Texas Beaches

November 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                                        29 November 2010

Do you like to visit Texas’ beaches? Lie in the sun till you burn to a medium-well crisp, get sand in your eyes and seaweed between your toes? Fish, surf and watch the oil slicks float by? Of course you do, but be quick about it, because those sandy dunes will soon belong only to Californians who can afford them. The rest of us can look at beachy postcards.

What happened, in case you’ve too busy patting down airline passengers to keep up with news, is that the Texas Supreme Court has overturned more than 150 years of law and tradition by ruling that beachfront owners can own the beach, too. That means the landlords can fence off the dunes, and if you insist on your right go there, you can be arrested for trespassing.

The court’s ruling stemmed from a case brought, not by a local owner, but by the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of Carol Severance, of San Diego.  She owned four income properties on the Galveston beach – a beach which was washed away by recent hurricanes. As any Texan knows, beach erosion is a constant problem and when the sand before an ocean-front house washes away, said house is left stranded out on the beach, which is public property.

The waterfront owners have been given a choice of moving the house back from the beach, if they owned that land, tearing down the house or having a really big insurance fire. Some owners have fought the state, and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a former Marine who packs heat, once told me he spent 10 to 15 percent of his time, and that of his staff, on beach owners’ legal fights.

The owners always lost — until now. In a ruling with convoluted logic, the judges said that the Republic of Texas recognized the Spanish land grants which gave property to owners of land on western Galveston Island. But the judges ruled when Texas entered the Union by the Annexation Treaty in 1845, the state never specifically claimed the right to control that part of the beach from the vegetation line to the normal high tide. The court also made a distinction between gradual erosion and instant storm erosion, which is a new one.

Texans have always used our beaches as public property, just like our rivers. We own them and the state has always backed us. The Legislature formally established that right in the Texas Open Beaches Act, and last year we made it part of the Texas Constitution. But five states — Massachusetts, Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – allow private ownership of beaches to the low water mark. To be fair, Massachusetts’ beach laws are contained under Colonial Ordinances of 1641-1647.

Now we must consider several possibilities as we pack up our pails and shovels. The Texas Supreme Court’s decision might be taken to the federal courts where the ruling could be overturned. Or another giant oil spill might float ashore on Stewart Beach, so your sun tan oil would come in 30 or 40 weight. Don’t laugh. Texas has a zillion offshore oil rigs, and we can safely assume that Halliburton, BP & Associates are busily dodging safety and pollution rules. When the next black monster bubbles ashore, you couldn’t give away that beach-front property and any court ruling would be moot.

Then we have a variation of the old joke about the gullible: “I’ll sell you some beach-front property in Lubbock.” A new scientific study says glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting far faster than earlier predicted. Previous studies said the melting would add seven inches of sea water in several thousand years. Now the predictions are that the sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet — FEET, not inches — by 2100. The researchers blame global warming caused by greenhouse gases.

Chicken Littles. What do world renowned climatologists know about the climate? Indeed, other scientists in that field strongly disagree with the predicted three-feet tidal increase. These other scientists put the high tide at SIX feet. But if the scaremongers are right, the result is obvious and non-arguable: All of Galveston Island will be under water and so will Texas’ coast.

This won’t happen, of course, until months if not years from now. But we have a more immediate situation which falls into the category of: Be careful what you wish for. Promptly after the court’s ruling, Land Commish Patterson ordered a halt to a $40 million beach replacement project on Galveston’s west end. Patterson said the court’s decision makes it impossible for workers to begin pumping sand onto eroded beaches because state law prohibits the spending of public money to benefit private property. Oops. “This is really just a bizarre result,” said Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski. “It’s a blow to Galveston, undoubtedly.”

Years ago, my in-laws owned a beautiful old Victorian beach house on Bolivar. Hurricane Carla washed away the house, and the beach, in 1961. Part of the deck was found in a Louisiana bayou. The in-laws built a new house behind where the old one had stood, which was then out in the water. That one was demolished by Ike, aka the Bolivar Twist. But the homeowners knew the rules: keep backing up and re-building. Public beaches are just that.

Between storms and wrecked houses, my family and I would visit the beach, especially in winter. That’s the best time – no tourists, no dune buggies with drunken college students, just the wind and rain and gray skies. The worst the weather, the better. After a brisk walk at dusk on the beach, covered with seas shells undiscovered by summer’s hunters, I’d return to a nice fire, platters of hot seafood, soft music, brandy and a good book about the Galveston Storm.

So if you love Texas’ beaches as I do, get there before the barbed wire and high tide. Lubbock or leave it.

Ashby is sans sand at ashby2@comcast.net

Green Electronics

November 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

Dear EarthTalk: Where can I find information on which electronics and their manufacturers are greener than others, with regard to components, manufacturing processes and end use efficiency?

— John Franken, New York, NY

Now that many consumers are beginning to care about their own environmental footprints, manufacturers are responding with loads of greener offerings. One good place to find them is the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, which ranks the 18 top manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, televisions and game consoles according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change. Greenpeace hopes that by publishing and regularly updating the guide they can both educate consumers about their choices and influence manufacturers to eliminate hazardous substances, take back and recycle their products responsibly, and reduce the climate impacts of their operations and products.

“Nokia got top honors from the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics for the second year in a row: All of the company’s new phone models and accessories for 2010 are free of brominated compounds, chlorinated flame retardants and antimony trioxide, three of the most toxic chemicals used commonly in most mobile phones and other consumer electronics today. Pictured: The Nokia N97.” Image: William Hook, courtesy Flickr.

According to Greenpeace, the top five electronics manufacturers from a green perspective are Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Philips, HP and Samsung. These companies get high marks with Greenpeace for eliminating or scaling way back on the use of hazardous chemicals linked to cancer and other health and environmental problems, which in turn makes recycling their products less problematic.

