Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Army Engineer Corps Gives Okay To Lake Wichita Revitalization Project

At six o'clock the last Tuesday evening of July I found myself atop Lake Wichita Dam listening to people speechify, including the esteemed mayor of Wichita Falls.

What the mayor had to tell the assembled listeners was that he held in his hands the approval document from the Army Corps of Engineers authorizing the Lake Wichita Revitalization Project.

I somehow thought this approval had long been given, but, perhaps, I mis-read, or mis-remembered the news regarding this issue.

From what I have seen of the plans to revitalize Lake Wichita it seems to me to be an excellent, well thought out, doable plan, which if turned into a reality will be a HUGE asset to Wichita Falls.

If you go to the website supporting this revitalization you will get the idea this revitalization is underway at this point in time. I'm guessing optimistic sorts thought the revitalizing would be doable and underway by now.

And then there is that vexing raising the funds to pay for the project problem.

Since I have been in Wichita Falls I have seen car washes raising money for the Lake Wichita Revitalization Project.  I have seen other charitable acts raising funds. A lot of locals seems to think revitalizing Lake Wichita is a good idea.

At tonight's ceremony multiple entities presented large checks, as in both the amount and the physical size of the checks.

While the speechifying was going on Mount Wichita hovered in the distance. When will Mount Wichita actually see the lake the mountain overlooks getting revitalized?

More than once since I have been in Texas I have been  perplexed as to how public works projects get funded, particularly extremely viable, extremely valuable public works projects such as the Lake  Wichita Revitalization Project.

An enhanced  Lake Wichita will be a HUGE improvement to Wichita Falls, an enhancement of the community the value of which would seem to far exceed the cost of the project.

So, why is it a viable public works project, such as the Lake Wichita Revitalization Project is not put to a public vote where the public approves a bond issue to fund the project, thus enabling the project to come to fruition, and benefit the community, in a timely fashion?

Without relying on car washes, brick sales and charitable donations?

Extremely perplexing...

Monday, July 24, 2017

Bike Ride Catching Sun With MSU Suncatcher

This next to last Monday of this year's version of July I rolled my bike's wheels north on the Circle Trail to Hamilton Park.

I do not know what Hamilton this park is named after. Alexander, George, or some other Hamilton.

I exited the Circle Trail at the north end of Hamilton Park to pedal through the Wichita  Falls version of Beverly Hills. A wonderfully eclectic mix of what I guess one would call mansions, with the architectural styles all over the place, from colonial to modern, with nods to Greece and Rome and Great Britain.

I exited the Wichita Falls version of Beverly Hills to cross Taft Boulevard to the MSU (Midwestern  State University) campus.

Soon I found myself in the shadow of something I had not seen before at MSU. The giant statue of an Indian you see here.

The plaque under the Indian indicated his name was "Sunwatcher".

The plaque further informed me that it was "Presented by the MSU Student Association Celebrating the 75th Anniversary October 1997".

Anniversary of what? I don't know. The birth of Sunwatcher? The birth of MSU?

The plaque also informed me that Sunwatcher was sculpted by Jack Stevens.

Jack Stevens?

The old codger on the Tarrant Regional Water District Board? He sculpts?

If so why did America's Biggest Boondoggle not hire him to sculpt that homage to an aluminum trash can the Boondoggle paid a million bucks for? I'm sure Jack Stevens would have given the Boondoggle a discount.

And they could have ended up with something cool looking, like this MSU Sunwatcher sculpture....

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Is Spencer Jack Touring An Upside Down Wisconsin White House?

The two photos you see here arrived this HOT Saturday morning in Texas via my phone, sent by Spencer Jack and his dad, also known as my favorite nephew Jason.

Upon first perusal I wondered if this was at Legoland in California.

Currently my favorite nephews David and Theo, and my one and only favorite niece, Ruby, are in San Diego, with a visit to Carlsbad and Legoland on the itinerary.

But, why would Legoland build an upside down version of the White House, along with a White House Presidential Limo? Made no sense.

