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Everything posted by Reefmonkey

  1. Over the last 20 years, it hasn't been uncommon for annual homicides to fluctuate up or down by as much as 60 from year to year, so 5 fewer homicides in the first half of 2022 vs 2021 is meaningless. It's almost as meaningless as the "skyrocketing" homicide rate the local media was reporting earlier this year because January 2022 homicides were higher than January 2021 homicides. Trying to parse out a month or 3 or 6 months out of a year and compare it to the same months in the previous year to reach a conclusion about where the homicide rate is going is pointless. Show me a steady increase or decline over at least three full years, and then we'll talk.
  2. I’m sorry, I’m sure you worked really hard to craft a litany of clever insults in that very long post, and I really tried to make a good faith effort to read it, but my eyes glazed over midway though the second sentence and I just lost interest. This gotten really tedious and I’ve lost interest. Bye bye
  3. You definitely have a point that my original post was “letting off steam,” and I didn’t expect that anyone would react to it the way you did, and I was a bit taken aback by your condescension, and so I pushed back against it. And now I know that is where I erred; had I reviewed all the ongoing clashes you are currently having with so many people on the I-45 Rebuild thread, and the thread on Greg Abbott running for reelection, and the one on Lina Hidalgo’s aides being indicted, (and probably others I haven't even seen), I would have understood what I was dealing with. I would have seen you engaging in: Homophobia: Ableism in the form of mocking peoples’ disabilities: Misogyny and body shaming: and I definitely would have known then what kind of a person you are. (By the way, the way you use derogatory nicknames and focus on physical appearance is very similar to how Donald Trump talks). Seeing all the anger and hatred and need for conflict with people you have, I would have anticipated that me simply calling you “smart guy” and presenting you with a piece of information that challenged your self-satisfied conclusions would have triggered you and provoked such a disproportionate response as this torrent of insults: Obviously I made a huge mistake in not recognizing what kind of person you are, what kind of issues you’ve got going on earlier. I can tell you’re the kind of person it doesn’t pay to get crossways with, and someone with as much seething anger at so many people and classes of people is usually the kind to hold grudges for a long time, look for ways to needle a person long after an initial confrontation, and that probably wouldn’t make my use of this forum very enjoyable going forward. So mattyt36, I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to you. I apologize for triggering you by calling you “smart guy.” I apologize for not having immediately prostrated myself before your obviously vastly superior knowledge of both the airline industry and my own personal experiences. I hope my expression of contrition will be satisfactory to you and we can part ways with no lingering animosity.
  4. Amtrak's stations are in convenient places for travelers, like downtown Houston, or over near the Alamodome in San Antonio. These are not good places to have the large fuel depots with high capacity tanks for rapid fueling of locomotives with 2-4,000 gallon fuel capacities. Those kinds of facilities are found in large railyards in industrial areas on the outskirts of town. But like I said, given that the fuel range of a train is at least a couple times the distance between the two termini of the Sunset line (Los Angeles and New Orleans), they shouldn't really need to make a fuel stop en route, it would seem to me that it would make more sense to refuel the locomotives during turnaround at the termini. If somehow I'm really off on their range, the other option would be to switch to refueled locomotives while they are sitting in San Antonio. It doesn't take that long, and they have plenty of time from the sound of it.
  5. It speaks to the power of the tobacco lobby that cigarettes, with all their well-documented high health risks, continue to be legal for recreational use when the FDA has banned so many other products for even therapeutic use that had much lower risks. Ephedra, for instance, I'm not saying it shouldn't have been banned, but there were an estimated 12 million people using it at one point, and it was implicated in 155 deaths over a 13 year period. The CDC says cigarettes kill 480,000 people a year. They estimate 34,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease linked to secondary exposure a year. I don't think anyone died because their parent or spouse took ephedra. Over a 30 year period, something like 30 women who took phenylpropanolamine either as a decongestant or in Dexatrim for weight loss suffered an intracranial hemmorage, and data indicated that 1 woman might have a stroke out of every 107,000 to 3.3 million women who used PPA (normal stroke incidence rate is 0.6 per 1 million), and it was yanked off the market. How many smokers have heart attacks or strokes every year? If tobacco is such a dangerous product (which it is) why not just take it off the market?
  6. I made a general statement so as not to call you out specifically, with the hope that a non confrontational appeal to decency and consideration for other disabled people not named Greg Abbott might appeal to your better angels. But yes, people who habitually fire off personal insults and derogatory comments usually do it because they have a lot of bruises; I’m trying to be compassionate about yours.
