Can ya dig it?
You'd better believe it, pilgrim; they do things up BIG in Texas. Shoot, there's a ranch near Corpus Christi... King Ranch... that's bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island! Then again, I reckon Texas needs big ranches. After all, the state has upwards of sixteen million cattle. (You gotta beef with that?)
Most of us associate the Lone Star State with oil wells, cattle ranches, pick-up trucks, and twenty-gallon Stetsons, (Hey! Ten gallons ain't big enough for Texans!) but it also has more sheep (and wool) than any other state, as well as the largest herd of whitetail deer in the country. Add to that the largest rose garden in the world at the 22-acre Tyler Municipal Rose Garden, and the not-so-hot reputation for releasing more greenhouse gases than most countries on the planet. Oh, and let us not forget the world's largest Calf Fry Cook-Off, held in Amarillo every year. What's that, you say? Shhhhh... bull testicles. Um, yeah.
The deadliest natural disaster took place in Texas, too— the Galveston hurricane of 1900, which killed from 8000-12000 people. (And no, I don't know why there's such a wide range in the mortality estimate.) As hard as it may be for Texans currently suffering through a miserable drought to believe, the state holds the national record for the most rainfall within a 24-hour period. During Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979, a total of forty-five inches drenched the state, forty-three of which fell within that 24-hour time frame. Lots of other superlatives to describe Texas, but suffice it to say it boasts the world's largest parking lot, (at Dallas/Ft.Worth Airport) the world's largest rattlesnake round-up, the largest Ferris wheel in the Western hemisphere, and a place called Big Texan Steak Ranch Restaurant, where what must be the world's largest steak is served. Anyone who can eat its signature 4 1/2 pound steak within an hour gets it for free. What a deal, huh? Unfortunately, there's no indication as to whether the restaurant provides a free ambulance ride to the cardiac care unit afterwards.
WAIT! Hold the presses! In the midst of all these biggest claims to fame, and there's plenty more of them, Texas also holds one lonely little record for the smallest. Warrenton, Texas has the smallest Catholic church in the world. It measure twelve feet by fifteen feet, and can seat fifteen parishioners, but its doors only open once a year. (Easter, maybe?)
Okay, before I end up turning this into the biggest post, how's about if we move along and check out some pictures, shall we?
Texas is the only state that's been governed under six different national flags: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, the Confederacy, and the U.S. It's also the only state that joined the union by way of a treaty, (in 1845) and by virtue of it being a sovereign nation before joining, it retained some rights denied to other states: For example, Texas owns all of its land, so the Federal government must ask permission if it wants to create a park or cut timber there. The state also retains the right to fly its state flag at the same height as the national flag.
Katy, Texas was once the home of America's only replica of China's Forbidden City. Known as the Forbidden Gardens, this amazing place had these full-scale statues, as well as a complete recreation of the Emperor's throne, and a 1/3 scale terra cotta army. Unfortunately, this unique site closed in 2011 to make way for the Grand Parkway. When it closed, the terra cotta soldiers were offered on Craig's List for one hundred dollars apiece, but excessive demand quickly shut down the offer. Whatever happened to them and the rest of the items that were in Katy? I don't know.
Other really-musta-been-cool stuff that used to be in Texas, but are no more: the Flagship Hotel on Seawall Boulevard in Galveston. It used to be the only hotel in North America that was built completely over the water. Alas, it was demolished in 2011. Okay, so maybe cool isn't the most appropriate word to describe this place, but it is... gone. Plano used to be the site of the Cockroach Hall of Fame Museum. Uh-huh. Big ol' dead roaches were dressed up and displayed in dioramas... one was sitting at a tiny piano, dressed up like Liberace. See? Unique, right? Anyhow, the owner closed up shop and moved to Phoenix last year. So who knows? You guys in Arizona might pick up another new museum in the near future.
Curious about that biggest rattlesnake round-up in the world I mentioned earlier?
The San Jacinto Monument, near Houston, is among the tallest in the world. At 570 feet, it's twenty feet taller than the Washington Monument in D.C.
The sheriff and a deputy from Trinity, Texas were on TV a couple weeks ago, and they mentioned a popular pastime in their small town. Something called chicken poop bingo. Natch, that piqued my sophisticated curiosity, so I had to check into that. Guess what? I even found a video! (Lucky you!)
Okeydoke, let's move on to see what kinds of cockamamie laws are still languishing on the books in the fine state of Texas, shall we?
- One must acknowledge a supreme being before being able to hold public office.
- It's illegal to sell one's eye. (Maybe you can lend it?)
- It's against the law to swear in front of a corpse, or to indecently expose one.
