Happy 2014

It’s time for the annual post in which I wish the diehards who stop by here on occasion a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

2013 was one we were happy enough to put behind us. We had a good year of family, friends, travel, and the like, but Callie’s family also lost three dogs (within weeks of each other) and had a health scare with Kiwi (thankfully, the old gal has recovered strongly, after Callie started making the dogs’ food herself), we lost a family friend, and work threw a few screwballs from time to time.  We were happy to conclude 2013 with another huge Christmas celebration at the house (18 friends and family members this year), and coast into 2014 with doors locked (and bubbly from French Country Wines).

I requalified as a Platinum on United this year, and thanks to a legacy Continental President’s Club credit card, I’ll still be in the United MileagePlus game next year (aiming for Platinum again), although the airline has modified the terms of the program such that I’d be strongly considering a jump to American or Alaskan if I didn’t still have the magic card (which waives PQD requirements up to Plat). There is still value in the mileage game with United for those who like to travel and can work it to proper advantage (this likely involves a Chase-branded credit card and a bit of creativity), and there are still bargains to be had (a $320 roundtrip to Dubai for 2014 on United, booked on a Norwegian site last year is evidence of this). But overall on United, it’s going to become more expensive and harder to obtain elite status, and more expensive and harder to grab really nice award travel. What this means to United’s bottom line — and whether this produces even more cuts and cheap, customer-unfriendly moves from the bumbling gang in Chicago — remains to be seen. But for 2014, the game continues mostly on United (still figuring out what we’ll do with Callie’s mileage, though!).

I won’t promise that blogging will be much heavier here than it was in 2013, but at least there are occasional signs of life! And we did get blogHOUSTON rolling again. Work, real life, travel, and friends/family take precedence over blogging, and twitter/facebook are just easier, but we’ll see! I’ve had one dear old friend request more travel updates, and I really <i>should</i> blog more about travel while still playing the game, but no promises. :)

If you’re still reading this, here’s hoping I catch up with you in 2014 at an airport, travel destination, campground, icehouse, sporting event, patio grilling/wining session, or… wherever. Because media is fine, but social is better (says the introvert who needs to hide from time to time, LOL). Looking forward to a great year!

Is it possible Kubiak truly isn’t well enough to coach an NFL team?

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, who is (by all accounts) a good man, recently suffered a mini stroke (technically a transient ischemic attack).

He wasn’t able to coach last weekend, but his doctors and the Texans decided he would be fine to coach THIS weekend. Two weeks after a major neurological event (not trying to be a smartass, just stating the facts).

Before this week’s game, I wasn’t so sure Kubiak should be back on the sideline. A Houston Cougar quarterback, after all, had to quit football after he suffered a brain injury early in the season. Texas Longhorn quarterback David Ash may face the same fate. Kubiak didn’t suffer a concussion, but a mini-stroke is not a trivial health/neurological issue.

So, here’s an excerpt from the Houston Chronicle‘s Astros-beat-writer-turned-Texans-beat-writer following today’s debacle:

Case Keenum was surprised. So was Matt Schaub. Reliant Stadium was stunned. Gary Kubiak thought everything about his shocking move made perfect sense.

Schaub, a former starter turned backup, suddenly replaced Keenum, a former third-stringer turned starter, with 2 minutes, 26 seconds left in the third quarter during the Texans’ 28-23 defeat to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Reliant Stadium.

As boos crashed down – forcing the Texans to turn to a silent count just so they could run plays – a season that was already surreal, depressing and embarrassing escaped description.


Keenum barely knew the move was coming. Schaub was equally caught off guard, only learning about his first series as the team’s starter in more than a month when word came down minutes before his promotion.

“It was a quick turnaround. I think right actually when the defense had a third down and we were about to get a punt, so I only got a few throws before I got to go back out there,” said Schaub, who finished 12-of-25 for 155 yards and a 67.9 rating, leading two field-goal drives but failing to convert a go-ahead touchdown on the Texans’ final possession.


Kubiak didn’t intend to make the move when he walked into Reliant on Sunday and didn’t mention the Texans’ horrible third-down conversion rate (2-of-16.) The eighth-year coach only cited two reasons for the change: The Texans wanted to increase their offensive tempo and Schaub, a 10-year veteran, was better equipped to handle in-game call changes that addressed protection issues.

“I knew he could get all that done and I thought it would be very difficult to put Case in that situation,” Kubiak said.

