BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “Houston.”

Youʼll play pretend miniature golf tomorrow

Monday, November 7th, 2022 Alive 18,822 days

An unwelcome delivery update

“No Access to Delivery location” is Postal Service for “There was a big Astros World Series parade in the way, so the mailman went home.”

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And wrikles, like you

Sunday, November 6th, 2022 Alive 18,821 days

Tina the lizard

Today I got a good look at Tina, the lizard who lives in my garden.

She has blue eyes, like my wife.

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Sparkly

Friday, November 4th, 2022 Alive 18,819 days

Christmas lights on Main Street in Houston

November 4th, and the Christmas lights are up on Main Street.

Iʼm O.K. with that.

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Warming her cockles

Friday, October 28th, 2022 Alive 18,812 days

Tima the lizard on a light bulb

Itʼs chilly today, so Tina is warming herself on a lightbulb in my garden.

Tina the lizard hugs a lightbulb for warmth
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Come get some dinner

Thursday, October 27th, 2022 Alive 18,811 days

Tina the lizard in the garden

There is a new visitor to the garden these days. Her name is Tina. Today I saw her leap from a pot onto a flower and eat a fly. Good lizard.

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Try a Clié

Thursday, October 27th, 2022 Alive 18,811 days

The University of Houston/Downtown web site

I know that Iʼm not perfect. I know that while I think my web sites work on every device, thereʼs probably a configuration out there on which they fall over. But the University of Houston/Downtown really has no excuse for this.

How is it possible for an organization to put out a public web site in 2022 that doesnʼt work on mobile phones? Itʼs bad enough that this page from UH/D is cut off on the right side, but there is no way to even scroll to the right to see whatʼs missing! And this is on a recent iPhone, not some obscure open source homebrew kit.

I preview every single web page I build for desktop, tablet, and two mobile phones. Every one. Sometimes dozens each week.

The University of Houston/Downtown brags that itʼs the second-largest university in Americaʼs fourth-largest city. Surely, someone on campus must have a smart phone to test with.

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Sweet potato you got there

Thursday, October 20th, 2022 Alive 18,804 days

An out-of-control potato

A neighbor I’ve never met before knocked on my door tonight and gave me this. She’s moving out, and found it in her refrigerator. She’s admired the garden on my balcony, and thought I might take care of it, since she’s leaving.

Over my wife’s objections, I have put it in a pot with some dirt, and we’ll see what happens when it has sunlight to work with, and not just the dim bulb of a refrigerator.

I can’t imagine what the rest of her refrigerator looks like.

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You wrote “cut the cheese”

Tuesday, October 18th, 2022 Alive 18,802 days

A pizza vending machine

What kind of a person eats pizza from a vending machine? Well… me.

Thereʼs a pizza ATM across the street from my home now, so I tried it for lunch, and it wasn't bad. It wasn't excellent, but it's pizza from a vending machine, not a bistro in Ischia Porte. I don't think anyone who knowingly buys pizza from a vending machine is in a place to complain about quality. Not even on the internet.

There are seven pizzas to choose from. I went with pepperoni because it's a good basic benchmark.

After three minutes, the machine ejects a pizza, like a 1981 Sanyo VCR. The result is not perfect, but it's perfectly edible.

There wasn't much pepperoni flavor. Perhaps some of the other choices are a little more pronounced. But the crust was quite good. Overall, it reminds me of pizza from the California chain Pieology.

The downside is that all you get is a pizza. If you don't already have a drink, that might be problematic. I happened to have a bottle of water with me, just like I knew what I was doing.

Enjoying a fresh pizza on a bench in an alley surrounded by old lady county employees sucking on Swisher Sweets.

I took my pizza to the Harris County Employee Smoking Lounge (a.k.a. the alley by the sally[port]), and it managed to stay hot and crispy the whole way there.

I suspect the vending machine isnʼt doing too bad. I saw someone leaving with a pizza as I was walking toward it. When I was waiting for the bake, someone asked me about it. And when I was coming back from eating, there was a young couple waiting for their Hawaiian pie to cook. Thatʼs three customers in about 40 minutes. Not bad for an out-of-the-way location with zero advertising.

Protip: There's a slot on the machine that has cello-wrapped plastic knives. Take one. The crust is pre-sliced before the pizza bakes, so the cheese runs across the seams, and you'll have to cut the cheese to get pie-shaped wedges out of it.

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Monday, October 17th, 2022 Alive 18,801 days

Sunset reflected in 609 Main
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Not even Dallas

Saturday, October 8th, 2022 Alive 18,792 days

All of the washer fluid is only for places where it never gets below 32°.

If Walmart only sells washer fluid that freezes, you might live in Houston.

Also, donʼt drive anywhere else.

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Glub glub glub

Friday, September 30th, 2022 Alive 18,784 days

An fish tank devoid of life

One of the nice things about Houston Methodist Hospital is the fish.

Scattered around the campus are large aquaria, which are much nicer to look at than the television screens hanging from the ceiling blaring The Price is Right while youʼre trying to comfort a nervous loved one.

For some reason, this aquarium in this office has no fish.

What happened to the fish? Did they never arrive? Are they out for a walk? Did they die?

Sarcastically I think, “If the doctors in this section can't keep fish alive, how can I expect them to keep people alive?”

Also, I think maintaining fish tanks for a large, deep-pocketed healthcare company is a dream job. It seems like there's enough of them to have someone in-house.

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Break a leg!

Friday, September 30th, 2022 Alive 18,784 days

An error message from Houston Methodist Hospital's Epic system

Houston Methodist Hospital has eighty-brazillion dollars and ninty-brazillion employees. If it canʼt keep its webview from breaking a leg, what am I supposed to do?

Also, someone should fix that grammar. It's probably Epicʼs default, but that doesnʼt make it right.

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Zzzz shell

Monday, September 26th, 2022 Alive 18,780 days

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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Do what?

Monday, September 12th, 2022 Alive 18,766 days

This menu is beyond inscrutable.

There's a big push in large healthcare companies to make things easier for patients. It sounds dumb to have to state that, but there has not always been the institutional will to care for patients on their level. But a lot of studies and computer models have shown that something as simple as repeating instructions to a patient can improve the outcomes of treatment in a percentage of people. With so many people in the world now, even a small change can mean enormous savings in money for hospitals, insurance companies, and the patients, themselves.

Unfortunately, we're still at the beginning of the process of bringing the healthcare institutions down to the level of the people they are supposed to serve. The use of regular language and easy methods is spreading, but remains uneven.

To wit: The image above, which is the first question asked when trying to book an imaging appointment with Houston Methodist Hospital.

This is an online form for patients, not doctors. When a regular person phones Methodist to make an imaging appointment, it suggests you use this form to make the appointment online.

I am not a doctor. How am I supposed to know if I need an “MRI 1.5T Wide Bore with Contrast,” or an “MRI 3T without Contrast,”, or a “Fluoroscopy,” or something else? It turns out the type of appointment I need isn't even listed in the options.

As someone who builds healthcare web sites for a living, I understand the technical reasons why this is the way it is. But I also understand that it doesn't have to be this way.

There are people in healthcare who care quite a lot about making things easier, and therefore better, for patients. That caring and understanding rarely pervades and entire organization. But it has to.

What we see here is, in my semi-expert opinion, a breakdown in the chain of caring. Something got outsourced to an external company that doesn't have to care. Someone didn't get trained in the importance of making things easier for the patients, and let this awful thing see the light of day. Some web developer somewhere doesn't have the authority, confidence, or will to question what's been handed to him to produce. He's just there to push buttons and cash a check.

Every person at every level of a healthcare organization not only had to be told to care, but trained to care. Even, and especially, the directors and C-levels. The upper levels are told about how much money can be saved by making healthcare more accessible to ordinary people. But they aren't trained in what that actually looks like, so they are not able to spot mistakes as they're happening, so they can have the people under them correct the problems before they persist and spread. Allowing people to say “That's the way we've always done it” is evidence of a sclerotic organization.

Similarly, and as alluded to above, with the continual outsourcing of functions, you also end up outsourcing caring. Someone pasting together AJAX snippets from StackOverflow in an SalesForce application on the other side of the planet doesn't care that the web site is useless to 90% of users. They've done their job, and that's all their staffing company cares about. It's important to understand that lack of detail and care makes your healthcare company look bad, and it hurts your bottom line by making your treatments less effective, and making your doctors work more.

Everyone in a healthcare organization has to not only care about the patients, but be trained in this. Not just the hands-on people like doctors and nurses and patient liaisons. Everyone. The people who process forms. The people in accounting. And, yes, the I.T. people. Every single person in a healthcare organization affects patients in some way.

To its credit, of the dozens healthcare organizations I've interacted with in dozens of states, Methodist is among the better and more advanced with regard to how it treats its patients. But the process is incomplete.

