Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Top 15 Texas Tourist Attractions With #1 Not Being Cabela's Sporting Goods Store

All of us Texans should have the Texas Almanac in our possession.

Among the best information, that I've found so far, comes from the Survey for Office of the Governor, listing Texas Traveler's Top Attractions.

My one longtime reader, and anyone reading this in the Fort Worth zone, may remember a few years back when the sporting goods store named Cabela's come courting Fort Worth.

Cabela's told Fort Worth officials, and the city's puppet newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which repeated it over and over again, that Cabela's would be the #1 Tourist Attraction in Texas.

The number of visitors predicted, that I read in that terrible newspaper, ranged between 4 and 8 million.

Like a lonely spinster, surprised to find a suitor interested in her, Fort Worth agreed to just about anything Cabela's asked for, like tax breaks, I forget what all the concessions were. Part of the deal was Cabela's had to meet certain performance criteria, and if those criteria were not met, Cabela's would pay for it.

I remember the first time I read that Cabela's was to be the Top Attraction in Texas, it just seemed such a ridiculous claim, that I was appalled the local newspaper of record fed that propaganda without questioning it.

Not long after Fort Worth got shystered by its Cabela's suitor, Cabela's announced that another Cabela's would be opening in Texas, down in Buda, south of Austin. The fact that Cabela's was cheating on its Fort Worth suitor, with another town in Texas, was not much mentioned in the Star-Telegram. Nor did the Star-Telegram ever admit, as far as I know, that the claims that Cabela's would be the Top Attraction in Texas, were, basically, a con job that Cabela's has pulled on other easy to dupe places.

In other towns, like Boise, Idaho, when Cabela's makes its play and asks for tax breaks and other breaks, Boise told Cabela's if it is not economically viable for Cabela's to operate in the Boise area, without being subsidized, then don't. Boise provided Cabela's no breaks. Cabela's built a Boise store, anyway.

So, I found it amusing to see a list, provided by the State of Texas, of what the Top 15 Tourist Attractions are in Texas, both for Texans and for out of state visitors.

I know it is going to shock you, but Cabela's is not the #1 Tourist Attraction in Texas. The Governor's survey combined the total number of visitors to both the Buda and Fort Worth Cabela's and even then Cabela's was only the #10 Attraction for Texans and #7 for out of state visitors.

In a rather funny irony, two attractions in Fort Worth are more attractive to Texans than Cabela's, that being the Fort Worth Stockyards at #8 and the Fort Worth Zoo at #9. Six Flags Over Texas, in Arlington, is a bigger attraction than Cabela's at #5. I remember mentioning Six Flags in my letter to the editor of the Star-Telegram, asking if it really made sense, to them, that a sporting goods store was going to be a bigger attraction than Six Flags?

Anyway, below are the two lists, the first list being that of the Top 15 Attraction for Texans, with the second list being the Top 15 Attractions for out of state visitors.

Top Attractions For Texas Tourists

1. Alamo
2. River Walk
3. Galveston Island
4.(T) State Capitol
5.(T) South Padre Island
5. Six Flags
7. NASA Space Center
8. Fort Worth Stockyards
9. Fort Worth Zoo
10. Cabela's (both Buda & Fort Worth)
11.(T) Sea World
11.(T) Moody Gardens
13 Ballpark at Arlington
14. Kemah Boardwalk
15. San Marcos Outlets

Top Attractions For Out of State Visitors

1. Galveston Island
2. Alamo
3. San Marcos Outlets
4. River Walk
5. State Capitol
6. South Padre Island
7. Cabela's (both Buda & Fort Worth)
8. Sea World
9. State Fair of Texas
10. Six Flags
11. Kemah Boardwalk
12. Fort Worth Stockyards
13. Fiesta Texas
14. Moody Gardens
15. Ballpark at Arlington

My only problem with the Texas Almanac is there is so much information on its 736 pages that the print size makes it hard for me to read, at times, without a reading aid, like a magnifying glass.

Village Creek Flooding While I Make Lemony Chicken Spinach Soup

It was a balmy 30 when I took my quick dip in the pool this morning. The water was not freezing, but it was not much above freezing, or so it felt to me.

This morning the Queen of Wink sent me directions on how to construct Lemony Chicken Spinach Soup. I needed to go to Wal-Mart to get 2 of the items needed to construct the soup, a lemon and spinach.

Before going to Wal-Mart I wanted to go on a walk at Village Creek Natural Historic Area, with it being a short distance from Wal-Mart, that seemed to be the thing to do.

But, the park was closed, the gate blocking the entry to the parking lot. "Closed Due To Flooding" said the sign, or words to that effect.

This surprised me because we have not had any rain since, I think, Thursday.

I decided to drive to the Interlochen neighborhood where there is another entry to the park. When I got to where I could see the trail into the park I was surprised to see water running over the dam/bridge that takes you into Village Creek Park. It's easy to see the high water mark. It was not much higher than where the water level is now.

This was a bit perplexing. Usually when creeks, here in this zone of Texas, go into flash flood mode, it happens quickly and then the water recedes. Maybe water is being released from Lake Arlington. I think that's where Village Creek comes from.

Soups ready.

The History Of The Queen Of Wink's Texas Domain

You are looking at the building where the Winkler County Justice of the Peace dispenses justice, in Wink, Texas.

Wink lost the "ler" part of the county name when the town of Winkler asked the state of Texas for a post office. The town was told there was already a Winkler in Texas. And so Wink was born. That was in 1927.

1927 was also the year the first public school opened in Wink, one short year after the town sprung up in the West Texas desert after oil was discovered in the Hendrick Oilfield.

Before Wink was 1 year old the town had grown to a population of almost 4,000. By 1929 estimates range as high as 25,000 Winkites.

The Wink oil boom and population explosion brought problems to the new town. Lawlessness in the form of bootlegging, prostitution and gambling were big business in Wink. Organized crime took over the town, including the city government.

Wink was sort of a Fort Worth of its day.

In 1928 a District Judge ruled that the Wink incorporation election was void. The city government was then re-organized and made sort of legitimate, with the first city building opening in December of 1928. It was a jail.

In 1929 the Texas-New Mexico Railroad laid tracks from Wink Junction to Wink, connecting the town to New Mexico.

In 1933 Wink finally managed to get itself legally incorporated. During the Great Depression the Wink oil boom declined, along with the population. Many Wink businesses closed.

Wink's population continued to decline through the 1940s, shrinking to around 1,500, with 40 businesses still operating.

During the 1950's Wink's population remained stable at around 1,500. In 1958 Wink lost its railroad connection to the outside world.

In the 1960s Wink's population rose a bit, to a high of 1,800, but then declined to a new low of less than 1,200 Winkites.

In July of 1960 Wink received an urban renewal grant from the federal government of over 1 million dollars. The money went to paving roads.

In the 1970s and 80s Wink's population continued to decline. By the end of the 1980s the number of businesses operating in Wink had dropped to 5.

The 2000 census counted 919 people in Wink.

