7.27.05 Barton Creek

July 1, 2005 by  
Filed under Blogs, Edit, Travel Blog

7.27.05 The spa at Barton Creek has undergone a much needed renovation. The spa director has taken every detail into account and make the new and improved spa one of the most user friendly spas around. I’ve always loved Barton Creek for their golf. The placement of lady’s tees is very favorable and makes the game extremely enjoyable. Finally, their spa is up to par with the world class golf. Gone are the turquoise and pink tiles of the wet area, and in are the subtle browns, tans, and orange colors that allow you to relax and enjoy your treatments. I tried the lymphatic European facial. According to my facialist, this treatment is so relaxing it’s made many people feel faint. It’s also been known to remove puffiness from the eyes. What more can we say? Give it a try. – Laurette Veres

7.23.05 Roger Creager

July 1, 2005 by  
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Roger Creager packs them in at the still un-air-conditioned Greune Hall; the oldest dance hall in Texas. Most of the band members look new, but one thing remains the same. Roger gives his all each time he takes the stage. The energy and enthusiasm bubbles over as he belts such tunes as “Got the Guns” and “Having Fun All Wrong.”

“I wrote this song for a girl who broke my heart.” he encourages the audience, “oh, you’ve met her?” he says above cat calls as he sings the retaliatory “I’m better than you.”

In 2003 Creager told H Texas that his sponsorship with ZiegenBoch and Anheuser Busch made him feel that, although he hadn’t arrived yet, he was getting there. Does a sold out Greune hall and a new sponsorship from Bud Light mean he’s arrived. What’s in his hand wasn’t the only change we noted; he’s also sporting a shiny new wedding ring.

Thankfully, he knows what works and isn’t looking to change: closing with “Ever clear” and bringing dad on stage for “Rancho Grande.” Pretty good for a guy from Corpus Christi.

Creager was hard to spot the next day as he loaded into a bus to tube down the Guadalupe River. If we hadn’t recognized his brother and wife, he would’ve slipped right by us. Laurette Veres

7.17.05 Free Chips and Salsa

July 1, 2005 by  
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Last night at Café Adobe in the Marquis Center, I was shocked by the actions of the three Hispanic females at the table next to me. First, upon ordering, they questioned the waitress ad nausea about the menu. Are the tortillas home made Etc. They finally placed the order, and just before it arrived, they left. Basically, they scammed free chips and drinks and took off before the main course arrived. I’ve heard that the Marquis Center has problems with teens only wanting chips at this Café Adobe. In fact, I’ve heard they charge for chips and salsa here. But to order three full meals and leave. I still can’t believe I actually saw it happen.

7.21.05 Cellulite Reduction

July 1, 2005 by  
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7.21.05 Cellulite Reduction At the Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Co, I attempted to reduce the visual evidence of cellulite. For only $130; I was covered in mud and wrapped in plastic. The mud began to bubble and then I showered. Next, I was covered with a lotion that was hot upon application, but cooled down when I was wrapped in plastic. I showered again. Finally, I was massaged with a firming lotion. Does it work? The manufacture recommends this treatment ten times before results should be expected. Even the masseuse said the only thing that will really work is diet and exercise. – Laurette Veres

Free Chips and Salsa

July 1, 2005 by  
Filed under Edit

7.17.05 Last night at Café Adobe in the Marquis Center, I was shocked by the actions of the three Hispanic females at the table next to me. First, upon ordering, they questioned the waitress ad nausea about the menu. Are the tortillas home made? Etc. They finally placed the order, and just before it arrived, they left. Basically, they scammed free chips and drinks and took off before the main course arrived. I’ve heard that the Marquis Center has problems with teens only wanting chips at this Café Adobe. In fact, I’ve heard they charge for chips and salsa here. But to order three full meals and leave?. I still can’t believe I actually saw it happen.