Left guard Wade Smith didn’t know anything about protection issues.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson – who became involved in a heated verbal exchange with Schaub at the end of the defeat – said the Texans’ game plan wasn’t altered when the former starter took over.

“The plays we were running were the stuff we normally run,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t say it was a big change with anything.”

Again, not trying to be a smartass, but even the players aren’t backing up the coach’s bizarre decisions and reasoning on this one (and this is a player’s coach, so they almost ALWAYS have his back on virtually anything).

Is Kubiak well enough to be trying to coach an NFL team right now?

Test Post

I’ve had a number of websites scattered across two webhosts for about a year now.

I’ve decided to consolidate on to one webhost.

If you’re seeing this post, you’re seeing this blog at its new home.

Let me know if anything is obviously broken.

Texas Monthly executive editor: Tea Partiers and Ted Cruz are big stupidheads

Many journos who use Twitter place the disclaimer “RTs don’t constitute endorsement” (or some variant) in their bio, presumably to keep up the illusion of not having an opinion on politics, which they can therefore cover objectively.

It’s really kind of a silly claim, but that’s the modern j-school mindset at work here in the U.S.

Still, what’s fun about Twitter is that those journos who do a fair amount of RTing — say, the Houston Chronicle‘s leftwing bureau chief David McCumber — usually reveal quite a bit about their reading patterns (in McCumber’s case, a heavy dose of establishment and left-leaning sites, and no real conservative sites).

And then there are the journos who seem to think nobody is actually paying any attention to what they tweet. Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, is one of those sorts of twitter users (although she also exhibits the RT behavior of McCumber).

Recently, there’s Mimi Swartz all but calling Sen. Ted Cruz dumb:

And then there’s Mimi Swartz with a non-sequitur:

What does Ted Cruz have to do with Kony? Beats me. But Mimi Swartz knows, because she’s sharper than you. And me.

Don’t believe me? Well, if you have any sympathies for the Tea Party movement — and chances are you might if you’ve followed this blog for very long — Mimi Swartz has tweeted just that:

So, to sum up the executive editor of Texas Monthly from recent twitter output: Ted Cruz is stupid, Tea Party people are stupid, and Ted Cruz hasn’t tracked down Kony (or something).

At least Mimi Swartz doesn’t bother with the insipid “RTs don’t constitute endorsements” disclaimer on her twitter bio. *shrug*

Way to be timely, City of Houston

Two City of Houston employees came by the house today.

Callie informs that they wanted “to inspect the windows and sign off on the permit.”

Ummm, what?

After further inquiry, Callie ascertained that they were talking about the replacement windows we had installed shortly after moving in a little over THREE YEARS AGO.

Undaunted, they told her well, yes, there’s a bit of an, umm, backlog, but they could just sign off on the permit now.

They also were not particularly bothered when she told them we no longer had the permit, the work being completed YEARS AGO to our satisfaction (incidentally, we highly recommend Dan over at Famous Windows — he provides great service and an excellent product, much better than those Gulf Coast Windows/Windows World things one sees/hears advertised). The bureaucrats (plural) informed Callie they would remove us from their list. Cheerio, and all.

Isn’t that just a great example of wasteful, useless City of Houston bureaucracy in action?

Local blogger asks if OKC cheerleader is “too chunky,” internet goes crazy

In Houston this week, a fun little media story emerged about a female blogger for a local sports radio station* who questioned whether an OKC Thunder cheerleader was perhaps a little “too chunky.” The original post (and others by this blogger, along with Anna-Megan Raley’s bio) were deleted from the radio station site, but a copy is in the google cache. The story was picked up by quite a few outlets; here’s the chron.com version.

It’s mystifying to me in what universe anyone would think the featured Thunder cheerleader is anything but hot, but fashion/style types do tend to try to promote the emaciated look.

As if to illustrate that point, I was emailing a friend about the (alleged) Anna-Megan Raley blog post when this email from Macy’s arrived to my inbox. Immediate reaction: Good gawd, I hope there is some food in those bags for that poor (but apparently ecstatic) concentration camp survivor.

I hope this woman has some food in those bags

I hope this woman has some food in those bags

Strange times.

* Said blogger is allegedly Anna-Megan Raley, posting under a pen name, who before hanging with John McClain and trying to sell herself as a “journalist” of some sort, was known for occasionally posing in skimpy Texans attire.