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Avoiding NASA

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Forget trying to do anything down Baybrook way this weekend. If the Gulf Freeway south’s seemed bad the past several weekends, it’s about to get worse. To demolish the overpass at NASA 1, the freeway will be shut down both north and south from 9pm this Friday through 5am next Monday. NASA 1 itself shuts down at the freeway beginning 9pm tonight and won’t reopen until May 4.

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Written by macheide

4 March 2009 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Houstonian

Tagged with

Messing with Texas

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1130081610

Houston Chronicle to lay off 10 pct of work force; also looking at other cost cutting measures to save as many jobs as possible.

BreakingNewsOn

Suggestion: Start by laying off Chronicle employees who litter Houston area streets with unrequested, unwanted trash. Suggestion: Better yet, cut your costs by ceasing to even produce the trash you litter our streets with. Suggestion: And recognize that there are thousands of citizens out here who won’t come remotely close to touching your product as long as you really don’t give a damn how much litter you leave in our streets. Or try this: Go bankrupt and quit publication entirely; Texas would be the better for it without having your litter flying around all over Houston.

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Written by macheide

4 March 2009 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Houstonian

Leaving Ike Behind

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Eleven days after Ike headed north out of Texas, it’s time for me to remove my central Hurricane Ike Aftermath post from its sticky position at the top of aftermath, and let it recede into our past.

We’re not yet completely finished with Ike, not by a long shot.

Allstate is working really hard to make sure of that. After we made repeated fruitless calls attempting to get some action moving somewhere with our homeowners’ insurer, we were finally told, “Well, you do have your claim adjuster’s name and number….” Ummm, somewhere I must have missed Allstate’s new ESP policy, whereby the insured is supposed to simply know these things when nobody at Allstate cares to pass the information along. Meanwhile, our local agent remains completely AWOL, and this alleged claims agent is said to be “driving to Houston,” probably from Alaska or Brazil or some other distant location, and apparently without a cell phone or anyplace to stop where he could return our calls. How much would you like to bet that Allstate’s “good hands” will work really really fast once it comes time to trying to deny claims on all the additional damage being suffered by all the Houston homes that their neglect has been leaving exposed.

We’ve got fence and roof repairs to have done. And I’m still not comfortable turning that upstairs bathroom light on without having it looked at by a qualified electrician. But we still have upwards of two thirds of a million of our neighbors who don’t even have electricity restored yet, thousands who don’t even have homes left to light up, and countless other problems mounting up higher by the day.

And I had other issues on which I had wanted to waste time ranting and rambling. Criticism, for one. Sometimes I could have strangled some of the news reporters at some of the press conferences, whose criticism would have led absolutely nowhere, no matter what the answer was. In most instances, however, criticism was another way of saying, “Something very crucial is not getting done. It needs attention.” Once numbskulls like the Harris County judge got out of the comfort zone of his insulated bunker and got out here on his own to see the criticism to be real, worth attention, then things that should have already been moving finally started to.

And how unhelpful far too many officials were. From the lowest, epitomized by UH officials who dangerously rushed the decision for having students return to classes, all the way up to the very top. Too easily, the press bought off on the PR that President Bush visited Houston and Galveston. He did not. He met with a few officials at Ellington Field and Galveston, took a quick flyby over Galveston, and quickly left without so much as a glance at the 4th largest city of the nation he so poorly pretends to lead. “Mayor Bill White met with Mr. Bush on the tarmac at Ellington Field before the president flew home,” stated the Dallas Morning News. Sketch that picture more accurately, please. After Bush returned from Galveston, he strode as quickly as a man can do without breaking into a sprint, obviously anxious to get to Air Force One to get the hell out of town, overall spending less time in the region than the super-fast hurricane itself had spent. Mayor White had to literally run after the President like an unwanted stray dog, otherwise even that brief on-the-fly tarmac “meeting” would not have taken place.

Later, perhaps, some reassessment and preparation for that inevitable next time. For now, though, so long Ike.

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Written by macheide

24 September 2008 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Houstonian

TX AWOL

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Perhaps the State of Texas is trying to make FEMA look good by excusing itself from doing much more than shrugging at the crisis still gripping its largest city? If anyone had any doubts, the state’s official website goes out of its way to make their lack of care obvious.

That “Hurricane Relief” thing at the northwest corner of the state’s home page? A curiously sick joke. It links nowhere, gives no information on how to contribute funds or efforts to any relief, points to nothing that the state itself might be daydreaming about doing for relief, gives absolutely no clue as to what it is even doing there. Just, “Hurricane Relief,” sitting there as impotent as the state’s own hurricane response has been.

But ok, at least that “Hurricane Ike Aftermath Information” links through to something, right? Well, yes, but don’t expect it to take you much of anywhere you could not have gotten to more quickly simply by bypassing the Texas state website entirely, as fitting a metaphor for the state’s Ike response as could be drawn. Must be intentional on the part of the website managers, one could easily think.

Ah, but we can always show that we side with our governor, showing that we empathize with Hurricane Ike victims who have lost their homes, their jobs, and their lives by contributing to the governor’s mansion restoration fund. We must remember to keep our priorities straight, must we not?

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

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Written by macheide

22 September 2008 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Houstonian

Post-Ike Supply and Demand

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South of the Beltway down the Gulf Freeway toward Galveston, you don’t get much busier than Bay Area Boulevard, especially on a Sunday afternoon when the mall and just about everything else is opening back up post-Ike.