And so I Googled "Upside Down White House" which lead me to think I may have found the answer to this Upside Down White House mystery.

In the state of Wisconsin, in the scenic area of that state known as the Wisconsin Dells, there is a roadside attraction known as Top Secret - Upside-Down White House.

I learned of this from various sources, including the Roadside America website's webpage about the Top Secret - Upside-Down White House.

Apparently tourists can purchase an Upside-Dow White House admission ticket and go on a tour of the inside of the White House, where everything is upside down, including the Oval Office.

Why one would want to do this or why anyone would think this to be a good idea for a roadside attraction is a mystery to me.  But apparently more than one location in America thinks an Upside Down White House is a good idea, because there are also Upside Down White Houses in Orlando, Florida and Sevierville, Tennessee. But the non-Wisconsin Dells Upside Down White Houses are half the size and the interiors are not upside down, or White House interior replicas.

Inside the Wisconsin Dells Upside Down White House, in the Press Room, an upside down animatronic President lectures about rule by robots.

I was unable to determine if the animatronic President in the Wisconsin Dells Upside Down White House is modeled after our current President who lives in the currently upside down real White House in Washington, D.C.

If I hear any further details from Spencer Jack about his visit to the Upside Down White House I will let you know...

Friday, July 21, 2017

Destination Washington To Drag The Gut For Birch Bay Driftwood

I am going to be absent from Texas for much of next month, as in August.

On August 8 I am leaving Wichita Falls in plane mode to D/FW to get on a bigger plane in order to fly to Seattle.

After landing at Sea-Tac I will be chauffeured to Tacoma by my nephews David and Theo, and niece Ruby.

A couple days later, on August 11, David, Theo and Ruby are taking me north about 130 miles, not as a crow flies, but how I-5 lies, to Birch Bay to stay in a condo on the Bay til the following Monday.

Birch Bay is about 35 miles south of Vancouver, B.C. and about 100 miles north of Seattle, according to Wikipedia.

Tacoma is about 30 miles distant from Seattle, hence my 130 mile estimated Tacoma distance from Birch Bay, though I think that crow would have a lot fewer miles to fly than the 130 miles covered in vehicular mode.

A description of Birch Bay, from the aforementioned Wikipedia...

Birch Bay is a headland bay created by the refraction of incoming waves on the headlands that lie on either side of the bay. The headland to the north is Birch Point, and the one to the south is Point Whitehorn. The waves bend as they enter the bay and lose energy in the process. The result is a half-moon-shaped bay with a gentle sloping beach. 

Birch Bay State Park is at the south end of the Bay. That Washington state park may have been the location of more camping trips than any other location during my camping years with my primary family unit. A further description of Birch Bay, this time from the Birch Bay State Park website...

Low tide reveals a wide mudflat with a treasure trove of clams and other shellfish that can be harvested in season. Bring out the pails, shovels, mud boots and licenses, and start digging! If you prefer to swim, Birch Bay is known for its relatively warm water, and if you’d rather be on the water, the park offers excellent crabbing, windsurfing, sailing and paddling. 

The swimming is what I am looking forward to, if the tides are low and the temperature is reasonably high. Which in Western Washington means any summer temperature over 70. When the tide is low at Birch Bay the sun heats up the tidal flats. Then when the tide comes in the water gets heated, at times surprisingly warm. And then if the tidal timing is right, allowing for a swim in the dark, the phosphorescent phenomenon happens, making for a cool glow in the dark experience.

Mount Baker, along with other Cascade Mountains, hovers to the east of Birch Bay, though not quite as hoverish as the zoomed below photo indicates.

It has been nine years since I have heard a saltwater wave crash to shore. Or seen saltwater. Or crystal clear water such as one sees in multiple locations in Washington.

Apparently heading north to Washington has entered my sub-conscious, and thus my dreams/nightmares. Last night I had a troubling nightmare where my vehicle was unable to successfully board the ferry which takes one the short distance from Vashon Island to Point Defiance in Tacoma. My vehicle ended up in the crystal clear water as I watched the current slowly move it further and further away.