Wink is often the hottest location in Texas. At times Wink is the hottest location in the United States.

Wink is also known for its sinkholes. There are some who believe Wink is slowly sinking.

Famous Winkites include Roy Orbison (Wink has a Roy Orbison Festival & Museum). Other well known Winkites are the Queen of Wink and Gar the Texan.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Wild Woman Of Woolley Tells You Things Your Burglar Won't Tell You

There is a town in Washington called Sedro Woolley. There is a group in that town that is called the "Wild Women of Woolley."

I think I must have mentioned my Fort Worth neighborhood's increase in burglaries, and armed robberies, to the Wild Woman of Woolley, who for privacy purposes, I refer to as Miss CVB.

This morning Miss CVB sent me 21 anti-burglar tips.

Friends of mine in Seattle have had their house broken into twice, with one of the times the burglars were an organized gang that had a little kid do the initial break-in, going through a small window opening, witnessed by a neighbor.

So, I've seen first hand how traumatic it is to have your house trashed and your stuff taken. If the Wild Woman of Woolley, Miss CVB's, 21 tips could possibly cause someone somewhere to do something that might thwart such a trauma, I guess that's a good reason to print the tips here....

Things Your Burglar Won't Tell You:

1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste ... and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom-and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door-understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather...

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it.)

10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.

12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at

14. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

15. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

16. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.

17. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

18. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

19. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address.

20. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.

21. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

Happy Birthday Mom From Fosdic Lake & The Ducks In Fort Worth

I escaped here around noon. Could take being housebound no longer. Decided to drive to Oakland Lake Park to hike around Fosdic Lake.

It was 25 degrees with a wind chill factor making it feel like 15. I did not put on enough layers to keep warm. Including forgetting that long underwear might be a good idea.

There were several groups of ducks huddling to keep warm, but more were not huddling, instead floating solo or sitting on logs.

I think the last time I was at Fosdic Lake it was in the 50s and ducks were huddling and circling. The non-huddling duck behavior today was perplexing, with it being so cold.

With it being so cold there were no turtles to be seen. As we learned last week, the turtles, cold-blooded reptiles that they are, go into hibernate (technically speaking the word should be brumate) mode til their home warms up again.

I did not get gas today, but I called my mom in Phoenix, while I walked in the cold, because today is my mom's birthday. Happy Birthday, mom. I told mom how cold it was after she asked why my voice sounded so shaky. Mom asked why I choose to live in such a place with such a harsh climate. I told mom I have no idea why. And that this is the worst Texas winter since I've been exiled here.

It Feels Like 15 Degrees This Saturday Morning In Fort Worth

I've nothing else to talk about right now, so I'll talk about the weather here in my frigid zone of Fort Worth, Texas.

It is almost 25 degrees. With the wind making it feel like 15.

Most of the water evaporated from the streets before the freeze got cold enough to make it an icy mess out there. That's what I've been told. I have not eye witnessed the streets.

I did go outside on my way to the pool. However, that effort was thwarted due to ice rendering it impossible. No, the pool water was not frozen.

I need to get outside today and do something aerobic. What and where I do not know.

This morning I got email from the Queen of Wink in which she indicated she thought I'd been in Texas since 1990. That is off by about a decade. Blondes.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Japanese Sneak Attacks On My Blog

Every day, sometimes dozens of times a day, I get gibberish comments to my blogs. From Japan. When I get the email telling me there is a comment I need to moderate, the "From" part of the email is always a string of question marks. As in "????????".

Is anyone else being plagued by these "comments?"

There has also been a recent rash of comments along the line of, "I enjoy what you say, it help me with my school work. I please to tell others." Or, "Interesting blog. Great topic. You need to add more pictures."

I know of some bloggers who do not moderate their comments. So, why are they not getting these type comments?

Can anyone reading this read Japanese? Is that Japanese being written in the comment?

It Is A Wet Fort Worth Friday With No Ice, So Far

That is the 10am view out my computer room window this wet Fort Worth Friday. So far the temperature seems to be staying steady at 35. No ice. But a low of 25 is the prediction. If that happens it will be a slippery mess. I don't know if the Ice Storm danger has passed.

I had myself a very disturbing night, full of aches and pains. I had a nightmare, well, it was more of dream because it was sort of fun. Gar the Texan, aka Rag Boy, suckered punched me real hard on the right side of my jaw.

I then proceeded to give Rag Boy a sound thrashing, which probably was a bit of bad sportsmanship bad behavior on my part, even if I was sucker punched, because Rag Boy is just this little scrawny guy, like a lollipop, a skinny stick with a big head stuck on top.

I woke up from the beating up Rag Boy dream to find that my jaw hurt so bad where he'd sucker punched me, I don't recollect pain this bad, worse than post-surgery pain, worse than the chipmunk cheek pain I had years ago after my wisdom teeth were pulled.

Getting socked in the jaw occurred around 3 in the morning. I got up and looked for painkillers. I had none. I then started moving my jaw bone up and down, fighting the pain. The pain quickly became less painful. I went back to bed, slept in late, til past 6. When I got up the jaw pain was a distant memory, replaced by really bad back pain. Laying on the floor, reading and drinking coffee, got rid of the back pain.

So, without going on and on with the rest of my litany of misery, suffice to say, on this last Friday of the first month of 2010, I am a mess.

And, I have not heard from the Haltom City creek monitor this morning. This concerns me.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the aforementioned Gar the Texan, aka Rag Boy, this morning, offered to fix the Queen of Wink's dead computer. I don't know if me beating him up caused him to have this change in attitude, or what.

UPDATE: When I finished this blogging and hit the publish button, I checked the temperature to see we are now at the freezing point of 32 degrees, here in Fort Worth.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Rain Is Downpouring In Fort Worth, Soon To Be Freezing Rain

I managed to get in my daily early morning pool dip. But by the time of my usual daily aerobic habit the sky had turned dire, here in my zone of North Texas, soon wet stuff began to hit the ground.

So, I decided to get my daily walk by pushing a grocery cart at my neighborhood Wal-Mart Supercenter.

On the way to Wal-Mart I needed gas. As I was pumping, an ol' geezer pumping from the adjacent pump asked me a question.

As in, "What's the difference between this gas station and Jesse James?"

I said, "I dunno. One's dead?"

"No," the ol' geezer said, "Jesse James used a gun to rob you."

Or something like that. I gave the ol' geezer a courtesy laugh. But I was not amused. In a public restroom I don't want the person using the adjacent urinal talking to me. I feel the same way when I'm pumping gas. Unless it is a being flirted with scenario, that I don't mind. But, no jokes when I am pumping gas.

As my one longtime reader knows, when I get gas I call my mom and dad in Phoenix and tell them how much it cost. But they were not home, so I left a message.

After about a half hour of pushing the heavily loaded grocery cart around in Wal-Mart it suddenly became very noisy, like a pounding roar, which it was, because the rain had shifted into downpour mode.

