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About Reefmonkey

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  • Birthday 01/23/1976

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    Memorial at Dairy Ashford
  • Interests
    Dining, international travel, kayaking in the Gulf and West Bay, sailing, diving, cooking, reading, gardening, wine, margaritas. Native Houstonian, grew up in Spring area, first Cypresswood, then Champions Forest.

    Schools attended: Haude Elem., Brill Elem., Kleb Int., Klein HS, SMU (college and grad school)

    Bachelors in Biology, Masters in Environmental Science, used to be an environmental consultant, doing soil and groundwater risk-based remediation for closures, Brownfields on hazardous waste-impacted sites. Now do beneficial reuse for waste chemicals, coproducts, etc.

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  1. Wow, those reviews say it all. I was curious to see if they were a lot cheaper or something, but they're not, they're actually quite expensive. Hard to imagine why anyone would go here.
  2. Has anyone heard of this place? Had a job applicant’s resume cross my desk with this in their education section. Never heard of it, googled it, looks like it’s in an office building, 100% acceptance rate, I assumed a for profit diploma mill, but it’s nonprofit, accredited, and seems to even have dorms on floors of the building. Odd.
  3. Accusing people of being defensive seems to be your standard canned response, but no, what’s happening here isn’t defensiveness, it’s incredulity that you are so blithely advocating the destruction of a natural habitat that doesn’t please your aesthetic sensibilities.
  4. Biodiversity doesn’t just come from saving the ecosystems that are “the most” biodiverse, but also from having a diversity of ecosystems, and prairies are actually one of the most imperiled ecosystems in the country, while forests have been growing for the past 100 years. Not to mention, there isn’t just one “prairie ecosystem “, there is short grass prairie, tall grass prairie, black land prairie, southern prairie ecosystems, northern prairie ecosystems....once again, you really have no idea what you’re talking about.
  5. That's the very anthropocentric view of the world that has caused not only so much environmental degradation, but also imperiled human structures and lives, this idea that if a natural landscape isn't aesthetically pleasing or "useful" to humans there is no benefit to keeping it and it should be reformed into something else. This is what happened with the Everglades and mangroves of South Florida, just seen as ugly, alligator-infested swamp. Areas of glades were drained and tract housing put in, and mangroves chopped down to give people waterfront property. The reduced surface water in the glades almost immediately led to saltwater intrusion in the Biscayne Aquifer, the Miami area's main water supply, and the mangroves had been buffering the land from storm surges, so their loss meant greater damage to property from hurricanes. If you want more information on this, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E Davis is a fantastic read. Lots of unforeseen consequences to reshaping land to what is "better" for humans.
  6. So I’m guessing you haven’t actually maintained a garden in Houston. My read of you is you seem fairly young and full of yourself without the life experience to have learned how much you don’t really understand- Luminaire was right, “arrogance.” And he touched the surface when he spoke about the divide between what you know and don’t know, but it goes deeper than that, as this thread and the one on Galveston beaches demonstrates, you have a skill for regurgitating googled information, but very limited capacity for understanding what you’re regurgitating. If you really think prairies only exist because of the soil type and wiping them out and replacing them with forests would not cause any harm, you have so, so many deficiencies in your understanding of ecology that it would be hard to know where to begin, even if you hadn’t already displayed a resistance to accepting when you’re wrong.
  7. Can I ask you a question - how much gardening do you do? Do you have a garden? I'm pretty serious about it, and I can tell you soil is not the only issue. My vegetable garden is a raised bed, I brought in compost and expanded shale, etc, to make my own good soil so I wouldn't have to deal with our native soil. I still have to deal with our extremely variable climate, sudden cold snaps as late as March, torrential rains that can drown everything out, followed by weeks of parched heat waves with temps above 100 and no rain in sight. Not to mention insects, fungal infections. Yes, winters have become shorter, summers rainier, etc., but it is still a highly variable climate. Any time you bring in plant species that didn't evolve to handle our variable climate, you're dealing with more than just soil. I am going to assume that