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About Reefmonkey

  • Birthday 01/23/1976

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    Memorial area
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    Dining, international travel, kayaking in the Gulf and West Bay, sailing, diving, cooking, reading, gardening, wine, margaritas. Native Houstonian, grew up in Spring/Klein area.

    Bachelors in Biology, Masters in Environmental Science, Certificate in Sustainable Management, Sustainability Excellence Professional (SEP), LEED Green Associate

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  1. What neighborhood are you in? We've got the same issues in Ashford Forest at Memorial and Dairy-Ashford, garages that (at least supposedly) are built over the property line. If it is true, one reason for it might be that in the early 60s right after the neighborhood was laid out, the original developer bailed and sold it to someone else, so maybe the new developer was sloppy in checking where the original lot lines had been placed. The reason I am expressing some skepticism is 14 years ago, a developer bought and razed the mid-60s ranch house next to mine, so that he could sell build-to-suit on it. I didn't mind the old house being torn down, the crazy old hoarder lady who had died in it had let it fall into disrepair, so it needed to be torn down. I wasn't even that annoyed when I found the demolition workers using my hose and my water for dust suppression, I just put a lock on that faucet from then on. What pissed me off is the developer suddenly started claiming that the lot lines on both sides were wrong, so that this property extended inside my fence line, and inside the garage of the neighbor on the other side. Yeah, right, you "realize" your lot extends into the properties on both sides beyond the property lines that had been accepted for 50 years, as you're trying to sell people on building an oversized McMansion on it. This developer was a jerk in so many other ways. He brought in a bunch of fill to raise the grade of the lot by at least two feet, above the levels of the weepholes on the houses all around it, so that runoff would have flooded our houses. We all bombarded the city with complaints until they made him take off all the fill and return the lot to the original grade. He also insisted that the house needed a new water meter, and put that meter on the other side of their driveway, ie, in my lawn next to my meter box (because according to him, that was "their" property), so they wouldn't have to mow around a meter box in their yard, but now I have to mow around two. (And my meter box could have been widened to have both meters in it, but no, he wasn't going to bother with that). He also had numerous runins with our HOA's architectural control committee, and angrily proclaimed he would never work in our neighborhood again, to which the ACC chairwoman said "GOOD! I am glad to hear that!" The piece de resistance was one day after the house had been built, but was still being landscaped, I came home from work to find that his landscaper and/or sprinkler contractor had torn into my in-ground sprinkler system on my side of the driveway, and inside my fenceline, because the developer had told them that was his customers' property. I had had enough, I was incandescent. I immediately picked up my cell phone and announced very loudly that I was calling the police, whereupon the landscaper's hispanic laborers all scattered. The landscaper was immediately like "wait wait wait, we can fix this" and called the sprinkler contractor and had him fix my sprinklers and bill it to the developer. I looked into whether I needed to pursue anything legal with the county about the lot line claims, but ultimately was satisfied that because my fence had been up for decades with no dispute, and the new neighbors then built another fence smack up against my fence on their side, boundary by acquiescence made any of the developers' claims, or even what might be in the depths of the archives from the early 60s down at the county, moot.
  2. I've heard talk about how to get everyone to do their fair share of funding roads as EVs become more commonplace, and this is the most reasonable suggestion I've seen yet.
  3. Very true, I was going to go off on the issue of gas taxes as a much-underutilized way to disincentivize private vehicle use, and fund mass transit instead of just more roads, but I figured my diatribe was long enough.
  4. Thanks Matty, but it’s not like I’m new to airline travel I’ve been all over the world, been in jobs where I flew multiple times a month, flew frequently enough to have elite status on two airlines at a time, I know what’s normal, and what’s not. Four out of six flights since the beginning of February is not normal. Yeah, reservations are getting changed three months before departure, but reservations are also getting changed the week of departure, which I think you’ll agree is a hell of a lot less than 60 days out. Reservations are being changed a few weeks to a month after booking, reservations are being changed the week after booking. And the reservations that get changed the week after booking, they didn’t know they were going to have to change a flight the previous week, but they know now? That happens once, okay, but it happens twice less than a month apart, and you hear it’s happening to a lot of other people too, you begin to wonder why they are allowing people to book so many flights that they almost immediately know they aren’t going to fly. Again, going from having this happen almost never in over 20 years of being a frequent business flyer, to having it happen four times in three and a half months, this is different.
