Go Texans!

September 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

Be sure to gear up for the big game!
NFL Women’s Apparel is now “Fit For You” with formfitting cuts and cute designs. Women can show their
NFL passion for a night on the town, a day at the gym, casual Friday at the office or a Sunday at the stadium.

Touch by G-III.

Available at:

  • NFLshop.com
  • Team stadium shops
  • Kohl’s
  • JC Penny
  • Amazon.com

Land of Losers

September 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Land Of Losers

By Lynn Ashby                                                                        27 Sept. 2010

News item: “Abandoned in Baghdad – As the United States ends combat operations in Iraq today, it is leaving behind the thousands of Iraqis who worked on behalf of the American government — and who fear their lives and families are threatened by insurgents as a result.”

Uh-oh. Stand by for yet another deluge from foreign lands. True, “deluge” may be an overstatement. In 2008 Congress significantly expanded a program that provided our helpful, but now-endangered, Iraqis with visas to immigrate to the U.S. But only 2,145 visas have been issued even though the program has 15,000 available slots. When the rest of those 15,000 arrive, will they eventually bring in their 13 cousins? Then the cousins’ wives and kids? Hey, don’t blame them. We made the rules.

That’s our tradition. Every time there is a war anywhere, the losers (and those who are threatened) come to America on a well-beaten path which is older than the United States. It all began in 1745 when the Scots revolted against the English — Bonnie Prince Charles and all that. It was called the Jacobite Rebellion and the Scots lost. Afterwards, many of them left the Highlands for America. Some repaid their American hosts by siding with the British in the American Revolution.

In the 1750s, Britain and France fought all over the world. In North America the dispute was called the French and Indian War. The French lost and the Brits took over French Canada. The people there, called Arcadians, didn’t want to live under British rule and speak English. So a large group of them went to another French colony, Louisiana, where “Arcadians” became “Cajuns,” who still don’t speak English.

Over the years many Cajuns drifted into East Texas. Do you use one of those big plastic garbage cans on wheels, and roll it out to the curb for pickup every other April? On most of those cans around Texas the instructions are written in English and Spanish.  In Port Arthur (pronounced Port ar-TOUR) the instructions are also in French.

The Irish suffered under both their English occupiers and a potato famine, and went to Boston by the millions. In the mid 1800s the Germanic states, there was no Germany yet, were warring against one another and everyone else. Families fleeing the conflicts, and especially young men evading the draft, came to America, many to Texas. This state has millions of their offspring.

Fleeing the Mexican Revolution in 1910, refugees crossed the Rio and never went home. The late 1930s gave us a different situation: we received refugees from Europe before a war, like Albert Einstein. Following that conflict, we got war brides from Europe and, of course, several rocket scientists. After the rise of Castro, hundreds of thousands of anti-Castro Cubans came to the U.S. and are a major political force in Florida. When the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 collapsed, we received many of the losers.

After our side was defeated in South Vietnam, again, the runners-up came to America.  We had a guilt thing. According to the 2000 Census, nationally 1,122,528 people identify themselves as Vietnamese alone or 1,223,736 in combination with other ethnicities. Of those, 134,961 (12 percent) live in Texas.

During the Central American civil wars of the 1970s, vast numbers of Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans fled to the U.S. to get away from communist governments. These refugees were freedom-loving persecuted patriots who sought political asylum after losing power to those dirty commies. But when those dirty commies were, in turn, overthrown and freedom-loving patriots took over the governments, no one went back home. When the former Yugoslavia exploded in the 1990s, America got Serbs, Croats and Bosnians. The war is over, but many of them are still here. Meanwhile, after every coup or revolt in Haiti, the Haitians come here. The earthquake only intensified the parade.

We’re not a nation of immigrants. We’re a land of losers. On the other hand, each tide of new arrivals brings new restaurants, shops and parades. The Statue of Liberty’s inscription, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…” This is most appropriate, although I’m not sure I’d like to be called “wretched refuse.”

Currently the big flap over new arrivals is about illegal immigrants, mostly penniless and jobless from Mexico, estimated to be 11.1 million. An average of 850,000 people a year entered the U.S. illegally between 2000 and 2005. As the nation’s economy collapsed, that number dropped to about 300,000 annually between 2007 and 2009, that’s still a lot. While some states saw declines in the sizes of their undocumented residents, it is estimated that Texas’ share grew from about 1.4 million in 2005 to 1.6 million in 2009. Illegal immigrants accounted for roughly 6.5 percent of the state’s total population.

We have some other visitors who are not illegals, but do skewer Texas’ demographics: Katrinians. Originally some 250,000 of them – again, jobless and penniless — came to Texas, mostly to the Houston area. The 2010 Census will tell us how many returned to the swamps. Estimates are that 15,000 to 150,000 are still here.

Before we Texans get too uppity about all these folks coming in, we must remember back when our forefathers and foremothers arrived. Most of them were Texas’ first illegal aliens, and the rest weren’t much better. We have this observation from Harper’s Weekly of March 30, 1861: “Texas was in a miserable condition. Its people comprised among them the worst vagabonds and scoundrels in the world. When a man was so infamous and hopeless that he could not even ship on board a whaler, he went to Texas.”

So, we can count on a lot of threatened Iraqis coming here, but don’t pull up the gangplank. We promised to leave Afghanistan next year, but thousands of Afghans have been helping us. We can’t just leave them there. Or their 13 cousins.

Ashby migrates at ashby2@comcast.net

Future of Dome

September 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                  20 Sept. 2010

THE ASTRODOME – It slumps here, water stains running down the outer walls, the grass needs mowing, the roof could use some work. Has the Eighth Wonder of the World used up its nine lives? Is the Dome doomed? Let’s discuss what to do with the Houston Astrodome, if anything, how to pay for any plans and – no matter where you live in Texas — why you should care.

Our mullings are timely because residents of Harris County (that’s Houston and then some) were recently asked to vote via e-mail on three possible plans for the 45-year-old Astrodome and 35-year-old Reliant Arena next door. The choices ranged from tearing them down to a billion-dollar re-do. Eighty percent voted to keep them.