7.11.05 Natural Skin Creations

July 1, 2005 by  
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I’ve been getting incredible facials at Natural Skin Creations. Thank you to Mark Ziegler, my realtor, for sending me a gift certificate. Derma Max facials, are the newest thing being offered in place of micro-derm abrasion. Let me tell you, they work. The laser treatment targets wrinkles by zapping and relaxing the muscles. The results are quite similar to botox (so I hear) but, it is achieved without needles. Currently, I?m working on my brow line. The other day at Mia Bella, the hostess came over to me and complimented me on my young-looking eyes. That?s when I knew this was really working. Natural Skin Creations: (866) 254-9978. -Laurette Veres

7.9.2005 Phantom of the Opera

July 1, 2005 by  
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7.9.2005 I guess it depends what stage of life you?re in when you experience ?The Phantom of the Opera? to determine your reaction. At age 18, I wondered why Christine even lamented over the choice between Raoul and the Phantom. At 27, it hit me: She loved the Phantom because he gave her the gift of music. Today, at 35 the message is even more profound. She loved him for the gift he gave her, and Raoul loved her for the gift she had (?He was bound to love you, when he heard you sing,? sings the Phantom). Christine was willing to overlook the Phantom?s heinous appearance, and stay with him forever in order to save Raoul from the Phantom. Love, womanly instinct, sacrifice and perhaps pity (?the world has never shown you compassion,? she says) all kick in and contribute to her decision.

But the Phantom needed her to perform the music he composed. He fell in love with her when she brought his music to life.

The after party at Zula was attended by the cast, press and friends. Gary Mauer, the Phantom, was casual in jeans and an un-tucked shirt. Kenneth Singer, our Houston manager was stunning in his pink tie. -Laurette Veres

25 Beautiful Houstonians

July 1, 2005 by  
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I believe that there is something very beautiful about each and every human being. Therefore this project has been, without question, one of the most difficult I have ever tackled. But, with the help of many professional, talented photographers and an extremely impartial H Texas committee, I submit the following 25 Beautiful Houstonians, who are not only physically beautiful, but also spend much of their time in the service of others.

During this selection process, I have come to understand that the old adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” rings truer than ever. Remember that it was John Keats who wrote: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.”

I and my colleagues at this magazine feel that one interpretation of this famous prose could mean that through service to mankind, we shall never pass into oblivion.

1. Brad Ausmus
Brad, the great Houston Astros catcher, enjoys participating in all the Astros’ charitable functions, such as the Craig Biggio Sunshine Kids Celebrity Golf Classic and other events sponsored by the Astros and Astros’ Wives. He recently was given the Million Mile Award from Continental Airlines and immediately donated it to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

2. Ericka Bagwell
Ericka has recently become very involved in Casa de Esperanza. She has worked many years for and has chaired the Black Ties and Baseball Caps gala benefiting the Houston Area Women’s Center. Ericka’s other favorite charities include Boys and Girls Country, Harbor House and the Ronald McDonald House.

3. Craig Biggio
A mainstay in the heart beat of the Houston charitable community, legendary Houston Astro Craig is always there to support children. His Craig Biggio Sunshine Kids Celebrity Golf Classic has been the focus of his fund-raising efforts for many years. The Sunshine Kids organization is dedicated to children with cancer to provide positive group activities and emotional support for young cancer patients. Craig donates energy, celebrity and resources to the organization, but perhaps the most fulfilling of all his activities is the time he spends visiting the children in their homes or the hospital.

4. Pat Breen
Pat’s love of opera and the ballet began when she was a child. Now, she serves as vice president of the Board of Governors, is on the executive committee and is head of special events for the Houston Grand Opera. She is a board member for the Houston Ballet Foundation, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, University of Texas Health Science Center and University of Texas Partners School of Nursing. Recently, Pat co-chaired the Houston Chronicle Best Dressed Luncheon and Neiman Marcus Fashion Presentation benefiting the March of Dimes.

5. Ann Carl
Ann’s favorite charitable endeavors involve children. She has chaired the Children’s Museum gala, as well as the Girls and Boys Harbor gala, Friends of Hermann Park gala and Polo Italia and Risotto Festival for the Children’s Assessment Center. Upcoming events she is chairing include the Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation fund raiser and the American Heart Association Go Red luncheon.

6. David Carr
David, the quarterback for the Houston Texans, finds time all year long to support the Houston community. He is very involved with his namesake David Carr’s Race for The Kids, benefiting Junior Achievement and with many other charitable organizations. Today his primary focus in fund-raising endeavors is directed to the Juvenile Diabetes Association, as his son was recently diagnosed with the disease.

