Sunday, February 26, 2012

What Happens When a 1%er Gets A Speeding Ticket


I've been sworn to secrecy as to the name of the Pampa millionaire (a member of my very own childhood church!) who found himself so rudely stopped and ticketed by Estelline's finest. As one can see, it's the not cost of the ticket that irked him so, given the fact he was able to pay for this billboard, but rather it's sheer principle that's involved here. The principle to have everything your own way, that is!

Estelline, it's sort of by Amarillo
(closest city I could find on the map)

The story as I know it is that during the 80's Estelline voted go "wet", meaning you can sell the alky-hol there. Revenue from this allowed them to fund a police department and from that they constructed their very own speed trap. How said millionaire never caught wind of this I have no idea. All those little towns on state highway 287 are not to be trusted with Estelline long known as the most infamous of them all.

Estelline Crop

The Amarillo Globe News caught wind of the sign and ran an article on it, wondering who exactly was the "sign guy". The article drew a range of responses. None from Barney Fife, however, who would I assume should be the most offended.

Local reaction was mixed:

The folks in Estelline don’t need a billboard on the north end of the tiny town in Hall County to remind them. They know what everyone else in this part of the world also knows.

“I’ve heard it all my life,” said Farrah Farris, owner of The Beer Store, one of five businesses in Estelline, population 145, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. “I’ve shown my driver’s license before and it was a pretty good ways from here. It says Estelline.”

“The woman goes, ‘Oh my God, that’s the speed trap of Texas. Seriously, that’s what we’re known for.”

Well, that’s true. Anyone who has made many swings through Estelline, 105 miles southeast of Amarillo on U.S. Highway 287, has known that for a long time. About 200 drivers a month don’t get through Estelline without a little souvenir — a speeding ticket.


Farris has heard mixed comments from locals. Some think it’s hilarious. Some think it ridiculous. She thinks it’s funny.

“But the man must have more money than sense,” said Farris. “It’s extremely expensive to put up a billboard. I checked into it because of my business and couldn’t afford it.”


A New Yorker was pulled over doing 90 mph. Her excuse, Warren said, was she didn’t think this place had a cop.

About $240 later, she knew it did.

(Click link to read entire article)


One hometowner was most offended:

The first is a billboard: a spiteful thing erected in the Texas Panhandle by people who think it is OK to break the law by speeding through tiny towns. The billboard refers to my hometown as a speed trap. In a mockery of a much-loved American television show with an ineffective but lovable town deputy, the billboard makes a sarcastic and thoughtless categorization of local law enforcement and disrespects the sanctity of this community.
(Click link to read entire article)


Finally, sign guy himself responded, as noted by the paper's blog:

The mysterious Estelline billboard man has surfaced, but, alas, no name yet. Last week I wrote a column about a billboard at the edge of Estelline that mocks the small town as a notorious speed trap. A Pampa post office box was listed to "help support this sign."

Wednesday I had a letter in my maibox at work from "the sign guy."

Dear Friend,

I appreciate your contribution to help support the WARNING sign in Estelline, Texas.

I feel strongly that the City of Estelline Police Department is NOT there to "Protect & Serve," is not all about "Safety & Law Enforcement," but simply exist to generate revenue in order that this little band of Pirates can pay themselves a nice salary and maintain an existence in this dot on the map town.

My own personal epxerience suggest that they used the LETTER of the law with extremely strict enforcement, in order to accomplish their goal of revenue generation. I would hate to think that I made my living screwing over 10 to 20 fellow Americans every day.

My best case scenario for the SIGN would be to generate money to accomplish the following things:

1. Set a new sign at least 1 mile before the city limites of Estelline, on both the north and south side.

2. The sign would inform all drivers that the next 2 miles is a speed trap.

3. It would inform all drivers that the speed limits are "STRICTLY" enforced.

Then hoping the results of informing all drivers of what is ahead of them, will totally eliminate any speeding thru the town, thus increasing the safety of the entire community. Be aware that if the Pirates have no one to give tickets to, I am not sure what will happen to their budgetary needs and requirements to stay in business. Once again, thank you for your contribution. Stay tuned and we will see where this road goes.


The Sign Guy

FYI -- There is a really good article on Estelline by CNN dated 5/21/11 - Titled: The Biggest Little Speed Trap in Texas


Estelline Dust Zoom
Photo taken from other side of the road

But as I've said before, we are like a Jewish compound in WWII Germany. We are livid and outraged and furious when we think a tennis ball has been unfairly called in or out. Faces get red and it's argued as a matter of life and death. It's way of pretending to deal with reality.

