Hoston vs Dallas – This Should Be Good!

September 30, 2014 by  
Filed under H Sports, Texans Adrift

Houston vs. Dallas

by Robb Moore

My preseason prediction for the Texans was 8-8, give or take a win. I still think that’s where they’re going to end up. The quarterback play has been very ho-hum but, as anyone who watched the 23-17 win over Buffalo can attest, when you have J.J. Watt, any game is win-able.

My preseason prediction for the Cowboys was 5-11, give or take a win. It looks like I’m going to be very wrong about that one. The Cowboys are running the ball better than I ever imagined they would. I didn’t even think they’d try to run as much as they have so far.

And that brings us to this weeks game. Houston at Dallas. The Texas Bowl. It happens every 5 years and this game should be a battle. Houston is desperate to put last years 2-14 record far behind them and Dallas is trying to fix 15+ years of mediocrity. Both teams are on their way to doing just that.

Keys to winning:

Houston
1. Stop the run – Dallas is the #1 rushing team in the NFL. Demarco Murray is averaging 133.5 yards per game. The Texans MUST slow him down.

2. Take some shots downfield – The Cowboys secondary is depleted because of injuries and, well, just not being very good in general. Fitzpatrick is going to need to throw the deep ball to keep the defense honest.

3. Possession – The Texans will need to win the time of possession battle. That means, they need to establish the run early and often.

Dallas
1. Line of Scrimmage – The Cowboys have been very good at controlling the line this year so far, thanks to 3 first round draft picks the last 3 years. That won’t be easy to do this week against a defensive front that stars J.J. Watt. And, it’ll be even harder if Clowney dresses.

2. Keep Tony Romo upright – The Texans can get to the quarterback in a big way. For Dallas to have a chance in this game, They will have to do a great job in pass protection.

3. Possession – Like the Texans, Dallas will need to control the clock. If the O-Line keeps playing the way they have been this season, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Prediction

Dallas 28 – Houston 17

Obligatory Hyperbolic Post About JJ Watt’s Greatness/Can The Texans Beat Dallas?

September 30, 2014 by  
Filed under H Sports, Texans Adrift

Legends will tell of this man long after he ceases to walk the Earth.

Legends will tell of this man long after he ceases to walk the Earth.

Throughout human history there have been tales of supermen accomplishing great deeds and performing fantastic feats. The ancient Greeks and Romans are notorious for their stories about Perseus, and Hercules. and countless other demigods that walked the realms of men and toed the line between Olympus and humanity. Logic dictates that these stories, fantastic as they may be, probably have some basis in fact. Maybe Hercules just happened to be the strongest guy anyone had ever seen and he picked up a few really heavy things. Stories pass around and a stone eventually turns into a mountain by virtue of tales being embellished hundreds of times over many years. It occurs to me that we are all living in the presence of a man for whom such legends don’t seem that far fetched. JJ Watt, modern day Hercules. Son of Gods and mortal men. Sent from on high to deliver the people of this sports hell-scape from the agony of awful football.

I believe I can say, without any argument from the sane among us, that JJ Watt single handedly won the game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, as much as a Defensive End can win a game all on his own anyway. Disrupting the quarterback, hitting the quarterback, and finally deciding enough was enough and intercepting the quarterback and returning that interception 80 yards for a touchdown. I sit at this computer screen in awe of this young man and can’t help but declare him Superman.

It’s not often that men of his caliber come along. Once in a generation athletes that can turn a sport on its ear are rare. We’ve been lucky in Houston to have one before in Hakeem Olajuwon (One could argue that Earl Campbell and Nolan Ryan deserve that respect as well) a man who, despite his late start in the sport of basketball managed to become one of the fifty greatest players in the history of the game. JJ Watt is this type of player. Young Defensive Ends will look to him in the future as a model for how to play the game of football. Future generations will look at his highlights and ask how it was possible for a man of his size to do the things he can do. Consider yourself lucky that you get to bear witness to this human marvel every football Sunday. Don’t feel bad for skipping church to watch the Texans play because when you do you are watching one of God’s most perfect creatures do exactly what he was intended to do on this Earth, and what greater worship can you give to the Lord than to sit back and admire his best work?

