Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Panther Island Straight Talk Per Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Request

Most of February I was in a sort of virtual isolation booth deep in the Arizona desert, cut off from my usual news sources.

Periodically during my isolation period I would have some contact with the world via Facebook.

It was via Facebook I first learned of the absurdity you see here. With that absurdity being that after years of propaganda spewing the Fort Worth Star-Telegram now wants some straight talk about Fort Worth's embarrassing imaginary island.


I think I can manage some straight talk on the subject of Panther Island, more commonly known as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

So, let's go through this ridiculous We need straight talk on Panther Island Star-Telegram editorial and do some straight talking.

First off, the Star-Telegram continues to do Fort Worth a disservice by continuing to persist in referring to the Trinity River Vision Central City Uptown Panther Island District as "Panther Island".

There is no island. There never will be an island. Even if a ditch is dug under the three bridges being built in slow motion to connect the Fort Worth mainland to that imaginary island, it will not be an island.

So, just knock off this Panther Island nonsense. It's almost as dumb as spending decades calling your downtown Sundance Square, where there was no square, til a small one was finally built, then called Sundance Square Plaza.

The first paragraph of the Star-Telegram editorial after suggesting we 'Start talking"...

Last week the Tarrant Regional Water District Board unanimously decided to ask voters in May to approve $250 million in bonds to pay for the $1.16 billion Panther Island project. The board said it needs the long-term loan to complete the project which will create new waterfront property by 2028.

Complete the project by 2028? The Star-Telegram drops that embarrassing bit without editorializing regarding the absurdity of what was originally touted as being a vitally needed flood control and economic development project, of such import that it warranted the abuse of eminent domain to steal property, but is so totally not vital that the project is now projected to possibly be completed almost three decades after it was foisted on the Fort Worth public, without the public having the opportunity to vote for the project.

Til now.

After years of burning through bucks wasted on things like failed wakeparks, exorbitant salaries, junkets, ridiculous signage and tons of expensive mailed propaganda, the TRWD is asking voters to approve a quarter billion bond bucks so that new waterfront property might be created by 2028.

And now for some straight talk about the following paragraph from this editorial...

Yes, the project will transform Fort Worth with an 800-acre island with canals, an urban lake and 10,000 new residences.

Really? What evidence does the Star-Telegram have that what has become America's Biggest Boondoggle will eventually transform Fort Worth? Other than for the first time in the town's history having the biggest of something in America.

Again the Star-Telegram is repeating the island nonsense. Have these people never seen an island? Do they not know what an island looks like?

10,000 residences.

That is just repeating the Trinity River Vision propaganda which has been repeated for years.

An urban lake?

Why do these people persist in calling what is nothing but a wide spot in the river an urban lake? Why use the word "urban" as a descriptor? Any lake inside any town's borders would be an urban lake. It just sounds stupid to refer to this "pond" as an urban lake.

And then this paragraph...

But voters need to demand an explanation for the increasing cost. And the five-members of the board need to hit the chicken-dinner circuit to provide iron-clad assurance the bond sale won’t result in a higher taxes or a water rate increase.

Yeah, that's all voters need to demand. An explanation, after all this time, for the inflating price tag for what has become America's Biggest Boondoggle. Methinks those voters should also demand to know why J.D. Granger continues to direct this project, with his pay now about $200,000 a year. The voters need to demand to know why a qualified project executive director was not hired to direct this project in a timely fashion. The voters need to demand to know why J.D. Granger has not been fired after so many failures.

The Star-Telegram thinks the TRWD board needs to hit something called the chicken-dinner circuit? Really? Where is this circuit and how does one get an invite or a reservation?

And then this doozy in this Star-Telegram editorial asking for straight talk...

The price jumped over the $1 billion mark after the water district discovered it needed another $66 million to put in utilities in Panther Island. 

Oh my, what a shocking revelation it must have been for the Boondogglers to discover the imaginary island industrial wasteland needed utilities installed for those 10,000 residences and whatever else might get built if anything real ever does get built.

