Thursday, June 30

Seriously Kinky

Good reading: Robert Wilonsky's article: Seriously Kinky ("This Texas Jewboy wants to be the next governor of Texas, and if you think he's kidding, the joke may be on you")

Hey, I'm going to avoid voting in the primary so's I can sign the petition to get Kinky on the ballot. The opposition (so far) is Rick "Pretty Hair" Perry and some grandmother (Strayhorn, I think) .. neither of whom impresses me.

Unrelated, but I want to avoid the phone calls: the Sundry on Thursday blog is updated and ready for your browsin' .. have at it.

Tuesday, June 28

does this Coke make me look phat?

Okay, I think I get it. Maybe not.

Tonight, I tried the new Coca-Cola Zero and my first reaction is: it's okay. No aftertaste, and no calories. Does that mean it's targeting the Diet Coke crowd? Is it hoping to capture water drinkers? Other soda drinkers? Milk drinkers?

(after another sip:) It does have a beforetaste, I think. After nosing around several websites, I think the "sweeteners in Coca-Cola matrix" is:
high fructose corn syrupsaccharin
Coca-Cola Zeroyesyes---
Diet Coke-yes---
Diet Coke w/Splendayes-yes--
Coca-Cola C2yesyesyes--
* ace-k is shorthand for Acesulfame-Potassium (yet another artificial sweetener). There's a good explanation of diet soda sweeteners on

After watching the commercial, I think it's targeted at the same group who buys cellphones off the rack at Target (Virgin Mobile). But hey - that's the cell carrier I use!

Okay, okay. As if! So like, lemme like .. axe you: does Coca-Cola Zero make me phat?

Sunday, June 26

language barrier in Richardson

We fed at the Caravelle Restaurant in Richardson (in the China Town center on Upper Greenville) tonight. Cuisine is Chinese/Vietnamese. Boocoo choices (over 250). I had "Four Family" which consists of beef/pork/chicken/shrimp with garlic'ky noodles: yum. The "decor" of the place is PINK with a couple chandeliers. There was a bit of a language barrier, but that's usually a good sign, right?

Saturday, June 25

road trip to Murchison

I survived today's road trip from Dallas to the outskirts of Murchison (northeast of Athens, in Henderson County). It's where the Black Beauty Ranch is located, where several hundred horses and donkeys (burros) found sanctuary, along with a few camels and zebras and other equines. They're only open Saturday and not at all in the hottest summer months, but well worth the (mostly mindless) drive east-southeast of Dallas.

I discovered the Black Beauty Ranch after it was mentioned in a Letter to the Editor in the Dallas Managed News. It struck me as a cross between Fossil Rim (Glen Rose, TX) and the Exotic Feline Sanctuary (Boyd, TX).

Judy-Bob and Cairo (one of the rescued camels) share a tender moment

They have a small set of "exotics" too .. chimpanzees and elephants .. but their claim to fame are the burros and horses (including some wild mustangs). The tour was a mix of walking and minibus-riding, and lasts about 2 hours. Many of the animals were rescues from circuses; some horses were rescued after being overworked on Amish farms. Others were discards from Prednisone (female hormone replacement therapy) breeders.

The trip (both going and coming) was uneventful; this is the first time I ever recall being on the CF Hawn* Freeway (US-175, which goes from Dallas to Jacksonville TX). Along the way, I spotted several dozen fireworks stands, set up to take your money from now until Independence Day. Fireworks are illegal in Dallas, but that doesn't mean that any of these businesses check ID's.
Charles F. Hawn was a Texas Highway Commissioner from 1957-1963. He owned a cattle ranch and a hardware store in Athens; no idea how/if he's related to the (now defunct) Hawn Lumber Company or Hawn Motor Company.

Friday, June 24

lowest expectations

It's Friday!! Another week, another dollar. Oh wait, that's back in The Old Days, when I had a job. Never mind.

Mike-Bob and I did a rendezvous at the Plano Waffle House this morning; I FineDined on country ham, "diced" hash browns (with tomatoes) and scrambled eggs, coated so thick with black pepper that they were unrecognizable. In other words, they were Perfect.

Somehow, the ambiance of this Waffle House wasn't up to par with Café Neuhaus (NW corner of Preston/Royal) last night. It wasn't bad, as far as bistros go. I sampled the Greek Chicken Sandwich, which was a broiled chicken with feta cheese tossed atop a couple slices of FunkyBread. I arrived there after an invitation that morning, following yet another chance for ZOAC [Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee] to prove they're not a complete waste of space.

