Girl Next Door Wins Billboard Bride Contest

December 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

Over 500 brides-to-be entered the “Billboard Bride” contest at July’s Bridal Extravaganza Show. The winner will grace billboards, posters and other promotional materials for January’s Bridal Extravaganza Show.

Judges spent weeks sifting through applications to select the final contestants. When Hollie Padron’s crossed their desks, it stood out. Funny and sincere, her entry secured her a firm spot as a finalist.

When the time came for her to stand before the judges at Ventura’s Bridal, the choice became clear. Smitten by her charming nature, the panel was equally impressed with Padron’s unabashed response to their question of how she embodies the modern Houston bride. “I’m real!” she exclaimed. After describing herself as hardworking and passionate, Padron boldly stated she is “not a size 2,” a trait she believes many brides can relate to. When she pointed out her future name, Hollie Salas, sounds like “hot sauce,” the incessant laughter from the judges’ table signified the Billboard Bride had been found.

Padron was ecstatic when they called and told her she won. The 22-year-old accounting assistant gave neighbors an earful of shrills, jumping up and down in her apartment. Donning several gowns hand-picked by Ventura’s, Padron was the epitome of a classic, blushing bride throughout the mid-day photo shoot. Traditional studio portraits and modern poses amidst the chic backdrop of Uptown Park allowed her to relish in the joy of her upcoming nuptials. With each flash of the camera, the future Mrs. Stephen Salas thought of her fiancé.

Most people go to Olive Garden for the endless soup and salad, but Padron found endless love. While working there as a waitress, a co-worker caught her eye. “We were friends for a couple of months, then I asked him out on a date,” she recalls of her forward approach. They were soon more than friends and over the next year and a half, Padron realized an ideal future would be one spent with Salas.

While she was sure she found the man she was going to marry, the engagement came as a complete surprise. After celebrating Christmas with their families, Padron and Salas spent the next day at the Museum of Natural Science and later went for an evening stroll in Hermann Park. When they found themselves alone in front of a fountain, Salas dropped to one knee and presented Padron with the ring — a princess-cut solitaire set in white gold. Floored, Padron managed to let out a tearful “I do.”

They’ll make it official March 7 with a black and white wedding at Centurion Palace in League City. She will wear the princess dress of her childhood dreams, complimenting her groom’s traditional black tuxedo. Until then, billboards across town will serve as a reminder of her special day.

Bridal Budget Rescue

December 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

7 tips for getting the most bang for your bridal buck

1. Save the (Right) Date By choosing a Friday or Sunday for your wedding, you can cut rental costs on churches and reception venues by as much as 40 percent. Saturday weddings are the most popular, so venues charge premium rates. However, many churches are busy on Sundays, so if you’ve always dreamed of walking down the aisle, Sunday may not be the best day for you.

2. Timing is Everything Choosing a unique time can save you big dollars. Do as the Chinese do: have your wedding in the morning followed by a brunch reception. This saves you a ton on food costs. Same goes for afternoon weddings—have a trendy cocktail reception afterward, or a delicious dessert bar. The less food you have to serve, the less cash you’ll shell out, but make sure you pick a time of day when the food you’re serving is appropriate.

3. Go with the Flow(ers) Check to see which fl owers are in season. You may have dreamed of a bouquet of lilacs in September, but fl orists charge more for out-ofseason fl owers because they’re harder to fi nd and keep fresh. Also, exotic fl owers like blue roses cost more because they have to be specially bred or even painted. If you’re dying for a color that’s expensive, here’s a classy way to spice up your bouquet and save money: use all white fl owers accented with ribbons, crystals, or vintage hatpins in your wedding colors. If you want outof- season fl owers, ask a fl orist if similar fl owers are in-season. Keep in mind bouquets made of a single type of fl ower usually cost a lot less.

4. Get the Package Deal Some reception venues offer packages including fl oral and décor services, catering, music and other reception needs for one price. This can be more cost effi cient than booking all these services à la carte. Be sure to check prices before you commit—some companies may over-charge because you’re locked into using their vendors.

5. Test Drive Most brides hire a limo service, but other options, which might better suit a bride’s style, can cost less. If you don’t have far to go, a romantic horse-and-carriage ride can be relaxing and impress your guests with a fl air for the theatric. If you’re not bringing your entire wedding party with you, you can rent a smaller town car instead of a stretch limo. For large parties, a luxury shuttle bus may be a wise investment as they can accommodate more passengers and generally cost less than renting two limos.

6. Forget the Favors Sure, little tins of mints with personalized labels saying “Mint to Be” along with your names and date seem cute now, but at $2.50 a pop, the more people that RSVP the more cash you’ll be shelling out. Many weddings end up with baskets of costly favors that guests left at the venue. Any non-edible favor guests take home is probably going to get thrown away or relegated to the junk drawer. Many couples are opting out of this tradition, choosing instead to set each place with a custom cookie which is cheaper than most commercialized wedding favors.

7. Keep It Trim If your guest list gets out of hand, so will your budget. Guest count affects spending tallies in almost every category—invitations, food, venue costs, alcohol, flowers and favors. So when your mother-in-law to be insists on inviting her nextdoor- neighbor’s friend’s son, it’s time to draw the line. Most of your friends and extended family understand venue restrictions and budget concerns. Just be sure to observe proper etiquette in such situations.

Will Someone Please Pass the Chardonnay?

December 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

Dear Kind H Texas Readers: I’m a red wine drinker. I tend to stray away from the hard stuff, because I morph into Faye Dunaway in Barfly. P.S. Do you remember the tagline from that phenomenal film?

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

Oh, it’s perfection. But I digress. Let’s get back to the red wine. I’ve recently been invited to several Houston parties. And not just your average, run-of-the-mill shindigs. I’m not talking about a barbecue in the backyard, dog jumping in the pool, kids screaming for ice cream type of bash. Nope. These are the real deal. The big enchiladas of parties. The savoir faire’s of fetes.

Imagine valets in red jackets parking your car, a golf cart sweeping you up to your host’s front door, where you are greeted by a waif-like Heidi Klum bearing a tray of champagne flutes. And that’s just the entrance.

Inside, the decorations include the likes of flower bouquets fit for a royal wedding, candles large enough to light Ecuador, and mini-quiches served from domed English platters. The guests are fashionable types. You know these people. Hey, you may even be one of these people. Flitting around in the latest high heel mini-boots. Waving to your gorgeous, mini-booted friends.

Meanwhile, I’ve shown up in a perfectly respectable outfit. And yet, I’ve missed the hot trend. The “this season must-have.” The slouchy mini-boot.

Let’s face it. I may as well be wearing parachute pants and Kaepa’s. Ah, such are the trials and tribulations of the glamorous life. I wind my way toward my only salvation — the bar. And there is the bartender, shaking fun little cocktails for everyone. Topping off champagne flutes. Smiling as if he owns the house — which he absolutely does not, by the way.

“What can I get you?” he asks, because this guy recognizes a fish out of water. It’s as if I’m wearing a nametag that reads: Hi, I’m Jo. And I’m not wearing mini-boots.
“I’m easy,” I say. “I’ll have a glass of red wine, please.”

The bartender shakes his head, grimly. I can tell he’s about to deliver the bad news, like the Captain of the Titanic.
“The host is only pouring Chardonnay this evening,” he announces.
I stare at him, but he remains poker-faced.
“No red wine?” I ask

He shrugs and looks at me with pitying eyes. I can tell he feels my pain, but he doesn’t dare say a word. This bartender is one smart cookie. He knows where his bread is buttered, if you get my drift.
“How about a Gibson?” he offers. “I make a mean martini.”
“Can’t,” I say.
“How come?”
“I’m like Faye Dunaway.”
He smiles. “Barfly, right?”
I immediately have a fleeting fantasy. The cute bartender and I are on a desert island drinking red wine out of huge goblets. We toast to the sun and the sand and to the fact that we are alone.

And no one is afraid we will stain anything.

2008: The Year of Our….Lordy! (We have nothing to fear but the year itself)

December 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Are we there yet? Have we reached 2009? Maybe we can crawl under the bed until 2008 is over, because we can’t take much more of it. This year we endured a massive hurricane, the implosion of our sports teams and a cascading stock market. Finger’s Furniture became Ashley’s, and the Downtown YMCA built in 1941, became the Downtown YMCA built in 2008. After 70 years of operation, the Avalon Drug Co. was bought out by CVS, and the storm actually hit. So let’s take a look at 2008, where spectacles in the space left us yearning for a new year. We shall start with North Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, who predicted an FBI investigation into corruption allegations would force him from office. It was something about the design of his home, provided at no cost by a prominent retired architect. In addition, his campaign records were in disarray…again. $475,000 in cash suddenly ballooned to $1.8 million, and more than $1 million was quietly stashed in secret CDs. The commissioner wins our “Be It Eversole Humble, There’s No Place Like a Designer Home” Award.

Congressman John Culberson submitted a $500,000 earmark to erect a statue of noted Houstonian John Adams in Washington, D.C. That was but a drop in the pork trough. Altogether, Houston members of Congress tried to get 289 earmarks passed.

Washington magazine made its annual survey of 1,700 Capitol Hill staffers and honored Houston’s own Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee as “Meanest Representative,” “Biggest Drone,” “Show Horse” and second place as “Fashion Victim.” She won more awards than any member of the House.

