Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Growing Disgust Over Downtown Fort Worth's Bad Santa Scandal

No, that is not the notorious Fort Worth Santa Claus terrorizing kids you are looking at here.

Yesterday I blogged about the Fort Worth Bad Sundance Square Santa Leaving Kids Crying.

Overnight that blog post accumulated a number of page views I have not seen previously in so short a time frame.

Apparently the Fort Worth Santa Scandal is of interest to a lot of people. I hope this does not hurt the number of downtown Fort Worth's booming post Thanksgiving shoppers.

Oh, that's right. I forgot that downtown Fort Worth is a ghost town on the busiest shopping days of the year, due to being the only downtown of a large American city with no downtown department stores.

I have blogged about the downtown Fort Worth post-Thanksgiving ghost town multiple times, in bloggings such as Having Fun Looking For Black Friday Shoppers Today In Downtown Fort Worth.

Apparently a large number of people have been appalled by the Fort Worth Santa Scandal. I wonder if the Downtown Fort Worth Inc. people have taken measures to make sure downtown Fort Worth never breaks the Santa seeking hearts of any little kids ever again.

I suspect nothing has been done. Fort Worth has a long storied history of doing nothing about things about which something should be done, which would never happen in a civilized American city.

I have been asking people in other towns if the Santas in their towns behave as badly as downtown Fort Worth's Bad Santa.

The replies have pretty much been universal disgust regarding Fort Worth and the town's Santa. However, more than one person in more than one town has told me that in various ways their town's Santas require a fee or donation of sorts before Santa will let a kid sit on his lap so has to hear the kid's Christmas wishes.

When I was a still believing in Santa kid, my parental units would take me and my siblings, annually, to our favorite Santa, located in downtown Sedro Woolley. That Santa was jolly and he gave you a big candy cane. There were other Santas in the Skagit Valley, back then, none charging a fee, except, maybe if you wanted the Santa photographer to snap a photo.

This morning I asked my little sister, the mother of David and the twins, Ruby and Theo, what the Santa situation currently was in Tacoma and the rest of Washington, as per her experience with her kids.

My sister replied with the Santa picture you see above of Ruby and Theo a bit unhappy to be sitting on Santa, while brother David looks away bemused. That photo is from four years ago.

Along with the above Santa picture from four years ago my little sister also sent the below Santa picture from this year's visit to the Tacoma Mall Santa.

Regarding the current Santa status in the Pacific Northwest, based on my little sister's experience, in part, she had this to say....

The Tacoma Mall Santa was awesome, he spent lots of time talking to the kids, knew all about toys, etc, but he died this year.  The new one was ok.  He looks great, but wasn’t as chatty.  Still, when he picked Ruby up he commented that she’d grown since last year and said some other stuff the kids thought was awesome.  They still believe in him, you know.  What irks me is that every damn holiday event now has a Santa and I’m like, people, my kids think he is real, how is he everywhere?!? The gold standard Santa in these parts is the downtown Seattle Nordstrom.  We’ve made it there a few years. Beautiful set up.  And that Santa rotates, one year the day we showed up he was Asian, another he was black.  The kids don’t seem to notice or care, which cracks me up.  I can see how great it is for families of color.

Sounds to me like my old home zone still treats kids right when it comes to Santa expectations.

I wonder what my little sister would have done if she'd run into a downtown Fort Worth type Santa situation, with her kids in line, eager to see Santa, then told Santa was closed for the night, heading home on his sled to the North Pole?

My little sister is a lawyer.

The result probably would not have been pretty for Santa or the city that did that to her kids....

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fort Worth's Bad Sundance Square Sister Cities Santa Leaves Kids Crying

At some point in time during the days surrounding Thanksgiving I learned via text message, and a Facebook post, that Ms. Layla Caraway was not happy, not happy at all, with Fort Worth.

When Layla Caraway is not happy about something, alarm bells ring, with concern expressed, by many, wondering and worrying what it is which has earned the Caraway wrath.

Well, you can read all about it via a slightly edited version of the Caraway Facebook post which details Fort Worth's latest embarrassment in all its shameful shame....

Okay, here's the deal - Saturday when we were downtown we stopped at the Santa line. We got in line (since it was short and I have something to tell Santa).

We were quickly told by another couple the line was closed. Oh, okay, no problem. Those in front of us must have been there before the line closed.

As we are exiting the line, I notice they are closing the gates to Santa, with the people still in line??

Confused I watch as two little girls in two different families dissolve into complete meltdown.


With the few people standing in line, only 2 had kids, couldn't Santa see the 2 kids who had stood in line to see him?

I asked the kid guarding the gates, what gives? Let the kids go.

He said Santa closes at 9:30.

Looking at the big digital clock over the square, I pointed and told him, it's 9:25.

His response?

The clock is slow.

Seriously. He told me there was nothing he could do. I told him I wouldn't want his karma.

We lost sight of one of the broken-hearted girls, but almost everyone in Sundance Square was watching the other who could not stop crying.

