Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sugared up for Fat Tuesday: Sucre

Fat Tuesday will soon be here.  Are you a Mardi Gras fan?  Texquiem is.

I think it started when I was a child, and my mother once brought me souvenirs from New Orleans.  Never an "all-I-got-was-a-lousy-T-shirt" traveler, Mom instead brought home an iconic jazz poster and a beaded, beribboned mask for Mardi Gras.

Texquiem is not a fan of the crowds, mind you.  I'm more a fan of the legacy.  The tradition.  I admit, too, it's appealing to shed the staid and reserve of your usual you.  One last hurrah before Ash Wednesday, its reverence, its fasting, and the Lenten season to follow.  (But no, I'm not flashing you the goods for a strand of cheap beads.)

For my finicky children, Mardi Gras is all about two things:  the cake and the baby.

King Cake to be precise.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Space City: NASA Johnson Style

NASA Johnson Style.

NASA, not cancelled.  Gone viral.  Gangnam-style.

4,269,411 4,278,668 4,405,050 4,973, 712 views.

Well, a few more, actually. Because I keep watching it over and over.

Stellar job!

Each year, NASA Pathways interns create an outreach video to commemorate their NASA experience.  This year, they took it past the stratosphere, huh?

"Psy" is played by Eric Sim, a North Carolina State grad and now a propulsion systems engineer on the Morpheus project.  Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, who had missions on the Space Shuttle Endeavor and the International Space Station appears.  Astronaut Clayton Anderson has the best dance-off ever.  His NASA work included a stint on the International Space Station.  Telling Psy to take a hike is astronaut Michael Massimino (Space Shuttles Columbia and Atlantis).  Appearing in other astronaut cameos are Mike Coats (former director, three flights on Space Shuttle Discovery) and Ellen Ochoa (current director, four flights on Discovery and Atlantis).   Other participants included Brian Schwing (Ohio State), Ronak Dave (Purdue), Gary Jordan (Penn State), and Adam Naids (graduate of Embry-Riddle, now full time at NASA as a hardware development engineer).  The finale includes 50+ other scientists, engineers, and JSC "extras."  Keep calm and NASA on, indeed.

Four mil hits later. . . is anyone in Washington watching?  If so . . . take note, Beltway types, of attention on a grand scale.  Our part of the International Space Station is managed here.  Johnson Space Center is here.  Mission Control is here.  As in "Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed."  Our museum at NASA houses a live craft from every major American manned spaceflight program.  (OK, so maybe future programs may share a private angle. . . and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin is in BFE Texas, but hey, it's still in Texas and he went to elementary school here in Houston anyway).

Now give us back our shuttle, dammit.

Enterprise, GalaxyWire
One of the few times Texquiem has gone truly apoplectic?  See here.  I can't gather even a veneer of "let's civilly discuss it."  Fact:  no one is visiting NYC to see the shuttle.  It's, like, number seventy-two hundred on the tourists' list of things to do there.  They aren't able to do right by it, either, it seems, so just go ahead and send it home.  As in Johnson Space Center, Houston.  Come home to mama, baby.  We love you here.  NASA Johnson Style.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Seventh Place to Go in 2013

Where's the seventh place to go in 2013?  No, the answer is not Hell, but if you come in August you may think it is.

Houston is number seven on the New York Times's The 46 Places to Go in 2013.  "What's big in Texas?" asks the Times.  Why, culture and food, of course. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Bayou City Tops America's Coolest Places to Live

Banner year, fellow Houstonians.  And that includes the 50,000 of you who joined us in 2012.  Not only did Forbes give Houston kudos for being the little-economic-engine-that-could, see here, and for being a great place for female business founders, we also topped its list of Coolest American Cities.  Wow, Texas in general did well on this list, with five spots in the top 20.


To reach this zenith, we scored well in all categories:  entertainment options, recreational options (including green space), restaurants and bars per capita (emphasizing local eateries), diversity, median age, employment rate, cost of living, and net migration.

It took all of a nano-second for the doubters and haters to chime in.  "Yeah. that's right. Houston is number one.  Surprise is always refreshing. . . .  Jobs are definitely cool.  But Houston, Washington, and Los Angeles?  Something in [Forbes's] rubric must be missing."  (Rachel James at smartplanet)  "Houston is not cool."  (Will Doig at Salon).  "Houston is America's coolest city, according to a bunch of nerds."  (some dude in Brooklyn).  No surprise with Dallas's take: "Forbes rates Dallas fourth coolest city; loses all credibility by putting Houston first. . . .  They apparently didn't see our even more scientific assessment ranked Houston asshole of the universe."  (Dallas Observer blogger who probably really lives in Grand Prairie).  Fort Worth just called us fat.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On Ice for New Year's

The Galleria was open on New Year's Day.  I (guiltily) admit to being there.  I don't even have the excuse of returning ill-fitting Christmas presents.  Simply, I was in town and the lure of 60%-off sales was too great.

Maybe the Galleria is always open on New Year's.  I mean, if it's not open, where do all of the visiting  tourists spend their time and money?  Usually, though, I am out-of-town at New Year's (preferably somewhere snowy), generally where the locals cuss under their breath about all those damn Texans in town.  So, I'm not griping about the out-of-town shoppers.  Merely observing that I had to wait to snap this quick shot of the Galleria's Christmas tree on the ice rink, then try to explain to those waiting that I intended to take a picture without them or anyone else in it.  Plus, I wasn't nearly as dressed up as they were, so maybe they thought I was just a peasant, or something.

The Galleria Ice Rink has always fascinated me.  As a child, newly moved to Houston, I thought the rink and Marvin Zindler were surely among the Eight Wonders of the World.  Having moved here from po-dunk, I had big eyes trying to take in the three-story gallery and an ice rink beneath.  Ice, when it's hotter than Hades outside?  And a three-story mall?  In my then-limited experience, we'd had to drive over an hour to reach the nearest mall of any size--itself one-story except for the few anchor stores topping out at two.