Tag Archives: Dallas

Smooth drive into downtown Dallas

I made a trek Tuesday morning from my home in Collin County to downtown Dallas.

Along the way I was struck by a couple of thoughts.

One was that, “Dang, it’s nice to drive along the Central Expressway during morning rush hour and not have to slow down.” Previous trips along U.S. 75 from Princeton to the heart of Big D would last as long as 90 minutes; the trip includes plenty of serious slowdowns and occasional traffic stoppages. I made this particular trek in less than an hour.

OK, I get that it was just the second workday between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which means a lot of traffic was, shall we say, elsewhere. School is out. Kids are with Grandma and Grandpa, along with their parents.

The second thought was whether it is a precursor for what might lie ahead if businesses have to shut down — again! — in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re in the midst of another spike in infections from the Omicron variant. The first business shutdown in early 2021 was no picnic for businesses that had to close their doors and keep employees at home. It was a picnic, though, for those who had to travel through the Metroplex during that time.

Our highway network often is choked with traffic during rush hours — morning and evening. I relished the drive this week. I don’t expect to relish it very much in the future.



Doesn’t matter which disaster strikes … they’re all terrible

I did not snap this picture. Someone else did. It reveals a tornado that ripped through Dallas in the dark of night Sunday.

No one died in this event. The twister did do a considerable amount of damage as it tore through the northern and eastern parts of the city. My wife and I were hunkered down in our house in Princeton, about 30 or so miles north of where this horror unfolded; our son and his family were a bit closer to the storm in Allen, where the sirens blared during the peak of the storm.

When these events occur fairly close, I am inclined to think occasionally: Which natural disaster is worse?

Earthquake? Hurricane? Volcanic eruption? Tidal wave? Flood? Fire? What about tornado?

Hey, they’re all terrible! They all kill you just as dead!

The tornado certainly did frighten me as it swept across major thoroughfares in Dallas. It damaged vehicles along U.S. 75, a major north-south highway that cuts through the center of Dallas; it hit also along Interstate 635, aka the LBJ Freeway, which runs east-west just north of Dallas.

I am going to assume that it is something of a miracle that no one died in this event. The storm certainly has been reported to have been strong enough, and large enough, to have inflicted that kind of pain. To our great relief, it didn’t.

As you can see here, though, the damage brought by this twister did create plenty of misery and heartbreak. My heart goes out to those who have to pick up the pieces and cobble their lives together.

I am sure I can speak for our neighbors and our family in declaring that these kinds of storms can stay away for a very long time … or for as long as Mother Nature will allow.

Wow! That’s all one can say about that storm

This picture came from the Washington Post’s website, which leads me to believe it’s the real thing. It’s no Photoshop product, or the result of some other photographic trickery.

It is a picture of what occurred over Dallas, Texas, yesterday. The storm produced high wind, heavy rain and it knocked over a construction crane in the city’s downtown district.

They call this phenomenon a “microburst.” It was deadly, indeed. One person died when the crane crashed into a building, cutting the structure virtually in two.

I got an inquiry from a friend downstate who asked if had experienced any of that mayhem. I told her “no,” and noted that we got a bit of rain and a little bit of wind in Princeton, which is about 40 or so miles north of Dallas.

I have heard it said about Texas weather — whether it’s on the Gulf Coast or in the Panhandle, where we have lived during our 35 years in Texas — that “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes …” I also have heard it said of the Panhandle that “You can experience all the seasons of the year in just a matter of minutes.”

Let it also be said of North Texas, where we now call home, that meteorological violence can erupt just on the other side of our neighborhood.

Storms such as the one that roared Sunday over downtown Dallas can produce magnificent images … but they aren’t to be trifled with.


Why not run the rail line a little farther north?

If I were more of a political activist, I might be inclined to raise a little ruckus in my new community of residence.

Fairview, Texas, is a nice town in Collin County, just north of Dallas County, which is where Big D is located.

The issue at hand? Why not run the light rail service that shoots north from Dallas to Fairview?

