Monday, January 31, 2011

Tonight Battling Wal-Mart Grackles While Thinking Of The Super Bowl Buffet If The Ice Storm Gets Real Bad

The Grackle takeover of the Eastchase Wal-Mart and Sam's Club continues.

I was at Wal-Mart just as the light of the sun was dimming for the day.

Around 6.

Wal-Mart was super busy with what looked like panicked people stocking up on supplies due to the incoming Arctic Blast which starts arriving sometime in the wee hours.

I believe rain is expected at first, followed by sleet by the time the sun returns, Tuesday morning, followed by snow.

So, tomorrow may be a Snow Day in North Texas. I know I won't be going to school. That's for sure.

I did not do any panicked food buying in anticipation of an Ice Storm. I can walk to an Albertsons and a Krogers across the street from my abode. And several restaurants, including the best Chinese buffet I've been to in the D/FW Metroplex, with the very odd name of Super Bowl Buffet.

I do not know if the Super Bowl Buffet is having anything special on the buffet for the Super Bowl.

On The Tandy Hills Looking At A Smoggy Fog Enveloping Downtown Fort Worth As Locals Go Nuts Over The Pittsburgh Steelers & ESPN

I don't know if that is fog or smog dimming the stunning skyline of beautiful downtown Fort Worth today when I looked west from the Tandy Hills.

Of the four short skyscrapers that you can see through the fog/smog, the one on the left is the Omni Convention Center Hotel. This is where one of the NFL teams is staying that is in North Texas for the Super Cold Bowl next Sunday.

I don't know if Fort Worth gets the Pittsburgh Steelers team or the New Orleans Saints. I know the buildings in both the downtowns of Dallas and Fort Worth have been color-cordinated to match the conference colors that town's team.

I know I've read which town is which color, but I forget. I believe one is blue, one is red. I also know I could likely get the answer to this probing question with about 5 seconds of Googling.

I just went to the Star-Telegram to see if I could easily find out what team is in town.

Well, apparently the Pittsburgh Steelers arrived today and were greeted by a big crowd of screaming football fans. An ESPN person said they'd never seen this level of excitement so early in Super Bowl Week.

The Star-Telegram said Fort Worth has never seen anything like ESPN.

Below is a blurb from the article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, titled A Texas-sized howdy for ESPN on 'opening day' ...

The TCU band blasted its music across Sundance Square, and the cheerleaders rocked the crowd. Mayor Mike Moncrief meted out some inspirational words, and Ed Bass shook more than a few hands. And that was all before 5 o'clock in the morning, all before ESPN even began broadcasting Monday from downtown Fort Worth.

ESPN folks said they never had seen such enthusiasm, not this early in Super Bowl week anyway. And, of course, Fort Worth never has seen anything like ESPN. 

This is all starting to seem somehow sad to me. Maybe I would understand if I were a football fan.

The Non-Freezing Last Morning Of The First Month Of 2011 With An Arctic Blastl Heading To North Texas With A Wind Chill Below Zero

Looking out my viewing portal at the dawn of the last day of the first month of 2011 which has arrived 6 degrees above freezing.

If the weather prognosticators are to be believed this will be the last morning, for awhile, that will not be well below freezing, as we are heading into one of the most significant cold spells in North Texas in many years.

Just in time to greet football fans arriving for Sunday's Super Bowl.

Thunderstorms may be booming later today.

Strong winds will be blasting in Tuesday night, bringing the Big Chill, with the wind chill plunging to below zero.

Yesterday, when I saw all the temporary Super Bowl structures built on the former parking lots that surround the Dallas Cowboy Stadium, the first thing that crossed my mind was what if those things get blasted by a windstorm.

If it gets windy during daylight hours I think I'll go hang out on the Stadium Wal-Mart parking lot to watch what happens live.

In the meantime I am not going swimming this morning.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Finding Mutant Trees With Elsie Hotpepper Today Walking Around Fort Worth's Fosdic Lake

I got back here around 11 this morning, after walking all around the Dallas Cowboy Stadium to check out what the Super Bowl has done to that ultra-modern structure.

Well, it has been tarted up like a cheap one of those types that a big flashy billboard warns you not to employ, that you see when you exit I-30 to try and check out the stadium.

So, I got back here, feeling like I'd had done plenty of walking for the day, when I got a call from a forlorn Elsie Hotpepper.

My one longtime reader may remember of late I have turned down  a couple Hotpepper hike requests. And I also turned down last night's Hotpepper saloon hopping request.

When Elsie called me around noon, sounding forlorn, and asking if I would go walking again with her around Fosdic Lake, I figured I was already tired of walking, so doing the slow Elsie Hotpepper walking would not bug me too bad.

So, I went walking with Elsie Hotpepper today.

I'd noticed the tree at the edge of Fosdic Lake that you see above previously. But not til Elsie saw it and said it looked mutant did I wonder if it was. For years fish that live in Fosdic Lake have not been safe to eat.

It seems possible that a tree who's roots sucked its water from Fosdic Lake might grow up to be the mutant tree you see here.

Maybe I should be more agreeable to doing some more Elsie Hotpepper hiking. Apparently when you walk slow you see things you do not notice when you are moving fast.

I should have taken Elsie Hotpepper with me to check out the Super Bowl today. Who knows what she would have noticed that I didn't?


This afternoon the National Weather Service issued one of their "SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENTS" all in CAPITALS, which in Internet speak indicates one is shouting.

Apparently our recent bout of balmy warm weather in North Texas will be coming to an end by Monday night with the arrival from cold Canada of an Arctic cold front.

Snow is possible on Wednesday, with a chance of significant white stuff falling on Friday. Friday is the day of some of the Super Bowl Parties that I have not been invited to. With many more on Saturday. That I have also not been invited to. Followed by Sunday's biggest Super Bowl Party of all. The actual game. Which I may watch on TV.

Methinks Mother Nature is conspiring with the Powers That Be to deliver an icy punch that probably was not what the NFL was looking for when they agreed to come play a game in Jerry Jones' shiny new stadium.

Below is the National Weather Service message in its shouted entirety....







A Visit To The Dallas Cowboy Stadium A Week Before The Super Bowl

With a week to go til Sunday's Super Bowl game I figured today would be a good day to check out what's been done to the Dallas Cowboy Stadium zone.