7. Ray Childress
Ray is totally committed to making a difference in the Houston community through his Childress Foundation. Providing help to at-risk youth, the Childress Foundation provides hope for a brighter future. Additionally, the Childress Academy at Northbrook High School provides tutoring to help children graduate and attend college.

8. Lora Clemmons
Lora recently chaired a fund-raising dinner in honor of Hazel O’Leary, the president of Fisk University, and served as honorary chairman of the Onyx magazine Women of Style event, benefiting Sister’s Network. She will serve as honorary chairman for the Girl Scouts Urban Campout next spring and is involved with Interfaith Partners.

9. Kimberly DeLape
Kimberly is devoted to programs that involve helping children, such as the After School All-Stars, a program for inner city youth. She has chaired events for “I Have A Dream” and the Bay Area Greater Houston Ballet and Theatre. She loves the performing arts for encouraging children’s hopes and dreams. Kimberly supports The Bridge, a shelter for battered and abused women; The Aids Foundation Houston; and recently enjoyed working on the Kick Out Kidney Disease fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation.

10. Bob Devlin
Bob is dedicated to serving the Houston community far beyond the call of duty as general manager of Neiman Marcus. Some of the volunteer positions he holds involve the Houston Ballet, Channel 8, Child Advocates and the Houston Grand Opera. He is also the chairman of The Assistance Fund Living the Legacy event this year.

11. Jan Duncan
Jan’s heart is drawn to spiritual endeavors and definitely prefers to work quietly behind the scenes. She supports and attends the Shikar Safari Club week in Cape Town, South Africa, which raises money for conservation and education, and supports the Intercessors of the Lamb, a prayer community in Omaha, Nebraska. She also attends the International Week of Prayer and Fasting in Washington, D. C. Jan is extremely involved with the St. Theresa Church and School. She recently co-chaired the Baylor College Partnership’s Honor Your Father gala for prostate cancer. With her husband, Dan, she has provided the Adult Ambulatory Care Building for Baylor College of Medicine and supported the River Oaks Baptist School’s recent expansion.

12. Paige Fertitta
Paige finds herself back in school often these days. She volunteers for her children’s schools, The Fay School and First Baptist Academy, and supports other schools as well, such as the Parish School and Briarwood School. She is on the board of the Children’s Museum of Houston and is very active in the Special Children’s Committee at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Many charitable organizations have benefited from Paige’s generous donation of time, energy and support such as the Houston Children’s Charity, The Cancer League and Houston Grand Opera. Eight years ago, she and her husband, Tilman, created the San Luis Salute Mardi Gras, which has become a major event in Galveston, benefiting different charities each year.

13. Lisa Foronda
Lisa, the KHOU Channel 11 anchor, spends much of her free time working for the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program and Citizens for Animal Protection. Also, each week she works on Taping for the Blind, where she reads from Sports Illustrated. She enjoys supporting and giving time to the Reach Out and Read program, as well.

14. Mindy Hildebrand
Mindy is on the board of Trees of Hope, the fund-raising branch of Star of Hope and in November will be chairing their major event. For the Houston Zoo she chaired the Surfing Safari Family Party, serves as the treasurer for the Zoo Friends of Houston Inc. and fund-raised with the capital campaign committee to provide a new exhibition there. Mindy has been a member of the International Committee of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo for 17 years, is a sustaining member of the Junior League, and chaired the Junior League style show and the Bayou Bend Children’s Party. She is actively involved in her children’s school, River Oaks Baptist, and serves on the guilds of St. Michaels Church, the March of Dimes and the Honor Your Father partnership of Baylor College of Medicine. She is an active Tri-Delta alumna.

15. Melanie Johnson
Melanie gives much of her time, effort and support to her children’s school, The Grace School. She is also involved with Citizen’s for Animal Protection, Houston Children’s Charity and the Houston Ballet Guild.

16. Linda Lorelle
Linda, the KPRC Channel 2 anchor, founded and chairs the Linda Lorelle Scholarship Fund, dedicated to helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their dreams of attending college by providing scholarships, mentoring support, job opportunities and pre-college advisory support. She is a board member of Girl Scouts of San Jacinto, Women’s Resource of Greater Houston, the Houston Zoo, Casa de Esperanza, the Junior League and Children’s Assessment Center. She recently became a board member of a new organization formed to support the needs of the Houston Police Department.