ZOAC is the citizen committee (led by a Realtor, no less! - talk about a conflict of interest!) who's determined to allow the wholesale teardown of our neighborhoods, where older houses are replaced by behemoths reminiscent of those vapid, character-free cities like Plano. The meeting left me disgusted with how a handful of people (appointed and no longer answerable to anyone) can ruin so many lives by their cluelessness. Being a Citizen Committee, it's also an indictment of the Texas education system*. The arguments promulgated by some of the ZOAC members could've been better articulated by a 4th grade debate team. No, make that 3rd grade.
* currently in Yet Another Crisis due to Governor Rick "Pretty Hair" Perry pulling the funding for education - hence Yet Another Special Session of the Texas Legislature
When I set my expectations low enough, this becomes expected behavior. My elected representatives are ones for whom I didn't vote, and they've proven their ability to meet my expectations - zero.

Thursday, June 23

City Directories

I spent most of the day Tuesday at the downtown Central Library. Parking's free at the branches, but $1.25 an hour at the palatial collection across from Dallas City Hall. Why was I at the library? I was on the 7th floor - officially the "Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division", working on the "research phase" of our neighborhood's Architectural Survey. Part of this involves checking the so-called "City Directories".

The Library has paper copies (and microfilm, if you're seeking pre-1976 stuff) of Cole's Criss Cross Directory which let you look up a street at once, which is helpful when you're trying to determine the prior owners of a house. The Polk Criss-Cross Directory is indexed by surname, allowing you to determine someone's occupation (presumably by public sources). I wonder if Karl Rove knows about this? He could simply scan for anyone labelled "terrorist" and send them to Guantanamo Bay for subsequent torture.

Wednesday, June 22


Mike (not a Bob) explains the AutoArby's in/near Irvine, California:
You walk in.
You talk to nobody.
You touch some pictures on a screen.
The person on the other side of the counter touches pictures on their screen (the workers get a black & white screen - customers get color - and I think the workers get the order in their native language).
The screen displays how much cash you need to give.
You give the cash, then get any change.
You get the food.
You walk out.

Dern, I wish we had one of them here in BigHairVille. I'm tiring of ordering a Large Co-Cola (and an order of fries for Beta the wonder dog) and getting a Diet Sprite and a Moon Pie instead.

Tuesday, June 21

burger battle in Big D

Sometimes, the spirit of competition makes businesses do unnatural things. A recent price comparison has made me aware of their other competitors, when I otherwise wouldn't have noticed.

Recently, I stopped at Burger Street (probably for a cherry limeade - yum) and got their usual Comment Postcard with my order. Along with this was a chart comparing their burger (1/3 pound = 5.3 oz), French fries and milkshake prices with no less than 15 competitors. Naturally, their comparison shows they have the lowest price for a "combo meal" among everyone:

6.37 Burger Street
7.89 JC's Burger
8.25 Ball's Hamburgers (8 oz)
8.28 Purdy's Richardson
8.45 JG's Burger
8.47 Steak n Shake (6 oz)
8.65 Gazeebo Burger
8.95 Fuddrucker's
9.13 Chips
9.23 Chuck's Hamburgers (7 oz)
9.24 EZ's Burger
9.20 Cheeburger Cheeburger
9.28 Purdy's Addison
9.32 Scotty P's (6 oz)
10.75 Snuffers (8 oz)
10.97 Chili's (7 oz)

The ones in bold are the ones I've patronized.

Their chart doesn't contain the usual "4 point type" legal disclaimer, so I'm left to wonder:
how do the portion sizes compare? ...
1) French fries?
2) milkshakes?

what about the nutrition in the ...
3) hamburger?
4) French fries?
5) milkshake?

6) what about the type oil used for the fries? Can you say "transfat"?

7) what about the condiments on the burger? are they normalized with the same amount and quality of lettuce, pickles, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard?

8) are all the buns made of nutrition-challenged white bread? do they contain poppy seeds, which could make me test positive on a drug test?

9) do the milkshakes contain all sorts of unnatural ingredients whose sole purpose is to increase shelf life (while making the shake taste like a soggy bowl of cornflakes)?
Lessons learned

0) A lot of places sell burgers.

1) It's cheaper to eat in Richardson (than Addison). The price difference must be due to the ambiance.