I figured Sunday morning there would be few people, no traffic, easy to find a place to park.

As I am way too often, I was wrong on all counts.

The first bit of Super Bowl signage that you see here is not on the Dallas Cowboy Stadium, it is on the Ballpark in Arlington, facing the Cowboy Stadium.

Last week I'd read a letter to the editor in either the Fort Worth Star-Telegram or Dallas Morning News where the letter writer opined that he was appalled at the effort Arlington had gone to to spruce up the town in anticipation of visitors coming for the Super Bowl, and then to find that effort negated by all the tackiness that the NFL has sprung up around the Cowboy Stadium.

Texas does a good job of tacky at times. I had to see it for myself.

I don't know that I would call what I saw today tacky. But I can say that what is going on around the Cowboy Stadium may be the strangest thing I've seen since I've been in Texas.

And that covers an awful lot of strange things.

That letter writer mentioned the big fence/wall that has been erected on the east end of the stadium. I have no idea what that wall is stopping us from seeing. I thought maybe it was surrounding the $200 a ticket Party Pass Plaza zone, but it was not located directly outside the east end zone, which is where you get to pay $200 to stand out in the cold for 4 or 5 hours.

Speaking of cold. The National Weather Service has just issued a Severe Weather Warning. We are scheduled to get as low as 12 degrees by Wednesday. Five days before the Super Bowl.

See that long line of white? It is stretching across the former parking lot on the east end of the stadium. I had no clue what this was.

And then I met this nice gentleman named Ludlow Ruckmaker (name and gender changed at the gentleman's request).

Ludlow told me that this long white tent line is how Super Bowlers will enter the stadium. It is where they will go through security.

Ludlow told  me he'd been following the progress of the stadium all the way back to the initial destruction of dozens of homes and apartment complexes, with the displacement of 1000s, in what many consider to be the Worst Case of Eminent Domain Abuse in American History.

When I told Ludlow I'd also been following the Dallas Cowboy Stadium progress, eventually he remembered meeting me before. On my website.

I had wondered why the Party Pass Plaza was only at the east end zone, when there are Party Plazas outside both end zones. Today I saw the reason. On the west side of the stadium the parking lots have been covered by the biggest temporary buildings I have ever seen.

HUGE things that look as if they must have multiple levels. In the picture above you can see what looks like a glass barrel roof between two white temporary structures.

Above I am standing across from the stadium, on Collins Street, looking east at those temporary buildings I just showed you. The pictures do not do justice to how big these are.

Now, what I'm thinking is North Texas tends to have rather dramatic weather. I have been involved with 2 balloon festivals that were destroyed by windstorms.

The Dallas Cowboy Stadium sits in the Buckle of the Bible Belt. There are a lot of people who think that the way the land was taken to build this stadium was all sorts of wrong.

I'm not one who believes there is a vengeance seeking God looking to right wrongs and punish evildoers.


If I were, I would be a bit nervous that a weather disaster might make mayhem of all the temporary stuff that has been erected to worship at this particular temple, next Sunday.

God may likely already be a bit cranky with the Super Bowl, due to the fact that one of the churches near the stadium has cancelled next Sunday's services and is, I believe, selling parking spaces.

That football that you see above, with the Dallas Cowboy Stadium behind it, is in the Stadium Wal-Mart Supercenter's parking lot. That Wal-Mart has a lot of footballs and baseballs stuck on it.

A Mexican TV Station was broadcasting from the Wal-Mart parking lot. The broadcast truck that was powering the equipment had Mexican plates. The guy on the left was interviewing the guy on the right. I figured this might be a Univision show.

Some of the locals seemed quite familiar with the guy who was on the right, taking turns having their picture taken with him. I figure he must be a Mexican TV celebrity. Not til I got the picture off the camera did I realize one of the guys in the picture was wearing a cheese hat.

See the elaborate graphics that have been added to the stadium? Again my pictures do not do justice to how big this is. The end zone graphic is equally impressive.

The parking lots on the east end are covered with a lot of media vehicles, sort of like a combination of an RV and a train boxcar. An elevated catwalk has been built for the media, in this area to the east of the Party Pass Plaza. I guess so pictures can be taken of the people freezing, while standing outside the stadium during the Super Bowl.

The north bound lanes on Collins, by the stadium have been closed off. As have the eastbound lanes on Randoll Mill. This is making for some slow traffic. I've no idea if this is a temporary thing while all the stuff on the parking lots is getting worked on. Or what. The road that you can usually drive on at the east end of the stadium is completely blocked off.

Is this all normal for a Super Bowl? Or has Texas gone and done the Everything is Bigger in Texas thing for this particular Super Bowl?

And what takes place in all those temporary buildings on the west parking lots?

It is all very perplexing. And I've still not been invited to any of the dozens upon dozens of Super Bowl Parties.

If you live in the D/FW zone, trust me, it is worth it to venture into the Dallas Cowboy Stadium Zone to see what happens when a Super Bowl comes to a Texas town.

Last Sunday Of First Month Of 2011 Visiting Dallas Cowboy Stadium Week Before Super Bowl & Monitoring Egypt Via Twitter Tweets

The last Sunday of the first month of 2011 dawned with a temperature of 61. Yesterday we got into the 70s.

I'm thinking I will be a pool boy this morning.

After that I think I'll go check out the Dallas Cowboy Stadium zone this morning. It is a week to go before Super Bowl Sunday.

I read a letter to the editor a few days ago from a man in Arlington complaining about the irony of the fact that the City of Arlington has spruced itself up for the Super Bowl, and then the NFL came to town and totally tackified the area surrounding the stadium.

I am a big fan of all things tacky, so I figure it's worth a look.

Yesterday, in various cities around the country, there were protests in support of those protesting in Egypt. I don't know if there were any support rallies in the D/FW zone. I know several west coast cities had rallies, including Seattle.

When the Egypt type events occur, like when Iran went into upset mode, is about the only time I somewhat get the utility of Twitter. Reading the Twitter Egypt Tweets is sort of like instant news. Within minutes thousands of Tweets show up.

Like right now apparently the Egyptian Air Force is buzzing protesters with jets.

Below is an example of the Tweet flood from a minute ago...

