Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Am Hoping Microsoft Security Essentials Keeps More Bad Stuff Away From Me

I started having computer problems early this morning. Before the sun came up. Everything was slow.

Then, I was writing a blogging on my TV Blog when the computer went into nuts mode. I hit the off button.

Upon restart I started up the browser so I could finish with the blogging. It took a long long time for the browser to open up. Eventually I hit the publish button on the blogging.

Then I started up Outlook Express. Usually this is pretty much instant. This morning nothing seemed to be happening.

I decided to walk away from the computer and go swimming.

But, I was unable to enjoy swimming due to worrying I was facing a major computer problem.

I returned to the computer to see that Outlook Express had finally started up.

I ate breakfast while playing Facebook Scrabble.

After that I started working on my website. That was going fine until Windows Defender did an update. When that was done Windows Defender told me it had found something bad. When I told Windows Defender to take the proper defensive action, all hell broke loose.

Something popped up telling me I had some horrible problem. I could not open things like Control Panel. Trying to open some things would generate a message telling me the problem contained an infected file "click here to run an anti-virus scan."

I'd been to a lot of webpages this morning, finding links. I figured I'd picked up something bad. I looked to see what processes were running. I saw one I knew should not be there. Stopped it. That stopped the bogus virus/infection warnings.

I found the same thing in the MSCONFIG start-up file. Disabled it there. Went to eliminate it from the Registry. Was told the Administrator (Me) was denying access.

I ran a Malware detector. It was blocked from getting the latest update. I ran it anyway. It found some bad stuff.

Then I was told Microsoft's new anti-virus program, called Microsoft Security Essentials, worked well, was fast, and did not bog down the system

But, when I tried to install MSE I had the same blocking an update problem.

I tried a couple other things, did a re-start. This time Microsoft Security Essentials was able to do the needed update. And then it quickly found several bad things. Those were removed.

Another restart and suddenly my computer is working better than it has in a long long time.

With everything seeming to be fine, I was back being a happy boy. So, I took off out of there to go on a bike ride.

My First Bike Ride In Over A Year Went Well For The Most Part

That is my newly restored two-wheeled personal locomotion device laying on the ground.

No, it is not laying on the ground due to a malfunction.

I stopped to take a picture. To take a picture I have to remove my sunglasses. If I don't I can not see the camera screen.

About 8, or maybe 9, miles later I realized I had left my sunglasses on the ground. Unlike the Tandy Hills Easter Sunday lost sunglasses incident, I found them today upon my return to the spot where I left them.

I estimate I quit riding my bike sometime last July, or maybe August. I attempted to get the wheel fixed in October, at Panther City Bikes. Or whatever it is called. I had a worse impression about that place than I did/do about Bicycles, Inc., so I did not get my wheel fixed there.

There are not as many bike shops to choose from in the Dallas/Fort Worth zone than in areas that have a lot more bike riders. At least I'm assuming that is the cause of the bike shop shortage.

I am glad I found Colonel's Bicycle Shop.

Getting back in the saddle, after more than a year of not pedaling, went surprisingly well. I was surprised at how solid the bike now feels with its fixed wheel. I quickly realized I put up with that wobbly wheel way too long.

I was zipping along at around 20 mph, with the help of wind behind me, breaking the speed limit by 10 mph. Came to the first up and down, zipped down and up. It was feeling good.

I forgot to mention, my return to bike riding took place at Village Creek Natural Historic Area, then left the VCNHA trail to continue on on the Bob Findlay Linear Park trail.

Which is where the picture was taken. It's in Interlochen. An area with a lot of canals. Betty Jo Bouvier asked me how it manages to be so green here, so I took a green picture for Betty Jo.

Soon after that, at mile 6 or 7, I thought of Betty Jo again. I started off feeling real comfortable on the saddle. I'd forgotten that prior to my bike's long period of rest I'd put a comfy new bike seat on it. But, by mile 6 or 7, not so comfy. I think my seating area has lost some of its padding over the past year. Which is why I thought of Betty Jo, thinking riding a bike might be a bit more comfortable if I had a more ample derriere.

I had multiple issues with squirrels acting squirrely today. Four times the little beasts darted out in front of my front wheel, almost causing a crash each time.

Around mile 10, on my way back to my van, before I realized I'd left my sunglasses behind, I stopped to drink some water. I leaned over to get the water bottle and then had a real dizzy sensation, in a way that felt good. It was at that point I realized that biking is way more exercise, aerobically speaking, than the hill hiking I've been doing for the past year.

By the time I recovered the sunglasses and made it back to my van, I'd covered 13.646 miles. Not the longest bike ride I've gone on. But, it seemed long enough for the first bike ride in over a year. As soon as I stopped and got off the bike, without the motion caused Wind Chill, I switched into heavy duty sweating mode. I'd forgotten this part of bike riding when it's HOT.

So, that was the fun part of today. The un-fun part of today was totally unrelated to riding a bike. If I feel like re-living that in blog form, I may do that later.

The Last Day Of August Starts Dark & Cloudy & Humid

I am up way before the sun on the last day of August. As you can clearly see via the view from my patio. It is a dark, cloudy morning.

I opened the windows this morning before realizing it was 79.9 and very humid. As in 79% humidity. About 10 minutes later the windows were shut and the A/C turned on to try and un-do the damage I'd done to the interior climate.

I am looking forward to my first bike ride in a long, long time, today. I think I'll go pedaling on Village Creek Natural Historic Area's paved trail. That was the location of the last time I was on my bike.

I think I'll hit a paved trail, or two, to make sure I am comfortable back in the saddle, before hitting a mountain bike trail. I suspect new trails have been added to my favorite nearby mountain bike trail, that being the River Legacy Park mountain bike trail.

But, before I go biking, I am going swimming. But, I need the sun to show up with some brightening before I do that.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fort Worth's Colonel's Bicycles Has Me Back On 2 Wheels

Well. I am back in bike riding mode. It has been quite a long time since my bike became unstable, due to the rear wheel getting way out of round. Or un-true in bike wheel-speak. Or is it out of true?

My biking had sort of gone the way of my roller blading. With roller blading I decided one day that the fun quotient was out weighed by the lack of a desire to go through another long recovery from a bad blading fall.

And then I sort of got addicted to heavy duty hiking and its resultant positive effects.

But, I sort of missed riding my bike.

And then a couple weeks ago I was walking the paved trail at River Legacy Park. Walking it. And way more bikers than I ever remember seeing there, reminded me of how often I'd biked that trail. I decided then to get back in bike mode.

Part of my reluctance to deal with the bike woes is I have had bad luck with bike shops here in Texas. And I was never all that happy with bike shops in Washington, except for the bike shop in Fairhaven in Bellingham. I think it was called Bellingham Bike Shop. I bought my favorite bike there. And then a Texas trail killed it. Killed it good.

I think it was back in October I mentioned taking the wheel to Panther City Bikes on Magnolia in Fort Worth. Fort Worth Weekly picked it as the Best Bike Shop, in last year's Best of 2009 Issue. It took me about 2 minutes in Panther City Bikes to turn and run out. I think I blogged about this and my previous experience with taking the wheel in for help at Bicycles Inc., in Bedford, which left the wheel still wobbly. slightly improved, but still wobbly.

I believe it was after that that Steve A pointed me to Colonel's Bicycle Shop on University Drive in the heart of purple TCU territory. It seemed like a long ways to go at the time Steve A mentioned it.

But, I wanted a working wheel. So, last Thursday I took the wheel to the Colonel. I was told I needed a new wheel. And that it should be ready by Tuesday. Well, this afternoon, just as I was heading into Fort Worth for another reason, I got a call from Colonel's. The wheel was ready.

When I was in Colonel's on Thursday I lamented about my bad Texas bike shop experiences. The bike guy I was talking to joked that they'd try and not be another bad bike shop experience. I told the bike guy I had a tendency to blog about my bad experiences. And my good experiences.

I was fairly certain I was going to have a good experience at Colonel's Bicycle Shop, due to the fact that Colonel's has a good website that oozes competence. And a lot of good customers comments.