I checked out and on my way out of the store I asked the Wal-Mart greeter if she could please walk me to my car under an umbrella? The Wal-Mart greeter gave me a polite courtesy laugh. I was glad I'd anticipated a possible downpour, so I parked close to the door. Usually I do not park close to the door.

Right now it is 54 out there. That number is supposed to begin to drop, going below freezing sometime early tomorrow. I'm thinking it is going to be a real slippery mess in Fort Worth and North Texas soon. I hope it does not go into Ice Storm mode. Ice Storms wreak havoc with power lines. I don't want to lose power.

I forgot to tell you, the picture at the top was taken near the Handley Post Office, heading east on Ederville Road, with one of the flyovers that connects I-820 to I-30 overhead.

I must make a beauty named Elsie a map before lunch. Make that after lunch, I just heard the lunch is ready noise.

Experiencing Malice In Blunderland In Fort Worth Texas

Reading FW Weekly and TxSharon this morning has me aggravated.

The FW Weekly aggravation comes from the Metropolis section, which further documented the bad behavior of the corrupt state of Texas agency that calls itself the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, an agency name which is pretty much Orwellian double-speak, due to the fact that the quality of the environment does not seem to be much of a concern to this commission.

The TCEQ seems more concerned with helping the Barnett Shale natural gas industry cover up their dirty deeds and doings.

In the FW Weekly article we learn about the different testing results, and different methodology used by the TCEQ and the little town of DISH. A little Texas town that has been ravaged, in many more ways than one, by the basically un-regulated natural gas company Blitzkrieg that has damaged lives and livelihoods in a once peaceful small Texas town.

The town of DISH has an actual, real, serve the people who elected him, type of mayor, unlike Fort Worth's corrupt Mayor Mike Moncrief, who was installed by the gas industry to help facilitate the gas driller's massive Blitzkrieg on Fort Worth. The natural gas industry pays Moncrief over $600,000 a year to be their in the henhouse fox.

DISH Mayor Calvin Tillman has been fighting back, trying to save his town and the people who live there. Eminent domain was abused in DISH when the gas drillers decided it would be a perfect location for gas compressors, which are jet engine noise level contraptions. To feed the compressors, pipelines had to be laid. So, land that people used for their livelihoods was, well, basically stolen, using the corrupt Texas legal system to do so.

I sure use the word "corrupt" a lot. I never think I'm exaggerating when I do so.

After awhile, people in DISH started not feeling as well as they did before the Natural Gas Blitzkrieg hit their town. DISH paid to have their air tested. The results showed bad, bad things were in the air they were breathing.

And now, gas industry legal lackeys have sent the town of DISH some sort of legalistic, threatening letter, the theme of which seems to be making all sorts of claims of things DISH has not done correctly.

Visit Texas Sharon to read what Mayor Tillman has to say about this latest bullying by the corrupt gas industry thugs and read the thug's intimidating letter.

We are down the Rabbit Hole here, where black is white, yes is no, wrong is right. But, it's not Alice in Wonderland, it's Malice in Blunderland.

I've been in Texas around 10 years now. In all my years of living on the West Coast I don't recollect anything ever happening that appalled me like the things I've seen happen here in Texas.

A corporation wants a new headquarters? Boot 100s of Fort Worth low income people out of their homes and build a new Radio Shack Headquarters, that Radio Shack could not afford.

A mall needs some new parking space? Abuse eminent domain to take Hurst citizen's homes for the benefit of a private business known as the Northeast Mall.

A football team wants a new stadium? Abuse eminent domain, in Arlington, to boot more than 1,000 people from their homes and apartments and businesses. And bulldoze the homes before the victims have had their day in court.

Some goofballs get the hare-brained idea that ruining the confluence of two forks of the Trinity River to make a little lake and an un-needed flood diversion channel? Abuse eminent domain, taking homes and businesses, for a "public" project that the public has never voted on, known as Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision or Trinity Uptown Project or Fort Worth's Latest Boondoggle.

A company called Chesapeake Energy, run by a man many believe to be a lying shyster, named Aubrey McClendon, wants to run a non-odorized natural gas pipeline under a street called Carter Street, in Fort Worth. The Carter Street homeowners object, but one by one, under the threat of the abuse of eminent domain, they all give in to the strong arm tactics, all but one man, Steve Doeung.

And what does the City of Fort Worth do? Does the city tell Chesapeake Energy they must find a different route, and pipe only odorized gas. No, the City of Fort Worth sends in a gang of Gestapo Stormtroopers, in the form of code inspectors and Fort Worth Police, to raid Steve Doeung's house.

Where is the outrage here in Blunderland? Okay, there is some outrage, I mean I'm outraged. Texas Sharon is outraged. Don Young is outraged. The Queen of Wink is Royally outraged. Steve Doeung is outraged. 100s, maybe 1000s are outraged.

Why is the Environmental Protection Agency not outraged by what is happening in DISH. And elsewhere in Texas?

Has the Environmental Protection Agency been co-opted somehow, like all the other government agencies in Texas that are supposed to look out for the welfare of the people, but instead look out for the welfare of those who exploit and abuse the people?

What became of Dr. Al Armendariz? Why does the EPA not order a moratorium on gas drilling activities until the issue of pollution, both of water and air, are properly vetted to everyone's satisfaction, not just the satisfaction of the drillers?

I tell you, all this Malice here in Blunderland is the most perplexing stuff I have ever witnessed. I never dreamed, when I moved to Texas, that I would somehow manage to one day find myself being terrorized by White Trucks.

P.S. The Star-Telegraph has blogged about the Star-Telegram's article today which reverses previous articles which followed the gas industry and their lackey, Mayor Mike Moncrief's party line, that being nothing harmful is entering the air from the thousands of gas wells.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag Of Chesapeake Energy And To The Corporation For Which It Stands.....

You probably recognize 1 of the 3 flags in the picture, if you are in America, but not in Texas. You probably recognize 2 of the 3 flags if you are in Texas. You likely recognize all 3 flags if you have the misfortune to be a Citizen of the Shale.

On the left we have the Chesapeake Energy flag. On the right the Lone Star flag of Texas.

The flags are waving over the sprawling Chesapeake Energy complex, which is one of my neighbors, located on the north side of Randol Mill Road, at the northern termination of Oakland Avenue, on the site of what used to be a big ballfield park.

I do not know if Chesapeake Energy used eminent domain to acquire the ballfield property. Most likely it was City of Fort Worth property so Chesapeake simply told Fort Worth's Mayor, Mike Moncrief, that they wanted the land, and so they got it. That's one of the benefits when you operate your business where you also are in control of a city's government, for the most part, what with Fort Worth's mayor being on the take, taking money from all the natural gas companies operating in his domain.

Which. By the way. Is illegal. But not in Fort Worth, due to an exemption to the rule of law that operates in the rest of America.

The City of Arlington has a city flag. I've seen it many times. Does Fort Worth not have a city flag? If so, why is it not flying with the other three waving over the Chesapeake Energy complex?

I got a couple comments relating to Chesapeake Energy this morning, both from Anonymous. Both were very interesting....