I can give the Boondogglers another upcoming shock. When, or if, bulldozers ever start bulldozing to build those residences, and other structures, it will be discovered that serious contamination of the ground will require extremely expensive mitigation to make it safe for human habitation.

And then another nonsensical idiotic doozy...

District officials say if they don’t get the money, the project will slow down and become more expensive. No one wants to see that, but voters also need to know Panther Island isn’t becoming the ultimate money pit.

Uh, the imaginary island has already become a money pit. If the voters don't approve of this bond the project will slow down? How can this inept project slow down even more than it already is?

Anyone driven over one of those three simple little non-signature bridges yet? You know, those bridges which began getting built four years ago with a TNT celebratory explosion, where now, four years later, all which can been seen is a small collection of what have become known as the Yeehaw Seesaws, one of which you see at the top.

More on those ridiculous Yeehaw Seesaws later in some followup straight talk about America's Biggest Boondoggle....

Also in the Star-Telegram Straight Talk Series...

Will Fort Worth's Yeehaw Seesaws Teeter Totter Into Oblivion? 

Looking For Fort Worth Star-Telegram Straight Talk About The Boondoggle's Homage To A Trash 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Back Home After Long Dark Tour Of Wichita Falls Sheppard Air Force Base

Yesterday, an hour before noon, Spencer Jack's grandpa, my little brother Jake, picked me up at Miss Daisy's in order to eventually deposit me at the airport.

Prior to arriving at the departure part of the airport my little brother took me to his neighborhood casino where we had ourselves a mighty fine lunch of sweet and sour and teriyaki chicken in a big bowl of chow mien noodles.

After noodling, my airport chauffeur drove out into the desert where I picked some cotton and saw a big eagle nesting in a big tree.

Eventually the tour took us back to where we had been the day before, that being the north side of Camelback Mountain. The day before we were denied entry to the full parking lot where hikers park before attempting to climb to the summit of Camelback Mountain. But yesterday we drove right in and found a parking spot where we took a driving respite during which I enjoyed the scenery, including the cactus in obscene gesture mode you see above.

I do not believe I have ever seen hiking trails with as many hikers as I saw the two days I was up close to Camelback Mountain. Upon my next return to Arizona Spencer Jack's grandpa and I are going to attempt reaching the Camelback summit. Or give it our best effort.

One of the signs at the trailhead had an ominous Heat Warning. Heat was not an issue yesterday, or the day before, or today. The temperature was barely above freezing for my last Arizona swim.

Soon after leaving Camelback Mountain we arrived at my departure point. I sadly said goodbye to Spencer Jack's grandpa and soon found myself flying east towards Texas.

The flight seemed to go fast. Until we landed. Eventually all aboard were allowed off the plane. I then easily made my way via the DFW Skytrain to the B terminal were I found the tiny plane with takes me back to Wichita Falls.

The landing in Wichita Falls turned a bit bizarre. We landed and then began rolling along, on and on and on. The previous time I landed in Wichita Falls it took about five minutes between touchdown and being at the exit gate.

Last night after about 10 minutes of rolling along I decided to call my mom, figuring we must be about at the gate. I talked to mom a couple minutes. Finished the mom call and soon found myself perplexed at the continuing long plane taxi ride, along with my fellow flyers, including many who were Air Force types familiar with the Sheppard Air Force Base landing zone we were touring.

One joked the pilot must be looking for the McDonald's drive through. This seemed funny at the time.

At one point the pilot hit something which felt like how it feels when you run your vehicle into a curb.

At another point the pilot hit the brakes and then began a spin the plane around maneuver which had all aboard looking at each other, laughing and shaking our heads in wonderment.

After the spin around the dark tour of Sheppard Air Force Base continued. I made a couple more calls.

And then, in the distance, we saw what looked like the Wichita Falls Airport building. The pilot was then following blue lights lining the way, marking a route called C.

When it became obvious the pilot had finally found our end point those onboard let out a muted cheer.

And then the cheering was followed with a slight problem getting lined up with the moving walkway thing upon which one eventually escapes.