Yes, one day, hundreds of years from now, on the desolate wasted plains of the post-apocalyptic United States people will sit around camp fires and listen to the stories about our modern day Hercules that did battle in giant colosseums in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans. The golden haired half-god that could overpower dozens of men at once, leap ten feet in the air, and run the 40 in 2.5 seconds without ever breaking a sweat. They will listen and they will marvel and they will wish they could have been here to see it. Appreciate it folks. Hercules won’t be back for a long time.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Unknown

In soccer they call it a Derby. In college it might have a snazzy nick-name and a corporate sponsor. The Astros and Rangers play for the Silver Boot trophy, but when the Texans meet the Cowboys this coming Sunday there won’t be very many scarves in the stands, no marching bands on the sidelines, and no gaudy trophy to lay claim on. The only thing the two NFL teams from Texas will be playing for on October 5th is a 1 in the Win column. Of course to the fans on either side of this game it means a little bit more than that. The game between these two teams is four years in the making, like a World Cup or a Presidential election, and pulls just as much weight as either of those events with those involved. Imagine if Argentina had won the World Cup in Brazil this summer…four uninterrupted years of one neighbor holding a trophy over the heads of another. The game between the Cowboys of (near) Dallas and the Texans of Houston could mean four more years of darkness if the right team doesn’t emerge victorious.

Can the Texans win? Sure. The Cowboys shellacked the Saints on Sunday night this last week, but the Cowboys have also been very inconsistent this season. If we see a focused Texans team that doesn’t make mistakes and forces turnovers, like the team we saw in games 1 and 2 this year, then we have a damn good shot of going into Arlington and stealing this game from the favored Cowboys. And if JJ Watt continues to morph into Captain America every Sunday afternoon and gets in Tony Romo’s face as much as he did RGIII and EJ Manuel then we should be on easy street…

There’s always a “but” though, isn’t there? If the Texans allow DeMarco Murray to get going like they allowed Rashad Jennings two weeks ago in New York then they will almost certainly have a repeat of that abysmal performance this week in Dallas. There really is no middle ground here. They have to play as close to flawless as they can because Dallas is just flat out better than they are when it comes to moving the football down the field to score. The Texans will have to score early and often and not get into a position where they have to play catch up.

Before the season I had this penciled in as an L for the Texans, but the blatant homerism in me just won’t allow me to pick the Cowboys over my team. My prediction? (Other than pain?)

Texans 23 Dallas 17

RUNNING ON EMPTY

September 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby 29 Sept. 2014 In 1994, Steve Mansfield ran for a seat on Texas’ highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. He operated his campaign mostly from his car and motels, but won with 4.5 million votes. Why? Because Mansfield had an R by his name and ran on the Republican ticket with George W. Bush, who swept Texas. Only then did voters learn Mansfield had paid a fine in Florida for practicing law without a license, earned a reputation of conning women through personal ads, married, divorced, and neglected to pay for child support. He claimed to be born and raised in Texas when in fact he was born and raised in Massachusetts, and actually was not a criminal lawyer at all. Mansfield passed the Texas bar exam only two years earlier and almost all of his legal experience was serving as in-house counsel to insurance companies. He served on the court until 2000, during which time he was arrested for scalping tickets to the Texas-Texas A&M game on university property, and later worked as a security guard at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Score another victory for straight-ticket voting. Yes, it’s almost election time again, so here is Voting Made Easy. I have an early look at the choices in the elections on Nov. 4 for all sorts of taxpayer–paid jobs from governor on down – or up. Texans will make choices determining who will lead us, how our state and local tax dollars will be spent, who will be on our state school board so parents can opt for home schooling. After going over the list and considering their backgrounds, quotes and positions on pond scum, I needed a drink. Maybe two. But if you are like most Texans, you won’t vote, then you’ll gripe about those whom other people elected. There are 25.6 million people in Texas, some are citizens and thus can cast a ballot. Take away those who just got here from Tegucigalpa, those under 18, those in jail, old folks who can’t understand the 50-page ballot (in major counties) and then scratch out those who could vote but don’t. Subtract the fact Texas is such a red state most candidates who won the GOP primary are a shoo-in, and many run unopposed. Ross Ramsey wrote in The Texas Tribune that of the state’s eligible voters, 32.1 percent of adults voted in the 2010 general election. Only the District of Columbia was worse with 28.9 percent. The national rate was 41 percent. When the dust settles, our state-wide officials are actually chosen by about 7 to 10 percent of the people. Now about the straight-ticket voter, or STV, and this has nothing to do with being straight. Do you walk into the voting booth – today it’s more like a bank counter – look for the place on the ballot that allows you to push only a button or two and vote for every candidate from that party? Most Texans do exactly that – monkey see, monkey do. Yet straight-ticket voting, has been declining in popularity in other states. At least three states have done away with it in the last decade, and a fourth nearly did. Texas has permitted straight-ticket voting since 1911, and is one of only 13 states still using it. Last election, a record 64 percent of Texas voters cast straight-ticket ballots. The results vary in various elections. In Travis County in 2008, straight-ticket voting went 64 percent for Democrats, 34 percent for Republicans. Almost two-thirds of Harris County’s voters joined the STV party in 2008. In 2010, 67 percent pulled a straight-ticket. A majority of Harris County voters, in fact, have voted straight-ticket in each of the last five general elections except 2006, when 48 percent of the votes were cast that way. I have interviewed and reported on politicians for decades, and can truthfully say that most of them in all parties are corrupt, drunks and/or inefficient – except mine, of course. We always re-elect our own lawmakers. But this year Texas is having a fire sale (sorry, Governor’s Mansion — sorry, Rick) in statewide jobs. Openings are everywhere. So I look for candidates at least I have heard of. For years Jim Bowie and Gene Kelly ran for office. Sam Houston is on the ballot this November. And you thought Quanah Parker was dead, Pale Face? He’s running for Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4. Nathan Hecht is running for Supreme Court chief justice. This is the same Nathan Hecht who voted with the majority that private beach-front owners could close our public beaches. Libertarians or Greens, new names, old names. Keep looking for a Jesus, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Antonio and Willie Nelson. Some running for state-wide office have nicknames like Emily “Spicybrown” Sanchez and David “Rocky” Palmquist. I’ll bet Chandrakantha Courtney would never win as a write-in candidate. Where is that Bush name? There has been a Bush on a Texas ballot at least 10 times. Make that 11. Now George P. Bush, that well-known rural surveyor and realtor, is running for land commissioner. Another key: look for whichever name you’ve seen the most during the campaign, particularly those whose names are nailed illegally to city sign posts and stuck in street medians. TV ads are also a good judge of character. Watch for spots that don’t just disparage that slimy, no-count opponent who hates women, children, puppies and football. Note TV ads by candidates who tout their own record and explain how they will solve our problems. If you find such a candidate’s ad, you’re watching the Comedy Channel. We also have a constitutional amendment to vote on: “…providing for the use and dedication of certain money transferred to the state highway fund.” Well, that’s certainly specific enough for me. I mean, if we can’t trust our legislators in Austin, who can we trust? Finally, remember that just when you think nothing can get worse, there’s an election, as Steve Mansfield was telling me. Ashby is running at ashby2@comcast.net