@emptywheel Audible on AJE: Two jet fighters just flew overhead #Egypt

@Di438 #Egypt Protesters shouting over noise of Jets flying overhead @AlJazeera #Freedom

@KristoferKeane Egypt deploying fighter jets against protestors? What outcome do they even expect from that? Are they planning to bomb them?

@TheNewsBlotter #egypt protesters in #Tahrir Square writing “Down w Mubarak” in Arabic in big white letters 

@jhagel RT @nolanjazeera: Aljazeera Cairo bureau has been shut down. Just visited by plain clothes govt security, TV uplink is now closed #Egypt

@JodyField Egypt protests: U.S. advises all Americans to leave and 30,000 Brits are stranded

That's enough Egypt Tweeting. Time to go swimming now. Talk to you later.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

HOT Saturday Tandy Hills Hiking With The Queen Of Wink & Elsie Hotpepper Saloon Hopping While Betty Jo Bouvier Ponders Stripping For The Super Bowl

Due to the nature of my hiking attire worn today whilst hiking the hills of the Tandy Hills Natural Area you might guess it is warm in North Texas this last Saturday of the first month of 2011.

You would be guessing right. It is currently a balmy 76 degrees.

Until my phone holding arm started to go numb the Queen of Wink went hiking with me today.

The Queen of Wink has hiked on the Tandy Hills with me previously. The first time she got a bad case of the vapors and required hiking assistance.

I tell you, the details of what goes on in the Queen of Wink's Realm would give a prime-time TV Soap Opera plenty of material. Or just film the Queen of Wink 24 hours a day and you'd have yourselves something fit for Bravo TV.

The Real Housewife of Wink

Separate from the Wink Soap Opera material the Queen of Wink may be heading for a visit to New York City due to her widespread reputation as a Sinkhole Expert.

I thought we long ago established Gar the Texan as the Go To Expert Guy for anything to do with sinkholes. I may be remembering wrong.

Before I took off from here to do some hill hiking I called Elsie Hotpepper to see if she wanted to enjoy the great outdoors with me.

She didn't.

But, Elsie asked me if I wanted to go saloon hopping with her tonight. I am not a very big fan of saloon hopping, so I politely declined.

Maybe a little saloon hopping with the Hotpepper would be good for what ails me. I don't know. What I do know, for sure, is the last time I went saloon hopping with Elsie Hotpepper it took me about a week to feel as if I was totally recovered.

And then there is Betty Jo Bouvier. I know she is known as the Wild Woman of Woolley, but, even so, her most recent question surprised me. Betty Jo asked me if it was true that the D/FW area is in need of 10,000 extra strippers for the Super Bowl. I asked if the reason she wanted to know this was she was thinking of flying in to earn some quick, easy money. To which Betty Jo replied, "It may be quick, but not easy."

I had no idea Betty Jo Bouvier did stripping as a sideline. I knew she was a Zumba dancer, though, which I guess must somehow lead to an interest in being a stripper.

I think maybe I need to close my windows. It feels like HOT air is blowing in here....

Up Late On The Last Saturday Of January In A Dark Mood Waiting For An Invitation To A Super Bowl Party

Somehow my digital mood capturing device accurately recorded my dark mood when I looked out my viewing portal this morning at the blue sky dawn of the final Saturday of the first month of the new year of 2011.

Apparently, if I am understanding correctly, today pretty much kicks off Super Bowl Week here in my zone of Texas.

In the coming week there are BIG parties all over the D/FW Metroplex.

Mark Cuban is hosting, along with HDnet, a Super Bowl XLV party at Victory Park the day before the Super Bowl. This party is only open to those who receive an invitation. I have not received mine yet.

Pamela Anderson is hosting a party called the Dallas Super Bash 2011 at the Fashion Industry Gallery in downtown Dallas. There will be some Playboy Playmates on view. I do not know what the Playmates degree of clothing will be. Tickets are only $500 if pre-bought, $750 at the door.

Apparently, Playboy and Maxim magazines are known for hosting the best Super Bowl parties. Totally separate from the Pamela Anderson party the Playboy party will be on Friday the 4th at the Aloft Hotel in downtown Dallas. The day after that Maxim will have its party at Centennial Hall at Fair Park in Dallas.

Sports Illustrated is also having a B4 party at Fair Park, in the Tower Building, on Friday, the 4th, with the Super Bowl halftime performers, the Black Eyed Peas, being the hosts.

At the same time the Black Eyed Peas are busy at Fair Park, the singer known as Prince will be singing at an event called The Event, at the location formerly occupied by Reunion Arena.

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, ESPN's The Next Bash is a private, by invitation only party at River Ranch on the north side of the Fort Worth Stockyards. I don't know what day The Next Bash takes place. I do know I have not been invited.

Also in The Stockyards, at Billy Bobs's Texas, Coors Light is throwing its annual Super Bowl Party. It is on Friday, the 4th. It is also an invitation only event to which I have not been invited. Blake Shelton will be singing to the invitees.

So many parties. What is a Party Animal like me to do?

Probably just stay home and brood in my dark mood. Waiting for an invitation.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Does 72 Degrees On The Last Friday Of January Make This The Hottest Day Of The New Year In Texas?

Today when I got to the Tandy Hills and saw a photo opportunity I reached in my pocket for my digital scenery recording device and found the pocket empty.

I'd left my camera at home.

Of late I never leave home without my digital image recording device.

So, today when I got back from the Tandy Hills I took a rare afternoon picture of the view through my patio prison cell bars.

The pool looks inviting doesn't it? It'll look even more inviting to you when I tell you the current temperature is 72. It is January 28 and I have all my windows open. Hiking was done in shorts and t-shirt today, with the t-shirt eventually being removed.

It has not been this balmy in my zone of Texas for quite some time. This is probably the hottest day of the new year.

I have not heard from that slow walking Elsie Hotpepper today. I think she may be mad at me for complaining about her slow walking.

A few minutes ago someone calling him or herself "Anonymous" asked if I pick up litter when I am out and about hiking. I told "Anonymous" that I pick up litter all the time, not just when hiking.

I have to go now. I see some litter that needs to be picked up down by the pool.

An Amazing Amount Of Litter Indicates It Is Perfectly Okay To Mess With Texas

I think one of the biggest industries in Texas must be the production of litter.