As we all exited the plane the pilot stayed inside his cabin, so there was no opportunity to thank him for the long dark tour of Sheppard Air Force Base...

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Few Days Left In Paradise Before Returning To Texas

For the first time in well over two weeks I find myself connected via computer to the Internet.

In less than a week I should be back in Texas connected to the Internet via computer pretty much whenever I want to be.

The computer I am currently connected to the Internet with looks out on the view you see here. Which some may recognize as the pool at my sister Jackie's house.

Sister Jackie took my favorite brother-in-law, Jack, to Nevada yesterday, stopping at Laughlin before reaching Las Vegas today. Somehow I came into possession of the multiple number security code which allowed me to gain access to the computer I am currently using.

I am sort of looking forward to being back in Texas. A lot of troubling stuff has happened there since I have been visiting modern America.

To get computer access I left Miss Daisy alone for the first time in a long time. I told her I would not be gone long. Due to extreme wind conditions I am going to limit Miss Daisy's outdoor activity today.

Tomorrow morning the outer world in the Arizona Valley of the Sun is supposed to get down to only a few degrees above freezing. I will likely be appalling the locals by having myself a mighty fine time swimming tomorrow morning in one of the pools which feel too warm to my delicate heat sensitive sensibilities...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Is Hippie Spencer Jack Climbing Camelback Mountain With Me?

What you see here I found whilst checking email this morning, on this, my last day in Texas, for about a month.

A photo and a message from Spencer Jack's dad, my Favorite Nephew Jason, aka FNJ.


Spencer Jack fashioned 1960s progressive America at school today.  

Thought you would enjoy seeing the soon to be 11 year old liberal Jones nephew’s cute photo.

Hope all is well,

P.S. - Perhaps we can connect sometime soon in AZ. Perhaps we can hike Camelback Mountain together?

The 1960s? A time of rapid change, riots, assassinations, raging wars in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones.

And Hippies.

I wonder if Spencer Jack's grandma Cindy, she being my favorite ex-sister-in-law, helped turn Spencer into a Hippie.

Spencer Jack and his dad are probably not aware of what a Flower Child their grandma and mom was back in those long ago days of peace, love and freedom.

Peace, love and freedom? Am I remembering right? That that was/is the Hippie Credo?

Am I to insinuate from Spencer Jack's dad's message that the boys will be in Arizona at some point in time this month?

I don't know about hiking up Camelback Mountain. That is in Scottsdale, where Spencer Jack's dad, my little brother, Jake, lives. There is a Camelback Mountain website devoted to climbing this mountain.

Wikipedia's description of hiking Camelback Mountain...

Two hiking trails ascend 1,280 feet (390 m) to the peak of Camelback Mountain. The Echo Canyon Trail is 1.14 miles (1900 m) and the Cholla Trail is 1.4 mi (2300 m). Both trails are considered strenuous with steep grades. The hiking path has dirt, gravel, boulders, and some handrail-assisted sections. The average hike requires a round trip time of 1.5 to 3 hours.

Closer to Jake than Camelback Mountain is Papago Park. There are a lot of fun things to hike to in Papago Park. Such as the Hole in the Rock.

The second highest mountain in the Phoenix mountain range is known as Piestewa Peak, formerly Squaw Peak. Spencer Jack's aunt Jackie, she being my sister, and I hiked Piestewa Peak back in March of 2012. We did not make it to the summit.

We could also go hiking on South Mountain. South Mountain Park is the biggest city park in America and one of the biggest urban parks in the world. A Republican president of the decent sort, who helped make parks, not destroy them, or open them to drilling, Calvin Coolidge, helped Phoenix acquire the South Mountain parkland.

The first time I drove the road to the top of South Mountain I saw bikers mountain biking on trails which I would not be comfortable riding. Treacherous.

A bike has been delivered to where I will be staying in Arizona. It is not a mountain bike, and so its wheels will not be seeing mountain bike trails. Those wheels will likely be seeing a lot of miles of paved trails trailing all over this location with multiple lakes, appropriately called Sun Lakes.