2) I need to check out Ball's Hamburgers (Midway @ Northwest Highway, or Snider Plaza) because they have a bigger (8 ounce) burger at a good price, and we Americans have been trained to seek out the best value. Was that what Burger Street was trying to tell me?

3) By omission, they're telling me who they don't view as competitors: the national/regional burger chains! Nowhere did they say anything about Burger King; Denny's; Jack in the Box; McDonalds; Wendy's or Whataburger. Nor did they mention the King of Cheap Burgers: 7-11 Stores. Hmm. Nor did they mention Jill-Bob's favorite: Addison Pointe (must be that ambiance thing again).

Monday, June 20

philosophy offer expires soon ...

Okey, I don't get it. In an email from, there was an offer of Free Shipping through Friday. Immediately below that was the line:
philosophy offer expires Friday, July 29, 2005
Huh? I suspect this is the result of a human's failure to catch an aggressive spell-checker, but .. maybe not. I checked the email for sage bits of wisdom ("don't count your chickens before they hatch", etc.) but didn't see anything. Maybe they're confusing philosophy and aspirin. Alas, I am befuddled. Since this is not the first time, I suppose you could say that I am re-befuddled.

I've been using the Microsoft Fingerprint Reader for a long time now, and have come to understand it's subtle nuances:
  1. it's incompatible with some software;
  2. it needs to be cleaned - free of the oil from my slimy fingers;
  3. it doesn't work well when I have dust/dirt on my fingers (after working in the yard);
  4. it lulls me into forgetfulness when I access a site from another computer
That said, I was amused to see an article about a California company (how come they're so Dad Blamed Innovative?): Point of sale: Retailers try their hand at finger-scanning payment system. I suppose the message is: if it'll work at Piggly-Wiggly, it'll work anywhere.

Unrelated: anyone up for a road trip to Luling? It's almost time for their annual Watermelon Thump!

Sunday, June 19

Father's Day 2005

My father never saw me graduate college, but I think he'd have been pleased that I pulled it off in 3 years (thanks to the CLEP Tests). He spent about half his life serving the US Navy, then retired and ran a small business until he died (age 68).

Dad didn't talk about his World War II experience much, although I do know he was on the USS BULMER (DD-222) in August 1935 and he spoke about the USS TICONDEROGA (apparently 5 ships have that name, so I need to dig to find the number .. I thought it was a Heavy Cruiser, but I can't find that in the listings).

Today, I was looking through some of his things, and ran across his "medal rack". I don't know what some of these are, but (after nosing through a few WW2 websites) can identify most:

Presidential Unit Citation 1942 /
(red background w/3 stars - ?)

2nd row:
American Defense 1940 (A for Atlantic) /
European/Middle Eastern/African Campaign Medal /
American Campaign Medal

3rd row:
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal /
World War II Victory Medal /
Navy Occupation Service Medal ("Asia" clasp)

4th row:
(blue background, 3 white stripes -?) /
United Nations Service Medal /
Expert Rifleman Medal

I'm not sure which ship he was on at the time, but apparently he was part of a convoy that was attacked, and his was one of only a few ships (do I remember 2 of 30?) that wasn't sunk. Good thing, huh .. else I wouldn't be blogging about this now.

About 12 years ago, I wrote to the US Navy Department, asking for a copy of his military records, but they never replied (even with a form to complete). Maybe I should try again?

Although he was in/out of the hospital a lot in his last years (heart condition & diabetes) he died peacefully, I guess. I was away at college (2 hour drive south) and remember getting The Phone Call from a neighbor, who broke the news. Seems dad was playing "fetch" with Willie (miniature bull terrier) and came inside, sat down in his recliner, and checked out. There are worse ways to go, I reckon.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Saturday, June 18

... in the eye of the Bee Holder

We didn't arrive at the DMoA until 10pm -- the (free!) Isaac Hayes concert was letting out and the parking lots were thinning. Before, we dined at Cuba Libre - on Henderson, a few blocks east of 75-Central). I was in a paella (literally: "frying pan") mood a few nights before, and was pleasantly amused to find it on Cuba Libre's menu (it was mostly yummy, although the breadsticks were tossable).

On the 3rd Friday night every month (from March to November 2005) the Dallas Museum of Art [DMoA] and Starbucks are sponsoring Late Night Fridays.