17. Shelly Ann Marks
Shelly Ann contributes her boundless energy, expertise and financial support to many diverse organizations. She recently chaired the American Heart Association Fire & Ice Ball, as well as Houston Grand Opera Ball Nuit Magnifique with her husband, I. W., the Angels of Hope Child Advocates Fashion Show and The Nutcracker Market Luncheon/Fashion Show for the Houston Ballet. She serves on boards and advisory committees for the Moores School of Music, Child Advocates, National Kidney Foundation, Asia Society, SPA, TIRR, Houston Symphony and March of Dimes.

18. Shannon Nini
Shannon is currently serving as President of St. Francis Episcopal Day School’s Parent Association while working on a new cookbook to raise funds for the school. For the last two years, she has chaired the Enchanted Garden gala, benefiting the Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Texas. Shannon has worked for the Junior League for many years and is involved with the Houston Read Commission, Center for Hearing and Speech and Texas Children’s Hospital.

19. Robin Perlman
In recent years, Robin has chaired the Downtown Historic District gala and worked on committees of many other charitable organizations. Today, her focus is supporting Texas Children’s Hospital and the young patients from all over the world with heart problems that come to the Texas Heart Institute. She ministers not only to the children themselves, but also to the parents who often times are coping with a child who has a fatal disease.

20. Jeanne Ruberti
Jeanne’s heavy schedule involves being the Saks Fifth Avenue Club director and serving as a committed volunteer for the community. A few of her favorite volunteer endeavors have included the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Inc., Women of Distinction Winter Ball, Salvation Army Auxiliary and the Key to a Cure for the Nellie B. Connally Breast Cancer Center at M. D. Anderson.

21. Dominique Sachse
Dominique, the KPRC Channel 2 news anchor, has a “pet project,” – her creation of Channel 2’s Pet-A-Thon. Dominique teams up with the Houston Humane Society to give animals a voice. She loves working with local students, helping them plan their careers and future. As an active University of Houston alumna, she sits on the boards of both the Alumni Organization and the Communication Alumni Association and is actively involved in fund-raising events for the campuses. One of these events is the Dominique Sachse Hoops and Hardball Golf Tournament, which benefits athletics at the university.

22. Kristi Schiller
Kristi recently chaired the Alley Theatre Steel Magnolias gala. She serves on the board of SIDS and is involved with Houston Grand Opera, American Heart Association, Mental Health Association, Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault and the ESCAPE Family Resource Center. Her future plan is to concentrate her efforts, energies and resources on charitable organizations that focus solely on children, such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and the work being done at Texas Children’s Hospital on infectious diseases.

23. Anita Webber-Smith
Anita co-chaired the Houston Chronicle Best Dressed Luncheon and Neiman Marcus Fashion Presentation, benefiting the March of Dimes, and the Rice Design Alliance gala. She is involved with the Ensemble Theatre, Project Row House and is a member of the Rice Design Alliance Board. Recently, she facilitated a Bible study for mothers at River Oaks Baptist Church.

24. Andrea Turtur
Andrea has chaired the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Women of Distinction Winter Ball and enjoys volunteering for a varied group of Houston charitable organizations. Some of her favorite events include the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Citizens for Animal Protection gala, Cancer Counseling, Partnership at Baylor College of Medicine and her sorority, Kappa Delta.

25. Laura Ward
In addition to her full-time job as executive director of the Houston Children’s Charity, Laura spends much of her time volunteering for charitable causes. She has served on the boards of The Furniture Bank, Arbor Pre-School, Faith School, Chuck Norris’ Kick Drugs Out of America, Silver Grace Hope Foundation and Hope Shelter. She is a lifetime member of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and serves on the wine competition and auction committee. She organized and chaired the first Sunshine Kids Golf/Tennis Classic and has chaired 20 major volunteer events, including The Arbor School gala, Texaco/Havoline Mayor’s Grand Prix gala, The Furniture Bank gala and the James Beard Foundation Annual Scholarship Dinner. H

photo credits
1, 3: Houston Astros; 2: Debbie Porter; 4, 22: Gittings; 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 17: Kim Coffman; 6: Houston Texans; 10: Neiman Marcus; 12: Alexander?s Fine Portraits; 14: Fulton Davenport; 16: Paul Ladd; 20: Diandra Garza; 21: Albert Torres; 23: Kaye Marvins; 24: Evin Thayer; 25: Pete Baatz

Seed-spitting Fun

July 1, 2005 by  
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“If you drink, don’t drive – do the watermelon crawl,” as country singer Tracy Byrd puts it. Well, that just might be the case with all the margarita drinking, Tex-Mex eating and watermelon-seed spitting expected at the 19th annual Watermelon Dance and Summer Social. The festival, which is held at the Last Concert Café at 1403 Nance, will begin on Saturday, July 30 at 5 p.m. and last until 2 a.m.