This is particularly noticeable when a lot of rain washes an amazing amount of litter into the Trinity River.

You see a lot of "Don't Mess With Texas" signs in Texas. I've been here for awhile now and I still don't understand this slogan. It obviously has nothing to do with no littering.

I took the picture with the "TRUE TO TEXAS" beer can at one of my favorite Fort Worth locations, Oakland Lake Park.

In this morning's Fort Worth Star-Telegram there was a litter letter-to-the-editor, with the litter letter writer making an amazing litter claim....

Road hazard

Passengers of designated drivers must consume a large volume of alcohol. On a two-mile stretch of highway south of Benbrook, I counted 1,638 cans that had been thrown out of vehicle windows. That was in addition to all the bottles.

Do you think a few people have forgotten "Don't mess with Texas"?

-- Allen McDermott, Fort Worth

I would think Mr. McDermott was exaggerating if I'd not seen similar things in Texas with my own eyes. But, I've never taken the time to count cans. I don't know if I could count that high without getting distracted.

Yum Yum Food Truck Back In Downtown Fort Worth Proving You Can Fight City Hall & The NFL & Win During The Super Bowl

The City of Fort Worth and the NFL have reversed themselves on their NO Yum Yum Food Truck in Downtown Fort Worth, until the Super Bowl is over, ban.

Starting Monday, the Yum Yum Food Truck will be back serving burgers and burritos to Fort Worthers and non-Fort Worthers visiting Downtown Fort Worth.


What changed Fort Worth's City Hall and the NFL's position on the super-sensitive Yum Yum Food Truck issue?

Could it possibly have been that City Hall and the NFL heard the collective noise being made from locals via various media? And realized how Dumb the Yum Yum Food Truck ban was?

Up Way Before The Sun 25 Years After The Space Shuttle Challenger Blew Up

I am up way before the sun on the last Friday of the first month of 2011.

It is currently a relatively balmy 11 degrees above freezing.

I was surprised when I saw that today marks a quarter century, 25 years, since the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up soon after it was launched.

I do not remember if I was watching that launch live, or not. Were launches even carried live at this point? Again, I don't remember. Had CNN been born by January 28, 1986? I don't remember.

But, I suspect this launch was covered live due to school teacher Christa McAuliffe being on board.

The idea of sending a school teacher into space as some sort of stunt seems sort of bizarre to me now, 25 years later.

The coolest thing I've seen since I've been in Texas, even cooler than my first Ice Storm experience, was the night landing of a Space Shuttle. We'd been told what time to watch the western sky. I was starting to think this was going to be a dud when suddenly a bright white ball of light appeared above the barn. Moving incredibly fast.

I don't remember which of the Space Shuttles this was. As it streaked across the sky the Space Shuttle left a glowing trail behind it. Most spectacular thing I have ever seen above me. Ten minutes later I was inside watching the Space Shuttle land in Cape Canaveral.

And now the era of Space Shuttles is about to end, with America once again not having a manned space flight program.

Way back when the Challenger blew up could anyone have imagined a scenario where America would be relying on the Soviets, which is what we called Russians back then, to take Americans to space in a Soyuz capsule?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fun Hotpepper-Free Hiking With Illicit Assignations Today On Top Of Mount Tandy

You are looking north on the Tandy Highway in the picture. As you can see it is a nice clear blue sky day today here in my zone of North Texas.

I was overdressed for hiking the Tandy Hills today. Long pants and a long-sleeve shirt were way too much clothing material covering way too much skin.

In other words I overheated just a bit in the balmy mid 60 degrees temperature.

Elsie Hotpepper so enjoyed our walk around Fosdic Lake yesterday that she asked to go Tandy Hill Hiking today.

But, the Hotpepper Hiking Time Frame was way past my scheduled hike time.

Yes, I could have time shifted, but the truth is, I don't know how much I'd enjoy Hotpepper Hill Hiking. I think I already mentioned Elsie talks fast and walks slow. I could see where the steep Tandy Hills would likely very quickly Overheat the Hotpepper.

I entered the Tandy Hills today from the top of Mount Tandy. I was semi-pleased to see that the Tandy Shrine is back under construction again. Semi-pleased I say, because it is so disheartening to see the Tandy Shrine grow back to its former glory, only to see it destroyed yet one more time.

I think some people are under the erroneous assumption that the top of Mount Tandy is an isolated parking zone. As in, when I returned to my vehicle, I saw two more vehicles had arrived.

The drivers of those two vehicles appeared to have no interest in hiking, but were instead involved in some sort of strenuous looking activity in the smaller of the vehicles. The frequency of what appear to be illicit assignations seems to be increasing in this location.

Up Early The Last Thursday Of The First Month Of 2011 After A Night Of Nightmares & A Morning Learning From Mayor Moncrief That Fort Worth Has Been Cleaned For The Super Bowl

I am up way before the sun looking at the view from my patio prison cell this last Thursday of the first month of 2011.

It is not freezing this morning at 3 degrees above the frost point. Even though it is not freezing I still think I'll avoid swimming this morning.

I had a rough night last night. I was up late talking to Elsie Hotpepper. After that I had myself a fitful night of nightmares.

Both nightmares had me back in the house I grew up in in Burlington, Washington. The first nightmare involved little troll-like monsters who were like Tasmanian Devil human flesh eaters.

The troll nightmare did not bother me too much, but the second nightmare of the night did. It involved snakes, lots of them. Inside the house, with my mom chasing them with a broom. At one point it was a copperhead and it was heading right at me.

I woke up.

And then immediately after waking up something made me think a snake was slithering on my bed. This caused me to let out what must have been a bloodcurdling scream.

On a different nightmare note. This morning's Fort Worth Star-Telegram online had an article on the front page titled "Mayor declares Fort Worth ready for Super Bowl Party."

I assumed if Fort Worth's Moron Mayor Mike Moncrief was doing some declaring that it likely was goofy and mockworthy. But, the Star-Telegram would not let me read the article. I'd get about 2 paragraphs in and I'd get switched back to the front page.

Eventually I succeeded in quickly copying and pasting the article into Notepad so I could successfully search for the goofy Moncrief quote.

I was not disappointed.