Something needs to be done. The county spends about $5 million annually on debt and interest, insurance, utilities and other maintenance costs. There is still $32 million owed in bonds, which won’t be paid off until 2032. Part of the debt – including for the construction of new suites — was incurred when Oilers owner Bud Adams threatened to leave town in the 1980s. After all the improvements, Adams moved the Oilers to Nashville, Tenn.

In case you are among the two dozen Texans who at one time or another didn’t visit or at least drive by the Dome, let’s take a look at how we got here. The idea for this place came from former Houston mayor and county judge Roy Hofheinz. He wanted an indoor stadium to combat Houston’s awful climate, and to house both major league baseball and football and anything else he could book – college games, basketball, demolition derbies. He wanted — get this – luxury suites for fat cats to watch the events, complete with TV, wet bar, bathroom, sort of a hotel suite. At the time, the idea was revolutionary.

Another idea caught on everywhere: Although the Dome was, uh, a dome, it had real grass, but baseball outfielders said the sun bouncing off skylights interfered with their catching fly balls. The plastic ceiling was painted, but that killed the grass. So the Dome gave the world AstroTurf. Hofheinz got government help in the total cost by putting cans of food rations and water cans in the cellars – instant civil defense shelters. He had living quarters built for himself high up to look out at the events, but it is not true he made it his legal residence so, under the Texas Homestead Law, no one could take the Dome away from him in case of bankruptcy.

The Dome was built in a run-down part of town because, it was said, the new massive structure would bring renewal to the area. Only one middle-size hotel was built, and it went belly up. The Eighth Wonder cost $32 million to build, could hold an 18-story building, when fully lit consumed more electricity than did a city of 9,000 people, and it was a huge success. The Oilers, Astros, UH Cougars played home games there. The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo called the Dome home. The Oilers and Astros were so dreadful that some years the two-week rodeo outdrew the pro teams’ season attendance.

On June 15, 1976, an Astros’ game was rained out. The Dome was dry inside, but city flooding was so bad the fans couldn’t get to the park. In 1968, UH, ranked No. 2, played No. 1 UCLA before a crowd of 52,963 — the largest attendance ever for a basketball game. Houston defeated UCLA 71-69 and ended UCLA’s 47-game winning streak. The last performance of Tejano music superstar Selena was before a sell-out crowd during the rodeo. Not long after, she was fatally shot by her fan club president. The largest crowd ever was 68,266 for George Strait’s concert in 2002.

The Houston Gamblers folded (1985), the Oilers left town (1997), the Astros abandoned it (1999), and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo moved across the street to the new home of the new Texans, Reliant Stadium (2003). Since then, the Dome has been sitting lonely, empty and costly. It is rented out to Hollywood for filming, such as the climatic finish of the movie version of “Friday Night Lights” (even though the actual play-off game was not held there). Its last big jobs were in 2005 as a shelter for some 13,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees, and 2008, when it was a staging center for workers after Hurricane Ike.

It is not included on the National Register of Historic Places, so some argue that we should tear it down, but even that would cost $128-million. Since the Astrodome opened in 1965, domes have been built and demolished in Seattle and Indianapolis. Open-air Yankee Stadium, Giants Stadium, Philadelphia’s Veteran’s Stadium and Texas Stadium were demolished and replaced.

Various ideas have been trotted out about what to do with the old gal. Someone proposed making it an indoor drive-in movie theater. Other suggestions have included a water world, apartments and condos, a racetrack, an amusement park. Something called the Astrodome Redevelopment Corp. planed to spend $450 million to install a 1,200-room hotel, restaurants and shops in the Dome. That plan seems to have been shelved.

Now, why should you care? We look east to the Louisiana Superdome. Note, it is not the New Orleans Superdome. The entire Pelican State owns that place, and in recent hard times the taxpayers there faced bailing it out (this time, only financially).The Astrodome, however, is owned by the county and was originally called the Harris County Domed Stadium.

Other Texans need not worry about the upkeep, but they might be interested in cutting their taxes, especially since the state faces a huge budget deficit. So here’s my plan: we turn this big bubble into a state-owned hotel-casino. We reap hundreds of millions in tax dollars from out-of-staters (what’s “sucker” in Cajun?), then balance our budget and cut our taxes. Hello, Mister Chips!

Texas’ financial problems have now been solved. That’s why you should care.

Ashby is brilliant at ashby2@comcast.net

Americas River Oaks Now Open

September 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Dining

Opening of Michael Cordúa’s Américas River Oaks

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Description: The third incarnation of Américas, the global culinary experience from famed chef and restaurateur, Michael Cordúa, opens in the River Oaks Shopping Center.  Partnered once again with celebrated architect and designer Jordan Mozer, who brought his outstanding vision to the original Américas in 1993, Américas River Oaks will be a unique dining experience that represents the weaving of South, Central and North American cultures and cuisines.  Cordúa, whose reputation as one of the leading proponents of authentic Latin cuisine, returns to his foundational roots and creates a stage to showcase the yummy foods that the Americas have given to the world.

Location: 2040 West Gray (@ Shepherd), Houston, TX 77057

To make reservations, call (832) 200-1492 or visit www.cordua.com

Web: http://www.cordua.com

Pappas Bros. receives Wine Spectator Grand Award

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Dining

Kristine Mills entertained revelers and patrons as they raised a glass to Pappas Bros.  Brothers Chris and Harris Pappas celebrated a “Grand Award” from Wine Spectator Magazine.  Fabulous bites included: lamp chops, cream of mushroom soup with truffle mousse, Texas brisket with foie gras, tuna tartar, carpaccio, and of course wine.  Pappas joins a very elite group in receiving the Grand Award.  The Pappas Bros wine collection, organized by Drew Hendricks, consists of 33,000 bottle and 3,000 wines.  Pappas Bros. is Texas’ only Grand Award winner.