  5. Then they wouldn’t have learned. They would have bitched about having their cones stolen, probably would have blamed it on one of the brown people they usually use NextDoor to warn everyone they saw walking in the neighborhood. They needed to know that being affluent doesn’t give them license to do whatever the hell they want, to get called on their behavior by their neighbors, and have some authority they couldn’t dispute back that up.
  6. And that's what Harris County voters were told would happen back in the early 80s when the bond election to fund the initial building of Hardy and the West Belt took place. I remember very well the TV ads that promised the roads would be free once they were paid off. Now a lot of HCTRA and other county officials (including Ed Emmett) like to gaslight anyone who tries to remind them of that promise, claiming that's an urban myth and they're misremembering, that they were never promised to be free, but in 2012 ABC 13 showed a brochure published by the HCTRA back then that said "When both roads combined have covered their costs, the roads will become free public highways." Hardy cost $287 million, that was made in tolls by 2004, by 2012 it had made $617 million in tolls. A section of the West Belt cost $72 million, had earned $865 million by 2012. Another nine mile stretch of the west belt that cost $135 million had made more than $1 billion by 2012. And instead of at least going down, tolls keep going up, by 25 cents every few years. I was shocked when I moved to Dallas for school in the mid 90s with how much cheaper tolls were on the Dallas tollways than on SH. And they're still much cheaper, many aren't that much more expensive now than the were back then. The modal toll at any plaza or on/off ramp on SH is $1.50 with toll tag. Up in Dallas, there are many, many tolls under 50 cents. Ditto, especially the latter.h Yes, but once you've paid off the initial capital investment, which HCTRA did years ago, you should at least be able to lower toll costs, have fewer tolls, and still pay for maintenance. As I said above, look how low most of Dallas's tolls are. But instead, HCTRA consistently raised tolls every few years during the first 30 years of its existence, and usually by 25 cents every time. I disagree with it being appropriate, Harris County Toll Road Authority's mandate is pretty clearly and narrowly defined it's about area vehicular transit. In a city as spread out as Houston, with weather as sweltering as ours as long as it is, pedestrian and biking/scootering trails are never going to be a significant part of our transit plant. Revenue raised on toll roads should be used to pay for maintenance of toll roads. If there is a significant surplus, that tells me that tolls should be lower. There are other agencies responsible for hike and bike trails and outdoor recreation in this county. A big problem in this county is too much mission creep in too many public agencies resulting in a lot of overlap and redundancy and poor planning. Law enforcement is one example, especially, for instance, traffic enforcement. On any freeway in Houston you might find yourself pulled over by a Houston police officer, a Harris County sheriff's deputy, a Harris County constable's deputy, a METRO police officer, or TXDPS. Be careful what you wish for. The revenue toll roads draw puts dollar signs into politicians eyes and encourages not only the building of more new toll roads, but the conversion of free highways into tollways, reducing the number of alternatives for people who don't want to pay. Try driving between Orlando and Miami without using toll roads. A lot of highways on the outskirts of Austin have been converted to toll roads. 249 in the Willowbrook/Champions area almost became a toll road a few years ago, it took locals fighting tooth and nail to keep it from happening. This wasn't just a highway people used once or twice a day to get to and from work, it is a road a local person might get on several times a day to run chores like taking kids to school and soccer practice, and go to the grocery store. Look too at the Katy managed lanes bringing revenue to HCTRA, on an Interstate no less. 20 years ago, there was a real opportunity to alleviate congestion and use mass transit solutions to reduce air pollution and climate change. There was an existing rail ROW that could have been used for commuter rail, or used as space for expansion to allow room for commuter rail in the center of I-10. Instead, what did TxDOT do? build over the ROW with wider freeway, and let HCTRA turn the center of the freeway into a revenue generator. And letting single people pay tolls along with those who drive 2+ for free in the HOV lane bastardizes the purpose of an HOV lane, which is to reduce vehicle traffic in Clean Air Act Nonattainment Zones like Harris County. All this plan is, is just PR for HCTRA, an attempt to justify the surplus revenue it draws from too high and too many tolls, with feel-good "look what we're doing for the community" along with greenwashing of the climate change problem toll roads exacerbate. Toll roads exacerbate climate change by short-circuiting feedbacks that encourage cities and regions to seek real options to reduce single vehicle transit. Build more toll roads to reduce congestion, then congestion becomes less pressing a reason to work towards viable mass transit options.