  7. I am no fan of Abbott by any means, but can we please maintain a standard in this forum that we don’t make derogatory comments about someone that target their disability (ie. calling Abbott “Governor Hotwheelz”)? Even when directed at one particular person, such comments demean all people with disabilities. @editor
  8. To recap, in my OP I complained about a healthy majority of the flight reservations I have made the last 5 months being changed by the airlines to less convenient itineraries, and couldn’t just be explained by flight or crew issues, many were random. I explained the difficulties this can cause travelers, especially business travelers on tight schedules. My account…let’s just say it was “called into question.” Two nights ago, it happened to me again, and the flight I was booted off of was still flying, was still available to book, someone traveling with me on the exact same itinerary and exact same fare class wasn’t booted but the airline website wouldn’t allow me to return to my itinerary. I called the airline, and after being on hold with them for longer than it took me to write all my posts in this thread, the agent I finally talked to was able to get me back on my original itinerary, but could provide no explanation of why my itinerary was changed in the first place, other than “it looks like it was done by the system.” That’s a reservation change by an airline that couldn’t be explained by crew or fleet shortages, couldn’t be explained at all, just “random”, and whatever question anyone might have had about the details of my previous flights’ itinerary changes, this well documented and undeniable instance of a random unjustified change by an airline coming so soon on the heels of my complaint about these kinds of changes cannot honestly be dismissed as an isolated incident. The fact that I could not correct it online and the long wait time I had to correct it over the phone illustrates the legitimate problem these frequent, often unnecessary changes present. A frequent business traveler should not be expected to have to spend 90 minutes on the phone to fix a reservation he made online almost every time he needs to travel. It’s common wisdom that when a person resorts to a torrent of childish insults, aspersions of character, and unsubstantiated accusations of lying, that person has lost the argument, it’s a tacit admission they don’t have a cogent argument to make. I believe it also violates the rules of this website, but I will leave that up to @editor
  9. So, other than insults, name calling, nitpicking typos, accusing me of making things up, mocking my credentials which I didn’t even bring up and he gleaned from my signature, Matty here doesn’t add anything to the conversation. He makes a big deal about my changed Helsinki itinerary not being in my original post, I guess he missed the part where I said it just happened to me last night, and I was presenting it as the most recent example of this happening. But moving on from people who can’t seem to interact respectfully, I’ll provide an update for any others reading this. The person I am traveling with had the exact same original itinerary as me, and hers was not changed. I did call United, and did get my itinerary changed back to my original one. But when I asked the agent why my itinerary was changed in the first place, she couldn’t give me a reasonable answer, just “it appears the system made that change.” It had nothing to do with the minimum connection time that had been posited by the other poster as a face-saving attempt. As far as the poster’s number 2 suggestion that this was a mistake, considering the agent couldn’t explain the change, it does seem to be a mistake, a RANDOM mistake, which supports the point of my OP, that lot of random inexplicable reservations are being made by airlines lately, despite the other poster being very insistent that these things are NOT random and were about crew or fleeting issues.
  10. My mistake, I should have known, even with a diesel-electric being extremely efficient and all that mass and Newton's 1st law once it gets going, 480 did seem awfully high to me. But still 3 miles a gallon with a 4,000 gallon capacity is 12,000 miles between refueling, and New Orleans to Los Angeles is only about 2,000 miles, or am I getting those figures wrong too?
  11. Wow, that's nuts, cspwal, both of those. The stop in San Antonio is like midnight to 2:45 on the schedule I've seen, so really, they wake up all the sleeping through passengers and make them get off? And then the gas stop just before that - a typical locomotive can hold about 4,000 gallons of diesel and gets 480 miles to the gallon, typically uses about 3 gallons a week, and you're telling me they can't wait to fuel it when they're turning it around in Los Angeles or Louisiana?
  12. I've thought about doing it myself at least once, as a leisurely train ride experience, not as an efficient way to get out to the Marfa-Alpine-Fort Davis area. I imagine the pause in San Antonio is done as much to let freight traffic by as anything else, but I guess it also gives you a few hours of daylight to view the scenery on the most picturesque part of the trip that you wouldn't otherwise get if they didn't pause and you were pulling into Alpine at 6 AM. What's the trip like, I mean experience in the train? Do you splurge for a sleeper compartment, or sleep sitting up? If sleeper, are the compartments clean and nice? Overall is the train clean and nice, or dingy and shopworn? Is there a dining car? If so, what kind of food do they have, and is it decent?