Ice Skating in Austin

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel Blog


Barton Creek Resort & Spa

Acclaimed Hill Country Resort To Open Seasonal Rink In Newly Renovated Resort Pavilion

AUSTIN, TX – September 15, 2010 – Though the weather outside isn’t terribly frightful, a trip to Austin’s award-winning Barton Creek Resort & Spa will certainly be delightful, as the resort announces plans to open an all-new 3,800 square foot ice rink in their newly-renovated Resort Pavilion just in time for the holiday season. “Holiday Lights & Ice” will be open from Wednesday, November 24 through Sunday, January 2 and offer local residents, club members and resort guests the opportunity to lace up their skates and enjoy some festive holiday cheer in the company of their friends and family.

“We couldn’t be more excited to create a new tradition and holiday memories for area residents, club members and resort guests this winter,” said Barton Creek Resort & Spa Vice President and General Manager James Walsh. “Not only will it provide a fantastic opportunity to escape for a bit of Yuletide fun, but it will also allow us to give something back to the community that we call home.”

Sessions will start at $15, with four daily sessions offered Sunday through Thursday and six on Friday and Saturday. Seasonal treats including hot chocolate, s’mores and more will also be available.

In addition to the skating rink, Barton Creek will also open The Holiday Shop, offering guests the opportunity to pick up a holiday gift for that special someone (or even themselves). The Holiday Shop will also showcase a variety of Christmas trees decorated with themes ranging from the traditional “Winter Wonderland” and “Peppermint Twist” to the more eclectic “Christmas on the Ranch,” “University of Texas” and “Keep Austin Weird.”

Barton Creek’s annual tree lighting ceremony and gingerbread house building contest will also return to the resort in 2010, and are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, December 1.

Skating-inclusive overnight packages will be available at the resort, and the rink will be available for private events, field trips and more. For more information on Holiday Lights & Ice, please call 1-800-336-6158 or visit bartoncreek.com.


Beer Festival at Brenner’s

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Brenner’s on the Bayou Hosts first BEER Festival

A Celebration for Beer Lovers, Food Lovers and Fun Lovers featuring more than 50 Beers

WHAT: Area beer enthusiasts are invited to Brenner’s on the Bayou’s 2010 Beer Fest to sample more than 50 artisan brews paired with chef crafted cuisine while enjoying live entertainment by the Ezra Charles Band in Brenner’s lush outdoor setting.

WHEN: Saturday, October 16

2 until 6 p.m.

WHO: More than 50 beers will be offered in 3-oz tasting portions at the event. Many breweries will showcase their fall seasonal including Oktoberfest or Double Bocks. Not quite ready for the rich malty brews of fall? There will be plenty of summer beers including Hefeweizen or Blonde. Or course, the international set will be well represented by Paulaner and Hacker Pschorr among others. Participating breweries to date include:

  • Southern Star
  • Samuel Adams
  • Shiner
  • St. Arnold
  • Dogfish Head
  • Stone
  • Paulaner
  • Real Ale
  • New Belgium Brewing

WHERE:         Brenner’s on the Bayou

One Birdsall Street

TICKETS: Admission for the event is $45 (plus tax) per person in advance and $55 (plus tax) per person at the door. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.brennerssteakhouse.com or by calling (713) 868-4444. Must be 21 to enter.

Home Tour: Courtland Place

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Courtlandt Place will celebrate its 104 year history with a  home tour on Saturday and Sunday, October 16 and 17. Guests are invited to tour seven historic homes, completed c.1910-1926, and two gardens, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. A self-guided walking tour of the neighborhood, including an architectural description and history of the 18 original homes, will also be available.

Early Courtlandt Place photographs will be on display as well as a collection of vintage clothing, antique musical instruments,  antique cars and carriages.  Signed copies of the recently published book, Houston’s Courtlandt Place, will be available for purchase, and the authors will be present to answer questions about Courtlandt Place history.

Modern Houston was taking shape when Courtlandt Place was developed in 1906 as a private compound for members of the city’s business and social elite. The neighborhood is an example of the Private Place concept initiated in St. Louis, Missouri, in the last quarter of the 19th century. The finest architects of the period, including Birdsall Briscoe, Sanguinet and Staats, Alfred Finn, and John Staub, executed commissions in Courtlandt Place. All of the neighborhood’s original homes have been preserved and collectively offer a rare opportunity to experience life in Houston in the first years of the 20th century.

Tickets for the Courtlandt Place Home Tour 2010 are $25.00 in advance or $30.00 if purchased at the gate.  Proceeds benefit Courtlandt Place Historic Foundation and the Hermann Park Conservancy.  For advance ticket sales and more information, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/100369.

How Long Does It Take For A Plastic Bag to Decompose?

September 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard conflicting reports regarding how long it really takes for a plastic grocery bag to decompose. Can you set the record straight? — Martha Blount, San Diego, CA

Researchers fear that such ubiquitous bags may never fully decompose; instead they gradually just turn into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic. The most common type of plastic shopping bag is made of polyethylene, a petroleum-derived polymer that microorganisms don’t recognize as food and as such cannot technically “biodegrade.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines biodegradation as “a process by which microbial organisms transform or alter (through metabolic or enzymatic action) the structure of chemicals introduced into the environment.” In “respirometry” tests, whereby experimenters put solid waste in a container with microbe-rich compost and then add air to promote biodegradation, newspapers and banana peels decompose in days or weeks, while plastic shopping bags are not affected.

Even though polyethylene can’t biodegrade, it does break down when subject to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, a process known as photodegradation. When exposed to sunshine, polyethylene’s polymer chains become brittle and crack, eventually turning what was a plastic bag into microscopic synthetic granules. Scientists aren’t sure whether these granules ever decompose fully, and fear that their buildup in marine and terrestrial environments—and in the stomachs of wildlife—portend a bleak future compromised by plastic particles infiltrating every step in the food chain. A plastic bag might be gone in anywhere from 10 to 100 years (estimates vary) if exposed to the sun, but its environmental legacy may last forever.

The best solution to plastic bag waste is to stop using disposable plastic bags altogether. You could invest a few bucks in reusable canvas totes—most supermarket chains now offer them—or bring your own reusable bags or backpacks with you to the store. If you have to choose between paper and plastic, opt for paper. Paper bags can biodegrade in a matter of weeks, and can also go into compost or yard waste piles or the recycling bin. Of course, plastic bags can be recycled also, but as just explained the process is inefficient. According to the nonprofit Worldwatch Institute, Americans only recycle 0.6 percent of the 100 billion plastic bags they take home from stores every year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.