This year’s concert lineup boasts 10 local bands, including Plump, High Tailers, Pot Roast and Carolyn Wonderland, whose musical varieties range from funk to blues rock to “Gulf Coast Rock ‘n’ Roll,” with everything in between. Performances will alternate between two stages, while festival-goers can also shop among several tents of vendors selling homemade jewelry, leather goods, hand-blown glass and more. And the kiddies aren’t forgotten. At the Kid Zone, youngsters can color and make arts and crafts, giving their parents a little break.

The price of the night is only $10 per person, and proceeds will benefit 90.1 KPFT, a listener-supported radio station that pushes the envelope on conventional music and style. In previous years, Last Concert Café owner Dawn Fudge has benefited the Special Olympics, The Rainforest Action Network and several women’s organizations, but for the past eight years has donated to 90.1 KPFT because it addresses issues faced by all Houstonians.

When the festival began in 1986, it was somewhat different than it is today. Its origins trace to the first year Fudge owned the venue. She bought it from Elena Lopez, who had opened the Mexican restaurant in 1949 and named it Last Concert Café to signify that it would be her last endeavor. There’s no sign on the door, and customers are still expected to knock for entry. Many patrons try to protect the integrity of the hard-to-find retreat, keeping mum about how awesome the backyard sand pit and dancing hula-hoopers are.

Although 19 years ago festival-goers might have brought their own “spiked” watermelons to the first Watermelon Dance and Summer Social, the event remains true to its roots by offering watermelon juice by the glass. Last year, more than 5,000 people attended when the festival was held over two days. However, just as many are expected to attend this year’s one-day event as they can come and go as they please. – Meghana Kulkarni contributed to this story H

African Beauty

July 1, 2005 by  
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At 6 a.m. on a brisk, fall day, the SUV bucked over the broken sandstone road in pursuit of game in the wild rosemary hills of Sanbona, South Africa. The Mediterranean blue skies greeted the dawn from last night’s rare rainstorm that prompted the March Lily to bloom in a spidery-profusion of white and pink, amid a backdrop of brown and green shrubs. Around the first corner from Tilney Manor, were an Oryx Gazelle and her baby. Her large, black, V-shape rack of horns crowned her white face. She watched us with unblinking, black eyes as her calf moved behind her. The calf also sported a crown of horns, as the only animal to be born with horns.

Jabulani and his mate, Queen, were spotted near a ravine, lounging in the shade of a Kebad bush. Jabulani’s face, big and white, was a sharp contrast to his brown environment. Queen had recently given birth to three cubs: two males and a female, all white with blue eyes, like their parents. One could understand why Jabulani and Queen were raised as pets. They looked like store-bought plush toys.

Having been raised by humans, Jabulani and Queen, the deadliest of all lions, had lost their natural fear of man. Since they grew up as family pets, sleeping on the family sofa, playing with the kids, they lost touch with their wild side. Now that they are parents and back in the wild, their natural instincts had to be rekindled.

Hunting actually is a skill that cubs learn from their parents. Because Jabulani and Queen did not learn how to hunt from their parents, the rangers at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve have to find a way to teach them.

“Hunger is a great motivator,” states our guide, Jan Oosthuizen. “Queen killed an Oryx the other day, and that was a huge beginning. She was able to feed her cubs and her mate. When the cubs are about 2 1/2 years old and reach their sexual adolescence, they will be kicked out of Jabulani’s pride, and we hope to introduce them to the other pride here at Sanbona. It is our hope, wish and dream that the cubs that were born wild, will grow up wild and stay wild.”

When Jabulani became curious about us, Jan pulled the truck away from the pride. “He wants to play with us,” he says. “And that is not a behavior we want Jabo to imprint on the cubs.”

