Saturday, March 24, 2012

Beeping Easter Egg Hunt

The hunt is on for the beeping Easter Eggs!

Every year the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce (DJCC), in connection with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), hosts an Easter Egg Hunt for visually impaired children. The do it by creating special beeping Easter Eggs. We checked out this year's event and got some pictures!

Making the eggs:

These Easter Eggs have Off & On Switches!

The Easter Bunny's fur feels nice and comforting.

There were several activities for the kids to enjoy like learning pottery through the sense of touch.

This is a great event that creates many happy memories for local children!

Friday, March 23, 2012

On Location #17: King of the Hill Comes to Dallas

Awhile back we showed you Hank Hill's visit to the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX. In the season 13 episode "Nancy Does Dallas" the show heads to, you guessed it, Dallas. Check out the "cartoon-ized" version of the downtown skyline:

The did a pretty good job of matching the skyline details. (By the way, it's very difficult to take a picture of downtown from this angle without getting hit by a car.)

Later in the episode Nancy and her new co-workers check out a basketball game (between the Mavericks & Spurs, no less) at the American Airlines Center:

Again, they got lots of the details right (with the exception of the "AA" logo).

Here's some video we shot awhile back about the building's architecture and some of the science behind it:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sandwich Tour of Dallas Part 2

My Sandwich Sense is telling me that it's time for Part 2 of our Sandwich Tour of Dallas (you can find Part 1 here).

My first stop was a home run. Jimmy's Food Store at Bryan Street & Fitzhugh is part specialty food shop, part sandwich shop and all Italian. It's a small place but it is packed with wine, meat, cheese, sauces, spices and everything that you would need to cook an authentic Italian meal but can't find anywhere else.

The lunch rush was busy but manageable for a newbie like me. Sandwiches are ordered (and made) in the back at a butcher station where you could also pick up any number of meats and cheeses. You can tell the quality of a food spot by a good mix of clientele. Yuppies, hippies and everything in between were ordering the day I went. Good food is truly a unifying force.

But on to my order...check out the Muffuletta. This was a good life lesson for me. Apparently I have no sense of size because I ordered the 9 inch muffuletta instead of the 6 inch and was staggered at how big it was. It could easily feed three people (maybe more). It comes with Mortadella, Ham, Provolone, Genoa Salami, Olive Salad.

The olives were great and meat and cheese are very complimentary to each other. If I have any complaint it's that there was a lot of olive oil. It was really good olive oil but there was too much of it. That being said, I still haven't finished this monster (but I will soon). Next time I'll get the smaller one.

The Angry Dog in Deep Ellum is known for its heavy-sitting, yet tasty bar food. I usually get their signature chili dog but thought I'd go with something lighter to cleanse the palate. They offer a vegetarian sandwich called "The Natural" and it was calling to me.

The Natural comes with Guacamole, Grilled mushrooms, sprouts and Monterrey Jack. While it may seem somewhat minimalist, it actually works well as a filling meal. The large size doesn't hurt either. The guacamole was smooth and creamy and I could have actually used a little more of it (of course, I really like guacamole) but it was relegated to the supporting role that condiments must play in the theater of sandwich.

The mushrooms work well as the "meat" but I could have used a little more "zing" in the seasoning. The bread was soft and for once the texture of toasted bread didn't irritate me. I usually don't get sides (I'm all about the star attraction) but this comes with fries. I would give you some flowery detailed breakdown of them are fries.

The Angry Dog may be known for its "Angry Dog" but Wild About Harry's in uptown also slings wieners for the masses. They are known primarily for their elaborate hot dog menu and custom custard but, you know me, I'm all about the sandwich (I don't count hot dogs as sandwiches. Hot dogs are hot dogs and sandwiches are sandwiches.)

I picked up the Italian Beef Sandwich and didn't regret it. Not too big, not too small. The main difference between this and your standard cheese steak sandwich is that they use mozzarella instead of provolone and I have to say I'm glad they did. It creates a melty, gooey mesh with the beef and adds another level of texture to what could have been a by-the-numbers meal.

The meat wasn't fatty but it could have used a little salt or seasoning. The Au jus (which may just be my favorite all time liquid) was great and was readily soaked up by the soft bun.

What other wonders does this town have snugly nestled between tow slices of bread? We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lake Texoma Sedimentation

Geologist Devin Dennie joins J.P. Greeson from the Texas Fishing Forum on a fishing trip to Lake Texoma. While there, Devin discusses sedimentation and the natural history of the area.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Geology Candy Part 2

Not too long ago we served you up several helpings of geology themed candy. Now it's time for your second course.