Anonymous #1-----

Speaking of Gestapo-type stuff in FW, this picture reminds me to report what I thought was my eyes playing tricks on me a couple weeks ago while driving north on US 35 near I-20. I thought there was a black and white FWPD vehicle, with the light bar on top and all, coming up alongside of me. To my great surprise, the words on the side and back said Chesapeake Security. That is awfully confusing--not unlike how the city and council are awfully and easily confused with acting like they work for CHK when it comes to important policies. has anyone else seen one of these quasi-FWPD CHK PD cars?

Anonymous #2-----

I saw a white pickup truck that looked to be a natural gas company security vehicle. I couldn't get the name off of it because it was driving so fast and out of control. This is no exaggeration.

It was at the intersection of Westworth Blvd and Roaring Springs Road. I was on Roaring Springs waiting for the light when this white truck with light bar blazing turns south on Roaring Springs from WW Blvd, cuts through a very busy Quik Trip gas station, and gets back on Westworth. At a high rate of speed.

It was a WTF did I just see moment.

Speaking of white trucks. To take the picture of the flags in front of Chesapeake I pulled to the side of Randol Mill Road and snapped away. There are dozens of white Chesapeake trucks on the Chesapeake property. Many coming and going. As I drove away I soon saw a white truck close behind me. I thought, what fresh hell is this. The truck soon passed me. It was not a Chesapeake truck.

I tell you all these white truck incidents are turning me into a paranoid person.

I was wondering, at City of Fort Worth meetings, like a city council meeting, over which the corrupt mayor presides, is a flag present? If so, what one? City of Fort Worth. Lone Star flag? United States flag? Chesapeake Energy flag?

Is a pledge of allegiance said to open such meetings? I have no idea, having never gone to one, nor desiring to.

I'm thinking, what with the way things are here in Fort Worth, that there is likely a Chesapeake Energy flag present, with Mayor Moncrief standing, hand over heart, leading the pledge...

"I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of Chesapeake Energy, and to the Corporation for which it Stands, one Company, Immoral, with Decency and Common Sense for Few."

A Dark Wednesday Fort Worth Afternoon On The Tandy Hills

I should be tired. I've been awake since about half past 3 this morning.

I waited for the sun to light up the place, this morning, before going outside to the pool. The trip to the pool started off inauspicious when I went to tighten the drawstring that keeps my swimsuit from falling off me and something ripped.

I don't believe this was a weight gain, heft-related clothes ripping incident. It was my favorite swimsuit and it'd long ago reached its natural lifespan.

I was determined to go hiking the Tandy Hills today, because this might be my last chance in awhile, with the incoming return to winter expected to bring freezing rain and a possible ice storm on Friday.

You can sort of tell in the picture, looking west at the beautiful skyline of downtown Fort Worth, around 4 this afternoon, that we have turned very un-sunny here.

I forgot to mention, yesterday, when I was talking about the results of Saturday's Tandy Hills Brush Bash, that the Brush Bashers removed the remains of Annie's Hobo Campsite. I'm sure Annie will be worried when she learns the Hobo Campsite is no more, wondering where the Tandy Hills Hobo will live now.

Remember Brush Bashers and Brush Basher Wannabes, you have another chance to commune with Mother Nature and help Her return part Her Realm to its intended state, by showing up for Brush Bash II on the Tandy Hills at 10 am, Saturday, February 6. Don't forget to bring work gloves.

World's Best Catfish At Tuckers Catfish Haven In North Richland Hills

It is Wednesday, so I went up to Southlake today a little before noon.

On my way back from my first stop in Southlake I went to Sprouts Farmers Market and got a lot of good stuff. I've never seen Sprouts so busy.

Were people stocking up for the upcoming return of winter with its possible Friday ice storm?

On the way back home, after Sprouts, I had been asked by an Anonymous Person to pick said person up at Tuckers Catfish Haven in North Richland Hills.

Why do so many people insist I not put their name in my blog? It perplexes me.

Anyway, I'd been in the Tuckers Catfish Haven parking lot previously. But I had not bothered to look at their sign. I read the sign today and was surprised to learn that in Tuckers Catfish Haven I could get the World's Best Catfish.

I added the apostrophe to World's. For some reason Tuckers does not seem to like apostrophes. It seems like it should be Tucker's Catfish Haven, not Tuckers Catfish Haver. And it should be World's Best, not Worlds Best.

Sorry about being an apostrophe Nazi.

I do not understand why catfish is so popular in these parts. There may be more catfish restaurants in the D/FW Metroplex than any other genre. Even BBQ. To my semi-refined tastebuds, catfish is, at best, flavorless, at worst you can bite into catfish that tastes like the mud the catfish bottom fed from.

The texture of catfish is mushy. Very unappealing. And then the catfish is usually deep-fried with a corn meal coating. Although I have seen catfish grilled in various ways, but none that tasted very good to me.

Usually with catfish you'll get these things called hush puppies. These are little balls of deep-fried cornmeal dough, usually tasting the same as what the catfish is coated with.

So, I guess the thing I've learned today is if I want the World's Best Catfish, which I don't, I need to go to Tuckers Catfish Haven.

Birds Flying North For The Winter With Incoming Freezing Rain In Fort Worth

I do not know if it is another sign of Mother Nature running amok, or what, but this morning, while I was doing my usual pool/hot tub routine, I saw 4 large herds of birds flying in formation overhead.

Three of the four formations were flying north, while the fourth confused formation was flying west.

In the Fall it is quite common to see large formations of birds of all sizes flying south, to the birding zone of South Texas or into Mexico.

I do not recollect seeing big formations of birds flying north this early. Something seems amiss.

Did the birds miss the news that Winter is not over? And that the forecast for Friday is snow, again, in North Texas. What are all these birds going to do as they fly over Oklahoma or Kansas and realize this is way too cold? Do they make a U-Turn and head back to South Texas?

I just went to get the Fort Worth forecast, for any of you birds reading this, and I see our Friday forecast has been changed from snow to freezing rain & freezing drizzle. I'm not sure what the difference is. I am not a big fan of freezing rain or drizzle. I prefer my rain to be thawed and lukewarm.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Post Brush Bash Hike Over The New Tandy Hills Prairie

I was pleased to learn that almost 8 dozen Brush Bashers showed up on Saturday to Bash Brush on the Tandy Hills as part of an ongoing effort to remove invasive non-native, non-prairie type vegetation, and to rid the Tandy Hills of litter.

I made it to the Tandy Hills today around 3 in the afternoon. That was a very pleasant time to be there. Perfect temperature, no wind, nice blue sky light.

I was amazed at all the bags filled with litter that await removal. I thought Don Young might be exaggerating, a bit, when I read thousands of pounds of debris and litter were removed. I'm guessing multiple tons would not be exaggerating.

And all this was done in 3 and 1/2 hours, including a lunch break!

Tandy Hills 2010 Brush Bash Part II is scheduled for Saturday, February 6. Today I didn't see a lot of brush still awaiting being bashed to the main trail, compared to what I saw, pre-Brush Bash, but there is still a lot of work to be done, hence BBII.