Weather or Not (The Sky Is Appalling): As usual, our TV weather wizards went ballistic over any approaching cloud west of Africa. Dolly came and went, then Edouard and Gustav missed us. Darn! Finally, there really was something to rant about: “Ratings!”

Ike caused $8.5 billion in damage to houses, apartments and mobile homes. The disastrous storm brought us misery, days of no power and weeks of dead limbs piled on our front lawns.

Quote of the Year (Ike’s Scream Division): “You need to be getting these (expletive) trucks out of here!” — Mayor Bill White upon finding trucks loaded with ice, food and bottled water at the Reliant Center while, two hours after opening, nine of 11 PODs had no food or water and only five had ice.

Unfortunately, we had to deal with FEMA again. Among its many foul-ups this time, of 6,600 families displaced by Ike and eligible for long-term rental housing, more than a month later only 500 had been sent to proper housing authorities.

Another reason to worry about the weather: According to a new analysis, more tornadoes strike Texas than any other state. Out of the 254 Texas counties, guess which one hosts the most? Harris, with 211 since 1950.

Can we ever forget 2008 was an election year? Our coveted Klock Stopper Quote: “What we wanted to do was project mayhem.” — GOP Congressional primary candidate Brian Klock, who used a billboard showing the Houston skyline in flames to push his plan for avoiding another 9/11. Klock lost.

Hold Your Nose and Vote For Vo: Texas State Rep. Hurbert Vo, a millionaire, turned out to be a slum lord, owning four local apartment complexes with exposed electrical wires, rotting wood, mold, and overflowing dumpsters. Upon being outed, he wrote to the HPD protesting the inspections, using his official State of Texas I Am on the Law Enforcement Committee and Don’t Forget It stationery. Vo won his bid for re-election.

Losers: Shelley Sekula “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor” Gibbs and Kelly “She Stabbed Him 193 Times!” Siegler. Sheriff Tommy Thomas was tossed from office and former HPD Chief C.O. Bradford didn’t get to be DA Bradford. On the legal front, prospective juror Cornelia Mayo wins our Out of Pot Luck Plaque. She was arrested for smoking a joint outside the Harris County Courthouse during a break. Mayo was one of 20 people in a jury pool to try — guess what? — a woman accused of possessing marijuana.

Fridge Is a Cold Case: 28-year-old Kathryn “Kristi” Fridge was arrested and handcuffed by a fire captain after he heard her use the f-word at a Wal-Mart store in La Marque. Fridge didn’t help her case when, according to the official report, she told bystanders, “Can you believe this? He’s —-ing arresting me for saying —-.”

This year’s Leave Well Enough Alone Award: Clara Harris, the Friendswood dentist who ran over her cheating husband enough times to kill him and sued her defense attorney, George Parnham, claiming he overcharged her. The jurors found the lawyer not guilty, ruled Harris still owed him $70,250, and ordered her to pay Parnham $389,443 for his legal bills in her civil suit.

A Hole in Juan: Lawrence Shipley III, scion to the Shipley Do-Nut empire, received six months probation and a $6,000 fine after pleading guilty to hiring illegal immigrants. The company admitted to doing this for years and used nine residences to house the illegal workers. It was fined, too. They Could Have Been Running Backwards: Joe Horn was no-billed after fatally shooting two fleeing burglars in the back.

Coffee, Tea or a Knuckle Sandwich? Flight attendant Sharon Brown sued Victoria Osteen, wife of mega-pastor Joel Osteen, over an alleged altercation aboard a Continental flight. Brown claimed Victoria damaged her religious faith and caused a hemorrhoidal flare-up. The jury decided on the side of Osteen, who gave us The Quote of Last Retort: “Thank you, Jesus.” She did not say “…people who go to Lakewood (Church) are screwballs and nuts.” That came from prosecutor and DA candidate Kelly Siegler during jury selection.

And now for the sports segment. When former Texan fullback Jameel Cook was pulled over in August, Houston Police found Cook had:

no front license plate,
no registration sticker,
no valid driver’s license,
and no proof of liability insurance.
His Florida driver’s license had been suspended in May.

Strangest Sports Story: “But this is akin to saying that Houston’s cow-skin work in tops of innings on Crawford St. and bottoms of road innings is outstanding?…But MMP of 2008 is MMP of 2007, and so far, our stats say that in ordinary and OOZ plays, Houston of 2008 is outdoing Houston of 2007.” — Zachary Levine in the Houston Chronicle.

The Astros again played the role of spoiler — spoiling their fan’s season. The Boys of Slumber finished out of the money, out of the playoffs and 11 games out of first place in their division. Houston fans, finally showing taste, dropped attendance a whopping 240,968 from the previous season. Designated Hitter: Shawn Chacon. Designated Drunk: Brandon Backe. But there is hope for the future: the Astros’ four top minor league farm teams — Round Rock, Corpus Christi, Lexington, Ky. and Salem, Va. — all finished with the worst records in their respective leagues — bottom, the basement, last place.

Catch a Falling Star: Local heroes Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte got sideways with Congress, and their fans, over drug use. Clemens is suing his former trainer and current accuser, Brian McNamee, for saying tacky things about the Rocket. In addition, country singer Mindy McCready supposedly had a lengthy affair with Clemens. For whatever reason, his Memorial Mall restaurant is on hold.

And now our Rush Limbaugh Medicine Cabinet Trophy: The day after the Astros signed shortstop Miguel Tejada for $13 million, he was listed in the Mitchell Report for using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.

In football, overwhelmed with fan appreciation, the Houston Texans finally reached mediocrity with an 8-8 record, causing the owner to jack up ticket prices.

Rice fired head basketball coach Willis Wilson after the Owls lost the last 20 games, finishing the season 3-27. His replacement? Ben Braun who was fired two weeks earlier by Cal-Berkley after three losing seasons and repeatedly finishing eighth or ninth in the Pac 10.

After coming back to within two games of first place in their division, the Rockets lost Yao Ming for the rest of the season and stunk up the joint. This is a recording.

Two-time champs Houston Dynamo didn’t repeat, but nobody knows. Perhaps if the team had not cratered to pressure and kept its original name, Houston 1836, it would have a greater following.

Enough of sports, here’s a true winner in The Final End to Camelot Category: Houston businessman Jack Worthington, now living in Canada, claims to be President John F. Kennedy’s illegitimate son. He must like hanging around First Families. Worthington dated Sharon Bush, President 41’s ex-daughter-in-law.

Gag Oder: Anheuser-Busch announced plans to pipe methane gas from a local landfill to help power its Houston plant.

A Rising Yacht Raises All Prices: James Mulva, CEO of Houston-based ConocoPhillips, received a compensation package of $50,549,026 last year. The top 100 earners in Houston, almost all oil and gas executives, received an average of $8,141,785 last year, up 31.1 percent from the year before. How’d you do?

Ah, but there’s good news. In the Somebody Up There Likes Us Department: On June 21, 2008, Slate and Newsweek ran: “To find a hot spot where soaring oil and commodity prices and the booming economies of the developing world are keeping cash registers ringing and construction crews fully employed, you don’t have to trek to Dubai or Moscow. You need travel only as far as Houston.”

BusinessWeek ranked 25 metro areas for the best combination of good pay, available jobs and an affordable standard of living. We’re Number One! The magazine described our sleepy fishing village on the bayou as “riding high these days, thanks to record profits in the oil and gas business.”

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in July called Houston the “Comeback Kid,” and also rated our town Number One: “It’s the city of big plans and no rules, beat-the-heat tunnels and loop-the-loop highways, world-class museums and wiry cowboys, humidity that demands an ice-cold martini and the biggest damn liquor store on the planet. How could you not love Houston?”

Poles Apart: “Houston is known the world over. The technology is much higher, and the experience is greater.” — Lech Walesa, explaining why he came to Houston’s Methodist Hospital for heart treatment, thus chapping off doctors back in Warsaw.

In the Department of Equal Times, The New York Times gave us this year’s Crystal Bawl Award: “Houston in summer can be a miserable place. ‘It’s 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity — in the shade,’ said Crystal Hadnott, a career counselor for a scholarship fund.” Actually, Crystal, it rarely gets to 100 degrees or 100 percent humidity in Houston. It just feels that way.

Greatly Missed: Louie Welch, Ron Stone, Ray Miller, Orange Show honcho Tom Jones, Clyde Wilson and Dr. Ralph Feigin, Physician-in-Chief at Texas Children’s Hospital and Chairman of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. We also bid farewell to Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, who, before his death, was honored with Congress’ highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, by President George Bush.

Moonlighting Becomes You: 30 HPD officers were suspended without pay, or were or given written reprimands, for working private security jobs while still on city time.

Take a Truncheon to Luncheon: The City of Houston settled lawsuits against it for the 2002 botched police raid and mass arrests in a Kmart parking lot for $840,117 plus another $60,000 for outside lawyers.

The Casons Go Rolling Along: In the past 12 months, the Houston Chronicle mentioned Becca Cason Thrash 32 times, down from 37 the previous year, but this year she garnered two lengthy stories.

Out to Launch: NASA employees used government-issued credit cards (i.e. taxpayers money) to purchase iPods, video games, clothes from NASA’s own gift shop and a Christmas tree.