I was mildly surprised to find sizable crowds for this event (attending was JB's idea). This event is 6pm to midnight, and many things were on tap: family events at 7:30 - pajamas and pillows recommended; a concert at 8pm; poetry readings; films ([Shaft (1971)] started at 10pm); free Starbucks coffee; live blues and jazz; and even an Insomniac Tour of the DMoA (starting at 11pm). The featured exhibtion was photographer Gordon Parks, Half Past Autumn which was interesting; I thought his best work was in the 1940-1959 span, and didn't care much for his later work.

The only thing missing was a Ghosts of the DMoA Tour - if such a thing exists. PJ and I went on one of those at the Queen Mary in Long Beach (many years ago) which was good for a laugh. Some of the DMoA's art exhibits (especially the stuffy European and Early American collections) are begging for a Ghosts ... tour, as if only The Dead could make those areas interesting. As you've undoubtedly heard: art is in the eye of the beholder.

Friday, June 17

back at it ...

Okay .. the Deed Is Done. I provided "ambulance service" for Trish Bob during her 8:15am procedure at the Texas Back Institute.

When I have something to accomplish, I don't mind hospital waiting rooms, so this gave me a good chance to read the morning paper, then experiment with the new spin of the AvantGo software on my Palm Tungsten|T (yes, the original version .. the current model is the Tungsten T5). The new version allows quite a bit more customizing of the interface, including Device Themes such as Khaki; Blue Moon or Chrome (in addition to "Classic") .. but my favorite is the new setting for "Minimum Font Size" which means that I can finally see everything without using a magnifying glass. Honestly, who thought that 4 point type was a good default size for lengthy articles?

As far as waiting rooms go, the Back Institute's wasn't awful. The chairs were lightweight and provided good back support (I would hope so at a "Back Institute"!) .. and there were only a few annoying kids (and their Soccer Mom parents) to ignore. On the way home, I even played with the lumbar support settings in my car, which I've managed to ignore for the past few years.

Trish has a post-procedure tradition of feeding at McDonald's, so I was happy to oblige. We had an entertaining discussion about how their Healthy Menu really isn't all that healthy (what McRocket Surgeon thought candied walnuts was a good, healthy idea?) and the possible amusement of Morgan Spurlock's new "30 Days" reality TV series (which, oddly, has absolutely nothing to do with the 30 Days he spent feeding on McDonalds "food" (the basis of his "Super Size Me" documentary).

Thursday, June 16

Ignorance is Strength

originally posted as "Lost Causes - now The Majority?"

I was flipping channels (something I rarely do, after becoming a TiVo-ite) and wandered across C-SPAN where Elizabeth Dole was speaking babbling. Yes, babbling. I used to respect her, but this time she was delivering a "rally the party" speech .. droning on and on about how the Democrats had nothing of substance to offer America, and how they just recite the same stuff over and over and over, ad nauseum. Did she offer anything constructive? No. It was all just blah-blah-blah we're-the-majority we're-in-control we-don't-have-to-care rhetoric.

Memos to Elizabeth:
  1. Look in the mirror. The only thing Your Party has done in the past N years is drone on and on about how the Other Party is taking us all to Hell In A Handbasket;
  2. You've been listening to, and apparently believing, Rush Limbaugh again. Your aseptic partisanship is showing;
  3. The two party system is a joke. When Gene Bob becomes King (trust me, it Will Happen) the first thing he'll do is Ban Political Parties. Voters will have to start Thinking again, instead of waddling into the voting booth and mindlessly pulling the lever marked "STRAIGHT PARTY LINE".
Honestly, this is so sad. I used to respect Elizabeth Dole, but after hearing her babble for a few minutes, I've written her off as Just Another Lost Cause.

Lost Causes have become such the norm, that I'm starting to wonder what it will take to make this country Wake Up and become sane again. I have to wonder how we ever devolved into this tailspin; perhaps one clue (among many) can be found on The Phantom Professor's blog - Double Trouble parts 1, 2 and 3, illustrating how universities are faced with morally (and intellectually) bankrupt parents determined to buy a college degree for their irresponsible children. It's a sad state of affairs, but really doesn't surprise me. Perhaps the Texas Legislature will pass a law, mandating spines for college deans. Then again, if that were the case, the Radical Right (including those morally bankrupt parents mentioned earlier) would start decapitating the universities, claiming liberal bias. It's enough to make me want to move to Sweden.
What's that? Oh yes, I updated the Sundry on Thursday blog. Have a swell time there.