I think the Vashon Ferry was freshly in my mind due to it being mentioned a couple days ago during the course of a phone conversation with Miss Linda R.

I have no plans to be on a Washington ferry whilst I am in Washington.

I hope David, Theo and Ruby will take me on a walk across the new Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge for video documentation purposes, to show Fort Worth locals how in modern parts of the world something like a bridge can be built in less than four years over deep, swift moving water.

The past several years I have made multiple inquiries about a chunk of driftwood which during my younger years was located on the Birch Bay beach in the state park zone. Photographs of possible driftwood suspects have been taken by driftwood investigators, such as Spencer Jack and his dad. But none of the photos have matched my memory, including the one which comes closest, which is what you see above.

One of the many activities one enjoys at Birch Bay is called Dragging the Gut. Dragging the Gut involves joining the throngs of Canadians driving back and forth the length of Birch Bay engaging in a lot of people watching. One only needs to extend the Gut Dragging a short distance past the regular turn around to get to the location of that legendary chunk of driftwood.

I am hoping we get to do an extended Dragging the Gut whilst we are at Birch Bay.

The day after we arrive at Birch Bay, Saturday, August 12, we will be driving east to Lynden to Monumenta Cemetery to deliver our dad to his final resting place.

The following day, Sunday, will be a fun day, likely with visitors visiting who I have not seen in years.

Then on Tuesday David, Theo and Ruby are taking me back to the airport so I can fly to Arizona to spend some time with their grandma.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Live At The Lake Today With Geese In Wichita Falls

What with the humidity making a temperature in the 90s feel as if the temperature is over 100, hiking, walking or roller blading is not a comfortable endorphin inducing aerobic activity.

However, riding a bike is totally doable, with what amounts to natural air conditioning keeping one relatively cool, til one stops rolling.

Today I rolled around the maze of paved alleys which run all  over my Caribbean neighborhood, eventually making my way to Sikes Lake where I stopped under the shade of a tree and took the above picture of my handlebars pointing at the Sikes Lake Pavilion, Sikes Lake, and a sign touting something called "LIVE AT THE LAKE".

I do not know what "LIVE AT THE LAKE" is, but according to the sign it has a lot of sponsors.

I know live music happens at the Sikes Lake Pavilion every once in awhile. Live music is likely what  is going to be  "LIVE AT THE LAKE".

I wonder why Wichita Falls does not have Rockin'  the Lake Happy Hour Inner Tube events in Sikes Lake with the floaters listening to music coming from the Sikes Lake Pavilion?

Fort Worth has Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube events at an imaginary pavilion by an imaginary island. I suspect Sikes Lake is much less polluted than Fort Worth's Trinity River which hosts floaters of various sorts when the river is deemed to have a safe level of e.coli and alligators.

A problem with Rockin' the Lake in Wichita Falls would be that Sikes Lake is home to a large number of geese. Those birds seem to be extremely territorial. I had to have words with a couple stubborn geese today who were reluctant to grant me passage.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

No Federal Class Action Lawsuit Orders Fort Worth To Build Sidewalks?

This morning I read an article in the Seattle Times which caused me to be freshly perplexed by something I was long perplexed about during my period of voluntary incarceration in one of America's underdeveloped cities, Fort Worth Texas.

The thing I was long perplexed by in Fort Worth was the fact that the town has so few sidewalks, with so many streets having no room for pedestrians, with many streets  having dirt paths worn into the weeds where a sidewalk should be.

And then I read this article in the Seattle Times about Seattle agreeing to fix or install 22,500 sidewalk curb ramps, at a cost of around $300 million.

Seattle agreed to settle a federal class action lawsuit brought against the city by three men with disabilities who alleged the city was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because many of the town's sidewalks lacked curb ramps which make street crossings easily doable for those using a wheelchair or other mobility device.