So, I got back here, figured I'd have an easy time attaching the tire to wheel, with a tube inside, and then sticking it on the bike. It'd been awhile. Eventually I got the tire on the wheel, with the tube inside. I figured sticking the wheel on the rear gear thing would be easy. Done it many a time.

It took at least a half an hour before the wheel suddenly, correctly slid in to place. By then I'd somehow mucked up the brake cable. But that was easily fixed.

So, now, after way too much effort. I am ready to roll. But not right now. The rolling will have to wail until tomorrow.

Hot Tandy Hills Hiking With Purple Bruisers

It is one day before the end of August and there is still plant life coloring up the Tandy Hills. Not a lot of it, but there is still color.

Today I saw a delicate looking tiny orchid-like pink wildflower. And the big Purple Bruiser you see in the picture.

I think the Purple Bruiser belongs to the thistle family. It was quite thorny.

A slight bit of rain damped us up a bit a bit before noon. This shot the humidity way up. So, even though it was only in the high 80s, it was one HOT hike today.

When I stopped to take the picture of the Purple Bruiser, it was near the end of my hike time. The act of stopping and getting low to the ground, to take the picture, turned me into a fountain. I'm sure the Purple Bruiser appreciated its second watering of the day. I know I would have.

I am ready for fall to fall. There were signs of the impending hall on the hills today. Leaves in some trees starting to slightly change their color. It is only 22 days til fall.

I am out of here, back out in the HEAT. I've something I need to attend to.

J.D. Granger's Trinity River Vision Happy Hour Tubing Party Boondoggle Continuing Fun

You are looking at another photo taken by Joyce Marshall in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. There are now a lot of photos documenting last Thursday's bizarre Trinity River Vision Boondoggle J.D. Granger inspired Happy Hour Inner Tube Float down one of the most polluted rivers in America.

Judging from the comments to the article in the Star-Telegram, the locals seemed to be fairly universally repulsed by J.D. Granger's latest great idea.

One commenter lamented the wish that something cheaper be found for Kay Granger's boy to do.

It was Elsie Hotpepper who pointed me to the cornucopia of amusing and cogent comments, pointing me to them, because one commenter, Rude Dude, mentioned Durango Texas as being his information source for the Trinity Tubing.

I'll start with the comment from Rude Dude, then follow that with other comments about J.D. Granger's latest Boondoggle...

Someone named Agassifan had asked "So, how were these folks chosen?"

RudeDude then wrote:

They weren't chosen the float was open to anyone. They probably learned about it at J.D. Granger's Twitter or Facebook page. I read about it several weeks ago at Durango Texas. Fort Worth Weekly and FortWorthology may have also announced the float.

Jabbo wrote:

Anyone who has pushed the wasteful billion dollar Trinity Vision project (Granger & Son, Moncrief, the Tarrant Water District, etc.) should be put on an innertube and set out to sea!

localyokel wrote:

UGGHHH!!!! Between the alligator gar, the "brown trout", and God alone only knows what else, there is no way that anyone who valued their health would even think to get in the river. I've pulled CARS out of the river, BODIES out of the river, did a Trinity River Trash Bash and saw an old man with a net scooping used NEEDLES out of the water.

McNugget wrote:

Between the mammoth alligator gar, 2 headed snakes, gators, and dead bodies known to lurk below the foamy waters of the Trinity- No Thanks! Not to mention the fact that you will smell like a toilet boil for two days after.

anngws wrote:

There was documentary on recently about aligator gar - they focused on the Trinity River because it has such a huge population of that terrible fish. They can be deadly and grow to be very large - they have 2 rows of aligator teeth in a long thin snout. Who on Earth would swim in a river with those things? They can shred anything they bite into. Who would even promote such a thing?

TexasProud wrote: (quoting from the article in the Star-Telegram)

"With Budweiser swim trunks, a can of Natural Ice in his hand and a pack of Marlboros hanging around his neck in a waterproof container, the Fort Worth resident was ready to go."

This is why Fort Worth is Fort Worth, and not someplace with higher standards....it's the people....stupid.

astlobo wrote:

Great just what the Trinity needs, dirty Fort Worthians polluting the river even more.

McNugget wrote:

I thought these Trinity River people were only in charge of the big "flood control" project that we're all going to be financing. Now they're doing tubing and restaurants by the river. Maybe next they can come over and clean my house?

rickhatcher wrote:

you can't eat fish from the Trinity River what makes people want to put their bodies in that nasty thing. If they cleaned up the river it would help immensely. I am not sure it is safe for tubing anyhow. I don't think I would want to eat at any restaurant on the Trinity River because of the horrible smell.

sulla012 wrote:

I love tubing and I love Fort Worth it would take millions to get that river in tubing shape for the general public. I will choose to do the spring fed rivers of the Hill country and miss my chance to tube with "uncle dave". Maybe next year "uncle Dave". Nothing like a stagnant foul smelling river to go tube at on a lazy afternoon. Good idea wrong river.

jlwesty wrote:

Many tubing areas are not deep, over one's head. The Trinity is deep and there are no life saving stations. The Fire Dept takes too long in an emergency. They are more for recovery. Many city dwellers can not swim. As a child I remember many people being drowned yearly at family outings. The river is for flood water it is filled with limbs, trees and rocks. After a rain it foams like your washer because of chemicals in the run off. Once drowned bodies take days to find if they don't float naturally as they deteriorate. I would think authorities would tell you to boil the water if you were going to drink it. The rare boat race or tug of war that gets out of hand and leads to a sip probably would not kill you but inviting the world to come down and take a dip makes no sense just like the project. I wish we could have found something cheaper for Kay Granger's boy to do. It is a disgrace which will come to nothing.

A Polluted Texas Monday Morning Moon Seen With ISO & Shitzu

We are looking out my bedroom window, early Monday morning, with this being the last Monday of August. It is 79 degrees out there, so I've got my windows open.

My camera has multiple settings that I spin a dial to change. Settings like 'Fireworks', 'Snow', 'Foliage', 'Portrait', 'Night Snapshot', 'Kids & Pets', 'Indoor', 'Sunset', 'Beach', 'Aquarium' and 'ISO'.

I had no idea what ISO meant. This morning I set the camera on ISO and took the picture out of my bedroom window. I think what ISO means is at that setting you can take a picture with little light and no flash will go off and you end up with a photo that fairly closely replicates what the darkness actually looks like.

I think I'll leave you for a moment and go out on the patio and see if this ISO thing can take a picture of the pollution halo that is currently surrounding the moon. I'll be right back.

Well, you can sort of see the haze around the moon. And you can also see that the sun is starting to light up the place. But not sufficiently bright to alert the birds that it is time to go into their morning tweeting routine.

I have yet to get to see and take a picture of the little Lhasa Apso doggy who found a home on Saturday. The lady who adopted the nice little doggy, we called Shitzu, because we thought he was a Shih Tzu breed of nice little doggy, already has 2 dogs. Little Schnauzers.

When I first met the lady who adopted Shitzu she only had 1 Schnauzer. I met the little Schnauzer when a Pit Bull was trying to eat it during a fire emergency. It was drama layered upon drama.

I see Shitzu's new mama a couple times a week, usually, out walking her doggies in my neighborhood. It will be interesting to see how she handles 3 dogs at once. And how Shitzu is adjusting to his adopted siblings.

Well, the birds have started making a racket. Which means it is time to go swimming.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Walking With Texas Indian Ghosts While Talking To Tootsie Tonasket

You are looking at the paved trail in Village Creek Natural Historic Area in Arlington, Texas. The picture was taken about an hour ago, a minute or two after I was untangled from the leash of a passing Doberman. You can see the Doberman and its humans in the distance in the picture if you look real hard.

My one longtime reader may remember me mentioning, yesterday, that Tootsie Tonasket had sent me a rather disturbing email detailing the latest chapter in Tootsie's ongoing roller coaster of a soap opera.

So, I called Tootsie Tonasket today while I walked and talked for an hour or so. I gave Tootsie excellent advice as to how to handle the latest Tootsie Travail. I'm sure my excellent advice will be totally ignored.