Winners: Discovery Park and an end to construction on the Katy Freeway. Catholics got a new church, the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and Daniel DiNardo was made a cardinal. Angry that the Houston Livestock Show &Rodeo didn’t have enough Tejano musical stars or officials, some Hispanic activists urged a boycott of Go Tejano Day. That day set an attendance record.

Made in the Slade: Former TSU President Priscilla Slade, accused of spending $500,000 of the school’s money on personal luxuries including golf lessons and bar bills, plea bargained her way from spending a single day in jail. Instead, she was fined $127,672.18, put on probation, and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.

Mission Implausible: Was Roland Carnaby a CIA spook or just a fraud? Carnaby was fatally shot by Houston police after a high-speed car chase, as he reached into his car for a “shiny” metal object, which turned out to be a cell phone. The CIA denied Carnaby ever worked for the agency, which, of course, meant he did. Or didn’t.

Worthy contenders all, but they can’t hold a candle to the Worst Little Courthouse in Texas. So, while the competition is usually tough this year, our late DA wins the A Rosenthal By Any Other Shame Award. Congratulations.

Will Someone Please Pass the Chardonnay

December 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Blogs, The Glamorous Life / Jo Barrett

Will Someone Please Pass the Chardonnay?

Dear Kind H Texas Readers: I’m a red wine drinker. I tend to stray away from the hard stuff, because I morph into Faye Dunaway in Barfly. P.S. Do you remember the tagline from that phenomenal film?

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

Oh, it’s perfection. But I digress. Let’s get back to the red wine. I’ve recently been invited to several Houston parties. And not just your average, run-of-the-mill shindigs. I’m not talking about a barbecue in the backyard, dog jumping in the pool, kids screaming for ice cream type of bash. Nope. These are the real deal. The big enchiladas of parties. The savoir faire’s of fetes.

Imagine valets in red jackets parking your car, a golf cart sweeping you up to your host’s front door, where you are greeted by a waif-like Heidi Klum bearing a tray of champagne flutes. And that’s just the entrance.

Inside, the decorations include the likes of flower bouquets fit for a royal wedding, candles large enough to light Ecuador, and mini-quiches served from domed English platters. The guests are fashionable types. You know these people. Hey, you may even be one of these people. Flitting around in the latest high heel mini-boots. Waving to your gorgeous, mini-booted friends.

Meanwhile, I’ve shown up in a perfectly respectable outfit. And yet, I’ve missed the hot trend. The “this season must-have.” The slouchy mini-boot.

Let’s face it. I may as well be wearing parachute pants and Kaepa’s. Ah, such are the trials and tribulations of the glamorous life. I wind my way toward my only salvation — the bar. And there is the bartender, shaking fun little cocktails for everyone. Topping off champagne flutes. Smiling as if he owns the house — which he absolutely does not, by the way.

“What can I get you?” he asks, because this guy recognizes a fish out of water. It’s as if I’m wearing a nametag that reads: Hi, I’m Jo. And I’m not wearing mini-boots.

“I’m easy,” I say. “I’ll have a glass of red wine, please.”

The bartender shakes his head, grimly. I can tell he’s about to deliver the bad news, like the Captain of the Titanic.

“The host is only pouring Chardonnay this evening,” he announces.
I stare at him, but he remains poker-faced.
“No red wine?” I ask

He shrugs and looks at me with pitying eyes. I can tell he feels my pain, but he doesn’t dare say a word. This bartender is one smart cookie. He knows where his bread is buttered, if you get my drift.

“How about a Gibson?” he offers. “I make a mean martini.”
“Can’t,” I say.
“How come?”
“I’m like Faye Dunaway.”
He smiles. “Barfly, right?”

I immediately have a fleeting fantasy. The cute bartender and I are on a desert island drinking red wine out of huge goblets. We toast to the sun and the sand and to the fact that we are alone.

And no one is afraid we will stain anything.

My Cell Phone Is Magic!

November 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Blogs, The Glamorous Life / Jo Barrett

Last Tuesday night, something happened. I saw a UFO. I’m kidding. It was just a plane. Southwest, I think. (I could tell because peanuts rained down on my head, and I heard singing.) But something else did happen, and it was freakier than a UFO.

My Blackberry spoke to me.

It was last Tuesday night. I was asleep in bed, having my usual hot, sweaty, athletic, um, evening rendezvous with Keanu Reeves. (Tuesday night is Neo Night.) Wednesday, I reserve for Clooney, (Ocean’s Up!) and Thursday I’m booked solid with Brad Pitt. In my dreams, I’m Angelina.

But back to my cell phone. It was on my nightstand, and suddenly it began to buzz. Madly. It was buzzing so much, I looked over at Keanu, patted him on the head, and told him to please hurry up because I was about to wake — BZZZZZ!!!

I woke up. Crestfallen, of course. Instead of Keanu, my bed partner turned out to be a goose down body pillow from Bed Bath and Beyond Me. (I mean, please. That store is uber expensive. Even with the coupon.)

I pick up my cell, turn it over in my hands, stare at it, and go, “WHAT?!?”

And, I swear—as God is my witness—my phone said, “You’re getting fat.” I sat up in bed, stared at my cruel Blackberry and said in a cool as cucumber voice: “I’m not fat. This is water weight.”

At this point, my phone flashed a photo of me. “Check out your stomach,” it said. I glanced down. And I hate to say it, but my phone was right. I felt angry. Confused. A train wreck on two fat feet.

How could it have known? Had my Blackberry looked at me one day and thought, “I can’t believe she’s eating another cookie?” Was my phone becoming invaluable? Like a little personal trainer?

Now, I know some of you probably don’t believe this story. But I’ve got proof. I still have the photo. Yes, it’s the photo my Blackberry took of me in the middle of the night while at the same time telling me I was becoming a real porker.

A question soon began to haunt me. Should I upgrade?

I mean, my phone was snapping photos and telling me I was getting fat. But was that really enough? I mean, was it possible for another phone to exist out there that could do even more than my Blackberry? I stayed awake the entire next night (Clooney night, shame) researching the features of the new iPhone. Here’s what I came up with: 1) The iPhone costs a million dollars.

2) However! The iPhone brews Starbucks coffee and delivers it to your desk with a smile.

3) The iPhone drowns out Paris Hilton’s voice on Larry King. (This is why it costs a million dollars.)

4) The iPhone will fix a flat tire on any car except a Hummer—out of principle.

5) For every dollar spent on the iPhone (red!), $100 goes to Bono, $1 million goes to Oprah, and a penny goes to the African health care crisis. Whoa! Wait a sec. That was out of line. But please don’t point the finger at me.

My phone totally typed that! It wasn’t me.

In fact, my Blackberry is taking over this column as we speak …

Ahhh, stop it, phone!

I can’t—

It’s … just … too … powerful!

(P.S. If you happen to work for Apple, and want to send me hate mail, please direct it to jobarrettbooks.com. I don’t answer emails on Friday nights. Friday is DeNiro Night. Think: “Raging Bull.”)

Lynn Ashby on Sam Houston and Bud Adams

November 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

If it needs cutting, I’ll do it.

Ashby gets historical at the mere mention of Sam Houston. He gets hysterical at the mere thought of Bud Adams.

By Lynn Ashby

The best kept secret around here is that Houston has a history. Oh, sure, it’s hard to compare our past to that of Boston or San Antonio, but we can best Dallas, Denver and Detroit without breaking a sweat. For Houston has been a national capital, survived two military invasions, on its doorstep has what historians call the ninth most important battle in history. This is where Houstonians could bump into someone who walked on the moon, been President of one country or another, or the richest man in the world.

We do not celebrate our history as do other cities, mainly because we don’t have much to point out. No Alamo or French Quarter, no crumbling ruins around the area, unless you count Galveston. In Houston, we put an historical plaque on anything that gets a second coat of paint. We consider old timers those who were here during the last smog alert. The Historical Society’s Guidebook opens with, “Our story begins in 1922 when the city’s first air conditioning was installed in the Rice Hotel cafeteria. Before that, Houston was totally unlivable.”

We live in one of the few cities which can identify the very day it was born. It was on Aug. 30, 1836, when two developers from New York, ran an ad:  “There is no place in Texas more healthy, having an abundance of excellent spring water, and enjoying the sea breeze in all its freshness.” Ads were run in German newspapers touting the glories of Houston. In Hamburg, or maybe Brenan, I found some pamphlets that had been passed around the town back then. It showed Houston with snow-capped mountains in the background. Ski the Heights.

Why is Congress Street so named? Because when the Republic of Texas capital was Houston, the Capitol building was where the Rice Hotel now stands, which, in turn, was where our Congress met. You may have read that UH-Downtown, located in that big, red building, wants to change its name to something else. How about UH-Stalag? A Confederate POW camp for Yankees once sat on that spot.

How many presidents have lived in Houston? Five. It’s a trick question, sort of. We all know that George H.W. Bush is a resident and that George W. lived here during his wild bachelor days. Lyndon B. Johnson taught public speaking and was coach of the debate team at Sam Houston High School from 1930 to ’31. The two other presidents were Sam Houston and Mirabeau Lamar who were presidents of the Republic of Texas when its capital was in Houston.

Yes, History ‘R’ Us. Everyone knows about the Battle of San Jacinto, but we may forget that both the Mexican and Texian armies marched across Harris County to get to the battlefield. Santa Anna’s forces came from San Antonio and the Battle of the Alamo, marching roughly down today’s I-10, through downtown and on to San Jacinto. The Texian Army came from the northwest through Hempstead cut due south to the Heights and then east to the battlefield.