  13. One thing that leaps to mind is emergence of Marfa as a hot travel destination, I even know several Houstonians who have vacation homes there. But it's a 9 hour drive, and flights to El Paso or Midland-Odessa still mean 3 hours in the car to get there once you land, and between driving to Hobby and being in the airport before your flight on top of the flight time, I'm not sure how much time you really save over driving. I've always thought someone operating a Beech King Air between the Sugarland or West Houston airport and Marfa's municipal airport on Friday and Sunday afternoons would be pretty popular, though I'm not naive about the business prospects of such a venture (especially at current fuel costs). Being able to hop on an Amtrak in downtown Houston and ride to Alpine, then take a 30 minute ride share to Marfa (or Fort Davis) would be great, problem is the current schedule sucks. You get on the Sunset Limited in Houston at 7:00 PM and don't get to Alpine til 10:30 the next morning. Seems nuts that it takes 15 and a half hours by train to go a distance you get get to by car in 9, and costs more than an airplane ticket. Sure, part of the problem is the UP line the Sunset takes isn't a (mostly, except for the insanity of lane changes in San Antonio) straight east west shot like I-10, after San Antonio it heads southwest to Del Rio and meanders along the Mexican border for a while. But it doesn't help that even before that, it takes over 5 hours for the train to get from Houston to San Antonio (a 3 hour car ride), and then you sit at the San Antonio station for almost 3 hours, and make two more stops after that before you get to Alpine. And sure, freight trains having priority on the lines and so Amtrak probably having to pull over onto sidings to let them pass plays a role. I wonder if AmTrak has ever looked into contracting with freight lines like UP and BNSF to add capacity, slap a couple of passengers cars onto a freight consist, especially on routes and second express schedules where it wouldn't make sense for AmTrak to dedicate a whole train. Passenger-freight mixed consists used to be more the rule than the exception in this country once upon a time. The pull cost to the freight line for another car or two would be nominal but they would get a little more revenue from Amtrak, it would save Amtrak a lot of money while opening more revenue to Amtrak. I guess the problem would be scheduling, freighters don't and can't run on schedules that are friendly to passengers and be optimized for freight, and freighters that would normally unload at the big railyard in El Paso, or even heading all the way to LA, having to stop, even briefly in a small town like Alpine they normally bypass, or Marfa they normally run through, would cause backups on the lines. And if there is anything this country doesn't need right now, it's another thing that would disrupt supply chains. So in the end I guess it is just a pipe dream.
  14. With the advances in battery life and charging time over the last few decades, I think going with self-contained electric buses makes more sense if you don’t already have the trollybus infrastructure in place. Buses are even better suited to EV than private electric vehicles, they have more space underneath for larger batteries, they operate on set routes with depots in predictable spots where a bus can pull in when it’s charge gets low and be swapped out with another bus to take over its route while it recharges. Unlike trollybuses, you don’t have to pay for the infrastructure installation, and you have more flexibility in expanding and changing bus routes. Plus Houston’s sight lines are already cluttered enough as it is, with overhead utility lines running along most of our streets, we don’t need to add trollybus lines to that. The new bus lanes on Post Oak show how keeping buses in one lane to prevent swaying can be accomplished without trollybuses, if that’s desired.
  15. It's interesting what happens when you put the above map of party preference by county next to the below map of population density (ie, where all the people live) by county.
  16. Okay, smart guy, explain how this has anything to do with the airline apologist reasons you've given for "crew or fleet issues" making changing travelers' schedules necessary and reasonable: I fly to Helsinki through Frankfurt on June 11. My original flight, booked April 28, had me leaving Houston at 3:45PM and arriving in Frankfurt 8:20AM, then 9:15AM from Frankfurt arriving Helsinki 12:40PM. Last night I got an email telling me my itinerary had been changed. Same 3:45PM flight out of Houston, but now I'm on a 2:05PM flight out of Frankfurt, arriving 5:30, increasing my total travel time by 5 hours. My return flights were unchanged. I get on the airline's site to see my options, and I note that the flight that was changed, the Frankfurt-Helsinki flight 9:15AM-12:40PM, is still available, same flight number and everything. But if I want that FRA-HEL flight, I have to choose a different IAH-HEL flight that leaves almost 4 hours sooner, even though there was nothing wrong with that flight....and I'd have to drop down a cabin class on the IAH-HEL flight....and the different itinerary would cost $1,200 more. You said "Airline schedules aren’t fleeted and finalized until 60 days out", but my original itinerary was booked within that timeframe, 41 days before departure, and the itinerary was changed by the airline 18 days before departure, all well within the 60 day timeline for fleeting and finalizing the schedule. And the flight I was booted off is not only still flying, but even still available for me to book. [Oh, and by the way, just to head off any potential rationalization about upgrades no longer being available or fare class having anything to do with it, the higher cabin level on the IAH-FRA leg is not an upgrade, I am paying for it, I'm traveling regular coach on the FRA-HEL leg, and I paid extra for a fully refundable ticket in case the event I am going to in Helsinki gets canceled due to a Covid outbreak or Russia does something else stupid.] I am very excited to hear your explanation about how this should be expected based on the time between booking and travel, and what "crew or flight issue" resolution "they're accomplishing with these changes."
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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
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