It’s Just Beer

September 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Tap Into Houston

Beer in glasses isolated on white background

“It’s just beer.”
Many beer lovers cringe when they hear that. For so long, it has been the song of those who
denegrate our beloved beverage, as if it were no better than prison hooch. They are judging us
for allegedly wasting our time on something not at all worth it, often while they write endless
poetry about some secluded spot in Sonoma. For those of us that enjoy discussing beer, seek out
different beers, and even travel all over the country and globe in the name of beer, “it’s just beer”
is the ultimate insult.

However, it also was the motto of one of the wisest beer lovers I’ve ever known. Ken Rich, a
long-time homebrewer and homebrew shop owner, often said “it’s just beer.” Let me tell you
why. As the craft beer movement grows more quickly than a snowball in an avalanche, I hear
(and even find myself) in more and more nitpicky arguments about details of beer styles, beer
names, beer ingredients, beer politics, and a whole raft of other overblown subjects. In fact,
there are websites with volumes of such arguments. Instead of using our mouths for something
more useful (such as removing beer from a glass), we go on and on for hours about how worthy a
beer is when it does not meet Reinheitsgebot, how sour a saison really should be, what place any
fruit has in any beer, whether this IPA really is a good IPA, and (o, the mother of them all for the
last few years) how in the world can we call a beer both “black” and “pale” at the same time.

You know you’ve done it. We all have. Chances are we will again.
When Ken was still walking this Earth, though, he would tire quickly of all that. He would let us
know that he had with “guys, it’s just beer.” However, when Ken said it, he was holding beer on
high. He meant that we needed to relax, open our minds, and leave all the persnickety details
behind. Would we visit Mount Rushmore and spend all our time complaining that George
Washington might have a hair out of place? Of course not. Likewise, we shouldn’t sit there at
the bar and hold this glorious thing, this gift that human hands have crafted for ten thousand
years, and just go back and forth like barking dogs. Of course not. Rather, we must enjoy that
beer, any beer, for what it is.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are times and places for all those details and arguments, but
they really are quite few and far between. Most of the time, we need to sit back, enjoy the
moment, and remember that “it’s just beer.”

Zest In The West- October 9, 2014

September 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Foodie Events

zest

 

What: 7th Annual Zest in the West
Location: Chateau Crystale,
2517 S Gessner Road at Westheimer
Houston, Texas 77063
Time:
7 – 10pm
Tickets: 
www.zestinthewest.com/tickets
Grand Zesting – $65
Ultimate VIP Luxury Lounge – $125
VIP Luxury Lounge & A Sparking Affair – $155
Total VVIP Experience – $200

A “Zesty” experience for foodies, craft beer buffs and wine enthusiasts while being serenaded by live music. Enjoy culinary offerings from West Houston’s finest restaurants as they compete for the Best of Zest Culinary Awards.