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is a successful mass transit system that serves the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. We’ve ridden DART from Plano south to the Dallas County Fairgrounds. It’s a nice ride, believe me.

I now live just a few blocks east of where the rail line ought to run, along U.S. Highway 75. Except that it doesn’t come this far north.

Were they to run the line just a little farther north from Plano, past Allen, through Fairview and into McKinney, I would use the train. I would be its most vocal champion. I would take up the cudgel for mass transit rail ridership.

My hometown of Portland, Ore., is arguably the unofficial “mass transit capital of the United States.” Its bus system is second to none; it runs a light-rail system that carries passengers into the city from miles beyond the city limits.

I don’t yet know whether they plan to extend DART service eventually farther into Collin County. I’ll have to study up on it, sniff around, ask some questions.

Fairview Town Hall is just around the corner from where we live these days.

What the heck … I believe I am going to stick my head in the door and ask to speak to the city manager/administrator.

Hey, why not try to rustle up some interest in a proven method of moving people from place to place?

Wish me luck.

Austin needs a new interstate highway


SAN MARCOS, Texas — The drive from north of Dallas to just south of the state’s capital city went virtually without a hitch.

Until we got to Austin.

We spent four glorious days in Allen with our granddaughter Emma, her parents and her brothers. Then we headed south for some more Christmas vacation time. In the next day or so we’ll gather with our nieces, one of our niece’s husband, our two great-nieces and my wife’s brother.

Then we’ll head home.

I intend fully to avoid Austin on the way home. Coming through the city this afternoon was no picnic.

Don’t misunderstand: We had no mishaps. We didn’t come to a complete stop at any point on our journey through what’s known in Texas as “The People’s Republic of Austin”; hey, this last Lone Star bastion of liberal politics needs a term of endearment.

But it was around 2 p.m. as we entered the city. It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The traffic isn’t supposed to be this clogged; aren’t many millions of Americans supposed to be taking some time off — at home?

I’ve concluded that Austin needs another interstate highway, an east-west thoroughfare to take some of the stress off that demolition derby track aka Interstate 35.

I read somewhere not long ago that Austin (population that exceeds 800,000 residents) is the largest city in America with just a single interstate highway coarsing through it. I-35 runs north-and-south through the city. There ain’t one that runs perpendicular through Austin, which as most of us know is going through some serious growing pains. Everyone seems to want to live there.

Even though Austin is enduring this growth spurt and with traffic bound to get only worse as more people migrate there, the city is faced with this political reality: It is a Democratic bastion in a heavily Republican state; what’s more, Congress is controlled by Republicans, which would seem to make it problematic if the city hopes to acquire federal highway money to route an interstate highway spur through Austin.

Infrastructure improvements — you know, highways and other things like that — used to be above and beyond politics.

That was then, which of course bears little resemblance to the here and now.


Now it’s a McKinney, Texas, cop under fire

Oh, brother. Here we go … again.

A McKinney police officer has been suspended after he roughed up some unarmed juveniles at a swim party in the suburban community north of Dallas.

It’s been caught on video. It’s made the rounds. Gone viral, in fact.


The video shows the officer detaining kids at the swim party. At one point, he forces — and this is quite interesting — a bikini-clad girl to the ground; when the girl gets up, the officer pulls his service revolver out of its holster, then puts the gun away after several seconds.

Yep, it’s fair to wonder out loud: Did the officer actually think the girl was packing heat wearing, um, a bikini? He ended up putting his knees on the girl’s back, restraining her while waiting for backup to arrive.

Here’s where I ought to mention that the officer is white, almost all the kids are black.

One of the girls involved in the disturbance is heard to yell at the officer that he “isn’t going to be a cop no more.” There were other terrible things said in the melee, including an apparently racist rant from an adult bystander.

The resolution of this incident has all the earmarks of another ugly chapter being written.

Conspiracy theories are for the birds

Conspiracy theories drive me nuts.

I mean it. I think I’m going crazy listening to any and all of them.

The latest spate of conspiracy theories centers around downtown Amarillo. There’s a segment of our city population — and I’m not convinced it comprises even a significant minority of residents — who keep concocting nefarious schemes dealing with business relationships within (a) city government (b) the business community or (c) between them both.

