Blathr Wayne Lorentz

What is Blathr?

Blathring in February, 2023

Sunday, February 26th, 2023 Alive 18,933 days

Show me a king who can tell a joke, and Iʼll show you a noble gas.

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Itʼs probably already done

Saturday, February 25th, 2023 Alive 18,932 days

Hereʼs my million-dollar idea:

Open a Hallmark store on a cruise ship.

  • Birthday cards: $30
  • Anniversary cards: $50
  • “Honey, she meant nothing to me” cards: $100
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Friday, February 24th, 2023 Alive 18,931 days

Show me a bunch of portals that can play jazz, and Iʼll show you some swinging doors.

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Thursday, February 23rd, 2023 Alive 18,930 days

Show me secondary education for our finned friends, and Iʼll show you a school of fish.

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Wait till you see what they did with your address

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023 Alive 18,929 days

I told Pizza Hut I do not want text message updates about my pie.

Forty-four minutes later…

Thanks for completely ignoring my choice, Pizza Hut!

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Monday, February 20th, 2023 Alive 18,927 days

The activity light on an active TRS-80 Model 100 Backpack drive

The SD card floppy drive emulator I use on my TRS-80 has its activity light facing the wrong direction. So I drilled a hole in the case, and voila!

I wonder how many other tech problems can be solved with power tools.

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People never learn

Sunday, February 19th, 2023 Alive 18,926 days

I went somewhere new to look for birds today. Itʼs the Baytown Nature Center. Four bucks gets you a friendly smile and a inkjet-printed map at the gate.

If youʼre someone whose lived in Houston for a long while, you may know it as the neighborhood of Brownwood. Brownwood was a nice little development on the edge of Crystal Bay. Today, itʼs birds and brush and otters and catfish.

What happened to Brownwood is what is likely to happen to a lot of places in the Houston area — man got too greedy, so nature took it back.

A number of places in this area get their drinking and industrial-use water from the ground. This is causing towns all over the region to sink as the water is depleted, and the soft earth above pushes down. Itʼs one of the reasons that foundation repair commercials are so common on Houston television. Yet people continue to demand that their municipalities rely on cheap groundwater, instead of other slightly-more-expensive sources. Gotta save a buck whenever we can, right?

Brownwood sank between ten and 15 feet in some places, and was a sitting duck when Hurricane Alicia came through in 1983. If people hadnʼt been so greedy, Brownwood likely would have been lightly damaged, like much of the rest of the region. Instead, it was flooded so badly that it had to be abandoned.

Nature is trying to take things back, but itʼs happening slowly. Perhaps I just went at a bad time of the year, but there was very little nature to behold. The stars of the show were the roseate spoonbills, all pink and flashy. Also, a couple of alligators, some catfish, assorted herons, and a persistently unlucky pelican.

The streets remain, though in an advanced level of decay. And you can occasionally make out where a house once stood by the sewer manholes, metal railings, boat piers, or incongruous and out-of-control landscaping.

Nature will erase all of this, too, eventually. But I donʼt think the washed out homeowners realize how awful it would have been to live there today. The place is surrounded by petrochemical plants that blare and thrum and whistle and shriek all day long, and all night. Itʼs not a peaceful place, and probably not somewhere that anyone would want to live, if they had a choice.

Birds I encountered today:

  • Blue Jay
  • Carolina Wren
  • Common Gallinule
  • House Wren
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Roseate Spoonbills
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • Tricolored Heron
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Yellow-breasted chat
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
Itʼs easy to imagine that at one time a red and blue “ReMax” sign once hung from this birdʼs perch.
Water from Galveston Bay washes through the community.
Where the streets have no name. Well, they still do. But nobody uses them except Apple Maps.
Once this may have been someoneʼs dream home by the sea.
An alligator checking out the spoonbills in pink. Must be a leg man.
Spoonbills and friends at this preserve are easily spooked.
A bask of turtles basking.
The Yasa Pelican, an oil tanker registered in the Marhsall Islands, arrives in Houston from the Bahamas. It docked at the Chevron facility in Galena Park. Presumably to load up, since the Bahamas doesnʼt have any oil to export.
This place has crabs.
Refineries. Concrete. Weeds. Noise. Brown water. Lone Star flag. This scene pretty much sums up Texas.
The Boy Scouts used to get a badge when theyʼd build a walkway. Now they get an advertisement.
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Sunday, February 19th, 2023 Alive 18,926 days

Show me a painting of a Mingo County moonshiner, and Iʼll show you a still life.

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Saturday, February 18th, 2023 Alive 18,925 days

Show me a group of people making fun of a country singer to his face, and Iʼll show you Kenny Rogers Roasters.

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Theyʼre working on it

Wednesday, February 15th, 2023 Alive 18,922 days

An error message from Citibank

A mystery error on a bank web site. Thatʼs OK. Itʼs not like people trust banks with their money or anything.