The above picture shows a large section of the newly restored invasive species-free Tandy Hills Fort Worth Prairie, returned to its historical glory.

I learned today that one definitely needs to be wearing work gloves if you want to Bash Brush. I thought I'd drag out what I think was a chunk of Mesquite, today. Big mistake, whatever it was that I tried to drag, it had a thorny aspect to it that was not pleasant.

See you at the Tandy Hills Brush Bash Party February 6.

Another Car Hits A Tree By The Handley Post Office In Fort Worth

I have no clue about the details. All I know is I saw a strange scene this afternoon when I pulled into the Handley Post Office to mail some important documents to the Queen of Wink.

8 or 9 Fort Worth police cars, a couple emergency vehicles, a lot of flashing lights and one dilapidated looking car slammed up against a tree.

That is the tree and the car you see on the right.

I saw no tasering or any other Gestapo-type Fort Worth police behavior, which is why I referred to them as police, in case you were wondering.

What appeared to be a blanket was covering the back of the wrecked car. That seemed odd to me. There was no rush by the emergency vehicles to take anyone to a hospital. Was this a police chase that ended badly? This is the third wreck-type incident I have seen while at the Handley Post Office. Nothing seems unusually dangerous about the road in this location.

It's very perplexing.

2010 Tandy Hills Brush Bash I Huge Success, Brush Bash II February 6

This past Saturday multiple events conspired to keep me from being able to join the Manly Men and Wild Women bashing brush on the Tandy Hills of Forth Worth, Texas.

I've heard from Don Young that the bashing was a huge success, with Brush Bash II scheduled for Saturday, February 6, 2010.

The Brush Bash Report---

About 90 dedicated boys, girls, women and men showed up on a chilly Saturday morning to help restore the prairie at Tandy Hills Natural Area. This diverse team of individuals from all walks of life and throughout the Fort Worth area worked hard and did so cheerfully and with gusto. There was a sense of community and coming together to make a difference in this special place. The transformation of Tandy Hills Natural Area is well underway.

A huge swath of endangered Fort Worth prairie has been cleared of undesirable and invasive plants. Several large trucks hauled it away for composting. Thousands of pounds of trash and debris were removed. The rain forced us to stop at 1:30 pm so there is more work to be done this season. Please join us for round two.

The 2nd annual Brush Bash succeeded with help from the following groups:

--- Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area

--- City of Fort Worth Parks & Community Service Department led by, Michelle Villafranca, and crew

--- Polytechnic High School Key Club, directed by, Mike Beaupre (highly disciplined and motivated group)

--- Boy Scout Troops 12 and 180 (the future leaders of Tandy Hills were well represented)

--- Tarrant County Sheriff's Office, Labor Detail

--- Don's Dawg's owner-operator, Mindy Billings (hot dog's never tasted so good)

A very big Thank You to all!


Another Stunning Scrabble Victory Over The Scrabble Queen Of Washington

Tuesday is off to an auspicious start. I have had another Stunning Scrabble Victory over the Scrabble Queen of Washington.

This now gives me 3 wins over the Scrabble Queen, with around 120 losses. So, in the bigger picture I'm a big Scrabble loser. I don't mind being a Scrabble loser, it's good exercise for my frequently dormant thinking mechanisms, even if losing is my norm.

If only this Stunning Scrabble Victory were some sort of omen of wins to come on other fronts. Sadly, I suspect this win is just an isolated fluke.

Speaking of isolated flukes, today I return to the location of last week's first flat tire. I am hoping to avoid any punctures.

I saw bad news whilst reading the local papers online this morning. Winter is about to return to North Texas. It was in the high 30s when I went swimming this morning, so, I suppose, winter's return may already be here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Express Energy Pumps Not Sucking Trinity River Water At Gateway Park Trinity Trail Location

I'm often surprised by what I see when I cross the Trinity River, heading north on Beach Street. Today there were no white Express Energy Services trucks to be seen.

Maybe because, except for cleaning up after themselves, their water sucking operation, at this location, seems to have ended.

The pumps have been drug up from the river's edge. I assume this means they are done.

I could tell that the Express Energy Services trucks had not driven on the paved trail. All the orange traffic cones were knocked over and scattered, but there was no fresh mud on the trail.

I can't help but wonder how it came to be that the Express Energy people were told to quit driving on the paved trail?

A "UTILITY WORK AHEAD" sign remains up, with no utility work appearing to be happening.

It will be interesting to see how well the muddy, rutted mess on the Trinity River levee is cleaned up. Then again, this may not be the last of the water sucking from this location. This had been the second iteration of a pumping operation at where Gateway Park meets the Trinity Trails.

In the second picture you are looking south, towards the Trinity River, from the east side of Beach Street. You can see the Express Energy pipelines on the left and right.

This is the access point for what I was calling the White Darth Vader Trucks. A little bridge took the trucks over the pipelines, then, before they were stopped from doing so, they'd take a left on to the paved trail, quickly having it thickly covered with mud.

That mud was cleaned up when the "Utility Work Ahead" first appeared.

Below are most of the links to the bloggings about my experiences with Express Energy Services. I hope that subject is at an end...

Mess of 6 Pumps Getting Ready To Steal Trinity River Water?

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief Or One Of His Lackeys Thinks I'm A Clueless Reactionary

The 2010 Cold Orwellian World Of Fort Worth Texas

I Have Had Me An Orwellian Big Brother Encounter With Express Energy On The Trinity River in Fort Worth

More Questions In The Increasingly Orwellian World Of Fort Worth Texas

West Texas Chief Operative CT2's Report On Express Energy Services

A Sunday Surprise At the Fort Worth Beach Street Trinity River Gas Driller Pump Site

Another Visit With Express Energy Services At Gateway Park Where Water Is Now Being Removed From The Trinity River

A Saturday Shootout With Express Energy On The Trinity River In Fort Worth

Checking On The Turtles and Ducks At Fosdic Lake & Burning CDs

It was back to Fosdic Lake to check on the turtles and ducks at Oakland Lake Park today for my doctor ordered aerobic stimulation.

I figured my prefered aerobic stimulator, the Tandy Hills, was likely still a bit muddy from Saturday's rain.

It is a little cooler than yesterday. But for some reason most of the Fosdic ducks were not doing their huddling and circling to keep warm routine. And I only saw one turtle on a log.

The wind was doing a lot of blowing. I think that may have had the ducks having a tougher time huddling in a circle and the turtles not liking the wind chill factor, sending most of them back to hibernate mode.

It was 44 when I did my morning pool dipping. Three cycles of in the cold and then in the hot tub. It's very refreshing, but like the turtles and the ducks, I was not liking the wind.

I got a call on the way to Fosdic Lake. Someone I made a website for, years ago, wanted an auto-run cd of the website, so he could make a lot of copies for a convention. Years ago I figured out how to make auto-run work, but never used it. I figured I must have kept the information somewhere on this computer.