Let's start of with some bags of gold nugget gum:

One of the most popular types of geology candy are in the form of rocks. Here are some jelly bean rocks:

I think this coal candy has more of a Christmas theme but it still counts in my book. As far as I'm concerned Coal = Geology:

And here are even more rocks (this time chocolate) that you can scoop up yourself:

We're always on the lookout for more geo-candy so stay tuned for more...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pictures From "Art Walk" in Downtown Tyler, TX

Tonight was "Art Walk" in downtown Tyler, TX. Downtown businesses each host a local artist and display his or her work while art lovers stroll down the street to take it all in. Here are some pictures:

Joan Iverson shows off some of here ceramic work:

Suzan Rodgers-Chapman poses with some of her maille and Viking weave jewelry:

Photographer Dave Berry answers some questions about his work:

The jewelry work of Thomas Stringfellow:

Nothing like some live music to make people want to dance:

Check out the Heart of Tyler website for more information about the quarterly event.

Marking Time #21 - Cotton Belt Depot Museum

All aboard for the next Marking Time installment!

We're back in Tyler, TX and we're riding the rails. Downtown Tyler is the home of the Cotton Belt Depot Museum and their very own historical marker. It reads:

"To provide for shipment of locally-grown fruits, vegetables, and cotton to distant markets, a group of Tyler citizens proposed a railroad to connect the town with major rail lines nearby. The promoters included R. B. Hubbard, later governor of Texas; James P. Douglas, onetime state senator; W. S. Herndon, A. M. Ferguson, and J. H. Brown. In 1871 the State Legislature accepted their proposal and chartered the Tyler Tap Railroad to join with the Texas & Pacific Railroad or the International & Great Northern Railroad within 40 miles of Tyler. Local organizers decided to link with the Texas & Pacific at Big Sandy. Actual construction was delayed until 1875, with the first train running Oct. 1, 1877. Funds for the tap line were to be secured by sale of stock, but when private financing failed to raise enough money, the Legislature agreed to award state land for each mile of track completed.

Although organized and promoted by local citizens, the Tyler Tap line soon attracted other investors. In 1879, under a new charter, it was renamed the Texas & St. Louis Railway, with headquarters in Tyler. It was reorganized again in 1891 as the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, commonly known as the Cotton Belt, with general offices still located here."

Inside the museum you'll find an impressive collection of historic railroad memorabilia as well as tons of model trains. And when I visited, the staff had plenty of stories to swap.

There are several model train dioramas that were running during my visit and a ton of historic pictures.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

On Location #16 - Pee-Wee Visits the Alamo

Remember when Pee Wee Herman visited the Alamo?

As you may recall, Pee-Wee was sent on a quest to find his beloved bicycle which he mistakenly believed was stashed away in the Alamo's nonexistent basement. As A kid I always wondered if that actually shot in San Anotonio.

The IMDb page lists San Antonio as a filming location and visual looks legit:

Compare that to the picture I took a few years ago and I think we have a match:

In the upper right of each picture you can see the sign for the Crockett Hotel which is near the Alamo. So I think it's safe to officially add Pee-Wee Herman to the list of the millions of yearly travelers who have visited the historic site.

Friday, March 9, 2012

It Came From Outer Space! Maybe!

Every town needs a claim to fame. Whether it's a hotel room that was once frequented by Elvis, a tortilla in the shape of a religious figure or a local lake monster, tall tales go hand in hand with tourism. This concept is not lost on the good people of Pocahontas, Arkansas as they display their pride and enjoy in front of the Randolph County Courthouse.

Here lies the famous/infamous Pochahontas Meteorite. It was found in the Black River bottoms in 1859 by A.H. Keith. In 1986 the Keith Family donated it to the town for the Arkansas Sesquicentennial.

Engraved on the stone is:

Meteor Fell
Donated by
A.H. Keith"

However many local geologist killjoys have said that this is not a meteorite at all and is very earthly in its nature.

But the people of Pocahontas remain undeterred and still proudly display their extraterrestrial treasure for all the world to see proving that with a little imagination and a little showmanship even the dullest stone can shine like a star.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Marking Time #20 - Salt Palace

It's that time again and this time our history has some legitimate geology to go along with it. Welcome to the Salt Palace Museum in Grand Saline, TX.

Grand Saline is what you would call a "salt town." It is home to a major salt mining operation and honor's the world's tastiest rock by hosting a yearly Salt Festival in addition to being the home of the Salt Palace Museum seen above. The museum was closed when I stopped by but when it is open it is packed with salt memorabilia and free salt samples. And it's here where we find today's historical marker, which seems to have nothing to do with salt.

