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Texas Tradition…a drive in the wildflowers

I am from Texas, born and raised….yet in my thirty (cough cough) years…I had never heard of the tradition of going and taking pictures in the seasonal wildflowers of Texas. Especially with the state flower, the Bluebonnets. Last year I was introduced to this as my wife and I took our 5 month old daughter to a pristine little patch of Bluebonnets on her parents ranch. On the drive there I saw people pulled along the side of the road, with their children and loved ones, taking pictures in the patches of wildflowers along the side of the road. Luckily for us, our little patch was untrampled and we got a few nice pictures, given that our 5 month old wasnt feeling it. It was also special because she was wearing a dress her mommy wore when she was a baby as well.

This year we revisited the tradition, this time our daughter wasnt feeling standing still long enough to get too many pictures of her, but at least we got some smiles.

Daughter in the Bluebonnets

I recorded our trip up there to show you some of the people parked alongside the road, out there taking pictures.

Info from Chron.com:

For the latest on blooms, check TxDOT’s wildflower hot line, 800-452-9292 or visit www.txdot.gov.
Report your sightings to HoustonGrows’ online database.

Please don’t pick

It’s not illegal to pick wildflowers along public roads, but the Texas Department of Transportation asks that we not remove or trample the blooms. Those who pick or crush bluebonnets and other wildflowers leave fewer for others to enjoy. And when flowers aren’t allowed to go to seed, there are less flowers the following spring…..

About the bluebonnet

Texas’ floral trademark, our beloved bluebonnet, belongs to the large Lupine genus. Most are annuals and perennials, including the five cold-hardy annual species native to Texas.

All five share the honor of our state flower.

Lupinus subcarnosus beat out the cotton boll and the prickly pear cactus bloom to become Texas’ state flower in 1901. But many felt the common L. texensis the most attractive of the five native bluebonnet species. So in 1971, lawmakers ended the squabble by recognizing all five as the state flower.

The bluebonnet, so named because of its color and shape, has more than one common name. It’s been called buffalo clover and el conejo (the rabbit), which refers to its white, cottonntail-like top. Once, it was known as wolf flower (Lupus means wolf) because it was believed the plant robbed the earth of nutrients. But we now know bluebonnets, which belong to the legume family, add nitrogen to the soil.

What makes a Classic?

What makes a Classic?
(From Wikipedia)

Classic car is a term used to describe an older car, but the exact meaning is subject to differences in opinion. The Classic Car Club of America, maintain that 20 years to 45 years old for a car to be a classic (over 45 years fall into the Antique Class).

United States legal definition
Legally, most states have time-based rules for the definition of “classic” for purposes such as antique vehicle registration; for example, Most states define it as “A motor vehicle, but not a reproduction thereof, manufactured at least 20 years prior to the current year which has been maintained in or restored to a condition which is substantially in conformity with manufacturer specifications and appearance.”

The TX DMV says…
http://www.txdmv.gov/vehicles/license_plates/qualifying/antique/classic_auto.htm
Classic license plates are issued to cars that are 25 or more years old. Unlike antiques, which cannot be used for regular transportation or carry advertising, classic license plates require a vehicle to be fully registered like any other vehicle, allowing it to be operated on any roadway. A specialty plate fee of $15 is charged in addition to the regular registration fee and other applicable fees.

That puts a vehicle from 1985 as a classic in Texas. What kind of cars might those be? That was the curious thought that crossed my mind.

Custom TX Vanity Plates

The other day the wifey, kiddo and I were driving around and we saw a car with a strange license plate I had never seen before. To most people its not a big deal and would have gone unnoticed. However, with my one-track mind I decided to scour the web and see if I could find out more. The license plate had a big “T” on the left hand side like the one pictured below (however I could have sworn it was inverted in color scheme). It said at the bottom “T for Texas”.

I thought it was a pretty unique vanity plate and even one I’d consider having. Well, until I found the website they are on My PLates.com and how much they cost.

from the sites about us page

“My Plates is a Texas-based company that was awarded a contract by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to design, market and sell new Specialty license plates in the State of Texas.

