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Everything posted by marmer

  1. No, he didn't and I didn't want to press him about any authorized or unauthorized residential usage of the building. I was just happy to have any information he wanted to share.
  2. Sorry to gravedig this old post, but I know people are interested. Thanks to a tip from strickn, I was able to contact a member of the Alexander family. He gave me permission to share this info: In response to a later question about the derrick, here is his response: He was kind enough to share this great picture from me, from 1985. He also said that there have been problems with vandalism and specifically asked me, if I share this information, to ask that people respect his family's private property.
  3. Mass adoption of automobiles but also the mass adoption of air conditioning probably had a huge effect on the postwar development of the cities you mentioned. And I'm not sure that I would use Las Vegas as an example of a city where tourism doesn't work well. That's about all they have there. I submit that 85+ degree temperatures has more to do with a lack of walkable character than anything having to do with a car. Again, walking and carrying stuff is hard. Especially if you have kids or if it's raining, etc. etc. The problem that the Houston-Galveston train ran into in the '90s (besides crappy, slow track) is that you wind up on the wrong side of the island with no car. Getting to the beach is a hassle. If all you want to do is go to the Strand, then I guess it's OK, but seriously, it's way easier to drive there. Anecdotes don't equal data, of course, but the last time my family was in Chicago, we were there as tourists. I think we can fairly safely agree that Chicago is a legitimate tourist destination. My wife, being kind of a greenie, was very excited about the possibility of taking commuter rail and the El to get around. We stayed in a northern suburb hotel and tried to work out ways to get where we were going using mass transit. We were very disappointed to see that it was a lot faster and a lot cheaper to drive, even with parking costs. Pretty much everywhere. And, by the way, if you were to ask me what the coolest thing about Chicago is and what I would go there to see, very high on my list would be historic architecture. The stuff that Houston seems to happily throw away. The best city I've been to for tourist-friendly mass transit is probably Washington DC. Maybe New York, but taxis are still easier. That's just a car you don't have to park yourself. Density has nothing at all to do with tourism. In fact, it can easily make drawing tourists harder if it's too hard to get near your attractions. I would argue that if you don't already have something with real historical significance that is going to draw tourists (USS Constitution, Liberty Bell, certain famous museums) then you are better served putting your attractions out where there's plenty of cheap land and parking.
  4. Sounds like you lived in my neighborhood!
  5. Not to threadjack or gravedig, but this jumped out at me. Twenty years ago you could certainly get an 1800 SF Pulte house. We looked at several. We wound up in Pulte's then-largest 1-story, which is 1966 SF. Several of their two-story plans have a smaller footprint than our house. What you got in 1990 from Pulte was a fair amount of house and amenities at a pretty good price. What you didn't get was anything better than mediocre build quality or mediocre energy efficiency. You had the option of additional insulation at construction but that was all. Even that additional insulation, plus windows, door fits, efficiency of appliances or A/C, ventilation of attic, any of the traditional energy saving measures were nothing special. Our electricity bill, even with a newer high-efficiency A/C and refrigerator, is crazy high. And where you set the thermostat doesn't matter. You're not going to get below 75-77 in the summer or above 69-70 in the winter no matter what. I love my house, but if we ever move, energy efficiency will be one of the biggest reasons.
  6. Yeah, I wouldn't want to walk away from that. Why don't you just stay there?
  7. Google Earth historic imagery says the new clubhouse was built between 1995 and 2002. My guess is closer to 2002. I seem to remember it wasn't that long ago.
  8. Yes. Observant Jews. Those kind of religious observances are perhaps a bit more common than you might think. I've known several people who kept the Shabbat that way. I've heard that in some cities in Israel, the elevators automatically stop on every floor so you don't have to operate a floor button. Probably the preference is not to use elevators at all but in a tall enough building that's not always practical.
  9. Interesting, it looks like in the original "Collins Addition" map posted above the street names were approximately in alphabetical order, even, apparently re-naming some existing streets.
  10. Really? That's Wylie Vale? It's kind of overshadowed by the newer 70's addition. I'll go look again. (I've been way too busy to get down there the past couple of months.) I've been there several times when I was younger for weddings and gigs but not since I started paying attention to architecture.
  11. Even with sales tax and shipping, shopping online is still easier than brick-n-mortar shopping if you can wait or you know precisely what you want. I've been known to do exactly what samagon describes with local music stores, though. I've seen some disturbing articles about pretty sweatshop-like working conditions at those big online distro centers; wonder if that'll get any traction in the media?
  12. A careful re-reading shows that the end user owes "use tax" if the retailer doesn't have a physical presence in the state and "sales tax" if the retailer does. Not only is this, I'll bet, almost completely unknown, but how does it relate to the federal rule I mentioned before? I remember this issue surfaced when Lands End and Sears merged and Lands End suddenly began charging tax on their catalog items. Lands End, was, of course, not big enough (and there were way too many Sears stores) to tell the state to go pound sand like Amazon tried to.