Here is what Moncrief said in declaring that Fort Worth is ready for the Super Bowl, even though the game is not being played in Fort Worth, "Are you ready for some football? Fort Worth is ready. When you're going to have a party at your house, you clean house. You want to make your home attractive. We are ready."

I guess I need to go visit Downtown Fort Worth. I can't imagine what it must look like now that it has been cleaned and made attractive.

Also, the article about being ready said that volunteers will be posted throughout the city to help visitors navigate Cowtown.

I can't help but wonder how this navigation system works. And where it is that visitors are navigating to.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fast Talking & Slow Walking Around Fosdic Lake With Elsie Hotpepper

You are looking at the Oakland Lake Park Forest, south of Fosdic Lake, late this afternoon.

There were a lot of people today, walking and jogging and playing around Fosdic Lake.

Including Elsie Hotpepper.

Elsie Hotpepper had not previously had the Fosdic Lake  Experience. With the temperature in the balmy low 60s I thought it was a good time for Elsie to get some fresh air.

That and Miss Hotpepper wanted to consult with me regarding one of her current plots.

Elsie Hotpepper is a fast talker and a slow walker. My preference is that both talking and walking be fast.

I don't think I was of much use regarding helping Elsie with her plotting.

I really do not have a very well developed Machiavellian type mind. While Elsie Hotpepper may be a direct descendant of Lucretia Borgia.

Lucretia is such a nice name. I wonder why it is not used more often?

If I were to reproduce again, and the reproduction was a girl, I think I would name her Lucretia. Lucretia Jones has a real nice ring to it.

The NFL & City Of Fort Worth Ban Yum Yum Food Truck From Downtown For The Duration Of The Super Bowl Madness

I learned of the latest Downtown Fort Worth Super Bowl Nonsense this morning from Agent cd0103.

And then a few minutes later I logged into Facebook to get beat by the Scrabble Queen of Washington.

On Facebook I saw this latest Downtown Fort Worth Super Bowl Nonsense mentioned in a Facebook comment by former Fort Worth native, MBK, currently exiled in Tacoma.

MBK said, "Is Fort Worth turning into OLDFOGIEVILLE? So much for small businesses getting a piece of the Super Bowl action!"

MBK is referencing Downtown Fort Worth banning the very popular Yum Yum Food Truck til after the Super Bowl.

The Yum Yum Food Truck also has a Facebook page, where MBK further commented about this latest Downtown Fort Worth Super Bowl Nonsense, saying, "This is outrageous. The old FOGIES that run DTFW should be ashamed! The restaurants downtown won't be able to provide good service to massive crowds. It will be WORSE than during concerts/Main Street Arts Fest. Big Wigs are turning downtown to Oldfogieville!"

Til sanity returns the Yum Yum Food Truck is moving to south of Downtown Fort Worth, to 1220 Pennsylvania Avenue in the Hospital District.

However there is a complication. The Food Network is coming to Downtown Fort Worth next week, with the hope of taping a show called Outrageous Foods on the Yum Yum Food Truck. Apparently Yum Yum is known for its massive 10 pound Super Super Monster Burrito.

On December 14 the Fort Worth City Toadies, I mean, City Council, adopted an ordinance that bans non-NFL Vendors from Downtown Fort Worth. Only approved Vendor Booths will be allowed on the parking lots known as Sundance Square.

The verbiage in the City Council's order banning non-NFL Vendors is interesting, saying this ordinance is needed to "promote and protect the festive image in the downtown area" and to remove anything that might "hinder security, obstruct traffic or cause congestion."

The City's Code Compliance Director claims the city is not out to harm any business, saying "We're just looking to protect that area  of downtown."

Yes, I can see how the Yum Yum Food Truck selling hamburgers and burritos would pose a security risk, impede the flow of traffic and greatly diminish that festive image that Downtown Fort Worth is so good at projecting.

I wonder how many Porta-Potties are being brought in to line up on the Sundance Square Parking Lots? Can only NFL-Approved Porta-Potties be used? Are they bringing in some of those really cool custom made Dallas Cowboy Porta-Potties that look so attractive on the Dallas Cowboy Stadium parking lots?

With the Super Bowl being played in Arlington and with Downtown Fort Worth really not having all that much going for it, I'm wondering why the Fort Worth Fogies think there is going to be a big crowd downtown during the Super Bowl Week? Downtown Fort Worth does not have a single department store. Not a one. No Nordstroms, Neiman-Marcus, Macy's. Not even a Sears.

This department store deficit really is a sad indication of just how lively Downtown Fort Worth actually is. But removing the Yum Yum Food Truck will help make Downtown Fort Worth appropriately festive.

The Yum Yum Food Truck's location, prior to its banning, had been on Throckmorton by the Tarrant County Courthouse. You know, that building across the street from Downtown Fort Worth's #1 Neglected Eyesore, Heritage Park. In its current sad condition Heritage Park really does not add a lot to that festive image Downtown Fort Worth thinks it is protecting and promoting.

And now the smallest downtown, of any town in America with over a half million residents, doesn't even have a Yum Yum Food Truck. Plenty of Grackles though. Very festive birds.

The Last Wednesday Of The First Month Of 2011

Looking out my viewing portal this last Wednesday of the first month of 2011 the sky is bright and blue.

And the temperature is a balmy one degree above freezing.

I don't think I will go swimming this morning.

I made it through President Obama's State of the Union speech last night. I previously have had some trouble making it through his speechifying. But last night made two in a row where I listened to the entire speech without my ADD kicking in.

I am heading to the north end of the D/FW Metro zone around noon. I don't know when I'll make it back to my current location. But it will likely be sometime before the sun disappears for the day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thousands Of Grackles Are Massing In Anticipation Of The Upcoming Super Bowl

In the picture you are seeing just a few of the Grackles that have taken up residence at my neighborhood Wal-Mart Supercenter and Sam's Club.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of the birds, all over the buildings, on vehicles. And standing all over the parking lot.

The Grackles have been hanging out in this location for weeks now. They seem to be getting very comfortable with their surroundings and are not as easily startled as they were a few weeks ago.

If you've ever watched The Birds, the whole scene is very Hitchcockian.