Another option which some stores are embracing—especially in places like San Francisco where traditional plastic shopping bags are now banned in chain supermarkets and pharmacies—are so-called compostable plastic bags, which are derived from agricultural waste and formed into a fully biodegradable faux-plastic with a consistency similar to the polyethylene bags we are so used to. BioBag is the leader in this field, but other companies are making inroads into this promising new green-friendly market.

San Francisco’s pioneering effort to get rid of polyethylene bags is a positive step, but environmentalists are pushing for such bans more widely. A California effort to ban plastic bags failed again recently, but will likely eventually succeed. Washington, Florida, New Jersey and North Carolina are watching closely and considering similar laws depending on what happens in the Golden State. Worldwatch reports that taxes on plastic bags in South Africa and Ireland have been effective at reducing their use by upwards of 90 percent; Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Philippines, Taiwan and the UK are also planning to ban or tax plastic bags to help stem the tide of plastic waste.

CONTACTS: Worldwatch, www.worldwatch.org; BioBag, www.biobagusa.com.

Photo credit: Ret0dd, courtesy Flickr

SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, c/o E – The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; earthtalk@emagazine.com. E is a nonprofit publication. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe; Request a Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial

American Liver Foundation Houston

September 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs


The Flavors of Houston was hosted at the Hilton Post Oak on Monday Sept. 17, 2010. Diners are randomly matched with chefs – each who arrive determined to outdo the other. H Texas was seated at Jacques Lollio’s table. He is the chef at the Omni Houston Galleria. His menu was hugely creative.

Rome Salon and Day Spa

September 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

Update: This spa has closed
Now Open: Rome Salon and Day Spa

By Laurette M. Veres

Modeled after America’s best destination spas, this beauty refuge is replete with a Venetian plaster rotunda, full-service relaxation lounge, 50-foot art corridor, appointed VIP suite with a private entry as well as a boutique offering a variety of exclusive product lines like SpaRitual®, and La Bella Donna. Rome Salon is now open in Houston.

The spa menu is extensive; however, technicians work hard to customize services to meet your body’s needs.  Clients can select luxury spa and salon services including body and facial treatments, hand and foot therapy and skin and hair care

Unlike most spas, Rome is open seven days a week and employs in-house spa concierges who customize treatments, whether it be for an entire day or for an hour-long express service.

Great for bachelorette parties or groups, the VIP lounge can be booked by the hour or the day.  The room is completely customizable whether you desire pedicures, massages or other treatments; all are available in the lounge.

A stand-out treatment, the Pleasure of the Face, is unlike any treatment we’ve seen.  For thirty minutes, each facial muscle is meticulously massaged, with special attention to lymph and acupressure points.  This restorative ritual revitalizes muscles and actually provides the same benefits as a full body massage.

2800 Kirby

713-526-ROME (7663)


Houston Premium Outlets

September 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

Shop Till You Drop at Houston Premium Outlets

By Sarah VanHoose

There exists an elite group of individuals, consumers that possess a certain zeal and endurance to withstand the physical and emotional exhaustion of fighting the crowds, going head-to-head with other shoppers for the same items, and arriving home so exhausted they actually “drop” after they “shop”.  If you happen to be part of this army of sale-scouters (and you know who you are!), we have an incredible addition for your list of stores to conquer this holiday season: Black Friday shoppers, we give you … Houston Premium Outlets!

We empathize with your inability to fall asleep even after the tryptophan has taken affect as midnight looms.  You’re worried about your place in line outside of the most popular store for the biggest sale.  We promise Midnight Madness at Houston Premium Outlets will be one of the biggest shopping events of the year.  Premium Outlets is your source for designer and luxury gifts at affordable costs.  They are also very excited to announce a major expansion of 145 new stores opening in November, including Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, as well as your regular favorites, including Burberry, BCBG Max Azria, Coach, Cole Haan, Elie Tahari, Kate Spade, Kenneth Cole, Michael Kors, Nike, Tag Heuer, True Religion and more.

The doors to this haven of holiday savings swing open at midnight on November 26, and the brave and determined shoppers that come busting in will be rewarded with incredible savings, even in addition to the usual 25-65%.  And, there is more.  Houston Premium Outlets offers more discounts at to VIP shoppers.  So, soldiers of Black Friday, start your evening (morning) at Houston Premium Outlets.  There’s a good chance you won’t need to make any other holiday shopping stops!

Uptown Holiday Lighting Houston

September 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Events


Uptown Houston


To ring in the holiday season with style, more than 100,000 people will converge on Houston’s premier shopping district, Uptown Houston, for the 25th Annual Uptown Holiday Lighting held on Thanksgiving evening. The event boasts traditional holiday music, larger-than-life characters and Santa plugging in half a million twinkling lights on 80 Christmas trees lining Post Oak Boulevard, Houston’s Rodeo Drive equivalent. The evening culminates with a fireworks extravaganza lighting up the Houston skies marking the beginning of the holiday season.

The Uptown Houston Holiday Lighting is held adjacent to the world-renowned Galleria mall and best of all – the event is FREE. Want to be part of the show? Staying at the Hilton Houston Post Oak puts you in the heart of the festivities, including the option to participate in the balcony decorating contest. Families have been doing it for years! The winners are announced via spotlight during the festivities.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Houston’s largest holiday tradition.


Thanksgiving Evening, Thursday, November 25

        Begins at 4 p.m.

        Live entertainment starts at 5 p.m.

        Fireworks begin at 7 p.m.