Healthcare companies talk a lot about caring. But unless there is an ethos of responsibility to the patient that includes every single person in that organization, it's all just marketing.

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Weʼre number what?

Monday, September 12th, 2022 Alive 18,766 days

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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Touched by an angle

Friday, August 19th, 2022 Alive 18,742 days

Best use of these screens I've seen yet.

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Leaf me alone

Friday, August 19th, 2022 Alive 18,742 days

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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Cleanliness counts

Thursday, August 18th, 2022 Alive 18,741 days

If the dirt on the sidewalk apron is deep enough to support plant life, perhaps it's time for the City of Houston to invest in a street sweeper.

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“G” is for “coffee”

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 Alive 18,740 days

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 Alive 18,740 days

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 Alive 18,740 days

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 Alive 18,740 days

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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Youʼre next

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

A floor-cleaning robot at Houston Hobby Airport

The tech nerd part of me that should think, ”Oh, cool! Hobby Airport has industrial-grade floor cleaning robots!” is outweighed by the human being in me who thinks, “Well, there's one more job that some person with low skills got kicked out of.”

Not everyone in the world has the mental or physical capability to do a mid-level or high-level job. But they still need a job, and deserve the dignity that comes with employment. In the 80ʼs the justification for turning jobs over to robots was that the newly unemployed could be re-trained to fix or run the robots. But in my experience, that's only rarely true.

The more I interact with people of all social strata, the more I realize that mopping floors in an airport is a really good job for some people. One they can be good at, and proud of. That will allow them to provide for themselves, and maybe even another person or two. Iʼm not currently convinced that we should automate the humanity out of society.

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Where the big boys are

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

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 Alive 18,732 days

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 Alive 18,732 days

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 Alive 18,729 days

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 Alive 18,717 days

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 Alive 18,712 days

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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Tubes for noobs

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 Alive 18,708 days

Photograph of my TV

I finally got around to fixing up the over-the-air antenna hooked up to my TV. I re-scanned and found 121 channels.

Not all of the channels are great. But that's no different than the DirecTV service I have in my apartment, for which I am obligated to pay $80 a month. Except that the majority of the dross over the air is shopping channels and infomercials, while DirecTV seems to be 90% pornography, sports, and also shopping.

The important thing is that with the over-the-air antenna, I get The! Movies! Network!, and MeTV+. I've also discovered a channel that is mostly British and Australian DIY and lifestyle shows, like Escape to the Country, of which Darcie and have long been fans. Going to have to rev that $20 ATSC DVR into high gear for a while.

Here's a table of what I found, mostly for my own reference, and subject to change with a shift in the wind.

If you're viewing this on a mobile phone, you won't be able to see the table until you hold your phone horizontally. That's because tables look like absolute pants on phones.

Display channel Station ID Network Primary language Content
2-1KPRC-TV/HoustonKPRC-HDNBCEnglishVariety
2-2KPRC-TV/HoustonStartTVStartTVEnglishVariety
2-3KPRC-TV/HoustonH&IHeroes and IconsEnglishVariety
2-4KPRC-TV/HoustonDABLDablEnglishLifestyle
2-5KPRC-TV/HoustonGetTVGetTVEnglishVariety
3-1KBTX-TV/BryanKBTX-DTCBSEnglishVariety
3-2KBTX-TV/BryanKBTX-CWThe CWEnglishVariety
3-3KBTX-TV/BryanKBTX-™TelemundoSpanishVariety
3-4KBTX-TV/BryanGrioTheGrioEnglishVariety
11-4KHOU/HoustonTwistTwistEnglishLifestyle
11-11KHOU/HoustonKHOU-HDCBSEnglishVariety
13-1KTRK-TV/HoustonKTRK-HDABCEnglishVariety
13-2KTRK-TV/HoustonLOCALishLocalishEnglishLifestyle
13-3KTRK-TV/HoustonKTRK-D3This TVEnglishVariety
13-4KTRK-TV/HoustonQVCQVCEnglishShopping
14-1KETH-TV/HoustonTBN HDTrinity Broadcasting NetworkEnglishReligion
14-2KETH-TV/HoustoninspireTBN InspireEnglishReligion
14-3KETH-TV/HoustonSMILESmileEnglishReligion
14-4KETH-TV/HoustonEnlaceEnlaceSpanishReligion
20-1KTXH/HoustonKTXH DTMyNetworkTVEnglishVariety
20-2KTXH/HoustonMovies!Movies!EnglishMovies
20-3KTXH/HoustonTheGrioTheGrioEnglishVariety
20-4KTXH/HoustonBUZZRBuzzrEnglishGame shows
21-1KVQT-LD/HoustonNewsmx2Newsmax TVEnglishSpecialty
21-2KVQT-LD/HoustonRetroRetro TVEnglishVariety
21-3KVQT-LD/HoustonElohimElohimSpanishReligion
21-4KVQT-LD/HoustonClassicClassic Reruns TVEnglishVariety
21-5KVQT-LD/HoustonCristoCristo TVSpanishReligion
21-6KVQT-LD/HoustonH-landHeartlandEnglishLifestyle
21-7KVQT-LD/HoustonLife-VVidaVision NetworkSpanishReligion
21-8KVQT-LD/HoustonINTVEnglish
21-9KVQT-LD/HoustonBiz-TVBiz TelevisionEnglishTalk shows
21-10KVQT-LD/HoustonNowMTVNowMedia TVEnglish and SpanishVariety
21-11KVQT-LD/HoustonACEAmerican Classic EntertainmentEnglishVariety
21-12KVQT-LD/HoustonABTVABTVVietnameseVariety
21-13KVQT-LD/HoustonMBCMillennium Broadcasting ChannelEnglishAfrican
21-14KVQT-LD/HoustonLaTeleLaTeleSpanishMovies
21-15KVQT-LD/HoustonKVQT-15nonenonenone
22-1KLTJ/GalvestonKLTJ-DTDaystarEnglishReligion
22-2KLTJ/GalvestonKLTJ-ESDaystar EspañolSpanishReligion
26-1KRIV/HoustonKRIV DTFoxEnglishVariety
26-2KRIV/HoustonDecadesDecadesEnglishVariety
26-3KRIV/HoustonFOX WXFox WeatherEnglishWeather
27-1KQHO-LD/HoustonVietSkyVietSkyVietnameseShopping
27-2KQHO-LD/HoustonS.E.TSaigon Broadcasting Television NetworkVietnameseVariety
27-3KQHO-LD/HoustonFodd&FUFood and Fun TVVietnameseVariety
27-4KQHO-LD/HoustonVNBCVNBCVietnameseShopping
27-5KQHO-LD/HoustonVietmedVietmediaVietnameseVariety
27-6KQHO-LD/HoustonIVTVVTVVietnameseVariety
27-7KQHO-LD/HoustonAvailabVietnameseVariety
27-8KQHO-LD/HoustontheVGlobal Mall TVVietnameseShopping
27-9KQHO-LD/HoustonAWMAWM TVVietnameseVariety
27-10KQHO-LD/HoustonPeace and Happiness TelevisionVietnameseLifestyle
28-1KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDNovelisimaSpanishVariety
28-2KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDnoneEnglishInfomercials
28-3KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDShop LCEnglishShopping
28-4KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDMagnificent Movies NetworkEnglishMovies
28-5KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDnoneEnglishInfomercials
28-6KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDnoneEnglishInfomercials
28-7KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDClassic Reruns TVEnglishVariety
32-1KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDEnglishVariety
32-2KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDnonenonenone
32-3KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDnoneEnglishInfomercials
32-4KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDMagnificent Movies NetworkEnglishMovies
32-5KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDStadiumEnglishSports
32-6KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDShop LCEnglishShopping
32-7KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDEnglishVariety
34-1KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDLATVSpanish and EnglishVariety
34-2KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDEnglishVariety
34-3KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDMagnificent Movies NetworkEnglishMovies
34-4KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDnoneEnglishInfomercials
34-5KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDMagnificent Movies NetworkEnglishMovies
34-6KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDEnglishVariety
39-1KIAH/HoustonKIAH-DTThe CWEnglishVariety
39-5KIAH/HoustonCourtTVCourt TVEnglishLifestyle
45-1KXLN-DT/RosenbergKXLN-DTUnivisionSpanishVariety
45-2KXLN-DT/RosenbergUnimasUniMásSpanishVariety
45-3KXLN-DT/RosenbergMysteryIon MysteryEnglishLifestyle
45-4KXLN-DT/RosenbergNTDNew Tang Dynasty TelevisionChineseVariety
45-5KXLN-DT/RosenbergDIGI-TVDigi-TVEnglishVariety
46-1KBPX-LD/HoustonNuestraNuestra VisiónSpanishMovies
46-3KBPX-LD/HoustonNuduNu DuMont TelevisionEnglishVariety
46-4KBPX-LD/HoustonHeartlaHeartlandEnglishLifestyle
46-5KBPX-LD/HoustonGEBGEB NetworkEnglishReligion
47-1KTMD/GalvestonKTMD-HDTelemundoSpanishVariety
47-2KTMD/GalvestonEXITOSTeleXitosSpanishVariety
47-3KTMD/GalvestonNBCLXLXEnglishVariety
47-4KTMD/GalvestonCOZICozi TVEnglishVariety
47-5KTMD/GalvestonOXYGENOxygenEnglishLifestyle
49-1KPXB-TV/ConroeIONIon TelevisionEnglishVariety
49-2KPXB-TV/ConroeBounceBounceEnglishVariety
49-3KPXB-TV/ConroeCourtTVCourt TVEnglishLifestyle
49-4KPXB-TV/ConroeDefy TVDefy TVEnglishVariety
49-5KPXB-TV/ConroeLaffLaffEnglishComedy
49-6KPXB-TV/ConroeTruRealTrueRealEnglishVariety
49-7KPXB-TV/ConroeNEWSYNewsyEnglishNews
49-8KPXB-TV/ConroeHSNHome Shopping NetworkEnglishShopping
51-1KYAZ/KatyMeTVMeTVEnglishVariety
51-2KYAZ/KatyMeTV+MeTV+EnglishVariety
51-3KYAZ/KatyAztecaAzteca AméricaSpanishVariety
51-4KYAZ/KatyStoryStory TelevisionEnglishHistory
55-1KTBU/ConroeQuestQuestEnglishVariety
55-3KTBU/ConroeNacionNación TVSpanishReligion
57-1KUBE-TV/BaytownKUBE-TVShopHQEnglishShopping
57-2KUBE-TV/BaytownnonenoneEnglishplaceholder
57-3KUBE-TV/BaytownSBNSonLife Broadcasting NetworkEnglishReligion
57-4KUBE-TV/BaytownChargeCharge!EnglishVariety
57-5KUBE-TV/BaytownnoneEnglishInfomercials
57-6KUBE-TV/BaytownMi Raza TVMi Raza TVSpanishInfomercials
57-7KUBE-TV/BaytownCRTVnoneEnglishInfomercials
57-8KUBE-TV/BaytownJTVJewelry TelevisionEnglishShopping
57-9KUBE-TV/BaytownUChurchSpanishReligion
57-10KUBE-TV/BaytownAChurchThree Angels Broadcast NetworkSpanishReligion
57-11KUBE-TV/BaytownVieTVVieTVVietnameseVariety
61-1KZJL/HoustonEstrella TVSpanishVariety
61-2KZJL/HoustonKZJL-2Estrella NewsSpanishNews
61-3KZJL/HoustonEstrella DeportesSpanishSports
61-4KZJL/HoustonShopLCShop LCEnglishShopping
61-5KZJL/HoustonPOSI-TVPositivEnglishMovies
61-6KZJL/HoustonQVCQVCEnglishShopping
67-1KFTH-DT/AlvinKFTH-DTUniMásSpanishVariety
67-2KZJL/HoustonGetTVgetTVEnglishVariety
67-3KZJL/HoustonGRITGritEnglishWesterns
67-4KZJL/HoustonHSNHome Shopping NetworkEnglishShopping
67-5KZJL/HoustonKXLN-HDUnivisionSpanishVariety
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Fountains of pain

