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Everything posted by ToryGattis

  1. Thunderball. Unlike the laser-pewing space marines, the scuba combat was actually pretty believable and cool. Wow, after checking Wikipedia, it also looks like Thunderball was the highest-grossing of all the films on an inflation-adjusted basis - almost $1 billion in today's dollars. The Spy Who Loved Me is a close runner-up. Cool car, cool underwater bad-guy base, and cool combat on the submarine-eating supertanker, although Roger Moore is no Sean Connery.
  2. And the award for The Most Absurd 007 Flick goes to... Moonraker No contest. Hmm, I'm a bad guy planning to wipe out the earth's population with a poison gas and then start over with my chosen people. Do I a ) build an airtight bunker in a mountain to ride it out, or b ) steal multiple space shuttles while secretly building multiple launch facilities in the deep Amazon jungle as well as a space station? Yeah, ( b ) definitely seems like the practical choice...
  3. To get technical, I should probably add "all other things being equal" to my rule. Obviously, people value more than size in their choice of housing, including location, aesthetics, amenities, and, of course, price. It's all about the total value package. But the basic rule still holds: as people get wealthier, they'll buy more of what they want, and that includes size (even in ultra-dense Manhattan, the poor live in tiny efficiency apartments and the wealthy take half a floor on the upper East side). In your case, the other values won out over size in your tradeoffs, but I'm pretty sure if those other values had been available in a larger size at the same price, you would have taken it...
  4. As I've said before over at my blog, the rule is "Increased wealth means increased desire for private space," and wealth is on an ever-upward trend in the global economy (with the exception of periodic short-term recessions). The rule even matches up with your American > European > Asian space per person stats. This is not just a recent rule, but one that's held all through history. Think of the palatial homes of the wealthy in any age, and the wealthy of today will be the upper-middle class in 40 years and middle-class after that. Think of the custom-commissioned homes built by Frank Lloyd Wright for the wealthy in the first half of the 20th century: they seem small by today's middle-class standards. My wife and I live in 3,000 sq.ft with 4 bedrooms that feels about right: 1 master bedroom, 1 home office, and the other two rooms for my wife's hobbies, guests, or when our two daughters come home to visit. In fact, I think a big reason a lot of empty nesters don't downsize is because they want room for the kids - and later the grandkids - to visit.
  5. Convert more streets to one-way to improve flow, like Downtown. One example might be making Post Oak all northbound, paired with the 610 feeder southbound. Maybe make Westheimer one-way westbound east of the W.Alabama split, keep W.Alabama one-way eastbound, and tunnel it under 610 to reconnect to a bi-directional Westheimer somewhere inside the loop. 610 there does need extra capacity. Probably either elevated or underground express lanes without all the local exits/entrances.
  6. From a comment posted on my blog: slinkydog has left a new comment on your post "Ike in context": From http://triangle.bizjournals.com/triangle/s.../23/story8.html "While underground lines are not subject to the same wind and ice storm risks as above-ground lines, underground lines could be damaged by floods. 'They are not by any stretch impervious to the elements,' Legge says. 'There's just different elements.' Outages for underground lines also last longer than outages for above-ground lines. It takes longer to find and repair underground infrastructure, Legge explains. Following the 2002 ice storm that blanketed most of North Carolina and its power lines, the utilities commission's Public Staff researched the prospect of burying distribution lines. The Public Staff estimated at the time that converting all distribution lines in the state would cost $41 billion and would take 25 years to complete. The impact to customer bills would be a 125 percent increase. The Edison Electric Institute in 2006 released a study on burying power lines that concluded that the cost of converting overhead lines to underground would be roughly $1 million per mile - nearly 10 times the cost of an overhead power line. Legge says those costs have likely increased."
  7. I think TheNiche's numbers say it all. I didn't mean to imply San Diego charged homeowners directly. But the bottom line is the cost, and the money comes from somewhere - either ratepayers or taxpayers. I have no problem with individual neighborhoods or developments opting in and paying for it themselves, though. It should be a service Centerpoint offers at cost.
  8. San Diego can do it because they don't mind imposing a $10K cost on houses that average over $500K. San Diego also does not have a rain and flooding problem like we do. Obviously downtown and the TMC did it and it worked fine (reliable and safe). I'm sure it was very expensive, but it makes sense for that kind of density, and the costs are affordable relative to capital costs invested there. Not true for suburban houses. It's all about cost-benefit, and I don't think the numbers are there. If we're going to spend tens or hundreds of billions on something, there are far better candidates with much better paybacks. Education? Transportation?
  9. If this $3,500 to $16,000 per customer estimate is correct, it's completely economically infeasible across the city (um, that's the equivalent of a car for each household). I'm sure part of what makes it so insane is that if there's any way at all standing water can connect the underground line to ground above, it kills people. That requires serious redundant safety. That said, maybe it could get integrated into existing road/sidewalk projects in targeted areas - like what the Kirby district is doing, but we need to be resigned to the fact that there will be mass outages whenever a hurricane directly strikes Houston (once every 25 years?).
  10. Haven't read the link yet, but IMHO: Vehicle size and technology will change, and the local mall will be replaced with a mixed-use "town center", but the suburbs will definitely remain - and with relatively little change.
  11. Your fiancee is semi-feral? Or maybe she has a cat that's semi-feral? I don't recommend putting your fiancee in a small room for a few weeks...
  12. I would guess homeless tend to congregate where the panhandling opportunities are good. In Houston, that's at major street intersections - especially along freeway frontage roads - and not so much downtown where workers often stay in the tunnels.