These theories are coming from individuals — or perhaps small groups of individuals — who don’t believe the city’s master plan for reviving downtown is going to work. They won’t give it a chance. They are willing to toss it out at the front end because, by golly, they just know something underhanded is going on.

I forged a fairly decent career in daily journalism over the span of 37 years. I am wired to be skeptical of matters at a lot of levels. However, I am not such a cynic as to believe out of hand that a high-dollar business deal is simply a bad thing because it involves a fair amount of money.

And yet, that’s what I keep hearing.

Conspiracy theories have this way of growing legs and even wings. They feed on themselves. They produce conspiracy spawns, that themselves grow into full-fledged conspiracies.

Here’s one that came to me today — second-hand to be sure, but I trust the source who mentioned this tidbit to me: A young member of my family told another member of my family that “it has been proven” that a Secret Service agent killed President Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. It wasn’t Lee Harvey Oswald. It wasn’t any of the other so-called conspiracy theories: the mob; the Cubans; hell, it wasn’t even Lyndon Johnson. The killer was a member of the Secret Service, the agency charged with protecting the life of the president of the United States. And it’s been proven that the Secret Service did it.

I’m glad I didn’t hear my young family member make that idiotic assertion. I would have stroked out.

That’s the kind of thing that has infected much of the discussion surrounding the downtown Amarillo story.

How about we just keep our eyes peeled and our ears open and actually witness and listen carefully to the things being discussed?


Ebola patient dies; now, let's stay calm

Thomas Eric Duncan has died of Ebola.

He came to Dallas from Liberia carrying the virus that causes the disease. He checked into a hospital and was given the best treatment possible anywhere in the world. Still, the disease killed him.

It’s a sad end to a man’s life.


Now what? Do we panic? Do we quarantine the entire hospital staff? Or those who came into this man’s room?

Not at all.

Yes, I blogged recently about the difficulty of maintaining my composure when Duncan arrived in Dallas, given that I have immediate family members living in the Metroplex. My head has cleared since then.

I hope we start listening to the medical experts who are saying the same thing — over and over, repeatedly. The only way one can catch the killer disease is to come in direct contact with someone who’s infected.

CNN’s coverage of this “crisis,” as usual, has been a bit overblown — in my humble view. The network’s reporters and anchors keep harping on the crisis aspect of the disease in West Africa — and it’s real. However, I am concerned about what it’s doing to the American psyche as it relates to this disease.

Yet the network is trotting out infectious disease experts from all over creation to tell us that a single case of Ebola in one American city should not be cause to push panic buttons, or to sound sirens, or send people into undisclosed secure locations.

If this situation is going to produce any positive outcome, it might be this: We’ve got a lot of brilliant medical researchers right here in the U.S. of A. who are quite capable of finding it. If the Ebola scare has done anything at all, I am hopeful it has scared researchers into redoubling their efforts at finding a cure.

JFK conspiracy theories still abound

I am in a distinct minority of Americans.

Most of my countrymen believe something even more sinister happened on Nov. 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas.

I am not one of them.


No sir. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe he managed to fire of three shots from that building in downtown Dallas. I believe the third shot struck the president and killed him instantly.

I also believe the Warren Commission, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, offered convincing enough proof that Oswald did the terrible deed.

NBCNews.com wonders why so many Americans believe in some conspiracy theory. My guess is that it gives them something to talk about. Perhaps it also boggles their minds that a loser such as Oswald could pull off one of the 20th century’s most hideous crimes.

Let’s face it, Oswald was every bit the loser. He was a Marxist who sought to defect to the then-Soviet Union. He was a devotee of Fidel Castro, the Cuban commie who was ruling the island nation at the time of the JFK assassination.

I have read accounts of the Warren Commission report. I’ve read detailed books looking at all sides of the panel’s findings. I’ve decided that Oswald did it. He acted alone. He killed the 35th president of the United States.

Why the interest 50 years after the fact? Human nature just doesn’t allow people to put these matters to rest.