The Grand Zesting features a live auction benefiting the West Houston Leadership Institute, the Zestiest Display Contest, a relaxation zone and interactive displays. Warning if you come out in style you may just be spotted as a potential winner of the Fashion Forward Award.

RUNNING ON EMPTY

September 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

In 1994, Steve Mansfield ran for a seat on Texas’ highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. He operated his campaign mostly from his car and motels, but won with 4.5 million votes. Why? Because Mansfield had an R by his name and ran on the Republican ticket with George W. Bush, who swept Texas. Only then did voters learn Mansfield had paid a fine in Florida for practicing law without a license, earned a reputation of conning women through personal ads, married, divorced, and neglected to pay for child support. He claimed to be born and raised in Texas when in fact he was born and raised in Massachusetts, and actually was not a criminal lawyer at all. Mansfield passed the Texas bar exam only two years earlier and almost all of his legal experience was serving as in-house counsel to insurance companies. He served on the court until 2000, during which time he was arrested for scalping tickets to the Texas-Texas A&M game on university property, and later worked as a security guard at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

Score another victory for straight-ticket voting. Yes, it’s almost election time again, so here is Voting Made Easy. I have an early look at the choices in the elections on Nov. 4 for all sorts of taxpayer–paid jobs from governor on down – or up. Texans will make choices determining who will lead us, how our state and local tax dollars will be spent, who will be on our state school board so parents can opt for home schooling. After going over the list and considering their backgrounds, quotes and positions on pond scum, I needed a drink. Maybe two. But if you are like most Texans, you won’t vote, then you’ll gripe about those whom other people elected.

There are 25.6 million people in Texas, some are citizens and thus can cast a ballot. Take away those who just got here from Tegucigalpa, those under 18, those in jail, old folks who can’t understand the 50-page ballot (in major counties) and then scratch out those who could vote but don’t. Subtract the fact Texas is such a red state most candidates who won the GOP primary are a shoo-in, and many run unopposed. Ross Ramsey wrote in The Texas Tribune that of the state’s eligible voters, 32.1 percent of adults voted in the 2010 general election. Only the District of Columbia was worse with 28.9 percent. The national rate was 41 percent. When the dust settles, our state-wide officials are actually chosen by about 7 to 10 percent of the people.

Now about the straight-ticket voter, or STV, and this has nothing to do with being straight. Do you walk into the voting booth – today it’s more like a bank counter – look for the place on the ballot that allows you to push only a button or two and vote for every candidate from that party? Most Texans do exactly that – monkey see, monkey do. Yet straight-ticket voting, has been declining in popularity in other states. At least three states have done away with it in the last decade, and a fourth nearly did. Texas has permitted straight-ticket voting since 1911, and is one of only 13 states still using it. Last election, a record 64 percent of Texas voters cast straight-ticket ballots.

The results vary in various elections. In Travis County in 2008, straight-ticket voting went 64 percent for Democrats, 34 percent for Republicans. Almost two-thirds of Harris County’s voters joined the STV party in 2008. In 2010, 67 percent pulled a straight-ticket. A majority of Harris County voters, in fact, have voted straight-ticket in each of the last five general elections except 2006, when 48 percent of the votes were cast that way.

I have interviewed and reported on politicians for decades, and can truthfully say that most of them in all parties are corrupt, drunks and/or inefficient – except mine, of course. We always re-elect our own lawmakers. But this year Texas is having a fire sale (sorry, Governor’s Mansion — sorry, Rick) in statewide jobs. Openings are everywhere. So I look for candidates at least I have heard of. For years Jim Bowie and Gene Kelly ran for office. Sam Houston is on the ballot this November. And you thought Quanah Parker was dead, Pale Face? He’s running for Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4. Nathan Hecht is running for Supreme Court chief justice. This is the same Nathan Hecht who voted with the majority that private beach-front owners could close our public beaches.

Libertarians or Greens, new names, old names. Keep looking for a Jesus, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Antonio and Willie Nelson. Some running for state-wide office have nicknames like Emily “Spicybrown” Sanchez and David “Rocky” Palmquist. I’ll bet Chandrakantha Courtney would never win as a write-in candidate. Where is that Bush name? There has been a Bush on a Texas ballot at least 10 times. Make that 11. Now George P. Bush, that well-known rural surveyor and realtor, is running for land commissioner.