This is likely going to be my last blog posting for awhile. I am not bring a laptop with me. My only internet connection will be via my phone. Or when I am at my sister's in Chandler. I may be using this break from the Internet World, and my computer, to break my blogging addiction.

It is said it takes 21 days to break a bad habit, or start a new good habit...

Friday, February 2, 2018

Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster One Day Over 15 Years Ago

Not til this morning of February 2, did I realize, via the Fort Worth Connie D, that yesterday, February 1, was the 15th anniversary of the day the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry.

This seems so recent, yet it was 15 years ago. It may seem recent, but my memory of that day is hazy.

I remember laying on the floor, I think it was a Sunday morning, drinking coffee whilst reading the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which way back then I still subscribed to the hard copy version.

It was while on the floor I learned of the shuttle disaster. Before thinking about it I would have said I heard the explosion. But I think that memory is conflating the shuttle disaster with the Sunday morning when I heard three loud bangs which I was to learn a few minutes later were Mt. St. Helens erupting.

If I remember right, I later learned people in the D/FW zone claimed to have heard the shuttle explosion. But, I did not hear anything. I also do not remember how I learned of the disaster. I know I did not have a TV on, or a radio. Yet I learned of it almost as it happened.

I Googled "Columbia Disaster" to see if anything refreshed any of my faulty memory. The Wikipedia Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster article is interesting. Many details I did not remember or know about.

The Wikipedia article includes a timeline of the disaster. The following is the D/FW part of the timeline...

9:00:18 Videos and eyewitness reports by observers on the ground in and near Dallas indicated that the Orbiter had disintegrated overhead, continued to break up into smaller pieces, and left multiple ion trails, as it continued eastward. In Mission Control, while the loss of signal was a cause for concern, there was no sign of any serious problem. Before the orbiter broke up at 9:00:18, the Columbia cabin pressure was nominal and the crew was capable of conscious actions. Although the crew module remained mostly intact through the breakup, it was damaged enough that it lost pressure at a rate fast enough to incapacitate the crew within seconds, and was completely depressurized no later than 9:00:53.

I do not remember if it was February 1, 2003 that the traffic alert signs on the D/FW freeways began telling us to "CALL POLICE TO REPORT SPACE SHUTTLE DEBRIS".

I took the photo you see above, of one of those alerts, on the 820 freeway in east Fort Worth.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Gateway Park Visit With Beautiful New Fort Worth Outhouses & Boondoggle Signage

Yesterday, for the first time in years, not since 2015, I visited Fort Worth's Gateway Park to see if there has been any progress with the progress in motion we have been told is in motion for years now, with that progress in motion information on signage in the park installed years ago by what has become America's Biggest Boondoggle, also known as the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision.

Actually, now that you are causing me to think about it, it was via construction signs at Gateway Park where I first saw the Boondoggle referred to with Central City and Uptown added to the usual Trinity River Vision name. Panther Island District was added to the name years later.

I had previously seen the new overlooks which look over the Trinity River, which replaced boarded up boardwalks which had been a hazardous eyesore for years.

What you see above is near the entry to one of those new overlooks. The green/blue plastic signage is pointing to the "North Observation Deck" which I guess makes this one the "South Observation Deck".

Also at the entry to the South Overlook, I mean Observation Deck, is a Fort Worth staple, that being a classy outhouse.

Recently the nation, well, a few people in Fort Worth, were shocked to learn Fort Worth mayor, Betsy Price, is "fantastic friends" with Donald Trump. We all talked about this in Betsy Price Fantastic Friend Trump Fort Worth Sewer Flood Fix.

One can not help wonder if an Outhouse Factory is one of Trump's many business enterprises, one of those he operates via a shell corporation so as to avoid being identified as Trump's. That and even Trump probably wouldn't like his name slapped on something like TRUMP TOILETS.

Obviously I am always looking for some explanation as to why Fort Worth is the Outhouse Capital of America. This Trump Betsy BFF explanation is probably a long shot.

