12/21/15 Music Monday

In what will hopefully be a regular weekly thing, I thought I’d put together playlists of what I’m listening to each week. With Christmas coming up on Friday I guess I should have put together some of my favorite Christmas songs but with 70 degree temperatures it sure doesn’t feel like Christmas.  Here’s a link to the playlist on Spotify

Coldplay: The new Coldplay album is a really positive collection of songs with some of my favorites “A Head Full Of Dreams” and “Up and Up”

Boy and Bear: You probably heard the song “Southern Sun” from their last album. Their latest release Limit of Love came out in October and “Breakdown Slow” and “Walk the Wire” are a couple standout tracks for me.

Bob Schneider: A Bob Schneider concert is an experience that you should never pass up on if you can help it. Bob comes back to Dallas on 12/30 to play at the Granada one of the best sounding venues in Dallas. “Montgomery” is from this year’s King Kong EP series and I also picked some live tracks that are stuck on repeat in my head.

Shakey Graves: Fellow Austin native Shakey Graves is playing a sold out show on 12/27 at the Granada. I picked a couple of his live Spotify Session tracks since I don’t have tickets to the show next week.

Leon Bridges: Fort Worth’s own Leon Bridges is blowing up and rightfully so. He played on SNL a couple weeks ago to great critical acclaim and I’m looking forward to see what comes next from Leon Bridges. I choose several songs from his SXSW Spotify Session earlier this year.


Hanging out with Big Tex

A trip down the DART’s Green Line to the Texas State Fair has become a tradition for me in recent years and this year I went all out buying a season pass and making three trips down to bathe in the fried food filled air that surrounds the Texas State Fair.

Big Tex 2.0

Last year I had the privilege to be one of the last people to see the original Big Tex, having made my pilgrimage the day before the unfortunate fire that tragically cut Tex’s life short. One year and half a million dollars later, the bigger (3 feet taller) and better (more lifelike silicone skin to replace the old fiberglass body parts)  Big Tex was erected under a shroud of mystery as anxious news crews tried to sneak a peek before the planned worldwide unveiling on the opening day of the fair. The weather wasn’t cooperating and high winds on the day before the fair meant dropping the curtain around Big Tex a day early for fear he would be damaged.

Bottom: New for 2013, Fried King Ranch Casserole Top: Fernie’s Funnel Cake from The Dock

Each year a new smorgasbord of deep fried concoctions are unveiled enticing fair goers with odd and sometimes awful ingredients, but this year the Lipitor crowd were welcomed with several great new offerings. The Deep Fried King Ranch Casserole is a southern casserole staple that I was unfamiliar with but I am a sucker for food that is Texas shaped.  The chicken and cheese with veggies and cream of mushroom soup Texas shaped helping is then deep fired in panko bread crumbs and served with either queso or my choice the slightly spicy sour cream dipping sauce that makes sure the King Ranch Casserole is going to become a longtime fair favorite. Another new addition and winner for best taste is the Fried Cuban Roll, a egg roll with a filling of pork shoulder, ham, pickles and swiss cheese that can easily be confused for the warm gooey feeling of a mother’s love.

No fair would be complete without some sort of dairy based sculpture, wether it be the old standby butter or more adventurous building blocks like ice cream or the often tried but rarely excellently executed cottage cheese sculpture. 2013 saw the creation of a butter based sculpture paying homage to Big Tex as the larger than life cowboy held several small children while weeping what are presumable unsalted butter tears. For me, going to the State Fair marks the beginning of Fall and is a perfect way to say goodbye to Summer. There are always new things to see and try as well as the old standbys like a Fletchers corny dog  that no trip or three to the fair is complete without.

Solar Impulse at DFW Airport

Wednesday I was able to go over to DFW and check out the Soler Impulse plane. The plane was in Dallas as part of it’s cross country tour in preperation for an attempt to fly around the world with a solar powered plane in 2015. There is more info about the project at solarimpulse.com

Carrollton’s Festival at the Switchyard

Photos from the third annual Carrollton Festival at the Switchyard

Last Saturday was the third annual Festival at the Switchyard in Historic Old Downtown Carrollton which has become an event that I look forward to each year.

Videofest Expanded Cinema

This year marked the 25th anniversary of Videofest and to start off the fest that was held this year at the Dallas Museum of Art was a program called “Expanded Cinema.”

Woot Arduino Printer

I recently bought the Ardunio inventors kit from Sparkfun to play around with the Arduino and I’ve been looking for a project to make with it when I saw DangerousPrototypes Thermal Twitter Printer based on their web platform. I thought that I could build upon that and use the Arduino and add and LCD to it.
Enter the finished product

It uses the Arduino, Arduino Ethernet Sheild, a serial enabled LCD, and thermal printer from Sparkfun. It works by scraping a couple of twitter rss feeds and outputting the results. The LCD parses the @wootoff twitter account and formats the results to start with the price. It checks for updates about every minute. In my next version I’d like to add a last call notification to the display.

The printer works in a simpler function and pulls tweets from the @wootchatter account that are also displayed on Woot’s community forum. I use several variables to save the last printed tweet and check it each time that the rss feed is parsed to make sure that it is not printing the same tweet every minute. In the next version I’d like to make some better formatting of the tweets to make them more readable and stand out more.