BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “Texas.”

Zzzz shell

Monday, September 26th, 2022 Alive18,780days

A turtle on a rock in the sun in the Japanese Garden at Hermann Park

One of the best features of the Sunday Morning program on CBS is the part at the end where we get to see some part of the natural world. No lasers. No music. No talking heads. Just birds, and plants, and bees, and animals doing what they're meant to do.

While CBS has slashed the time devoted to that segment each week from minutes down to mere seconds, other television stations like KHOU/Houston and Sky News, have started adding these segments.

As a former television producer, I know that in addition to be beautiful and memorable and giving people a reason to stop and stare, these segments with soft ending times are useful for padding out a short show, or sacrificing so that I can cram in some last-minute story.

With the infinite resources of the intarweb, there's no need to cut nautre for time. So here is my gift to you: A turtle being all turtle-y in Hermann Park. Watch as long as you like.

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We named the dog Pepita

Sunday, September 25th, 2022 Alive18,779days

Two packages of pumpkin seeds from H.E.B.

I havenʼt lived in Texas long enough to consistently remember that some items in the supermarket are cheaper if theyʼre labeled in Spanish.

For example, here are two packages of bulk pumpkin seeds from H.E.B. The ones I bought on the 17th were the Spanish-labeled ones and cost $6.98 per pound.

A week later, I bought more pumpkin seeds, but accidentally got them from the English-labeled bin, so I ended up paying $7.98 a pound.

I initially noticed this while in the store because the two bins are near one another, which is why I picked the Spanish ones last time.

I suppose there are plenty of ways to get all angry and political about this, but Iʼm not. I find it amusing, and yet another one of the quirks of living Lone Star.

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Weʼre number what?

Monday, September 12th, 2022 Alive18,766days

Those Methodists make a fine cup of coffee

Iʼm always trying to explain to my coworkers the importance of future-proofing what you publish.

Here we see a happy coffee sleeve touting Houston Methodist Hospitalʼs rank as the number 16 hospital in the nation. Except that it isnʼt.

Methodist is actually number 15. Sixteen was last year. But some middle manager thought it was a good idea to order fifty brazillion coffee sleeves flogging the #16 position, and now itʼs stuck under-bragging until they run out.

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Remember the flavor of the Alamo

Friday, September 2nd, 2022 Alive18,756days

“Taste of San Antonio” coffee

If youʼve ever wondered what San Antonio tastes like, H.E.B. has you covered.

Taste of San Antonio sounds like a Summer food festival, but it's actually a flavor of coffee, available in regular, decaf, K-cups, and decaf K-cups, for those of you care more about the look of your coffee maker than the quality of the coffee it spits out.

Apparently, San Antonio is “Medium-bodied with cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla flavors.” I only know one person in San Antonio, and Iʼd say that describes her correctly.

It's both naturally, and artificially flavored. For your safety.

To me, it tastes a bit like Biscochito coffee from Piñon Coffee in Albuquerque. But weaker. But that last part might just be because itʼs from a supermarket, and not a place that draws milk foam cowboys on top of your drink.

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Leaf me alone

Friday, August 19th, 2022 Alive18,742days

A cup of coffee with leaf latte art from Greenway Coffee

I wonder what kind of leaf this is. To me, it looks like a philodendron, left in the corner office of a skyscraper after everyoneʼs switched to work-from-home.

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“G” is for “coffee”

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 Alive18,740days

A cup of Greenway Coffee coffee from Greenway Coffee

I tried Greenway Coffee for the first time today. Itʼs a solid cup of joe. Better than some, but not as good as others. But in its favor, it's on Main Street in downtown Houston; and the price is a little bit less than the Starbucks 40 feet away.

I recommend the Texas honey and somethingorother. That's what I got. Too bad I donʼt remember what itʼs called.

Bean bags are on the pricey side — running ~$20. But that includes a free cup of coffee, which brings the price down closer to $15. Which isnʼt awful in 2022.

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More like an onion

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 Alive18,740days

Latte art from Greenway Coffee. I think it looks a bit like the iris growing in my garden.

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Thereʼs a fungus among us

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 Alive18,740days

Mushrooms in Hermann Park

I donʼt know if thereʼs too much water, or too much mulch on this hillock, but either way the result is a ʼshroom with a view!

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Playgrounds never change

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 Alive18,740days

Ducks in Hermann Park

This reminds me of the old song from The Electric Company (or maybe it was Sesame Street?):

One of these kids is not like the others
One of these kids is not the same
One of these kids does not belong
Do you know his name?

Ducks can be cruel.

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Failsourcing

Sunday, August 14th, 2022 Alive18,737days

Picture of a Chinese city in the Apple Maps entry for Midland, Texas

Crowdsourcing used to be all the rage in the tech industry. It was a way to get content for your project for free. Use your automation system to ask enough people for content, and some small percentage will happy oblige. The problem with crowdsourcing is quality control.