I tell you, the troubles that people find themselves accidentally getting into, make me grateful I pretty much live a trouble-free existence. As long as I stay out of Tacoma and its Vortex of Weirdness.

I think I broke my record in the pool this morning, time-wise. It was feeling so salubrious I did not want to get out. I was in the water very soon after the sun arrived, so I had musical bird tweeting helping create a soothing jungle atmosphere.

I was in Boerne, Texas, virtually, all morning. I'll be returning there again, virtually, this afternoon. Interesting town.

Time for lunch now. Burgers, with salad, oven-baked spud rounds and lemonade.

An Early Texas Sunday Morning Thinking About A Former Shih Tzu Former Homeless Puppy

We are looking out my bedroom window at the slightly moonlit early morning of the last Sunday in August.

It is way hotter than yesterday's morning temperature of 67. Right now, at a little past 6am, it is 78 out there.

The cute little formerly homeless doggy had a successful trip to the groomer and vet.

Miss Puerto was sure the little doggy was of the Shih Tzu breed. Yesterday the vet identified it as a Lhasa Apso doggy. And it is just a puppy, less than a year old.

Miss Puerto Rico is hoping I'll take a picture today of the newly spruced up Lhasa Apso. Apparently after his haircut he looks really tiny.

I think I need to close the windows. I am sort of overheating in here. Maybe it's the HOT coffee.

In Texas Celebrating A Rare Scrabble Win Against The Scrabble Queen Of Washington

Saturday night I had me a Scrabble Celebration due to the rare occasion of winning a Scrabble game against the Scrabble Queen of Washington.

It was a decisive victory, by dozens of points.

I think the Scrabble Queen of Washington lets me win every once in awhile just to boost my easily boosted spirits.

A couple weeks ago I read somewhere that Scrabble, the actual board game, not the Facebook version, has become a very trendy fad.

It seems like the actual board game version would be complicated, figuring out how to score the points. That would involve arithmetic. The arithmetic part of my brain went to sleep a long time ago.

I see in the morning email that the Scrabble Queen of Washington has invited me to play a new game of Scrabble. The usual pattern is she lets me win one. And then decisively defeats me to remind me why she is the Scrabble Queen of Washington.

While I'm a mere Pauper in Texas. I just realized I am not sure I know what a Pauper is.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paying Homage To The Tandy Hills Shrine While Talking To My Mom, Worrying About Tootsie Tonasket & Thinking About The Tacoma Queen Of Chocolate

You are looking at the newly restored Tandy Hills Shrine on top of Mount Tandy. The oracle known as Stenotrophomonas prophesied that new balls would migrate their way to the shrine. As it was prophesied, so it has come to be.

Before I say anything else about anything else, I must tell you the nice homeless doggy I introduced you to has found a home. At this very moment he is getting a haircut. And then it's off to the Dog Doctor for a check-up and shots.

It is like the nice homeless doggy knew something good was happening. He'd been a bit skittish, we did not know how we'd get him in a dog carrier cage for transport to the Dog Fixers. Instead, the cage door was opened and the no longer homeless doggy walked right in. Liked he'd seen this before and knew it led to good things.

Enough of the dog. Back to me. On the way to the Tandy Hills I got gas, so, like I always do when I get gas, I called my mom. Mom was being chatty, so the chattiness continued after I arrived at the Tandy Hills. After my mom stopped being chatty I called Tootsie Tonasket, because Tootsie had emailed me regarding a rather urgent matter that she wanted to talk to me about. I got voice mail.

Tootsie just called back, but I'm blogging right now and not in the mood to talk about Tootsie's Travail.

I heard from the Chocolate Queen of Tacoma, this morning, that she's been reading my blogs.

Most complicated website I ever made was for the Chocolate Queen of Tacoma. The complicated one, that I made, has been replaced by a less complicated, but far better, version.

Next time I'm in Tacoma I'll be visiting the Chocolate Queen. There is a chance if I do that I might get to taste some exotic chocolate. Most chocolate I've ever consumed, occurred during a 10 day period in February of 2004, while I put chocolate products on Amazon for the Queen of Chocolate. I probably had more chocolate during that 10 day period than the entirety of my life up to that point.

When I flew up to Washington, in February of 2004, I weighed 206. When I returned to Texas, 10 days later, I weighed almost 220.

The 10 days of overeating were topped off with a 10 hour layover in Phoenix, where I had McDonald's All You Can Eat, twice, within an hour, once, when I landed, again when my sister landed. A few hours later it was off to Happy Hour at some place with cheap Happy Hour appetizers. After that I was stuffed, but then it was off to my first visit to an In-N-Out, where I learned why they are so highly regarded, by having two burgers.

After In-N-Out they took me back to the airport where I slowly waddled in, eventually barely able to secure a seatbelt around me. I was very happy there were very few on board. I had a whole section of the plane all to myself.

Even though we got down to only 35 degrees above freezing, last night, the sun has managed to heat us up again, to 93, so the A/C is back doing its cooling thing.

A Wind Chilling 67 This Last Saturday Of August In Texas

As you can see, sitting out on the patio with me, it is dark, very dark. Up this last Saturday of August way before the anticipated arrival of the sun.

67 at this point in time this morning. No Heat Index, even though the Humidity is at 68%. This morning, according to WeatherBug, we have a Wind Chill going on.

An Air Pollution Alert or Warning or Whatever it is called, was issued yesterday.

Yesterday morning, when I opened my windows, I thought the air smelled like bleach. This morning it is bleach-free, but something is causing an eye stinging nuisance.

Yesterday when I left Oakland Lake Park, heading towards Town Talk, heading north on Oakland Boulevard, as I crossed Interstate 30 I saw that the Barnett Shale drill pad, slightly north of the freeway, was being fracked, with a lot of trucks waiting to waste water in to the hole.

The drill pad site is surrounded by a tall wall, so you can't see what is going on in there. But, a strange haze of misty particulates was wafting airborne. Was it diesel exhaust from a truck? If so, why was nothing blowing airborne from all the water trucks outside the wall?

One of the things I like when I return to the Pacific Northwest is how good the air smells. I remember in July of 2001, when I drove solo back to Washington for my mom and dad's 50th, as I crossed Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 to Western Washington, past the summit the air began to smell like Christmas trees. That sensation continued for about a week, and then I no longer noticed it. When I lived in Washington I never noticed how good it smells.

The only thing I ever smell in Texas that smells good is the smoke wafting from a Texas barbecue. I will forever associate that good fragrance with Texas. That and the stench of oil.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Seeing Closed Libraries and New Sidewalks In Fort Worth

My intention had been to go to the Tandy Hills today, parking on top of Mount Tandy, to take a photo of the desecrating of the Mount Tandy Shrine, which I learned last night from Stenotrophomonas had had its golf balls stolen by a shrine desecrating vandal.

But, I was running late, and I remembered that the Fort Worth Water Boys had re-invaded the Tandy Hills, which if accessed from Mount Tandy I'd likely have an encounter where I would have had to negotiate my way around big trucks whilst breathing in noxious diesel fumes.

So, walking around Fosdic Lake in Oakland Lake Park became my destination.

On the way I went by the East Regional Library. Closed. When this library is open, usually every computer station has someone using it, plus others bringing in their laptops for Wi-Fi access. I don't know how one manages to afford a laptop, but not an Internet connection.

Judging from letters to the editor in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, citizens are starting to get cranky about the library scale backs. And pool closings.

While the City of Fort Worth has money for other things.

Like a few million to fix a clock tower, money to build a helicopter pad, money to buy inner tubes to give to people wanting to test their immune systems in the Trinity River.

And to build new stair/sidewalks, like the one you see in the photo above.

The new stair/sidewalk is in Oakland Lake Park. It is adjacent to a CCC, 30s era, constructed of rocks, picnic pavilion. Built, I assume with New Deal stimulus money.

Is current day stimulus money what is being spent on projects like Oakland Lake Park's new stair/sidewalk? Did Fort Worth get some stimulus money? Is that what is causing all the road projects? If there is stimulus money is there some prohibition against using it to keep a library open? Or a pool?