It took a bit of hunting, but eventually I found the info I needed and got the master cd made. I've not burned all that many cds. The first attempt today I messed up. But, I got it done on the second attempt. Now it'll probably be another 5 years before I burn another cd and will have forgotten how again.

Prison Break, Sona Prison & Fort Worth's Stockyard Ruins

You're looking at Panama's Sona Prison in the pictures. Sona Prison is located in the ruins at the east side of the Fort Worth Stockyards.

The Stockyard Ruins were used as a set for the defunct FOX TV show called Prison Break.

A long time ago I'd made a webpage about the Stockyard Ruins. I'd never seen such a thing as the Stockyard Ruins in a city. Visually the ruins are very interesting, as if you're looking at a WWII bombed out city.

Recently there has been talk of fixing up the Stockyard Ruins and turning them into some sort of mixed used development, making the ruins stable and safe. I really can't see that happening.

So, this morning I got an email from a Fort Worth native named Hailey. Hailey, bless her heart, had seen my webpage about the Stockyard Ruins and she earnestly wanted to let me know that the Stockyards Ruins weren't really the site of a Panamanian Prison.

Below is Hailey's email....

My Name is Hailey and I am a local resident of Fort Worth [born and raised]. I came across your webpage about the ruins of the stock yards, particularly the ruins of the swift and armor meat packing plant. "And now rumor has it that the Stockyards Ruins are being used as a prison, housing mostly Panamanian prisoners and a few Americans. The prison is called Sona. We discovered the prison on Thursday, November 1, 2007....."

I just thought that you would like to know that this rumored information is completely false. In 2007 The hit TV show Prison Break used the ruins as a set for several episodes, in fact the guard towers that line the edge of the property were erected by the set crew of the TV show and are not actually an original part of the property. The Prison Break producers also used locations in Decatur, Texas, mainly in the old town square. I just though you would like to know that what you saw was the filming of a TV show, not an actual secret prison. =)


Thank you very much for being sincere, Hailey. I appreciate it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Today At Fort Worth's Fosdic Lake The Turtles Were Not Hibernating But The Ducks Were Huddling

Yesterday when I blogged about finally finding out where the turtles go when it gets cold, future Texas governor, Jovan Gonzales, asked if I knew what ducks did when it gets cold.

I told Jovan, aka Jovo, that I'd seen the Fosdic Lake ducks huddling in a circle and assumed it was to keep warmer.

Well, today, when I went for a much needed walk, I went to Fosdic Lake at Oakland Lake Park and saw 4 groups of ducks doing their huddle thing, even though it was not all that cold, as in the 50s.

When something startles the huddling ducks, they quickly disperse, like they did when the fisherman, in the picture, moved closer to them. But then the ducks seem to simultaneously realize there is no danger, after which they quickly come back together in their huddle, as if drawn by some magnetic power.

As soon as the ducks get huddled, the group starts to rotate. All the duck huddles I've seen rotate counter-clockwise.

It may have been cold enough for the Fosdic ducks to huddle, but it was warm enough for some of the Fosdic Lake turtles to come out of hibernation mode to get some sun on a log.

I only saw 5 turtles that had de-hibernated. The others must not have yet gotten the word that it was no longer freezing.

Today, Fosdic Lake was being home to more birds than I've seen there before, as in 100s of various types of birds. I think word must be getting spread in Bird World that Fosdic Lake makes a good winter home due to all the people who come with bird food.

I Am To Blame For The Gar The Texan Blog But Not The Huffington Post

The 4th Sunday of the new year has seen a return to blue sky, after yesterday's wet unpleasantness, here in my zone of North Texas.

The Sunday blue sky is matching my blue mood.

Yesterday's gray, wet Saturday was one long day of one thing after another. The day started with strange explosive noises I later learned were coming from my noisiest neighbor, that being a Chesapeake Energy gas drilling site.

By mid morning I found I had another flat tire, the second in a week.

The flat tire kept me from the Tandy Hills Brush Bash.

Before I found the flat I'd talked to my mom and learned she'd broken a bone in one of her feet. I got emails from 2 Washington friends telling me about friends with bad cancer, with one of them having the same type brain cancer that killed Ted Kennedy.

Tootsie Tonasket called me around 5 so I could hear her drunken son having a drunken fit, trying to get into her house. I told Tootsie to call the police. I don't know if she did.

Around 7 last night I tripped and banged the top of my right hand against a wall. This morning that hand looks as if I've been in a fight.

A couple days ago Gar the Texan blogged about blogging, the first paragraph of which said, "Durango somehow convinced me to start this little escapade into pain and suffering. And after almost 2 years, I continue to do so (suffer pain)."

So, now I have to carry that on my guilty conscience, that somehow I'm to blame for foisting Gar the Texans' misanthropic ramblings on the world. I feel terrible about this.

And then someone calling himself Whited Sepulchre commented saying, "Gar, The Huffington Post doesn't post as much as Durango. Just thought I would point that out."

Now, that's just not true. I only post about 90% as much as The Huffington Post.

My therapist, Dr. L.C., seems to have gone missing. And right when I need her. So far, even though the sky is blue, Sunday is looking to be another bad day like yesterday. Maybe I can make an effort to turn it around.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Explosive Neighborhood Chesapeake Energy Gas Drilling Site

Well, it's another Saturday and another bizarre encounter with a white truck. This time it is a Chesapeake Energy white truck, not an Express Energy Services white truck.

All morning long, ever since I was in the pool around 8, I'd been hearing very loud explosion like noises, sort of like an erratic jackhammer, only louder.

Around 10 I was heading to the Tandy Hills to join the Brush Bash and discovered my 2nd flat tire of the week.

Sometime around noon I decided to try and find out what was making the explosive jackhammer-like noise.

It was quickly clear the explosive noises were coming from my neighbor across the street, that being a Chesapeake Energy Barnett Shale natural gas drilling site.

I decided to walk to the site and take video of the noise. By the time I was directly across from the site the explosive noise was significantly louder. I was fairly certain there was no one working on the site that was accounting for the noise, due to the fact that the gate was locked. When someone is in there doing something the gate is open.

Now, here's the part where the story turns weird and has me once more seeing a white truck. Just as I turned my camera on a white Chesapeake Energy truck drove up. A tall, lanky guy got out of the truck, opened the gate, and drove in.

After I took a picture I switched the camera to video mode to capture the explosion noises and continued walking towards the gate to the Chesapeake drilling site. Within seconds the explosions stopped, obviously silenced by the guy I'd just seen.

So, what was making those explosive noises? Today's Saturday white truck incident did not seem as menacing as last Saturday's, but those explosive noises seemed plenty menacing.

I did not realize the explosions were going to be so quickly silenced, or I would not have talked at all on the video. You can still hear several of the explosive pops before they go silent.

Where Do The Fosdic Lake Turtles Go When It's Cold?

I have wondered more than once, and mentioned at least once, my puzzlement over where the dozens of turtles who call Fosdic Lake, in Oakland Lake Park, in Fort Worth, home, go when the temperature turns cold, as in below freezing?