Thursday, June 16th, 2022 Alive 18,678 days

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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Sick site

Friday, June 3rd, 2022 Alive 18,665 days

An error message from Houston Methodist Hospital

This is what happens when you try to let Houston Methodist know about an error on its web site.

Thatʼs one way to reduce customer service costs by 100%.

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Thursday, June 2nd, 2022 Alive 18,664 days

The Texas Medical Center, from the 19th floor of one of the hospital towers
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Chocolate rain

Sunday, May 22nd, 2022 Alive 18,653 days

Downtown Houston seen from Amtrakʼs Sunset Limited

White Oak Bayou creeps along in front of the downtown Houston skyline. One of nearly a dozen individual skylines that Houston offers. Itʼs funny that way.

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Head cases

Sunday, May 22nd, 2022 Alive 18,653 days

Mount Rush Hour

If you drive into downtown Houston via I-45 from the north or I-10 from the west, you will be greeted by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen F. Austin, and Sam Houston.

Each of them weigh two tons, and are the work of exurban sculptor David Adickes. He made them, and 39 others, in 2004 for a theme park in Virginia that never opened, so the entire bustle of busts never left Houston.

These four were relocated to a cut-off corner overlooking the freeways at 1400 Elder Street. Officially, itʼs called American Statesman Park. But most commuters know it as Mount Rush Hour.

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Mortar-bored

Monday, May 16th, 2022 Alive 18,647 days

A woman celebrates on the roof of my parking garage

A young woman celebrates graduation by throwing her cap into the air from a car that my Uncle Eddie would have driven in the 1970's.

His was better because it had curb feelers. Hers is better because itʼs in pristine condition in 2022, while his is probably rusting away at the bottom of Gravesend Bay.

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All hats, no cattle

Sunday, May 15th, 2022 Alive 18,646 days

Cowboys on the roof

It was just this morning I was thinking that I donʼt see so many cowboys in Houston anymore. Then, just before lunch, a clown car full of them drove up to the roof of my parking garage and belched out a whole passel of dudes.

Those are not lampshades in the foreground. Those are the kinds of cases that are used to transport big-ticket cowboy hats on planes. There are cowboy hats that cost more than a MacBook Pro.

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5th floor: Acme Piano Moviers

Friday, May 13th, 2022 Alive 18,644 days

The Steinway Center

Today I found out there is a Steinway store down the street. I have mixed feelings about this.

On the plus side, itʼs a sign of culture and civilization, and all of the aspirational things in life.

On the other hand, a lifetime of watching Looney Tunes has taught me that there is a 90% chance of a coyote dropping a piano on my head if I walk on this side of the street.

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Tell me no lies

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022 Alive 18,635 days

A cup of 3Fibs coffee

3Fibs is the sort of coffee joint that Iʼd love to love, but I canʼt. Itʼs just not for me.

Although I consume about a hogshead worth of coffee each month, itʼs rarely of the highest quality, never made correctly, and certainly not tasted with the care and respect it deserves. I brew with a Keurig, for Godʼs sake.

I like sweet, and chocolate, and filberts, and all those things that made Starbucks famous, and drive absolutists absolutely mad.

3Fibs is expert-level coffee. The menu is sparse. There are no flavorings. There is no Frappuccino, or its equivalent. Itʼs coffee for people who are serious about coffee. Thatʼs not me, but I'm glad that there are people out there who are defenders of the faith. Without them, there would be no caffeine coattails for sots like me to ride upon.

The space has a good vibe. Very much a coffee house, and not a café, or a store. And the baristas manage to be both friendly and knowledgeable without also being condescending. Those three attributes rarely go together, and disappear altogether as you progress northwestward within the continental United States.

The coffee was good. I think. Very strong. But it was obvious that this was a drink that I donʼt have the refined taste buds to appreciate.

The exterior of 3Fibs Coffee on Main Street in Houston
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🌩🌩🌩

Sunday, May 1st, 2022 Alive 18,632 days

Downtown Houston during a thunderstorm

You know what Iʼm doing right now? Hiding under a big tree during a thunderstorm.

You know what youʼre absolutely not supposed to do during a thunderstorm? Hide under a big tree.

Every once in a while, I see someone on the news who got killed while hiding under a tree during a thunderstorm. But man, once those fat drops start pummeling you, instinct kicks in.

More intelligent was the couple down the hill that turned a picnic blanket into a tarp and laid on the ground to wait out the storm. Smart people. Soggy, but smart.

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Row, row, row your boat

Sunday, May 1st, 2022 Alive 18,632 days

People kayaking on Buffalo Bayou in the shadow of downtown Houston

Itʼs still a bit strange for me to see people leisurely recreating along and on top of Buffalo Bayou. When I lived in Houston twenty years ago, it would be unthinkable. The bayou was considered so filthy that people treated it the same way children do when they play the hot lava game hopping around on the living room furniture.

Now I see people boating, fishing, and generally having a good time along a waterway that a generation ago was verboten.

According to the bayouʼs 2001 Master Plan Project document, itʼs 13½ feet deep downtown. That same document also states that there is an E.P.A. Superfund hazardous waste site a half-mile downstream from this location containing “arsenic, chromium, cobalt, lead, copper, and nickel.” Yum.