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The CSS is 404, too

Monday, February 13th, 2023 Alive 18,920 days

A 404 message from Netflix

A web siteʼs 404 page is often the most neglected page of the site. Netflix wonʼt even waste CSS on it.

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Not yet, anyway

Sunday, February 12th, 2023 Alive 18,919 days

No one ever died on Bargain Hunt.

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Math = hard

Saturday, February 11th, 2023 Alive 18,918 days

A mistake at

Citibankʼs web site says my browser is not supported. It wants a minimum of Safari 15.2.

Iʼm using 16.3.

Is it too much to expect a bank to know how to count?

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Overlooked brook

Thursday, February 9th, 2023 Alive 18,916 days

I went to a new place to find a slice of nature: The Trinity River Waterbird Rookery

Itʼs right off of Interstate 10 near Wallisville, Texas, which is both a blessing and a curse.

Brown sign marks the spot

Itʼs great because the entrance is adjacent to a bridge over the Trinity River, so most people donʼt see it and itʼs inconvenient to get to, so hardly anyone ever goes there. The bad part is that the wildlife viewing platform is so close to the freeway that you canʼt hear whatever birds might be busy rooking up in the preserve.

Cormorants cormorants cormorants!

Itʼs not formally a nature preserve, itʼs a flood control project, which is why it was built by the army. But when I was there, the foliage was recovering nicely from the Christmas cold blast, and there was a big fat painted turtle in the shallows looking at me with an angry face like some kind of swamp bouncer.

Spanish moss swaying in the breeze
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You say potato…

Thursday, February 9th, 2023 Alive 18,916 days

Show me an ordinary spud, and Iʼll show you a commentator.

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Wednesday, February 8th, 2023 Alive 18,915 days

I have coined a new idiom:

That dude is high from sniffing his own diapers!

I havenʼt decided what it means yet, but on the surface is sounds both clever and marginally offensive. Iʼll have to come up with a way to work it into polite conversation.

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Tuesday, February 7th, 2023 Alive 18,914 days

Diverging paths

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one on the right because there was more shade.

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Into the woods

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023 Alive 18,914 days

The Turtle Bayou Nature Preserve also has a less-traveled eastern unit. There's hardly any bids to hear there, though. It's much drier, and a much less thorny hike along the water.

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Shell shocked

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023 Alive 18,914 days

A turtle at the Trinity River Waterbird Rookery

That's the wrong body of water, Mack. Turtle Bayou is one stream over.

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Nature's bathtub

Monday, February 6th, 2023 Alive 18,913 days

A Tom Sawyer-grade swimminʼ hole in the woods
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Youʼre loopy

Monday, February 6th, 2023 Alive 18,913 days

FM-563 over Turtle Bayou

Man, that FM-563 traffic just never stops.

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Park it

Sunday, February 5th, 2023 Alive 18,912 days

I spent the morning at the Turtle Bayou Nature Preserve. Turtle Bayou used to be a oil town, but when the oil ran out, so did the people. All that's left of the town is an abandoned ferry landing, scattered concrete foundations, and the occasional bit of rusting oil infrastructure.

Today, the preserve is a refuge for various birds and other wetland critters from coyotes to crawfish. It is also occasionally occupied by herds of cattle, who crop the greenery, fertilize with abandon, and churn up the soil so it doesn't get too compacted. Pretty much the same thing that deer and elk and buffalo used to do here, before they were driven out by suburbia.

The area also functions as a geologic sponge, regulating water levels and cleaning pollutants from the water that flows from the surrounding 88,000 acres into Galveston Bay. That's why the Chambers-Liberty County Navigation District supports this project. It helps both birds and barges.

Birds tallied on this visit:

  • American Goldfinch
  • American Kestrel
  • American Wigeon
  • American Crow
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Boat-tailed Grackle
  • Blue Jay
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Carolina Wren
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Common Gallinule
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • House Wren
  • Mallard
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Pine Warbler
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Royal Tern
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Sedge Wren
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler

My recommendation: do not hike the trails with flat-bottomed shoes. You need hiking boots at a minimum. Well-worn cowboy boots are probably best. Especially if it's rained in the last week, and if the cows are visiting.

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That joke stinks

Friday, February 3rd, 2023 Alive 18,910 days

Show me a green onion that can rhyme, and I'll show you a rapscallion.

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Itʼs not even Shabbat

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023 Alive 18,909 days

An error message from B&H Photo and Video

Well, hereʼs something you almost never see: an error message from the B&H web site.

B&H takes its web presence very seriously, and is among the planetʼs biggest targets for criminals. But somehow the boffins on 9th Avenue manage to keep the fraudsters at bay, while maintaining a web site that is fast, complex, and fairly easy to use.

This error message didnʼt last long. Only a few seconds. Perhaps today is a good day to buy a lottery ticket.

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Wednesday, February 1st, 2023 Alive 18,908 days

A rooftop proposal coming together

Not every guy proposes with a 12-foot-tall “Will you marry me?” sign atop a downtown parking garage.

But this one did.

A close-up of the rooftop proposal being assembled
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