How to be on Time

January 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Edit

by Nancy Dinerstein January 2009

Being on Time is the New Fashionably Late.

by Nancy Dinerstein

“Time is What We Want Most, but use…worst.” -William Penn, Founder of Pennsylvania

With 2009 upon us, we will grab a notepad and scrawl out our New Year’s Resolutions. We may scratch off the ones that seem unmanageable, and keep the ones within reach. We vow to do better. Some of us will jot down a New Year’s resolution about time. We never seem to have enough of it, and running late has become a lifestyle. We eat breakfast in the car and apply mascara at red lights. When our friends invite us to lunch at noon, we arrive at 12:30. But this year, things will be different, we promise. Alas, we remain chronically late. It’s not our fault, we say. We apologize with tangible excuses that time-management experts refer to as “technical difficulties.” Traffic, lost keys, or personal emergencies become our alibis. And we report a multitude of “symptoms” such as being easily sidetracked, having trouble focusing, or suffering from attention deficit disorder.

However, “chronic lateness” is not a disorder in itself. Researchers have yet to discover a “lateness gene” in their genetic analysis. Habitual lateness is a behavioral problem that may be linked to our broad psychological makeup.

Psychological science researchers explain that being late is a control issue where a person asserts dominance and shows defiance by never being on time. People who are late are subconsciously saying they are “extremely busy and therefore important.” A “lateness power struggle” ensues. When a person is late to a business meeting, they may promote the idea that “they’re the most important person in the room and thus their lateness is excused.”

In other situations, being late is a form of procrastination and anxiety. A person who is late may feel anxious about being the first guest to arrive at an event, and their lateness signals insecurity. Research studies reveal that people who are on time, or even early, communicate reliability and competence. They also report feeling more relaxed and prepared, as opposed to hurried and disheveled.

But can timelines affect our overall longevity? Studies by Psychologists at the University of Illinois show the cluster of personality traits comprising conscientiousness – orderliness, industry, reliability and yes, timeliness – not only increase over the entire lifespan, but are directly related to improved health and longevity.

According to scientist, Brent Roberts: “First, conscientious people create life paths for themselves that contribute to better health. That is, they are more successful in their careers, earn more money, have more stable families, and socialize more—all factors known to be linked to health.”

So, when you’re writing out your list of New Year’s Resolutions, make punctuality a conscious priority. Isn’t it about time?

DEC My Room

From Hospital Room to Hello Kitty
DEC MY ROOM helps kids with cancer smile

Some people may not see the healing force of magic markers and Scotch tape. But volunteers for Dec My Room are deeply touching the lives of Houston’s sickest children. Inside the bone marrow transplant unit of Texas Children’s Cancer Center, patient rooms are being transformed into colorful, cozy, personalized spaces. Started by Susan Plank in August 2007, Dec My Room has recently expanded into the rooms of other children faced with prolonged hospitalization.

“We wanted children with cancer to feel like they were at home, not inside a hospital,” Susan Plank explains. “Decorating a room seems like a simple project, but it helps children cope with the psychological toll that accompanies a long hospital stay.”

Dec volunteers have successfully “decked out” more than 80 rooms at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, with more rooms on the way. Each room is decorated with the child’s personal preferences in mind. Themes range from Superman, the Houston Dynamo, cars, Hollywood celebrities, and yes, Hello Kitty.

“My partner-in-crime, Shelley Barineau, was recently awarded a grant from the Children’s Fund, and we’re thrilled,” Susan Plank says. “Our organization is all volunteers, so one hundred percent of our funds go toward decorations.” With a budget of $250 per room, patients watch in astonishment as volunteers hustle to give their rooms a special makeover. The process begins by finding out what the patient is fanatical about and incorporating it into the room’s theme. Although decorating a child’s room seems simple, the results put an immediate smile on the children’s faces. In certain instances, young patients who could control their doses of pain medication with a button, pushed it less frequently after their room was transformed.

“We go through everyday life filled with trivial concerns, like being stuck in traffic, but when you walk through Texas Children’s Hospital and see these children, it helps put your life into perspective,” Susan Plank says.