I read this morning. Or was it yesterday? That an attempt is being made to move the Grackles from their various locations, due to some people thinking this is yet one more local embarrassment in need of being hidden from the upcoming Super Bowl.

This particular Grackle infested Wal-Mart is just a few miles to the west of the Dallas Cowboy Stadium where the Super Bowl will take place. You can see the Cowboy Stadium from this location.

Across the street from the Cowboy Stadium is one of the nicest Wal-Marts I've ever seen. With the Grackles being such Wal-Mart fans I wonder if they have taken over that Wal-Mart yet? Or, are they waiting for the Super Bowl to make their move? They seem to be very smart birds. Smart birds are not Jerry Jones fans.

Maybe the Grackles are planning to fly into the stadium, en masse, through the open end zone doors. That would be poetic.

Efforts to move the Grackles have proven to be fairly futile in the past. Methinks the locals should embrace their Grackle Colonies and turn them into yet one more tourist attraction for the visiting football fans.

I'm having a bad reaction to the efforts to spruce up this place because of the Super Bowl.

I have known a slob or two who only cleans up their clutter on the rare occasions that company is expected.

That is how this local Super Bowl cleanup strikes me.

Really embarrassing.

A sloppy place picking up its clutter because company is arriving in town.

Shouldn't the litter be picked up all the time?

And I think I've already mentioned that there is no way to control where the Super Bowl visitors might be driving.

Rather than take I-30 into Fort Worth or Dallas, they might choose Division or Lancaster.

Division goes through some real eye-popping scenery in Dallas, while Fort Worth tops Dallas with Lancaster, Berry and Rosedale.

What if a visitor gets lost in the Fort Worth Stockyards zone and meanders around the neighborhood to the west? That won't leave a good impression.

Speaking of the Stockyards. Is the New Isis Theater being spruced up for the Super Bowl? It has been boarded up since I first laid eyes on it over 11 years ago. It is in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. I've been told a number of times that the New Isis is in the process of being restored.

But, unless it has been fixed up, without me knowing about it, the New Isis is still an Old Eyesore, that would be really easy to at least make look better from the outside.

Switching the subject back to the Texas Grackle Invasion. The Wikipedia article about these birds was amusing. And has a Texas connection.

From Wikipedia.....

Unlike many birds, the grackle benefits from the expansion of human populations due to its resourceful and opportunistic nature. The common grackle population has greatly increased in the Austin, Texas, area in recent years and is regarded as nuisance by some, due to aggressive behavior. Common grackles are considered a serious threat to crops by some, and notoriously difficult to exterminate and usually require the use of hawks or similar large birds of prey.

With just a few word changes the above paragraph could be an accurate description of Chesapeake Energy and its fellow gas drillers.

Hiking Through The New Tandy Canyon Looking At A New View Of The Envy Of The Nation While Thinking About Guarding Donuts & Gas Drilling

Today when I accessed the Tandy Hills via the View Street Trail I was pleasantly surprised to see a cool new Tandy Hills feature. With that feature being a canyon of cut brush rising from both sides of the trail.

And then when you exit the canyon you are treated to a new view of the stunning skyline of the beautiful downtown of the city that is currently the Envy of the Nation.

An awful lot of brush was bashed to expose this new view of downtown Fort Worth that you see here, looking across Texas prairie freshly rendered back to its pristine state free of invasive plant species.

Yesterday I mentioned that I did not remember the last time I worked as hard as I did this past Saturday. I did not say what it was I was working hard at. And then today someone calling him or herself Anonymous asked, "Does being in charge of dozens of donuts count as hard work, Mr. Tandy Hills Hiker?"

Well, in answer to that Anonymous question, yes being in charge of dozens of donuts can count as hard work.

An hour or so later, after my arrival on the Tandy Hills, as I headed back to View Street, I heard motorized racket. When I saw what was making the racket I was appalled to see a bulldozer dismantling the cool new Tandy Brush Canyon and depositing it piece by piece into a dump truck.

If you look closely at the picture of the bulldozer, above the bulldozer you will see the latest addition to the scenery you can view from the Tandy Hills. A Chesapeake Energy Barnett Shale Natural Gas Drilling Rig looking as if it is sitting on top of a Tandy Hill.

Up After The Sun On The 4th Tuesday Of 2011 Thinking About A Fat Bastard & Pain-Free Hiking

Looking out my window on the world this last Tuesday of the first month of 2011 I can sort of see that this may be a blue sky day over my zone of North Texas.

However, I read in the unreliable Fort Worth Star-Telegram, this morning, that snow may be falling this morning to the west of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

It is currently 5 degrees above freezing in my location, which would seem to render snow an unlikely occurrence.

Yesterday on my increasingly visited DurangObesity Blog the blog was visited by my new friend who calls himself "Fat Bastard." Fat Bastard is an amusing guy. He has a blog devoted to being a Fat Bastard.

A couple days ago I mentioned that I got a message from Elsie Hotpepper about landing an eagle which made no sense to me. Yesterday I got messages from Elsie Hotpepper which also made no sense to me. All about me being quiet. I had made no note of myself being particularly quiet, so this confused and perplexed me.

And I finally heard from the Scrabble Queen of Washington. I was starting to grow concerned.

My aching right foot ailment has greatly improved in the past couple days. This may make for some comfortable, pain-free hiking today. I hope.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tandy Hills Brush Bash 3 Is A Successful Wrap

I can not remember the last time I worked as hard as I worked on Saturday.

This afternoon I got Don Young's report with all the specific stats about Saturday's Tandy Hills Brush Bash.....

The Third Annual Tandy Hills Brush Bash is a wrap. On a beautiful clear, blue-sky day, a dedicated army of volunteers wrangled a mountain of brush up the steep Tandy Hills to the waiting trucks that hauled it away for composting. City of FW Parks & Community Services Department staffers led by, Michelle Villafranca and Dale Taylor, had cut the brush the previous week and assisted in the Bash.

The Tandy Hills Brush Bash Army came from all over the Metroplex. There were Boy Scouts, Master Naturalists, neighborhood folks, high school kids, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, a few PhD.'s and CEO's from all walks of life and all dedicated to getting the job done. And we did.