If you let anyone contribute anything, anyone will contribute anything. I once built a crowdsourced system for people to share photographs of landmarks. A significant percentage of the photos contributed were people standing in front of a camera holding up their resumes, presumably hoping that someone searching for a photo of the Berlin Wall might magically hire them to write code in India.

In the example above, we see the result of two levels of folly. Getty Images allows anyone to upload photographs to its system in order to sell those pictures to other people. That's the crowdsourcing. Then Apple outsourced photography for Apple Maps to a bunch of entities, including Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, and also Getty Images.

The result is a photo of a city in China among the photographs that are supposed to depict the West Texas city of Midland.

Never trust content you don't control.

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Where the big boys are

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive18,733days

IAH

Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), as seen from a plane that just left Hobby Airport (HOU).

They're only about 17 miles apart, but Iʼve flown between them a few times.

In the 1990's there was a bit of a kerfuffle when Bush Airport raised its parking rates. People were mad. Like Texas mad. Because in Texas, parking is virtually a human right.

To capitalize on this, hometown flyer Continental Airlines offered a promo: Fly with Continental from Bush, and you can park at the much cheaper (my memory says it might have even been free) Hobby Airport. Continental would fly you from the smaller airport to the larger one to catch your real flight.

The magic of this was that, at the time, airlines would give you 500 frequent flyer miles just for getting off the ground. I was able to bank several thousand frequent flyer miles just hopping back-and-forth between IAH and HOU on my way to other cities. This was back when frequent flyer miles meant something, and werenʼt just Monopoly money.

One day as my flight from HOU to IAH was getting ready to take off, the plane taking off ahead of us crashed. We were still on the taxiway, so you could see the wreckage right there.

It was a small non-commercial plane, but that didnʼt make any of us passengers feel better because the Continental flight was a puddle-jumper so small that it only had seats on one side.

After a delay, we ended up taking off from another runway. Since then, my flights have been mostly uneventful. As they should be.

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I can see my house from here

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 Alive18,732days

Downtown Houston, Texas at sunrise

7:14am, over downtown Houston.

It makes me think of the Poirot line, “Old sins cast long shadows.”

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I can see my luggage from here

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 Alive18,732days

Houston Hobby airport from the air

Flying over Houston Hobby Airport (HOU). Much improved over the last time I flew from there.

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That mat is going to melt

Saturday, August 6th, 2022 Alive18,729days

A woman all alone yogaing on the roof

I understand that hot yoga is trendy, but I'm not sure that doing poses on the roof of a concrete parking garage when it's 103° with 80% humidity is a great idea.

Still, nice day for it.

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Electrifying

Monday, July 25th, 2022 Alive18,717days

The roof of a Houston Metro light rail train

Have you ever wondered what the top of a light rail train looks like?

Youʼre welcome.

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Do what?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022 Alive18,712days

Street signs embedded into various sidewalk corners in Midtown Houston — poorly

When I lived in Houston the first time, there were many streets in Midtown that still had their historic tile mosaic street signs intact. In the decades I was away, the streets of Midtown were rebuilt, and the old curb signs removed so that the sidewalks could meet A.D.A. standards. Fortunately, the City of Houston decided that instead of throwing away the historic mosaics, it would embed them into the face of the sidewalks to preserve them.

The results is bad. Really bad. What you see above is the result of two things I've observed:

  1. There is a very common attitude of “good enough” in the greater Houston area, where people will do a half-ass job and if it's good enough, consider it the same thing as done well.
  2. You canʼt tell someone to arrange tiles in a “checkerboard” pattern because a surprising number of people have never played checkers, and donʼt know what a checker board is.

The first point I've learned from actual people. Iʼve met a number of people with this “good enough” attitude, and lack of pride in the things they do. One guy who thought this way bought his wife a used iron from eBay because he thought it was a “good enough” anniversary present.

The second point, I discovered while trying to explain the situation with mining rights on the checkerboard sections of the Navajo Nation. The person I was speaking with had no concept of what I was saying until I showed her what it looked like on a map. Until then, she had no reference for “checkers” or “checkerboard.”

I suspect what happened to the sidewalks of Midtown was a combination of a lack of pride in one's work, combined with a lack of basic knowledge. The result is that it makes the City of Houston, and its people, look stupid to anyone who uses a sidewalk in Midtown.

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Boy, howdy

Saturday, July 2nd, 2022 Alive18,694days

A wet wipe dispenser sponsored by Energy Texas

If your electric company promotes itself with the slogan “Giddy Up!” you might be in Texas.

And if you trust something as important as electricity to a company that promotes itself with the slogan “Giddy Up!” you get what you deserve.

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Fountains of pain

Thursday, June 16th, 2022 Alive18,678days

The Main Street Square fountains are being tested again. These have been broken for the entire year Iʼve lived in Texas, and who knows for how long before that.

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