Nokia gets top honors from Greenpeace for the second year in a row: All of the company’s new phone models and accessories for 2010 are free of brominated compounds, chlorinated flame retardants and antimony trioxide, three of the most toxic chemicals used commonly in most mobile phones and other consumer electronics today. Toshiba, Microsoft and Nintendo are the last place finishers on Greenpeace’s list for various reasons, including backtracking on or failing to make commitments to phase out chemicals used in the production of vinyl plastic (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs).

Aother good place to find info on green electronics and related products is the new website of TopTen USA, a non-profit that identifies and publicizes the most energy-efficient products on the market. The goal of the group—which is part of a global alliance of like-minded non-profits—is to make it easier for consumers to find the most energy- and money-saving models, which in turn encourages manufacturing innovations that will shift the whole market in a greener direction. Besides listing the greenest individual models of desktop computers, laptops, monitors and televisions TopTen USA also lists the greenest refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and even vehicles.

The non-profit Green Electronics Council, initially set up to help government, institutional and corporate purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on various environmental attributes, has now opened up its EPEAT green certification database to consumers. Some 1,300 computers, thin clients, workstations and monitors from dozens of manufacturers now bear the EPEAT certification label ensuring compliance with green manufacturing and recycling standards. All federal purchasers are required to choose between EPEAT-certified models when possible, and the database has steadily gained traction across a wide range of industries. Now consumers can freely browse the listings to see how various items from the likes of Apple, LG, Panasonic, Lenovo and Sony, among others, stack up.

CONTACTS: TopTen USA, www.toptenusa.org; EPEAT, www.epeat.net; Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/toxics/electronics/how-the-companies-line-up.

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.

Uptown Lighting

November 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

A turn in the weather did not dampen the spirits as the Uptown Holiday Lighting celebrated its 25th Anniversary Thanksgiving night. Nearly 100,000 people gathered along Post Oak Boulevard as Santa lit 80 trees and ignited the fireworks extravaganza officially marking the start of the holiday season.

Friends of the Stehlin Foundation

November 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

The Friends of the Stehlin Foundation, a group dedicated to raising funds to support the research, clinical and education programs conducted at the CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation held their annual Friends of Stehlin Foundation Gala at the Westin on November 13, 2010.

Chairpersons: Tamara and Harrison Bibb, Becca and Philip Weigand

Honorees: John and Lindy Rydman

Supporters of The Friends of the Stehlin Foundation boogied on down to the Westin Galleria for a flashback to the 70s. This year, the annual black-tie gala celebrated with adbracadabra, an ABBA tribute band from Las Vegas. Emmy-nominated anchor Dominique Sachse of KPRC Local 2 narrated the night as the master of ceremonies.

Daylight Savings Time

November 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                                   22 Nov. 2010

THE CLOCK – Move Mickey’s big hand to the 15 minute mark, wait for the bongs, then move the hand to the 30 minute mark, wait for more bongs. Now to the 45 minute mark. This could get tedious. What I am doing, if you must know, is what many of you have been doing: changing the time on all my windup clocks, wristwatch, digital stove clock, dashboard clocks, recorders and sun dials. If you have a timer for lights, the

automated coffeemaker, burglar alarm, lawn watering system, central heating-a/c, change them, as well.

Why? Because of God’s great curse to mankind. No, not Oklahoma. I’m talking about daylight saving time, or DST. Actually, the curse is caused by Congress playing God. Yes, I know, daylight saving time kicked into effect in early November, except in years when it went into action in late November except February which has 28. But now, these weeks later, I am still wrestling with getting all hands on deck, moving this one quarter hour by quarter hour so as not to mess up the chimes. Can you imagine what it must be like to work in a clock shop?

First, let me ask you something, and don’t count on your fingers. Are we now, after the one-hour change, ON daylight saving time or OFF? And if it is now 1 p.m., back in October was this same time either noon or 2 p.m.? We all know we spring forward in fall and fall backward in spring, or maybe we fall backward in fall and summer in Aspen.

Another question: If a train leaves Dallas for Austin at 1 p.m. going 60 mph, and another train on the same track leaves Austin for Dallas at noon going 120 mph, where will they collide? This brings us to Amtrak. To keep to their published timetables, trains cannot leave a station before the scheduled time. So, when the clocks change one hour in the fall, all Amtrak trains that are running on time stop at 2:00 a.m. and wait one hour before resuming. At the spring time change, trains immediately fall one hour behind schedule at 2:00 a.m., but they just keep going and do their best to make up the time. All of this would be easier if Amtrak was ever on time.

People have always been dickering with our calendars and clocks. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII noted that the long-used Julian calendar was far off because it was slightly inexact each year, which mounted up over the centuries. Pretty soon Easter would be in the middle of the summer. So the pope created a new calendar which sliced off 10 days. Britain and the American colonies didn’t start using the new calendar until 1752. At that point British peasants rioted, demanding the government give them back their lost days. It also means George Washington’s birthday is not Feb. 22. The Russians didn’t change until after their revolution, which is why they celebrate their October Revolution on Nov. 8.

Not surprisingly, Benjamin Franklin first came up with the idea of DST, back in 1784. His actual observation was: “One hour early to bed and one hour early to rise, makes a man hung-over, confused and hastens his demise.” The idea wasn’t implemented nationwide until World War I to save electric energy. It was dropped, then reinstated when we sprang forward to World War II. In 1966 Congress passed a law simply saying we needed to get on and off DST at the same time: the last Sundays in April and October.