Maybe thatʼs been cleaned up in the last 20 years. Maybe the document is correct in stating that somehow, in spite of regular bombardment by hurricanes, tropical storms, and other severe weather that the bad stuff somehow never leaches into the bayou. Or maybe Iʼll just stay out of the water for now. If the hazardous waste doesnʼt get me, a buffalo gar will.

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Hang in there

Sunday, May 1st, 2022 Alive 18,632 days

An ambitious plant

Come on, Mr. Plant! Only 27 feet to go! Streeeeeetch!

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Honk!

Saturday, April 30th, 2022 Alive 18,631 days

Aggressive geese

You know what happens when geese lose their fear of people? They stand on your foot and rip a page out of the paperback youʼre trying to read. Naughty goose.

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The smell of a bakery?

Saturday, April 30th, 2022 Alive 18,631 days

The Japanese garden at Hermann Park

Grass, flowers, turtle, rock. Everyoneʼs looking in the same direction. Except for me. Iʼm looking at them looking at something else. Must be quite a show.

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Three

Saturday, April 30th, 2022 Alive 18,631 days

A pair of turtles think deep thoughts in the Japanese garden in Hermann Park

“Hey, Frank.”

“Yeah, Morty.”

“How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?”

“Ask Mr. Owl."

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Radio and records

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022 Alive 18,627 days

The KRBE album The Sound of Houston

I found the record The Sound of Houston at the record store today.

In the early 1980ʼs, KRBE Radio held a contest where its listeners were asked to compose a theme song for the city. The winning entries were then pressed into a record, and 40 years later here they are today — in the value bin, priced at 99¢.

The songs are very very 1980ʼs. Lots of power ballads with saxophones, clarinets, and chimes. Surprisingly few have much of a country twang, but many would fit in with the local TV news themes of the era.

It seems sad that the heartfelt work of a dozen recording hopefuls has been reduced to just 8¼¢ a piece.

Listening with 2022 ears, none of them are very good. But they are an audio time capsule of a certain era, and a certain place.

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But they made you a lilly

Saturday, April 23rd, 2022 Alive 18,624 days

A lilly made of milk foam

Itʼs always a shame when bad people happen to good coffee. That seems to be whatʼs happening at the Canary Cafe location on Fulton just north of Cavalcade.

The store is nice. Good decoration. Good furniture. Even a cozy backyard in which to savor and chill.

The coffee is good. The sweets are excellent. I had something that was something like a cross between a peanut butter sandwich and baklava. Trés scrummy.

But the people running the place donʼt really seem to know what theyʼre doing. Itʼs like they came from another planet where everything they know about serving coffee came from watching reruns of Friends. As if theyʼve never actually been to a coffee shop, themselves.

Maybe itʼs a new location, and these are just growing pains. The newspapers are full of stories about how restaurants canʼt find quality workers, so maybe this is evidence of that problem.

But Iʼll certainly go back. The coffee is solid, and the pastries would make a firefighter bite a Dalmatian. Hopefully, the people problems will be worked out by then.

Peanut butter, then filo, then peanut butter, then filo, then peanut butter…
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Leaving is fundamental

Friday, April 22nd, 2022 Alive 18,623 days

The Twisted Root by Anne Perry, abandoned in Midtown

Someone left this book on a light pole support for any random stranger to find and read.

While I am a random stranger, Iʼm also about 50 books behind on my reading, so Iʼll leave this for someone else.

Itʼs nice to know thereʼs another soul out there who sets books completed free, rather than throwing them in the trash. I leave mine on trains.

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Poor little feller

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022 Alive 18,621 days

A scared opossum

Not every creature of the night makes it back home before the commuters arrive. I came across this opossum cowering in a nook of One Shell Plaza.

The security guard says it happens a lot. He called someone to remove the critter, but that was hours ago, and no one has shown up. So the terrified thing cowers in the corner, intermittently shivering and hissing. Iʼd probably do the same thing, if I was him.

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Gas and go

Monday, April 18th, 2022 Alive 18,619 days

If your morning commute involves dodging natural gas tankers, you might be using the Lynchburg Ferry.

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Itʼs the Fuller Brush bug

Monday, April 18th, 2022 Alive 18,619 days

A caterpillar trying to hitch a ride home

Ever meet someone who would not take “no” for an answer? Ever meet a bug like that?

This hairy fellow would not leave me alone. I could have squashed him easily enough, but the birds gotta eat, too. So I just kept moving him to other parts of the picnic table. And every time I did, heʼd come right back and try to read my book with me.

An aggressive caterpillar
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Gone fishinʼ

Monday, April 18th, 2022 Alive 18,619 days

Fishermen on the Houston Ship Channel

Whoʼs richer? The paper pusher trapped in a cubicle in the middle of an anonymous suburban office building, counting the seconds until 5pm, or the people who spend the work day in the sun, setting lines in the water with a cold beer and a transistor radio?

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Discovery “Green”

Friday, April 15th, 2022 Alive 18,616 days

Discovery Green

Discovery Green at night. You canʼt see the park for all the lights and buildings, which is mostly true durng the day, as well. There is a trend in modern park design to over-build in order to make a single park everything for everybody. The result is that very often, as in the case of Discovery Green, it ceases to be a park and is transformed into a playground for adults.

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Twinkle twinkle

Friday, April 15th, 2022 Alive 18,616 days

Downtown Houston at night
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That would do it

Friday, April 15th, 2022 Alive 18,616 days

The pool at One Park Plaza

How to get yourself un-invited from future gatherings at One Park Plaza:

“Hey, did you know your pool is shaped like a penis?”

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Political posies

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022 Alive 18,599 days

Landscaping at Hermann Square, in front of Houston City Hall

It is said that in Houston, you can plant broomsticks and grow brooms. Itʼs a way of saying that the cityʼs location, geology, and weather are so well-suited to growing plants that if you canʼt grow something, the problem is you.

Thatʼs mostly true, but only if you get enough light. If youʼre in a north-facing apartment, youʼre just as hampered in your growing efforts as someone facing north in Chicago, or Los Angeles.

To grow plants in Houston, you need a lot of sun to counteract all of the excess moisture you have to deal with. That's why under the city's proud canopies of oak trees, the vegetation is usually sparse, or in varying states of decay. If you get dappled sunlight, you might have luck with foxtail ferns, but the important word there is still ”luck.”

A good example is at Houston City Hall, where the mighty oaks spread their branches, bogarting the sunlight and leaving everything underneath to rot. It all looks really bad. But in the sunny spots, you can see the landscapers are doing a great job with the flowers.

Flowers at Houston City Hall
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Funky Tut

Sunday, March 27th, 2022 Alive 18,597 days

A tarted-up ancient Egyptian artifact at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

I feel a little sad that I went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to see the Egyptian artifacts, and only ended up taking the same old photograph that every other tourist does.

I think I just didnʼt feel inspired.

I can see that the HMNS tries hard. But it all comes off as very Disney-fied. Not real. Plastic shrink-wrapped for my protection. I know itʼs done to get children interested in the exhibits. But too often, museums forget that adults go, too.

I wonder if Iʼd still feel this way if I hadnʼt been to some other really amazing museums featuring Middle Eastern and North African artifacts. The Oriental Institute in Chicago is the best one Iʼve been to so far, with the Eski Şark Eserleri Müzesi in Istanbul a very close second.

The University of Chicagoʼs Oriental Institute feels like walking into Indiana Jonesʼ alma matter, and visiting it makes watching the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies a bit richer. The Jones characterʼs background includes ties to the University of Chicago. And George Lucas is also very fond of Chicago, where he tried to build a museum, but was rebuffed by special interest groups who believed a parking lot was a better use for land in a public park.

Eski Şark Eserleri has better stuff, but the facility is really run down from decades of what is euphemistically called “deferred maintenance.” Ordinary people call it just plain neglect. But itʼs certainly worth seeing, if youʼre in Istanbul, where there is absolutely no shortage of fabulous musea.

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The 411 on 311

Friday, March 25th, 2022 Alive 18,595 days

A malfucntioning pedestrian signal

This pedestrian crossing signal works.

It doesnʼt look like it, because in the photograph, itʼs burned out or turned off of just taking a snooze. But it works now.

Today I had my first interaction with Houston city government. I used the city's 311 app to report that this pedestrian crossing signal at Smith and McGowen was not working.

The app, itself, is a disaster. But I finally managed to file a report at 12:12pm, and in a few minutes received an e-mail confirmation.

At 1:30pm received another e-mail:

Case Resolved $$ Per A. Gutierrez @ 13:23 completed Miscellaneous....intersection was cycling upon arrival, no power to peds 2,4, and 6, load switch for peds 2,4, and 6 were not in place on back panel, replaced load switch for ped 2, ped 6 all good, ped 4 sent intersection into flash, checked for shorted wires for ped 4 inside of cabinet and found shorted wire for ped 4, fixed problem and installed load switch for ped 4, all peds are working for 2,4, and 6

In other words, the City of Houston fixed the pedestrian signal just on hour and 11 minutes after I reported. Thatʼs not at all what I expected.

