BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “Parks.”

Zzzz shell

Monday, September 26th, 2022 Alive 18,780 days

A turtle on a rock in the sun in the Japanese Garden at Hermann Park

One of the best features of the Sunday Morning program on CBS is the part at the end where we get to see some part of the natural world. No lasers. No music. No talking heads. Just birds, and plants, and bees, and animals doing what they're meant to do.

While CBS has slashed the time devoted to that segment each week from minutes down to mere seconds, other television stations like KHOU/Houston and Sky News, have started adding these segments.

As a former television producer, I know that in addition to be beautiful and memorable and giving people a reason to stop and stare, these segments with soft ending times are useful for padding out a short show, or sacrificing so that I can cram in some last-minute story.

With the infinite resources of the intarweb, there's no need to cut nautre for time. So here is my gift to you: A turtle being all turtle-y in Hermann Park. Watch as long as you like.

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Thereʼs a fungus among us

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 Alive 18,740 days

Mushrooms in Hermann Park

I donʼt know if thereʼs too much water, or too much mulch on this hillock, but either way the result is a ʼshroom with a view!

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Playgrounds never change

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 Alive 18,740 days

Ducks in Hermann Park

This reminds me of the old song from The Electric Company (or maybe it was Sesame Street?):

One of these kids is not like the others
One of these kids is not the same
One of these kids does not belong
Do you know his name?

Ducks can be cruel.

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🌩🌩🌩

Sunday, May 1st, 2022 Alive 18,632 days

Downtown Houston during a thunderstorm

You know what Iʼm doing right now? Hiding under a big tree during a thunderstorm.

You know what youʼre absolutely not supposed to do during a thunderstorm? Hide under a big tree.

Every once in a while, I see someone on the news who got killed while hiding under a tree during a thunderstorm. But man, once those fat drops start pummeling you, instinct kicks in.

More intelligent was the couple down the hill that turned a picnic blanket into a tarp and laid on the ground to wait out the storm. Smart people. Soggy, but smart.

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Row, row, row your boat

Sunday, May 1st, 2022 Alive 18,632 days

People kayaking on Buffalo Bayou in the shadow of downtown Houston

Itʼs still a bit strange for me to see people leisurely recreating along and on top of Buffalo Bayou. When I lived in Houston twenty years ago, it would be unthinkable. The bayou was considered so filthy that people treated it the same way children do when they play the hot lava game hopping around on the living room furniture.

Now I see people boating, fishing, and generally having a good time along a waterway that a generation ago was verboten.

According to the bayouʼs 2001 Master Plan Project document, itʼs 13½ feet deep downtown. That same document also states that there is an E.P.A. Superfund hazardous waste site a half-mile downstream from this location containing “arsenic, chromium, cobalt, lead, copper, and nickel.” Yum.

Maybe thatʼs been cleaned up in the last 20 years. Maybe the document is correct in stating that somehow, in spite of regular bombardment by hurricanes, tropical storms, and other severe weather that the bad stuff somehow never leaches into the bayou. Or maybe Iʼll just stay out of the water for now. If the hazardous waste doesnʼt get me, a buffalo gar will.

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Honk!

Saturday, April 30th, 2022 Alive 18,631 days

Aggressive geese

You know what happens when geese lose their fear of people? They stand on your foot and rip a page out of the paperback youʼre trying to read. Naughty goose.

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The smell of a bakery?

Saturday, April 30th, 2022 Alive 18,631 days

The Japanese garden at Hermann Park

Grass, flowers, turtle, rock. Everyoneʼs looking in the same direction. Except for me. Iʼm looking at them looking at something else. Must be quite a show.

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Three

Saturday, April 30th, 2022 Alive 18,631 days

A pair of turtles think deep thoughts in the Japanese garden in Hermann Park

“Hey, Frank.”

“Yeah, Morty.”

“How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?”

“Ask Mr. Owl."

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Lillies, sans water

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022 Alive 18,628 days

Sprouts defy the sun-baked earth

Nature finds a way.

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Murder log at two oʼclock

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022 Alive 18,628 days

An alligator cruises the canal

Itʼs not the ones you can see that you have to worry about. Itʼs the ones you canʼt see.

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Discovery “Green”

Friday, April 15th, 2022 Alive 18,616 days

Discovery Green

Discovery Green at night. You canʼt see the park for all the lights and buildings, which is mostly true durng the day, as well. There is a trend in modern park design to over-build in order to make a single park everything for everybody. The result is that very often, as in the case of Discovery Green, it ceases to be a park and is transformed into a playground for adults.

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Discover where the green went

Tuesday, January 11th, 2022 Alive 18,522 days

A mini-golf course at Discovery Green

I donʼt understand the stewardship philosophy of the people who run Discovery Green. Thatʼs why Iʼm not surprised to see that one of the worldʼs largest entertainment conglomerates has been allowed to bogart public space to promote one of its brands.

A Pixar-themed miniature golf course is now squatting on one of the few green parcels of Discovery Green. Why? Presumably in the name of holy, sacred “programming.”

Iʼve been to a lot of municipal meetings where the people who run parks talk about how they run them. Invariably they talk about how the park should be “programmed.” These days they also call it “activation.” Same meaningless buzzword. Different generation.

Discovery Green is already over-programmed. There's webcams, movie nights, concerts, restaurants, promenades, temporary ice rinks, a model boat basin, a splash pad, a playground, a climbing hill, a pond, a parking garage, a wall of fame, a jogging trail, multiple seating platforms, a solar array, a shuffleboard court, chess tables, picnic tables, a dog park, bocce courts, a bandstand, art installations, a giant mister, a putting green, flea markets, a library, reading rooms, and probably many other things I havenʼt stumbled across yet.

Discovery Green should pick a couple of things and do them well, rather than shoehorn 30 different things into less than a dozen acres poorly. Let another park have some of the action. Itʼs not like most of Houston doesnʼt need more parks.

More to the point — whatʼs wrong with a park being a park? Whatʼs wrong with trees and grass and flowers and birds? Is there no room anymore for rest, contemplation, and refuge? Urban parks were invented to give people a break from city life. But most new parks are built for engagement, experience, and social media — All of the things for which parks should be an antidote, not a vector.

A Pixar Putt storage container at Discovery Green
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567 feet, 3¾ inches

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021 Alive 18,487 days

The San Jacinto Monument

Lots of Gulf Coast Texans visit the San Jacinto Monument as children on school field trips. But few visit it after that. Which is a shame, because it is as adults that we can best appreciate it.

When youʼre a child, this is just another great big building and what did your mom put in your lunch and what kind of bug is that and Mikey stop pulling Jennyʼs hair or youʼre going back on the bus.

As an adult, you can marvel at the geometry of the enormous star at the top; appreciate the reliefs of the people who laid the foundation for what Texas is today; and study the fossils embedded in the limestone base.

The San Jacinto Monument is 13 feet taller than the Washington Monument. The Texas state capitol in Austin has the same 13-foot supremacy over the U.S. capitol in Washington, DC. But for some reason, while Texans have the remarkable ability to regularly manage to mention the Austin capitolʼs height advantage over the DC capitol, they never mention the monumental difference. Perhaps because it was taught to them as children on a field trip, and theyʼve since forgotten OK thatʼs enough back on the bus Mikey you have detention for the rest of the week.

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Monday, April 12th, 2021 Alive 18,248 days

A day in the Valley of Fire with Darcie.

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