Uptown Houston – Post Oak Boulevard

(Between San Felipe and Westheimer)

COST:          Free and open to the public

INFO LINE:  (713) 621-2504

WEBSITE:    www.uptown-houston.com

Meet Bobby Flay at Sur La Table

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Sur La Table Hosts Food Network Star for Book-Signings

Sur La Table, the premier retailer for creative cooking and artful entertaining, welcomes cookbook author and television host Bobby Flay for book signings at select Sur La Table locations. During the events Flay will sign copies of his new cookbook Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!: More Than 100 Recipes from Food Network’s Ultimate Cooking Challenge (Clarkson Potter, $27.50). Customers interested in attending a book signing are strongly encouraged to pre-purchase books by calling participating stores. Pre-purchasing does not guarantee a signed book. The following details event information for each location:

  • Houston, TX • River Oaks Shopping Center • 1996 West Gray • 713.533.0400

Book Signing Event: Tuesday, October 19th at Noon

Renaissance Festival host hotel: La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa the “Official Hotel of the Texas Renaissance Festival” Announces the Renaissance Retreat Package in conjunction with the 2010 Texas Renaissance Festival

CONROE, Texas – For those seeking a diversion from the everyday stresses of today’s fast paced society through an escape to a simpler time, La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa – the official resort of the Texas Renaissance Festival – extends an invitation to indulge in the Renaissance Retreat Package. Positioned on the playful shores of Lake Conroe, La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa all-suite resort is a natural retreat just outside downtown Houston. The Renaissance Retreat Package – available for travel Oct. 9, 2010 through Nov. 28, 2010 and starting at $189 per room, per night – includes a luxury suite, four daily tickets to the Texas Renaissance Festival and round trip transportation to and from the event.

The enchantment and amusement of the sixteenth century provides the perfect backdrop to the medieval era courtesy of the Texas Renaissance Festival. The Festival features 200 daily performances, 300 arts and crafts shops, 60 food and beverage outlets, and 3,000 costumed characters that stroll the grounds to further enhance the cultural atmosphere. The Texas Renaissance Festival has been entertaining guests for 36 years and plays host to more than 400,000 visitors each year. A treat for everyone, The Renaissance festival’s traditions of long ago make for an exhilarating excursion for the young and old alike.

La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa

Renaissance Retreat Package

Starting at $189, per room, per night

Oct. 9 – Nov. 28, 2010

•               Luxury one or two bedroom suite

•               Four complimentary tickets to the festival daily (an $80 value)

•               Round trip transportation to the Texas Renaissance Festival

Perfect for families, couples, socialites and outdoor adventurers, La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa features countless enticing activities. Whether sport fishing and navigating a personal sailboat on Lake Conroe, floating down the lazy river at the Aqua Park or teeing off on the 18-hole golf course, guests of all ages are engaged in building lifelong memories together. Balancing outdoor adventure with world-class sophistication, La Torretta features Texas’ only Michelin-starred chef serving French delicacies at the water front Chez Roux restaurant as well as global spa treatments at the renowned SpaTerre.

For additional information or to book the La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa Renaissance Retreat Package, visit www.LaTorrettaLakeResort.com or call 936-448-4400.

# # #

Houston Heights Association Holiday Home Tour

September 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Six inviting homes go on tour in one of area’s top destinations

HOUSTON, TX – September 7, 2010 – Celebrate the holidays with a stroll through one of Houston’s most delightful neighborhoods and take in the 2010 Houston Heights Association Holiday Home Tour, themed Holiday Greetings from the Houston Heights. The owners of six distinctive homes will be opening their doors to Tour goers Friday, December 3, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., and Saturday, December 4, 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Each year, Tour homes reflect the rich architectural tradition of the Houston Heights, which maintains its small-town feel while located in one of the nation’s largest cities. This year’s tour includes a 1903 Dutch Colonial-style home on the National Register of Historic Places; a Queen Anne farmhouse built in 1897; a 1915 Queen Anne cottage that will be showing off its recently completed makeover and period antiques; and three recently constructed homes, including a stunningly transformed Colonial-style bungalow rescued from neglect.

Tour homes will be dressed in holiday finery, and docents will be on duty to point out the rich history, architecture, distinctive features and decorations of each home.


The whole neighborhood will be buzzing with excitement and holiday celebration. Come early, enjoy a stroll along the tree-lined streets, and take in the antiques and vintage clothing shops, art galleries, eclectic boutiques, coffee shops and world-class restaurants.

Houston Heights Woman’s Club will present a Victorian Holiday Market at the Heights Fire Station where they will be selling hand-crafted items and light refreshments. Don’t miss the opportunity to buy tickets for the annual drawing for a beautiful quilt, lovingly made by the members to benefit the club’s philanthropic endeavors. Membership information will be available, Saturday, December 4, 1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Mistletoe Madness is a great chance to “Eat, drink, shop & be merry!” Experience the live entertainment while visiting the many shops, restaurants and galleries in the area, Saturday, Noon – 6:00 p.m. First Saturday Arts Market will be set up at 548 W. 19th Street, the perfect venue to view original art, featuring artists from Houston and around the state; and Pet Adoptions on Heights Boulevard will have the perfect furry friend to take home.

HOUSTON HEIGHTS is the fabulous and festive destination of the season!

National Geographic Traveler recently said that the Houston Heights “flourishes as a destination for foodies, architecture buffs, and creative types (the neighborhood is said to be home to the highest concentration of professional artists in the state).”


Advance tickets are $20 and will be available online at www.houstonheights.org and at several Houston Heights locations including Heights Antiques on Yale, Buchanan’s Native Plants, Bliss on 19th, The Artful Corner, Phil’s Texas Barbecue and Waldo’s Coffee House.

Tickets purchased on Tour days are $25 for all six homes or $5 for each individual home and will be available at the Heights Fire Station at 107 W. 12th and Yale Streets, and at each home tour home. Tickets purchased online may be picked up at the will-call booth at the Fire Station during the tour.

Holiday Bundle Special!

Ten tickets for $175 can be purchased online only at www.houstonheights.org until noon, December 2, 2010.

Shuttle buses

Free shuttle buses will operate during the tour on both Friday and Saturday. Patrons may board the buses at stops located at each home and at the Fire Station, located at 107 W. 12th and Yale.

For More Information

For directions to the Fire Station and for more information about the 2010 Houston Heights Association Holiday Home Tour, please visit www.houstonheights.org or call the Houston Heights Association at 713-861-4002, Ext. 7.