At sunset, we witnessed the elephants heading home from a day of feeding. The bull lead the way, followed by his two cows and their two calves each, one of which was just 11 days old.

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is part of the Mantis Hotel collection. Sanbona was created when 19 sheep farms failed after the water tables were realigned following an earthquake in 1969. The goal of Sanbona is to reintroduce indigenous animals to the area, including the “Big 5” – lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffaloes. These animals acquired this nickname because they are Africa’s most dangerous animals (and used to attract hunters from all over the world). They are extremely exciting to watch in the wild.

The lodges of Sanbona are some of the most romantic hotel rooms in the world. The spacious suites showcase a vast savanna that stretches to the horizon of rolling hills through the French doors in the bedrooms. Only animals (not humans) are allowed to roam the fields, which gives the room and the outdoor, double shower the privacy it needs. One evening after watching the animals have their evening drink, the guides served us champagne in the bush. Since this was our last evening at Sanbona, the butler drew all the guests a bubble bath in their pedestal bathtubs, complete with rose petals, more chilled champagne and heated towels. The evening was the stuff of romance novels, and a great update to the “Out of Africa” dream.

The creative, world-class meals at Tilney Manor are served on an outdoor patio overlooking an indigenous garden and infinity pool. Ostrich, antelope and wild duck were daily features, paired with the award-winning wines from Steenburg Winery. All the movies, books and wildlife films had created a vision of Africa that did not prepare me for the reality of South Africa today. It is more beautiful than Hollywood depicts, and its people, along with the animals, will make you want to return again and again. H

Dick Dace is the Epicurean Publicist. He does lunch for a living.

Mantis Collection, www.mantiscollection.com
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, www.sanbona.com
South Africa Airways, www.flysaa.com
Steenburg Winery and Hotel, www.steen berghotel.com

Beating the Heat in Houston

July 1, 2005 by  
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Has anyone noticed how hot it has been getting? It actually felt like 100 degrees back in May. With the Houston heat pressing down on everyone’s back, taking the Houston heat seriously should start now.

Tired yet?

Heat exhaustion is a real problem for anyone living in a hot climate. This happens when the body is exposed to too much heat and sweats profusely, thus losing more water. Even if a person is not active, the risks are evident. Nausea, shortness of breath and dizziness are all telltale symptoms of heat exhaustion. The young and elderly generally tend to see more pronounced issues as the temperature rises. The best way to treat the threat of exhaustion is to get out of the heat and drink plenty of fluids like water or sport drinks. (Do not drink alcohol and caffeine.) Sitting in a cool, not shockingly cold, bath can also help to lower your body’s temperature effectively.

If and when things go beyond heat exhaustion, the threat of heat stroke is imminent. Heat stroke is a life threatening matter. A person may start to feel confused and disoriented, and the body may even go into seizures and faint. If this is the case, emergency medical procedures must be taken. Call 9-1-1 quickly and get the stricken person into a safe, cool area.

Play safe

To keep these things from happening, be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Sport drinks also can be helpful when doing any sort of strenuous exercise or activity outside during the summer months. If at all possible, try to avoid the hottest parts of the day between 1 and 6 p.m. If you must be outdoors, be sure to wear sunscreen with lightweight and light-colored clothing. It is also helpful to avoid clothing that fits too closely to the body. This will help your body to breathe better and allow for sweat evaporation. Finally, take breaks throughout the day in an air-conditioned environment, or at least an area with a fan and non-stagnant air. All of these tips will help the body stay cool and minimize the threat of heat exhaustion or stroke. H

Lakewood Church Set to Open Doors

July 1, 2005 by  
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It has been home to several concerts and performances throughout the years, and even saw the Houston Rockets win two NBA Championships, but now the Compaq Center will host another type of show: one involving Christian praise, worship, music and charismatic sermons.

For Lakewood Community Church, the long-anticipated transformation of the Compaq Center will take place on July 16-17, and its 30,000-member, non-denominational congregation will move from its current, somewhat-obscure location at the 610 North Loop to attend regular Sunday services at the Compaq Center, which happens to be located at the second busiest intersection in America. The locale is fitting, given that Lakewood Community Church is one of the busiest churches in America – it’s the largest church in the nation according to Forbes magazine, and the congregation has quadrupled since Joel Osteen became pastor in 1999, doubling over the past two years.