But greed is not just a symptom of the banks, it's a nationwide disease. Just as when the protection of Glass Steagall was lifted, so have farmers stopped land protection practices stemming from the Great Depression as well. Some say we have set the conditions for a dust bowl all over again. He who lives by greed, dies by greed.

Perhaps Barney says it best:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Zen Squirrel And Lord Heron In Japanese Winter's Repose (Photo Essay)

Another year is gone;
and I still wear
straw hat and straw sandal.


Branch Silhouette

As the good book says, there is a time for all things under the sun. To me, that means there's as much beauty in winter as any season. And while oftentimes on the surface nothing may appear to be happening, the true story is under the covers waiting to blossom at a later date. Knowing this, I slipped into the Japanese Garden of my escape from this time of earthly woe to see what I could see on a cloudy, wintry morn.

Zen Squirrel

Zen Squirrel Close

Zen Squirrel Stand

After a long night's rain I found a squirrel in prayer at the Zen rock garden. In the Spring will come the time for gathering and feeding the body. In winter's respite, a time to feed the soul.

Let us meditate on the movements of the rocks
and the illusion of now.

Zen Rocks 2

Zen Water
Quiet reflection

Zen Wet

The knell of the bells at the Gion temple
Echoes the impermanence of all things.

As blossoms prepare for their unveiling hidden from the naked eye, the garden heals itself before April's coming festival. A heavy stone from a path through the water had fallen, cutting off one side from the other for the past two years. With the water drained for that, a good time to rebuild the tea house. The garden shall return in triumph.

Wash Out

Tea House 1

Water Still

The colour of the flowers on its double-trunked tree
Reveals the truth that to flourish is to fall.

In winter's time to each his own, a contrast of color and colorless, of leafy and bare, and dormancy and activity. The Japanese garden celebrates all these aspects with equal joy, providing a rich palette of experience in joyful invitation.

Colors Close

Tree Skinny

White Blossoms

Tree Outline

He who is proud is not so for long,
Like a passing dream on a night in spring.

Water Long

The harmony of symmetry

Tree With Reflection


He who is brave is finally destroyed,
To be no more than dust before the wind.

- the Heike tale

Branches Gathering
Like a gathering storm

Gazebo Top

Arch Bridge 2

Branch Arch

The garden is also the private domain of this heron who flies in on a daily basis oblivious to any interlopers or seasonal change. Ooaosagi is the Japanese word for a Great Blue Heron. For short, we'll call him "sagi-san". It is said he will imperiously stand in one spot for hours.

Stepping Stones Heron

Heron Stepping Stones

Heron Stepping Stones Close


The mountains in autumn,
there are so many fallen leaves
- looking for my lost lover
I cannot find the path.

In the south end, new paths are under construction. An elevated walkway, new overlooks and even a moat's wall! But alas, I will lose one of my favorite spots: the red brick pathway through the green bamboo. The bricks are from the roads of Fort Worth. The use of bricks in Japanese Gardens is not traditional but the recycling of local material very much is. Perhaps, someone mourns the loss of their brick road as it's replaced with dull pavement.

The old pathway

Brick Path
It is now intercepted by new decking


New Path
Walkway descends into this new stone path

New overlook area

Stone Wall
Mimicking stone moat walls of the great Japanese castles

Kanazawa castle

The Zen Squirrel and Lord Heron were not the only wildlife to be seen.

Duck Wings

Koi Reflections

Couple Koi

A ronin photographer!

When two ronin meet on the road, each stops with his hand firmly upon his unsheathed sword. The opponents search the other's eyes for strength of spirit, deciding if battle should be done. All warfare is based upon deception but the honest eye cannot be deceived. And thus we did battle with our breath visible in the frigid, wintry air.

Branch Hangers
A picture only an "artsy" judge might like

He was a "competition photographer" only. He parried forth: "I could walk around here all day taking pictures I thought were just interesting to myself." But he chose not to. Only pictures prized by committess did he also prize. But he also expressed grave doubts any picture he took on a cloudy winter's day such as today would have any merit in their eyes. "Too lifeless."

Overlook View

I left my sword in its scabbard. He must find his own path and I could not let him distract me from mine - there was simply too much life in the garden I might miss.

From my proud and strong friend Saburo,
who could not fail you were he even to try...


to secret viewing spots...

Bush Overlook

to the small but unique personalities...

Squiggly Tree

to nature's coloring book...


To the climbing moss on the gift shop...

Gift Shop Moss

to the majesty of still water...

Leaf Water

and the infinity of a single leaf,
a composition beyond all human understanding.

Leaf Water Crop

Our life in this world -
to what shall I compare it?
Its like an echo
resounding through the mountains
and off into the empty sky.

- Monk Ryokan