Birds in Tree

tree11

When you come around one certain spot in the White Rock Lake trail you pass a band of trees that line the water’s edge. There are a number of very large birds (I know nothing of what they are) that are always hanging out in these certain trees. I don’t know if it is the location or the species of trees that attracts these birds – but they are always there and I don’t see them anywhere else.

The amount of bird shit is distressing. The caustic guano kills everything. I even think there is so much nitrogen that it is killing the trees themselves. I know bird shit is a fertilizer and should help the plants…. but everything is a remedy and a poison – it all depends on the dose.

The birds must live off of fresh water fish that they catch by diving from their lofty perch. In addition to the usual acrid smell of shit – there is an overpowering fishy odor.

What I learned this week, March 21, 2014

People make fun of me because I am so adamant about riding my bicycle as much as possible and trying to reduce driving.

I give you this:

As a matter of principle I don’t drive on LBJ 635 unless it is absolutely necessary – and it rarely is. I have written two short stories based on experiences in the area where that news report was shot.

If you are not familiar with the Dallas Fort/Worth area – Highway LBJ 635, where this jam occurred, was featured in a well-known and iconic movie.


Outside Four Corners Brewery

Outside Four Corners Brewery

This is truly the best of all possible worlds.

The Rise Of The Bike Shop/Bar

Riding up outside Community Brewing in the Dallas Design District

Riding up outside Community Brewing in the Dallas Design District


Deep Ellum Brewing Company - Dallas Blonde

Deep Ellum Brewing Company – Dallas Blonde

Deep Ellum Brewing company

Deep Ellum Brewing company

The Craft Beer Boom Continues

Heavy Hitter beer flight at Luck, in Trinity Groves, Dallas, Texas

Heavy Hitter beer flight at Luck, in Trinity Groves, Dallas, Texas

A Pollinator Bock on the right, Dallas Blonde on the left.

DEBC – A Pollinator Bock on the right, Dallas Blonde on the left.


Cities on the Rise in Texas

Cities on the Rise in Texas

Via:

NerdWallet


I have a chest style deep freezer. Maybe it isn’t too late to fill it with Swanson Fried Chicken Dinners. You know the ones, mashed potatoes with the weird putty-like texture, the odd tasting veggies, and that “dessert” – some sort of extruded apple-thing. I still remember trying to scrape the last bit of that stuff that had chemically welded itself to the Aluminum Foil. The chicken had enough salt to adsorb lake Erie.

swanson

The only thing odder was the “Salisbury Steak.” I still don’t know what that term is all about – I doubt the original meaning was “Rubbery Oval Brownish Slab with Mysterious Gravy.” Looking it up on Wikipedia – it was invented in 1897 by an American physician named Salisbury, an early proponent of a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss.

banquet-salisbury-steak

What not-so-fresh (frozen actually) hell is this?

Still, it was what we had.

America Is Falling Out of Love With TV Dinners


I never knew that Sony made a transparent AM/FM radio that runs on a single AA that is intended exclusively for sale in prison commissaries.

THE IPOD OF PRISON

SONY-SRF-39FP1

SONY-SRF-39FP1

The tradition is that these are left behind when the owner is released. They have become collectors’ items out in the free world. Here’s one on Ebay.

The MP3 player is making inroads and soon is expected to displace the SRF-39FP… but for now, the old school is still king.


Not to sound like an old fart (even if true) but I miss LPs because of the album art. A CD (let alone a digital download) simply doesn’t do justice. As a matter of fact, someone needs to figure out how to distribute artwork with a digital download – PDF? Printed, folded poster in the Mail? Gift Certificate at local tattoo shop?

Five Album Art Cliches

I used to buy albums back in the day simply because I liked their album art. Looking back on it – I think that was as good a way to pick music as any other. Some of my favorite albums were bought because of that.

For Example:

Are you ready Eddy?

Are you ready Eddy?

Zoli’s New York Style

Try driving across a city when you are hungry – you will notice that there is a pizza joint on every corner. There is pizza everywhere.

Plus, the simple word pizza means something different to different people – there are so many varieties. Most people have a favorite and will defend their choice of crust – from crackerlike to deep dish – to the death. Then there are toppings – from traditional Margherita to fried eggs or squid ink. The place can vary from a corner take-out dive all the way up to a sit-down formal experience with wines to match the toppings and everything in between. A family owned local hangout to a massive international corporate chain.

Whatever you like.

I’m not a very good judge. My opinion is that pizza is like sex – when it is good, it’s great and when it is bad – it’s still pretty good.