Countless times in Fort Worth I witnessed some hapless soul struggling to walk along a Fort Worth sidewalk-less street. Moms pushing a baby carriage. An old lady wheeling a walker. A disabled elderly man bumping along a dirt path trying to control his electric scooter.

Is Fort Worth exempt from federal class action lawsuits? I suspect such must be the case, what with there being so many things one would think would warrant federal attention. Such as the repeated, outrageous abuse of eminent domain in Fort Worth.

Surely an imaginative lawyer could do something to get some sort of lawsuit suing the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision for its wanton misuse of public funds.

Is there some sort of federal statute regarding nepotism in any sort of government entity? One would think it would be illegal to hire a congresswoman's inexperienced unqualified son to oversee a public works so as to motivate his mother to try and secure federal funding for a dubious public works project for which the public has never been allowed to vote.

If a federal court ordered Fort Worth to build sidewalks, with ramps, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act how would Fort Worth pay for it?

Hire another of Kay Granger's children to oversee the Fort  Worth Signature Sidewalk Initiative?

If history is any indicator, that likely would not go well. There would be a big celebration to celebrate the start of construction of the first sidewalk. Followed by a year or two of no one seeing any new sidewalks built, with the public learning, eventually, there was a serious problem with the sidewalk's design, hence the long stall on the sidewalk building....

Monday, July 17, 2017

Embarrassing Reality Of Imaginary Trinity River Vision Signature Bridges

A couple days ago, July 15, to be precise, I received a message informing me Captain Andy had shared something called a link on something called my Facebook Timeline.

I clicked the message's link to Facebook to see that which you see here, which, when also clicked, brought me to what has become widely known as a textbook case of extremely bad propaganda, that being the official website touting the Trinity River Vision, also known as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

Among the many amusing, on target, comments made to Captain Andy's Facebook post was one which pointed out the irony of the Boondoggle's verbiage touting their vision as no longer a vision, but now a reality. And yet to illustrate that reality computer generated images were used, such as what you see above, because, well, in reality the Boondoggle's pitiful bridges are no where near being a reality, despite the fact that years ago their construction began with a ridiculous TNT exploding ceremony, attended by all the guilty perps responsible.

When you go to the Boondoggle's Trinity River Vision website and click on the Panther Island Signature Bridges link you will see that which you see below, among other nonsense.

Live cams showing you imaginary "Progress in Motion" where the Boondoggle has been trying to build bridges for longer than it took to build the Golden Gate Bridge, and many other actual signature acts of engineering.

Via the live cam look at the non-existent Henderson St. & White Settlement Bridge Construction you get a mighty fine look at the Boondoggle's homage to an aluminum trash can at the center of a messy roundabout.

The  Boondoggle paid round about a million bucks for that distracting homage to an aluminum trash can.

I will copy for your reading legibility the propaganda under the Innovative Design headline under that photo of the homage to an aluminum  trash can...

A team of engineers architects and planners have collaborated with partners from around the community to develop an innovative bridge design that also stays within budget. This project will enhance the area with three unique V-Pier bridges, 10 foot pedestrian-lit sidewalks, bicycle facilities, reduced vehicular traffic delays, enhanced landscaping and enhanced opportunities for future transportation.

Read the above out loud in a Trumpish blowhard type voice and the embarrassing absurdity of the verbiage becomes obvious, even if one did not know that that "innovative bridge design" has stalled bridge construction for over a year.

We have blogged about that stalled bridge construction multiple times, most recently in J.D. Granger Spews Trumpish Bridge Propaganda Exposed By Captain Andy where we learned that Granger and a crew of faux engineers built a model of one of the bridges, then sliced it in two to somehow prove to the balking bridge builder that the "innovative bridge design" was buildable.

Yeah, that's how things get done in progressive, modern parts of America.

Why do these dumbnut propagandists persist in describing these three simple little bridges as being signature bridges? Actual signature bridges were dropped well over a decade ago when the cost was deemed to be too high, replaced by these apparently badly designed simple little nondescript non-signature bridges.