  13. I thought there was some kind of federally-sponsored "tax holiday" on internet sales, an attempt to build "e-commerce" before the 90's dotcom boom and bust. I suspect that has expired but I'll bet a lot of people are as confused as I am.
  14. I've heard of a steam table and a soda cracker, but never a steam cracker.
  15. Excellent list! Much of Montrose and the Heights is very well seen by bicycle with a little thought to your route, weather permitting. Of course that's not really touristy.
  16. Don't get me wrong, I love old buildings and museums and I take my out of town visitors to them. But I don't think a handful of interesting old buildings, or even including a handful of interesting late twentieth-century buildings counts are any kind of real tourist attraction. Same with the museums. If I'm in another large city and I have time on my hands, I might go to their counterparts, but that wouldn't be why I was in that city. Unless it was for car museums! Most of the usual suspects on this list have doubled in admission price in the last twenty years. DOUBLED. I don't know about everyone else, but my income has not come anywhere close to doubling. I seriously wonder if the local tourist attractions are pricing themselves out of the middle-class market. If you're in the car, having driven a couple hundred miles with a couple of kids, is there going to be the discretionary cash to do something like Space Center Houston or even the Zoo or MFAH or HMNS?
  17. It was there, and old, in the mid-80's. It was renovated pretty thoroughly around 1995. I wouldn't assume it would be anything close to unliveable (even by Montrose standards) in 5 or 10 years.
  18. Steak 'n' Shake is listed as "coming soon" on Pearland Town Center's website. All right!
  19. Darn. Wish I could have made it. I'd have told him to his face.
  20. Wow, again. Hy Applebaum was the real deal.
  21. Nice. Streetview is unusually good in this location.
  22. 1. Celebrity death: Lindsay Lohan, Fidel Castro, maybe Raul Castro. In spite of this, normalization of relations with Cuba doesn't really move forward. 2. Political prediction: Obama easily wins over a Republican field which is badly fragmented and unable to unite behind a credible nominee. His relationship with Congress will get even more rocky and dysfunctional. The Right will continue to paint him as too liberal and the Left will continue to paint him as a tool of corporations. 3. Economic prediction: Gasoline rises above $4.00 to stay, government-backed job creation efforts have little effect, returning service members become a bigger "face" of unemployment. 4. Tech prediction: iCloud is Apple's first real miscalculation of the twenty-first century. Battery life and bandwidth issues mean that many users have a frustrating experience with cloud-based content delivery. Also, there will never be an Apple-branded TV. 5. Natural disaster: Summer 2012 is a repeat of summer 2011 for Texas. Drought and no hurricanes. I recently read a credible report which stated that the stationary high pressure that is causing the drought will keep the big storms away. Bonus world prediction: Pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East will wither as anti-Western Islamic governments are elected. Sorry to be such a downer, but that's where I think we're headed. I can't cite sources, this is just my own interpretation and analysis of the news as presented in mass media.
  23. You got a good deal. When I was looking, there was nothing in Montrose or Midtown that was anywhere close to the price of what I wound up paying for a brand new smallish house in Pearland. I gave up a nice duplex with a fair rent price that was five minutes from my job to get away from frequent burglaries, street people, gangs in the park across the street, peeping toms, and a steady parade of transient neighbors. And this was several years before our child was born. It is also in what is pretty much considered a "good" or "safe" neighborhood. Look, I don't really want to make blanket statements about all suburbs or all urban neighborhoods. All I know is my personal experience. The biggest point I want to make, leaving kids out of the equation althogether, is simply this. For me and my wife, the attraction of urban nightlife, restaurants, and entertainment waned quite dramatically with age. Much, much faster than we expected. And this is also true of the nearby restaurants and entertainment, so it's not really a function of a "commute." And the truth is that your kid will be too old to care much about the zoo or the Children's Museum before you know it. Enjoy that time while you have it.
  24. I'm a little surprised that your disdain for the suburbs has gone unchallenged. First, if you want unrestricted land on which to build, you may have to look at areas which are quite a bit more rural than you have in mind. Pretty much nothing in Harris County. Props for wanting to build a modest-sized house. Leaving aside the whole kids/school question, you are certainly going to be paying a premium to be close in. Think about how important it will be to you to be close to "city" stuff in ten years. Yes, there is a heck of a lot to do in town, but if you have a house, even a brand new one, you will be spending a lot of time working on it, furnishing it, repairing it, etc. and that will cut into your leisure time and budget dramatically. Unless you have a really high income, you will find it harder and harder to justify eating out and attending entertainment events as much as you probably do now. You also may just not want to bother with it regardless of the cost. I've been to hundreds of concerts in my life and I am far, far, far less interested in going to one now than I was thirty years ago. It's a cliche and a source of jokes, but you will get "boring" as you get older. It's inevitable. Is the "commute" an issue? Park-n-Ride, audiobooks, podcasts, music, high-mpg vehicles, all can play a part in making that less of a problem.
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