Proceeds from the Houston Heights Association Holiday Home Tour are used to maintain Marmion Park, Donovan Park, and the Heights Boulevard esplanade park. Among its many missions, the Houston Heights Association operates and maintains the historic Heights Fire Station at 12th and Yale as a community venue, supports local schools with grants, scholarships and projects, and fills hundreds of food baskets around the holidays for the needy.


Sam J. Blackman Home, 729 Rutland

Jay Wehnert and Victoria Harrison purchased this historic 1897 Queen Anne farmhouse known in the Heights as the Sam J. Blackman home. Mr. Blackman, a blacksmith, expanded this original 2 room house in the 1920’s and used beveled glass doors and fine quarter sewn oak floors to suit his wife’s tastes. The Blackman house is home to many family antiques and extensive collections of art and hand-made objects that spill from every wall to the yard and garden.

The Modern Craftsman, 1222 Allston

This newly constructed Craftsman style home was built in 2008 by Allegro Builders and 2Scale Architects.  The seaside-inspired décor is fresh and relaxing the moment you walk through the door.   The bright and happy kitchen is the perfect centerpiece of the home.  With an oversized fireplace to cozy up to as well as a large wrap-around porch, the homeowners are set for all seasons.

The Wade Home, 1432 Tulane

Modeled after a home in the Garden District of New Orleans, this Colonial style bungalow offers an amazing unobstructed view through the entire length of the home.  Prior to 2003, the home had rightly earned the nickname “la casa de los pichones” as the only homeowners were dozens of wayward pigeons!  After a major clean-up, Architect Mark Van Doren of APD Design had a blank slate to work with and achieved a truly stunning transformation.

The Classic Queen Anne, 1629 Cortlandt

This classic 1915 Queen Anne cottage received a complete makeover in 2009.  With the help of Bungalow Revival, a Heights-based renovation team, it was restored with architectural and period details befitting the age and beauty of this home.  Period antiques were carefully selected for the renovation.  The homeowner’s love of “all things Christmas” will be reflected throughout the home in celebration of the Season.

The Batterson Home, 1439 Harvard

Built in 2003, this warm and spacious home was designed by Walter Murphy with Murphy/Mears Architects, and built by John Galvin.  The Texas-inspired décor accentuates the wonderful open-floor plan.  Because the homeowner had grown up in the Heights, the house was designed with the spirit of this special neighborhood in mind and to accommodate a massive oak tree that you have to see to believe!

Batterson-Drouin Home, 1445 Harvard

This home was built in 1903 in the Dutch Colonial style and was the Emil Linderberg Home until 1933 when it was purchased by Clarence and Gladys Batterson.  For the past 77 years, this Heights gem has remained in the Batterson family.  Today the house exemplifies modern day comfort and eclectic style, yet still maintains its original footprint, floors and windows. The home is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


2010 Houston Heights Association Holiday Home Tour

Friday, December 3, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 4, 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Ticket information at www.HoustonHeights.org.


Change Please

September 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

THE UN-COMFORT ZONE with Robert Wilson

Change Please

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

These are the words of the woman who became the poster child for overcoming adversity. A woman who was isolated into the two dimensional world of touch and smell at the age of 19 months.  Yet, she went on to inspire millions around the world. Sightless and deaf, Helen Keller resolved to make something of her life. She lived with a keen understanding that change is inevitable, but growth is intentional. Unwilling to give in to her blindness, she chose to strive for a normal life.

Motivation is all about motion or movement. In other words, if you are comfortable, if you are happy and content, then you DO NOT move. You do not change. Why would you? On the other hand, if you are uncomfortable, if you’re unhappy, then you want to change.  You want to move back toward your comfort zone. There are millions of motivators in the world and all of us at any one time is being motivated by a dozen or more: Hunger, Safety, Sex, Love, Enlightenment to name just a few.

Interestingly, you can take all those motivators and boil them down to a variation of two basic emotions: Fear and Desire. You are either moving toward something you desire; or you are moving away from something you fear.

Fear, however, can become paralyzing and will keep us in one un-comfort zone because we fear the perceived discomfort that comes with change. We fear that change could open a Pandora’s Box of more and scarier changes. I’ve seen it in relationships and in business.

I know a married couple who over the years have drifted apart and their marriage has become stagnant. I know they both desire greater intimacy with the other, but they both fear rejection and so they do nothing.

I know a small business owner who watched his business shrink in the recent recession. His self-esteem is closely tied to his success and his falling income triggered fears of inadequacy. Frozen by fear into doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, he has not adapted to the changes going on in his market.

Helen Keller once again has wise words for such situations, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

When couples try new things together they actually stimulate the receptors in their brains that invoke the feelings of romance.  Taking a class or starting a new hobby together is a great way for couples to renew their feelings for each other and discover a greater depth of intimacy.

For small business owners, a recession is a great time to try out a new idea or innovation. It attracts renewed interest in the business and can even create new customers and open new markets.

The trick is getting comfortable with change a little at a time. Start engaging in simple changes at home. Low risk changes will generate immediate rewards. Here are a few you can make that will help you get into a habit of adapting to change:

If you drink coffee every day, switch to tea for a week. If you always listen to rock music on the radio, switch to country, jazz, or classical for a week. Rearrange one piece of furniture in your house. Read a section of the newspaper that you’ve never read before. Take a continuing education class in a subject not related to your career. Join a hobby group on MeetUp.com. Taste an ethnic food that you’ve never tried before, (as an alternative revisit a food you think you hate).

Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist.  He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators.  For more information on Robert’s programs please visit www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com.

Water Privatization

September 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that some countries have turned over public water supplies to private companies, effectively denying local communities much-needed access? — J. Johnson, Lancaster, PA

Water is such an important part of life that it has long been regarded as a public good worth entrusting only to public entities. But given the mixed track record of municipal, regional and national governments to properly manage water resources, outsourcing to private companies is becoming more common. But critics of such privatization point out that the end result for consumers is not always so positive.

Perhaps the best known example transpired in Bolivia in the 1990s, when water systems in poor regions were put up for sale to private investors at the urging of development agencies intent on steering poor countries away from state control of industries and toward free market systems. Bolivia hired U.S.-based Bechtel Corporation to take over and manage water in the Cochabamba region there. Bechtel made good on its pledge to provide water to many previously underserved Cochabamba areas, but it also raised prices significantly. “Many were unable to pay such high rates, and even though water was now available to them, they couldn’t access it because they couldn’t afford it,” reports the non-profit World Savvy.

