Who, Where, and Why
Who: The Texas Triffid Ranch is a gallery specializing in custom enclosures for carnivorous, prehistoric, and otherwise exotic plants.
Where: As the name implies, the Triffid Ranch is based in the Dallas, Texas area.
Why: Because stunning and unique plants need a appropriately interesting environment in which to show off their best features.
How: Check the Contact page for more details.
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Monthly Archives: September 2014Image
Because there’s no better way to celebrate the first Friday of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere than with some Ego Likeness:
Today is the start of the State Fair of Texas, and we all know what that means, right?
Of course, there’s always room for a sequel, where Big Tex is resurrected and turned into a champion of good, fighting the robot dinosaurs in Glen Rose. Now all we need is the ending, with Big Tex flying off into the sunset after setting the issue by crying out “Form Blazing Stetson!”, and one little kid screaming “Big Tex, come baaaaaaaaack!” We can even call the movie Third Coast. Have someone at DNA Productions give me a call, and we’ll do lunch.
A few weeks ago, I idly commented “Every last tourist who goes to London wants to recreate the cover for the Beatles’ album Abbey Road, but nobody but me ever wants to go to a museum and recreate the cover for the Ramones’ Adios Amigos. Well, thanks to a lot of friends coming to Dallas next year for the 2015 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, this will be rectified. Probably while singing this song.
I’d just like to point out that tomorrow is the birthday of both friend and hero Dr. Thomas Holtz. Sadly, his birthday is always eclipsed by the memorial celebrations of that event that happened on his birthday 15 years ago. We’ll never get our moon back, but at least uniform fashions and nuclear waste disposal methods have improved since the end of the Twentieth Century. Until then, never let the travails of the personnel of Moon Base Alpha be forgotten.
I’m regularly asked by friends from outside Texas as to why I stay in the Dallas area. After all, Texas’s governor is a joke, Dallas doesn’t have a great historical reputation, and the city is entirely too close to Lewisville. Of course, McMurdo Station is too close to Lewisville. I stay because while so many other great cities of the world have so much to offer, Dallas is the only place I know where I can get up before dawn to go to the Day Job, wait at a train station for a transfer, and watch, in the day’s first light, giant robots with guitar necks for heads tromping through the city. With that sort of spectacle, how could you leave?
As can be noticed, updates over here have been a bit sporadic, partly due to Day Job work schedules, but I’d like to show off the new bicycle. Thanks to the intrepid folks at Richardson Bike Mart, I now have a new bicycle: a Specialized Rockhopper 29. It’s not spectacular and it’s not flashy, but it’s a good basic bike, perfect for Dallas commuting, as it handles well and manages to avoid most of the hazards of city biking.
You may be wondering about what happened to my old bike, or why I say “most of the hazards of city biking,” but that’s best explained with a quick photo showing one next to the other. As can be noted, the old bike isn’t in much condition for riding: its handlebars were shorn off, the derailleur and chain ripped free, the wheels scrunched, one of the cranks bent underneath the main gear, and the frame itself bent. Getting a new bike was the only option, as the cost of repairs rapidly exceeded the cost of a replacement.
Before anyone asks, I’m in excellent condition. Other than a small scrape on my left knee, I survived the whole incident. I joke that “my bike gave its life to save mine,” but that’s pretty much the truth. Years of Dallas riding taught me the value of safety gear: I’d sooner go out without lungs than without a helmet or gloves. The same goes for lights on front and back, reflective tape along the side, and a keen eye for inattentive, distracted, or just plain stupid drivers. When you combine all three, though…
I’m fond of noting that I love Lexus drivers for one good reason: they advertise themselves. The fact that Toyota puts its big “‘L’ is for ‘Loser'” logo on front and back means that it’s possible to get warning of a Lexus driver through a rear-view mirror long before the dolt every gets close, allowing the attentive bicyclist, pedestrian, motorist, or homeowner to get the hell out of the way. Naturally, Lexus drivers go on and on about how their vehicles are “safe”, meaning that they’ll survive what my best friend refers to as “a failure to drive,” and who cares about anybody else. Crumple zones so they can run into vehicles or houses and walk away, lane drift alarms so the driver can go back to texting or posting on Facebook while on the highway, lots of bright shiny objects along the dashboard to make driver and passengers think that they’re more capable than their abilities…yeah, I’ve had a lot of experience with Lexus drivers as a whole, to where I’ve gone to extra effort to watch for that logo on front and back. Too bad for my bike that this one got me from the side.
The story’s pretty easy, really: the driver was leaving work, stopping for a moment in a parking lot before heading out the driveway. I saw the vehicle stop, and slowed but continued going, figuring that the driver was tweeting or adjusting a car radio before going. By the time I got to the driveway, she accelerated in a hurry to start the holiday weekend a bit early, and I went under the front wheels. Thankfully, I bounced, landing on my work backpack, while the bike lost handlebars, wheels, chain, and derailleur. The driver obligingly stopped before I followed it, crying “I’m really sorry” over and over, and I have to admit that a near-death experience tends to bring out some of my more vicious behavior. No profanity, no abuse while yelling at her, other than “What the hell is it about all you Lexus drivers being idiots?” Personally, I thought it was a valid question.
That said, now everything’s up in the air. A quick talk with her insurance company got a very quick response, with an agent swearing that I’d hear from the claim adjuster within two business days. That’s now four days behind, but that’s also expected: I worked for The Hartford in its Worker’s Comp division twenty years ago, and we had at least one valid bomb threat per month before I left because its adjusters were doing their best to run out the clock on any claim without legal representation. Well, that’s been taken care of, and now it’s a matter of waiting. Thankfully, I have a perfectly vindictive attitude about owed funds: just ask Craig Engler one of these days about his last run-in with me over unpaid writing fees. And so it goes.
Otherwise, things are reasonably back to normal. Yes, some drivers have their heads so far up their colons that they could be described charitably as “Klein bottles with legs” but that won’t stop me from riding. One dolt, in nearly 40 years of riding, that nearly took me out? That’s not a bad track record. Besides, the quiet of early-morning roads, being buzzed by red-tailed and Harris’s hawks during the day and screech owls and big brown bats in the predawn morning. the feeling of responsibility that only knowing what my own physical limitations are determines where I’m going and how fast…the accident just confirms a need to be just a little bit more careful. Either that, or to make sure that the next Lexus dingbat kills me on the spot, because nobody would believe the police report of my ripping off the rest of my nearly-severed leg and beating the driver into a coma with it. (I’d never kill someone who hit me. I’d prefer to have them wake up several weeks later as a punchline, with the nurses at the hospital taking cash, checks, and Bitcoins to allow complete strangers to come up, laugh, and point.)
In the interim, regular blogging will resume shortly: keep an eye open for several new developments. The sooner the reimbursement check comes for the bike, the sooner everything really goes back to normal.
As to where these are going? Well, you’ll have to come out to Texas Frightmare Weekend in May 2015 to find out.
Incidentally, no run of Guest Cat appearances would be complete without the notorious Alfred hogging the camera. Incidentally, this was right after he engaged in one of his favorite hobbies: looking straight at me, walking to a bookshelf, and flipping a few books onto the floor. While I was trying to pick them up, he jumped onto his cat perch, nearly dislodging it and killing me in the process. As with Chloe, don’t trust the expression: he’s apparently decided that his perfect breakfast meal is human flesh, and he’s also decided that the state of affairs between leopards and hominins two million years ago is a tradition that needs to be reinstated.