"After Hours" Journal
An Urban Dream - The Oak Cliff Transit Authority
Written by David R Jennings   
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
The Oak Cliff Transit Authority

Bauart has just launched a new Website for the The Oak Cliff Transit Authority , and yours truly has been chosen to be on their Board of Directors. Below is the story of the OCTA.

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Earlier this year a Dallas Oak Cliff resident, Jason Roberts, thought the time was right to try to rebuild a small part of Dallas history and bring street cars back to Oak Cliff.

Many Dallas citizens don't really know much about Oak Cliff. They assume the stories they hear on the news about an "Oak Cliff Murder" or the "Plight of South Dallas" is enough to know. But many have recently discovered that Oak Cliff is a city within a city and that like Dallas as a whole it is rather hard to quantify.

In fact Oak Cliff was once considered one of the greatest suburban developments in all of the country. Sprouting up almost overnight, it boasted an opera house, theme park, a major league baseball team, and a girls' college. The 1950's and 60's would take their toll on the area beginning with the devastation from a massive tornado and climaxing with the assassination of a president.
When Roberts looked down his suburban hilly tree lined street in North Oak Cliff he saw both what was and what could be.
Why not bring back the street cars to Oak Cliff? At one time OC had more than twenty miles of track which circled the entire area, but as the American infatuation with the automobile rose in the 1950's and 60's the bus replaced the street car and Oak Cliff faded as other Dallas suburbs further North began to shine.

Less than a year after Roberts began his own mission to revitalize Oak Cliff the city of Dallas, state of Texas along with a national effort to find a path out of oil dependancy have picked up Roberts mission and... well... the ball is rolling.

The Oak Cliff Transit Authority is now on the brink of 501c3 status and local business' are onboard with the project. Other U.S. cities like Portland have discovered that where street cars go, so goes the money. Unlike city bus routes which can be altered at a moments notice a street car line brings permanence and local business' jump at the chance to enjoy the profits from increased foot traffic and parking relief.

At a recent OCTA board meeting Board member Matt Holley said, "It is no longer a question of if Oak Cliff will once again have a street car system, but when".

For additional information visit The OCTA Website

 
The 7-7-7 Flood of Lake Texoma
Written by David R Jennings   
Friday, 06 July 2007
Lake Texoma Flood

When the Army Corps of Engineers planned Lake Texoma near Denison, Texas in 1944, they were building the largest earthen dam of their era. The lake's surface spreads over 89,000 acres and is still one of the largest man made reservoirs in the world. This mammoth beast of a lake lies only an hour's drive north of Dallas and shares its borders with both Texas and Oklahoma.
Lake Texoma Is Predicted To Overrun Its Spillway Sometime On July 7, 2007
The primary purpose of the lake was, and is, flood control. The Red and Washita Rivers that now feed the lake would regularly flood and spread disaster from North Texas along the Red River to the Gulf of Mexico. Estimates made at the time predicted that the lake, once completed, would reach its flood stage and overrun its spillway only once every hundred years. Engineers were however quickly proven wrong when Texoma flooded in 1957 only a few short years after it had been completed.

Texoma didn't again reach its 640 foot flood stage until 33 years later when in 1990 it overran the spillway and devastated the area below the dam for the second time. The Corps of Engineers, who still manage the lake and dam today, had held back its rising waters to decrease flooding downstream in Arkansas and Louisiana. With similar flooding conditions occurring downstream this year, Texoma has once again been held back and will soon pass the 640 foot level to drive a final nail in the "100 Year Theory".

Denison native, and private pilot, Paul Jennings along with his wife Carol Jennings provided the amazing photos below of Lake Texoma. Mr. Jennings, who recalls watching the '57 flood, pointed out that the Texoma spillway had once been covered with a lush layer of grass, supposedly to help cure and protect the massive concrete structure that comprises the spillway itself. Jennings said, "The '57 flood washed way hundreds of tons of grass and dirt in just minutes!"
Lake Texoma floods are despised by North Texas and Southern Oklahoma residence because any lengthy flood, especially a spillway event, immediately collapses the seasonal tourist traffic to the area.
Although the "100 Year Theory" has been washed away, the more frequent flooding of Texoma is likely not due to faulty predictions of annual rainfall made in the 1940's but rather a man-made result of the lake being used to fulfill its purpose as a flood control reservoir.

For those interested, both local television stations, KXII-TV Sherman and KTEN Denison are showing live feeds of the Lake Texoma Spillway.

Bridge Near Texoma Lodge

Denison Dam Lake Texoma

Texoma Spillway

 
Will Electric Sheep Dream of Virtual Grass?
Written by David R Jennings   
Wednesday, 04 July 2007
Electric Sheep

Very soon all we know is going to change, and change A LOT!