So I went to the stage and told the kid on the stage, I will pay double the donation amount if you'll let that kid have one minute with Santa. He said he couldn't. I told him I want to know who your boss is, and don't say Santa. He laughed and told me he was a volunteer. Okay, who do you report to when you show up? He looked around lost and couldn't find them.

I then asked who he is volunteering for, Downtown, Inc?

That's when he told me Sister Cities.

You've got to be kidding. Lots of Santa money which could be going to CASA for abused kids, Tarrant Area Food Bank for hungry ones, or Union Gospel Mission for homeless ones is going to Sister Cities?

So I did the only thing I could think of, I took a $5 out of my purse, asked the mom if I could say something to her kid, and told her, Santa wanted me to tell you he's sorry that he has to leave but he wanted me to give you this and tell you he will see you soon and he knows you're a very good girl. Her family was very thankful, I just hope she tells everyone that Santa gave her $5 bucks.

And it saved me from accidentally making a donation to Sister Cities.


Fort Worth farms out its Santa to a Sister Cities charity fund raising operation? With the Sister Cities Santa being installed on a throne in downtown Fort Worth's Sundance Square Plaza? Where Santa closes shop whilst kids are still in line waiting to see him?

Somehow this seems to me to be a perfect metaphor for what a messed up town Fort Worth is.

A  town with few streets with sidewalks, few parks without outhouses, multiple absurd boondoggles, boarded up eyesores, like downtown's Heritage Park, built to celebrate Fort Worth's heritage, but which also serves as a metaphor for Fort Worth's inept slow motion way of getting little done.

Can't Fort Worth manage to stick a Santa in its downtown plaza, without having to resort to it being a money raising charity operation?

A charity operation which leaves kids in tears, and adults disgusted....

Trailblazing Fort Worthers Can't Run A Family Farm On The Pot Frontier

I can not remember when last I blogged one of my popular series of bloggings about something I read in a west coast online news source, usually the Seattle Times, which I would not expect to be reading in an online Texas news source, usually the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The de-criminalizing of one of Mother Nature's favorite herbs has reaped big benefits, in multiple ways, in my former home state of Washington, and one of my favorite states, Colorado.

So, other states have followed their lead, with the entire west coast, from California to Alaska, and British Columbia, Canada, now free from the oppression of criminalizing something which should never have been rendered illegal, with the majority of people in progressive states now realizing the actual crime was putting people in cages for something which should never have been a crime.

Some day, way in the future, maybe in the next century, Fort Worth and Texas may have progressed to the point where it is realized criminalizing marijuana is braindead stupid, let alone being so stupid that tomato plants are mistaken for pot plants.

Such as the world wide scandal caused by a SWAT raid terrorizing an Arlington commune community. An act of terror which seems far more criminal than someone growing a plant and smoking, or baking, the result.

Have the Arlington police and its SWAT team been criminally punished, fined and jailed for its incompetent, destructive , terrifying invasion of Arlington's Garden of Eden?


The Garden of Eden is still seeking legal remedies for the crimes committed against them.

None of which would have happened if marijuana was not an illegal herb in Texas....

Incoming Photo Mystery From Spencer Jack's Dad

Last night around 9 my phone made its incoming text message noise.

At the point in time when I heard that noise I was watching the classic silent film "It".

"It" is the movie which made Clara Bow one of America's, and the world's, first superstars.

That and causing Clara Bow to forever be known as the "It Girl".

Clara Bow was also the prototype for the Flappers and the inspiration for Betty Boop.

So, after finishing watching "It" I looked at my phone and saw that my Favorite Nephew Jason had texted me two photos. I could see on the phone the photos were of Jason and his brother with our dear Grandma Vera.

However, when I plugged the phone into the computer in order to retrieve the photos a third photo showed up. A photo which surprised me. That would be the photo you see above of a dapper dark haired guy, looking annoyed, in a trench coat and tie.

Upon closer look I realized the dapper guy in the trench coat was me. And behind me, on the right, is the home I grew up in in Burlington,  Washington.

I do not remember owning a trench coat. The only time I remember showing up at my old home location attired in a tie was in October of 1994 when we gathered there prior to heading north to Lynden for my Grandma Jones (Dutch translation Slotemaker) funeral.

Maybe Jason has the answer to this mystery.

And maybe Jason also has the answer to the mystery of why he sent me the two following photos.

These two photos also appear to be from the 1990s.

In the photo below that would be Spencer Jack's Favorite Uncle Joey standing next to Grandma Vera. Grandma Vera was my mom's mom.

And then we have Jason with Grandma Vera. I can not tell what house Jason and Grandma Vera are in. I do not recognize the refrigerator or the windows. In the picture with Joey I am assuming that photo took place somewhere in Lynden, due to the windmill needlework hanging on the wall.

And what is Jason promoting on that t-shirt?

If I remember right, and sometimes I do, Grandma Vera passed away in fall of 2003.  And if I am still remembering right, the last time I saw Grandma Vera was in summer of 2001, when Joey and I drove up to Bellingham to visit Grandma at her new abode. Grandma was on the 4th floor. I remember when we left, as we got to the parking lot, Joey told me that Grandma would be at the window waving at us. And so she was.