Another key: look for whichever name you’ve seen the most during the campaign, particularly those whose names are nailed illegally to city sign posts and stuck in street medians. TV ads are also a good judge of character. Watch for spots that don’t just disparage that slimy, no-count opponent who hates women, children, puppies and football. Note TV ads by candidates who tout their own record and explain how they will solve our problems. If you find such a candidate’s ad, you’re watching the Comedy Channel. We also have a constitutional amendment to vote on: “…providing for the use and dedication of certain money transferred to the state highway fund.” Well, that’s certainly specific enough for me. I mean, if we can’t trust our legislators in Austin, who can we trust? Finally, remember that just when you think nothing can get worse, there’s an election, as Steve Mansfield was telling me.

 

Ashby is running at ashby2@comcast.net

 

Travel to Atlantic City

September 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Here is a sneak peak of my recent trip to Atlantic City.  Look for the full article in our upcoming print edition.

 

Cold or Flu?

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Now that Flu season is just around the corner let’s get down to the bare bones of  Cold vs Flu.  Knowing the difference will help you get a step ahead of the illness to treat the symptoms and feel better faster! It  will also help you make the decision to wait or make that appointment with your doctor.

cold or flu

Choosing The Right Glasses For Your Face

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Beauty & Fashion

Glasses

Brotox – Not Just for Women & Not Just For Wrinkles!

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Beauty & Fashion

brotox

Is A Credit Union Right For You?

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Finance

Credit Union

Vitamin Cheat Sheet

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness, Parents' Place

vitamins

How To Be More Consistent With Your Goals

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Goals

The Original 14 Football Teams – Where Are They Now?

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under H Sports

Football

THE WEALTH OF NOTIONS

September 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

My last get-rich scheme didn’t work out too well. I bet the Texans and Cowboys would play in the Super Bowl. But I heard that organic foods were the current fad, so I invested heavily in them, and went broke because no one would buy my organic foods, not even my organic transplants. “Organic is so last year,” I was told. “Today everyone is into gluten-free foods. I sold my left kidney and bought a gluten company. It went bankrupt. Only then did I learn that gluten is so yesterday. Now the trendy foodies are into cantaloupe seeds.
Perhaps the food industry should be approached from a different direction. I opened a little French café, Le Choque & Puque. It was invaded by the German biergarten next door. I tried to start a Tex-Mex cantina, but the Texas Militia shot my customers. The leader explained, “They looked like Salvadoran child terrorists.” That gave me an idea and I opened a veggie pub for the Texas National Guard on the border called Beets on the Ground. Too late I found out they hadn’t been paid and I couldn’t accept bandoliers in exchange.
Something was wrong with my finances, then I saw a news story that explained my problem. The Federal Reserve said in a new report on consumer finances that the richest 10 percent of Americans were the only group whose median incomes rose in the past three years. And they voted against Obama? The Fed said that incomes declined for every other group from 2010 to 2013, widening the gap between the richest Americans and everyone else. The report found median incomes, adjusted for inflation, for the top 10 percent rose 2 percent, to $223,200 from $217,900. So if you’re in the top 10 percent, you are getting even richer. But for the middle 20 percent, incomes dropped 6 percent, to $48,700 from $51,800. For those at the bottom of the economic ladder – hobos, school teachers and journalists — average incomes dropped from $15,800 to $15,200.
It was my job to go from that bottom 10 percent to the top 10 percent. Of course, my first job was to get a job. I served (briefly) as campaign manager for Eric Cantor’s primary election. I had explained to the House majority whip how I had boosted Congress’s approval rating from 4 percent to almost 5 percent, plus or minus 6 percent. When I applied to Rupert Murdoch for a job, he threw me out of his office when he remembered how I had transformed his News of the World into a household name – a name I can’t repeat. Murdoch had said “fracking” and I thought he said “hacking.” Easy mistake to make.
I purchased the Planned Parenthood franchise in the Vatican. Big error. I finally got a spot at the Dick Cheney Charm School until he found out I had been in charge of the rollout plan for Obamacare. My success operating the college student loan program collapsed after a few Congressional hearings and a multi-trillion debt, but the experience landed me a position as organizational planner for the UT System leadership. That collapsed after several lawsuits, legislative investigations and career-endings for both the UT chancellor and the UT-Austin president. The regents clearly forgot how my consulting had helped Mack Brown last season, not to mention my social advice to the Travis County DA. (Party, party, party – Rick Perry doesn’t care).
Why wasn’t my effort to move upward economically, not to mention socially, residentially and metaphorically, succeeding? My cash cow had been roped, branded and undergone a humiliating operation. Then I discovered why. That same Federal Reserve report said that the top 3 percent of families collected 30.5 percent of all income in 2013, up from 27.7 percent in 2010, and the concentration of wealth continued without interruption. Checking to see just who these top 3 percenters were, I discovered many were professional athletes and CEOs of energy firms, but most were running hedge funds. That was the ticket. I entered that profession only to find nobody was buying hedges, not even bushes.
So I sought out my financial adviser. He had said he had an office near the freeway and would be wearing an orange vest. I found him easily because there was a big sign near his office reading: “Drive slow – clean-up crew.” He put down his pointed pole and trash bag and listened to my lament. “These days the real money is in self-help lectures, so get in on the gold.” I rented a hall and put out ads: “You too can get rich – learn how. Just $10!” When the time came, the auditorium was packed. I addressed the crowd which had greed in its eyes. “What you do is rent a hall and charge ten dollars for people to get in. I made a fortune tonight.” The audience was somewhat displeased, but the doctor said I would be up and around in a few weeks.
As I look back on my career — advising Coke to change its formula, there was that Edsel deal at Ford, and maybe I should not have advised Anthony Weiner about photographs. Then I saw a big headline: “BP To Pay Billions!” Before you can say “extortion,” I made my pitch to the oil spill arbitrator. “This is the last picture of my 200-foot yacht, Tax Dodge. It went down with all hands, and feet, too.” He peered at the picture. “That’s the USS Benedict Arnold.” I quickly brought out a second photo. “This was my beach house. Cost four million, and it’s all gone – the eight-bedroom house, two swimming pools, gatehouse, indoor polo rink or diamond or whatever they call it.” He turned the photo over and read: “Stay at the lovely Hawaiian Hilton.”
My financial adviser recommended I hold a sale on hedges, at least I think that’s what he said. It’s hard to hear though those glass walls in the visiting room.
Ashby is greedy at ashby2@comcast.net