In 1987, when the starting time was moved again, dairy farmers complained that their cows couldn’t read clocks and didn’t change their schedules when DST kicked into gear. Adding a longer time between milkings, the dairymen said, would really damage the crop of the cream. Finally, as always, we hear about how the mornings would still be dark when the little school children wait in danger for the school bus. The lawmakers agreed to reconsider. Later, Congress passed an energy bill that included extending DST by about a month. So now DST starts the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday of November.

It’s all very confusing. To unconfused yourself, you could move to El Paso, which is the only part of Texas in Mountain Time. That would put you an hour ahead when you fall an hour behind. No, maybe you should go east, to Eastern Time. Take an Amtrak on the first Sunday in November.

Here’s a good story. Wonder if it’s true? A man born just after 12:00 a.m. DST in Delaware, was drafted during the Vietnam War. He argued that standard time, not DST, was the official time for recording births in Delaware back when he was born. So, under official standard time, he was actually born on the previous day — and that day had a much higher draft lottery number. He won the argument, and avoided the draft.

There are a few mistakes we must correct (as Jerry Jones was telling Wade Phillips). First, the term is daylight saving (singular) time, not savingS. Think of it as daylight-saving time, a time when we save daylight. But we really don’t. We are rescheduling it, and don’t save minute. Another mistake: as with the seasons — summer, winter, football — and e.e. cummings, the term daylight saving time is not capitalized. It’s abbreviation, DST is, but not the full Monty. People get it wrong all the (saving) time.

Finally, whether we spring or fall, those two times of the year are when fire officials remind us to change the batteries in our smoke detectors. But with all the time changes how do the alarms know when to go off? No matter what Congress does to our clocks, I still plan on sleeping till noon. I just don’t want noon to come too early, so I’m telling Mickey to shut up.

Ashby is late at ashby2@comcast.net

5 Ways 2 Keep Lbs. Off during Holidays

November 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit


‘Tis the season to be merry and…overeat!  With turkey and trimmings, yams with marshmallows, Christmas cookies, eggnog, and other caloric holiday goodies within our reach practically every day, it is difficult not to overindulge.

Even people who are usually disciplined about their food intake tend to go overboard around the holidays. “Americans typically gain between three and five pounds (and sometimes more) during this period,” says Karen Mones, personal fitness trainer at Houston Area Adventure Boot Camp. “With all the parties and family gatherings, it is easy to forget sensible eating habits. But, the weight you put on in these few weeks will stay with you long after the festivities are over.”

Fortunately, there are ways to maintain your weight during the holidays while still enjoying an occasional splurge. The key, Mones says, is good planning:

·       Avoid the “ugly foods” that are bad for you and your weight. “Stay away from fast foods and anything that’s deep-fried, greasy, full of sugar, or heavily processed. These foods are fattening and unhealthy. That’s a good advice to follow any day of the year, not just during the holiday season.”

·       Before parties “eat a healthy meal or a snack that includes a lean protein. Since protein takes longer to digest, it will help you feel full for much longer so you don’t start grabbing everything off the buffet table – most of which is probably calorie-laden.”

·       Drink 8 glasses of water every day “because it suppresses the appetite and helps the body metabolize stored fat. And keep in mind that we are talking about water, not soda, diet drinks, or alcohol.”

·       Practice portion control. “Sure, you can enjoy turkey, ham, or whatever is on the holiday menu. You can probably have a slice of pie too once in a while. However, use common sense and good judgment in how much you put on your plate and – no second servings! Most people are satisfied with just one serving, so if you don’t feel hungry, resist the urge to eat more than you need to.”

·       Work out! “That’s an extremely important point because exercise will not only help you burn any extra calories, but also keep you healthy and fit. Even people who exercise regularly tend to be less active during the holidays, but try to stay motivated and don’t lose sight of your goals. What kind of fitness routine should you choose? Aerobic exercise will help burn off extra calories, which is an important factor in weight loss and weight management. Resistance training will increase the lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Combining all these exercises will provide a very effective workout which burns fat.”

# # #
About Karen Mones, Fitness Expert:
Mones, a certified personal trainer with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, can be reached at KarenMones@yahoo.com or 713-408-4709 and is available for media interviews on a wide range of topics related to health, wellness, fitness and the connection between mind, body and soul.

The Orchard at Caney Creek

November 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The Art of Conversation Luncheon

November 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Benefactor: City ArtWorks

The Art of Conversation Luncheon on November 8 ended but the chatter continued as Co-Chairs Cindi Rose and Marcy DeLuna entertained thirty-one engaging leaders and local celebrities.

Many of the conversationalists brought party favors such as books, sauces or discount coupons.  Al Marcus of Grateful Bread and the Farmers Market gave out homemade vanilla and a steak sauce, Ouisie’s Elouise Adams honored everyone with a $25 gift certificate to her restaurant; Artist Dixie Friend Gay gave a print for each of her table guests. Biographer and sports guru, Mickey Herskowitz and Chronicle Lifestyle Editor Molly Glentzer autographed their gifted books.

Feb 19th CampFest

November 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

What:                    CampFest

When:                  Saturday, February 19, 2011, 6 p.m.