There was no Houston when Santa Anna’s army passed through, only Harrisburg, which he burned, but on the broad median of Bellaire Blvd. at Second Street is a Texas Historical Monument noting that “in this vicinity” on April 18, 1836, Deaf Smith and some other Texas scouts captured three Mexicans — Capt. Miguel Bachiller, a courier and a guide. Between questioning the three, and papers they carried, Smith learned all about Santa Anna’s army, strength, position and battle plans.

On Christmas Eve of 1837 word arrived in Houston that the Mexican Army was returning here. Among those who joined the instant militia was a new arrival, William Marsh Rice. As Houston was the capital, we had embassies here. The U.S. ambassador, a Mr. Labranche who lived in “a good cabin,” offered “protection of the flag if necessary” to his Texas friends. This story may explain how LaBranch Street got its name although with a different spelling.

A Houston newspaper editor, Dr. Francis Moore, got elected to the Republic of Texas Senate and worked for an anti-dueling law. Sen. Oliver Jones labeled it, “An Act for the Protection of Cowards.” The measure became law and until 1939 all Texas officials had to swear an oath that they had never taken part in a duel.

William Sydney Porter, aka O. Henry, lived while writing for The Houston Post.

In the early 1920s, Clark Gable worked for a winter stock company in Houston, but he could not conquer his stage fright. The show’s producer recalled, “Rehearsals went smoothly enough, but performances for him were a nightmare: his jaw became rigid, he forgot his lines, cold sweat beaded his forehead.” Gable was fired.

Then there were the Camp Logan Riots, one of the worst race riots and military mutinies in American history. It happened during World War I, but you can still see the streets where the angry black soldiers of the Third Battalion Twenty-fourth United States Infantry broke from their camp in what is now Memorial Park. It was a full force race riot. The ringleaders were later court martial led, hanged and buried at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio under tombstones with no names, only numbers.

Finally in our Houston history lesson, consider a fellow named Charles Hedenberg who persuaded an uncle living in New Jersey to come here to set up a carriage shop in the 1830s. The uncle arrived one morning and transferred his bags to his nephew’s business, Hedenberg and Vedder. Charles was quite busy at the time, so he suggested that his uncle go over to the Capitol and watch Congress in action.

The uncle agreed and went to the Capitol, whereupon he heard gunshots. He rushed to a hallway just in time to see Algernon Thompson, a Senate clerk, being carted off. Thompson had been severely wounded by another clerk. The uncle had seen enough of Texas government in action, so he left the Capitol and walked down the west side of Main Street.

As he passed the Round Tent Saloon, inside, one Texian soldier shot another. The wounded soldier staggered out and almost fell on the New Jerseyian. He ran across the street and arrived at John Carlos’ Saloon. Just then a man fell out of the saloon with his bowels protruding from a huge wound made by a Bowie knife. The newcomer raced back to his nephew’s store and asked, “Charley, have you sent my trunks to the house?”

“No, uncle. Not yet.”

“Well, do not send them. Get me a dray so I can at once take them to the boat that leaves for Galveston this afternoon.”

“Why, Uncle, what do you mean? You have seen nothing; have not had time to look at the town.”

“Charley,” said the uncle, “I have seen enough. I wish to return home immediately. I do not wish to see any more of Texas.” With that, he left, never to return.

And they say Houston has no history.

High Roller Condos in Grand Cayman, Oh My!

November 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman encompasses 144 lush acres of the Caribbean’s most serene and prosperous island. Known for one-of-a-kind guest experiences, the $500 million resort features a La Prairie Spa, five dining venues including a restaurant by Eric Ripert of top-ranking New York restaurant Le Bernardin, a tennis center by Nick Bollettieri and a nine-hole golf course, designed by Greg Norman.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, Ritz-Carlson announced an exclusive 20,000 sq. ft. penthouse occupying the entire 7th floor of the south tower. Overlooking Seven Mile Beach, it is thought to be the most expensive condominium in the Caribbean. As you would expect, this suite comes with all of the legendary Ritz-Carlton services and amenities. However, it also comes with a powerboat complete with a captain and crew, and a Rolls-Royce.

“We created and designed this penthouse based on the current interest of high-end properties with spectacular space and views,” says Michael Ryan, owner and developer of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

The owners will have panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, Georgetown Harbor, the Greg Norman golf course and the North Sound from 4,200 sq. ft. of private terraces. A conceptual floor plan (the actual will be planned per the buyer’s specifications and The Residences’ standards) by interior designer Frank Nicholson, includes a state-of-the-art media room, executive office, art gallery, wine cellar and six bedrooms, each with its own private terrace.

And, just in time for the holidays, the Ritz is offering a long-term rental “sample” program for vacationers and business travelers. If you’re not sure this luxury life is for you, you can “test drive” a luxury home experience at The Residences for 30 days without further commitment. The Residences’ luxury oceanfront homes within the new Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman are setting a lavish new standard of living on the Caribbean’s safest island.

Amenities include, but are not limited to: around-the-clock attention from a Residential concierge team, butler service, private entrances with elevators, 24-hour valet parking and security and privileged access to all Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman resort’s facilities, services and amenities.

To participate you must stay a minimum of 30 days. Prices range from $25,000 – $40,000 in December. Homes vary from one-bedroom with 1,655 sq. ft. to three-bedrooms covering 3,850 sq. ft.

Essentials:
www.residences-cayman.com
www.ritzcarlton.com

Curb Your Mustard Bottles and other tales of curbside calamities

October 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

“The city’s shimmering skyline may wear the label of the world’s energy capital, but deep in Houston’s dumpsters lies a less glamorous superlative: It is the worst recycler among the United States’ 30 largest cities.” — The New York Times

THE CURB — If this is the third Thursday of the month, but with no holiday in the week, a full moon and if I have an odd numbered street address, except February which has 28 days, then I put out tree limbs, stumps and unlucky Mafia hit men, all to be picked up by waste disposal technicians, aka garbage men. Then again, maybe they do it tomorrow.

My problem, and possibly yours, is the City of Houston is beginning yet another convoluted but necessary garbage program. This new one deals with “tree waste.” I did not know trees have waste, although the Red Cross has a program to dispose of used pine needles.

Mayor Bill White says, in his stump speech, the tree waste operation “will help us divert at least 20 percent from area landfills and postpone the day when we have to invest in costly new ones,” giving a new meaning to branch offices. Fortunately, waste landfill around here is cheap, so the cost of burying our daily dead is low. But eventually we shall need new areas for our landfills. I suggest Arkansas.

As good citizens of Houston, we will certainly take part in this new plan, but when do we do what? “The City will collect tree waste exclusively on designated months on the resident’s current heavy trash collection day. On the alternating months, residents may set out their heavy trash or junk waste at the curb for City collection.” Sergeant, have this decoded at once!

We need to improve our garbage game, especially recycling. Actually, we couldn’t do much worse. As noted at the beginning of this column, Houston stands at the very bottom among the 30 largest U.S. cities in recycling: a miniscule 2.6 percent participation. In percentages, this compares to 34 for New York City; 62 for Los Angeles; and 55.4 for Chicago. To no one’s surprise, those tree-hugging San Franciscoites (Franciscoans? Friscoers? residents of San Francisco?) lead the nation with 69. The national average is 34 percent. Among Texas cities, Dallas stands at 11.5 and San Antonio battles Houston for the bottom with 4. Clearly, Houston’s recycle needs training wheels. The situation is not all our fault, as Rumsfeld told Cheney. Indeed, many Houstonians couldn’t recycle if they wanted to, which they don’t. Our city picks up garbage at 340,000 households, but fewer than half (162,000) have those green, plastic recycling bins. About 25,000 households are on the waiting list, some as long as 10 years, but the city says it cannot afford more bins. Those without the special bins must cart their recyclable garbage to one of only nine full-service drop-off depots around town. Yeah, that’s customer friendly.

The money needed for recycling caused the City Council to introduce a new plan: impose a mandatory $3.50 monthly environment fee for every single-family home. It was negotiated to a voluntary $2.25 charge and eventually dropped entirely because of fierce opposition. Incidentally, another unique point about us: Not only do most other cities have a separate garbage fee, the more they toss the more it costs. We are the only major American city where we can constantly throw away huge amounts of residential garbage and not be charged extra.

My neighborhood, Running Rats Acres, is fortunate to be a participating dealer in recycling. Every Friday we can look up and down the street and see the usual 90-gallon, black plastic garbage cans. In addition, every other Friday, alongside the black cans sit their Sancho Panzas, the mean green, lidless recycling machines, stuffed with Christmas catalogues, soggy copies of Sheep Dip Monthly and Bud cans, plus jugs of old motor oil and cat litter.

Wait! We can put out plastic only if the containers are made of categories Number 1 through Number 5 and Number 7, all of which must be rinsed and drained. “Sorry, Honey. We can’t go out to dinner tonight. I’ve got to separate our Number 2 cooking oil plastic bottles from the Number 8 mouthwash bottles, then clean them out. And no pizza or cereal boxes. Hey, how’d that coat hanger get in our bin? They’re not allowed. We could be reported to the Recycle Rangers.” Finally, to dispose of your used motor oil, drain it back into its original container. No empty oil cans. This makes no sense.