The marker reads:

"Pioneer aviator Wiley Hardeman Post was born on November 22, 1898, in the community of Corinth in Van Zandt County, to William Francis and Mae Laine Post, who moved to Oklahoma when Wiley was a boy. Wiley was inspired as a youth to learn to fly.
In the late 1920s he obtained flight training, made his first solo flight, and acquired an air transport license. Despite the loss of one eye in an oil field accident, Post worked as a barnstormer, commercial pilot and flight instructor.
Post set many flight records and won the national air races in 1930. He and Harold Gatty circled the world, flying 15,474 miles in less than 9 days in 1931. Post soloed around the world in less than 8 days in 1933.
Post invented and developed the first pressurized flight suit, explored stratospheric flight, and used an early Sperry autopilot mechanism. He worked with the U. S. Army Air Corps on an experimental automatic direction finding (ADF) radio compass, and was a pioneer in the use of liquid oxygen for high altitude flight. Post and humorist Will Rogers died in a plane crash on a trip to Alaska in 1935. His plane the "Winnie Mae" is in the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C."

Post seems like a fascinating and accomplished guy and I'm genuinely surprised that he's not more well known. Here are some interesting facts about his life that I insist you memorize:

  • He lost an eye in an oil field accident yet still went on to become a pilot
  • He was the first person to fly solo around the world
  • He invented pressure suits for high altitude flying
  • He died in the same place crash as Will Rogers
Now take that handful of factoids to your next cocktail party and impress your friends.

We'll leave you with a good look at the pride of Grand Saline: a great big hunk of salt, which is on display outside of the Salt Palace and brings joy to local wildlife searching for a little small town flavor.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sandwich Tour of Dallas Part 1

I typically eat sandwiches on a regular basis. I also post stuff on this blog on a regular basis. I also live in Dallas. You can probably see where I'm going with this...

Welcome to a Sandwich Tour of Dallas" Part 1! I plan to explore this town via sandwiches so feel free to tag along. Let's start with P.D. Johnson's Dog Day Deli:

Located on McKinney avenue in the uptown area, this place fancies itself the "Kick Ass" deli and plays up the tired "Johnson" angle (spoiler: it means "penis"). Despite the unoriginal marketing they serve up a darn fine sandwich. Behold the "Hot Johnson" (I know, I know...sigh):

It comes with roast beef, turkey, bacon, cheddar, mayo, bbq, "horseymayo", lettuce, tomato, onions, green peppers, pepperoncinis. (I ordered mine sans onions & peppers).

Now sandwich enthusiasts like you and me might be wary of so many ingredients on one dish but this one surprises with an almost harmonious symphony of tastes and textures. Of particular note is the mixture of BBQ sauce and whatever horseymayo is. I may not know what it is but I know it plays well with the other ingredients.

If I have a complaint it is that the roast beef seems to take a back seat to the other ingredients and let's face it, roast beef should always be the star (yeah, that's right bacon, you are a supporting character! How do you like that!)

Next up on our tour is the Great American Hero:

This place has whatever every sandwich place should have: a drive through window! Because, let's face it, sometimes I'm driving around and I want a sandwich but I just don't want to get out of my car. Brilliant! Located on Lemmon Ave., not too far from 75, this place is also "Dallas' First Pennyless Store", meaning they round the prices up or down to the nearest nickel.

But enough non-sandwich content...on to the sandwich content!

Say hello to "The Italian" a.k.a. the #1. It comes with Genoa Salami, Cappicola, Baked Ham & Provolone Cheese and all their sandwiches come with Fresh Shredded Lettuce, Onions, Tomatoes, Blend of Canola & Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Spices & Oregano. The one pictured is, of course, sans onion.

It's a great old school cold sub and the bread (there are several bread choices, this one is sourdough) is very light and tender...flavorful but not attention-seeking. It's a mellow compliment to the sandwich, which is what all great sandwich bread should be. I like to go with their oil, vinegar & spices in lieu of any condiments like mayo or mustard. It adds just the right balances to the spicy cured meats.

Moving on, instead of a sandwich, what if you are in the mood for a "sammich"? Uncle Uber's has you covered:

Located on Commerce St. in Deep Ellum this place specializes strictly in sandwiches, er sammiches. Burgers, salads and desserts are also on the menu but never mind that stuff, this place is a cathedral in the church of sandwich worship. Old favorites like roast beef, grilled cheese and the Cuban abound but they're not afraid to experiment with the genre.

Check out what I got:

Your eyes are currently beholding the Bacon & Goat Cheese Sammich. I'm always reluctant when bacon is the main player in a sandwich (see above) but their crisp, flavorful pig strips are more of a character actor leading a quirky ensemble cast of characters (think Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire).

The goat cheese is a bit restrained (in a good way) but has a great creamy texture and just a touch of sourness that is a great counter balance to the avocado, which is always welcome on my sandwich. And surprise, surprise, the big guest star here is the cucumbers, giving some crunchy texture to the meal. It's a great surprise and a great change of pace.

Hungry for more? Don't worry, I'm in the prime of my sandwich eating days. More Dallas sandwich shops (and other towns and other foods) are coming soon!