excess load of hair on his head due to his unfortunately out of date (since fixed) Billy Ray Cyrus type mullet.

The first time I tried to bike with Gar the Texan was at Lake Grapevine on the Knob Hill Trail. We made it up one slight hill when his Southern Belle Beulah Routine kicked in. He pushed his bike back to my van after he recovered sufficiently to move.

The second bike incident was at Horseshoe Trails, also on Lake Grapevine. Gar the Texan did better this time til he lost control and flew over his handlebars, triggering a Major Beulah Attack. I got him stabilized on a bench and I pedaled back to my van so that I could rescue him and get him to an ER and then Krispy Kreme where he was able to eat enough doughnuts to stabilize his blood sugar.

The third bike attempt also went badly. I figured maybe paved trail would work better, so we parked at the Fort Worth Stockyards and pedaled the Trinity River Trail to downtown Fort Worth's Heritage Park. But I'd forgotten that there is a slight incline to get up to Heritage Park. Gar the Texan pushed his bike up the slight incline and then had a Beulah Attack. Heritage Park commemorates the founding of Fort Worth. Though Gar the Texan is a Texan, hence the name, it was not until he saw Heritage Park and read the signage that he realized Fort Worth had once been an actual fort. When he recovered that time he wanted to go to Hooters. With his health issues I thought Hooters would be way too stimulating so we went to Booger Red's and had Buffalo Butt Beer instead.

I only went roller blading one time with Gar the Texan. That did not go well at all. It was a nice paved trail by his house, smooth, easy to roll on. But he only made it a few wobbly feet before collapsing on a bench in full Beulah Attack Mode. After he recovered he wanted to go to Chili's and consume adult beverages to hasten his full recovery. So we did so and got subjected to listening to his barber discuss her problems with her roommate's love life. As far as I know this roller blading incident is the last time Gar the Texan did anything physical, other than getting married.

Monday, January 14, 2008

America's Team Post Mortem

Well, I said yesterday that I'd make note of anything goofy in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram regarding the Dallas Cowboys losing on their first step to the Super Bowl.

I am disappointed to report that I read nothing that even came close to the air-headed goofiness that I told you about on Saturday. The paper did have an entire section devoted to the disastrous sudden death of America's Team, with the big headline on the front page being "THEY'RE HISTORY".

The headline on one of the front page columns today is "TITLE HOPES WASTING AWAY--AGAIN--IN LOSERVILLE". In the column, the writer, Randy Galloway, did come up with a slight bit of goofy overwroughtness regarding Tony Romo in which Galloway wrote "Tell me again that what Tony Romo does with his personal life on his own free time should not be held against him. Tony is about to receive a harsh and negative lesson in the power of public perception. His otherwise harmless Mexico beach trip just became toxic. It will haunt him through the next season, if not forever."

In case you missed it, Terrell Owens, I think that's his name, covered the expenses for a short vacation in Cabo San Lucas for Tony Romo and a few of his friends, like Jessica Simpson. I really don't see what this has to do with the football team losing a game, but it's been an issue here ever since the tabloid's paparazzi got some pics of Tony and Jessica. Now Jessica Simpson is a sweet cute Dallas girl. It isn't like he was down in Mexico canoodling with someone unsavory like Britney Spears.

Reporters asking Terrell Owens about Tony Romo and the Mexico trip, after the game, apparently drove Mr. Owens to tears while he defended his quarterback.

The Cowboys did not play during the first week of the playoffs, apparently the team was told to relax, have fun. What was the guy supposed to do? Toss footballs every day to keep in shape for the big game? I would think going swimming with Jessica Simpson would be great training.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

America's Team Toasted

Well, if you read my post, yesterday, about America's Team and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's articles about how the Dallas Cowboy's success amped up pretty much the entire world, I guess you're likely as worried as I am that this shocking loss in the Dallas Cowboy's first playoff game will now likely push the world economy into that recession so many have been worried about. I'll share tomorrow whatever bizarre verbiage I see in Monday's Star-Telegram about the failure of the formerly presumed Super Bowl winners. On the bright side, Tony Romo can now canoodle to his heart's content with Jessica Simpson without upsetting the locals.


That's what the locals call the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Startlegram. So, yesterday I verbalized my slight umbrage at the Star-Telegram's purple prose regarding America's Team: The Dallas Cowboys. I said something about how that paper regularly annoys me.

And then I got feedback via email from my
Eyes on Texas website and the page I added yesterday about "America's Team" about my amusement at the articles in the Startlegram. A couple of the feedback emails asked what other examples of goofiness I've seen in that notorious paper.


Probably the worst was when downtown Fort Worth opened a food court called the
Sante Fe Rail Market. The Star-Telegram turned Chamber of Commerce propaganda booster and repeated in article after article that this lame little market was the first public market in Texas, that it was modeled after Seattle's Pike Place Market and markets in Europe. Of course, being from the Seattle zone that set up some high expectations for me. When it opened I visited the Santa Fe Rail Market and webpaged what I saw. I could not believe a newspaper would so misrepresent something to this extent. Had no one on that paper been to Seattle? Did they not realize that some of their readers may have been to or were from Seattle and would know how ridiculous it was to say this little food court type thing was modeled after Pike Place? Even after this was pointed out to the Star-Telegram the erroneous propaganda continued to be repeated.