Be honest now. Do you really know the difference in Number 1 and Number 2 plastic? I have here an empty Gulden’s spicy brown mustard bottle, made of plastic. There is no code, secret or otherwise, confirming the bottle is made of Number 1, 5 or 324 plastic. On the bottom, however, if I get out my Hubble Telescope, I can spot the triangular recycle logo. Since different cities have different standards, does this logo mean the mustard bottle is recyclable for Houston or for Augusta, Maine? What’s my first clue? Did Colonel Mustard do it in the library?

Perhaps Austinites can toss this type bottle in the correct bin of which they have 45 — they separate Cokes from Pepsi, Coors from Miller, with each container separately steam cleaned, dried and flattened. We must wonder just how much energy they actually save. Los Angeles residents already have three separate recycling/garbage bins and are experimenting with yet another — for table scraps. There is more news, my garbage-scoffers. A recent letter from Mayor White warns 43 neighborhoods with 23,000 homes are not team players. Fewer than 10 percent of the residents in these areas are putting their recycle bins on the curb for pickup. If some neighborhoods — and he knows who you are — don’t start cluttering up their streets every pickup day, whenever that might be, they will be dropped from the recycling program, their homes given to evacuated Katrinians and salt sewn in their yards. Their children will be prosecuted even unto the fifth generation or until the Astros win the World Series, which ever comes first (I’m betting on the fifth).

In summation, put your trees on the curb each Arbor Day. Separate the wheat from the chaff, wash out your mouth with soap, put your used motor oil back in your engine and drive to San Francisco. Just remember: no coat hangers.

Suddenly I hear the groan of gears. We’re saved! Here comes the recycling truck, which stops at my neighbor’s curb. The truck is an interesting contraption with two big bins or black holes in back. Apparently one receives paper and the other is for mustard bottles. The waste management disposal technician walks over and eyes my neighbor’s work. Next to her big, black garbage bin is carefully separated waste — paper, plastic, metal, wood, animal, vegetable and mineral, each in its own sack. I am not making this up: After due deliberation, the technician opens the garbage bin and drops in every single sack, then leaves. Mayor White, I think I’ve spotted the problem.

Down-the-Aisle Style

October 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

Bridal trends hot off the runway

When it comes to weddings, there’s one item most brides stress over more than any other: the dress. After all, they are literally the center of attention. But with so many gorgeous dresses out there, how’s a girl to choose? You’ll want to express your personal style, of course. Are you the girl who grew up wearing a pillowcase as a veil, your petticoat and some of Mom’s heels? Chances are you’ll be opting for the ball gown silhouette—the Cinderella-style silk, satin and tulle construction your inner princess has always dreamed of. Maybe you’re thinking old Hollywood glamour in the mode of Marilyn Monroe or Grace Kelly. In that case, you’ll probably want a silky sheath accented with just enough sparkle, or a mermaid style gown highlighting your best assets. Perhaps you daydream about a classic, traditional wedding. Dresses of all shapes and sizes feature vintage inspired lace and filigree-style beading. Regardless of your personal style, you don’t want to look outdated. Check out these trends we saw on the couture catwalk at the Bridal Extravaganza Show.

Splish, splash
This season designers are enamored with mermaid gowns, which hug the body until slightly past the hips, then flare into trumpet-style skirts. If you’re a curvy girl, you’re in luck—the mermaid silhouette works best on coveted hourglass figures. However, this year’s mermaids are more forgiving as designers use rouching, pleats, draped fabric and other subtle tricks to camouflage pesky, little figure flaws. For example, many mermaids feature balconette or bandeau-style bodices, which balance trumpet skirts by adding fullness to your décolleté.

If the mermaid gown isn’t what you have in mind, the ball gowns, sheaths, and ever-popular A-lines all made a big impression on the runway. Ball gowns are appearing in decadent fabrics like duchesse silk satin, and accented with varying levels of sparkles, allowing you to opt for subtle shimmer or serious bling. Sheaths are a popular choice for beachside destination weddings and range from simple halter-style silk with beading at the waist to layers of Victorian-style lace. A-lines, which flatter most figures, are being modernized with splashes of color, filigree beading and layers of tulle. Trains this season are mostly chapel-length at 4 feet or less.

Details, details
Rouching is the darling of the wedding fashion industry this year. We saw dresses with this centuries-old sewing technique used in creative ways—layered to give the illusion of a balconet-style top, asymmetric to draw attention to the smallest part of the waist and centered at the small of the back to accent the narrowest part of the body and highlight the bare skin above. Pleating is also a popular decorative technique, adding glamour to mermaid gowns, giving a neat, structured appearance to the bust of A-line dresses and ornamenting the hems of a silky sheaths.

Accessories often worn with jeans are now becoming hot additions to wedding dresses. Belts and sashes were everywhere: on mermaids, A-lines, ball gowns and even the simple sheath. We saw belts with rhinestone accents, ribbon sashes with bows and dramatic two-tone belts in bold color combinations like red and purple. Most belts sit on the natural waist, giving slimmer looks to brides with straighter figures needing definition.

Layers aren’t only for the cake this year. Designer dresses feature layers in a variety of fabrics to give fullness and depth to skirts, or create wrap looks on the bodice; very flattering on women with larger busts. Many of the popular mermaid gowns have tiered tulle skirts. Another popular style is classic A-line silhouettes, jazzed up by rouched, drop-waist bodices of smooth, shimmery fabric. Layered on top of a full tulle skirt, this style adds great contrast and interest to the dress.

Dresses this year are highlighting the side of you most of your guests will be seeing: your back side. Dramatic details on the back abound, including daring keyholes, striking swaths of color, bustles and down-to-there plunges. As you stand beside your groom, you can be sure your guests are as entranced by the back of your dress as they were by the front.

Purple reigns
Purple is the color for accents, attendants and flowers. Not limited to shy shades of lavender, designers are using bolder hues of deep amethyst, violet and plum. Dresses and bouquets combine complimentary tints of purple to give elegant, shaded looks. We also saw purple accented with marigold and forest green creating earthy, Tuscan ambiance.

But purple isn’t the only color currently commanding bridal couture. We saw vintage-style gowns accented with dusty rose, mauve, Wedgwood blue, pale sage and antique gold. Traditional crisp, lily white shades were also on display, in addition to off-white and deep champagne.

Bright color hasn’t disappeared from the spectrum. Apple green looks divine alongside hot pink for attendants and flower girls; beachy, pool blue is a cool accent for bridal and attendants’ gowns. Canary yellow is a new trend for beach weddings, where grooms don’t have to be dressed in black—the runway was hopping with guys in sepia or mushroom-toned suits that would blend well with sand and surf backdrops. An abundance of black, white and sliver combinations on gowns and attendants were also on display. The stark contrast of black and white lends to a classy, timeless look.

Today, wedding gowns come in limitless styles and colors. Pick a combination of trends to reflect your personal taste and highlight your best features. Enjoy navigating through all the taffeta and tulle, in your quest to find the perfect dress.

My Cell Phone Is Magic!

October 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

Last Tuesday night, something happened. I saw a UFO. I’m kidding. It was just a plane. Southwest, I think. (I could tell because peanuts rained down on my head, and I heard singing.) But something else did happen, and it was freakier than a UFO.

My Blackberry spoke to me.

It was last Tuesday night. I was asleep in bed, having my usual hot, sweaty, athletic, um, evening rendezvous with Keanu Reeves. (Tuesday night is Neo Night.) Wednesday, I reserve for Clooney, (Ocean’s Up!) and Thursday I’m booked solid with Brad Pitt. In my dreams, I’m Angelina.

But back to my cell phone. It was on my nightstand, and suddenly it began to buzz. Madly. It was buzzing so much, I looked over at Keanu, patted him on the head, and told him to please hurry up because I was about to wake — BZZZZZ!!!

I woke up. Crestfallen, of course. Instead of Keanu, my bed partner turned out to be a goose down body pillow from Bed Bath and Beyond Me. (I mean, please. That store is uber expensive. Even with the coupon.)

I pick up my cell, turn it over in my hands, stare at it, and go, “WHAT?!?”

And, I swear—as God is my witness—my phone said, “You’re getting fat.” I sat up in bed, stared at my cruel Blackberry and said in a cool as cucumber voice: “I’m not fat. This is water weight.”

At this point, my phone flashed a photo of me. “Check out your stomach,” it said. I glanced down. And I hate to say it, but my phone was right. I felt angry. Confused. A train wreck on two fat feet.

How could it have known? Had my Blackberry looked at me one day and thought, “I can’t believe she’s eating another cookie?” Was my phone becoming invaluable? Like a little personal trainer?

Now, I know some of you probably don’t believe this story. But I’ve got proof. I still have the photo. Yes, it’s the photo my Blackberry took of me in the middle of the night while at the same time telling me I was becoming a real porker.

A question soon began to haunt me. Should I upgrade?

I mean, my phone was snapping photos and telling me I was getting fat. But was that really enough? I mean, was it possible for another phone to exist out there that could do even more than my Blackberry? I stayed awake the entire next night (Clooney night, shame) researching the features of the new iPhone. Here’s what I came up with: 1) The iPhone costs a million dollars.

2) However! The iPhone brews Starbucks coffee and delivers it to your desk with a smile.

