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Everything posted by Reefmonkey

  1. Well, if it's Kroger buying Albertson's, I guess that makes me feel somewhat better about it.
  2. I’ll be curious to see if this merger goes through how it will affect the market here in Houston. With Randall’s getting worse and worse, and Fiesta contracted and not expanding for years, Kroger’s is the only real local competition to HEB for a traditional grocery store. I know people love HEB, but between their terrible parking lots and their sheer size and deliberately labyrinthine layout (not to mention they’re always restocking, even during peak shopping hours, partially blocking aisles with large trolleys of merchandise to be shelved), they’re not ideal for a quick run to the grocery store, while Kroger’s especially the older ones, still are good for popping in and out of. The Safeway/Albertson’s saga in Houston always leaves me shaking my head. Safeway failed in the Houston market back in the 80s, and Albertson’s in the early 2000s, when Randall’s was still strong. So what does Safeway do, having failed in the Houston market because they were never nearly as good as Randall’s, they buy Randall’s and proceed to run it into the ground, with poorer service, reduced selection and always running out of things, but still keeping their prices high. Then Albertson’s who also failed in the Houston market because of their poor shopping experience and other issues, buys Safeway, getting access back to the Houston market they already failed in before, and then proceeds to further drive Randall’s into the ground and worsen its stocking situation by closing the Houston area distribution center, and more and more Randall’s locations shutter. Now Albertson’s will get to ruin all the Krogers in the area.
  3. I saw this pic of the Alabama Theatre showing Empire Strikes Back on one of those annoying clickbait listicles on Facebook, but had to share. I never got to know the Alabama Theatre as a movie theatre, just enjoyed it as a Bookstop starting in high school, was sad when the interior character that had been preserved when it was a book store was obliterated by Trader Joes.
  4. The recent death of Paul Sorvino, coming closely on the heels of Ray Liotta's death, got me think of Goodfellas, a longtime favorite movie of mine. It came out my freshman year in high school, and spurred a fascination with the mafia that lasted the rest of high school (and a little into college, I made a point to eat at Campisi's my freshman year at SMU). One way I fed that fascination, once I got a car, was by eating at venerable old-school red sauce joints, the red-checkered tablecloth, candle in an old straw-covered chianti bottle Italian restaurants we all remember before Northern Italian grabbed American's attention in the late 80s. Several of the old-school places around Houston had a mafia joint vibe about them, places like Pino's on Westheimer at Hillcroft (c.1968-c.2005), Doyle's in Garden Oaks (1954-2019), Buon Appetito, in an old house on Holcombe (1975-c.2018). As you can see, it seems like all of these places closed within the last 15 years or so. Does anyone know of any long-standing venerable old southern Italian restaurant with the mafia hangout vibe I'm talking about that are still around?
  5. There actually is such a law, under Section 1415(i)(3)(B)(i)(II) of IDEA 2004, which allows school districts to recover attorney's fees from parents who make frivolous or unreasonable die process claims. However, districts rarely resort to this except in especially egregious cases to avoid the bad publicity. I'm trying to find the article from a few years ago, I think it was written by Lisa Falkenberg, where a Houston-area district sued a parent over a frivolous claim, and won, but the article spun it to sound like Big Bad School uses legal system to further victimize Poor Parents of A Disabled Child.
  6. One guess I'd make is that since I-10 West is a designated hurricane evacuation route they want to make sure it stays open even during the heavy rains from outer bands that can move into our area in advance of a hurricane.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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?
  12. 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.
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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.
  16. 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?
  17. 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?
  18. 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?
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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."
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
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