I find the new stair/sidewalk in Oakland Lake Park perplexing. If the old one presented a danger, could not that route have been blocked until funds were available, so the money could be spent on more urgent needs? There are 3 other easy routes to take you to the same location as the new stair/sidewalk.

I'd do some more curmudgeon whining, but I am hungry and lunch is ready.

J.D. Granger's Trinity River Vision Happy Hour Inner Tube Float Boondoggle On The Trinity River

On August 4 I blogged about J.D. Granger's bizarre plan to have a Trinity River Vision Boondoggle Happy Hour Float down the Trinity River in Fort Worth.

I opined that I thought it absurd to put people in water that has signs warning you not to eat fish you catch. And the water is dirty, really dirty. In addition to the dirtiness, there is a lot of litter, an amazingly lot of litter.

And critters, like turtles, who are willing to give chase, while snapping at you (I have had it happen), snakes, like water moccasin. And Alligator Gar, which are these bizarre "fish" that look like an eel/alligator mutation.

I have not seen an Alligator Gar in the Trinity River. I have seen one in Village Creek. I have not been back in a Texas lake since I saw an Alligator Gar and then talked to some girls on a dock on Lake Grapevine who told me one of their friends had stepped on an Alligator Gar the day before and had to be taken to the ER.

A year or two ago a fisherman caught a really big Alligator Gar in the Trinity in Dallas. I think it was 10 feet long. Or was that the length of the Alligator found last year in my neighborhood?

So, yesterday, Thursday, around 40 inner tubers joined J.D. Granger, with beer coolers in floats, for the Trinity River Vision Authority Boondoggle "Tubing Happy Hour."

You are looking at a pair of the Trinity Tubers in the picture above. This picture was in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, taken by Joyce Marshall.

The picture at the top is not of the Trinity Tubers, it is a picture of tubers in a clean river.

J.D. is working on a couple more floating happy hours, saying "Based on the demand we saw for this event, there will probably be something next spring or summer."

40 people does not sound like a rousing demand for an event to me.

Apparently, on July 4, J.D. and his Vision Boondoggle provided 100 inner tubes for Fort Worth's 4th of July celebration.

Where these 4th of July inner tubes floated, I do not know, but J.D. says, ""People literally came in [and] cut off their kids' jeans so they could tube. We're ordering at least 300 tubes for next July because of the demand."

The executive director of the TRV Boondoggle is ordering up at least 300 inner tubes for next 4th of July? Who is paying for these tubes?

The comments to the article in the Star-Telegram are pretty funny and pretty much on point regarding the absurdity. Below are a few of the funnier comments....

panthercitylover wrote:

We were having a good time, but a 4-foot-long alligator gar punctured my tube and almost bit me! Scary! I'm never getting in the Trinity again.

sarcasticallystooopid wrote:

Haha! The only people who would do this are either (a)not from Fort Worth or (b)rednecks. I'll drive down south to do my tubing, thanks and I am a Fort Worth native. I'm wondering if these morons have seen pics of the river when it is low. It is flat out disgusting, 55 gallon chemical drums, tires, dead animals, etc. Watch out for Okie turds and dead bodies.

Oh and don't forget: Man drowns in Trinity; passing bicyclist rescues mom and daughter. Jul 5, 2010 FORT WORTH -- An East Texas man trying to rescue his 7-year-old daughter drowned Monday afternoon in the Trinity River.

But I'm sure it's real safe if your drinking beer and floating in an unstable rubber tube.

paulasmithy wrote:

When I saw the headline, I thought this would be an article about potatoes growing by the river. Not that those would be particularly safe, either.

txlawyer2 wrote:

There are no advisories against swimming because the agencies thought that went without saying. Next year the headline will be the same, except for replacing "tubers" with tumors.

xxViixen wrote:

Ew!!! Dont float the Trinity. Go float the Comal or Guadalupe River in Austin. Those were the best times of my life!

truefwtexan wrote:

Is this a big surprise? We have insane heat around here, and we have a grand total of one public pool open. When we had 5, they were overcrowded, and now they are just insane. No wonder people are willing to lounge in the disgusting water just to cool off. Wake up, Fort Worth! We're burning up here!

midcitiesyj wrote:

Hahahaha! The comments below pretty much sums it up. Eeeeewwww, nothing like floating in no current and 90 degree water.... And watch out for the 2 headed snakes. The Paluxy is a very good place to go, but nothing compares to the cold water and fast current of the Guadalupe.

ustfuninfw wrote:

Next they'll be hosting swim events at the waste water treatment plants.

Up Before The Sun In Chilly North Texas On The Last Friday Of August Thinking About Tubing The Trinity

It is the last Friday of August. Before dawn. I am feeling misbegotten this morning. There was a moon hanging overhead looking at me when I went out on my patio to drink some coffee.

I think there is a song, movie, book or play titled something like Moon for the Misbegotten. If I were not so illiterate I would know these things.

The sun has yet to arrive to heat up the place, so the temperature is still falling, but it has not fallen, yet, to the predicted low of 68. Currently it is a balmy 71. That is about 10 degrees cooler than I run the A/C, so I currently have my windows open for some natural cooling.

I like the natural cooling. Except. This morning there seems to be some sort of chemical smell in the air, sort of like bleach. I really do not think it can possibly be a good thing to have bleached air.

The noisy birds have started up their tweeting ritual that goes on every morning when they get all excited when the sun returns for yet one more day. I tweeted this morning, too, but I did my tweeting on Twitter.

I think I may forego swimming and hiking and get my daily dose of exercise by going inner tubing on the Trinity River. Apparently this formerly scary sounding activity is suddenly quite popular. More on this bizarre phenomenon later.

I changed my mind on foregoing the swimming. I am pool bound in about a minute.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

6th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards With Deep-Fried Beer & Deep-Fried S'mores Pop Tarts Among 6 Other Fried Sweet Things

Sitting on the red plate is Fried Beer, one of 8 finalists in the 6th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards. You will have to wait until September 24, for the opening of the 2010 State Fair of Texas, to have yourself some Fried Beer.

If you want to try the Fried Beer you will need ID to prove you are old enough to eat it. Same with the Deep Fried Frozen Margarita.

Mark Zable concocted the Fried Beer. Basically he filled a pretzel with beer, then deep-fried it.

The Deep Fried Frozen Margarita was mixed up by Jake Levy. He took funnel cake batter, mixed in Margarita ingredients, such as Tequila and Tequila flavored wine, deep-fried the batter, then dusted it with a lemon-lime mixture, served in a salt-rimmed glass.

The other 6 Big Texas Choice Awards Finalists were alcohol-free.

They include frequent deep fryer, Abel Gonzalez Jr.'s, Fried Chocolate. White Chocolate and a cherry is stuffed into a brownie, then dipped in chocolate cake batter before hitting the deep fryer. After the Fried Chocolate comes out of the fryer it is dusted with powdered sugar, topped with a cherry sauce and chocolate-flavored whipped cream.

Deep Fried S'mores Pop Tart is Isaac Russo's contribution to the Texas waistline. He battered and deep-fried a chocolate, peanut butter, s'mores flavored Pop Tart, then drizzles the Pop Tart with chocolate syrup before topping the concoction with whipped cream.

Tami Stiffler's entry is Fried Lemonade. She deep-fried pastry made with lemonade, then covered it with a glaze made of lemonade, lemon zest and powdered sugar.

Fernie's Fried Club Salad was made by Christi Erpillo. She deep-fried a spinach wrap filled with chicken, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, carrot strips, sharp cheddar cheese and bacon. After coming out of the fryer the Fried Club Salad is topped with deep-fried sourdough croutons on top of shredded romaine lettuce.

Nick Bert made Texas Fried Frito Pie by covering chili and cheese with Fritos, then battering before deep frying.

Texas Fried Caviar, is not a seafood concoction. Allan Weiss took black-eyed peas, mixed with spices, blended with Old Bay seasoning, then deep-fried. Texas Fried Caviar comes in 2 flavors, regular or spicy.

I think the only thing, among the 8, I might consider consuming would be Fernie's Fried Club Salad. The Deep Fried S'mores Pop Tart would gag me. I've never liked good old-fashioned sickeningly sweet regular S'mores.