  7. Out of the last six flight reservations I have made with Southwest, four of them were changed by Southwest, so that I would be flying on a different flight either several hours earlier or several hours later than the time I had picked. These changes have been made as early as the same week I made the reservation, to a few weeks later, and usually weeks, even months before actual departure, so the changes have nothing to do with weather or sudden crew issues they don't have time to work out. These changes are announced through an innocuous "There have been changes to your reservation" email. And while all my experiences have been on Southwest, on one trip that was changed, I was meeting some other people, one of whom was on United and had his flight time changed on him. I don't understand what's going on or why the airlines think it's okay to being doing this. A lot of people, especially business travelers, are on tight schedules while traveling, and pick flight times to accomodate. If the airline moves a person to a new flight two hours earlier, he might not have time to get to the flight from a meeting he has scheduled before the flight; if they move it two hours later, he might not get to the meeting he has in the next city. I've also been moved from nonstop flights to flights with stops that add a few hours to my travel time. It's so annoying.
  8. I agree with editor that the 311 app sucks, I always just call. They really need to fix that. But beyond that, I've had universally good experiences with 311, they are timely in their response, and get the job done. The last time I called 311 was a year and a half ago. Some parents with a huge sense of entitlement who live on the main east-west street through my neighborhood decided they didn't like other people using "their" street as a "cut through", and put two big orange traffic cones in the street next to each other, one in the middle of the eastbound lane, one in the middle of the westbound lane, so eastbound and westbound traffic had to take turns straddling the center line of the street to get past them. One call to 311, and within three days someone from the city had knocked on the door of the cones' owner and told them they were illegally obstructing a public right-of-way, warned them that if the cones went out again, they would be cited, and that he would return to ensure compliance. Very satisfying.
  9. Doodlebug is also the name for a farm tractor made by converting a 1920s-1930s era car or truck, more often than not a Ford. This happened a lot during World War 2 when new tractors were not available because their assembly lines had been retooled for the war effort. Farmers would buy an older vehicle and chop up or completely remove the body and reconfigure the chassis and running gear. Conversion kits were available starting in the late 20s even, but wer expensive, so many farmers just did it themselves, leading to a wide variety of designs