- When two trains meet each other at a railroad crossing, each shall come to a full stop, and neither shall proceed until the other has gone. (Say, huh?)
- It's illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing. (So sit down, bozo!)
- It's against the law to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel. (Go up a flight or two.)
- It's illegal to milk another person's cow. (That kinda sounds like a euphemism, doesn't it?)
- A recently passed anti-crime law require criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, to explain the nature of the crime to be committed. (How, um, considerate of them...)
- The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas, because it contains a recipe for making beer at home. (How dastardly! I guess the recipes for homemade explosives aren't a problem.)
- In Abilene, it's illegal to idle or loiter with the purpose of flirting or mashing. (But officer, those sweet little taters were asking for it!)
- In Austin, it's against the law to carry wire cutters in your pocket. (How about a Leatherman?)
- In the town of Borger, you can't throw confetti, rubber balls, whips, firecrackers, or... feather dusters.
- Texas must have a problem with feather dusters. In Clarendon, it's illegal to use one to dust any public building. (Keep those foxy feathers at home, ladies.)
- Sorry, you can't raise an alligator in your home if you live in Corpus Christi.
- It's illegal to own a realistic dildo in Dallas. (Paint it, maybe? With stripes and polka dots?)
- In El Paso, it's against the law to wear a lewd dress in public. (Honest, officer, my dress isn't like that at all— it's just friendly...)
- Better sit on those hands! In Galveston, it's illegal to make offensive gestures at a special event.
- You also have to get permission from the director of parks and recreation before getting drunk in any city parks. Oh, and you can't let your camel run loose on the beach, either. (Better put a leash on him.)
- Finally, in Galveston, it's also illegal to throw trash from an airplane. (But it is still permissible to flush.)
- Fire and brimstone is okay to preach from the pulpit, but thou shalt not disrupt any church service in Harker Heights by swearing.
- In Houston, it's illegal to sell limburger cheese on Sundays. (Now, that just stinks!)
- Also in Houston, beer may not be sold after midnight on Sunday, but it may be sold on Monday. (?)
- In Lubbock county, it's illegal to drive within arm's length of alcohol... even if that alcohol is in another person's bloodstream. (Put the lush in the trunk!)
- I guess parents in Mesquite can't save money by cutting their kids' hair. It's against the law for children their to have unusual haircuts.
- The dress code in Odessa makes it taboo to wear a star of David or a peace symbol, because they're both considered satanic symbols.
- In Port Arthur, it's illegal to emit obnoxious odors in an elevator. (I'll bet midgets really appreciate this law.)
- In San Antonio, it's against the law to flirt or respond to flirting with the eyes or hand. (Using other body parts is evidently acceptable.)
- In Temple, cattle thieves may be hung on the spot, and it's AOK to ride your horse into the saloon. (A whiskey for me, and a double oatmeal cookie in a bowl for my friend here, barkeep.)
- And finally, last but not least, in Texarkana, owners of horses may not ride them at night without tail lights. (Where do ya put the battery?)
This is ordinarily the point at which I'd say it's time for (ta-DA!) the weirdest news stories of the week, but I don't have time to hunt for them right now. (Sorry.) One of the strangest— although we really shouldn't be surprised— stories in the news recently involves good ol' never-give-up politician Weiner from New York. His twitter tallywhacker-waving made the news a couple years ago, which of course I had great fun with in an unlikely hero post but he's baaaaack! Not only does he have the temerity to run for mayor of New York, it seems (surprise!) his much-publicized regrets about his past behavior, which caused him to step down from his Congressional seat last time... may have been nothing more than regret about being caught with his pants down, because it didn't stop him from tweeting more pics of himself. The funny thing? Based on other political scandals, there's a good chance he'll be elected. Go figure. I guess it's a case of better the hooligan ya know than the one you don't.
Oh well. No weird news, but here's some cowboy philosophy and humor, courtesy of Will Rogers. (1879-1935)
- There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
- Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.
- A fool and his money are soon elected.
- Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.
- Don't let yesterday use up too much of today.
- Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
- What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.
- All I know is just what I read in the paper, and that's an alibi for my ignorance.
- Letting the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.
- Buy land; they ain't making any more of the stuff.
- Things ain't what they used to be, and never were.
- Get someone else to blow your horn, and the sound will carry twice as far.
- Never miss a good chance to shut up.
- Always drink upstream from the herd.
- We are all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can.
.As a heads up, the lovely Janie Junebug is gonna be interviewing me on her blog on Monday. We'd love it if you'd be neighborly and stop on by for a visit. We'll throw a nice little side of beef on the grill . (Don't worry... plenty of veggies, too.)