In 2000 riots erupted in Cochabamba as hundreds of residents filled the streets, angry that a private, foreign entity was preventing them from accessing water. “The violence shook the confidence of the local government and international investors,” says World Savvy. “Bechtel was forced out, resulting in not only chaos in water delivery in the area, but also in a serious blow to foreign investment in the country.” Similar conflicts have played out in other parts of Bolivia as well as in Ghana, Uruguay and the United Kingdom.

In the U.S., the federal government ensured the protection of waterways and drinking water in the 1970s through passage of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, which among other benefits increased funding for community water systems to help cities and towns maintain high standards and inexpensive access to fresh water. “However, since the 1980s, the federal government has been cutting back funding to communities for water infrastructure, with assistance falling to historic lows under the Bush administration,” reports the non-profit Food & Water Watch. Without federal funding, communities that can’t afford to keep fresh water supplies clean and safe are increasingly turning to private companies.

But at what cost? Food & Water Watch cites dozens of examples from across the country where water privatization has gone woefully bad: “[H]igh rates and bad service plague communities who transfer control of their water service to the hands of corporations.” Common complaints include skyrocketing rates, sewage flooded basements, broken pipes, bad water quality, and cost overruns. “The water barons prioritize stockholder returns over public wellbeing and leave municipalities to clean up the mess.”

Not everyone thinks water privatization is all bad, especially when governments can’t efficiently manage the sourcing, sanitizing and distribution of life’s most vital resource. “There is evidence that privatization may work when the cost of water is subsidized for poorer populations,” reports World Savvy. Regardless, the debate will rage on as more and more governments turn to water privatization as stress over accessing water becomes more commonplace in a quickly warming and increasingly drought-stricken world.

CONTACTS: World Savvy, www.worldsavvy.org; Food & Water Watch, www.foodandwaterwatch.org.

SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, c/o E – The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; earthtalk@emagazine.com. E is a nonprofit publication. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe; Request a Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

Gubernatorial Debate

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                               6 Sept. 2010

The problem began when former Houston Mayor Bill White won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to run against Gov. Rick Perry, the incumbent Republican. White proposed a debate. Perry said he would “accept anytime, anywhere, anyhow.” White suggested May 2. Perry said that was “too soon to prepare answers to all the dirt and rumors and outright lies you’ve been telling about me.”

White suggested August 12. Perry said that was “too late to answer to all the dirt and rumors and outright lies you’ve been telling about me.” White said for Perry to set a date. Perry replied that he refused to debate White until he revealed his income for the years he was mayor. White refused, which raised a lot of questions as to what he was hiding. After weeks of this back and forth, the former mayor released his income for the years he was in office, showing His Honor had made millions on investments – perfectly legal but highly unusual, especially since much of it was made by betting against the Astros and Texans.

Next came a press release from the White campaign: “Now that Bill White has made public his income records for the years he was mayor, the Governor must live up to his promise to debate.” A Perry press release followed shortly reading: “Gov. Perry, who refuses to accept federal funds with all those strings attached by the Godless, liberal Washington bureaucrats, proudly announces he has closed the state’s budget gap of $18 billion by using federal stimulus funds, which come from a different source. And, no, he will not debate White until the self-styled former mayor releases his income taxes during the time he worked as a deputy U.S. energy secretary, causing $4-a-gallon gas, not to mention the Louisiana off-shore oil spill.”

As White contemplated releasing his tax records while a deputy energy secretary, he suggested a debate on July 1. Perry refused, explaining that he was too busy “preventing those Godless Muslims from building a mosque in Marfa, a known hot-bed of Al-Quida  terrorists.” Perry then demanded that White release his tax records covering the years he was head of “that socialist, big government group, the Texas Democratic Party – if there really is one.”

Dr. Filibuster J. Foghorn, professor of political science at the Houston Ship Channel Community College, wrote in an op/ed article, “The front runner in a political campaign never wants to debate the also-ran, and give him or her name recognition. Especially if your name is so vanilla. I mean, Bill White? Why not John Doe?” At one point, Perry did agree to debate, but insisted it be in Esperanto. “I think that’s just south of El Campo,” an aide explained. Besides, the aide continued, “Perry had already debated. “Just run the tape and substitute White for Hutchison.”

A reporter asked the governor’s office, “When will the governor meet with newspaper editorial boards around Texas as he has in every one of his previous campaigns?”

“The governor will not be meeting with any editorial boards. He doesn’t believe in newspapers, or the press,” said the press aide in a press release. The release went on to question White’s income while he ran a lemonade stand when he was 12. “What’s he hiding – besides that outbreak of salmonella?”

White, in a speech to the P-TA Booster Club in Fort Davis (he was having trouble generating crowds), called for Perry to release his own income records, noting that during two decades of full-time government service, Perry has accumulated a net worth of about $1 million. In one real estate deal, appraisers said Perry bought the land for $150,000 below market price and sold it for $350,000 above the market price for comparable real estate.

“I’d love to explain,” the governor said, “because I demand total transparency in officeholders’ finances. But all my money is in a blind trust, even the 200 shares of AT&T I bought last week, and the $20,000 in municipal bonds that matured in June. Since I don’t know anything about my finances, I can’t release them. But that’s the kind of stupid question you’d expect from such a low-down, creepy, probably perverted arsonist who won’t run a high-level, civilized campaign like I run.”

White suggested a debate for August 23. Perry angrily replied: “Not during Ramadan, have you no sensitivity to our Muslim brethren?” A debate was finally set up for a Sunday morning in a Walmart in Dalhart, but after everything was ready – podium, TV cameras, spin artists – Perry was a no-show. When quizzed later, a governor’s aide explained, “We thought it was a Dalhart in Walmart.”