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BARBED WIRE

September 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE LINE – You don’t often see a store with a large sign by the front door warning not to bring firearms inside, complete with the big silhouette of a revolver. And inside is a very big guard (true to the sign, no gun) but with badge and uniform and the look of a rabid Tasmanian devil. Why all of this self-protection? Is this a bank, a gold exchange, a Starbucks? No, this is the local office of my cable company, Disable Cable, and it’s clear I am not alone in my feelings toward this establishment. Everyone in this long, slow-moving line has a surly expression, deep and malevolent thoughts, and we exchange war stories.

But let me begin a few months ago. We visited our lakeside hovel in Varicose Valley, home of retired generals, drug lords in the Witness Protection Program and Nazi war criminals having undergone plastic surgery. As usual, the cable was out meaning no phone, no computer, no TV. We have had to call Disable Cable (“We put the vice in service“) every time we arrive and then every other day while we’re there, so I have its number of my cell phone speed dial. Long story short, a cable guy would come out in three days sometime between dawn and midnight. He fixed the problem and as he drove off the whole system went out again. After about two weeks, another guy came out and said the problem was with the cable from the house to a big box, so he strung a bright orange cable across my back yard down the hill and into the trees. He said a crew would come out and bury the cable on Monday (this was a Friday). No one came, but we had to leave for home. Came back two weeks later, the cable was still across the yard and – surprise! – nothing worked.

You probably have cable and thus can sympathize with me. Between my home and the lake house I have spent hours on the phone (my cell phone because the land line is dead) or waiting for the cable guy. Over the years they have fixed it, not fixed it, said I needed a new modem (three in two months). Getting help over the phone is interesting because there are two of us in the conversation and one can’t speak English. Akmed has had me get on my knees to plug and unplug various wires and black boxes, etc. etc. That is, if you can get a real human being. Mostly I get recordings: “If the problem is your phone, touch 1, touch 2 for your TV, 3 for your computer, 4 for a technician. The waiting period is (pause) let’s see, this is Thursday, isn’t it?”

We also have bundling. If you want NBC, it is bundled with the Danish Pottery Channel, the Waltz Channel, the Hong Kong Traffic Guide and 23 other similarly needed spots on the remote. You like sports and want to take the NFL Channel? Lucky you, because you also must take ESPN 76 (kayaking in Pampa), Curling Classics and 41 other sports channels including the Best of the St. Louis Browns — 1941. Like you, I use maybe a dozen different channels, some hardly ever — how long can you watch a Dane making teapots?

It is not surprising that a survey of 70,000 U.S. consumers found that Internet service providers and cable companies are the two most hated sectors of the entire U.S. economy. Market Watch reports that the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which is put out quarterly by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and is considered the most comprehensive customer satisfaction survey in the nation, found that once again Comcast and the Time Warner Co. have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any company. Market Watch: “Not only do Internet service and cable providers sit at the bottom of the survey — below airlines, health insurers and the U.S. Postal Service — but somehow, satisfaction has dipped with those two industries since the previous year’s survey.” Meantime, the cost of subscription TV has been rising 6 percent per year on average — four times the rate of inflation. This explains why Comcast is trying to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, and AT&T is trying to purchase Direct TV for $48.5 billion. For us, fewer companies means less competition, higher prices. In fact, a Comcast executive basically admitted as much by saying, “we’re certainly not promising that customer bills will go down or increase less rapidly” after the deal is finalized.