Below is a look at part of the South Observation Deck. That blue sign we see stuck on the deck has been added since I was last at this location.

Oh, turns out it is a sign informing us of something the whole world already knows, that being that "RECREATION ABOUNDS ALONG THE TRINITY RIVER".

On this sign we see multiple photo documentation examples of all the recreation abounding on the Trinity River. Starting with the upper left and going clockwise we shall try to identity the various recreation which is abounding. A kid holds a big fish, a group of skullers skulling, a pair of bikers stopped to do some canoodling (not sure on that one), a trio of paddleboarders doing some litter dodging, the instruction to download the TRWD Trails app, dozens of foolish people floating on inner tubes rockin' the river, kayakers with the stunning skyline of beautiful downtown Fort Worth behind them, and finally, a pair of cowgirls riding their horses on one of the Trinity Trails.

Years ago a hurricane, I think it was Hermine, or maybe an earlier one, caused the Trinity to flood. That flood destroyed sections of the paved trails in Gateway Park, leaving the trail in sections hanging over the edge of the river, and closed off by cyclone fence. The most recent time I eye witnessed this was in May of 2015. You can go to the Finding Imaginative Sign Progress By America's Biggest Boondoggle On Saturday Gateway Park Bike Ride blog post and see photos of the sad state of the Gateway Park paved trails at that point in time.

Well, yesterday I was pleased to see, all that was damaged has been fixed, totally removed, with new paved trail installed further away from the river. HUGE improvement. That is a section of the new paved trail you see above.

On that last visit to Gateway Park, when I saw signage identifying the project as part of the Trinity River Central City Uptown development, I saw bulldozers and other heavy equipment busy churning up the earth where a long abandoned sewage treatment used to hide mysteriously behind easily crossed cyclone fence and decades of foliage growth.

That long abandoned sewage treatment plant is all gone now, and what you now see is a big hole, and a lot of earth scraped clear of vegetation. No further activity was noted.

And then I came to something which appalled me, years ago, when I first saw it. A HUGE installation of signage touting the wonders of what America's Biggest Boondoggle was going to do to Gateway Park.

I was freshly appalled to see this signage yesterday, when I saw it and realized it had all been upgraded. With the new signs touting even more things no one currently living on the planet will probably live long enough to see. You can see the new signs have added the important detail of including those green/blue signs you see giving directions all over the zone of occupation of what originally was called the Trinity River Vision.

Searching the blog the earliest I could find where I blogged about this signage was October 10 2010, eight years ago. That blog post is titled The Trinity River Vision's Gateway Park Vision.

The details showing all the wonders to come have grown much more elaborate, showing many of those equally imaginary "community requested recreational amenities" on a large map of Gateway Park. On this big sign there is also mention made of what have become known as J.D. Granger's Magic Trees. The billboard refers to the Magic Trees as "a key initiative, including the planting of over 80,000 native oak and pecan trees."

This billboard includes a "KEY TO GATEWAY PARK AMENITIES" such as "new parking, new entry towers, new pedestrian bridge, new splash park (where is the old one?), new boat launch, existing boat launch, new rock weir (again, where is the old one?), new playground, new picnic area, new ecosystem restoration (again, where is the old one?), existing dog park, new mountain bike course, new equestrian trails, new primitive hiking trails, new soft paved trails, existing trails, existing disc golf course, new scenic river overlooks (I knew I called them such for some reason, before they became observation decks), new concession areas, new restrooms (again, where is the old one?), new skate park (again, where is the old one?), new baseball/softball fields, new soccer fields, existing baseball/softball fields, existing soccer fields.


How much has America's Biggest Boondoggle spent over the decades on its incredibly prolific sign posting fetish? I think I have asked this question previously. It seems, if I remember right, former TRWD Board Director, Mary Kelleher, tried to find out, but ran into yet one more brickwall block on that information which would seem to be something the public should have access to, the Boondoggle being a public works project, after all.


I suspect I will be checking in on Gateway Park more frequently. It will be interesting to see if I can detect anything happening...