I am feeling wistful. Currently I have three siblings who think it would be a good idea for me to go to Arizona for Christmas.....

Monday, November 28, 2016

Power Walking Wichita Falls With A Flock Of Sikes Lake Seagulls

I am feeling mighty fine. I have recovered from both Thanksgiving and my recent rare bout of ailing from a sore throat, cough, congestion and most of the other maladies which come with a cold.

Yesterday, that day being Sunday, I returned to Mount Wichita, a day after Saturday's pitifully weak singular summit climb. Sunday's mountain climbing went much better, albeit with the additional challenge of a strong wind battering me, particularly at the summit.

Today I opted to power walk north to Sikes Lake. A strong breeze walked with me, which made the windbreaker I was wearing extremely useful.

At Sikes Lake I came upon something one does not expect to see hundreds of miles from any salty ocean type bodies of water.

A flock of seagulls.

The photo above only shows a few of the large flock of Sikes Lake seagulls. For photo purposes I zoomed in for a close up of the blue heron guarding the flock of seagulls, with the zooming in cutting off most of the seagull population.

A couple weeks ago I took a photo of a blue heron at this exact same location. I assume it was the same bird today. This particular blue heron is not skittish about human contact, unlike most birds of this species I have encountered over the years.

It is now time for some Thanksgiving aftermath.

Turkey soup for lunch.....

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Aging Mystery Of Wichita Falls Mary Contrary

 A couple weeks ago Mary Contrary of Wichita Falls, not to be confused with Mary Not Contrary of Fort Worth, posted on Facebook the results of a scientific analysis which indicated when Mary Contrary's Mental Age, Emotional Age and how old she Appears were averaged, Mary Contrary was determined to be 94.

Many were surprised to learn how old Mary Contrary is, including Mary Contrary.

Then, on Saturday, as in yesterday, another Facebook Scientific Analysis determined that Mary Contrary would perish in a bull fight at Age 95.

Concerned she only had one year to live Mary Contrary re-took the Facebook Scientific Age Analysis to find herself shocked to learn, as you can see above, that in the past couple weeks Mary Contrary has aged seven years.

With Mary Contrary now scientifically determined to be 102 I was starting to have some doubts about the scientific validity of this Facebook analysis.

So, I decided to submit myself to the Facebook Scientific Age Analysis.

Well, imagine my shock and surprise when I got the results of the Facebook Scientific Age Analysis and found them to be uncannily accurate.

I guess this means that Mary Contrary likely actually is a centenarian. I must say, just judging from Mary Contrary's appearance, she really does not look as old as the Facebook Scientific Age Analysis indicates she is....

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Post Thanksgiving Bloated Climb To Mount Wichita Summit

Beginning Wednesday, three days of excessive consumption of food products had me feeling like a python that had swallowed a goat.

Not that I actually know what that would feel like, I'm only guessing it would feel similar to my current state of bloatage.

Wednesday's overeating was Italian themed with too much lasagna.

Thursday's overeating was Mexican themed with too much off all things Tex-Mex related.

Friday's overeating was American themed with too much turkey and all that entails.

So, today I am avoiding food, for the most part, and I hauled my bloated carcass to Lake Wichita Park to facilitate some mountain climbing to the summit of Mount Wichita.

I was only up for one haul to the summit.

After enjoying the solitude of the summit, and recovering from extreme oxygen debt, as I made my way slowly down the steep slope I saw a jogger running towards the mountain, and then, as I finally reached ground level, the jogger proceeded to run up the mountain at the same pace he was running on level ground.

You can see the annoying jogger halfway up Mount Wichita on the right in the picture above.

I doubt I will ever be in good enough shape to be able to run up Mount Wichita. It'd probably help if I did not eat so much....

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Spencer Jack Thanksgiving Eve Salt Lake City Blizzard

Incoming from Spencer Jack and his dad late last night.....

FUD --

I was sure I was done sharing our pre-Thanksgiving Day Utah trip photos with you.

But....Spencer and I were touring downtown SLC this evening after experiencing a day of sunshine and warm weather.  

We were at Barnes & Noble and when we exited thinks turned ugly fast.

Blizzard like conditions.

Saw a semi turned on its side from high winds on the interstate. Windshield wipers were going fast shoveling off snow all the way back to the hotel.
When we returned to the hotel, I asked the desk attendant if this storm was expected. He looked at me and asked, "what storm?" We left the hotel 2 hours prior and it was 55 degrees and sunny. He continued to stare at us like we were crazy.

Nonetheless, Spencer Jack was more than happy. We found a snow sledding worthy hill within walking distance from the hotel, but were absent of the sled. He adapted to 'butt sledding' quickly.

I'm glad I packed the snow suits.

Hoping this storm will pass soon as we both have early afternoon turkey dinner events to attend back in the snow free Skagit Valley, which requires our morning flight to be operating on-time.

Happy early Thanksgiving, FNJ & FNSJ

I don't know if Spencer Jack has had enough wheels on ice experience to render it a safe idea for him to be driving in a Utah blizzard.