Itʼs very tempting for me to start walking around my neighborhood and reporting all kinds of problems to 311. But this city is not a well-maintained city, and doing so would be a full-time job. So Iʼll keep reporting problems here and there, and know that I played a small role in making this town a little less run-down.

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Pane point

Saturday, March 12th, 2022 Alive 18,582 days

Stained glass above an entrance to a Chase building

On my evening promenade, I came across this stained glass window above one of the entrances to one of the Chase buildings in downtown Houston.

It looks like a battle scene, and this being Houston, that means itʼs probably San Jacinto, or the Alamo, Goliad. Or maybe one of the other Texas battles that are less famous and didnʼt get their own state park, tourist attraction, or flag.

There were so many battles in Texas, that thereʼs an entire Wikipedia article just for the ones fought during the Texas Revolution.

I know there are lots of plaques inside this building, so one of them could probably clue me in. But itʼs Saturday night, and Chase is closed.

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Cop shop

Saturday, March 12th, 2022 Alive 18,582 days

The Houston Police Museum

The Houston Police Department has its own museum. Your reaction to that may indicate where you were raised.

Iʼm East Coast, so I had never heard of such a thing until I started exploring the west. The first police museum I came across was in Phoenix. But it seems the concept has spread across the country, and a police museum even opened in New York in 1998.

I wonder if thereʼs a gift shop.

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Little Saigone

Saturday, March 12th, 2022 Alive 18,582 days

Hai Bà Trung Street

When I last lived in Houston, the Midtown neighborhood was also known as Little Saigon. Youʼd never know it today.

Most of the streets had Vietnamese street signs, there were at least a half-dozen Vietnamese restaurants, plus supermarkets, general stores, social clubs, and more. One restaurant was well-known because of its giant sign “Fu Kim.”

Today, thatʼs almost all gone.

This is the only Vietnamese street sign I know of in Midtown. The only other evidence that the area had any Asian influence at all is a peeling sign above an auto repair shop.

Iʼve been told that most of the Vietnamese people moved to the suburbs, but among the people Iʼve spoken with, there doesnʼt seem to be a consensus about why. Some say itʼs because property in Midtown became too expensive, but that seems unlikely, as itʼs still really quite cheap. Others say itʼs because the initial wave of post-Vietnam War immigrants became assimilated, and as they became upwardly mobile, they pursued the American dream in the ʼburbs.

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Ride ʼem allegorical cowboy

Saturday, March 12th, 2022 Alive 18,582 days

The 3100 Travis Building, with artwork by E.Z. Galea in 1951

Buildings do a great job of preserving history, if you know how to read them. A building may change owners, colors, and names, but its height, setbacks, floor spacing, materials, and other fundamentals can tell you a lot about it.

In some cases, buildings wear their history on their sleeves. 3100 Travis in Midtown Houston is one of those. Above what used to be the main entrance is a nice Texas-flavored bas relief featuring an oil well, and what may either be a pipeline or a railroad connecting McAllen with New York.

A lot of early- and mid-20th-century architectural decoration featured allegories, often of “Progress” or “Commerce” or “Engineering.” I donʼt know which allegorical figure this is supposed to be, but this is Texas, so heʼs riding a horse.

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Now thatʼs stuck in my head

Saturday, March 5th, 2022 Alive 18,575 days

Whereʼs Lionel says, “Hello. Is it me youʼre looking for?”

Why is Lionel Richie dressed like Whereʼs Waldo?

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Hi, Shern-Min!

Friday, March 4th, 2022 Alive 18,574 days

KHOU/Houstonʼs downtown studio at the George R. Brown Convention Center

Itʼs nice to see a TV station with a streetfront studio. They were in fashion in the 1990ʼs, and most large markets had at least one. They were a way to showcase the station in high-traffic areas, similar to the way big consumer brands like Starbucks, Hershey, and Nokia build flagship stores on busy tourist streets to serve as 3D interactive billboards.

The first one I saw was at KSDK/Saint Louis in 1994. Chicago is a walking town, so by the early 2000ʼs, several radio and television stations built their own. WLS-TV, WMAQ-TV, WBBM-TV, and WGN radio all had them. WKQX radio had one in the Merchandise Mart, but since the Mart doesnʼt have much of a street-level presence, it faced inside, where all the office workers could see it. WLUP radio and WFLD television each did something similar at Michigan Plaza, but while the radio stationʼs version was well done, it was hard to find. The TV station never really pulled it off. Even Loyola Universityʼs WULW/Chicago, and its student TV station had a streetfront studio.

The last time I checked, both WLS-TV and WBBM-TV have let their former showcase spaces deteriorate, and theyʼre not much of a draw anymore. WGN radio was still using its space in Tribune Tower extensively, but no longer 24 hours a day. WGN had an interesting gimmick where a microphone was suspended outside of the studio, and the talk show hosts would occasionally engage members of the public.

A similar setup was featured in a Tony Hillerman book, outside of KNDN/Farmington. Itʼs possible that it was real, since the Hillerman books tend to be more fact than fiction.

When I was at WGN-TV we longed for a streetfront studio, like the big stations downtown. But we were way out in North Central, pretty much half-way out of town. When WGN radio opened its showcase studio, we were jealous, since the space next to WGNʼs studio was originally designed to be a TV studio, and itʼs where WGN-TV was located until it moved out of downtown in the 1960ʼs. We always thought that space should rightly be a TV studio again, especially with all of our competitors opening shiny new studios all over downtown.

That never happened, because the people who owned the TV station at the time thought the prime downtown location was better used as retail space, then a museum, then retail space, and then left empty.

The picture above is KHOU/Houstonʼs downtown streetfront studio, and the woman in front of it is anchor Shern-Min Chow. We worked together for about five years, and she was always nice to me, but I donʼt think sheʼd remember me, so I didnʼt say hi.

When I was at KHOU, we prided ourselves on the fact that we were the only TV station downtown. All the others were half-way out of town, and when important things happened, we were usually better positioned to get to the news before everyone else.

Since then, KHOU has moved even farther away from downtown than the other stations. Its main studio is in the Galleria Area, but at least this satellite studio gets daily use. The only TV station that does local news thatʼs farther away is KIAH/Houston, but its news product is a very faded shadow of what it was when I was there.

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Stick to your ribs

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022 Alive 18,573 days

Pizza on a stick

You know what sounds awful? Pizza on a stick.

You know what is really good? Pizza on a stick!

Carnival food can be really awful, but the pizza on a stick at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is really good. Flavorful, moist, and easy to handle without getting greasy. The amount of pizza you get on a single stick is a full meal, so as carnival food goes, itʼs good value for money.

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Moo, yʼall

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022 Alive 18,573 days

A comparison of various milks

Iʼve never understood the appeal of what are called “alternative” milks. In ordinary life, I try to avoid processed food, and with the exception of fake meat, pretend milk is probably the most processed food on the planet.

I have a fasination with farms, so I like to watch the farm life demonstrations at the rodeo that are intended for children, but instructive for those of us who grew up playing on concrete and asphalt.

This demonstration was about how to milk a cow, but I was drawn to the banner nearby that compared cowʼs milk with various nut milk. Itʼs a little hard to see in the picture, so Iʼve reproduced the information here:

If you're viewing this on a mobile phone, you won't be able to see the table until you hold your phone horizontally. That's because tables look like absolute pants on phones.

Cowʼs milk Almond “milk” Oat “milk” Soy “milk“
Calories 110 60 130 110
Protein 8 grams 1 gram 4 grams 8 grams
Fat 2½ grams 2½ grams 2½ grams 4½ grams
Carbohydrates 12 grams 8 grams 24 grams 9 grams
Calcium 30% 45% 35% 45%
Phosphorous 25% none none 25%
Potassium 10% 1% none 10%
Riboflavin 25% 30% 30% 30%
Vitamin B12 20% 50% none 50%
Vitamin A 10% 10% 10% 10%
Vitamin D 25% 25% 25% 30%

What's interesting to me about the table is the highlighted numbers. The highlights indicate that those nutrients occur in the milk naturally. In cases where a nutrient is not highlighted, that means itʼs added when the food is processed. So while the nut milks have five percent more riboflavin than cowʼs milk, the cowʼs milk has it naturally. Itʼs not added at a factory.

Why does it matter? Some people think that the body absorbs nutrients better if they come from nature, not a pill. Which may explain why my doctor encouraged me to eat certain foods, rather than take a supplement, when I was found to be a bit short on a particular vitamin.