We’ve created a whole new range of plate designs including new Texas themes and colors. In fact, you’re probably starting to see a lot of our new plates on the road right now.

When you call our toll-free number (888-769-7528), you reach the friendly folks in our Texas office, so you talk with people who are well-versed in the specialty plate process. They also speak Texan and Plate Speak, so they can help you come up with fun combinations to get the plate you want!

In addition to great service and a whole lot of fun, there’s another part that’s great for Texans. A portion of each plate purchase goes into the state general fund which provides services for all Texans.”

Visit the website if you are interested in getting some custom vanity plates for your Texas registered vehicle.

Camera Mount update….

So far the initial camera mount was a Phone/MP3 player holder I got for $8 at Walmart. It had a long flexible neck that bounced around too much to make any video useable. Next I tried rigging that one by cutting the flexible neck and super gluing it. Except I cut it too short and you could see the suction cup in the shot. That was the old mount which you can see a video clip of below.

So I then ordered a PanaVise mount for about $26 on Amazon.com and received what’s pictured as the “new mount”…except its setup in conjunction with the Flip’s bottom mount left me unable to use it with camera as is. I wanted to use the phone holder anyway because of its quick release setup instead of having to screw the flip on and off the PanaVise mount. Somewhere in the setup there is a weak point because it still vibrates, yet not as much bouncing around as in the old mount. Soon I will figure out how to reduce the vibrations even further. Of course the stiffer suspension of my “SUV” might also be a contributor to the bumps and shakes. Look at the video clip below for a clip of footage from the new mount and compare against the clip of the old mount above.

I know I am not done yet, but so far do you think there has been a great improvement?

Tuesdays: Unspoken Etiquette

Here we are again….sharing some information with our fellow drivers that I used to think was an obvious, however some people just dont get it. Have you ever come up to make a left hand turn and you are coming up to the turn in the median and the other idiot is in “your lane”?! Or you ever gotten in the correct area and the other oncoming driver is perturbed and gives you a menacing look or even yells obsenities? I have experienced that. So to fill in the uninformed drivers I am here to explain how and WHY a left had turn is the way it is.

Here in Houston we do have some of the WRONG setups for making a left hand turn, typically across oncoming traffic. A turn like this one typically puts you to where you can’t see the oncoming traffic and neither can the other driver in front of you trying to make their own left hand turn.

Why the turns are setup this way I have no clue. Maybe the city of Houston wants you to get into an accident, how else do tow truck drivers, insurance companies, lawyers, the court system or anyone else that would be involved in a collision case make any money?

Now we come to a regular u-turn or left hand turn median setup. Ok now in the USA, we drive on the right hand side of the road. So you would think that in logic, when turning you would go past and make your left handed turn from the right side of the turn intersection. Instead, alot of people want to turn as soon as possible and end up on the narrow side of the turn, with the oncoming car forced to do the same, now you have two foolish drivers craning their necks around in an attempt to look through the car in front of them to see if any traffic is coming. WRONG.

When making a turn like this, you go past and turn on the right side, each driver has a clear view of the oncoming traffic and can safely make their turn. If only everyone would somehow be informed of this, you wouldnt have me yelling obsenities at the idiots who dont follow this practice when making a left turn.


Its all about being safe. So please share the roads responsibly, be courteous and drive like you have some friggin common sense!!

AJD

Car Mounted Flip UltraHD


My crude initial setup

Well I had a dry run of it yesterday, however the “universal” phone/mp3 holder windshield mount I picked up for $8 at Walmart has a flexible neck…which in a bumpy ride makes for very shaky video footage. I even tried shortening the flexible neck but now my camera has the suction cup glass mount in the shot. I guess I shortened it too much. I am now opting for a different one I saw on Amazon after reading a little here and there. This one may or may not work for me either. If it doesnt, well I at least have a Flip UltraHD for some home movies. If it does, I will have some traffic video to share with everyone.

The “Panavise 809 Camera Window Suction Cup Mount” sold by Amazon.com

It will arrive sometime in the middle of next week, so You will have to hold your collective breaths until then.

AJD