Wide open prairie vistas have been restored. The landscape looks measurably different and the prairie is much healthier thanks to our hard work. Here's the stats:

60+ volunteers

40+ community service workers

10+ dogs

36 large truck-fulls of brush

24 dozen donuts*

5 gallons of coffee, tea and hot chocolate*

1,000's of megabytes of digital photos which can be viewed on the Tandy Hills Facebook page, flicker and on our website.

Thanks to all who participated. For everyone else, pictures can't tell the story adequately. Don't wait until Prairie Fest. Come on out to Tandy Hills today and enjoy the new views.

Don Young

* Many thanks to Green Mountain Energy for providing coffee and donuts.

The Return Of The Short Shadow Of The Tandy Hills Thin Man Thinking About Litter Chain Gangs

I was on the Tandy Hills shortly after noon today. The sun was fully exposed with no clouds impeding its brightness.

Which made for a very bright, very short shadow.

I saw some of the results of Saturday's Brush Bash today. Along the main trail from View Street the view to the west is now much more viewable.

On the way to the Tandy Hills I saw a highway crew on Interstate 30 picking up bags of litter.

Yesterday I mentioned seeing what I thought to be a Litter Chain Gang picking up litter on the other side of the freeway from where I saw litter being removed today.

I got a few comments and emails about the subject. The Envy of the Entire Universe thought these litter pickers might have been something called Super Clean 2011 Volunteers, cleaning up for the Super Bowl.

More than one person was of the opinion this was being done for the Super Bowl.

Trouble with that theory is the Super Bowl takes place about 2 weeks from now. That is plenty of time to freshly coat the sides of the freeway with litter. Texans are astonishingly adept at littering.

I am also fairly certain that those guys in green, that I saw on Sunday, were not part of any volunteer group. First off the bus that transported them to the location was the same type prison bus I've seen transport Litter Gangs to pick up litter along the Trinity River's banks.

And, yesterday there was more than one man acting like a guard, watching the Litter Gang slowly pick up litter.

Anonymous, if that is her or his real name, told me that inmates are used to pick up litter in Washington. I've never seen this happen. But, I do know one convicted Washington felon who would greatly benefit, exercise-wise, if she were made to spend weekends picking up litter.

On a totally different subject, yesterday, or the day before, Betty Jo Bouvier mentioned a goofy thing regarding her town of Sedro Woolley, that being that a Washington radio station was having a contest called "Are You Smarter Than Sedro Woolley?"

Naturally, some Sedro Woollians are taking umbrage. Meanwhile down in Portland, that's the biggest town in Oregon, Some Portlanders are taking a little umbrage at a TV show called Portlandia on some obscure cable channel called the Independent Film Channel.

You can read more about being smarter than Sedro Woolley and Portlandia on my Washington Blog, and watch an amusing video of Portlandia.

How come no one makes a funny comedy TV show using Fort Worth for material? It would seem this town would be a gold mine of comic material. Trinity River Vision, Moron Mayor Mike Moncrief, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Lancaster Avenue, the Stockyards, Shanty Towns, thousands of natural gas wells, the Stock Show, Sundance Square, TCU.

And all the other marvelous wonders that make Fort Worth the Envy of the Nation....

A Freezing Texas Monday Morning Thinking About Hiking With Jack LaLanne

Looking out my viewing portal it appears the 4th Monday of 2011 has dawned with a clear blue sky.

And we are back freezing again at 26 degrees.

I don't think I will be going swimming this morning, but I do believe I will be back on the Tandy Hills today.

It felt really good yesterday to be back hill hiking after many days of not doing so.

I was surprised this morning to learn that Jack LaLanne is no longer with us. I thought he would live forever. But he died 4 years shy of making it to the century mark.

I'll get in some extra exercise today in Jack LaLanne's memory. And make an eggplant casserole.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Am Currently Not A Fugitive From A Modern Day Texas Chain Gang

I think what we are looking at in the picture is the modern day version of a Texas Chain Gang.

I was driving east on Brentwood Stair Road and saw dozens of guys in green with green bags picking up litter.

Brentwood Stair runs along Interstate 30 on the south side of the freeway.

I stopped and took a quick picture through my windshield. The picture does not even remotely do justice to how odd this scene looked. I only got maybe a quarter of the Litter Gang in the picture.

I know these modern era Texas Chain Gangs are part of the punishment system for serious crimes like failing to pay a speeding ticket or other small time type crimes.

I have seen the Concentration Camp that is just slightly to the northeast of downtown Fort Worth, where these criminals go on the weekend and then get shipped out on buses to do tasks like litter pickup.

What I'm wondering is how much do these type operations cost this cash strapped town? Special uniforms, special bags, a bus to transport the criminals, the running of that Concentration Camp.

I do not recollect ever seeing this type activity when I lived in Washington. Is there a "weekend" prison surrounded by fence and concertina wire somewhere near downtown Seattle, where 100s of convicted criminals go to pay penance on the weekends? I don't ever recollect seeing a modern day Washington Chain Gang picking up litter by the freeway.

But, then, there is way way way less litter in the Evergreen State than you see in this Littering Lone Star State.

Sunday Hiking On The Tandy Hills With Dogs, Humans & Waterfalls

I parked on top of Mount Tandy today, not knowing if the Tandy Trails were hikable.

Upon arrival at the mountain top I saw a pair of hikers with a canine passing the Fort Worth Space Needle. This was to be the first of many human and canine Tandy Encounters today.

A short time later I came upon 3 guys who I thought, at first, were homeless people, possibly scouting out a new Shanty Town location. One of them asked where I was parked. I pointed back towards the road that leads to the Fort Worth Space Needle. The spokesman told me they'd hiked from "way over there," pointing towards View Street.

For some reason they wanted to get a look at the Fort Worth Space Needle and did not realize they could drive right up to it. This trio did not have the look of regular hikers.

A short time later I found myself facing a German Shepherd type dog, who was in a pack of two, with another dog of a brand not recognized by me. I don't think the dogs were rabid and they were not too menacing. I never did see a human to match with these dogs.

About a half hour after that dog encounter I was hearing the rushing water sounds of the Tandy River as it roars over Tandy Falls. I'd not seen water flowing over the falls in a long time.

As Tandy Falls came in to view, to the south of the falls I saw 3 more humans, with 3 dogs. These dogs were leashed. I did not have a close encounter with this particular human/dog combo, because they took a different path at the next junction.