We now return to our story of the lines here at Disable Cable. I am standing in a large room filled with people holding boxes, wires, bulging bags of equipment, as am I because I’m changing channels — or cable companies. I’ve had it with their inefficiency, lack of fixing my many and constant problems and rising fees, although I must say all their employees both the cable guys who come to get ‘er done and Akmed on the phone, are always patient and polite. But I’m switching to Tired Wired Cable.

There are so many people here that we each take a number when we enter and, if possible, sit on a long bench, and wait as they call out the numbers while being watched over by the guard. I am number 16. That didn’t seem so bad until I heard them calling out 74. My time finally comes and I dump my cable paraphernalia on the clerk’s desk. “Is it like this all the time?” She shakes her head. “Sometimes it gets really busy.” I inquire if any of these people are signing up and getting new equipment. She shakes her head again. “They’re cancelling their service.” The next day I call to change systems. “Thank you for calling Tired Wired. The waiting period is (pause) let’s see, this is Thursday, isn’t it?”

 

Ashby is remote at ashby2@comcast.net

Should Roger Goodell’s NFL Get The Death Penalty?

September 11, 2014 by  
Filed under H Sports, Sports, Texans Adrift

This is the face of the cancer that is infecting America's Game

This is the face of the cancer that is infecting America’s Game

I had intended of my first post here to be more…me. I wanted to show a little bit of who I am and what can be expected in the future when you click a link to something with my by-line, but seeing as how the National Football League, an entity that has its hands firmly gripped around a big chunk of my spare time every fall and winter, has decided to use this week to make a fool of itself I thought I’d lend further commentary on the subject of “Elevator-gate” or whatever lame label the sports media-at-large (read: ESPN) decide to call this latest scandal. I want to present this in a way that I haven’t yet seen it presented so as not to bore you with a rehashing of things already said or written. Hopefully the following doesn’t make you stop and think: “So-and-so said it better”.

I suppose the best thing to do would be to start from the beginning with a little background on this entire ordeal. It all started in a casino in Atlantic City. Baltimore Ravens’ Running Back Ray Rice and his fiancee Janay seemed to be bickering as they stepped into an elevator, the argument quickly escalated to a point where Mr. Rice decided it would be a good idea to land a left cross on his lady’s chin and knock her out. Since unconscious women rarely stand up and walk off of elevators under their own power Rice was forced to grab the arms of the woman he loves and drag her limp form out into the lobby. We, of course, know all of this because casinos have been video-taping every square inch of their properties since it became practical for them to do so, and TMZ has made it their business to acquire any and all embarrassing footage of everyone you’ve ever heard of and broadcast it to the world. What none of us knew, or rather what none of us had seen with our own eyes, until this past Monday was what actually went on inside the elevator between Ray Rice and his, now, wife Janay because only the exterior camera video had been released to the public. Certainly we could infer from the context clues that what happened inside the elevator was not pleasant, but, in the greatest case of “Pics or it didn’t happen” in the history of the universe, since no one had actually seen the punches land it was almost as if they hadn’t happened at all. We saw Janay walk onto the elevator on her own and minutes later saw her being dragged like a sack of laundry out of the same elevator. The NFL essentially peek-a-booed us all into thinking that when those elevator doors closed the Rices ceased to exist until the doors opened again and Ray pulled his fiancee out into that lobby.

Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Ray Rice for two games this season based on that video and on interviews he and others conducted with Ray and Janay Rice. The NFL claims that they consulted with New Jersey local and state authorities who were investigating the incident based on its criminal nature and determined that Ray Rice missing 1/8th of the NFL season was punishment enough for his actions that night in February. The NFL said that it had never been given access to the video from inside the elevator, despite several lauded NFL reporters saying otherwise, and we were expected to believe them. After all, why would they lie? Wouldn’t it be in their best interests, the team and the league, to have someone who committed such an unforgivable act out of sight? For a commissioner who hands down severe penalties for marijuana use and DUI offenses wouldn’t it make sense that, just one year removed from an active player committing a murder/suicide that claimed the life of the mother of his child, the commissioner would take a heavy stand on violence against women? After public outcry on the leniency of his punishment of Ray Rice Roger Goodell admitted that the NFL had made a mistake and he revealed new minimum punishments for domestic violence offenses. Under the new policy any league employee found to have committed an act of assault, battery, domestic violence, or sexual assault would be suspended for six games without pay for a first offense and for an entire year for a second. The employee could then file an appeal to be reinstated after that year but reinstatement was not a guarantee. On one hand this seems like a fair reaction to a mishandling of a delicate situation. Six games is more than a third of the season, it takes money out of the offender’s pocket, and it escalates should the behavior not be corrected. Yes, on the surface it’s a good policy to have on the books, but it raises an obvious question: Why wasn’t it on the books already?