3) The iPhone drowns out Paris Hilton’s voice on Larry King. (This is why it costs a million dollars.)

4) The iPhone will fix a flat tire on any car except a Hummer—out of principle.

5) For every dollar spent on the iPhone (red!), $100 goes to Bono, $1 million goes to Oprah, and a penny goes to the African health care crisis. Whoa! Wait a sec. That was out of line. But please don’t point the finger at me.

My phone totally typed that! It wasn’t me.

In fact, my Blackberry is taking over this column as we speak …

Ahhh, stop it, phone!

I can’t—

It’s … just … too … powerful!

(P.S. If you happen to work for Apple, and want to send me hate mail, please direct it to jobarrettbooks.com. I don’t answer emails on Friday nights. Friday is DeNiro Night. Think: “Raging Bull.”)

Curb Your Mustard Bottles and other tales of curbside calamities

October 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

“The city’s shimmering skyline may wear the label of the world’s energy capital, but deep in Houston’s dumpsters lies a less glamorous superlative: It is the worst recycler among the United States’ 30 largest cities.” — The New York Times

THE CURB — If this is the third Thursday of the month, but with no holiday in the week, a full moon and if I have an odd numbered street address, except February which has 28 days, then I put out tree limbs, stumps and unlucky Mafia hit men, all to be picked up by waste disposal technicians, aka garbage men. Then again, maybe they do it tomorrow.

My problem, and possibly yours, is the City of Houston is beginning yet another convoluted but necessary garbage program. This new one deals with “tree waste.” I did not know trees have waste, although the Red Cross has a program to dispose of used pine needles.

Mayor Bill White says, in his stump speech, the tree waste operation “will help us divert at least 20 percent from area landfills and postpone the day when we have to invest in costly new ones,” giving a new meaning to branch offices. Fortunately, waste landfill around here is cheap, so the cost of burying our daily dead is low. But eventually we shall need new areas for our landfills. I suggest Arkansas.

As good citizens of Houston, we will certainly take part in this new plan, but when do we do what? “The City will collect tree waste exclusively on designated months on the resident’s current heavy trash collection day. On the alternating months, residents may set out their heavy trash or junk waste at the curb for City collection.” Sergeant, have this decoded at once!

We need to improve our garbage game, especially recycling. Actually, we couldn’t do much worse. As noted at the beginning of this column, Houston stands at the very bottom among the 30 largest U.S. cities in recycling: a miniscule 2.6 percent participation. In percentages, this compares to 34 for New York City; 62 for Los Angeles; and 55.4 for Chicago. To no one’s surprise, those tree-hugging San Franciscoites (Franciscoans? Friscoers? residents of San Francisco?) lead the nation with 69. The national average is 34 percent. Among Texas cities, Dallas stands at 11.5 and San Antonio battles Houston for the bottom with 4. Clearly, Houston’s recycle needs training wheels. The situation is not all our fault, as Rumsfeld told Cheney. Indeed, many Houstonians couldn’t recycle if they wanted to, which they don’t. Our city picks up garbage at 340,000 households, but fewer than half (162,000) have those green, plastic recycling bins. About 25,000 households are on the waiting list, some as long as 10 years, but the city says it cannot afford more bins. Those without the special bins must cart their recyclable garbage to one of only nine full-service drop-off depots around town. Yeah, that’s customer friendly.

The money needed for recycling caused the City Council to introduce a new plan: impose a mandatory $3.50 monthly environment fee for every single-family home. It was negotiated to a voluntary $2.25 charge and eventually dropped entirely because of fierce opposition. Incidentally, another unique point about us: Not only do most other cities have a separate garbage fee, the more they toss the more it costs. We are the only major American city where we can constantly throw away huge amounts of residential garbage and not be charged extra.

My neighborhood, Running Rats Acres, is fortunate to be a participating dealer in recycling. Every Friday we can look up and down the street and see the usual 90-gallon, black plastic garbage cans. In addition, every other Friday, alongside the black cans sit their Sancho Panzas, the mean green, lidless recycling machines, stuffed with Christmas catalogues, soggy copies of Sheep Dip Monthly and Bud cans, plus jugs of old motor oil and cat litter.

Wait! We can put out plastic only if the containers are made of categories Number 1 through Number 5 and Number 7, all of which must be rinsed and drained. “Sorry, Honey. We can’t go out to dinner tonight. I’ve got to separate our Number 2 cooking oil plastic bottles from the Number 8 mouthwash bottles, then clean them out. And no pizza or cereal boxes. Hey, how’d that coat hanger get in our bin? They’re not allowed. We could be reported to the Recycle Rangers.” Finally, to dispose of your used motor oil, drain it back into its original container. No empty oil cans. This makes no sense.

Be honest now. Do you really know the difference in Number 1 and Number 2 plastic? I have here an empty Gulden’s spicy brown mustard bottle, made of plastic. There is no code, secret or otherwise, confirming the bottle is made of Number 1, 5 or 324 plastic. On the bottom, however, if I get out my Hubble Telescope, I can spot the triangular recycle logo. Since different cities have different standards, does this logo mean the mustard bottle is recyclable for Houston or for Augusta, Maine? What’s my first clue? Did Colonel Mustard do it in the library?

Perhaps Austinites can toss this type bottle in the correct bin of which they have 45 — they separate Cokes from Pepsi, Coors from Miller, with each container separately steam cleaned, dried and flattened. We must wonder just how much energy they actually save. Los Angeles residents already have three separate recycling/garbage bins and are experimenting with yet another — for table scraps. There is more news, my garbage-scoffers. A recent letter from Mayor White warns 43 neighborhoods with 23,000 homes are not team players. Fewer than 10 percent of the residents in these areas are putting their recycle bins on the curb for pickup. If some neighborhoods — and he knows who you are — don’t start cluttering up their streets every pickup day, whenever that might be, they will be dropped from the recycling program, their homes given to evacuated Katrinians and salt sewn in their yards. Their children will be prosecuted even unto the fifth generation or until the Astros win the World Series, which ever comes first (I’m betting on the fifth).

In summation, put your trees on the curb each Arbor Day. Separate the wheat from the chaff, wash out your mouth with soap, put your used motor oil back in your engine and drive to San Francisco. Just remember: no coat hangers.

Suddenly I hear the groan of gears. We’re saved! Here comes the recycling truck, which stops at my neighbor’s curb. The truck is an interesting contraption with two big bins or black holes in back. Apparently one receives paper and the other is for mustard bottles. The waste management disposal technician walks over and eyes my neighbor’s work. Next to her big, black garbage bin is carefully separated waste — paper, plastic, metal, wood, animal, vegetable and mineral, each in its own sack. I am not making this up: After due deliberation, the technician opens the garbage bin and drops in every single sack, then leaves. Mayor White, I think I’ve spotted the problem.

Labor Day Fashion Show

September 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Blogs

 

Purse Winner and friends

Back row: Lillian Sikorski; Linda Migl, Front row/sitting: Jaimee Sudduth

 

 

 

 

Veronica’s Table

Back row: Lisa LeMaire; Melissa Carbajal; Denisa Madera; Niki Warren; Debbie Psifidis, Front row: Sarah McAnelly; Ashley Mathews; Veronica Pullicino; Rhonda Payne; Amy Behan

Tricia Oliver; Mauri Oliver             Samantha Bernstein; Lisa Benitez

Rose Ribbon

September 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Blogs, Girl Gone Healthy

(Upper Kirby District)

Black and White and Red all Over

Story Laurette M. Veres; photography Herb Hochman

The most beautiful women in Houston donned black, white and roses in support of the Rose Ribbon Foundation.  International author Jo Barrett entertained the crowd pointing out that women are natural storytellers.  This afternoon’s story was of survivors.  The Rose Ribbon Foundation is a 501c(3) that provides post cancer reconstruction to uninsured cancer patients.

When  September 4, 2008

Who

Carolyn Farb, Mary Ann McKeithan, Robin Reimer, Mauney Mafrige, Betty Tutor, Astrid Van Dyke, Dr. Lucho Rossman, Dr. Larry Hollier, Jessica Meyer Tena Faust and Cindy Garza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on Fertility

September 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

If you’ve had trouble conceiving, you’re not alone: according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 12 percent of women report problems conceiving or carrying a baby to term. Doctors recommend seeking a fertility evaluation after one year of trying without success; six months if the woman is over 30. Today’s fertility experts can often pinpoint problems and recommend treatments that take the frustration out of starting a family.

Many conditions can cause infertility. Health and Human Services estimates fertility problems are equally divided into three categories: male, female and unknown. Lifestyle choices can affect the ability to reproduce in both sexes. Alcohol, drugs and smoking, unhealthy weight and poor diet can all increase the risk of infertility. Sometimes causes can be more complex.

Most female infertility disorders revolve around ovulation in some way. However, scar tissue on ovaries and the uterus, ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids can block conception. Men mainly deal with sperm quality. Testicle injuries or defects and exposure to environmental toxins can contribute to low sperm quality.

Infertility treatments are based on the specific cause. They range from taking ovulation stimulation drugs to in vitro fertilization, in which healthy embryos are implanted in the uterus after fertilization in a lab. No treatment guarantees a woman will become pregnant, but millions of couples are raising healthy families after seeking help from fertility specialists. Talk to your doctor, early and in-depth, to get the best treatment plan for you.