Well, this morning I got an email that is purporting to answer that question. I have no idea as to the veracity of what this emailer is telling me, as in some of it sounds a bit far fetched.

The emailer's email was very long and detailed. I'll try a write a distilled version. Here goes...

Turtles who live where the temperatures dip below freezing and where snow may fall have mechanisms to keep themselves alive. They hibernate. Since turtles are reptiles the proper term for deep sleeping is "brumate," as in reptiles brumate, mammals hibernate. But most people use "hibernate" to refer to how turtles get through the cold. So, that's the word we'll use.

Various types of turtles do their hibernating in various ways. Most water turtles go deep into the water and wiggle themselves into some lake bottom mud. As the turtle gets colder its body slows down to the point that eating is no longer neccessary. The turtle's heart slows down to one beat every few minutes.

The turtle stops breathing through its lungs. Due to the slowed metabolism little oxygen is needed. What little oxygen the turtle needs it can get from the water via specialized skin cells that are inside the tail opening.

So, turtles hibernate under water and breathe through their tails. Supposedly a turtle can keep living this way for 2 or 3 months.

I wonder how the turtles are able to tell it's warmed up on the surface?

I was walking around Fosdic Lake on a warm day that had arrived after a deep freeze and the turtles were out having themselves a good time sunning themselves on logs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Queen Of Wink Suffering From Serious Virus

Those of you who are fans of the Queen of Wink may be wondering why she is seeming to be a more quiet Queen of late.

Well, her computer has malfunctioned. She believes she was attacked by a malicious Trojan Virus of some sort. This has rendered it impossible to start her computer, even in Safe Mode.

I've had computers go into malfunction mode on me. It's not a good time.

I don't know if you know this already, but the Queen of Wink graduated from Wink High School, that's in Wink, Texas, way out in West Texas, with the 2nd highest grade point average in her class of, I think, 9.

The only person in her class with a higher GPA was Gar the Texan, a fact about which he remains very proud of to this day.

Well, Gar the Texan is some sort of Idiot Savant when it comes to computers. On his business card it says something like "From the Age of 11, I have had an Innate Ability to Understand Computers and Make Them Do What I Want."

Gar the Texan's innate computer ability is so strong I don't think he even went to college, I think he went right into designing software. He gets flown all over the world to fix computers due to his innate ability to make them do what he wants them to do.

So, I'm thinking, if Gar the Texan has any decency left in him he'll call the Queen of Wink and walk her through getting her computer back working. Better yet, drive out to Wink and fix it.

Who Decided To Put Traffic Cones On The Trinity Trail Between Beach Street & Gateway Park?

After hiking, for an hour or so, up and down the Tandy Hills, I headed north to the Beach Street Wal-Mart.

Being on Beach Street I was curious to have a look at the Beach Street/Gateway Park Express Energy water sucking operation.

Yesterday, the paved Trinity Trail (on which, last Saturday, I'd had a muddy confrontation with a White Darth Vader Express Energy Truck) was being cleaned.

Today the "UTILITY WORK AHEAD" sign was still up, and traffic cones still lined the trail from Beach Street to the site of the water pumping. There were two Express Energy trucks at the end of the traffic cones, one was on the levee, above the pumping site, the other was over the edge, backed up right to the pumps.

I saw no utility work being done. I did see the paved trail is now totally mud free, including the thickly muddied area where the Express Energy trucks drove on to the trail.

So, what's going on here? Are the traffic cones being left there to stop Express Energy trucks from driving on the pedestrian "No Motorized Vehicles Allowed" trail? Or are the trucks able to drive right over the cones without hitting them?

Today when I left Wal-Mart I decided to drive back to Gateway Park. I was curious if there was a "UTILITY WORK AHEAD" sign at the Gateway Park entry to the Trinity Trails, that being the pedestrian bridge you see in the picture. Well, all I saw was the final orange traffic cone at the end of the bridge. That's in the picture at the top.

When I took the picture of the bridge I could see there was no longer an Express Energy truck parked on top of the Trinity River levee.

I was curious if the truck over the edge was still there, so I walked to where there is a vantage point looking down on the operation. You can see the truck through the brush in the upper right part of the picture. And a guy in red with a white hat working on the pumps.

There are 2 more pumps sitting on top of the levee.

I think the mud ruts on the "road" down to the pump site must have dried up, if a truck is able to get back out of there without a lot of tire spinning and more muddy rutting and damage to the levee. It's quite steep.

Below is a chronological list of links of bloggings about the Express Energy Service Trinity River Gateway Park pumping operation...

Mess of 6 Pumps Getting Ready To Steal Trinity River Water?

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief Or One Of His Lackeys Thinks I'm A Clueless Reactionary

The 2010 Cold Orwellian World Of Fort Worth Texas

I Have Had Me An Orwellian Big Brother Encounter With Express Energy On The Trinity River in Fort Worth

More Questions In The Increasingly Orwellian World Of Fort Worth Texas

West Texas Chief Operative CT2's Report On Express Energy Services

A Sunday Surprise At the Fort Worth Beach Street Trinity River Gas Driller Pump Site

Another Visit With Express Energy Services At Gateway Park Where Water Is Now Being Removed From The Trinity River

A Saturday Shootout With Express Energy On The Trinity River In Fort Worth

New Temporary Buildings Arrive At The Tandy Hills For Tomorrow's Brush Bash

Unless there is heavy rain the Brush Bash will go as planned. Please arrive between 9 and 10 am. We plan to start work at 10. Lunch break at Noon. Thanks again for supporting Tandy Hills Natural Area.

No, that is not a picture of my latest Outhouse discovery in my popular "Outhouses of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex Series."

I believe these are temporary Outhouses brought in for a special event, which to my mind is the proper use for such things, in contrast with Jerry Jones' mind which thinks surrounding the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium with specially made Dallas Cowboy Outhouses is a good idea.

The special event I believe this pair of Outhouses have been installed for is tomorrow's Tandy Hills Brush Bash.

It is supposed to start being stormy here in North Texas sometime tonight and all day tomorrow. I don't know if the source of the incoming rain is the same storm that is hitting California and today my mom and dad in Phoenix.

I'm sure it will end up being dry tomorrow. I think Mother Nature looks fondly on the Tandy Hills and those who are trying to restore the hills to their old style prairie glory.

Two Natural Wonders I Must See In Texas Before I Die

I got a book a couple days ago titled 1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die.

When I got the book I wondered how many Wonders I've seen. I figured places like Grand Canyon would be on the list, along with other American National Parks. I was right about that.

I wondered if there would be any Wonders in Texas. The only place I've been to in Texas that I thought might be a Wonder is Enchanted Rock.

Enchanted Rock was not on the list. But 2 other places in Texas are on the list of Natural Wonders. Neither of which have I seen.

One Texas Natural Wonder is Natural Bridge Caverns. This Wonder is located a few miles north of San Antonio.

The other Texas Natural Wonder that one must see before they die is the Basin of the Chisos Mountains. This basin is in the Chihuahuan Desert. The Basin and Chisos Mountains are part of Big Bend National Park.