Is that a fire burning behind the boys?  Outside their hotel? Outside the Barnes & Noble?

If my memory is serving me correctly, and sometimes it does, downtown Salt Lake City is a bit hilly, sort of built on a slope.

I don't know if that is Spencer Jack or his dad doing the makeshift sledding below.

What I do know is it looks cold.

I wonder what the town I am currently in does for sledding purposes if, or when, snow covers the ground. Do people head to Mount Wichita for some sliding action?

If the Wichita Bluffs Nature Area would ever get completed it might afford some good sliding action.

I'm guessing Spencer Jack by now has driven his dad to the airport and is either in the sky or waiting to be airborne.

I wonder if Spencer Jack's dad remembers when we flew back from Las Vegas back in the late 1990s? Soon upon being in the air I remember pointing to the right and telling Jason and Joey that that was Zion we were looking at.

This was a Southwest Airlines flight. So, naturally there was some goofiness. As in the stewardess informed us that today was our pilot's birthday. And that he was the youngest pilot flying Southwest.

27 years old.

Yikes, I remember thinking. And then as we neared Salt Lake City, where we were doing a touchdown, the pilot informed us that to gain some lost time he was going to execute some sort of extra steep descent. He was informing us of this so as not to worry those who were used to a  more sedate descent.

Ironically, nothing seemed unusual about the descent. And when we got off the plane at Sea-Tac we happy birthday greeted the pilot and thanked him for the smooth landings.....

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Spencer Jack In 'N Out Of Utah The Day Before Thanksgiving

Early evening before Thanksgiving incoming photo from Utah.

Text with photo....

Spencer Jack pictured working the late lunch at one of his family's favorite burger joints.

I read the text before opening the photo and figured the family favorite burger joint being referenced was McDonald's, due to our familial affection for my Favorite Brother-In-Law, and Spencer Jack and Jason's Favorite Uncle, Jack, running an Empire of McDonald's in Arizona.

But instead it is an In 'N Out burger joint at which Spencer Jack is working the late lunch.

I am assuming this is in Salt Lake City, with the boys exploring that town before flying home to Washington tomorrow. My assumption may be incorrect.

Spencer Jack's dad has opined being impressed with the In 'N Out burger operation before. I similarly opined, with my opinion based upon experiencing In 'N Out Double Double Burgers and Fries at two Arizona locations, one being in Phoenix, near the airport, the other in Scottsdale.

And then In "N Out opened in Texas.

I had waxed poetic about the deliciousness of In 'N Out burgers to fellow former Pacific Northwesterner, Big Ed. So, Big Ed and I went to the In 'N Out on West 7th in Fort Worth.

Not good. Not good at all. Not even remotely resembling what I experienced in Arizona. And the fries were HORRIBLE. Frozen type fries out of a bag. Not the fresh cut type I had in Arizona.

Reminded me of when the first Costco opened in Texas. Also in Fort Worth. I eagerly went to the Grand Opening, excepting a Costco the likes of which I was used to in my former state, which is the home location of Costco.

However, instead of fresh sushi and fresh roasted coffee and other things I was used to in west coast Costco's I walked in to find myself greeted by multiple Remington statues for sale. And horse saddles.

I am not making this up.  Horse saddles for sale at the entry.

The Texas Costco's improved when others opened. By the time the Southlake Costco opened, with Southlake sort of being a Yankee enclave, I finally sort of had a Washington type Costco I could go to.

I do not know what the problem is with Texas In 'N Outs. Maybe my bad  experience was a fluke. I've not heard others complain about the Texas In 'N Outs who have been to In 'N Outs in its original locations.

Anyway, Spencer Jack seems to have taken his dad on a mighty fine road trip. I'm guessing Spencer will be wanting to take his dad back to Utah for some more eye popping sight seeing. Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park come to mind....

Spencer Jack Hiking Zion National Park With Mountain Goats

When last we heard from Spencer Jack he was Dangling in Danger over the Grand Canyon South Rim.

Overnight photo documentation arrived documenting Spencer Jack in danger in Zion National Park.

Along with video of the drive into Zion from the east. With mountain goats. Video viewable below.

Text accompanying the photos and video....

FUD -- We spent last night in Page, AZ. The bright sunshine woke up us in the morning and we headed east after looking over Lake Powell.  I amended our itinerary from Moab to Zion late yesterday when I checked the weather forecast for today.   

Today's visit to Zion National Park was one of the most amazing places I have been. Spencer told me out of the blue that he had never been on a hike like what we did today.  It was a beautiful and warm all day. Zion was beyond what one could imagine.  Pictures do not do any justice. We entered from the east and soon greeted by a family of mountain goats. Spent the whole day hiking before exiting to the west.

Wanted to also see Bryce Canyon today, but spent too much time at Zion. We will save that, Moab and the Canyon Lands for another time.

Hope you enjoy the pictures. Ended up finding Spencer snow a top of I-75. We are crashing in Richfield, UT tonight.

After I finish sending these pictures to my FUD, Spencer is requiring that I find an open ski resort for tomorrow.  