When the Boondoggle's three little bridges were first announced the project timeline, at the time, had them completely constructed by this point in time. Look at the current Estimated Project Schedule for the three simple little bridges, as gleaned from the Boondoggle's website's bridge info.

Estimated completion date in 2020. Six years after construction supposedly began on two of the bridges.

I do not remember how many years it has been now since that explosive TNT ceremony marked the imaginary start of bridge construction, with whizzes like Fort Worth mayor, Betsy Price, erroneously claiming the bridges were being built over dry land to save money, when the reality is no water will run under those bridges until a ditch is dug under them and water is diverted from the Trinity River into that ditch.

I almost forgot about the embarrassing propaganda verbiage that accompanied that artist's rendering of the Boondoggle's bridges that we saw thanks to Captain Andy. I will copy that verbiage in its entirety. Again, read it out loud in a Trumpish blowhard voice to get the entire absurd effect...

The Trinity River Vision is no longer a vision, it is a reality. For several years, work along the Trinity River has been on-going preparing for this project milestone. The signature bridges are a collaborative effort between the Trinity River Vision Authority, TxDOT, City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The three signature bridges positioned along the realigned Trinity River will begin construction in late summer 2014. The estimated construction cost for all bridges is $66 million. Serving as the gateways to Panther Island, the bridges create the foundation for a unique, urban waterfront community. The project partners will make every effort to minimize the inconvenience of this major construction project and will utilize multiple methods to keep residents and business owners informed. 

Why has no one had their employment terminated due to being responsible for this debacle? How much has all the misinformation propaganda on all the Boondoggle's various website's cost? Why do the people of Fort Worth tolerate such a high level of incompetence doing damage to their town?

It's all so perplexing.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Crossing A Red River To Oklahoma's Kiowa Casino With No Morningstar Buffet

Most mornings for a few minutes I find myself listening to BOB Radio, a Wichita Falls FM radio station called BOB for reasons unknown to me.

Almost every one of those mornings I hear a BOB advertisement enticing me to venture north to Oklahoma to the Kiowa Red River Casino to partake of the vittles at Morningstar Buffet or Morningstar Steak.

Til yesterday I successfully resisted BOB's Kiowa enticements.

Saturday morning I attended the Don't Fence Me In event. After that I decided to head north, to the Sheppard Air Force Base zone to find the El Mejicano Restaurant & Cantina, which is the location of a world, well, locally renowned Mexican food buffet. I was in need of locating this location for an upcoming happy birthday event later this month.

After finding El Mejicano a road sign indicated I was a short distance south of the town of Burkburnett.  I had not ventured this far north since my arrival  in Wichita Falls over a year ago. So, it was on to Burkburnett I headed.

Burkburnett appeared to have maybe seen more prosperous days, likely during an oil boom years ago. The northern city limit of Burkburnett is the Red River. The Red River is what separates Texas from Oklahoma. Just north of the Red River, at the first exit off 277 one soon finds the aforementioned Kiowa Red River Casino.

Last month I was in a casino in Arizona a couple times, at the Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa.

I did not know what to expect from Oklahoma's Kiowa Casino. The only Oklahoma casino I had been in previously was Winstar World Casino Resort, which is supposedly the world's biggest.

I have no way of knowing, but after visiting the Kiowa Casino I'm thinking it may be the world's smallest casino. However, if that were the case I would think that fact would be bragged about.

Walking into the Kiowa Casino I did see something I saw in  the Ak-Chin Casino, as in giant video game-like slot machines, such as the Game of Thrones one you see below, which I saw yesterday in the Kiowa Casino, and also saw last month in Arizona.

However, unlike the Ak-Chin Casino, and every other casino I have ever been in, in Washington, Nevada, Arizona, California, Louisiana or New Mexico, this particular Oklahoma casino was dead quiet. None  of the usual cacophony of noise coming from the gambling machines.