Wednesday, June 15

War is Peace

originally posted as "Futility 102: Petitioning The Bush Regime"

Oh, yeah, right .. like President Quagmire gives an armadillo's armpit about laws and morality. I'll bet the The Downing Street Memo Petition has Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and the rest of the Radical Right quaking in their (jack)boots. As if!

Those of us In The Know are fully aware of the real reason for the Iraq War: because Saddam Hussein tried to kill President Quagmire's Daddy in April 1993. Any other "reason" is a joke. Am I saying President Quagmire used 9/11 as an excuse? You bet. So far, we've lost what - about 1708 soldiers - in this war (not counting the 23,000 Iraqi Civilian Body Count, give or take a few thousand).

If you're into petitions, here's another one: Save NPR and PBS. This is at risk because the CFRP wants to stop all funding unless it's in lockstep with their distorted view of what America's all about. They're doing this to punish Bill Moyers, and anyone else who dares to disagree with their plan of turning America into a Fundamentalist Theocracy. Free speech? Bah!

Tuesday, June 14

Futility 101: the Drive-Thru

There oughta be a law, that if the order taker at the drive-thru makes too many errors, repercussions become mandatory. Should they be fired on the spot? Have their minimum-wage pay docked by a certain irritation factor? Here in Texas, I'd like to see Mandatory Cattle Prodding to encourage perfection.

I went to a drive-thru today and ordered one of the combo meals. My choice required offering several options:
  • white or dark meat?
  • mild or spicy?
  • what side item?
  • what to drink?
I could tell the clerk was distracted, although I was talking into a microphone and couldn't see what was happening around the corner, but I could hear the distraction in his voice. Guess what? He got 3 of the 4 things wrong, by the time he'd printed the receipt and attempted sending me on my way.

Those of you who know me are aware of my thick non-accent (!) so I seriously doubt my enunciation (or lack thereof) was the issue. As I'm increasingly faced with supposed bilingual clerks (whose first language always seems to be Spanish), this is becoming more and more of an issue. I was amused by McDonalds testing the use of a call center for the drive thru (the clerk may well be in Bangalore, India) which will probably work as well as these (cough) bilingual operations here in Dallas.

I'm reminded of an Arby's in/near Irvine, California (15 years ago?) where I found myself face-to-face with a silent clerk, and a computer touchscreen between us. I started to speak my order, but she gestured to the monitor, and I quickly saw that I was to "touch my order", like an ATM. I did so, she semi-smiled and went to fetch the order. It was perfect.
Disclaimer: I've never worked for a fast-food [QSR] place, but if it's anything like a Real Restaurant, I suspect that the endless deviations from the menu are a huge part of the problem. I suspect I'm in the minority of those content to accept an "Intact Number 3" since so many people want it "without salt, no - sea salt is okay; and substitute a small strawberry milkshake (are those organic strawberries? can I get it in a non-bleached paper cup?) for the Coke; and use only Free-Range Whole Wheat Bread". Translating that is likely an exercise in futility.
I guess this just won't work on the drive-thru, even though many chains now use a "confirmation screen" so you can see how botched the order will be before you arrive at the window. Perhaps I should simply become used to getting a grph-mph-fbrr after ordering a "number 3, dark, spicy, corn, Diet Coke".

Monday, June 13

boom goes the dynamite

Sunday, JB and I moseyed over to Kirin Court in Richardson for some dim sum. This is the place that was formerly called Hong Kong Royale; it sits on the 2nd story, near 75-Central (about one block south of Beltline). We munched (?) on octopus; scallops; shrimp and clams; in addition to the usual pot sticker fare. There was also a semi-dessert which was some barbecued meat surrounded by a fluffy bread dough. Needless to say (?) the clientele was almost all Asian and the signs identifying the foods were written in Chinese. The prices were quite reasonable, even if the parking could stand improvement:
which means (in theory):

Please do not park in the parking lots of our neighbors. They will enforce towing on their properties. Thank you for your co-operation. -Management
We spent the remainder of the day watching movies: Paris, Texas (1984) (clearly one of the most bubbly films of all time) and then Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2004) (a highbrow documentary, also of epic proportions). What can I say, but .. boom goes the dynamite!

Speaking of dynamite, the nearest White Castle (aka The WC Lounge) appears to be in St Louis, a mere 637 miles away (the Nashville location is 23 miles further). Anyone up for a road trip?