When I thumbed through the 1001 Wonders I needed to see, I wondered how many necessary to see Wonders were in my old home state of Washington. I figured Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens were likely on the list. I was right about those two.

Other Washington Wonders are the Grand Coulee, Dry Falls, Upper Skagit River and the Columbia River Gorge.

Having both the Grand Coulee and Dry Falls as Wonders makes no sense to me. They are very similar and very close to each other. And Grand Coulee is mostly flooded by Lake Roosevelt, which is not a natural lake, it is the reservoir made by Grand Coulee Dam.

I lived in the Lower Skagit River zone. I don't get having the Upper Skagit River on this list of Wonders. The blurb about the Upper Skagit focuses on the Bald Eagle Preserve, where they hang out to eat salmon that are returning to spawn. I had a Bald Eagle who lived in a big nest, high up in a tall tree in the woods behind my house in Mount Vernon. I don't think I ever visited the Upper Skagit River Bald Eagle Preserve.

No mention is made of the Olympic Rain Forests or the Washington Coast or the North Cascades or any of the other Washington volcanoes, like Mount Baker, which usually accumulates the world's deepest snow each winter.

Lists like this always seem goofy to me when they are covering an area where I know what they are talking about. To get to 1001 Natural Wonders this book does stuff like list Yosemite, then also lists Wonders that are in Yosemite, like Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls and Glacier Point. It does the same thing with other National Parks, like Yellowstone and Bryce Canyon.

Anyway, there must be more than 2 Natural Wonders of merit in big ol' Texas. I've not been to Palo Duro Canyon. Maybe it's a Wonder.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taking Pictures & Splitting My Pants In Texas

This morning I was given a big, heavy, trophy-like piece of fragile glass to take a picture of for a website.

The website has to do with bricks. So, this morning I tried to take pictures of the trophy in front of bricks. That did not turn out well.

I tried putting it on a ledge with sky as the background. Did not work.

Late in the afternoon, with the sun not being so intrusive, I thought I might get a good picture.

But when the flash went off all sorts of shadows were the result. Turning off the flash the result is you see me, taking the picture, which is the picture you see here.

After the picture taking a picture of me problem, became my latest roadblock, I decided to put the camera on its tripod, set the self-timer, then stand behind it holding a white towel.

That sort of worked. Well enough that a workaround was figured out. I think.

I find my photographer incompetence amusing, so I just felt compelled to share.

I forgot to mention the most amusing part. To set the camera up, and aim it, I had to pretty much lay on the ground. When I lowered myself to that position I heard an awful ripping sound as my shorts split wide open.

I really need to lose some weight. Fast!

Express Energy Service Section Of Fort Worth Trinity Trails Getting Cleaned For Mysterious Reasons

Today after hiking on the Tandy Hills I went to Town Talk. As my one longtime reader knows, that puts me on Beach Street where I can see the current state of the Express Energy Services taking water from the Trinity River operation.

That same one longtime reader may remember me mentioning driving on Beach Street a couple days ago and seeing no notorious White Darth Vader Truck guarding the operation.

So, of course I was curious to see if the Terror Trucks were still gone today.

What I found was just something new to be perplexed about.

When I blogged about my Saturday experience with mafia-like thuggery, I mentioned how badly Express Energy had muddied up the Trinity Trail and rutted up the Trinity River levee.

Today the Trinity Trail was marked off with orange traffic cones and the sign you see in the picture, "UTILITY WORK AHEAD."

The Utility Work appeared to be the cleaning off of the muddied Trinity Trail. I did not get any closer than the sign, so I don't know if it was a City of Fort Worth work crew, cleaning up the trail, burning your tax dollars to clean up after Express Energy, or if it was Express Energy cleaning up after themselves.

There was a White Darth Vader Truck guarding the river pumping site. I saw at least 1 Express Energy goon standing by the truck. I didn't want a repeat of Saturday's fun, so I took my pictures and continued on to Town Talk.

So, why is the muddy mess being cleaned up while Express Energy is still driving a truck to the pump site? I assume they are still driving on the pedestrian trail that says "NO MOTORIZED VEHICLES."

When I was in Town Talk I thought to myself that the only reason to clean up the mess was that the pumping was already over. I could not see the pumps from my vantage point by the Utility Work Ahead sign. I thought, maybe the white truck, by the pump site, was there to clean up the mess and the pumps were gone.

The pumps being gone seemed to be the only thing that made sense of the effort going into cleaning the trail.

When I was done in Town Talk I headed to Gateway Park. I parked by the trailhead that leads to the bridge that crosses on to the Trinity Trails. As soon as I opened my door I heard the pumps.

So, very perplexing. Why is the trail being cleaned while the mess makers are still making messes?

Below is a chronological list of links of bloggings about the Express Energy Service Trinity River Gateway Park pumping operation...

Mess of 6 Pumps Getting Ready To Steal Trinity River Water?

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief Or One Of His Lackeys Thinks I'm A Clueless Reactionary

The 2010 Cold Orwellian World Of Fort Worth Texas

I Have Had Me An Orwellian Big Brother Encounter With Express Energy On The Trinity River in Fort Worth

More Questions In The Increasingly Orwellian World Of Fort Worth Texas

West Texas Chief Operative CT2's Report On Express Energy Services

A Sunday Surprise At the Fort Worth Beach Street Trinity River Gas Driller Pump Site

Another Visit With Express Energy Services At Gateway Park Where Water Is Now Being Removed From The Trinity River

A Saturday Shootout With Express Energy On The Trinity River In Fort Worth

Spring Has Sprung In Texas On The 21st Day Of The New Year

As you can see, spring has sprung, in Texas, this 21st day of the new year. The temperature today required minimalist outerwear. Seems hard to believe just a few days ago we were nearing zero in these parts.

I decided to hike "off trail" today on the Tandy Hills. Nicest day of the new year. Perfect. And the air smelled good.

Hard to believe, on a day like today, windows open, outside air blowing in, that that air has dangerous pollutants in it. But, apparently, it does.

My cockroach spray is odorless too, but it's deadly to the cockroaches.

The last time I hiked the Tandy Hills I saw 2 strange spiders. Today I saw the time type spider again. It looks like some sort of mutant combo of a Tarantula with a Daddy Long Legs. I don't know if there are Daddy Long Legs in Texas. Or if that is their actual name, but it's the name I knew for a big, spindly legged spider in Washington.

I did my "off trail" hiking on the west side of the main trail, looking for the illusive Witchey Tree and Death Van. I had no luck.

But, I did see that brush has been cut on the west side, quite a distance from the main trail, in preparation for Saturday's Brush Bash, where the Tandy Hills Manly Men and Wild Women return, once again, this time to haul brush.

Some of the brush that's been bashed is more like logs. It will require some very manly men to haul the logs out of there.

I think I got myself a healthy dose of Vitamin D today. I feared I was on the verge of Vitamin D deficiency related deficiencies developing, but today's exposure to the sun should keep me free of whatever it is that sun deprivation does to a person.

I hope.