Everyone has to have their go-to pizza joint. Ours is Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum (Pizza Napoletana with its famous “tip sag”) – I like to sit at the bar and watch the pies go into the giant wood burning dome of an oven, where they cook for only a few seconds (a close second is Urban Crust in old downtown Plano).

I stumbled across a list of 16 Iconic Pizzerias Across the Metroplex. I’ve been to about half of these (Eno’s and Mama’s are two more favorites) – and probably won’t make too much of an attempt to add more. The city is simply too spread out and there are too many good ones too close. Cane Rosso did make the grade, which is not a surprise. Campisi’s Egyption Lounge is on the list more for its history than its food, IMHO.

We were in Bishop Arts this weekend, looking for something to eat in a place that wasn’t too smoky and I remembered that Cane Rosso had opened a branch up there in the old Bee Enchilada location (shame it closed) called Zoli’s. They promised “New York Style Pizza” and that sounded good.

Here’s a useful graphic that outlines the difference in the various styles of pizza sold at the two spots. Zoli’s uses metal ovens instead of the giant domed wood-burner at Cane Rosso, plus it offers three styles – New York, Grandma, and Sicilian.

(click to enlarge)

Photo Courtesy Cane Rosso and Zoli's (click to enlarge)

Photo Courtesy Cane Rosso and Zoli’s
(click to enlarge)

Good stuff.

Zoli's, Dallas, Texas

Zoli’s, Dallas, Texas

Lunch special at Zoli's - Ceaser Salad, Slice, Knot of Garlic Bread

Lunch special at Zoli’s – Ceaser Salad, Slice, Knot of Garlic Bread

So, was Zoli’s great or was it merely good. I liked it a lot, but I was very hungry. You’ll have to go try it for yourself.

DIY Panniers

I am an inveterate tinkerer. Bear with me.

What is a commuter bicycle without panniers? For example, one 2014 New Year’s Resolution for me is to not drive my car to the grocery store. I have a big pair of cheap panniers that works well for that, but they are hooked together and only work as a pair. I wanted two separate panniers that can be mounted together, were versatile, easy to put on and off, and a certain size – not too big, not too small.

Of course, the smart thing would be to buy a pair – there are plenty of good, professionally-designed and well-constructed bicycle panniers around. But since when do I do the smart thing?

I am too cheap.

So I decided to make my own. I’ve been getting by with buying various containers at Goodwill and hooking them on to my bicycle with carabiner or S clips. That actually works well. The most useful is a rectangular zippered bag that held an old portable Colorado brand tape-backup unit. Still, I wanted a more conventional pannier set.

So I perused the internet, looking for “DIY Bicycle Panniers” on the search engines. I found quite a bit, from used kitty-litter boxes, to 5 gallon paint pails, to the ubiquitous hipster milk crates. I copied down the best ideas and worked on my own.

A Musette Bag like the one I used for the panniers.

A Musette Bag like the one I used for the panniers.

For a bag, I settled on the Rothco Jumbo Musette Bag – the price was low, the local Army-Navy store had a selection at well under list price, and, most important, it had a stout map pocket – two layers of canvas on the back. So, I bought two, went to the hardware store for fittings, and set to work.

The pegboard is a tight fit slid into the back of the musette bag.

The pegboard is a tight fit slid into the back of the musette bag.

Once I had the bags, I cut a rectangle of pegboard (a little heavy, but I had some on hand) to size and slid it into the map pocket on the back. This would give the pannier shape and give me something to attach the hardware to. Then I had to decide on a hook system to hold the bag to the rack. After looking at all sorts of stuff, I decided on these little steel threaded hooks. I would mount two small angle brackets to the backing board, and thread the hooks through them.

The hooks as they came from the hardware store.

The hooks as they came from the hardware store.

A hook mounted onto the back of the bag. Two small angle brackets, four nuts, four washers, and two pop rivets (with washers) - and it is all in place. Be sure and use locktite (blue) to keep the nuts from going loose.

A hook mounted onto the back of the bag. Two small angle brackets, four nuts, four washers, and two pop rivets (with washers) – and it is all in place. Be sure and use locktite (blue) to keep the nuts from going loose.

I could have bolted everything to the pannier, but I used pop-rivets and aluminum washers. This worked really well, and once I had a pile of parts laid out, a drill spun up, and the pop rivet gun in hand, it was quick work to attach all the hardware. I added a metal hanger at the bottom to hold the thing down and two more at the top in case I want to bungee something on there. These extra rivets also serve to make sure the bag doesn’t tear off the backer board. It’s all surprisingly strong.