A Brief Snippet about Texas Children’s Hospital

Considered one of the top pediatric organizations in the world, Texas Children’s Hospital is in the midst of a $1.5 billion investment. Aptly titled Vision 2010 – Excellence to Eminence, this is the largest short-term investment ever by a single children’s hospital anywhere in the world. Major projects scheduled for completion by 2010 include a comprehensive neurological research institute, a maternity center, expansion of existing research facilities and the development of one of the largest pediatric hospitals in a suburban setting.

For more information on how you can make a difference, contact Jamee Rivera at (832) 822-4892

I Will Now Perform A Trick Called “The Balancing Act.”

Hear ye! Hear ye! Come one, come all! It’s The Greatest Show on Earth! Watch as the Magical Splendini balances a cocktail plate in one hand and a fork in another!

Okay, Houston party people. It’s time to get down to business. Let’s talk plates.

I’ve recently become aware of a frightening trend at parties: the itty bitty cocktail plate. Now, I don’t know who’s to blame for this. The caterers? The hosts? Oprah Winfrey? Who came up with the idea of the diminutive party plate? A plate so microscopic it requires a NASA engineer to determine whether it will hold a chicken skewer.

There is no room to set your fork on these plates, much less food. You have to cup the plate in the palm of your hand while balancing your wine glass, your fork, your napkin, and your dignity.

Trust me when I tell you that I’m not good at balancing acts. I don’t work for Cirque du Soleil. I’ve been known to trip over invisible “bumps” in the floor in broad daylight. So I ask you this question, dear Houston:

What is so offensive about providing guests with regular, dinner-sized plates? Is there a fear that actual eating will take place?

Of course, there are certain scenarios where petite cocktail plates make sense. Say, at a Weight Watchers convention. Or perhaps, at a large, thousand-person event where people are meant to “nibble,” as opposed to “chow down.”

In these instances, the miniature cocktail plate sets the tone. The tone of: “Hey, folks. We’re not serving a meal, here. These are just mini-quiches.”

(And yet, isn’t there always that one guy in the crowd piling his plate as high as the Tower of Babel. Uh, pardon me, Sir. This is not Luby’s.)

However, when you serve an entire fajita dinner complete with rice, beans, chips and queso, dinner-sized plates should be de rigueur!

And now for my next trick! Come see the Magical Splendini as she attempts to eat a fajita without dripping cheese on her stilettos!

The Natural High: Finding Your Inner Fitness Fanatic

January 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Edit

By Tracey Fuller

Karie YankieFinding a workout to match your needs and lifestyle is daunting. Each month a new fitness craze promises maximum results via an “easy” routine.  But when the luster wears off and you’re still cursing the scale, it’s time for yet another change.  While simple, the following weight loss routines do exactly what they promise – work-you-out!



Developed in Germany by Joseph Pilates, this system of stretching is designed to strengthen the core.  Breathing, precision and concentration are key components.

Long, deep breaths access the abdominal muscles and stabilize the body.  Additionally, Pilates breathing promotes increased range of motion and helps expel toxins from the body.

Pilates consists of precise movements, so concentration is essential. For example, some movements require you to lay naturally on your back with a “neutral” spine, while others are done with the spine pressed or “imprinted” on the floor. Concentration enhances body awareness and yields maximum results.


When practiced regularly, Pilates improves range of motion, flexibility, circulation, posture and abdominal strength.  Pilates burns calories and sheds pounds, especially at advanced levels.

Where to Practice

Hardcore Pilates

3701 Kirby, Ste. 436

Houston, TX 77098

(832) 338-8091


2808 Virginia

Houston, TX 77098

(713) 528-724

Third Coast Pilates

1415 Harold

Houston TX 77006

(713) 529-1533



Dating back to ancient India, Yoga harmonizes mind and body through a series of postures done in a meditative state. The practice has been lauded for centuries for its ability to naturally heal the body.

Hatha, Vinyasa and Bikram are among the most popular styles. Hatha describes a slow-paced practice that incorporates basic yoga poses. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, is slightly more vigorous. Bikram is a set of 26 poses practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room, allowing muscles to loosen and prompting profuse sweating.