You have from September 24 through October 17 to get yourself to Dallas to this year's State Fair of Texas to have yourself some Fine Fried Foods.

Hiking The Tandy Hills While Whining Like An Old Curmudgeon About The Weather

When I drove up to my parking spot on View Street to hike the Tandy Hills, first thing I noticed was the Tandy Tire had made it all the way to the pick-up zone.

The temperature was not in HOT mode, so I hiked more than I've done in awhile.

I'd been warned with a Head's Up from the Tandy Hills Watchdog, Don Young, that the Fort Worth Water Boys were going to be back this week.

And they were there today, rutting up the newly opened Tandy Highway. And being noisy.

This morning I went to Colonel's Bike Shop on University by TCU. University Drive has been re-paved since I last drove it. But, traffic on that road and all those hordes of students, make for a congested zone, in the middle of which is Colonel's Bike Shop.

I got back here and when I woke up the computer I had a funny blog comment from someone calling him or herself "Mattydigs."

Mattydigs said....

Your stupid blog 'vexes' me. You come off like a whiny old curmudgeon.

p.s. No one wants to read your weather reports.

Now, why would Mattydigs read a stupid blog that vexes him or her? That is a pretty stupid thing to do. Of course I come off as a whiny old curmudgeon due to the fact that I am a whiny old curmudgeon. It is a nice compliment to hear that this blog is accurately reflecting me.

And how does Mattydigs know no one wants to read my weather reports? Did he/she do a poll?

People like Mattydigs vex me.

As for the weather report. It is only 86 at half past 1. Almost dead calm, humidity up, Heat Index of 91.

Up Early In Chilly Texas On The Last August Thursday Of 2010

I am up way before the sun, this last Thursday of August. It is a very dark morning, which caused the camera's flash to go off, lighting up the tree. I could see the moon trying to glow through the cloud cover. A picture of that did not work out.

I felt the chill that arrives after the A/C turns on, about 2 this morning. I got up, turned it off and opened windows.

It is currently 71, the low so far for the night. Today the high is predicted to get to 90, the low, 65.

I think the pool will feel cool to me this morning. I'll check that out as soon as the sun wakes up and illuminates the place.

I may go shopping for a new bike today. I do not like shopping for a new bike. It is not as annoying as shopping for a new car, but close.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

73.7 Degrees Cold Mid-Wednesday Afternoon In Fort Worth

73.7, mid-afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas. Have we seen the end of 100 degree days for the year? I sort of hope so.

When I left here, a half hour before noon, heading north on 820, traffic was at a crawl, due to, I think, a lot of rain coming down. Traffic sped up once I got past the point where 121 joins 820. Traffic sped up and the rain let up.

The National Weather Service or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, I don't remember which, issued a Level Orange Air Pollution Alert an hour or two ago.

It's windy, it's been raining, it's not HOT. So, why an Air Pollution Alert now? On Sunday there was no alert that I was aware of, with Sunday being a very nasty day, air quality-wise.

I don't understand why Texas has a Commission on Environmental Quality. There are a lot of Texans who are concerned about the Environmental Quality of Texas, but that particular Texas Commission does not seem to. It's very Orwellian.

Wal-Mart's Systemic Thievery

On July 11 I blogged about Wal-Mart's price scanner malfunctioning, adding a scanned item twice. I had to go to customer service to get my money back.

Which I found highly annoying.

Today it happened again. I'd been to ALDI where a couple dozen items were super quickly scanned, with nary a problem.

Then I crossed the street to Wal-Mart, intending to get a new Popcorn Air Popper, because mine had blown up.

By the time I got to the checkout I'd also picked up a bag of chick peas, garlic powder and a pair of cargo shorts.

As you can see on the scanned receipt, I was charged for two jars of 5th Season garlic powder. I pointed this out to the checker. He, just like the previous instance, apologized profusely and told me to go to Customer Dis-Service to get my money back.

I told the checker I did not care to wait in the long Customer Dis-Service line to recover the 50 cents that Wal-Mart stole from me. I told the checker I'd just go get another jar of garlic powder. That'll work too, he said.

I decided to assess a fine for Wal-Mart stealing 50 cents from me and wasting my time, so I took an extra jar of spice, lemon pepper. It made the potato salad I made for lunch taste good.

This systemic thievery has now happened twice. I was buying only 4 items. I saw them scanned and saw the scanned item show up on the screen. The garlic powder did not show up twice.

And yet it was double-billed. I assume, just like the previous instance, the checker did not see the garlic powder show up twice, either.

So, clearly there is a major malfunction happening with Wal-Mart's check-out system.

Like I said, I only bought 4 items. What happens with those people with a cart full of dozens of items? How many of those people bother to look at the receipt? How much extra income does this add to Wal-Mart, systemically double-billing customers?

Why is it the store where I buy the least has problems like this? I've never had a checkout problem at Town Talk, at Sprouts Farmers Market, at ALDI Food Market, at Cho Saigon Market, at Central Market or Whole Foods.

I remember years ago the State of Washington's, I assume Attorney General, sent out teams of undercover agents to investigate complaints about K-Mart's pricing errors. If I remember right this ended up costing K-Mart a large fine.

Is it because Wal-Mart is operating in the ethics challenged lawless zone of Fort Worth and Tarrant County that it knows it can get away with some shady stuff that they can weasel their way out of, if caught?

It's all very vexing. And perplexing. And what is also perplexing and vexing is why do I still shop at Wal-Mart? I think the sad truth is, it's the entertainment factor. The well-documented "People of Wal-Mart." I saw a few doozies today.

So, bottom-line, if you shop at Wal-Mart, watch them like a hawk and check your receipt.

I just realized I forgot to mention another aspect of today's bizarre Wal-Mart experience. Today is the first day in a long time it has not been HOT in North Texas. The Hurst Wal-Mart was pumping HEAT into the building. Finally their A/C could get a rest, and while the rest of North Texas was opening their windows, the Hurst Wal-Mart cranked up the furnace! I tell you it was HOT in there.

Just one more thing to be perplexed about.

Austin #1 Of 10 Best Cities For The Next Decade

Kiplinger Magazine searched for the top cities in America poised to prosper economically in the next decade, evaluating American cities for growth and growth potential.

Kiplinger found that though some U.S. cities may have been slowed by the Great Recession, they still have managed to thrive by "lifting good old American innovation to new levels."

#1 of those American cities lifting American innovation to new levels is Austin, Texas.

In article, titled "10 Best Cities for the Next Decade" Kiplinger said of Austin...

"Austin is arguably the the country's best crucible for small business, offering a dozen community programs that form a neural network of business brainpower to help entrepreneurs. Now overlay that net with a dozen venture-capital funds and 20 or so business associations, plus incubators, educational opportunities and networking events. Mix all these elements in what many call a classless society, where hippie communalism coexists with no-nonsense capitalism, and you've got a breeding ground for start-ups.

Don’t discount the fun factor: In the self-proclaimed live-music capital of the world, music and business creativity riff off one another. The city’s famous South by Southwest festival, where concerts, independent film screenings and emerging technology overlap, is a prime example."

Hippie communalism? I think I want to move to Austin.

#2 on the Kiplinger list is a town I am familiar with, called Seattle. Seattle is in Washington.

This is what Kiplinger had to say about Seattle...

"Rain City? We'd say Brain City. Home to a well-educated workforce, a world-class research university, ├╝ber innovators Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing, and a host of risk-taking, garage-tinkering entrepreneurs, Seattle crackles with creative energy. "We only have two products here: smart people and great ideas," says Mark Emmert, president of the University of Washington.

Seattle is revising its tax, zoning and permit policies to make them more business-friendly, says Johnson. Meanwhile, this sophisticated Pacific Rim city has other qualities to recommend it, including great food, a glorious setting, an outdoorsy culture, enough rain to keep the locals' complexions looking dewy -- and, yeah, plenty of smart people."

I used to be one of those smart people. And then I moved to Fort Worth where I've been dumbing down for a decade. So, Austin had a fun factor working in its favor, apparently funner than Seattle? I've had fun in both towns. I'd have to give the fun edge to Seattle. Austin has no Ferry Boats or Cruise Ships. No Space Needle or Monorail. No Pike Place Market. No NFL or Professional Baseball Team that I know of.