Sunday, June 12

Residential Architecture 101

Saturday morning, I participated in an architectural survey of my neighborhood (part of Preservation Dallas). Most of the homes here were originally built before 1960, but nearly all have been updated since then.

In doing this survey, I learned about gabled and gambled roofs; the elements of a home's façade; and even what a dormer is (I assumed it had something to do with college student housing). Each of us were assigned 30 homes, but I got by with 28 since 2 homes on my assigned street had either been bulldozed or turned into McMansions.

I found a copy of Virginia McAlester's A Field Guide to American Houses at Half-Price Books (Plano location) and will now immerse myself, so as to be fluent in ArkitekcherSpeak.

After getting a few puzzled looks from the homeowners (what would you think if you saw someone standing in front of your home with a clipboard and a set of binocluars?) .. we were each able to complete the survey in about 2 hours. 20% of the homes assigned required the 4 page "long form" with the remainder being a simpler 2-page "short form". All in all, a good time was had by all.

Saturday, June 11

Freedom is Slavery

Sometimes (rarely) I love Texas. Today's one of those days, when I got an email about CLOUT - Citizens Lowering Our Unfair Taxes. We pay no state income tax here, yet the sales tax and property taxes are among the highest in the country. I do find it unfair that I pay the same amount of state income tax whether I'm employed or not - didn't my college professors refer to that as a regressive tax?

In Texas, everytime a politician (on either side of The Aisle) even thinks about raising taxes, we all send them back to making Sno-Cones at Wal-Mart. It doesn't matter if their arguments are valid; we simply have no stomach for anyone who can't reform school finance, build the Trans-Texas Corridor, or send a woman a brimless hat (inside joke) without doing so for 10% less than has been done in prior years.

Any politician who thinks they have the political moxey ("courage") to raise taxes might as well move back to one of them bleedin-heart liberal, knee-jerk Card Carrying Member of the ACLU, seal/puppy killer states that voted against President Quagmire in 2004. The fact that His popularity is aiming for 40% Real Soon Now is Inconsequential.

Lest I forgot, I must continue to try to corner the market on wire coat hangers. Just not at Wal-Mart, Thank-You-Very-Much.

Wednesday, June 8

Dallas even has Environmental Goals?

Yesterday morning, I went to Dallas Ecopark for a session on Dallas Environmental Goals. This was to be a 4-hour session, starting with 3 speakers, after which we'd break into smaller groups and give Dallas ideas about how to deal with various environmental concerns: air, water, trash, energy, etc.

Dr Angel Ilarraza (of Dallas fame) spoke first. He said their website contains no original research, and is intended to provide data only (i.e. no interpretation, so as to be unbiased). They're somehow affiliated with

Jill Jordan (Dallas Assistant City Manager) was next; she says 500 city services have been identified, and metrics have been established to show their efficiency; effectiveness; and community indicators.

Interesting stuff (to me, anyhoo):
Texas Low Emission Diesel (I'm still unsure if TxLED is biodiesel or what)

"gray water" = recycled water for use on golf courses, etc. (where fresh water's not mandatory)

"green buildings" - energy efficient; estimated 7 year payback (source: Johnson Controls)

LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

City of Dallas target: LEED Silver (2nd step; other levels are Basic/Gold/Platinum)

EPA's Brownfields Program: possibly hazardous land

Dallas EarthFest
Next, David Jodray of the NCTCOG [North Central Texas Council of Governments] spoke. He showed charts listing the NAAQS [National Ambient Air Quality Standards] numbers. Dallas is in O3 (ozone) noncompliance (projected to be compliant in 2009 or 2010). Ozone is a product of VOC [Volatile Organic Compounds] and NOx [Nitrous Oxide]. "Ozone season" is from 1 May to 31 October. An animated map of ozone levels throughout the day may be found on the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) website.

I then went on a brief EcoPark building tour, given by the same "tour guide" for the McCommas Bluff Landfill.

styrofoam/particle board insulation "slabs" - very high "R rating"

Noteworthy about Eco-Park:
  • designed to be energy efficient;
  • the first building was occupied in 2003;
  • east+west windows are smaller than north+south so that less heat enters in summer, for less air conditioning;
  • building aligns to SSW (not east/west per street layout) to allow airflow vs air conditioning

Tuesday, June 7

stocking up on coat hangers

It didn't surprise me to see that the Texas Governor (Rick "Pretty Hair" Perry) was busy being himself (a narrow minded bigot) in Fort Worth last weekend: Governor Signs Abortion Bill At Fort Worth Church. He's trying to do what Karl Rove told President Quagmire what to do earlier .. align himself with the CFRP.