Where:                 River Oaks Country Club

Benefiting:          Camp For All

Theme:                Reaching for the Stars

Chairmen:           Candace and Richard Faulk

Co-Chairs:           Jill and John Pavlas

Honorees:           Insurance Alliance

Peter Boudreaux (Curry Boudreaux Architects LLP)

The Houston Alumnae Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta

Cost:                      Tickets: $300; Tables from $3,000

Party Notes:       Dress is Sparkly Casual; Auction benefiting Camp For All; Lisa Malosky is the MC for the evening

Contact:               Belinda Munsell, 713-686-5666, bmunsell@campforall.org

Website:              http://www.campforall.org

Colton & Farb Gallery

November 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

November 20th, 2010 – January 29th, 2011

Public Opening Reception: Saturday, November 20, 2010, 6:00 to 9:00 PM

Terence La Noue, Tributaries

Terence La Noue was a Fulbright Meister Student at Hochscule fur Bildenden Kunste and received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Cornell University. La Noue has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.  He has had an extensive teaching experience at Trinity College, City University of New York and New York University.  Terence La Noue’s unique approach to painting and printmaking has achieved worldwide recognition.  Beginning in Berlin in 1965, he has had over a hundred and thirty acclaimed solo exhibitions. His work is represented in the permanent collections of major museums including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Tate Modern in London and others in Japan, Singapore, France and Australia.  His work is also included in numerous university and city art museums throughout the U.S. as well as major corporate collections.  Terence La Noue’s exhibitions have been reviewed by some of the most significant critics of our time. An extensive monograph entitled Terence La Noue by the renowned critic and art historian Dore Ashton relates his travels, influences and life’s work.

Excerpts from the MAC – Dallas:  Mary Beth Edelson and Molly Gochman

Excerpts from the McKinney Avenue Contemporary’s more comphrensive exhibitions, There is Never Only One Game in Town, work by Mary Beth Edelson and Other Stories, work by Molly Gochman, on view at the MAC through December 11th.  Mary Beth Edelson, emerged in the 1960s on New York’s SoHO scene as a groundbreaking feminist artist. Noted is most art history books, her conceptually-based work activates a variety of women’s and human rights issues. She has worked in collaborative and/or political environments, participating in the early exhibitions at A.I.R. Gallery (founded in 1972), taking part in the Heresies Collective, and helping to lead the Women’s Action Coalition,1992–1994. Her work has been exhibited around the world and she is represented in major collections such as MoMA and the Guggenheim Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Molly Gochman, a Houston- and New York-based younger artist, formulates ideas of community and subjective interconnectedness in her growing oeuvre, characterized by fluid visuality and the use of multiple media. From her dual bases in Houston and New York, Molly Gochman has created a diverse portfolio of work that is both personal and philosophical – a contemplation on concepts of interest, like time and change, value, love relationships, and balance. Since 2002, Gochman has exhibited widely in galleries and public spaces such as the Lincoln Center and the Emily Harvey Foundation in New York, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Deborah Colton Gallery, and DiverseWorks in Houston, and the Sara Roney Gallery in Sydney, Australia.  Molly Gochman was well received at the Colton & Farb Gallery Dallas Art Fair Exhibition and is in many important collections.

Christian Tomaszewski, Highlights of Two Projects

Christian Tomaszewski was born in Gdansk, Poland, graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland and currently lives and teaches from his home base in New York City now. His multi-media installations explore various modes of narrative and critique, often based on themes from cinema or architecture. He has exhibited widely in the US and Europe, in venues such as the Sculpture Center and The Bronx Museum in New York, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice, the National Gallery in Prague, Tufts University Art Gallery and the Bureau for Open Culture at Columbus College of Art & Design. His work was included in the First Biennale of Polish Art in Lodz and the Second Athens Biennial in Greece. Tomaszewski has participated in several prestigious residency programs, including the American Academy in Rome, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York City and recently Artpace in San Antonio, Texas. He has received numerous grants and awards, including support from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, a 2008 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and a 2009 Travel Grant from the Jerome Foundation.

Jay Rusovich, Beautiful

Jay Rusovich was born in New Orleans. He received his degrees from Tulane University in English and Theater, and also attended Oxford University in England, The University of Arizona and Loyola University in New Orleans in various humanitarian disciplines.  After graduating, he moved to New York City where he studied Method Acting at The Lee Strasberg Institute. Rusovich also attended The Actor’s Institute for Shakespearean Studies and TVI Actors Studio in NYC. . For the next 20 years, Rusovich traveled the world, photographing people for institutions, principally in New York and Los Angeles. He debuted his provocative fine arts photography, titled “INSIDE OUT” at Deborah Colton Gallery the spring of 2005.  An artist with great potential and one of the stars of the Colton & Farb Gallery 2010 Dallas Art Fair exhibition, Jay is known for his controversial style, which can be described as “intuitive, engaging, intense, direct, quick-witted…and sometimes tinged with irony.”

Colton & Farb Gallery is part of Deborah Colton Gallery, which is founded on being an innovative showcase for ongoing presentation and promotion of strong historical and visionary contemporary artists world-wide, whose diverse practices include painting, works on paper, sculpture, video, photography, performance and conceptual future media installations.

2445 North Boulevard

Houston, Texas   77098



Survivor’s Pack

November 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                15 Nov. 2010

THE BUNKER – Flashlight? Check. Books I never got around to reading? Roger. Taser? Right. Case of Skyy? Here. MasterCard? It’s in my wallet in case I run out of my case. You may be wondering why I am hiding in my backyard bunker, door locked despite the wailing of anguished neighbors desperate to join me in my underground hideaway. “Leave, or I’ll spray you with my repellent.” It’s good to have a Mace in the hole.

I am here because I have been watching the Glenn Beck Show, my Bible. Never miss him. He’s my Beck ‘n’ Call, so to speak. When he is not telling us why we should buy gold (without noting he is also sponsored by gold companies), or pushing his own brand of pixie dust, or crying, he’s selling survivors’ packs containing food, ropes, saw, flame-thrower. Every family should have one.

The same pitch is made on Sean Hannity’s radio show: “You can never tell when a disaster might hit your home. Tornado, another 9-11, a visit by Nancy Pelosi. You must be ready for any eventuality, especially a bad one. Don’t think you need protection? You say you’ll get plenty of warning before the next tsunami, and have time to rush out and load up on supplies? Tell that to those Chilean miners. Bet they wished they’d gone down to that mine with a 69-day supply of toilet paper and deodorant.”