Austin has a nude beach at Hippie Hollow. Seattle does not have a nude beach. Both towns participate in the bizarre World Nude Bike Ride.

The rest of Kiplinger's Top Ten Towns ready to boom in the next decade are...

3. Washington, D.C.
4. Boulder, Colorado
5. Salt Lake City, Utah
6. Rochester, Minnesota
7. Des Moines, Iowa
8. Burlington, Vermont
9. West Hartford, Connecticut
10. Topeka, Kansas

Cold Front Brings Slight Big Chill To North Texas While I Think About Gilmer Sweet Potato Queens

The sun was just starting to light up the place when I stepped outside the pleasantly temperatured Wednesday morning of August 25.

70 was the overnight low. That is quite a drop from the 106 high of 2 days ago. Or was it 3?

I've got my windows open, no A/C running. The predicted high for today is 88, the low, 68. With a 50% chance of rain with possible bolts of lightning.

About a third of an inch of rain fell since midnight. I did not hear it, but I saw all was wet outside when I stepped out on my patio for my daily view of the morning.

One nice benefit of this currently chilling cold front is in addition to drastically dropping degrees of air temperature, my swimming pool also was chilled down this morning to a more pleasant refreshing temperature.

If it is Wednesday, creature of habit that I be, I must be going up to North Richland Hills around noon, then to Hurst, going to the ALDI Food Market for my weekly chat with Victoria.

Yesterday I finally made it virtually out to Gilmer in the Piney Woods Region of East Texas, after being chastised by Elaine Fletcher for daring to leave out talking about beautiful small town Gilmer.

Turns out Gilmer has an interesting history. And its Yamboree Festival, with its celebration of the Sweet Potato, is a big deal.

The Sweet Potato Queen appeared to be a bit chunky. Maybe that is a requirement for the Sweet Potato Queen wannabes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Noontime Thunder Rumbling Upon Return To Fort Worth From Virtual Trip To Oklahoma's Natural Falls

You're looking at the almost noon view from Miss Puerto Rico's balcony. I was hoping to catch a bolt of lightning, but, though I heard thunder rumbling in the distance, I saw no bolts.

I did catch a few drops of rain. It was refreshing.

I had multiple reasons to not go swimming this morning.

Instead I got my cooling refreshment by going up to Oklahoma's Ozark Highlands Region, virtually, to feel the cooling mist from what used to be known as Dripping Springs Falls, but is now known as Natural Falls. Natural Falls falls is in Natural Falls State Park.

While altering all my Oklahoma webpages I came across a photo of something I saw years ago, in Oklahoma, that became blogging fodder for my Washington Blog.

I continue to hear thunder rumbling in the distance.

As you can see in the 7-Day Forecast, there are no 100 degrees days currently planned. And 4 nights under 70 are currently scheduled. The HEAT reduction has my brain less swelled up and thus working better. Or so it seems.

An Early Texas August Morning Thinking About Salmon Tacos

Had a rough night of tossing and turning with disturbingly complicated cinema quality nightmares. By 5 I was exhausted from all that activity, so I got up this morning, Tuesday, August 24, well before the sun did, which you can see looking down at the pool from my coffee sipping patio. No sun in sight.

When the sun does decide to show up I am expecting to see clouds. Apparently there is a 30% chance wet stuff will fall today, with the temperature staying under 100, with the over night low being 71.

Tomorrow will be even chillier if the weather prognosticators are correct. 91 for the high with the overnight low being 69. This should give the annoying A/C a rest.

I heard from Betty Jo Bouvier and Carlotta Camano over night. Both had had themselves fun weekends near the saltwater. Betty Jo over on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, staying in a tourist town called Port Townsend, while Carlotta was down on the Oregon coast staying at Depot Bay.

Hearing from Betty Jo and Carlotta made me miss saltwater. Particularly Betty Jo's description of a salmon taco.

Monday, August 23, 2010

104 At 2 In The Afternoon In North Texas Targeting Target & Wal-Mart

As you can see, the temperature hit 104 around 2 this afternoon, heading to a high of 106. 106 is currently the Heat Index temperature. The humidity has dropped, so it doesn't feel as HOT out there.

I think I mentioned yesterday that a cool Washingtonian was sending her now HOT husband to LA today. To Monroe, Louisiana.

I figured Monroe was likely hotter than here. As I so often am, I was wrong. Monroe is east of Shreveport about 60 or 70 miles on Interstate 20.

Right now, with it 104 in Fort Worth, it is 95 in Monroe.


In Monroe the humidity is at 53%, compared with 22% here. Consequently the Heat Index in Monroe is 116. 116. That is HOT.

I've been in HEAT that HOT before, in Nevada. 124 or more out in Death Valley, 117 in Las Vegas. But that is dry desert heat. A Heat Index of 116 has to be pretty miserable.

My hiking today consisted of going shopping at Target and the Wal-Mart Supercenter across the freeway from Target. I don't see how Target stays in business. There are never very many shoppers in Target. Only 2 checkouts needed at the front of the store. Meanwhile Wal-Mart today was its usual busy zoo.

Sunday's Record Heat In North Texas Has Me Still Overheated Monday Morning

I had myself a Lost Weekend of up too late at night, up too late in the morning, a trend which continued this Monday morning of August 23, as you can see looking down at the pool from my patio, the sun has brightly lit up the place.

The sun, according to those who keep records of such things, tied the North Texas temperature record for August 22 by hitting 105 on Sunday.

During my Texas Incarceration I have become a slight fan of HOT temperatures. I was not a fan of HOT temperatures when I lived in the cool clime of Washington.

But. I am ready for fall to fall on us with a good dose of cold. I am looking forward to shivering when I get in the pool, rather than feeling like I am walking into a big hot springs.

Well, it is time to get in the hot springs for my daily salubrious bout of water therapy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hitting A High Of 106 This Sunday In Texas

The high today in my zone of North Texas hit 106, according to my temperature information source. With a Heat Index of 109.

One more day over 100 and then a cold front moves in chilling us down to the 90s. Supposedly.

The National Weather Service issued a Heat Advisory a short time ago, advising us that it's going to be HOT through tomorrow. How did people figure out it was too HOT before the National Weather Service came along to issue a Heat Advisory?

I just heard from a cold Washingtonian that she is sending her husband to LA in the morning. When you are in the South, LA means Louisiana. When I lived on the West Coast it meant Los Angeles.

Wait a sec, I'm thinking I'm suffering some heat related dementia. It was the cold Washingtonian who referred to Louisiana as LA. Maybe she picked that up from me.

Anyway, when the aforementioned husband was in LA about a month ago it was HOT. He coped by using the multiple cold showers a day method. It will be way HOTTER this time in LA.

I find that the HEAT stifles my appetite. Or maybe it's more that when it is HOT I don't like feeling overly fed. I prefer feeling hungry. I think the constant intake of water has an effect too, in that it keeps me feeling sort of bloated. I really don't understand how so many people manage to get so big in this climate.

I had a big webpage making project I wanted to do today, but, I'm feeling worn out. Today the Scrabble Queen of Washington kindly helped me avoid what I wanted to do, by giving me multiple Scrabbling opportunities.

I've read a couple articles of late regarding the fact that, apparently, Scrabble has turned into quite a fad. Not the Facebook version that I play, but the real boardgame version. Which I've never played.

The A/C runs and runs, but I don't feel cool. Time for another shower.

A Tandy Tire Confession From A Fort Worth Endorphin Pusher

Yesterday I mentioned coming upon a round black object at an intersection of a couple Tandy Hills trails. It seemed as if it would take an awful lot of effort in these current trying HOT times to move such an object.

Last night Stenotrophomonas opined that the tire would make an ugly shrine and predicted the tire would gradually exit the Tandy Hills by migrating to View Street.

Today when I overheated on the hills I came to yesterday's location of the possible ugly shrine. It was gone. I figured Stenotrophomonas knows whereof he speaks.