Well, it sounds as if the boys enjoyed Zion National Park. I can not tell via the photos, or the text, if Spencer Jack actually took the right turn off the main road which leads one up Zion Canyon to as far as one can go due to the canyon turning into The Narrows surrounded by the Temple of Sinawava.

Before we get to the snow and Spencer Jack's video of mountain goats running rampant in Zion National Park let us start today's road trip in Page, Arizona, at the bridge crossing over the Grand Canyon before it becomes totally grand, overlooking Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.

I am fairly certain in the below photo Spencer Jack and his dad are now in Zion National Park, having entered the park via its east entrance.

Zion has a way of making everything and everyone look extra tall.

Again I am not certain, but I believe the trail you see Spencer Jack on below is the trail one accesses from the east end of the Zion Tunnel, with that trail leading to an overlook of Zion Canyon.

Yes, the trails in Zion can be a bit treacherous in places,  with steep dropoffs. Spencer Jack looks not to be in too much danger, below, though.

Under an overhang Spencer is helping keep the rock from falling down.

I am not sure about the below photo. Spencer may be at the over look looking into Zion Canyon, but it appears he is inside a cave. I recollect no cave at this location. I do recollect a balancing rock, of sorts.

Methinks this road trip has caused Spencer Jack to develop an affection for Utah redrock, just like his Favorite Great Uncle has had for decades.

In Zion and Grand Canyon Spencer Jack was bundled up like he was very cold. And then he finds some snow on Interstate 75 and plays in it without any apparent winter type outerwear.

And now the aforementioned YouTube video of Spencer Jack driving into Zion National Park and discovering a herd of mountain goats....

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

American Hat Company In Bowie Texas Makes Trump Cowboy Hat

I learned that which you see here via the Wichita Falls Times Record News.

Apparently Donald J. Trump has not outsourced the making of his inaugural cowboy hat to China and has instead commissioned its construction to a Bowie, Texas cowboy hat manufacturing company.

The propaganda promotional blurb touting this news....

American Hat Co. has spent more than a century making iconic cowboy hats, the world's symbol for the Wild West and the romanticized cowboy, good and bad.

They've made hats for the big and small screen for shows such as "Urban Cowboys" and "Longmire" as well as musical performers Pharrell Williams, who is known for his love of headpieces, and the Zac Brown Band. Lyle Lovett has been a past customer, too.
Now the Bowie-based company has made a custom hat for another maverick, this time for soon-to-be the most powerful man in the free world — President-elect Donald J. Trump

Let us just hope this American Hat Company Bowie built cowboy hat does not make Trump look fat, because, as we learned yesterday, doing such can earn one a bout of Trumpian tongue lashing....

Monday, November 21, 2016

Nephew Spencer Jack Dangling In Danger Over Grand Canyon South Rim

Earlier today I mentioned I thought I might find myself blog chronicling Spencer Jack's Thanksgiving Week Road Trip.

I also speculated that I expected I would soon be seeing pictures of Spencer Jack at the Grand Canyon.


This evening three more photos arrived via email, including the one you see here with Spencer Jack dangling precariously off the edge of the Grand Canyon.

I am glad to see my Favorite Nephew Jason is continuing my Nephews in Danger tradition.

The text accompanying one of these three photos said....

Arrived safely at a cloud covered canyon. Spencer and I are warming up in the gift shop. There will be no hiking adventure today.

The clouds appear to have lifted a bit by the time Spencer Jack did his cliff dangling.

However, as you see below, previous to the cliff dangling, the Grand Canyon does appear to be a bit cloud shrouded. And cold.

The route from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon took Spencer Jack through Williams, Arizona, along the Mother Road, also known as Route 66.

Last year Spencer Jack and his dad had me thinking they were on a road trip on Route 66 when they sent me pictures that indicated such, but turned out to be a Route 66 related attraction in Disney California.

Those appear to be snowflakes falling on Spencer Jack in front of the Route 66 sign.

The last time I was at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon it was freezing, with snow on the ground, with the trails into the canyon treacherously coated in ice, rendering them not safe. If I remember right this was two days before New Years Day of 1994.

In October of 1994 I found myself at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, staying in a log cabin, when a blizzard struck, dropping a foot of snow overnight, stranding visitors in the park until snow plows could arrive.

That was one fun time, being stranded in a national park lodge.

One can see photos of my various times at the various Grand Canyon rims, in a Grand Canyon National Park blog post I made a few years back.

I do not know what is up next with Spencer Jack's Thanksgiving Week Road Trip. Overnight on the South Rim? Or in Flagstaff? Heading east tomorrow over the Painted Desert, heading to Monument Valley?

I suspect the answer to these probing questions will arrive tomorrow....

Spencer Jack Selfie Sticking Hoover Dam

I do not know for sure, but it looks like I may be blog chronicling Spencer Jack's Thanksgiving Week Road Trip.

We will see if the photos keep coming whilst the boys drive deeper into the desert and further from civilization.

Whilst I was walking around Sikes Lake today the two photos you see here arrived on my phone.