Houston’s very own Lakewood has joined the ranks as one of the nation’s increasingly popular megachurches, and it expects to keep on growing. An estimated 100,000 people will be able to attend each week with the Compaq Center seating 16,000 worshipers; and a projected 2 million guests will attend each year.

This must be every pastor’s dream – so how is it done? First of all, Lakewood has an intense marketing strategy that is rooted in its television evangelism program. Viewers tune in each week as the church’s sermons are broadcast across all 50 states and throughout more than 100 countries on channels such as the ABC-Family Channel, Black Entertainment Television, the PAX-TV Network, Trinity Broadcasting, USA Network, Discovery and the Daystar Satellite Networks. Osteen’s sincerity and somehow always-sparkling eyes also differ from the cliché television evangelizers with big hair and heavy makeup. His southern drawl may be the same, but his commitment to evangelism tells a different story.

Osteen was a freshman at Oral Roberts University when he decided to drop out of school to help with his father’s ministry. His father, John Osteen, founded Lakewood Church in 1959 on Mother’s Day. The church’s beginnings, however, were no Compaq Center extravaganza. Instead, the first congregation met at an abandoned feed store with dust on the floors.

But the humble building didn’t deter John from following his passionate, evangelistic vision. He continued to find innovative ways to promote the gospel, one of which was through television. For 17 years, John Osteen televised his sermons with Joel’s help. When John died in 1999, Joel assumed his father’s role by continuing his ministry though the church and on TV.

Additionally, Joel Osteen began traveling to cities across America and holding “An Evening with Joel Osteen,” a televised worship service and fellowship event for those not in Houston. His most recent book, “Your Best Life Now,” was released at the end of 2004 and quickly became a national best seller.

However, as Lakewood approaches the opening of its new building, old controversies about the church’s intentions have resurfaced, with many vocalizing their opinions on websites such as www.iconbusters.com. Some believe the church is acting more as a money-making corporation than as center for the gospel’s truth.

Speculations have arisen over the church’s fundraising strategy, “Sponsor-A-Seat.” Through the program, members and attendees are asked to pay $16 a week to “sponsor” a seat for themselves or their family members. The money raised will be used to renovate the Compaq Center, an estimated $70 million dollars, which the church contends will benefit the congregation and future ministries by allowing continued usage of the facility.

The basketball court and ice rink, for example, will be open to families and city leagues. But Lakewood’s approach to raise money might not be too different from those of other Christian churches, where members are asked to pledge a percentage of their income each year to maintain the church and promote its ministries.

Either way, the Compaq Center will soon open its doors to thousands of visitors, as it has done so in the past. Whether it is the cheers of basketball fans or the songs of praise, the Houston venue will continue to make some noise. H

The Power of Dreams

July 1, 2005 by  
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Carl Jung was a man fascinated by the human psyche. A student of Sigmund Freud, Jung decided to break away and create his own school of thought based on the collective unconscious. The Jung Center in Houston has tried to present his ideas and continues to help others learn about him and his beliefs.

Established in 1958, the Jung Center offers several courses, lectures and conferences every year. The goal each year is to address issues of “personal growth and development” while leading visitors through a spiritual journey. The center believes analytic psychology holds equal importance with art, dance and music, and offers three semesters of classes each year to introduce students to the same concept.

Some summer courses include, Writing the Waves of a Woman’s Life, Mother: Lost and Present in our Lives, and Sex and the Psyche.

Also, since Jung was interested in the “whole person,” the center aims to offer Jungian analysis through its various contacts in Houston. This is a different kind of treatment for those seeking mental wellbeing as it strives to also find the symbolic meaning behind an illness. It then sets out to cure the person from within, as well as other perceivable symptoms a patient exhibits. It is psychology of the unconscious and involves dream interpretation. To become a Jungian psychologist, an individual must undergo training through the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association.

The Jung Center also concerns itself with community involvement. The center offers free sessions for patients, survivors and caregivers at M.D. Anderson’s Cancer Center. The classes focus on the Feldenkrais Method, a form of exercise that incorporates slow and balanced movement to improve flexibility and coordination. Students learn peaceful relaxation and also how to increase their movement spectrum. Additionally, the Jung Center offers classes for children at the Houston Area Women’s Center, which focus on yoga and art classes for senior citizens at St. Dominic’s Village. H