Please click on the following links to view each Fertility Doctor’s profile and/or visit their website. To view video profiles, click on the yellow links provided. When you’re done viewing each video, simply hit the “back” button on your browser to return to this page.

These videos are in Quicktime format.
Click here to download the free version of Quicktime.

Sadhna Singh, Lic.Ac., M.B.B.S. (India)
www.easternharmonyclinic.com
Click here to view my video

Fertility Specialists of Houston
FSHIVF.COM
Click here to view my video

Manubai Nagamani, M.D.
www.utmb.edu/ufc
Video Coming Soon!

Michael J. Heard, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
www.houstonrei.org
Video Coming Soon!

Dorothy Roach, M.D.
www.nhcrm.com
Click here to view my video

Houston Fertility Institute
www.hfi-ivf.com

Houston IVF
www.houstonivf.net

Allon Health Center
www.drallon.com

2008 Top Doctors for Women

September 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

Research shows female health care needs are unique. Women have higher risks of heart disease and are affected differently from men with the same conditions. Women need special care for breast, bone and reproductive health. Many tend to worry more about aesthetics. It’s important to find a doctor who understands the special needs of female patients and keeps up with advances in the cutting-edge field of women’s medicine. H Texas presents Houston’s Top Doctors for Women – 2008.

Every effort has been made to verify information for the doctors listed. Any omissions or inaccuracies are unintentional, and H Texas magazine cannot be held liable. If a particular doctor does not appear on the list, it does not mean he/she is not the best doctor for you.

Please click on the following links to view each profile for Top Doctors for Women and/or visit their website. To view video profiles, click on the yellow links provided. When you’re done viewing each video, simply hit the “back” button on your browser to return to this page.

These videos are in Quicktime format.
Click here to download the free version of Quicktime.

Rakesh Mangal, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
www.fshivf.com
Video Coming Soon!

Dr. Felix Spiegel
www.felixspiegelmd.com
Video Coming Soon!

The Women’s Specialists of Houston
at Texas Children’s Hospital

www.womenspecialists.com
Video Coming Soon!

James F. Boynton, M.D.
www.BoyntonMD.com

Henry A. Mentz, III, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S.
www.DrMentz.com
www.MyMediSpa.com

German Newall, M.D., F.A.C.S, F.I.C.S.
www.mybeautifulbody.com
www.drnewall.com

Dr. Christopher K. Patronella MD, FACS, FICS
www.patronellamd.com
www.mybeautifulbody.com

Terri Alani, D.D.S.

Sebastian Faro, M.D., Ph. D.
www.sebastianfaro.yourmd.com

Wayde Fawcett, DDS, MAGD, FICOI
www.drfawcett.com

Morgan E. Norris III, M.D.
www.norrisplasticsurgery.com

Plaza OB-GYN Associates
www.plaza-obgyn.com

Aldona J. Spiegel, M.D.
www.breastrestoration.org

Steven Wolfson, D.D.S.
www.tanglewoodsmiles.com

Have Fear. The World is Ending

September 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Blogs, The Glamorous Life / Jo Barrett

Have Fear. The World Is Ending.

Have you turned on the news lately? Neither have I. Actually, this isn’t true. I’ve become shamelessly addicted to CNN. And to the doom and gloom the actors (oops! I mean newscasters) are hurling our way.

The other evening I tuned in to Anderson Pooper on CNN. Now, I realize his real name is Anderson Cooper. I realize his mother is Gloria Vanderbilt and that many women find him attractive despite his awkward leprechaun ears and premature grey hair.

I also realize he is one of the few news anchors who look good in Prada. But I digress.

Within 30 seconds of flipping on the show, I was barraged with floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, political scandals and missing child reports. And the look on his face after the report? It’s almost as if he were enjoying it. To peddle fear is great power, isn’t it?

To add insult to injury, the next report focused on—and I bet you can guess—the OIL CRISIS!

That’s right, people. Apparently, we are embroiled in a full-on, balls to the wall OIL CRISIS!

As I’m sure you’ve noticed when filling up your tank, gas costs more these days. But this is not where it ends. The OIL CRISIS affects every industry in our lives.

According to Anderson, the OIL CRISIS is responsible for all of the following:

Airlines on the breach of bankruptcy;
Soaring food prices at your local grocery store;
The economy in shambles;
The real estate melt down;
and Angelina Jolie’s decision to send Pax to public school.

It’s gotten so bad that Anderson said—and I quote: “Americans are now being forced to choose whether to fill up their gas tank OR PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE.”

Wait. Stop the press, Anderson. Are you telling me Americans are choosing whether to drive their cars or eat? I don’t buy it. I mean, c’mon. I just saw a four-year-old talking on a cell phone.


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About the Author:
Jo Barrett
Jo Barrett Story Archive Other Stories

Living with Cancer

September 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

Survivors are breaking stereotypes and redefining life with cancer

Cancer can affect anyone, anywhere at anytime. Young, mature, stout, svelte, beautiful inside or out. You and yours are not off limits to this disease. According to the American Cancer Society, one out of every two American men and one out of every three American women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. We all are—or will be—friends, caregivers, children, parents, siblings, co-workers, doctors or nurses of cancer patients, if not patients ourselves.

However, the situation is not as grim as it sounds. Today, many people are not dying of cancer—they are living with it; a cancer diagnosis is no longer an automatic death sentence. Thanks to technology, funding and education, survival is measured in years instead of days.

American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) researchers have developed lifesaving tests and linked lifestyle choices to cancer. We can minimize cancer’s effects through early detection and even decrease our chances of contracting the disease by avoiding cigarettes, unhealthy foods and making other healthy choices. Today’s cancer education is not subtle. Television advertisements show how we ingest harmful chemicals when breathing polluted air. Magazine articles and cooking shows promote consumption of four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to reduce the likelihood of cancer by up to 30 percent. The evils of cigarette smoking are constantly exposed in ad campaigns and educational programs.

The number of people living with cancer is so large, the disease is immersed in our society and culture. America watched as character Samantha Jones shaved her head and battled breast cancer in the HBO hit-series “Sex and the City.” Texans rallied behind Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong as he achieved success in his fight with testicular cancer. Closer to home, Houstonians joined Marvin Zindler as he documented his battle with prostate and pancreatic cancer.

Confidence and hope are changing how cancer is viewed. Seeing successes of new treatments and cures overpower cancer’s ability to dictate mortality; people are not giving up. Instead of lowering their eyes and whispering, “I have cancer” to friends and family like they’re ashamed, cancer patients are taking ownership of the condition and proclaiming, “I have cancer and I’m fighting back!” This new attitude arms patients with confidence and courage to face the unknown and grasp the inevitable. They realize each day they have cancer is a day they are surviving cancer, and it strengthens their defenses.

Then there are the unique blessings during this journey. Blessings and cancer? It sounds crazy, but they can be found in the most unusual places or circumstances. Those diagnosed with this disease gain fresh perspectives of life, and many see the significance in choices made every day, sick or well, to hate or love; hurt or forgive; doubt or have faith with optimum clarity. You find humor in situations only cancer patients appreciate, like when two strangers hold hands in the hospital wig shop as they are miraculously transformed into Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn. Deep bonds are formed in support organizations like CanCare of Houston, Inc., whose staff members have personal experiences with cancer.

Yes, cancer can still be fatal. So can spider bites, car accidents, or avian flu. However, choices you make today affect survival tomorrow. Get informed. Identify actions you can take to prevent, or at least ensure early detection of cancer. Get involved. Participate in awareness programs, donate to research institutions and volunteer in cancer support programs. Most importantly, get real by acknowledging cancer is part of our world we can do something about.

Essentials:
Houston plays host to one of the largest Susan G. Komen “Race(s) for the Cure” in the country. Pledge your support at www.komen-houston.org

Hope in Houston
Texas Children’s was recently ranked one of the top medical facilities in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Anyone who has visited knows it’s not your typical drab, depressing hospital. Specializing in pediatric care and treatment, it’s full of color, life and vitality. Doctors focus on patients’ whole health, not just treating diseases.

M.D. Anderson, a research hospital and branch of the University of Texas educational system, is one of the leading oncology institutions in the nation. And it’s in our own backyard. It services local, national and international patients in various stages of diagnoses or treatment every day.

CanCare of Houston, Inc.
(www.cancare.org) focuses on customized needs of the cancer diagnosed and their families. An interfaith support network, CanCare offers free, one-on-one, long-term emotional support to patients and their families. Patients are blessed with support from staff who’ve been through the same trials.

Heart of a Hero

September 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

Legendary heart surgeon Michael Ellis DeBakey, M. D. recounts his extraordinary life

I was privileged to interview Dr. DeBakey prior to his death, July 11, 2008, less than two months before his 100th birthday. My goal was to share his life reflections with H Texas readers in our September issue as a birthday gift. In the spirit of celebrating his 100th birthday, this article is written in present tense with Dr. DeBakey living and laughing as he was on May 7, 2008.

We meet in Dr. DeBakey’s private conference room. The walls are laden with framed photos of him with U. S. presidents, heads of state, national and local luminaries, doctors, family members, friends and patients. Dressed in a green pullover sweater and casual corduroy slacks, he still looks ruggedly handsome and has a twinkle in his eye as he enters in a motorized wheelchair. His vibrant warmth quickly fills the big room.