I wonʼt pretend that cowʼs milk is the perfect food, but itʼs good to have information to compare, especially if youʼre more worried about carbohydrates than calories. Or potassium instead of fat.

On the other hand, the U.S. Army thinks the cowʼs milk is almost the perfect food. When I was in R.O.T.C., we were taught that if we were ever trapped behind enemy lines, try to find a cow because with cowʼs milk and iron tablets, you can live for a very long time.

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Tulip service

Saturday, February 26th, 2022 Alive 18,568 days

A Metro light rail train passes red tulips at Main Street Square

There are parts of Houston that are really ugly. But there are also parts that are really pretty, and very often those are places where the city has made an effort to plant flowers.

I wandered through Main Street Square in the rain today, and the flowers are in full bloom.

Flowers at Main Street Square in downtown Houston
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Ride 'em, cowboy

Saturday, February 26th, 2022 Alive 18,568 days

A cowboy taking the train to the rodeo

Thereʼs a stereotype along the lines of “People in Houston wonʼt ride transit.” If that was true, then Metro wouldnʼt have had two million disembarkments at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo a couple of years ago.

My observation so far has been that the people who are most against transit in Houston are people who donʼt live in Houston, or if they do, they live on the fringes, and not in the actual city part of the city.

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I made a wrong turn at Albuquerque

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022 Alive 18,564 days

Air11 follows trail riders making their way to Houston

Not only do people spend weeks riding their horses to Houston each year, the local TV news monitors their progress.

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D'lish!

Saturday, February 19th, 2022 Alive 18,561 days

Food D'lite in Houstonʼs Harrisburg neighborhood

After a day at the tree museum, I like to stop at Food D'lite on the way home. Itʼs a combination hamburger stand and Chinese food joint.

Itʼs my understanding that in the early part of the last century, it was common for Chinese immigrants who opened restaurants to serve both Chinese and American cuisine, in order to expand their customer base and to ingratiate themselves with the locals. Iʼve also noticed it in a number of old movies from the 1940ʼs, so it seems to be a little slice of Americana that is fading away as restaurants now strive to pigeonhole themselves into a particular category, rather than attract the largest number of people they can.

As you can tell from the picture, Food D'lite is small, old, and garishly-painted. So, naturally my expectations were high the first time I went here.

I have never gotten a hamburger from this stand, but I am happy to report that the Chinese food is excellent. Itʼs very much in the style of the heavy, muddy East Coast Cantonese I grew up with, and very far from the fresh-crispy-sprouts-and-heat of the West Coast Szechuan Iʼve had to make do with for the last decade.

If the Metro Green Line ran just another 4.8 miles eastward, Iʼd probably have lunch here every other day.

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Buggy bedsit

Saturday, February 19th, 2022 Alive 18,561 days

There are more creatures living in this eight-ounce, two-day-old mud puddle than in my entire seventeen-story apartment building.

Nature finds a way.

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Howʼs the gift shop?

Saturday, February 19th, 2022 Alive 18,561 days

I spent the morning at the tree museum. I think the Houston Botanic Garden will be really nice in ten years or so. Today, it looks a lot like itʼs just barely gotten off the ground. Lots of saplings on bare earth. Bulldozers. Sections cordoned off for construction. Urban hillbillies riding quads over the exhibits.

I became a member last year, but probably wonʼt renew. The benches that were nice for sitting on and looking at nature have been removed. Itʼs doing concerts now, farming for restaurants, and charging unwarranted prices to walk through its Christmas lights display. Even members have to pay, which is very unusual amongst serious musea.

It has a good location, and lots of potential. I suspect that the financial pressures of COVID have caused its leadership to lose its way in the forest.

Plants at the Houston Botanic Garden
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Whatabasement

Friday, February 11th, 2022 Alive 18,553 days

The Whataburger restaurant in the basement of 1000 Main in downtown Houston

People who donʼt live or work in downtown Houston tend to think of it as a bleak and austere place. I can understand why. For 50 years, most new buildings in downtown were constructed with fortress designs and blank walls of glass and concrete facing the sidewalks. For half a century, the cityʼs urban core was built upon the idea that nobody walks in downtown Houston. Even though that was not true.

People do walk in downtown Houston, but they do it underground. Like the Pedway in Chicago, and the Skyway in Minneapolis, Houston has a series of retail-gilded tunnels connecting its main buildings. And at certain times of the day theyʼre so flooded with people that it can be hard to get around.

The problem for Houston is that it doesnʼt have enough foot traffic to support both street-level retail and tunnel-level retail, and the resulting dispersion of retail spaces prevents either option from reaching the critical mass required to form a vibrant pedestrian experience.

If all of the retail in the Houston tunnel system were to move to street level, downtown would be transformed. It would be filled with people, restaurants, convenience stores, tailors, jewelers, and other shops that are currently out of site to a great number of people.

The antipode would be to move the street level storefronts underground so the subterranean area can thrive. That would have made sense last century, but Houston is trying to develop a tourist economy. People from other places expect retail to be at street level, and theyʼre not going to run a gauntlet of security guards and hidden elevators to pick up a burger after an Astros game.

Houston has seen an explosion of home-grown retail in the last decade, but much of it is scattered throughout the neighborhoods. Chicago has seen something similar, but in Chicago if youʼre successful, you donʼt open a second branch in another outlying neighborhood. You open it downtown. Itʼs helped local chains like Argo Tea, Dollop Coffee, and the various Goddess incarnations to grow and expand their reach.

I suspect that Chicago has some kind of incubator program that helps these small local retailers occupy prime space downtown. Houston has plenty of empty street-level retail space downtown. It just need an organization with a bit of money to connect the owners of that space with ambitious new brands.

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All the news that ℔Ωℹ︎ℌℑ℁℀… NO CARRIER

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022 Alive 18,551 days

An error message on one of the Houston Chronicle's web sites

One of my newspapers didnʼt come today. So I tried to let the Houston Chronicle know it has a problem. Naturally, since the conglomerate that ate Houstonʼs paper of record doesnʼt have customer service people on the weekend, I have to fill out a report online. And, naturally, the web site doesnʼt work.

Even if I had to wait on hold for a while to speak to someone about it, a human being could solve the problem immediately. Instead, I have to remember to call the newspaperʼs customer service people during the week to get credit for the missed delivery.

Remember when computers were going to make our lives better?

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Finders keepers

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022 Alive 18,551 days

A bird trying to open a plastic baggie to get to a peanut butter sandwich

I think someone leaves peanut butter sandwiches around for the homeless people in my neighborhood.

I think someone doesnʼt realize that grackles love peanut butter sandwiches, and are really quite clever.

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Note to self: Let it go to voice mail

Friday, February 4th, 2022 Alive 18,546 days

Fire trucks. Many many fire trucks.

One of the work-from-home workforce in my building answered a call from his boss while cooking lunch. You can see the rest.

When we evacuated the building, I grabbed my work laptop, but not my shoes, so I ended up working the rest of the day from Day 6 Coffee in my pajamas and slippers. However, this being downtown Houston, I was the least-oddly dressed person there.

Interestingly, both the Metro Green and Purple line trains were suspended because the nearest johnny pump to my home is across the street, and the firefighters had to run hoses across the train tracks to connect to my buildingʼs risers.

That train isnʼt going anywhere
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Someoneʼs gotta do it

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022 Alive 18,530 days

Coffee from The Italian Job

When I think of fine coffees, I donʼt usually think of Michael Caine and Benny Hill. But I might from now on.

Thereʼs a coffee shop down the street called The Italian Job. Itʼs run by a couple of guys from Italy who decided that Houston could do with a bit of civilization, and decided to contribute by importing enormous chrome-plated espresso machines.

Itʼs located in one of the new skyscraper apartment buildings, and across the street from a park, so it has an audience built-in. But it looks more like a bar than a coffee shop, and based on the paraphernalia behind the counter, Iʼd say that booze is its bread and butter.

Still, you never see a bar without coffee, and if youʼre going to be the sober one in the bunch, the coffee proffered here is really quite good.

The space is tight, which is great for rubbing elbows on a night out on the town, but not so great for people trying to dodge COVID in the middle of the day, so I got mine to go.

It's a quality brew, made in the Italian tradition — meaning produced in no absolutely no hurry. This isnʼt Naples, so itʼs an indication of care, not contempt. And the extra time comes through in the flavor. This is not push-button global chain espresso.

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Discover where the green went

Tuesday, January 11th, 2022 Alive 18,522 days

A mini-golf course at Discovery Green

I donʼt understand the stewardship philosophy of the people who run Discovery Green. Thatʼs why Iʼm not surprised to see that one of the worldʼs largest entertainment conglomerates has been allowed to bogart public space to promote one of its brands.

A Pixar-themed miniature golf course is now squatting on one of the few green parcels of Discovery Green. Why? Presumably in the name of holy, sacred “programming.”