I saw the first photo and wondered who took the picture. I could tell Spencer Jack had driven his dad to Hoover Dam, because I saw the Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge behind them.

The second photo solved the mystery regarding who took the picture.

I do not know how a selfie stick works. I have trouble enough taking one of those annoying selfie things just holding the phone in my hand, let alone at the end of a stick.

Seeing Spencer Jack and his dad at Hoover Dam had me feeling all dizzy at the rapid passing of time.

Way back in August of 1999, the summer before I moved to Texas, my Favorite Nephews, Jason and Joey, flew me to Las Vegas for four fun days of, well, semi-adult fun. Including driving out to Hoover Dam, where eventually we went swimming in Lake Mead.

During those four days in Vegas we had multiple mishaps, including being stuck on top of the Stratosphere Tower for hours due to a power outage. Which turned out to be sort of fun, until the lack of air conditioning had the over 100 degree outside temperature heating up the inside.

Long ago, before the era of blogs, I webpaged that trip to Vegas with Spencer Jack's dad and Favorite Uncle, Joey.

In my memory that does not seem all that long ago, flying to Vegas with my nephews. So much has happened in the years since then. Including Spencer Jack.

I suspect next I will be seeing photos of the Grand Canyon....

Spencer Jack's Thanksgiving Week Skiing Roadtrip To Grand Canyon & Utah

Incoming text message and email from Spencer Jack and his dad, both including the photo you see here.

With the text in the text message informing me that Spencer and his dad are beginning their desert road trip from the skyline of New York City.

In other words, Las Vegas.

Apparently the boy are heading east towards the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and then continuing east to Monument Valley and then on to Moab, looking for a place to ski along the way.

I was asked for my skiing possibility input along this route and came up blank for such between Vegas and Moab. Except I think there may be some ski type venue near Flagstaff. I told the boys they could continue on east a slight distance more, to Durango in Colorado, where there are multiple places to slide down a white hill.

However, another bit of info in this text message said the boys had to be in Salt Lake City by Turkey Day, as in Thursday, to fly back to Washington.

That is a lot of road tripping miles between now and then, with plenty of scenic wonders to behold.

In four days.

I suspect I will be being kept updated during the course of Spencer Jack's latest road trip.....

Sunday, November 20, 2016

No Golf On Cold Wichita Falls Sunday Without Pneumonia

I know you're thinking what you are looking at here is me tooling about in my golf cart on the Wichita Falls Weeks Golf Course across the creek from my abode.


If that was what you were thinking you had the tooling about part correct, but not much else.

The golf cart is tooling about on Weeks Golf Course, but I am tooling about on the Circle Trail, in the photo, looking east, across the creek, towards the golf course.

The temperature has plummeted to near freezing the past couple nights. But by the time I exited my abode this morning the sun had done some warming, nearing 50 still chilly degrees.

I am fairly certain I am on the recovery end of a near pneumonia bout. It feels good to be feeling better.  Thank you for all the heartfelt inquiries into the state of my woeful misery.

I am more than just a bit unsettled regarding the fact that the dreaded, by me, holiday season is upon us.

Four days until Thanksgiving. Then it's the fast track til Christmas and a New Year.

Followed by the Apocalypse on January 20, when the world turns upside down and Washington, D.C. becomes even more of a Crazy Town.

Well, time flies, but I don't think it will by flying fast enough for me to get a turkey and thaw it by this coming Thursday. Which means rather than turkey I will likely be having the more traditional lasagna for my Thanksgiving feasting.

With no stuffing.....

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Sky At Night Is A Beautiful Sight Nowhere Near The Heart Of Texas

I do not recollect being sick with a cold or the flu this century. My only ailment I can recall was a severe allergy woe a couple Octobers ago, which was one of the worst bouts of miserable I recollect suffering.


For several days now, beginning, I think, last Saturday, I have been wondering what's up with my usual healthy self.

Saturday was the day I remember thinking I was being loopy. Elsie Hotpepper exacerbated this loopiness by suggesting I was sounding as if I was intoxicated on adult beverages. I took serious umbrage to this rude remark.

Several days after the Elsie Hotpepper rudeness, the loopiness evolved into a painful sore throat, which by Thursday afternoon  had evolved into sneezing, with all the symptoms one associates with a cold.

Last night, just as the sun was preparing to set, I drove to Walmart to get myself some cold meds. Upon arrival at the Walmart parking lot I saw the sun was putting on a particularly colorful show as it left for the day. I only had my phone with me, with which to take a photo, the result of which you see above.

The photo did not do justice to what my eyes saw. Which was an eerie glowing blue coming through the clouds. Had not seen such as this in the sky previously.

Regarding Walmart. This morning I discovered something I did not know.

Since being in this town I have opined a time or two as to how odd it is that from my abode I have a Super Walmart a mile to the east. And another Super Walmart 1.5 miles to the northwest, across the street from ALDI.

I have wondered why the Walmarts were not spaced further apart so as to convenience more of the town.

Well, yesterday on the Wichita Falls Rants & Raves Facebook page someone made reference to the Greenbriar Walmart. What is that I wondered. Googled and turned out this is how locals refer to the Walmart located a mile to the east of my abode.