The father of modern cardiovascular surgery and arguably the most famous heart surgeon in the world, Dr. Michael Ellis DeBakey, chancellor emeritus of Baylor College of Medicine and director of the DeBakey Heart Center of Baylor and Methodist Hospital, is responsible for much of the Texas Medical Center’s world-renowned reputation. His talent, expertise, compassion and dedication to helping others led him to develop and perfect more than 50 medical devices, techniques and procedures, saving millions of lives.

Theodore Roosevelt was president and Henry Ford had just developed the Model T when DeBakey was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Some of his earliest memories involve the library. His parents insisted their children check out a book each week.

“I could read when I was four,” he recalls, “but I was around seven when I found the best book I’d ever seen in the library. When I asked to take it home, the librarian refused. This fascinating book, my very favorite, turned out to be in a series —The Encyclopedia Britannica. It wasn’t long before my father bought the set for myself and my brothers and sisters. By reading these books, I really broadened my education. I learned a little geography, where all the countries were and the character of the country. I learned a little bit about the United States Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Of course, I didn’t understand everything in the encyclopedias, but I loved them and read each one. I was a good student, in the top of my class. I was probably the best-read freshman on the Tulane Campus.”

He credits his mother for his giving spirit. Every Sunday she gathered her children to deliver clothing she mended and meals she cooked to an orphanage. “One Sunday I objected when she packed a cap I liked,” he reminisces. “She said, ‘You have a new cap. These children don’t have parents to give them a cap. You can afford to give this one to them.’ In that moment I learned a lesson, and it never left me! Throughout my lifetime, I’ve been very grateful to be able to do things for others.”

His mother was a sewing expert, and he watched and learned as she taught neighborhood girls to sew. “At five years old, I could cut out a pattern,” he says. In the 1950s, about 40 years after cutting his first pattern, he sewed the prototype for artificial arteries on his wife’s sewing machine using fabric purchased at Foley’s in Downtown Houston. In 1952, he became the first surgeon in the country to perform successful excision and graft replacement of aneurysms of the aorta and obstructive lesions of the major arteries. He remembers it as one of the most exciting times in his life. “Up until then, there was no thought of ever doing it. It was a great stimulus to go on.”

His interest in medicine developed early in life. “My father was a pharmacist, and doctors would come by to get their prescriptions filled,” he explains. “I thought they were great people, and they truly inspired me to become a doctor.”

At 23, already in medical school and engaged in medical research, DeBakey invented the roller pump, which provides continuous flow of blood during operations and helped launch the open-heart surgery era. “That was pretty exciting,” he says. “I simplified the process with the roller pump, which became an integral component of the heart/lung machine.”

He was already a successful surgeon and professor when he opted to volunteer for service in World War II. He became a member of the Surgical Consultants’ Division in the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army from 1942 to 1946; in 1945 he became its director and received the U. S. Army Legion of Merit. He is credited with helping develop mobile army surgical hospital (MASH) units and later helped establish the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center Research System.

After re-entering civilian practice, Dr. DeBakey’s medical achievements began piling up. He was the pioneer behind countless medical procedures now used worldwide to save lives. Coronary bypass surgery, angioplasty, Dacron grafts and artificial heart transplants are just a few of his medical accomplishments.

Dr. DeBakey has operated on more than 60,000 patients, including President Lyndon Johnson, President John F. Kennedy, President Richard Nixon, The Duke of Windsor, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, the Shah of Iran, King Leopold of Belgium, King Hussein of Jordan, Aristotle Onassis, Stavros Nicandros, Marlene Dietrich, Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, Wayne Newton, Sam Giancana and others. Each and every one of Dr. DeBakey’s patients, regardless of their stature, received the same excellent care.

“During those years I was up before four in the morning, at the hospital by 5, operating most of the day, usually 10 or 12 surgeries; between cases, interviewing people, visiting patients and writing,” he says. “Nothing has ever been more important than the health of my patients.”

A lifelong scholar with interests ranging well beyond medicine, Dr. DeBakey has thorough knowledge of history, philosophy, ethics, literature, art and music. Many have added “Renaissance Man” to his titles. His love of writing led him to author or co-author more than 1,700 published medical articles, chapters and books on various aspects of medicine, including ethical, socioeconomic and philosophic discussions. Many of these articles are considered classics. His books have appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers list: “The Living Heart,” “The New Living Heart Diet,” “The Living Heart Shopper’s Guide” and “The Living Heart Guide to Eating Out.”

“There were many times I would operate all week and write all weekend,” he says. “I love to write; it’s been a kind of hobby—putting words together, expressing thoughts so that they represent a pleasant hearing of the words.”

After so many accomplishments, I can’t help but ask him for The Dr. Michael E. DeBakey Formula for a Long Life. The great man laughs and answers, “So much of the process of aging—from the day we’re born until the day we die—is unknown. A lot of what’s written is just verbiage; it doesn’t mean a thing. Certainly, there are a few things, such as smoking, that one should avoid; at least omit those things that are harmful. Common sense. Moderation. Eat anything in moderation.”

I heard from his friends that he loves Louisiana creole food covered in Tabasco sauce, so I ask him if he watches his diet.

“No!” he says instantly. “I like home cooking … rice, potatoes, meat once a week, shell fish and fish. Very moderately. I’ve weighed 165 pounds all of my adult life.”

Describing his schedule on the day of this interview, he says, “I still get up early, exercise at a physical fitness facility for an hour or so; come to the office every day, supervise surgeries, tend to correspondence and see people. No pressure. I go home mid-afternoon. I spend much of my free time in my library at home, which includes four or five thousand books. I’ve read many books on the various religions of the world, and I know a little bit about many of them. My favorite reading material is old classical poems from English writers of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.”

According to Baylor College of Medicine, one of Dr. DeBakey’s greatest accomplishments is training successive generations of surgeons. He established many fellowship and residence programs; many of the program graduates have gone on to chair and direct academic surgical programs in this country and abroad. He was the driving force behind the High School for the Health Professions of the Houston Independent School District, which attracts young people to the health profession early and prepares them with a strong academic foundation. When I mention there must be thousands of young people who want to talk to him about becoming doctors, his eyes light.

“I enjoy having them ask me! My answer is always the same: discipline. It takes a great deal of discipline to study. You have to make choices: do I go out to the theatre tonight or do I study?”

On New Year’s Eve, 2006, 97-year-old DeBakey felt an incredible pain in his upper chest. He was in denial about the severity of his illness and waited a month before entering the hospital. As specialists conferred and argued the legalities of operating on someone his age, Dr. DeBakey’s wife, Katrin, burst into the room and said, “He’s dying, and you’re talking. If he is to have a chance to live, you have to operate!” The surgery, performed by Dr. DeBakey’s physician and longtime partner, Dr. George Noon, made DeBakey the oldest person to survive a major surgery. Incredibly, he was saved by his own invention of 50 years before.

Discussing his concept of what life will be like after death, he said, “I don’t think about death or the afterlife very often. I did for years, but I think if you are a Christian, you have to believe. It doesn’t require documentation. Therefore, I’m a Christian. I’m relieved that I don’t have to think about it or prove it. It’s really very simple: either you believe or you don’t. I learned to believe early in life. There is something about the Christian religion that’s very comforting.”

As he nears his 100th birthday, I ask him to reflect on his life. “In general, it was a productive and pleasant life. To be sure, I may be considered a workaholic, but I enjoyed it. The work was part of the joy of life. And there is nothing I enjoyed more than taking care of patients. If you look at the Congressional Gold Medal, which I just received, it bears the inscription of my words that I’ve lived by: ‘THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE HAS BEEN MY OBJECTIVE IN LIFE.’ And everything I’ve done or tried to do has been at the level of excellence.”

Have Fear. The World Is Ending.

September 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Edit

Have you turned on the news lately? Neither have I. Actually, this isn’t true. I’ve become shamelessly addicted to CNN. And to the doom and gloom the actors (oops! I mean newscasters) are hurling our way.

The other evening I tuned in to Anderson Pooper on CNN. Now, I realize his real name is Anderson Cooper. I realize his mother is Gloria Vanderbilt and that many women find him attractive despite his awkward leprechaun ears and premature grey hair.

I also realize he is one of the few news anchors who look good in Prada. But I digress.

Within 30 seconds of flipping on the show, I was barraged with floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, political scandals and missing child reports. And the look on his face after the report? It’s almost as if he were enjoying it. To peddle fear is great power, isn’t it?

To add insult to injury, the next report focused on—and I bet you can guess—the OIL CRISIS!

That’s right, people. Apparently, we are embroiled in a full-on, balls to the wall OIL CRISIS!

As I’m sure you’ve noticed when filling up your tank, gas costs more these days. But this is not where it ends. The OIL CRISIS affects every industry in our lives.

According to Anderson, the OIL CRISIS is responsible for all of the following:

Airlines on the breach of bankruptcy;
Soaring food prices at your local grocery store;
The economy in shambles;
The real estate melt down;
and Angelina Jolie’s decision to send Pax to public school.

It’s gotten so bad that Anderson said—and I quote: “Americans are now being forced to choose whether to fill up their gas tank OR PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE.”

Wait. Stop the press, Anderson. Are you telling me Americans are choosing whether to drive their cars or eat? I don’t buy it. I mean, c’mon. I just saw a four-year-old talking on a cell phone.

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