  10. No matter what you say or do, you're never going to get me to call them that.
  11. And "Streetcar" would never have been as friendly and inviting name for Trolley, the self-aware trolley that took us to The Land of Make-Believe on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
  12. When you look at the above etymology, its own sources call into doubt the suggestion of a strict distinction. Its 1888 and 1891 sources both refer to streetcars being powered by electrical power. At best, you could conclude from this that a trolley is a subset, or type of streetcar. Already that is contrary to k5's assertion that "streetcar" isn't the correct term for New Orleans' railed transportation. Even if trolleys were a type of streetcar that runs on overhead electricity, that would still make it perfectly correct to call a New Orleans "trolley" a streetcar, in the same way it is perfectly correct to call a sloop a sailboat. It really makes sense that "streetcar" would be a generic term for a vehicle that runs on track on a city street, regardless of method of propulsion, since the original use for the term "car" was established in the US in the 1820s to refer to rail cars, which were horse-drawn at first. Even once railways transitioned to steam, the cars, which are unpowered, were always clearly distinguished from the locomotive engine, which did the pulling. A streetcar is simply a railcar that runs on tracks in the city streets, and originally were pulled by horses. Having an internal combustion engine has nothing to do with whether it is a streetcar or not - San Francisco's cable cars, for instance, are a type of streetcar, even though they don't have integral propulsion (they latch onto a moving cable that runs below the street). Next, there is the etymology's reference to use of the term trolley for a cart, especially one with wheels flanged for running on a track, which is attested to 1858. The first electrically powered urban rail line didn't operate until 1875, yet this etymology attests to the term being applied to a wheeled vehicle on a track 17 years before that. If the term "trolley" was being used for a vehicle that runs on a track 17 years before the first vehicle on a track was powered by electricity, it stretches credulity to claim that the use of "trolley" for a vehicle on a track, that runs on electricity, came from a borrowing of the term for the "trolleywheel" mechanism that transfered electricity to the trolley, rather than the already established use of trolley to refer to a vehicle on a track. More likely the reverse. Guys, I love etymological dictionaries as much as anyone, but etymology is far from an exact science. The entries rely on the writer poring through old books and newspapers to try to find the earliest use of a word, and different writers may find different sources that lead them down different paths to different conclusions. Plus there is a lot of conjecture to fill in the gaps, hence the above etymology's multiple use of the term "probably." In the end, English being the informal language that it is, widespread and prolonged use of a term in a certain sense is what determines whether that sense is correct. Streetcar and trolley have been used interchangeably in the US, depending on region, for at least 150 years.
  13. I've looked around, but I can't find any sources that corroborate your distinctions between "streetcar" and "trolley." Everything I have read says "streetcar" "trolley" and "tram" are all interchangeable terms for a vehicle that runs on a tramway track on city streets, regardless of whether it has its own internal combustion engine, or draws power from an outside source like electric power lines. The only thing I have seen is that trolley is slightly more preferred in the eastern US and streetcar is slightly more preferred in the western part of the country. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that the use of the term "trolley" would not be limited to those drawing power from overhead electric lines, since the first use of the term trolley was to refer to horsedrawn trolleys. And the St. Charles Streetcar line in New Orleans was originally horse-drawn, so again, interchangeable, regardless of power source. I've also found that rubber tired vehicles that draw electricity from overhead wires like the Shreveport example are distinguished from the above two terms, and they are called a "trolleybus" And the buses that are made to look like old-fashioned streetcars but run on rubber tires with an internal combustion engine are called "tourist trolleys", "road trolleys" or "tourist replica buses" Apparently here "tram" can also be used for rubber-tire trackless trains.
  14. I got into making my own corn tortillas from mass harina during lockdown. So easy, and so worth it compared to store bought. Next want to try fresh masa. My mother is from Miami, it’s like a second home to me, and masitas is one of my favorite Cuban foods, very similar to carnitas, so I just make that. And my wife made suadero. Sooooooooo good.
  15. A few thoughts: 1. The bayous already have a river-like attribute. In fact, they are rivers. "Bayou" is just a particular local name for a small, slow-flowing river. 2. Talk of "re-engineering" the bayous for flood control or other "people-focused reasons" raises the hair on the back of my neck. The "re-engineering" of the bayous for "flood control" in the latter half of the 20th Century, things like channelization and whatnot caused a whole host of environmental and flood control problems. 3. The water levels of our bayous fluctuate to a greater extent than the rivers in Germany you're talking about, sandy beachs and anything else built along their banks would be washed away in a season, and would contribute to silting and obstruction in the bayous, which would impede the flow of water through them, making flooding around them worse. The bayous have two purposes: conducting surface water (ie being natural "drainage ditches") and providing habitat for native flora and fauna. We need to stop screwing with them for "people-focused reasons"
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