Upon Googling I also quickly saw there is a third Super Walmart in town. Several miles north of my abode's location, near the junction of I-287 and I-44. I have been by that location many times and have not noticed a Walmart, not that I was looking for such. But still, one would think I would have noticed this other Walmart.

The temperature is currently scheduled to get to the point of freezing tonight. This Friday morning the wind is blowing from the north, with the outer world already chilled to 48 degrees. I hope it is salubrious to be cold with a cold....

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Spencer Jack In New York City Seeking The Donald At Trump Tower

Spencer Jack sent me that which you see here, yesterday.

Spencer Jack and his Favorite Dad at a pre-election anticipatory protest in New York City outside the future American president's residence in Trump Tower.

I do not know if Spencer took his dad inside the tower and attempted to get on board the escalator or elevator.

Spencer Jack's dad, my Favorite Nephew Jason, probably does not remember, as he was much younger than Spencer Jack's current age, but a time or two I took Jason and his brother, my Favorite Nephew Joey to Seattle where we'd go for elevator rides in various downtown Seattle skyscrapers.

I think the last time I took a ride on a downtown Seattle skyscraper elevator was in the year 2001. I was getting a tour of my little sister's operation in the Seattle justice department. Unlike the elevator rides of a couple decades prior, on that 2001 elevator ride we got to exit for a tour of an entire floor, including my little sister's office which had a panoramic view, from high, of downtown Seattle.

Actually, in some ways, a better view, what with being in the heart of downtown, than that afforded from atop the Space Needle, which is north of the downtown Seattle skyscrapers.

I have not taken an elevator ride in any of the skyscrapers in the current Texas town in which I am aboding, Wichita Falls.

One of the downtown Wichita Falls skyscrapers has no elevators, or escalators. I believe one reaches the top floor of Wichita Falls' World's Littlest Skyscraper via a ladder.

And when you reach the top floor of the World's Littlest Skyscraper there is not much of a view. Well, I think one might get a good look down on multiple railroad tracks....

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Everything Is Bigger In Texas Including Cowgirls

It really is true that most everything in Texas is bigger than it is anywhere else.

Take the pair of cowgirls you see here, for instance.

Those are full size horses they are walking.

You can see the tall cowgirls tower over the roof line of the house behind them.

I ran into this pair of horse walking Texas cowgirls whilst I was on a solo sans horse walk this morning.

I asked if I could take a photo and permission was granted.

I did not ask if they ever ride their horses. Or if they pick up and carry the horses if the horses get tired. I thought it might be rude to make such an inquiry....

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Seeing Possible Sikes Lake Bird Solidarity With Washington High School Walkouts

Another beautiful blue November day north of being deep in the heart of Texas.

Yesterday I power walked three or four miles on the Circle Trail, eventually enjoying the water wonders and scenic mountain views of Lake Wichita.

Today I decided to power walk in a more northwesterly direction with Sikes Lake as my walking destination.

I don't know what was going on with the Sikes Lake bird population today, what with all the birds of all the various sorts being out of the water.

Even the blue heron you see above was not water bound. Usually birds of the blue heron sort are skittish, but this guy was so un-skittish I thought it might be injured. I was able to get close enough to see no apparent injury.

Maybe the Sikes Lakes bird population was joining the throngs protesting in support of those feeling threatened by the recent election.

Moments prior to exiting my abode I learned via Skagit Breaking News, on Facebook, that yesterday students in my former high school, that being Burlington-Edison High School, and students in the high school of the town I lived in prior to moving to Texas, Mount Vernon High School, left school to protest in support of those feeling threatened by the recent election.

The MVHS students marched to the Skagit County Courthouse, about a one mile march. I do not know where the B-EHS students marched, but I am fairly certain it was not the Courthouse, because that would be about a five mile march.

I do not know if it is still the case, but for decades, beginning back during the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, a peace vigil occurred at noon on every Wednesday at the county courthouse.

I saw a BIG example of this way back in November of 2004 when I happened to be in Mount Vernon on a Wednesday, exiting I-5 to downtown where I quickly found myself seeing protesters in large numbers doing their Wednesday vigil thing.

I recollect taking pictures that day. Just a sec, I will go see if I can find them....

Well, apparently I only took one photo of the protesters that day. I was more focused on taking pictures of how well landscaped Mount Vernon's freeway exits were, and its public transit hub, as compared to the pitiful freeway landscaping in the Texas town I was living in at the time.

Was Twitter already alive in 2004? I don't remember. But that would explain the abbreviated spelling of  'SHOULD"....

Monday, November 14, 2016

Possibly The Bluest Sky I've Ever Seen May Be In Wichita Falls

Yes that is true, a very blue sky, but maybe not the bluest sky I've ever seen. Likely the bluest sky I have ever seen is in Seattle. There is an entire song documenting this fact. Along with the hills being the greenest green.

There are not many hills in Wichita Falls, so the hills being the greenest green, or not, is not an issue.