We can tell a lot about a program and its audience – radio or TV — by its commercials. Networks and their sponsors go to great lengths to determine who is watching, or listening, to what and when. As we have discussed before, the networks’ 5:30 p.m. news programs are sponsored mostly by medicines and vitamins, apparently consumed by a romantic couple soaking in his-and-her bathtubs, which makes no sense.  Networks and Big Pharma know the only people who have time to watch the 5:30 TV news are unemployed, usually elderly who need their meds.

Talk shows such as Beck’s and Hannity’s run commercials from companies that could thrive in a period of total Armageddon collapse, such as makers of emergency power generators or “survival seeds” so you can grow your own food. There are also lots of ads by financial problem solvers. “Can’t pay your bills? Bad credit? Bank gonna confiscate your machete? Bail bondsman trying to find you? Two years behind in child support? We’ll handle your problems.”

I hear many ads dealing with house-foreclosures for the homeless who bought a McMansion with servants quarters, split-level media room and swim-up bar. Then there is this one: “If the IRS is coming to get you. If you owe more than $10,000 to Uncle Sam. If you haven’t paid your federal income taxes since 1998. We here at SlyService can help.” Oh, and the one about fixing your soiled reputation. “Want to erase that pedophile charge?” These are ads aimed at deadbeats who belong to Losers Anonymous. The commercials speak volumes about the audience, even with the volume turned down.

True, not everyone is a Glenn Beck disciple. According to a recent profile in The New York Times: “As of Sept. 21, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck’s show (up from 26 in August 2009). Fox also has a difficult time selling ads on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ and ‘Fox and Friends’ when Beck appears on those shows as a guest. Beck’s show is known in the TV sales world as ‘empty calories,’ meaning he draws great ratings but is toxic for ad sales.” His show in Britain now has no ads at all.

But there is hope for the Beckster (whose income, Forbes calculates, is $23 million a year): the aforementioned commercials aimed at the survivalists. Those are the knuckle-draggers who spend weekends in the boonies practicing commando warfare against the takeover of our nation by (pick one or more), communists, socialists, Eskimos, illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, IRS agents, death panelists, the liberal media. In previous cataclysmic times, these people had backyard bomb shelters packed with food, water and John Birch bumper stickers.

Yes, the only path to safety is through Glenn Beck, who wears a bulletproof vest in public, is followed by bodyguards, and lives on an estate in New Canaan, Conn., which he tried to surround with a 6-foot-high wall until the neighborhood taste police said no. Here he is between sobs: “I told you about ‘The Coming Insurrection.’ This is a little book written by the Invisible Committee.” You think I made up that last line? It’s from his Nov. 5 show. Do you happen to know what, exactly, is the coming insurrection and who is the Invisible Committee? Doesn’t matter. Just so long as it scares us enough to buy a survival backpack.

I’m not paranoid, but we have a Keyan-born Muslim president who wants to build a mosque in Arlington Cemetery (the mainstream media won’t tell you this). Meantime,  Harry Reid is up to who-knows-what traitorous plots. Then there are those black helicopters and the radio beams – don’t you hear them? I must be prepared. There was some speaker at the last Tea Party lynching who said everyone should have a two years’ supply of food, ammo and Prozac. If Karl Rove can’t protect us, we need Plan B to survive.

You may be wondering, “How can I and my family live through the upcoming apocalypse?” Build a bunker as I did, or, if you don’t have a bunker mentality, just put four inches of hardened steel over your drained backyard swimming pool. If your kids complain, ask if they’d rather be wet, radioactive or kidnapped by pirates. Glenn Beck said these are all distinct possibilities. A moat helps. How about a panic room? You do have a panic room, don’t you? I mean, the zombies, the Jehovah’s Witnesses kicking down your door, and did I mention the Eskimos? So just hunker in the bunker. Tomorrow the world.

Ashby is surviving at ashby2@comcast.net

Need a Draft

November 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                            8 Nov. 2010

Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently addressed students at Duke University beginning with: “It’s a relief to be back on a university campus and not have to worry about football. The first fall I was President of Texas A&M, I had to fire a longtime football coach. I told the media at the time that I had overthrown the governments of medium-sized countries with less controversy.”

Then the former Aggie Prez got to his newest controversy: since our best and our brightest won’t join the military, should we bring back the draft? This is not an empty threat. New York Rep. Charles Rangel, in making his fifth attempt to restore the military draft, bemoaned America’s “total indifference to the suffering and loss of life” of our troops. “So few families have a stake in the war,” he said, “which is being fought by other people’s children.” Rangel, who has his own ethics problems, knows more about war than most of his colleagues: he received the Bronze Star for heroism in combat in Korea, plus the Purple Heart.

But back to Gates’ address. He noted that, from America’s founding until the end of World War II, this country maintained small standing armies that would be filled out with mass conscription in the case of war. In the late 1930s, even as World War II loomed, the U.S. Army ranked 17th in the world in size, right behind Romania. The Cold War ended that traditional downsizing when America retained a large, permanent military by continuing to rely on the draft.

With the end of military conscription in 1973, the makeup of the military changed. Of roughly 750 classmates in the Princeton University class of 1956, with the draft in place, more than 400 went on to serve in the military. By 2004, only nine Princeton grads put on a uniform. That same year of 1956, more than 1,000 cadets were trained by Stanford University’s ROTC program. In 1968 students burned down the ROTC building, and today there is no ROTC program at Stanford.