But, later as I came to another intersection, after going up and down some hills, I came to the tire's new location, that being the next trail junction west of its yesterday location.

I thought it appeared the tire is slowly migrating to View Street, stopping for the night at each trail junction. The next junction is a very short distance from today's tire location, with the final junction a little further.

Today's HOT hiking was the HOTTEST yet. No wind. I got back here and jumped in the pool. That helped very little.

When I woke up the computer a short while ago I was surprised to see that at 3:25 Don Young confessed to being the tire migrater. He suggested I could feel free to carry it out if I needed an extra endorphin rush.

By the time I got to the tire today I was leaking so much liquid it was rushing in my nose causing the same sensation as breathing in water, accidentally, when swimming. Quite unpleasant.

When I stopped to take a picture of today's tire location, just reaching for the camera amps up the overheating. I wanted the tire to pose with the same face it used yesterday. This meant I had to flip it over to reveal its whitewall stripe. It took a couple tries to foot flip it over. I did not pick it up.

Now that I know that the Tandy Tire is not someone's Guerrilla Art project and is, instead, some sort of litter removal project, if I see the tire tomorrow I will try and roll it. If I am not overheated.

The Baker Hotel In Mineral Wells May Be Brought Back To Life

In the picture you are in Mineral Wells on top of a Palo Pinto Mountain, looking at the Baker Hotel.

I really think the Palo Pinto Mountains should be more accurately named the Palo Pinto Hills.

A few months after my Exile in Texas began I was out and about exploring the territory and was surprised to come upon a little town named Mineral Wells that had a gigantic abandoned hotel sitting in its downtown zone.

A year or two after first seeing it I made a webpage about the Baker Hotel on my Eyes on Texas website.

Over the years I've received several emails from people interested in buying and restoring the Baker Hotel. Asking if I knew who to contact. One or two were befuddled into thinking I was directly involved with the Baker Hotel. I remember one person was flying in from Los Angeles and asked if I could meet them and take them to the Baker Hotel.

Well, the Baker Hotel has been in the local news the past few days due to a fresh effort to restore the Baker Hotel (and Mineral Wells) to its former glory. Apparently $54 million has to be found. Officials in Mineral Wells and a development team are trying to put all the puzzle pieces together to turn the former 450 room hotel into a 4 star resort of 155 rooms, with the top floor ballroom restored and a spa with the waters that made Mineral Wells famous.

This is not the first time I've read that the long neglected Baker Hotel was going to get fixed.

Three years ago I wrote the following on my website about efforts to restore the hotel...

"After over 3 decades of floundering in an ever increasing state of decay, with numerous attempts by many to find some way to develop the Baker Hotel for a modern use, the city of Mineral Wells has, as of November, 2007, taken an active role in trying to restore the hotel to its former glory. The city has created a tax increment finance district hoping to entice potential developers to re-vitalize the Baker. The city has a 14 month agreement with the hotel's current owner to aggressively market the building to developers. The city will be doing feasibility and building examinations for the next 2 months. We can save them some trouble, the structure is sound, but it desperately needs a new roof."

I hope it all works out, this time, and the Baker Hotel is restored. And I hope the restoration stays true to the Baker Hotel's art deco style.

Up Late After Being Up Late Going Swimming Then To Gilmer Texas

Two days in a row, up late the night before getting up late, as in up after the sun this Sunday August 22 morning.

As you can see, I've not quite made it out to the table on my patio to sip my morning coffee.

I had myself a nicely tiring day Saturday, with 2 long bouts in the pool plus one long bout on the Tandy Hills.

And one long bout, Saturday night, at Miss Puerto Rico's.

I think I may have had one or two too many adult libations last night. I do not like it when I have one or two too many adult libations.

I will not be having one or two too many adult libations today. I may be going to the Tandy Hills again. I will be swimming in a few minutes. I will be grilling some Cornish Game Hens and making a Fire-Roasted Eggplant Casserole this morning.

And I think I'll be taking a virtual visit to the Piney Woods town of Gilmer where they have an annual festival called Yamboree to celebrate the Sweet Potato.

I like Sweet Potatoes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Getting A Tandy Hills Rash While Delivering Ice

It was windy when I went to hike the Tandy Hills today. That helped make the 100 degrees feel less like 100 degrees.


I have developed a painful heat rash type ailment in delicate areas best left rash free. I am currently in treating it with ointment mode.

I'd not been on the Tandy Hills for a few days. Since my last visit there has been a new arrival. In the middle of the hills that big black round thing with a white stripe showed up at a trail junction.

How did this get there? And why? Is it the start of a new Tandy Hills Shrine? There are pieces of long dead vehicles scattered about the Tandy Hills. It would be a lot of bother to move the vehicle pieces to the central location of the black round thing.

It is just one more perplexing Tandy Hills mystery.

I'm out of here in a bit to make an ice cube delivery to a hapless individual who requires ice for her libations, but who's icemaker is currently not making ice in amounts sufficient to meet the libation's needs.

I have no idea if the ice I deliver will survive the HEAT it will endure on the way to the libations.

Homeless Nice Doggy Needs To Be Adopted

Are you looking for a nice doggy to move in with you? Last winter the nice doggy you are looking at here was abandoned in the apartment complex Miss Puerto Rico takes care of.

Miss Puerto Rico has been feeding the nice doggy ever since. And making sure it has water.

The nice doggy follows Miss Puerto Rico around, but gets very wary if she tries to pet it. But, it will take a dog bone treat from her hand.

Miss Puerto Rico would adopt the nice doggy herself, except for one big problem. That problem being her cat, Tasha, who channels the spirit of Adolf Hitler.

The nice doggy needs a home, and a trip to a groomer.

Up Late Saturday Morning Daring To Leave Out Gilmer & Pritchett Texas

Up late Friday night, up late Saturday morning. I do not like getting up after the sun.

We started a new streak of going over 100 yesterday. I believe the prediction is for the streak to continue today.

Yesterday's 100 degrees plus was made tolerable by a strong wind. Had that wind not been strong I don't know if I could have managed to walk the mean streets of Pantego like I did yesterday.

If it is windy today I'm going to go to the Tandy Hills. It has been several days since I've been there.

I got an email from my Eyes on Texas website this morning, from Elaine Fletcher in fully goofy umbrage mode. Elaine had been to my Piney Woods Region page and was very upset that I dared leave out her beautiful town.

This is what Elaine had to say...

To whom it my concern,

How dare you leave out talking about Beautiful Small Town Gilmer,Tx and our Yamboree and also about the 2nd annual Okra Festival in Pritchett,Tx. We're 6 miles from Gilmer and 6 from Big Sandy,Tx.

E. Fletcher

Yes, this is an excellent way to motivate me to go to the bother of adding your town and festival.

It is time to go swimming now in lukewarm water.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Marfa's Somaphx Has A Blog With Fascinating Subjects

You are looking at a resident of Marfa named Somaphx in the picture. Somaphx lives in a cave in Marfa. Marfa is known for its mysterious Marfa Lights.

I first met Somaphx in late May. She made a comment or two on my blog. Somaphx may have emailed me, too. I don't remember.

I remember Somaphx telling me she wanted to start up a blog, but that doing so got her computer all riled up. So, she thought that in lieu of a blog, commenting on my blog would be the Somaphx blogging experience.


Today I found that Somaphx did go ahead and do a blog. It is called "Odd Blogs: Perfect Infinitives & Serendipitous Convergence."

Somaphx has written one post on her blog, dated June 1. Much of what Somaphx wrote referenced me and this very blog you are reading.

Some excerpts from the incredibly insightful, incredibly intelligent, Somaphx blog....

"I accidentally wandered into this site last week, searching for the City of Marfa's Noise Ordinance (I don't believe we have one, many street signs, either) and found myself somewhere in the stacks inside Durango Texas' substantial internet library, where I spent the next two days...."

"Durango, Texas is nowhere near Marfa. And Durango is an actual dude -- not aboding in Durango -- whose name just happens to be Durango. And in Texas, not Colorado. And he just happens to be from Washington in the visually spectacular Pacific Northwest, where I have family...."