I first became aware of the change years ago when I saw an old digital calculator. A very low-tech device by today's standards. At first they were only affordable by corporations but slowly and inevitably they were within reach of the average guy. I recall watching the flickering illuminated numbers, and knowing they were going to lead to something important that had nothing to do with math.

Thirty years later as I sit on my sofa typing on a computer that would have been alien to the NASA of the 1960's, I still can't take technology for granted. We rely on technology for everything from entertainment to our jobs.
Remove all technology for one hour and we will sit on the floor with nothing to do. Remove it for a day and we will become cold and hungry. Leave it off for a week and many will die!
You don't have to go back very far to see what an incredible era we are living through. I'm only 44 years old but I recall balancing my checking account on a notepad. I recall looking through dusty encyclopedias in a library to complete a homework assignment. I recall not having money to go out for dinner, or buy gas, because it was Sunday and nobody would cash a check. I recall when a password was something only needed by a spy.

I am daily frustrated by people who just don't "get" technology. They are stuck in the past and are not changing with the rest of us. They want me to "print their email", "send them a fax" or do something like they did in "days-of-old". I recently was able to board a plane and take a trip while a co-worker was left behind. I had booked my flight online and printed my boarding pass at home, but they had mistakenly called reservations to give a "real human" their request... mistakes were made.
It is now time for us all to intentionally adopted the new, and become acutely aware that we MUST be ready for rapid change. The future is going to be a truly astounding place and it will be here very soon.
In just a very few years we will learn to control technology with our minds. Very shortly there after we will be linking our minds to each other so that we can understand their thoughts. When that day comes, and it's just around the corner, lying will become impossible and deception will be undone. Humanity will change immediately, lawyers will be unneeded, politicians will HAVE to tell the truth. And maybe, if we are lucky, the winds of war could be stilled as our motives become transparent and our intentions immediately known.

 
"China Man" Cometh
Written by David R Jennings   
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
China Man

So I'm out in my drive-way washing my car last Saturday when a neighbor walks by, he is an old Chinese guy in his 90's. I see him often making his way to the corner and back, a distance of about 40 yards that takes him about 20 minutes. You do the math.

Anyway, I have to bite my lip to not say hello or I will be stuck in a conversation for a while. But I can't help myself, my southern hospitality is all mixed in with the manners my mother beat into me, and the two conspire to make the chance of me keeping my mouth shut an impossibility. So I say, "Hi... How's your day?". I'm thinking this might lead to a "Fine thank you" or a "Doing good, and you?", hopefully just something short and polite so that I can get back to scrubbing the bumper, but as expected I'm not so lucky.

I call the old Chinese guy "China Man" well at least in my head. I have asked him his name many times but he always responds with a fake easy for an American to understand name like "Joe", or "Lee", or "Jaun". I know he's lying because he never uses the same name twice, plus everyone in his extended family has at one time or another told me their name was "Lee". I know it's not their last name and I doubt that everyone in the house is named Lee. Can you imagine the irony of that!

But after my brief interrogative China Man picks-up his pace and heads my direction. He looks intent like I have just asked the meaning of life and he has a possible solution, or perhaps he just didn't understand and wants to come over to clarify. But I think neither is true. After he gets a little closer I say again, "Hi.... How is your day?", emphasizing each word a little more carefully. He slows to a stop, plants his walking stick on the wet pavement, and after a pause that was either about 10 seconds or a minute, he said, "I Love America.. But things are becoming clear". "Oh?" I say. "Yes!", he replies about an hour later. "I believe.... the war is not what you think", he says. This is a REALLY loaded topic so I stand still and say nothing. I know from several past "how do you dos" that he is an ex-military man, Chinese military that is. To be specific, he didn't play for our team during the cold war.

So, you might think his war reference is about Iraq, but don't be so sure. He could be talking about the Vietnam war, for him Vietnam was only finished off last week. Or maybe he means one of the "WW" wars. This is a more likely choice, but he was around for both WW's and doesn't often get them straight anymore. "Did the Germans invade Poland, or was that before Frans Ferdinand was assassinated?" It's hard to keep that kind of thing straight you know. But this time China Man is on his game and says, "The thing that is most clear.... is that however good intentioned you Americans are, you are wrong. And! those you think to be your friends most probably are not."

Well the next 45 minutes were a blur of international politics, some current, some relevant, some not. In the end I think China Man had it right. Things ARE becoming clear. And more Americans agree that we ARE doing it wrong. And I have learned the hard way, several times now, that those we think to be our friends may actually not be our friends at all.

Slow moving China Man got it right... Way to go China Man!

 

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