And then I found out that not only was this soon to fail lame thing not the first public market in Texas it wasn't even the
first one in Fort Worth! It was as if no one on the Star-Telegram had even been to the Dallas Farmers Market, a location that actually does resemble Pike Place.

Let's move on to another example of what a bad newspaper this is.

A sporting goods store named Cabela's wanted to open a store in Fort Worth. Cabela's wanted tax breaks and other incentives. Cabela's PR told the powers that be in Fort Worth, including the Star-Telegram, that Cabela's would be the #1 Tourist Attraction in Texas. This was repeated ad nauseum in the Star-Telegram, which never once questioned the absurdity of the premise. One of their more idiotic columnists, I won't name him, suffice to say he shares a last name with a president who was killed in the big city to the east of here. The number of supposed 'tourists' at Cabela's ranged from 5 million to this bad columnist's high of 8 million. When I pointed out to him how absurd this was, via email, he told me I must hate business. So, Cabela's got its tax break, Fort Worth got snookered and Cabela's is now open and has performed so poorly there have been a lot of layoffs and they had to return incentive money to Fort Worth because Cabela's did not perform as advertised. And Cabela's has opened another store in Austin! Cabela's must have left that planned store out of the info they gave Fort Worth when conning them with the "Top Tourist Attraction in Texas" nonsense.

Another example of this irresponsible newspaper's knack for being a bit lacking with facts---
River Legacy Park opened a new section of the park a couple years ago on the north side of the Trinity River. A new pedestrian/bike bridge connected the old trail with the new. The new trail added about 4 miles. The new trail and bridge was open and being used for months before the park declared it done. The Star-Telegram reported this by describing, wrongly, that a final mile of trail had been completed and opened connecting the River Legacy trails to 360. (360 is a highway that bi-sects the D/FW Metroplex). Now, I had already been pedaling to the end of this new trail for months. I knew it did not end at 360.

So, the very day after the Star-Telegram printed this false information, incorrectly describing the River Legacy Trail, I pedaled the new trail. At the end of the trail, at the 7 mile marker, there was a guy. He had jogged to the end. I stopped. He asked me how you get to 360 from there? He said he thought the trail went to 360. I asked him if he read that in the Startlegram. He said yes. I told him you can not trust what you read in that paper, that I highly doubted if they had any reporters who were sufficiently non lard assed enough to actually see a trail for themselves. This guy had told friends that he would be on an overpass on 360 when they returned from the airport. I let him use my cell phone to leave a message for his incoming friends.

Okay, I've got more of these type things in my memory bank, but it is time for Amazing Race.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

America's Team

I'm one of the dwindling number of Americans who read a daily hard copy newspaper. My morning ritual is to lay on the floor with a cup of coffee and read the paper. When I lived in Washington my morning paper was the Seattle P-I. In Fort Worth it is the Star-Telegram. To be blunt and to the point, Washington has a much higher high school graduation rate, much higher number of college graduates, Seattle leads the nation in number of book readers and I'll just say that the quality of the P-I reflects the quality of its readers. And so does the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The Star-Telegram has recently had a big makeover they touted as an improvement. It wasn't. Basically they are losing subscribers and revenue and had to cut back. So, a lot of columnists were fired and features reduced. Like on Sunday the Weekly Review is now 4 pages long. I think it used to be 8. It used to take me a half hour or so to read the Sunday paper. Now I'm lucky if it takes longer than 15 minutes. Here is one good example of how dumb this newspaper is. Up til the BIG CHANGE Tuesday's were what they called Family Day. When I guess families were supposedly supposed to sit around and read the paper. So, on Family Day, on many an occasion, a Dear Abby column would be altered to say something like "Today's Dear Abby was not considered suitable for Family Day and will run tomorrow." Every time I saw that I'd think to myself have they no consideration for those families who read the paper every day? Shouldn't they be totally protected from the evil Dear Abby letter?

If you want another good example of how bad a newspaper can be,
go here and be appalled and amused.

And that brings us to today's Star-Telegram. On the front page of this sad excuse for a major city newspaper, under the headline at the top of the page "Everyone's a Winner" with a sub-heading in large letters saying "The Cowboys are at the top of their game. And that's good for everybody. Their success is felt far and wide and measured in dollars and happiness." And then the rest of the article in normal sized print saying, "Are you feeling good about the Dallas Cowboys this season? You're not alone. The team's success has a real effect on how we go about our lives. The Cowboys can stir emotions and spirits in such a way that individuals, and in many cases businesses, are more productive. And it's not just a local thing, either. When you're 13-3 and in the NFL playoffs and are America's Team, the impact can be far-reaching. Call it success by association."

That was on the front page. The sports page was worse. With a long article under the headline "Cowboys' success makes the world a better place". You may read more of that article and other good stuff about America's Team by
going here. Or read the entire Star-Telegram article in all its goofy glory in its online version.