  13. Great analysis, Niche. I'll admit mine was a surface view based on a few minutes in Excel. You really worked over the numbers. As far as explaining Atlanta and Phoenix, I have theories. Atlanta, IMHO, benefits from being the only major metro in the southeast (excluding FL). If you live there and want to move to the "big city" for more opportunity, and stay within a day's drive of home, it's your only real option, regardless of how its local economy is doing (which has been relatively weak for a while). I'm convinced a ton of people in CA were waiting for the top of the real estate market to then cash out of their house and move to Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, or Seattle for a cheaper home while still being a short, cheap Southwest flight from extended friends and family. Many, of course, called the top too late, so even after the CA market was headed down, people were still cashing out and streaming to those four cities based on their personal preferences - regardless of the lack of job growth in any of them. It's a lag effect, and may continue for a while and even accelerate as more CA baby boomers retire.
  14. Just posted my analysis. Thanks for the heads up.
  15. Don't forget: a lot of these people may be retired, or working in the 'burbs - not commuting to the core. Lots of jobs along BW8 now, and then there's HP on 249 and fast-growing BJ Services out in Tomball. People typically buy within a half-hour commute of their job, so if their job moves out to the edge, they can move way out. Houstongirl: Check out Brazoria county first, near Pearland and 288. I would think you could find what you're looking for with a far, far easier commute to both Midtown and Uptown.
  16. Visited a few years ago. Pleasant town in the summer. Nice trip for a long weekend, including Fallingwater - but you have to get into the history (museums, old hotels, etc.). I did quite a bit of research to try and find the best mid-priced restaurants, and they were pretty bland. Nothing like Houston's awesome and diverse restaurant scene.
  17. Are you talking about the new flood control drainage park by the westbound 610 loop feeder, across from the Metro park and ride?
  18. Well, I went to the TXDoT public meeting on this, but I don't have any links other than my own blog post on it. They had comprehensive drawings, including some innovative entrances and exits near the Medical Center. The 4 lanes will be a congestion priced toll road. Current plan is construction start by 2010, with completion in stages between 2012 and 2014
  19. I once heard they had a goal of 10,000, but were quite a long way from it. OK, here we go. 4,600. See here.
  20. Oh, and during the day, check out the Dallas Arboretum on White Rock lake. Really beautiful, cool fountains, and a great walk if the weather is nice. The Nash Sculpture Center is across the street from the Dallas Art Museum, if that appeals to you.
  21. If at all possible, have Sunday Brunch at one of the Blue Mesa locations (southwestern food). Just had it yesterday. Absolutely incredible! http://www.bluemesagrill.com/ You might try the Uptown West Village at night (near McKinney and Lemmon). Walkable area. Lots of shops. Movie theater. Very popular with the young and beautiful set, at least on a Fri night.
  22. I assume the Tokyo flight mostly feeds connecting flights to the rest of Asia on Northwest's hub there (SkyTeam partner). I don't think there's enough traffic to/from just Tokyo to justify it, although I could be wrong. If United gave up their hub there and merged with CAL, the flight would have to survive on O&D traffic, plus maybe a small amount connecting to/from Latin America (although I'm not sure how much of that there is, because I believe they have to go through full U.S. customs and immigration just to transfer). Hopefully that would be enough to support it.
  23. I'm curious how this would work out. Any theories? There's certainly no way the regulators would let AA get all of Chicago to themselves. AA has no need for Denver - too close to DFW. The only domestic pieces I could see going to AA would be LA and/or DC. Since SF and LA aren't really domestic connecting hubs, and can only support limited nonstop destinations, that setup would allow CO+UA to feed SF traffic thru Denver (and Chicago) to secondary destinations, and AA to do the same from LA thru DFW. Not good for helping IAH's feed. I suspect AA wants access to Asia, and threatened to disrupt the consolidations with their own hostile offers if they didn't get what they wanted. United and NWA have "5th freedom" rights from Tokyo, allowing them operate hubs there. Very valuable. But UAL doesn't really need it anymore, because they've been building Asia service out of SF and Chicago. Throw in Continental out of Newark, and they have plenty of domestic hubs feeding Asia. I suspect they will sell the Tokyo rights to AA. If so, I think that means Houston is likely to lose our Tokyo flight, unless there's enough traffic to feed Star Alliance partner ANA there. The question is, would it be a full-blown carve-up of UAL? (and how would United possibly agree to that? can a hostile takeover and break-up work in this political environment? or even if it's voluntary, the UAL union pressures would be huge to block the deal.) Or would it just be CO merging with UA and then selling off the Tokyo rights to AA? The latter seems far more feasible.
  24. Can't find it searching the CNN web site, both text and video. Do you have a link? Was it a reporter, or some analyst taking a guess?
  25. IAH will be a major hub no matter what (top 3 in the nation now for nonstop destinations and flights/day). Terminal B expansion will continue. The buzz on the boards is that Continental has a much more highly regarded management team and operations, which gives good odds the HQ will stay here. Easier to cherry pick good UAL people and move them here than move CAL's people in-mass to Chicago. That said, there is a modest chance the operational HQ will stay here, but they'll set up a thin, official, executive HQ in Chicago - sort of like Boeing does there or Exxon does in Dallas. One of the drivers would be United's recent incentive deal with Chicago and Illinois to locate their HQ downtown, with penalties if they leave. That would be an unfortunate outcome, but in terms of real economic and jobs impact on Houston, it would be minimal. But I have high hopes it will all be here, and it would be pretty cool having the HQ of the world's largest airline. Our alliance would shift from SkyTeam to the Star Alliance, which means more flights to Germany and fewer to Paris and Amsterdam. United does do a little hubbing out of Tokyo, so hopefully that flight would stay even without the SkyTeam Northwest connections. More thoughts and links here: http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2008...-jobs-boom.html
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