The "Abortion Bill" they're talking about is more properly called the Parental Notification Bill, which says that minors must get their parents' permission before having an abortion. While that may sound Fine And Good to The Stoopid Parents (not all Parents are Stoopid), reality says that a teenager who finds herself pregnant will do one of these things, now that this is Law:
  1. while eating her macaroni and cheese dinner, casually ask mommy and daddy if it's okay to get an abortion (they may be unaware that Little Billy across the street -- or even Weird Uncle Dave is the father);
  2. take the bus to Oklahoma (or Louisiana, or New Mexico) where they don't need daddy/mommy's permission;
  3. find one of those old-fashioned wire coat hangers (plastic ones just won't do) and give herself an abortion
I guess it's time to stock up on wire coat hangers; I'll be able to sell them for big bucks now that "Pretty Hair" has signed the Parental Notification Bill into law.

Perhaps I could package it into a pretty retail box (pink? tangerine?) and call it "Rick Perry's Parental Notification Avoidance Kit". Setting any ethics aside (if Karl Rove can do it, so can I), my main concern is determining the appropriate pricing. I'll have to determine the cost of a Greyhound ticket to Oklahoma City, for starters ...

Monday, June 6

Long Distance - Choose Your Bigot

Now here's an interesting juxtaposition: United American Technologies (also called UAT) is a gay-bashing long distance carrier based in Oklahoma City. There are several recordings of their sales pitches on the web; I heard one on ABC News where they basically said that MCI, Verizon, etc. (basically Everyone But Them) are run by Satan Himself. Amazing. I wonder if a percentage of UAT's prophets profits go to setting homosexuals ablaze?

In contrast, there's Working Assets, described as a progressive/liberal/whatever long distance carrier.

I suppose none of this should surprise me.

Sunday, June 5

Critters, Art Deco style

Yesterday, JB and I moseyed over to see PetFlix 2005 at the Lakewood Theater (Abrams Road, not too far from the Swiss Avenue Historic District). The Lakewood is a "1938 Art Deco Movie Palace in East Dallas" which was trés cool; I'd never been there before, although I've probably driven within a hundred yards of the place. There aren't a lot of Art Deco examples in Dallas; the most prominent (by far) are the Centennial Buildings at Fair Park.

PetFlix 2005 included 7 films .. some too short, some too long. My favorite was the sad story of a Doberman Pinscher named Rosey who'd been left with the owner's parents while the daughter was away on business. Based on Beta (the wonder dog)'s behavior (sleeping at my feet), I'm guessing that she enjoys my company as much as I'm amused by hers.

As part of attending PetFlix, I scored a doggie bag which included a tennis ball; cow hoof (chewing) and a carton of liver treats (along with some reading material). The goodies were exclusively for dogs, so cats and other critters ain't considered pets, I reckon.

Related: last night, ABC News (trying to be more like the irresponsible Fox "News" Channel) did a hatchet job on the SPCA of Texas. The reporter (John Stossel) apparently never studied journalism, nor bothered to contact the SPCA for their side, so it's with interest that I read the SPCA's side of the story. Years ago, I cancelled my membership in the (New York City based) ASPCA because I just don't see them as an efficient operation, worthy of my huge charitable donation.

Unrelated: How shall I celebrate tomorrow -- the 61st anniversary of D-Day, if at all? I think I'll get a haircut. There must be something more I can do. Hmmm.

Saturday, June 4

how do YOU spell "Tayshas," Bubba?

Okay, I done did it; I pledged to save myself for Kinky. It'll be a struggle not to vote in a primary in 2006, but I'll do what needs to be done to keep Rick "Pretty Hair" Perry from becoming the King of Texas. And (as Kinky's motto says:) Why the Hell Not?

While I'm waiting for April 2006 so's I can sign that Kinky Petition, I'll see about doin' some summer readin'. I found Tayshas List on the Young Adult Round Table of the Texas Library Association, but it wasn't as easy to find out what defines a Tayshas List. I finally found it cached on Google:
'TAYSHAS' takes its name from the Caddo Indian word meaning "friends or allies." Written texas, texios, tejas, teyas or tayshas, the word was applied to the Caddos by the Spanish in eastern Texas, who regarded them as friends and allies against the Apaches. (Newcomb, W.W., Jr. The Indians from Texas: Prehistoric to Modern Times. University of Texas Press, 1961)
Unrelated #0:Americans filed a record number of bankruptcy petitions in April 2005, as the clock began to tick on new laws to take effect on October 17th.

