What the Hell Are Those Things?

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.”
Anais Nin

Back in the heady days of the Leaning Tower of Dallas (now, sadly Long Gone) I had to stop by to see the thing up close, commune with a group of people (also, sadly, now long gone) and get my traditional leaning tower of Dallas photo.

Leaning Tower of Dallas, Dallas, Texas

While I was at the fence you see in the photo above, as close to the tower as was allowed, I noticed four objects hanging from cables on the side of the tower. “What the hell are those things?” I asked the people around me.

At first I thought they might be vending machines left behind and hanging by their electrical cords out over the void. That is sort of what they looked like. It looked like glassed in rectangular objects with stuff at the bottom. I imagined a vaporized break area on an upper floor with the vending machines left behind clinging for life against the concrete core.  I imagined bags of chips and candy bars hanging out there for the birds and brave squirrels to plunder. I put the telephoto lens on my camera and took a shot.

Mysterious objects on the side of the Leaning Tower of Dallas.

A small group gathered around my camera to look at the mystery on the tiny screen on the back. That gave enough magnification to be sure they weren’t vending machines. At any rate three of them looked exactly the same. I was disappointed.

It’s obvious that they were some sort of electrical things that probably supplied power to the elevator shafts in some way. Relays and capacitors and transformers and such. They are hanging by the stout high-voltage cables that electrical things have attached to them. Still a mystery, but less of a cool one.

Lower Pantograph

“My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.”
― Nikola Tesla

Signs at one end (downtown) of the Dallas Streetcar

 

I am always looking for “found poetry” – especially on posted signs – these are messages that make sense to the person putting them up – and maybe to the intended viewer – but are utter, strange nonsense (poetry) to the average passer by.

Waiting for the streetcar, I saw the sign “Lower Pantograph Before Departing Stop.Poetry.

It isn’t hard to figure that one out, though. To me, a pantograph is a simple mechanical device consisting of linked rods used to enlarge drawings by hand.

Pantograph Animation

But it has an alternate meaning (at least one). It’s the device on the top of a streetcar used to connect to the overhead wires.

Transport Pantograph

But what does “lower pantograph” mean?

Well, the Dallas Streetcar has one unique property. One mile of its journey is across the Houston Viaduct, which has a historical designation. That means they could not install poles and overhead wires along that stretch of track. The streetcar uses internal batteries for that stretch, charging them with overhead wires the rest of the journey. Therefore, the “Lower Pantograph Before Leaving Stop” and “End Of Wire” warning signs to remind the operator that the vehicle was about have to go on battery power.

I still think it’s poetry.

View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas.
The closest bridge is the Houston Viaduct, where the Dallas Streetcar runs. I took this photo in 2012, the whole area looks different now – I’ll have to ride my bike down there the next sunny day and take an updated shot.

Organized Lightning

“Electricity is really just organized lightning”
― George Carlin

Beltline Road and the Glenville Bicycle Trail, Richardson, Texas

Along my drive to work there is, as there always is, a line of giant electrical distribution towers. Over the past few months, I have watched them replace the towers with even larger and higher towers. Twice a day I was treated with a show of technology while this operation proceeded step by step.

They did this without disturbing the wires. First they poured huge round foundations near the old towers. Jutting out of the concrete were rings of heavy bolts. The new towers went in – placed in multiple sections lifted by a crane. Modern crane operators cans sling these massive cylinders of galvanized steel around like they were chopsticks.

Once the new towers were in place, the wires from the old ones were moved over. I didn’t see this – it happened while I was at work. I assume the transfer was done hot – with untold thousands of volts coursing through the conductors. Think about that – a miracle taking place above your head while you only gripe about the traffic delay caused by a closed lane keeping you away from the danger.

Only then were the old towers sliced with a torch and removed.

The stubs are still there – I’ll keep an eye out for how they disappear.

Cisco and Generac in Frisco

“I am somewhat exhausted; I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure Of The Dying Detective

Sculpture by Mac Whitney, Cisco
Emergency Generator by Generac
Frisco, Texas

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Cicso, by Mac Whitney, Frisco, Texas

Cicso, by Mac Whitney, Frisco, Texas

“Invention is the most important product of man’s creative brain. The ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of human nature to human needs.”
― Nikola Tesla, My Inventions

Cisco, by Mac Whitney, Frisco, Texas

Cisco, by Mac Whitney, Frisco, Texas

“Is it a fact – or have I dreamt it – that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time?”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne

Mojo Cat

Mister Mojo Risin’……..

Well, I just got into town about an hour ago
Took a look around, see which way the wind blow
Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows

Are you a lucky little lady in The City of Light
Or just another lost angel…City of Night

—-LA Woman, Doors, Wilson Smith

I sat for a long time in the Opening Bell coffee house in Southside, writing on my laptop. Next to me was a sculpture – an assemblage of various metal parts attached to an ancient wheeled golf bag carrier. A conical brass cymbal topped it off and intertwined with the junk were multicolored neon tubes, glowing and flickering invitingly.

It had a great warning sign, hand-lettered and attached to the artwork.

Mojo Cat

This is ART!

On the back of the warning sign was the title of the piece, MOJO CAT, a sketch of the work, and a link to Sasso Art To Go.

I see your hair is burnin’
Hills are filled with fire
If they say I never loved you
You know they are a liar
Drivin’ down your freeways
Midnight alleys roam
Cops in cars, the topless bars
Never saw a woman
So alone, so alone
So alone, so alone

Motel money murder madness
Let’s change the mood from glad to sadness

Mister mojo risin’, mister mojo risin’
—-LA Woman, Doors, Wilson Smith