The two hooks, the ring at the bottom, and the bungee cord. Ready to go.

The two hooks, the ring at the bottom, and the bungee cord. Ready to go.

Finally, I had to figure out how to hold it down, keep it from swinging, or popping off the rack. I experimented with springs and ordinary bungee cords, but ended up using these small elastic cords with a plastic ball on the end. They are usually used to hold down tarps.

The elastic goes through the bottom hook of the rack, through the lower eye on the pannier, and then loops up around the upper hooks. This gives just enough tension to hold it all together, yet allows it to come off easy.

So here it is, a pair of workable panniers, for shopping, picnics, or general bombing around town. Total cost, about twenty dollars each. I think these may work.

The musette bag on my commuter bike.

The musette bag on my commuter bike.

The hooks on the rails of my bicycle rack. If you look close, you can see the thin, black, bungee cord running across the hooks and then down to the bottom of the rack.

The hooks on the rails of my bicycle rack. If you look close, you can see the thin, black, bungee cord running across the hooks and then down to the bottom of the rack.

Both bags hooked onto my commuter bike.

Both bags hooked onto my commuter bike.

The Drummer

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
—-Henry David Thoreau

Trans.lation Market, Vickery Meadows, Dallas, Texas, part of the Nasher Exchange Exhibition

Vickery Meadows, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Vickery Meadows, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

What I learned this week, March 14, 2014

10 underrated novels from great authors

I have always loved “The Crossing” by McCarthy more than some of his more ballyhooed works.

“The second chapter in McCarthy’s Border Trilogy is also, at least in our eyes, the finest. More poetic if less acclaimed than spiritual precursor All The Pretty Horses, The Crossing is bleakly brilliant as McCarthy describes a young cowboy’s savage journey from New Mexico to Mexico during the WW2 period: surviving gun fights, wolf attacks and a cracked, scorching terrain that save for arguably Blood Meridian, has never been as violently and mercilessly described by McCarthy.”


From Deadspin:

Above is a video taken Saturday night at an ECHL Idaho Steelheads game. It shows fans pouring a $7 large beer into a $4 small cup, and discovering that each holds exactly the same amount of liquid. Now the arena is facing a lawsuit, because rule number one in sports is that you don’t shortchange hockey fans on beer.

CenturyLink Arena in Boise, also home to the Idaho Stampede of the NBA’s D-League, is facing a potential class-action lawsuit from four fans, alleging that the arena management company defrauded fans by offering taller-but-thinner large-size cups that hold the same 16 ounces as the shorter, wider small.
….
“It was recently brought to our attention that the amount of beer that fits in our large (20-oz) cups also fits in our regular (16-oz) cups. The differentiation in the size of the two cups is too small. To correct that problem, we’re purchasing new cups for the large beers that will hold 24 ounces, instead of 20, for the remainder of this season to provide better value to our fans.”

That acknowledgement wasn’t enough to head off a lawsuit, and, as noted by the Idaho Statesman, even with 24-ounce cups, it’ll still be cheaper per ounce to buy the small.


He once went on vacation to The Virgin Islands ..Now they are just called The Islands.

He once went on vacation to The Virgin Islands ..Now they are just called The Islands.

7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room


6 Shocking Authors I Seek to Syncretize

I linked to the above article not so much for the exact authors mentioned, but for the general idea/technique of reading a number of wildly variant (though all provocative) books (would this work with fiction also?) while consciously looking for hidden connections. Interesting idea.


10 Inconspicuous Flasks For Covert Operators


I always thought that I had a certain knowledge of geography and history. Until I visited this site, however, I never realized how little I knew of the fascinating country of Zubrowka.

budapest

Academie Zubrowka


I have always been fascinated by Trilobites

Trilobites

Trilobites

When Trilobites Ruled the World


Why don’t I get invited to parties that have a Sriracha Fountain?


These weapons cutaways are so damn cool


Holy Shit! Looking through this list, I really think I have seen all these movies. I pretty much agree with the order of the list (especially concur with which is THE WORST Godzilla movie of all) although I would put Godzilla vs. Destoroyah a bit higher to #2 and maybe slide Destroy all Monsters to the top slot. That film was an eleven-year-old’s dream

Rank All Monsters! Every Godzilla Movie, from Worst to Best


Michael Peticolas on the Building of a “True Craft Beer Movement” and What’s in His Fridge