"And, he jumped orbits in 1999, the same year my Houston-Marfa exodus saved my life. Now I know you're thinking an in-state move hardly constitutes an "orbit jump" such as Durango's Odyssey, but trust me on the sunscreen: Twenty-two years in Oiltown, pop. 4,000,000 (anyone know the post-Katrina numbers?), 600 miles into the Far West Texas Borderland Vortex of Strange is a million miles from home (more on these triangular phenomena in future episodes). Six hundred miles in any direction in this state ain't nothin'."

"On Thursday, I open Durango's pink-flower post, and there are my flowers, blooming on a Tandy Hill I've neither seen nor heard of. His closeup photograph was stunning; took my breath away. Century's Lady. Lovely. Perfect infinitive. That Tandy Hill has a place of distinction on my places-of-longing list."

I don't know what has become of Somaphx. Marfa is West of the Pecos. When you live past the frontier, miles past were civilization ends, well, you can go missing and it can take a long time for anyone to notice.

Chase Bank Fun Walking The Mean Streets Of Pantego Because My Vehicle Was Held For Ransom By Iranians

The sign is a warning in Pantego's Bicentennial Park. All suspicious persons are immediately reported. Can't say I was not warned.

So, how did I end up in the Pantego Park? Well. I needed to drop in on a location in Pantego on website related business.

Big Ed needed to be in Arlington on non website related business. Big Ed needed a Big Favor done. I agreed to do the Big Ed Big Favor if he'd take my vehicle in for its emissions test and an oil change, something I do not like doing.

The plan was to drop me off where I needed to be. After I completed my business I'd go to the Pantego Park and read a book til the newly tested vehicle arrived.

On the way I needed to deposit a check. I went to the nearest Chase Bank. The ATMs were being worked on. The bank was busy. Continued on to the Chase Bank in Pantego. The walk-in ATM was out of service and the drive-up one had a long long line.

I decided to go into the bank, make the deposit and get that vexing missing VISA card thing taken care of. I blogged about my fun with Chase Bank a week or two ago. I said at that time that I knew going into the bank was going to turn into yet more silliness.

I'd been told all I had to do was talk to a teller. So, after the teller took the deposit I explained the missing VISA card problem. He listened and then told me this lady out at a kiosk in the middle of the bank could help me. I explained to her what I wanted. She then told me she'd get me a banker. She'd look at one and go, oops, he just got on the phone, after 3 or 4 oops, she led me into the cubicle of this guy named Brandon.

Brandon was very nice. We are doing lunch. He wants to know all about Google ads. I had to show ID, enter my PIN, twice, answer an awful lot of questions, then Brandon made a print out and sprinted across the bank to pick it up. Brandon told me, just like I'd been told before, that the new card will be sent within 2 business days. I asked Brandon for his number so I could call him directly when the card does not show up.

So, after spending way too much time in Chase Bank, it was off to South Pantego where I got dropped off. A half hour later I was in the Pantego Park, acting suspicious, while I read a book by Peggy Noonan.

An hour and a half later Big Ed called. He did not have his wallet. He could not pay for the oil change and emissions test.

The emissions testers would not let Big Ed drive to get me so I could pay for it. I figured I could walk to the emissions testing place, and get there, maybe, before dying from heatstroke. And so I took off walking at high speed. Distance seems way longer walking a road that you'd just driven on. It took me a long while to get to Bowen Street, to head north to Division. I was barely on Bowen when Big Ed called to say they are letting him go, holding his phone hostage til he returns with money.

About 10 minutes later, just as I think heatstroke was starting to happen, Big Ed shows up. I take over driving. The A/C quickly cools me down. We get to the place Big Ed took the vehicle to. Apparently he'd been there before for previous emissions tests. It's run by Iranians, or maybe they were Iraqis. I know for certain they were Middle Eastern and not very conversant in English.

So, I paid the ransom fee and high-tailed it back to the relative safety of Fort Worth, driving without worrying about seeing flashing lights behind me, pulling me over for having an expired emissions test sticker.

So, I am good to go emissions-wise for another year, when I'll be expired by 9/11. I think I've gained at least a half a year by always being late getting the emissions test.

In Texas Thinking About Getting My Stomach Stapled

Til this morning I'd not heard from my mysterious Tacoma Informant for awhile.

I am being optimistic that I am finally rid of the Tacoma irritant known as Fubbo, after she had a really bizarre episode a couple months ago that must have been really embarrassing to her when she had a fleeting moment, hopefully, of lucidity.

My Tacoma Informant is claiming that we are looking at a recent photo of Fubbo. The Tacoma Informant claims Fubbo is on a doctor directed diet that may involve one of those surgery things, like stomach stapling

That does look like the backside of Fubbo, in the photo, sort of. Except the person in the photo appears to be about half the size of Fubbo, when I last saw the behemoth over 2 years ago.

Yikes! I just realized, it is August 20. In about 2 hours it will be exactly 2 years since I escaped from Washington and made my way back to the relative sanity of Texas.

Two days before I escaped I watched Fubbo get her daily calorie supply of donuts, a box of cookies, bacon and assorted other things one needs if one wants to grow big.

I can't imagine having one of those weight loss surgeries. Why not just ceasing with the eating? That seems as if it would be way more pleasant than having the size of your stomach shrunk.

Now don't go thinking I am being mean to Fubbo, or making fun of her. Fubbo does not read my blog. Or the blog of anyone I know in Texas. I know this because Fubbo says so. And Fubbo never lies.

Two Days In A Row Under 100 In North Texas

That white round thing in the picture is the top of a table out on my patio, as viewed from my bedroom window. Beyond the table is the pool, which I will be wet in, in a few minutes.

I got up after the sun this morning. That does not happen too often. Events conspired to keep me up late last night. Up having myself a real fine time.

Today is the 20th day of August. We are 2/3rds through the month. The majority of August has seen a daily temperature over 100.

But yesterday, and the day before, we did not see the century mark. That means we are on Day 2 in a Row under 100.

Yesterday, around 4 in the afternoon, a few drops of rain hit my window. I thought it was a precursor to a downpour, but nothing else poured down.

I am heading to Arlington this morning to get that vexing emissions test done. It grows tiresome driving and always wondering if I'm about to see flashing lights in my rear view mirror.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Walking Around Fosdic Lake Enjoying The Neon Green Color & Interesting Fragrance

I did not do any outdoor aerobicizing endorphin creating activity yesterday besides swimming and marveling at the interesting variations of humanity waddling through the Hurst Wal-Mart Supercenter.

With little walking yesterday, by today, with my swimming pool not swimmable due to getting shocked, I was starting to get cranky, so I went to Oakland Lake Park to walk around the incredibly green Fosdic Lake.

I don't mean green in the use of the green word which means environmentally friendly. In this case green means the opposite of environmentally friendly.

Fosdic Lake is very polluted and has turned a very unnatural shade of green. The turtles don't seem to mind. But I saw no birds on Fosdic Lake today. A few were in the shade on shore.

In addition to Fosdic Lake's new neon green color it seems to have developed a bit of a fragrance. I would not say it smelled bad, I also would not say it smelled good. I would say it definitely smelled different.

I managed to overheat walking again today. All I had on were shorts and shoes. And I was drenched. I saw a guy jogging. He appeared to be in good shape. He was not drenched in sweat. And we were similarly attired.

As I sat on a picnic table, in the shade, trying to put a stop to all the water leaking from my pores, a lady walked by. Plus-sized. In sweatpants and what appeared to be a long sleeved sweatshirt, with another shirt underneath. Even though she did not appear to be a sweaty mess, I told her she was overdressed. She laughed and told me this was how she kept cool.

That is the view from the picnic table in the second picture. As you can see, Fosdic Lake has shrunk, with the creation of beaches, in addition to turning green. This is at the south end of the sad lake, looking west.

The cash strapped City of Fort Worth seems to have found some money to do some work at Oakland Lake Park. A cement stairway has been removed. With the chunks piled on what kids use as a soccer field. The removed cement stairway was a bit uneven, maybe someone tripped on it. The wood planks on the bridges across ditches have been replaced.

It's Thursday. I think my neighborhood library might be open today.