A recent survey of Harvard’s Class of ’70 found that only 56 members had served in the military, just two in Vietnam. However, less than half responded to that survey. Incidentally, one Harvard grad who went to Vietnam, as an enlisted man, was Al Gore. To be fair, approximately Harvard 1,200 alumni have been killed in war, and 16 former students earned the Medal of Honor.

“Institutions that used to send hundreds of graduates into the armed forces now struggle to commission a handful of officers every year,” Gates said. In 1969 Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth and several other schools banned the ROTC programs from their campuses because the faculty opposed the Vietnam War. Then they opposed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That policy seems to be fading, so the profs will have to come up with yet another reason to ban the ROTC – all the while begging for Defense Dept. grants. The ban in Cambridge was particularly ironic because the “Harvard Regiment” was mustered in January 1916, with more than 1,000 student members that became the very first unit of the Army’s new Reserve Officers Training Corps.

Where does the military get its officers these days? The usual: the South and the Mountain West. The state of Alabama, with a population of less than 5 million, hosts 10 Army ROTC programs. The Los Angeles metro area, population over 12 million, has four. The Chicago metro area, population 9 million, has three.

The military doesn’t want to restore conscription. But the flip side of this all-volunteer, standing armed forces is a division between the military and the civilians. A bird colonel in Afghanistan recently said, “A decade of combat has made us very hard. It has made us an incredibly strong Army. I believe we do have a warrior class in this country.” No one wants a warrior class. A career Army officer once told me that his ROTC-trained soldiers were a constant flow of undisciplined civilians whose short-term, loose attitude was something the regular Army needed.

With a draft, we would put every 19-year-old man and woman (yes, woman – equal rights) on the federal payroll, and we’re already broke. Look who the Pentagon would draw from: 17 to 24 year olds of whom about 75 percent are ineligible to serve due to health and weight problems, i.e., they’re too fat to fight.

The military response to 9/11 meant that, for the first time in a century, America is fighting two long wars — indeed, the longest in American history – without conscription. But few of us are affected: none of our major wars has been fought with a smaller percentage of this country’s citizens in uniform full-time — roughly 2.4 million active and reserve service members out of a country of over 300 million, less than one percent. Do you have a single family member in uniform? Know anyone at all who didn’t come back?

Still, Texas has a dog in this fight. Almost 500 young Texans have now been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first U.S. military death — nearly nine years ago — was a soldier from near San Antonio. The 1,000th killed in Afghanistan was Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht of near Kerrville. In recent months, an average of one Texan per week has been killed in the wars.

When President James Madison proposed conscription for the War of 1812, New Hampshire’s Daniel Webster rose on the House floor to ask: “Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly or wickedness of government may engage it?”

Excuse me, Rep. Webster, it’s right there in the preamble: “…provide for the common defense…” although right now our defenders are not very common.

Ashby is draft dodging at ashby2@comcast.net

Meatless Monday

November 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Edit

Dear EarthTalk: I know that some people abstain from meat on Fridays for religious reasons, but what’s the story behind “Meatless Mondays?” — Sasha Burger, Ronkonkoma, NY

Meatless Monday—the modern version of it, at least—was born in 2003 with the goal of reducing meat consumption by 15 percent in the U.S. and beyond. The rationale? Livestock production accounts for one-fifth of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and is also a major factor in global forest and habitat loss, freshwater depletion, pollution and human health problems. The average American eats some eight ounces of meat every day—45 percent more than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended amount.

An outgrowth of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future, the Meatless Monday project offers vegetarian recipes, interviews with experts, various resources for schools, organizations and municipalities that wish to promote the initiative—and regular updates on Facebook and Twitter. “Going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity,” the group reports. “It can also help limit your carbon footprint and save resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.”

The Meatless Monday concept actually dates back to World War I, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urged citizens to reduce their meat, wheat and sugar intakes, since such foods took more energy to produce than others. Americans willing to cut back—even just one day a week—would be supporting the troops and helping to feed starving Europeans. To encourage participation, the FDA coined the terms “Meatless Monday” and “Wheatless Wednesday” and published vegetarian cookbooks and informational pamphlets. The campaign was resurrected briefly during World War II, but then died down.

But as Meatless Monday President Peggy Neu reports in a recent issue of E – The Environmental Magazine, today the initiative has transcended its war effort origins: “The focus for the first couple of years was health,” Neu says, but the movement has begun to grow in part because of increasing awareness of the environmental impact of meat consumption.

Some of the municipalities and institutions that have signed on include the City of San Francisco, the Baltimore Public School System, and Harvard and Columbia universities (along with some two dozen other colleges). Similar campaigns have sprung up in two dozen other countries, while the city of Ghent in Belgium, Oxford University in the UK, and Israel’s Tel Aviv University have also pledged to participate.

In May of 2010, a Washington Post article reported that the meat industry is feeling the heat. “Over the past year, lobbying groups including the American Meat Institute, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Board and the Farm Bureau have launched a quiet campaign to try to reverse the momentum,” reported the piece. The Animal Agriculture Alliance and the American Meat Institute have railed that Baltimore schoolchildren are being denied protein—and have urged citizens not to allow Meatless Monday to spread. But Neu says the movement is here to stay. “I want this movement to be sustainable prevention,” she says, “not just a health or environmental fad.”
CONTACTS: Meatless Monday, www.meatlessmonday.com; Center for a Livable Future, www.jhsph.edu/clf; E – The Environmental Magazine, www.emagazine.com/view/?5295.

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:

Kappa Kappa Gamma Holiday Pilgrimage Fri Dec 3 – Sun Dec 5

November 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Kappa Kappa Gamma Holiday Pilgrimage 2010

WHAT: Kappa Kappa Gamma Charitable Foundation of Houston presents The Kappa Holiday Pilgrimage 2010, a biennial tradition since 1941, which kicks off the holiday season with its Jazz Brunch and Home Tour.