The silence was eerie.

There were not many vehicles in  the parking  lot,  and not many people inside the casino. The Morningstar Buffet, coming up on noon, had about 10 people in buffet mode. I had never eye witnessed a casino buffet with such a scarcity of customers.

Morningstar Steak, which I heard BOB touting this morning, was closed.

I have long thought one day I needed to venture north to the Kiowa Casino Morningstar Buffet.

When I lived in Washington one of my favorite feeding locations was venturing north to the buffet as Harrah's Skagit Casino.

However, somehow I do not think venturing north to the Kiowa Morningstar Buffet is going  to become one of my favorite feeding locations....

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Don't Fence Me In Wichita Falls Art Project Reveal

This Saturday morning of the fifteenth day of July of the year 2017 I made my way an event taking place on the grassy median between Kell West and East, slightly east of downtown Wichita Falls, under the shadow of the giant abandoned towering chunk of concrete known as Attebury

The event to which I made my way was the reveal of the pickets of the Wichita Falls "Don't Fence Me In" art project in which hundreds of Wichita Fallers of all ages, of all sorts, exercised their creative freedom via the fence picket painting medium.

The Don't Fence Me In fence pickets have been being painted for months,  with the creative artistry overseen by a group of about twelve artistic types of various sorts.

Those attending the reveal of the fence pickets were assembled behind a "ribbon" awaiting being cut after multiple speakers speechified about the Don't Fence Me In project, including one of the spearheaders of this hugely successful project, Miss Margie Reese, who you see below speaking to the assembled crowd eagerly awaiting the cutting of the ribbon.

The painted fence pickets have been  assembled in a formation of fences arranged like a maze. Some with windows to allow a peak through. Or a photo op.

Don't Fence Me In attendees on both sides of one of the aforementioned fence "windows", above and below.

And below another attendee looking through a picket fence window. This particular person looks like maybe an attempt to crawl through the window is about to take place.

The fence picket art seemed to be mostly devoid of any political  messaging. I saw nary a Trump mention.

However, the below fence picket message somehow seemed sort of political.

SLA? Symbionese Liberation Army? That notorious group of nutcases who terrorized America, and Patty Hearst, back in the 1970s? I suspect this instance of SLA must mean something else, but what? I have no clue.

The 100s of people who created fence pickets had no clue where their picket was located in the sprawling installation.  And so finding their particular picket was a bit of a treasure hunt.

Above you see a young lady successfully finding her picket, and pointing to it for the assembled photographers.

Some of the artwork on the fence pickets was a bit perplexing to figure out what message, if any, was being conveyed. Above we see a lady in white who appears to be being puzzled by that at which she is looking.

Below is a short video I took this morning whilst walking amongst some of the picket fences and the other attendees...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Careful Rolling Past Unguarded Section Of Wichita Falls Circle Trail

Rolling along the many miles of the Wichita Falls Circle Trail one comes to multiple locations where a semi-steep drop-off has necessitated the need for the installation of a guard rail so as to prevent a wandering walker or a biker in wreck mode from careening off the trail and tumbling down a semi-steep slope.

The nature of the guard rails is different  at various locations along the Circle Trail.

Except for one location the Circle Trail guard rails are made of metal, in variations iterations and degrees of thickness.

The one location where the Circle Trail  guard rail is not made of metal is the section which passes under Midwestern Boulevard.

At the Midwestern Boulevard section of the Circle Trail the guard rail is made of wood. And is very flimsy.

Flimsy with a large section of the wooden guard rail missing, right where it would appear to be most needed, as you can see via the photo documentation above.

What knocked out this chunk of wooden guard rail? A biker careening out of control? A vandal?

I first noticed this missing section of wooden guard rail at least six months ago. So, this is not a new problem shortly to be fixed.

If it was deemed that various sections of the Circle Trail need guard rails for safety sake, why has this section been left unsafe for so long?

And why is it made of wood, not metal, matching the quality of the other Circle Trail guard rails?