The aide also challenged White for pointing out that, during this great recession with so many Texans out of work, school funds slashed, aid to poor orphans reduced, why was Perry living in a $9,900-a-month rented villa in west Austin and spending another $168,000 a year for stewards, maids and cooks? Why didn’t Perry use some of that $1 million that Fox News gave to the GOP Governor’s Campaign Fund and save Texas taxpayers their money?

“And what about Nebraska leaving the Big Twelve?” the aide retorted.

The largest newspapers in Texas, along with the PBS station in Austin, called for a debate between White and Perry on Oct. 19. White immediately accepted. The governor said he’d check his schedule, but he thought he had a haircut appointment that day, “And those permanents can take forever.” The governor suggested that each candidate send an aide to debate. “Or perhaps a second. You remember what happened to that coyote that attacked me, don’t you?”

“Why won’t you debate?” White whined in a face-to-face showdown.

“This is neither the time nor the place,” said Perry. “Now get off my curb. It’s 3 a.m.” In a final press released, Perry declared, “I’ll debate that bald, little commie anytime, anywhere, anyhow.” At least, that is a general translation from Esperanto.

Ashby is debatable at ashby2@comcast.net

Wind Chill

September 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                            13 Sept. 2010

THE DEN – “It’s 120 in Austin and 111 in Dallas while Houston comes in with 212 and in….” says the weather guy on TV. Gad! I knew there was something to global warming, but this is ridiculous. Run for your lives, like to Greenland, which is rapidly losing its glaciers. Wait. I squint more closely at the TV screen. There, in small print up in one corner, are the tell-tale words: “Feels Like.”

They’ve done it again – scared the bejeebies out of me. By “they” I mean the overly dramatic, overly sensational weather wizards on our local TV news programs. It’s their way of grabbing the lead of the evening news, muscling aside the more earth-shattering anchors’ reports on apartment fires, car wrecks and senseless shootings at convenience stores. If our wannabe meteorologists (most of them are hair and teeth, very few are licensed meteorologists) were serious, they’d drop that misleading Feels Like – or Heat Index, which is another made-up term for the same mythical figure — and stick to what the thermometer in Presidio really states: an honest 123 degrees.

However, if they want to play temperature inflation to garner better ratings, they could tell us the mid-day temps on an asphalt parking lot or inside a car trunk parked next to an aluminum foundry. How hot is it? We have the standard TV shot every weather person is sworn to perform: fry an egg on the sidewalk. It’s required by the FCC. On the other hand, a local station can certainly boost ratings by announcing that the temperature, in the grasp of a Texas summer, is 45 degrees – at an ice skating rink, and 29 degrees – in a grocery store walk-in freezer. “Here’s the thermometer, Sally May. As you can see, it’s a chilly 29 degrees — next to the frozen eggplants.”

Such readings would be no more misleading than giving us Feels Like, a totally imaginary, meaningless figure, which is why no outdoor bank sign will show a Feels Like/Heat Index number alongside its equally misleading, “We make loans!” sign. No newspaper reports yesterday’s Feels Like figures or runs the forecast for today’s and tomorrow’s drummed-up numbers. NOAA does not record such readings. Only on local TV will these inflated figures be announced, and in breathless tones.

They are a mysterious mixture of temperature and humidity, but where, pray tell, is there not humidity? I mean, the middle of Death Valley has some humidity, so do the weather people take the regular temperature of 120 and add 25 degrees because there is 5 percent humidity? No, they subtract. Recently I heard on my local TV station (“Where the news is new”) that it was 110 in Phoenix but, because of the Heat Index, it only felt like 100. “My friends,” as one Phoenix resident might say now that he’s not in the Oval Office, “when it’s 110 degrees, it feels like 110. The lack of humidity doesn’t make it feel like 100.”

This brings us to yet another stealth term our weather folks toss out: Dew Point. The TV screen always lists the current Dew Point between the actual temperature and the humidity, because the dew point is determined by adding those two figures together, dividing by the wind speed and subtracting the channel’s number (divided by three if it’s in HD).

Next we have the winter equivalent of Feels Like and Dew Point: the Wind Chill Factor or WCF. This panic button is about as real as the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Rick Perry’s debate coach. The WCF is determined by adding the temperature, the wind speed and the ideal Nielsen ratings. The figure has absolutely no effect on pipes or plants, just human skin. If you are in a pasture north of Amarillo, it’s 2 degrees in a blizzard, and you aren’t pretty well covered up, then you deserve to be wind chilled.

Have you ever heard anyone, besides our weathermen, say, “The thermometer reads 98 but my X-57 Feels Like Detector, which I just got from Abercrombie & Fitch, reads 117.” You are walking down the street and a friend observes, “Boy, the Dew Point is sure high.” Or, “I think we may set a new Dew Point record today.” In the depths of winter, no one says, “The Wind Chill Factor is probably minus 34.”

Now we must discuss hurricanes. You don’t care? Even if you live 400 miles from the Gulf, hurricanes can disrupt your life and cost you a bundle. Who do you think pays the National Guard, the DPS and game wardens for working a 120-hour week during the evacuation? And, as a Texas taxpayer, you may be interested to know a couple of hundred thousand Katrinians are still in Texas in public housing projects, hospitals and jails. Speaking of visitors, you may want to know why 12 cousins suddenly drop in as refugees, along with their crying babies, dogs and pet anaconda.

We all need to pay attention to hurricanes, but we don’t need the semi-hysterical TV weather people with their Storm Alert! Or Hurricane Horror Headlines! OK, it’s their 15 minutes of fame, but they don’t have to be the isobar equivalent of “Mad Money”’s Jim Cramer, shouting advice on how to survive the oncoming disaster. We have discussed this before, but obviously KKK-TV (“Where news is mostly accurate”) or WIMP (“Your channel for stuff”) won’t take our advice.

Now, you ask, “What does all this mean, oh master?” What all this means, besides higher ratings, is pandering to self pity, victimization, poor little us. We can feel slightly sorry for ourselves when the temperature is 10 or 100 degrees, but throw in these artificial, inflated readings and we pay attention, for they’re talking about us, and us is important when we are the victims. We have a lot of professional victims these days. I think they get their talking points from the local TV weather reporters.

Lynn Ashby chills out at ashby2@comcast.net