Still, I had to blink twice to realize what I was not seeing past that tanker: gas pumps in operation with no lines of cars waiting to top up. Not a single solitary auto fuel customer!

I didn’t notice, but the presence of extra gas supplies along with the absence of any demand may have been related to the price of their gas. Too many gas stations around Houston seem to think they can walk a tightrope just shy of price gouging, still charging some 40-50 cents more than can easily be found, in some instances at a competing gas station just across the street.

Whereas just 3 days ago the south side of Houston was pedaling on fumes, that quickly we’re back to driving on plenty enough to be price-conscious.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

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Written by macheide

21 September 2008 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Houstonian

Signs of Recovery from Ike

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Signs we’re getting over Ike:

  • Soap operas return to daytime TV. (Which just means we stop watching TV once again. It also means it gets that much more difficult to get good information about Ike recovery, since most of us remain without power, Internet access, some of us even without access to our homes; and for many, TV had been the only source of what little information there was to be had about Ike recovery.)
  • The front page of the Houston Chronicle covers non-Ike news. (Yes, apparently some do seem more worried about the hurricane-force winds ripping into Wall Street. At least McCain and Obama continue to remain off the front page, we do have Ike to thank for that, at least.)
  • The USPS shows up at the mailbox. (With as much junk mail as ever. The postman’s presence also reiterates that we are in one of the neighborhoods that was not completely devastated by Ike – in too many other neighborhoods, he would find no mailbox to deliver mail to.)

Still no word, good hand, or any other sign from our Allstate agent, claims adjuster, or any other Allstate rep. Then again, Allstate is making it quite clear they’re not going to be worth using as a sign of Ike recovery.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

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Written by macheide

20 September 2008 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Houstonian

How Not To Feel Your Pain

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“I absolutely understand they want to get back to their homes. … I’d like to get back to the mansion.”

– Texas Governor Rick Perry
(who has been living in temporary quarters
since the governor’s official residence burned down in June)

Mansion? Nice way to show how poorly you understand your constituents’ plight, gov. You’ve been shacking it up on a cot under a borrowed blanket in a Red Cross center since you “lost” your home, then?

You absolutely don’t get it, do you. Yes, thousands here no longer have a roof over their heads. But as important as is the stark contrast between their current day-to-day temporary housing versus your taxpayer-given alternative quarters, bound to be quite comfy even for you, that’s far from being all there is to losing one’s home to Ike.

  • Chores – It’s not just having that roof over your head; it’s day-to-day life under that roof. Thousands of your constituents not only have no home that will remain standing after condemnation; they can’t even get back to start the clean-up process. Losing your mansion didn’t even force you to make those incessant phone calls trying to reach that suddenly absent Allstate agent. Getting back into your mansion is something your staff is busy working on, not something that is consuming your every waking moment and stealing your sleep every night.
  • Food – You’re not back home when you’re still living hand-to-mouth off of FEMA deliveries of MREs. Families left homeless by Ike want their own refrigerators, their own stoves, to do their own grocery shopping. Losing your mansion may have changed where you eat some of your meals, but no doubt didn’t make you miss a single one, nor altered the quality of your diet.
  • Schools – Countless of your constituents’ children are now officially classified as “homeless,” making it possible for them to be enrolled in public schools hundreds of miles from their own homes, with strange teachers and strange co-students in strange classrooms. Losing your mansion didn’t even touch any of your staff’s families that way, not even remotely.
  • Mail (Yes, Including Bills) – Being put out on the street by Ike has left thousands with no mailbox for USPS delivery, and arrangements for having mail forwarded to temporary quarters are slow, painful, and unreliable. Losing your mansion did nothing to your staffs’ abilities to continue getting your mail in your inbox.
  • Clothes – So terribly many of your constituents have little more than the clothes on their backs, and desperately wish they had so much as a local laundromat with power in which to get those clothes clean. No doubt you lost a fancy suit or two in your mansion’s blaze, but just as doubtless you never had to wear the same underwear unlaundered for a week without promise of when or from where your new wardrobe might magically appear.
  • Furnishings – Probably you lost some personal items when the governor’s mansion went up in smoke, but almost everything in the place was there when you got there, belonged to the state; and the mansion will be refurnished for you before you return, without you needing to trouble yourself. Many of your constituents lost their own beds, their own sofas, their kitchenware and lawn mowers, all of their personal belongings. When they finally return to their homes, it will be to scenes of ruin you absolutely show no sign of understanding.
  • Car – Thousands of your constituents will be returning to their wrecked houses in the one car they used for evacuation. After authorities publicly chided evacuees, blaming them for contributing to the Rita fiasco by taking too many cars, this time more evacuees were “responsible” enough to car-pool, leaving behind vehicles that are now ruined. Losing your mansion hasn’t affected your travel whatsoever.
  • Work – Thousands of your constituents will not be able to return to work for weeks, maybe even months. Many of those will never have a job to return to. Unfortunately, you’ll have no such luck until voters have another chance to express themselves at the polls.

Yes, your constituents who have lost their homes to Ike want that roof over their heads once again. But what they want far more is what they have lost infinitely more: they want their life back. While you whine about your mansion.

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

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Written by macheide

20 September 2008 at 7:30 am

Posted in Houstonian