you are employing extreme hyperbole here as a rhetorical device to make a point. I hope we've gotten beyond hubristic ideas like 19th Century "rain follows the plow" or early 20th Century attitudes like draining the ugly ol' Everglades to make South Florida a tropical paradise for people. The prairie is obviously there because it is the ecosystem best adapted to the conditions. Now, giving you the benefit of the doubt that you were hyperbolizing, I am going to agree with what I think is your point. As a scientist I can appreciate the prairie ecosystem for what it is, and I also enjoy hiking and mountain biking through the native riparian woods along Buffalo Bayou and in George Bush Park. They're all natural and beautiful. But neither is the way I want to landscape my yard, and really I think that's what we're talking about here, landscaping, not our native ecosystems. I will use a native plant if I like the way it looks, partly because I know it will also be easier to care for, but I won't use a plant I would otherwise ignore just because it is native. As long as we aren't planting invasive species, I don't think we have to be zealots about only planting native species. I think a lush tropical yard can look fantastic in Houston, fit in just fine aesthetically, if you have the money and patience to maintain it and replace plants that will be lost during cold fronts. I think where I differ from you is thinking that the tropical/subtropical look is the only appropriate aesthetic for our area. I can only think of a few landscaping aesthetics that would absolutely be a no-go for Houston. Xeriscaping, for one, if you're trying to make your yard look like you live in Santa Fe or Tucson, it's going to stick out like a sore thumb in our lush, humid green natural landscape (not to mention all the plants getting overwatered and succumbing to fungal infections). A Mediterranean yard...eh, there aren't going to be a lot of places where that won't be incongruous either. It would certainly look stupid in the Woodlands or the Memorial Villages, but maybe out in Katy you could make it work. I think you also have to take into account your architecture and the dominant architecture of your neighborhood. If your neighborhood is all brick Georgians, palm trees and philodendrons are going to look ridiculous, you're going to want to go with a more traditional temperate American landscape. On the other hand, a red tile roof and spanish style stucco practically screams for tropical to me (but again, my mom grew up in Coral Gables) and would look dumb with more formal temperate planting. And then there are plenty of architectural styles that could go either way, like craftsman or modern.
  8. Speaking of biomes of Houston, here is a great website which maps out all the different ecoregions of the area and describes them: http://houstonwilderness.org/about-ecoregions I live along Buffalo Bayou, so for my neighborhood, a lot of temperate deciduous trees would blend well into the adjacent mixed hardwood riparian forest that is Terry Hershey Park.
  9. I really want to rip out my St. Augustine and replace it with buffalo grass. I think about what I'd save on water every summer. First I have to convince my wife, and then the HOA. Although, I'm not even sure buffalo grass is the best choice, especially for my backyard, which is fairly shaded. Avossos, what grasses do you recommend, and are there places I could go to see what these grasses look like in a lawn (especially to convince my wife)?
  10. I'll admit I have a soft spot for tropical landscaping, my mother grew up in Miami, which is my favorite city, having spent a lot of summers there growing up, even had my bachelor party there. When I bought my house, I went very tropical in the backyard - bananas, philodendron, ginger, bird of paradise, etc. I was trying to recapture the feel of my grandparents' backyard. I even went tropical with the fish I stocked in the pond I installed - Central American cichlids. But, even though Houston doesn't get a hard or long winter, we do get enough weather to kill off a lot of the tropicals. Some of them come back, bananas, ginger, but others, no matter how hard you try, die with just one night in the 20s, no matter how well you try to cover them. And even with the bananas, ginger, and others that come back from the roots (even cannas, that look tropical but aren't), you have a period of time where your yard looks like crap (like right now) because they're all cut back. Oh, and elephant ear taro, even though they are very hardy and come right back, they are horribly invasive, will take over your beds unless you're always on top of them. I'm glad I didn't go tropical in the front yard, would be just too much work in the winter-spring to keep it from looking like an eyesore. My backyard still has a somewhat tropical look, but as stuff dies off I replace it more and more with natives. There are actually natives that kind of look tropical, if that's what you want to go for aesthetically. Buchanan's is a great source. One plant I have really enjoyed is a black spanish grape, a hybrid (possibly natural) of an old world wine grape and a native American grape. The Spanish missionaries used to use it to make communion wine in Texas and other parts of northern New Spain back in the 1700s. Last year was the first year I got enough grapes to try making wine with it, ended up with a nice hillbilly wine from it. Even my pond, I've gone full native. Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), sailfin mollies (Poecillia latipinna), and various smaller sunfishes (Lepomis sp.) like orangespot and dollar that I catch from local water bodies. They provide visual interest in the pond, keep the mosquito larva population at bay, last through even the coldest Houston winter, and the mosquitofish and sailfin mollies replenish their populations on their own. When we moved our trees were several water oaks that were put in when the house was built in the mid 60s along with one magnolia tree and two Chinese tallow. We took down the Chinese tallow almost immediately, Chinese tallow is a nasty invasive and should be exterminated with extreme prejudice wherever found. I hate the magnolia, it is so messy, sheds huge leaves all year round, and pods that have to be picked up as they fall or else my dog will eat them (seeds are poisonous, yes, my dog is stupid). The water oaks are all end of life now and the next few years we'll be taking one down per year. Other than the cost of taking them down and replacing them, I'm not sad to see them go, especially this time of year, they're so freaking messy. Because oak trees dominate in our neighborhood, I'm enjoying replacing the oaks with different trees. My favorite so far is a drummond red maple, a native to the area, a fast grower, and has consistently beautiful fall foliage. Other than cleaning those leaves up in the fall, which is more a joy than a chore, it's a very tidy tree as well. Also put in a redbud and a flowering dogwood.
  11. He doesn't even know what he's advocating, he can't articulate it. Try asking him for any details at all: On 12/10/2018 at 1:56 PM, Elseed said: There should be a crystal blue lagoon development in Galveston. Along with some Hampton's type development. On 12/17/2018 at 6:56 AM, Reefmonkey said: What exactly do you mean by “crystal blue lagoon development “? And what do you mean by “Hampton’s type development?” The Hamptons are a bunch of 200-300 year old towns, how do we recreate that artificially and why should we want to try to become an inferior wannabe clone of a NY East Coast experience instead of the authentic Gulf Coast town we already are? On 12/23/2018 at 9:43 PM, Elseed said: What I mean is; there should be a a crystal clear blue lagoon development created in/around Galveston Beach. This project would be close to the beach and it will have a crystal clear blue lagoon anchoring it. As for “Hampton’s type development”, I mean; there should be a “Hampton’s type development" in Galveston. No one said it has to be exactly like the Hampton's, that's why I wrote; “Hampton’s type development." Notice the word "type." This development doesn't have to be inferior and it could essentially be just a neighborhood; at first. Then it can grow to whatever the developers or the city's hearts desires. Also, the "authentic Gulf Coast town" experience is a pretty crappy experience if you ask me. You've got to have vision Reefmonkey or you'll just continue to make the same crappy development that Houston and Texas is so used too.
  12. Last year was a good year for me tax wise because I'm in a neighborhood that flooded (my street was the southernmost street in the neighborhood that didn't flood). Between properties around me being distressed (to put it mildly) and the district being so overworked they didn't have the time to put into a rebuttal to an unequal appraisal argument, and the fact that most property sales in my neighborhood were teardowns for land value, John Osenbaugh was really able to get me a major reduction. It'll be interesting though to see how the value of all the new two-story mcmansions built in my neighborhood will affect the valuation of my 1965 1-story ranch in the years to come.
  13. So that’s a no then to civility. I’m sorry I wasted so much effort on you.
  14. Aw man, that sucks, Terry Hershey is practically my backyard, and I enjoy the Anthills a lot. And it's not just that these paths won't be there anymore, it also means they're going to do some serious resurfacing here that will change the nature of that stretch of the park. It's going to be less nature, more manicured. And if they're doing it there, they're sure to be doing it in other segments. And I love how the announcement makes a big deal about the Anthills having been created "without written permission and without compensation to the public" when the park's official website promotes the Anthills.
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