Among the many things I like about my current Texas location, compared to my previous Texas location, is the air is so much cleaner.

As in clear.

Clear air way into the horizon. No smoggy orange haze.

Last night when I exited my abode after dark I was surprised to see the much anticipated Super Moon hovering above, living up to the hype. That was one big moon last night.

This morning I felt the need to move in fast speed mode. So, I walked the Circle Trail to the Lake Wichita Dam and then on to the Lake Wichita Dock from whence I took the photo above, of that also aforementioned clear clean blue sky, with Mount Wichita popping up like a pimple in the middle of the horizon.

I can not remember when last I hiked to the summit of Mount Wichita. I don't remember when  it was, or why it was, the novelty of going mountain climbing at my current location became less attractive.

I think maybe I will return to the summit of Mount Wichita this week. Maybe on Wednesday, if I don't drive to the Dallas/Fort Worth zone on that day. If I don't drive to D/FW this Wednesday, I likely will the next Wednesday, that being the day before Thanksgiving.

I zoomed in from the Lake Wichita Dock to take the above photo of Mount Wichita. Looking at that mound of dirt, looking like a mini-volcano, one would not think it would be at all challenging to hike to the summit.

Well, I can assure you, it is an endorphin inducing bit of aerobic stimulation to haul oneself to this particular summit...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Elsie Hotpepper Leads Me To A Bench Muttering To Myself

This Sunday morning I took myself on what I hoped to be a salubrious walk on the Circle Trail which circles by my abode.

A short distance from my abode I came to the scene you see here.

A bench overlooking a collection of pillars rising out of Holliday Creek.

Somehow this scene triggered a traumatic memory of a disturbing nightmare from last night.

Shortly before getting horizontal last night I was disturbed by a disturbing video Elsie Hotpepper put on Facebook.

In that video, for about what seemed a half hour, a guy with a thick British accent screamed vitriol, with about every other word being that infamous word known as the F word.

From what I could make out of what the guy was screaming, apparently he felt that Americans, and, I assume, the rest of the world, would be better off if we learned to communicate politely with those with whom we disagree.

The thinking behind such a sentiment seems sound, even when loudly and vulgarly expressed.

However, in actual practice I have found that trying to reason with those with whom I disagree to be extremely frustrating and fruitless.

Usually because there is some underlying bit of misinformation which is the foundation of the person's erroneous belief.

Like where do you start when someone tells you that the Democrats want to impose Sharia Law and ban beer and make all women wear scarves covering their faces?

What do you say to such?

I try to be reasonable, but the responses go even more sideways and impossible to fathom, let alone reason with.

So, this Elsie Hotpepper caused me a disturbing nightmare where basically every person I transacted with spoke ignorant nonsense based on nothing that I was able to relate to.

Eventually the nightmare ended with me sitting alone on a bench muttering to myself.

This morning I did not see that Elsie Hotpepper video still playing on Facebook. Elsie probably got in trouble with her mother for that excessive F-word thing.....

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Stars & Stories Tonight On The Tandy Hills With Cocoa

Saturday, November 12, 2016 at dark-thirty (5:30 pm)

PrairieSky / StarParty 
featuring members of the
Fort Worth Astronomical Society and their telescopes 

PLUS mythological stories of the constellations by

Weather should be cool and, hopefully, clear

Free hot cocoa while supplies last

Brought to you FREE by Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area

Come on in!

It has been awhile since I have been on the Tandy Hills on a Saturday, or any day. I can not imagine what would keep me from being on the Tandy Hills tonight for a  Prairie Sky Star Party.

But I must admit, my imagination is very limited.....

Friday, November 11, 2016

Walking My Neighborhood Yellow Brick Road With Lions, Robots, Pirates, Camels & Elves

I had not gone on a long salubrious walk for a few days, so today I decided to follow the yellow brick road to Midwestern State University, also known as MSU, to check out something I've been seeing whilst driving by on Taft Boulevard.

An odd collection of various installations, which on a quick drive by seemed possibly Christmas themed, with some confusing anomalies, like robots and pirate ships and lions.

Upon a walk through inspection it soon became sort of obvious this is a Holiday Season installation.

The WELCOME under giant candy canes was a good clue. As was Santa riding a train.

Not sure where lions fit in as part of a Holiday Season theme. The caged lions seemed tame.

No Happy Holiday location is complete without a robot.

The Jolly Roger pirate ship is a short distance from the robot. I think the lead pirate may be aiming his pistol at the robot.

I think the camel was carrying one of Three Wise Men, visiting a baby in a manger surrounded by sheep.

A Ferris Wheel full of happy Elves is also a must have at a well stocked Happy Holidays theme park.

I do not know how many miles I walked today. I do know the walking took about two hours, with the only non-walking being when I stopped to take pictures.

I wish the pink pumpkin was offering rides so as to return me to my abode without having to walk back.

The MSU Happy Holidays theme park looked to have multiple moving parts and various elements of illumination. I suspect if I drive by this location after the sun goes down all comes to life with a lot of bright lights and noisy merry making.

I must remember to return, after dark, before the Happy Holiday Season leaves for another year...