Iʼve been to a lot of municipal meetings where the people who run parks talk about how they run them. Invariably they talk about how the park should be “programmed.” These days they also call it “activation.” Same meaningless buzzword. Different generation.

Discovery Green is already over-programmed. There's webcams, movie nights, concerts, restaurants, promenades, temporary ice rinks, a model boat basin, a splash pad, a playground, a climbing hill, a pond, a parking garage, a wall of fame, a jogging trail, multiple seating platforms, a solar array, a shuffleboard court, chess tables, picnic tables, a dog park, bocce courts, a bandstand, art installations, a giant mister, a putting green, flea markets, a library, reading rooms, and probably many other things I havenʼt stumbled across yet.

Discovery Green should pick a couple of things and do them well, rather than shoehorn 30 different things into less than a dozen acres poorly. Let another park have some of the action. Itʼs not like most of Houston doesnʼt need more parks.

More to the point — whatʼs wrong with a park being a park? Whatʼs wrong with trees and grass and flowers and birds? Is there no room anymore for rest, contemplation, and refuge? Urban parks were invented to give people a break from city life. But most new parks are built for engagement, experience, and social media — All of the things for which parks should be an antidote, not a vector.

A Pixar Putt storage container at Discovery Green
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Saturday, January 1st, 2022 Alive 18,512 days

Annie watching Oliver, a cat in another window
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You do that

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021 Alive 18,508 days

The roof of The Star

I shall work here today.

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A gaggle of grackles

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,503 days

Grackles having a meeting

I know that a group of crows is called a “murder,” and a group of ravens is called an “unkindness.” So I shall coin the term “an arrogance of grackles.”

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You got any Chipwiches?

Sunday, December 12th, 2021 Alive 18,492 days

An ice cream truck parked in front of Houston City Hall

If the ice cream man does brisk business in December, you might live in Houston.

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Mighty T

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021 Alive 18,487 days

The battleship Texas

For a short while today, Iʼm keeping the battleship Texas company in its slip in Deer Park, off of the Houston Ship Channel.

The battleship was built in 1912, and decommissioned in 1948. It is now a museum, but in such a state of disrepair that it is going to be towed somewhere to be refurbished. That is, if someone can figure out how to do it, and find someone willing to do the repairs. But itʼs my understanding that the money has already been lined up for the project, and usually thatʼs the hardest part.

What is strange to me is that today is December 7th. Itʼs Pearl Harbor Day. But thereʼs no one here but me and my wife. This is a decorated World War II warship. I expected bunting, and a brass band, and veterans in wheelchairs with gleaming medals.

But itʼs just us.

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Jimmy Stewart approves

Thursday, November 18th, 2021 Alive 18,468 days

The neon sign of Spec's liquor store

I donʼt intuitively understand the link between liquor stores and rabbits, but I approve of neon signs, so Iʼm OK with this.

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Worth it

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021 Alive 18,466 days

Ordering at what I believe to be the worst McDonaldʼs in Houston, if not America

Is this the most ghetto McDonaldʼs in America? Letʼs look at the facts:

  • The dining room exists, but is permanently closed to the public.
  • Orders are taken through a makeshift window built into the side door.
  • The makeshift order window is reinforced with steel diamond plate.
  • Even the bushes have 10-foot-tall iron fences surrounding them.
  • There are multiple signs encouraging customers to bring their firearms to the restaurant.

The things I do for a McRib.

Even the bushes get extra security
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Underground history

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 Alive 18,459 days

A slice of the Hotel Cotton underneath downtown Houston

If you wander through the tunnels under downtown Houston, you might run across this. Itʼs a slice of the old Cotton Hotel, preserved underneath the skyscraper known as 811 Main.

Thereʼs a plaque nearby which explains:

This façade belonged to the historic Hotel Cotton, built in 1913 on the southwest corner of Rusk and Fannin. The majority of the façade is from the original building, yet severe damage to the façade later in the hotelʼs history necessitated part of the structure be recreated.

The 11-story Hotel Cotton was developed by Almon Cotton, a wealthy, investment-loan man from Colorado. When the Cotton first opened its doors on Saturday, March 1, 1913, people called the building sensational — it was the first hotel in downtown Houston with a bath in all 152 rooms! Although it was located in what some still considered the countryside (the city had to clear weeds on adjacent land), the Cotton charged very high rates at $1.50 per room and had steady business from the start. The neighboring Stowers Furniture Company building, which still stands today, supplied the first furniture for the Cotton. One Houston newspaper later branded the Cotton as the “Shamrock of 1913,” which exemplifies its luxurious and impressive modernity at the time.

Soon after its opening, the Cotton passed through a series of owners, where its name was eventually changed to the Montagu Hotel. After falling into extreme disrepair, the hotel was demolished on January 20, 2007.

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Monday, November 8th, 2021 Alive 18,458 days

A vacant lot in The Heights

Even in Houstonʼs hottest neighborhood, thereʼs no shortage of urban decay.

Or people to take pictures of it.

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Your beret is crooked

Thursday, November 4th, 2021 Alive 18,454 days

The Picasso/Calder exhibit at MHF/H

If a museum stages an exhibition of Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder, youʼre obligated to photograph it in high-contrast black-and-white.

When in an art museum, do as the art students do.

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So, can I ride for free?

Saturday, October 30th, 2021 Alive 18,449 days

A broken Metro ticket machine

When it comes to transit hardware malfunctions, I guess itʼs better that the ticket machine fails than the train.

Although, I think I havenʼt seen a parity error in 30 years.

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Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 Alive 18,445 days

An airplane avoids an Anish Kapoor sculpture
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Grackle want a cracker?

Saturday, October 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,442 days

“Paging Alfred Hitchcock. Mr. Hitchcock, white courtesy phone.”

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Needs to perk up

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 Alive 18,439 days

The Costa Coffee machine at Whole Foods being repaired again

If you ever want to know what the inside of an automatic barista machine looks like, just head to Whole Foods in Midtown Houston. Thereʼs a good chance itʼs inner mechanism is open and available for you to examine.

Iʼm not sure how many times Iʼve been to this Whole Foods store — maybe a dozen times — and the coffee machine has never been working.

Every time I go, thereʼs a repairman busy tinkering with it. Which seems like quite a coincidence. Either Costa Coffee has an employee whose job is to repair this one machine full-time, or thereʼs something about me going to Whole Foods that causes the machine to kill itself.

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City of disrepair

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 Alive 18,438 days

A broken embedded railroad crossing signal along Main Street in downtown Houston

Iʼve long moaned about how Houston is a city that would rather spend a lot of money tearing things down and rebuilding them, than spend a little money maintaining what it already has. Since Iʼve returned to the city, I see it over and over again.

This is the latest example. These are warning lights that were embedded into the stop lines of streets that cross Metroʼs Red Line downtown. They were pretty neat when the train first ran, taking the flashing lights usually hanging beneath a grade crossingʼs crossbuck, and putting them into the street, itself, nice and tidy. The resulting wigwag light pattern both alerts drivers to the approach of a train, and also lets them know where to stop.

That is, if theyʼre working. Which theyʼre not. None of them work anymore. I wrote to Robert Gallegos, my elected city councilman asking what happened to them.

Not only did he not respond to my letter, his office didnʼt even acknowledge its receipt. Having previously lived in Chicagoʼs 42nd Ward under its very responsive Alderman Brendan Reilly, Iʼm surprised that a local politician would simply ignore a constituent. I guess Mr. Gallegos doesnʼt need my vote.

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More patch than pumpkins

Sunday, October 17th, 2021 Alive 18,436 days

A nice autumn day at the tree museum.

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On a wing and a flair

Saturday, October 16th, 2021 Alive 18,435 days

Houston has a number of interesting second-line musea that often donʼt get the attention they deserve. One of them is the former Houston Municipal Airport terminal, now known as the 1940 Air Terminal Museum.

It is chock-a-block with exhibits of aviation history, with a heavy local focus, which is appropriate since so many airlines got their start in Texas, and Houston was formerly the home of several majors.

You can climb inside a vintage passenger aircraft, like one you might see in an old movie. And if you go on the right day, you can be escorted up to the top of the control tower.

That space is in an advanced state of decay, which is why the museum requires a chaperone, but itʼs a nice elevated location from which to take photographs of the adjacent Hobby Airport.

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Bee bum

Friday, October 8th, 2021 Alive 18,427 days

A bee jamming itself inside a flower

I spent a bit of today watching the bees toil outside of the Houston City Hall Annex.

Iʼve been told that the big bees, like this one, are locals. Itʼs the small bees that are migratory.

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What did Brown do for you?