Unrelated #1: Computex Taipei ends today; it's now the world's second-largest computer fair behind CeBIT (is anyone old enough to remember something called "Comdex"?)

Thursday, June 2

Man of the Year: Mark Felt

Last year, Time magazine named George W. Bush as Man of the Year. This was undoubtedly the most asinine thing they've done in the history of their magazine. It took me about 5 PintoSeconds (the smallest measurable amount of time) to cancel my subscription.

They can win me back if they name Mark Felt as Man of the Year for 2005. He's the 91 year old patriot who Did The Right Thing back in the 1970s, which resulted in the eventual resignation of the Second Most Corrupt President ever (Richard Milhous Nixon).

Those of us who lived this long know that THE Most Corrupt President ever is the one who plays with balls of twine in the Oval Office today. Note that I am not naming names, this secret will go with me to my grave, yadda yadda yadda.

Wednesday, June 1

your prison sentence ends no later than 4pm ...

I feel mildly imprisoned; the street crews are repaving my street today. Yeah, I guess I could sneak out via The Alley, if I just can't stand it anymore. For the past year, the City has alternated patching parts of my street, then applying slurry to the cracks, until they finally decided that a new coat of asphalt was the only way out.

I was first alerted to this by a door hanger last Friday:

Barring equipment or weather delays your street will be closed as noted above to all pedestrian and vehicle traffic for approximately 4 to 5 hours while surfacing work is being done to extend the life of streets in this area. Should weather or unforeseen problems arise, your street work will be rescheduled the following work day, weather permitting. The City of Dallas Street Services Department has contracted for surface treatment to be applied. Depending on weather conditions, the material sets in 4 to 5 hours and then will not track when walked or driven on.

Work will be scheduled between 8AM and 4PM. Vehicles left in driveways may not be accessible at times during the project. All vehicles parked in the street must be removed from the street by 8AM on the work day listed.

Your understanding and cooperation while this work is being done is appreciated, if you have any questions, please call the City of Dallas Dispatch Center or the Pavement Surface Improvement Division of the Street Services Department.
So, this morning (at exactly 7am) they ran one of those low-speed/high-noise vacuums to clean up any debris, which sent Beta (the Wonder Dog) into hysterics. I'll keep the shades drawn for awhile, until she understands that The Boogie Man isn't coming to take her away.

another sharp poke in the bum

I'm not sure if JB believed me when I said something about the experiments using Food as a Vaccine Vehicle. Instead of "bend over and drop your pants" the doctor could say "take this with a glass of water". Perhaps the sadistic side of the medical profession enjoys poking me in the butt(ocks) with a sharp object, so I doubt this oral vaccination test is much more than a fad.

Speaking of sharp pokes in the bum, I see that today's the day that Texans are allowed to get a free copy of our credit report. The official site is but I suspect many Unsuspecting Souls will be led to one of the many soundalike sites such as (owned by Experian); (owned by TransUnion); (probably owned by some guy in New Jersey named Guido), and so forth .. all of whom will try to sell you something.

An article in the DMN said one of the shortcomings of the law is that you can't get your Credit Score (FICO® = Fair Isaac Corporation) free. A small amount of A9'ing explained that FICO scores range from 300-850, and anything below 500 spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E. I have no earthly clue what my FICO is, although Equifax offered to sell me my FICO® credit score for $6.95!

I chose Equifax at random, mostly. They're alphabetically first, so maybe it'll be easier for me to remember if I want another free report (from either Experian or TransUnion) later this year. Equifax was sweet enough to offer (for free) my Equifax Credit Rankings™ ("a $7.95 value!"). They cautioned: "Once you click [submit], you will not be able to reorder your free annual credit report from Equifax for one year" (but that doesn't mean I can't order a free one from Experian in 4 months, and one from TransUnion 4 months after that, ad infinitum).

Nicely, this was instantly available online, with the caution: "This Equifax Credit Report™ is available for you to view until 07/01/2005". Wow .. this gives me 30 days to peruse. Since mine printed to 18 pages long, it'll take me at least 30 days to decipher it anyhoo.