This was my first successful Tandy Hills Hiking Day in a couple weeks.

As you can see in the view to the right, looking west at the stunning skyline of beautiful downtown Fort Worth, it is a gray, wintry day this Sunday in Texas.

Looking at that stunning skyline, I wonder if Fort Worth's Moron Mayor Moncrief thinks that skyline is yet one more reason Fort Worth is the Envy of the Nation?

This afternoon I am more than a little worried about Elsie Hotpepper. The last I heard from Elsie was yesterday, with a very cryptic message that really made no sense to me. All the message said was "I landed the eagle."

What can that possibly mean? I hope Elsie Hotpepper is not out somewhere shooting eagles. I'm fairly certain this is not legal to do.

The 4th Sunday Of 2011 In Texas Dawns 10 Degrees Above Freezing

Looking out my viewing window on this 4th Sunday of 2011 it does not looks as black and white as what my camera makes it look.

The sky is mostly blue, not white.

I have no clue as to what I'm going to do today. I do have a clue as to what I am not going to do today.

As in I am fairly certain I will not be going to church today.

I am just about 100% certain I will not be going on a bike ride today.

I am also about 100% certain I will not be leaving Texas today. Or tomorrow.

One thing I am about 100% certain I will be doing today is heading down to the pool in a few minutes.

Talk to you later. Maybe.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Dawn Of The 4th Saturday Of 2011 In Cold Texas

Does it look cold looking out my viewing portal to the great outdoors this 4th Saturday of 2011?

It is only 4 degrees below freezing right now. Does this mean we are in a warming trend? I hope so.

Since the picture from my viewing portal was taken the sun has continued its illumination duty to a level where I can now clearly see the sky over my zone of North Texas is currently cloud free and a very nice shade of blue.

In a couple hours the Tandy Hills Brush Bash will be under way. I have a complication this morning that renders it impossible for me to bash brush. I may be able to do some afternoon brush bashing though.

I am not certain, as one can never be certain what Elsie Hotpepper is going to do, but I think the Hotpepper may be bashing brush today. Something to do with the lure of free donuts. I may have misrepresented the donuts as Krispy Kremes.

I skipped swimming yesterday. I never skip anything two days in a row.

Talk to you later.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Fosdic Lake Gas Drilling Rig, Sinkhole Filling Operation & White Tree Buds

A Barnett Shale Natural Gas Drilling Rig hovered above Fosdic Lake in Oakland Lake Park today.

The hovering gas rig was the first interesting thing I saw when I drove in to East Fort Worth's best park today.

Or second or third best park in East Fort Worth. I forgot about Gateway Park. And the Tandy Hills Natural Area.

But both the Tandy Hills and Gateway Park are further west.

I have just decided that Oakland Boulevard is the arbitrary dividing line that is where East Fort Worth begins, which does make Oakland Lake Park the best park in East Fort Worth.

A week or so ago I found a sinkhole on the west side of Fosdic Lake. Within a couple days the growing Fosdic Sinkhole was surrounded by crime scene type tape to prevent anyone from sinking into the Fosdic Sinkhole.

Today I was surprised to see a crew filling the Fosdic Sinkhole.

What fortuitous timing, on my part, to happen to be in Oakland Lake Park right when this operation was underway.

Now, I am no Sinkhole Engineer, but, as a rank amateur, as far as the Science of Sinkholes goes, I think one should find out what is causing a sinkhole, rather than simply filling the hole with dirt. That just seems sort of common sensical.

It will be interesting to see if the Fosdic Sinkhole now reappears. I will try and closely monitor the sinking situation.

Today while I was walking around Fosdic Lake I noticed several trees have had white buds spring out on them.

The picture I took of the buds does not do justice to how cool and sort of otherworldly the white buds looked.

Even though we chilled to around 20 last night here in North Texas, apparently some trees are somehow getting the message that spring will soon be here and it is time to start sending out some new growth.

I hope further freezing does not nip this budding trend in the bud.

Saturday January 22 Is The First Tandy Hills Brush Bash Of 2011

Tomorrow Mother Nature will be providing some extreme air conditioning to the Tandy Hills to help facilitate a lot of brush bashing without causing the brush bashers to overheat on the 3rd Annual Tandy Hills Brush Bash.

Below is the latest Brush Bash Memo from the #1 Brush Basher, Don Young....

Greetings, Prairie Keepers, Nature Mystics and Grass Huggers-

Grab you gloves and jump into your boots. Saturday is our big day of the year to fulfill our stated mission at the Tandy Hills prairie, in situ. The weather forecast calls for blue sky and chilly temps, perfect conditions for brush-bashing. Wear layers. You'll shed them quickly. 

Green Mountain Energy is providing coffee and donuts for the volunteers. Hot tea and cocoa will also be available. Green Mountain will also donate $20. to Friends of Tandy Hills NA for every new account they sign up at Brush Bash. The only energy cleaner than Green Mountain is the kind you will burn bashing brush.

> > > BTW: You are welcome to take home any wood that has been cut. There is Ash, Mesquite, Hackberry and Eastern Red Cedar cut and ready for you. Bring your garden carts, wheel barrows and wagons. 

See you Saturday morning!


20 Degrees In North Texas Thinking About It Being 50 Years Since JFK's Inauguration

That is one icy view looking out my viewing window this morning.

20 degrees.

A totally clear, blue sky and 20 degrees. I will not be going swimming this morning.

But, I will need to find something to do today that is aerobically stimulating because endorphin withdrawal is making me cranky and slightly headachy.

Being an addict is such a burden.

On a totally non-temperature related subject, today is the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy's Inauguration. It seems like only yesterday JFK told America that the torch had been passed to a new generation, saying, among many other things, that "civility is not a sign of weakness," and the more remembered, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Typing "JFK" caused me to think it's been a long time since we've had a President to whom we referred to by his initials. Methinks "LBJ" was the last one.

Switching from JFK and LBJ to a totally different subject.

For months now my various blogs have been inundated with increasingly weird, nonsensical comments. Strange gibberish things written as if by someone for whom English is a totally foreign language.

A mild example of what I'm talking about......

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Why would anyone go to the bother of making such a comment? And to what purpose? It is very perplexing.