  • Kappa Kappa Gamma Holiday Pilgrimage Jazz Brunch

The Brunch will feature renowned author Martha Foose, author of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook.  This cookbook and other unique creations will be available for purchase at the marketplace, just Lagniappe.

  • Holiday Home Tour features four exquisite homes in River Oaks decorated for the holidays by some of Houston’s top professional floral designers.

WHEN: Jazz Brunch:  Wednesday, December 1 at 11 a.m.

just Lagniappe: Wednesday, December from 9a.m – 3p.m.

Tour of homes: Friday, December 3 – Sunday, December 5

December 3 and 4 from 10a.m. – 4p.m.

December 5 from 1p.m. – 5p.m.

WHERE: Jazz Brunch:  River Oaks Country Club

just Lagniappe:  River Oaks Country Club

Homes:  3834 Del Monte, 4 Pinehill Lane, 3415 Wickersham, 3237 Inwood

COST: Jazz Brunch: $250.00/Reservations required

Just Lagniappe: no entry fee

Home Tour: $20 in advance and $25 at the door, includes all four homes.  Group tickets available for parties of 10 or more.


CHAIRS: Stuart Hudson, Ruthee Meric, and Mary Peterson


CHAIRS: Kimberly Dominy and Claire Howard

BENEFITS: Net proceeds benefit Boys & Girls Country, The Brookwood Community, Heroes for Children, Houston Alumnae Panhellenic Foundation, Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, LIFF Houston, Literacy Advance, The Rose (Breast Center), TIRR, Wellsprings Village and Yellowstone Academy.

TICKETS: Available at Bering’s Hardware, Central Market, Cornelius Nursery, Rice Epicurean Markets, River Oaks Plant House, www.pilgrimagetickets@gmail.com and at the Tour homes.

St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands

November 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Leave Your Passport Behind

By Laurette M. Veres
Photography by Carla M. Menendez

St. Thomas is an American territory allowing stress free travel to the Caribbean. Leave your passport behind as you meet some of the world’s friendliest people in this tropical paradise.

Shop Till You Drop

The U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John) offer the most diverse duty-free shopping in the Caribbean. Most notable of the three is St. Thomas, known as the shopping capital where several parts of town are devoted to retail therapy. A plethora of shopping awaits you at Yacht Haven Grande, a multi-million dollar mega-yacht marina. You don’t have to arrive by sea to enjoy stores such as Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bulgari, Coach and more.

Historic Downtown

The tourism board has many programs to indoctrinate visitors into the local culture. One such program involves tours led by high school-age tour guides. These eager beavers met us in the main square, Emancipation Garden, to begin our educational stroll; they had their facts down. Seven flags have flown over St. Thomas since Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1493. Note: according to our knowledgeable guides, he didn’t discover it, he sent his men. The island has been ruled by the Spanish, English, French, Knights of Malta, French (for the second time), Danish and became a U.S. Territory in 1917. The Danes built most of the historical buildings and bricks are still imported so renovations maintain historical standards. Our next-gener guides wore bright green for easy identification and answered questions about geography, history, religion and, of course, shopping!
The capital city, Charlotte Amalie, is a bustling harbor town ready for cruise ship shoppers to arrive. You can pick up souvenirs from a large variety of tented street vendors. Purple Papaya, a whimsical boutique hidden amongst many jewelry shops has something for everyone. From Hawaiian shirts and t-shirts to cute bathing suits and sundresses, you’ll enjoy St. Thomas in style after stocking up here.
Little Switzerland is the perfect location to pick up a new TAG watch, or David Yurman bracelet.
H Texas visited in the middle of the shopping festival (this was no accident!). Benefits included: a welcome bag full of shopping coupons and certificates, concert tickets (Wyclef Jean rocked the house), and shuttle service to tours and shopping. Festival goers can build their own itinerary from the complete agenda provided by the tourism board. Most notably, parties seemed to break out at each turn. From steal drum bands, to singers, dancers and characters on stilts, a party atmosphere abounds.

Lap Of Luxury

A hop, skip and a jump across this small Island land you in the lap of luxury: The Ritz Carlton, St. Thomas. Not your grandfather’s Ritz, you don’t need a tie as you enjoy the glorious grounds, infinity pool, world-class spa and superb accommodations. While at the Ritz, you must set sail on the Lady Lynsey – a 53-foot Gold Coast catamaran. We enjoyed the Full Moon Sunset Cruise to St. John. Tropical drinks flow and appetizers such as crab stuffed potatoes set the mood for the hour long cruise to lush St. John.

A Girl’s Gotta Eat

Our corner table at Herve has breathtaking views of the harbor. Located in the Government Hill historic district, the contemporary American restaurant has been pleasing patrons since 1996. We sampled the St. Jaques – lobster, scallop and shrimp served in two conch shells lined with mashed potatoes. The panoramic view and the flickering lights of the government buildings are the perfect backdrop for the Wilted Spinach Salad Flambé – prepared tableside.
Virgilio’s is the best northern Italian restaurant in the Virgin Islands. Here we enjoyed lobster ravioli, grilled Portobello, and spicy Caribbean lobster.

Where to Unwind

Overlooking the picturesque harbor of Charlotte Amalie, Windward Passage Hotel is centrally located one-block from the duty-free shops and restaurants.

From shopping, to water excursions to pristine beaches, there is something for everyone in St. Thomas.