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,422 days

A plaque inside a Metro train car

While I agree that the former mayor Brown deserves to have a train car dedicated in his honor, I donʼt like when these sorts of awards are bestowed on people while theyʼre still alive.

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Watch out for gars

Saturday, October 2nd, 2021 Alive 18,421 days

Water errupting from a storm drain in downtown Houston

For a low-lying coastal city on a bayou that is regularly subjected to hurricanes, itʼs sometimes amazing how ill-prepared Houston is for routine thunderstorms.

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Latte, how are ya?

Sunday, September 19th, 2021 Alive 18,408 days

A Texas latte from Day 6 Coffee

Today's coffee is the Texas Latte from Day Six Coffee in downtown Houston.

This coffee is probably best taken hot, but even though it's only 93° today, my body still believes it's a hundred-and-bullshit outside, so I got it iced.

It's pretty good, but should be well-swirled to make sure all the good bits at the bottom get properly distributed throughout.

The Day Six menu describes it as a "double shot of espresso with vanilla bean flavoring, caramel sauce, and steamed milk." I usually associate vanilla with Madagascar, and caramel with England. But Texas has milk, so we'll go with that. It's a solid drink, but forgettable. The sort of thing that you can get pretty much anywhere. And at $5.50 a pop, it's not really value-for-money. $3.99, and I'm there.

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Wet feet

Sunday, September 19th, 2021 Alive 18,408 days

The roof of The Star, in the rain

I shall work here today.

Itʼs a gentle rain, and Iʼm under the overhang.

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Your tax dollars flushed

Friday, September 17th, 2021 Alive 18,406 days

Rome is renowned as the city of fountains. Itʼs my understanding that Kansas City also considers itself a city of fountains. Houston, on the other hand, is a city of dead fountains.

When I last lived in Houston, the city had recently spent millions sprucing up a slice of downtown, filling it with imaginative fountains, and declaring it “The Cotswold District” in sign and literature.

Ignoring the absurdity of the cognomen, what happened after that is a typical Houston story. Nobody maintained the fountains. Today, there are over a dozen of these bulky, trash-filled wrecks beached across half as many city blocks.

I wrote to my city council representative asking what happened, and didnʼt get a response. I guess he doesnʼt need my vote.

I asked some of the locals about it, and they told me that fountains downtown are a bad idea from the start because homeless people will just use them for bathing. OK, I understand that. But the problem isnʼt the fountains, itʼs that youʼre not taking care of your homeless people. Homeless people sleep on the streets, too. Does that mean we shouldnʼt have streets anymore?

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Still waters

Thursday, September 16th, 2021 Alive 18,405 days

Main Street Square

A quiet evening at Main Street Square in downtown Houston.

Itʼs quiet because the Main Street Square fountains are broken. And have been for at least several months, if not longer.

Have I mentioned that Houston is a city where everything is broken all the time?

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Use your noodle

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021 Alive 18,403 days

The Market Square Tower pool

They threw the deck chairs into the pool at Market Square Tower to keep them from blowing away in the storm.

They hung the pool over the public sidewalk because they like to tempt fate.

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Good location, though

Saturday, September 4th, 2021 Alive 18,393 days

I went to the Church of the Annunciation today. Itʼs one of those urban core Catholic churches that churches under the radar, serving its neighborhood for hundreds of years while the nearby cathedral gets all the attention. Most large American cities have one like this. Places like Saint Joan of Arc in Las Vegas, Assumption Catholic Church in Chicago, and the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis are other examples.

Annunciation is old-school, in both style, architecture, and message. While I did the special kind of musty funk that fills old American Catholic churches, Iʼve never been able to get used to using a Communion rail. Perhaps I have weak knees. Or I donʼt like people looking at my butt.

Still, if youʼre looking for a just-barely-this-side-of-Vatican-Ⅱ experience, this could be the place for you.

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Go Blue

Saturday, August 28th, 2021 Alive 18,386 days

Iʼve learned to stop wearing my Dodgers sweatshirt around the building. People give me the stink eye. One of the valet guys told me itʼs because people here hate people from California. Iʼm not surprised. People are like that in Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, too.

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Not scary at all

Monday, August 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,381 days

The Star from underneath

In the basement of my building, itʼs possible to see the new foundation holding up the old foundation.

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Ski Tomball

Friday, August 20th, 2021 Alive 18,378 days

When people ask me why I moved to Houston, I tell them itʼs because I love to ski, and Iʼm bad at geography.

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Still better mileage than a Chevy Suburban

Sunday, August 15th, 2021 Alive 18,373 days

A mechanized street cleaning contraption

In most cities, they have people pushing brooms to clean the streets. But this is Houston, so “Letʼs see if thereʼs a way we can do this sitting down while burning dead dinosaurs.”

If you put that thing in reverse, does it spew out everything its Hoovered up?

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Coffee cops

Saturday, August 14th, 2021 Alive 18,372 days

A sign advertising free coffee for police officers, firefighters, and hospital workers

Thereʼs a weird kind of hybrid bar -slash- epicurean bodega near my home called District Market that gives free coffee to cops and other essential workers. Thatʼs nice.

People make a lot of jokes about cops and doughnut shops thinking that itʼs nothing more than a lame stereotype, but few understand that thereʼs a historical reason for that association.

America used to be littered with all-night coffee shops. This was because people used to stay out later, as they didnʼt have much entertainment at home. People also used to work later because a lot of once-massive industries demanded it. And more people worked overnight shifts than they do now. Stopping at a coffee shop or a diner on the way home at 2am was a perfectly normal thing to do. People also used to work harder, so in some cities there were 24-hour cheap steak joints, but thatʼs a story for another time.

Because these coffee shops were open in the small hours, they were often the targets of criminals. A clever way to attract police officers to your late-night noshery in order to repel criminals was to offer the badged free coffee, and sometimes free doughnuts.

Whether District Market is giving away free coffee in lieu of paying for improved security doesnʼt really matter, because itʼs still a nice thing to do. And the whole notion of “free coffee” which used to be ubiquitous in American society has almost disappeared today.

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That first step is a doozy

Friday, August 13th, 2021 Alive 18,371 days

Doors cut into the side of the Southwestern Bell building

The Southwestern Bell building across the street has a channel in it that was once populated by windows. Then the windows were converted into doors. And now theyʼre death traps.

Amazingly, I occasionally see people open these doors and stand next to the abyss smoking. The crush out their cigarettes on the historic brick facade.

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Priority pizza

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 Alive 18,368 days

It's interesting to see how much Houston has changed in the last 20 years, and how much it hasn't.

Things that are new include the robot security guards at the neighboring skyscrapers; light rail lines on three sides of my building; and a complete lack of jazz, classical, or news radio stations.

What hasn't changed includes Frank's Pizza, which has the finest 'zza west of the Mississippi; the first Starbucks I ever went to is still there; the horrendous undercarriage-scraping defect in San Felipe Road is still there 20 years later; and also the notion of “Texas friendly.”

People are so nice here compared with California, Nevada, Washington, Illinois, and most of the other places we've lived. The first truck stop we went to when we crossed the border was out of newspapers. Some rando guy heard me asking the casher about it, and he gave me the paper he was reading. “I only wanted to read the front page,” he lied. Same with 90% of everyone we've met. So generous.

They let you merge, unlike the Californians who are so angry and jealous to their cores that they think everything is a race. Even the guy with Tourette syndrome who works the parking lot at Target is super nice to everyone. A cop stopped traffic so I could cross the street carrying a pizza. I just can't imagine that happening anywhere else.

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Savanna pollyanna

Monday, July 27th, 2020 Alive 17,989 days

Almond Bliss from Lola Savannah

Todayʼs coffee is Almond Bliss from a place called Lola Savannah in Houston. Itʼs another dessert coffee.

This one tastes like an Almond Joy bar. It has little slivers of almonds in with the beans, which you might think would add to the flavor, but I think is just a gimmick. Itʼs good. Not one of my favorites, but Iʼll order something else from LS in the future.

Lola Savannah has a metric ass ton of coffees available because itʼs also a contract roaster for lots of other coffee companies. However, in spite of cutting out the middle man, the coffee doesnʼt seem any cheaper. Still, with all the types it has on offer, whatever you want is probably available.

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Thief of parts

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 Alive 17,964 days

A WB39 pencil

I needed a pencil eraser to clean some electronics today, and I found this.

I donʼt remember being given any WB39 News pencils to bring home from the newsroom, so I must have borrowed this one. Iʼll totally bring it back the next time Iʼm in Houston.

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Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 Alive 17,746 days

My boss was informed that she has to go to Houston for work, so she asked me what it's like. I told her that it's Houston is filled with the most genuine, most friendly, simply best people I've ever met. I said that of the 15 cities in which I've lived, Houston is the only one where I still have friends. I also said that it's virtually impossible to find a bad restaurant.

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