Yoga improves flexibility, tones muscles and helps detoxify the body.  It’s often recommended for injury rehabilitation and can help ease back pain, arthritis, allergies and diseases.  Many people battling anxiety and depression credit Yoga with helping them overcome personal troubles.  More than an exercise, Yoga is a lifestyle.

Where to Practice

Bikram’s Yoga College of India

1854 Fountainview

Houston, TX 77057

(713) 781-5333

Yoga One

3030 Travis

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 443-6466

Your Body Center

1415 California

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 874-0800



The fastest way to improve cardiovascular fitness and burn calories is to hit the ground running.  Starting a program is easy.  It doesn’t require equipment or instruction, just determination and a good pair of running shoes.

Researchers and health professionals suggest running three to five days per week to sustain optimal health.  When running, it’s good to keep your head towards the horizon with your shoulders loose and relaxed.  Arms should remain close to your body, moving back and forth, while the torso is tall and upright.


Pounding your feet on the ground or a treadmill is a weight-bearing activity, proven to burn more calories than seated exercise. Additionally, running helps your heart pump stronger and more efficiently, lowering your chances of developing coronary heart disease.  Individuals who run regularly have increased levels of HDL cholesterol (the good fat) and decreased unhealthy body fat.

While running on a treadmill is an excellent form of exercise, you burn slightly more calories when making a run for it outside. Fresh air adds resistance to your run and hard ground is more intense than a treadmill.  Researchers say you can match the outdoor experience by setting a treadmill at one percent elevation.

Running Clubs

Houston Striders

(713) 797-8601

The Kenyan Way

4304 Floyd

Houston, TX 77007

(713) 864-8872

Power In Motion

It’s a good idea to consult your physicians or a qualified personal trainer before starting any fitness routine.  Setting ambitious, feasible goals is key to achieving ideal results.  Turn the channel on late-night infomercials peddling fitness fads and give these tried and true workouts a go.

Our Forefathers’ Foreplay The Cutting Edge

January 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

The best kept secret around here is that Houston has a history. Oh sure, it’s hard to compare our past to Boston’s or San Antonio’s, but we can beat Dallas, Denver and Detroit without breaking a sweat. Houston has been a national capital, survived two military invasions, and endured 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 a country, or held the title of richest man in the world.

We do not celebrate our history as other cities do, mainly because there is little to point out. No Alamo or French Quarter, and no crumbling ruins, unless you count Galveston. In Houston, we put a historical plaque on anything due for 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 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 ran in German newspapers touting the glories of Houston. In Hamburg, or maybe Brennan, I found pamphlets that were passed around town back then. They showed Houston with snow-capped mountains in the background. Ski the Heights. Why is Congress Street so named? Because when Houston was capital of the Republic of Texas, our Congress met where the Rice Hotel now stands. You may have read that UH-Downtown, located in a big, red building, wants to change its name to something else. How about UH-Stalag? A Confederate POW camp for Yankees once sat there.

How many presidents have lived in Houston? Five. It’s sort of a trick question. We all know George H.W. Bush is a resident and George W. lived here during his wild bachelor days. Lyndon B. Johnson taught public speaking and coached debate at Sam Houston High School from 1930 to ’31. The two others are 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 both the Mexican and Texian armies marched across Harris County 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 “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 analyzing papers they carried, Smith learned about Santa Anna’s army, strength, position and battle plans.

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

Houston newspaper editor, Dr. Francis Moore, was elected to the Republic of Texas Senate and lobbied 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 they had never taken part in a duel.

William Sydney Porter, aka O. Henry, lived here 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, among the worst race riots and military mutinies in American history. They happened during World War I, but you can still see the streets where angry black soldiers of the Third Battalion Twenty-fourth United States Infantry broke from their camp in what is now Memorial Park. The ringleaders were later court martialed, 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 and set up a carriage shop in the 1830s. The uncle arrived one morning and transferred his bags to his nephew’s business, Hedenberg &Vedder. Charles was quite busy at the time, so he suggested his uncle should 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 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 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.