Yacht Haven Grande, www.yachthavengrande.com
Purple Papaya
Little Switzerland, multiple locations, 888-527-4473; www.littleswitzerland.com
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, 6900 Great Bay, www.ritzcarlton.com
Herve Restaurant & Wine Bar, 340-777-9703; www.herverestaurant.com
Virgilio’s, 340-776-4920
Windward Passage Hotel, 340-774-5200; www.
Department of Tourism: www.VisitUSVI.com

Dr. Vitenas Open House Nov 4th

November 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

Buy now at a special price, indulge later.
Join us November 4th from 4 to 7 pm at our open house, and
indulge in these. Then make an appointment for services
whenever you’d like.
15% off:
Laser treatment packages
Bring a friend and receive an additional 5% off.
Look your best for the holidays.
No one will ever know you left your wrinkles here.
* Some restrictions may apply. Call for more details.
Call for more information 281-484-0088

Texas Quotes

November 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby 1 Nov. 2010

“First of all, I was in love with the Alamo when I was 5 years old. I saw Walt Disney’s ‘Davy Crockett,’ with Fess Parker. That was it for me. I never stopped thinking about the Alamo from that day to this. I’m a huge collector of memorabilia. I’ve got Davy Crockett’s bullet pouch. I’ve got Colonel Travis’s belt.” — English pop-rock star Phil Collins, who is writing a book on the Battle of the Alamo.
“I feel safer on a racetrack than I do on Houston’s freeways.” — Car racing
legend A.J. Foyt
“My favorite Aggie joke? I’m sorry I don’t understand the question.” — Singer
Lyle Lovett, Texas A&M class of 1979. Lovett graduated with a degree in journalism, which explains a lot.
Yes, it’s time once again to look at what people are saying about us and what we are saying, as well. For example: “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday.” — Texas Congressman Joe Barton apologizing to BP for what he called a $20 billion “shakedown” by President Obama for oil spill losses in the Gulf.
In Amarillo, David Grisham, director of Repent Amarillo, planned to burn a Koran in public. But just as he was ready, Jacob Isom, a 23-year-old skateboarder, snatched the book from Grisham’s clutches and ran. Later, Isom told a TV crew: “I was like, ‘Dude, you have no Koran!’ ”
“I love Texans, but I think with the Bush presidency being such a fresh memory, it’s probably not a wise idea for Republicans to nominate a Texan for president.” — Political scientist Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia, on Gov. Rick Perry’s chances at the Oval Office. Speaking of the guv, we have: “There is a land of opportunity still left in America. It’s called Texas.” Here he is on the future of Archbishop Jose Gomez who left San Antonio to head the Los Angeles archdiocese: “The world will be right when the pope is a Texan.” And finally from Perry: “I happen to think America would be a whole lot better off if Washington did things the Texas way.”
No, I didn’t just Google “Texas quotes.” I’ve got the clippings. “As the saying goes, you have to dance with the one who brought you.” – New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow. That’s his East Coast effete version of Darrell Royal’s favorite saying, “Dance with the one that brung you.” It’s from a 1920s song, “I’m Going to Dance With the One Who Brung Me.” While still in sports and the Times, sort of: “No university, other than perhaps Notre Dame, comes close to matching the cachet, financial fortitude and viewership interest of Texas.” – New York Times sports columnist Pete Thamel. “We recruit Texas hard. It’s a big state, or as some people down there say, a big country.” — Harvard head football coach Tim Murphy, who has 11 Texans on his team.
“That’s like the Bible down in Texas. It’s not as well directed as ‘The Godfather,’ but the arc of it is incredible.” — Actor Robert Duvall on his favorite role in 48 years of films: as the former Texas Ranger Augustus McCrae, whom he played in “Lonesome Dove.” Duvall, being interviewed in a Manhattan hotel room, wore a UT Longhorn track jacket. If the UT athletic marketing department is smart, it’ll send Duvall a dozen UT jackets.
“I never took HGH or Steroids. And I did not lie to Congress.” – Roger Clemens via Twitter

Among the 1.5 million condolence letters sent to President John F. Kennedy’s widow after his assassination in 1963 were more than two dozen from Jane Dryden, an 11-year-old Austin girl who churned out a letter a week for six months straight. ”I know that you hate the whole state of Texas. I do to (sic).”
The folks at the Chappell Hill Bank got tired of being robbed, so they put up this sign on the front door: “Lawful concealed carry permitted on these premises. Management recognizes the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as an inalienable right of all citizens. We therefore support and encourage the carrying of licensed concealed weapons.” They haven’t been hit since.
Blasts from the past: “Texas was heaven for men and dogs; hell for women and oxen.” – Early Texas blacksmith Noah Smithwick. “Jim is dead…I’ll wager they found no wounds in his back.” — Elve Bowie, on learning her son, Jim, was killed at the Alamo. “If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!” Attributed to Gov. “Ma” Ferguson, in 1925, arguing against legislation requiring high school students to learn a foreign language.
“What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.” — Barbara Bush on the Katrinians
In education: “De bobus longicornibus quad ille non cognovit, inutile est aliis cognoscere.” (What he don’t know about longhorn cattle ain’t worth knowing.) The Latin citation by which J. Frank Dobie was presented to the assembled senate of Cambridge University in 1944. Another version is: “De bonus longicornis quod ille non cognovit, inutile est aliis cognoscere.” Take your pick.
“Being in business with Ross Perot (Jr.) is one of the worst experiences of my business life.” – Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban after being sued by Perot Jr., a minority investor in the club.
The Texas school board’s arguments over textbooks certainly received notoriety, like this headline on an online column for The San Francisco Chronicle: “Dear Texas: Please shut up. Sincerely, History.”
And finally, Jeff Foxworthy on Texans: “If someone in a Lowe’s store offers you assistance and they don’t work there, you may live in Texas.” “If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you may live in Texas.”

Ashby is quotable at ashby2@comcast.net