As I noted before, just over a year ago Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, and the mother of his child, Kasandra Perkins in her home before driving to the Chiefs’ facility at Arrowhead stadium and committing suicide in the parking lot in the presence of members of his coaching staff. Another former NFL player, Rae Carruth was a Wide Receiver for the Carolina Panthers and is currently serving a 24 year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit murder after he hired someone to kill the mother of his unborn child. Cherica Adams died because of Rae Carruth, and their son lives in spite of his efforts to murder them both. You see, Ray Rice isn’t the first NFL player to commit an act of violence against a female, hell, he’s not even the most recent. Just two weeks ago San Francisco defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested for an incident involving his pregnant girlfriend. The NFL has had issues with domestic violence for years and never bothered to put a policy in place to punish those that inflict harm on others until it became a matter of public opinion.

“Yeah, Yeah, I know all that,” you’re thinking to yourself, “you said you were going to come at this from a different angle!” Well here it goes:

There is another organization taxed with managing organized sports that has had its share of ups and downs when dealing out punishments; of course I’m talking about the NCAA. It’s reasonable to assume though that due to the sheer number of entities which exist under the umbrella of the NCAA that their job is just a bit harder than that of the NFL. The NCAA has to police multiple sports and hundreds of thousands of student-athletes at over 1200 institutions so mistakes are sure to be made, but unlike the NFL the NCAA puts part of the onus of compliance on the institutions themselves which brings me to my point: The NFL, in the case of domestic violence by its employees, has shown a severe lack of Institutional Control as it is defined by the NCAA, and those responsible for that lack of control should be punished accordingly. What I’m saying is, that if Roger Goodell’s NFL was a university under the purview of the NCAA there would be a very convincing argument  to be made that it deserves the “Death Penalty”.

The NCAA defines Institutional Control thusly:

PRINCIPLES OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL
AS PREPARED BY THE NCAA COMMITTEE ON INFRACTIONS

  1. “CONTROL” IS DEFINED IN COMMON-SENSE TERMS.In determining whether there has been a lack of institutional control when a violation of NCAA rules has been found it is necessary to ascertain what formal institutional policies and procedures were in place at the time the violation of NCAA rules occurred and whether those policies and procedures, if adequate, were being monitored and enforced. It is important that policies and procedures be established so as to deter violations and not merely to discover their existence after they have taken place. In a case where proper procedures exist and are appropriately enforced, especially when they result in the prompt detection, investigation and reporting of the violations in question, there may be no lack of institutional control although the individual or individuals directly involved may be held responsible.

I have already made it quite clear that the NFL had absolutely no policy in place to either deter OR properly discover incidents of domestic violence by its players or other employees, and even if it had a policy in place for punishment it had become clear in the last 48 hours that the NFL’s investigation of the incident involving the Rices was lacking in one of two ways. They either did not do their due diligence in pursuing a copy of the video from inside the elevator (A video they claim to have been denied by law enforcement but that was somehow acquired by a third party media outlet and released on the internet) or they had a copy of the video, as was reported by the Associated Press, and disregarded the severity of what the video portrays.

Roger Goodell has claimed that if anyone at the NFL office had access to the video in question that he was not made aware of it. He is claiming ignorance of the content of the video and saying that he didn’t view it until TMZ released it in the early hours of September 8th. He is either lying to cover up the fact that he saw the video and didn’t find it completely offensive or he is lying to cover up that no one in the NFL, one of the most powerful entities in this country, could gain access to a video that a glorified tabloid managed to get their hands on. If that doesn’t smack of a lack of institutional control I don’t know what does.

The NFL owners owe it to their fans, to their players, and to the wives and girlfriends of their employees to give Roger Goodell and the people involved in the Ray Rice investigation the SMU treatment. Shut them down for good. Make it so they never recover. The NFL is on the precipice of something it never anticipated. If Goodell is allowed to continue to be the face of the league then the NFL will become a laughing-stock. They should cut ties while there’s still time to save face, because right now they have a commissioner that thinks touchdown celebrations and smoking a joint in the offseason warrant more punishment than physically assaulting someone who can’t defend themselves, and that means that the system is broken.

Historic Montgomery Wine & Music Fest

September 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Events, Foodie Events

Montgomery

When: Saturday, September 20, 2014
Times: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Where: Historic Downtown  –  14420 Liberty Street Montgomery, TX 77356
Phone: 936-597-5004
Tickets: $25.00
Get Tickets HERE

Nestled in the heart of Historic Downtown Montgomery.
Discover Texas Wines while enjoying Great Texas Music!

$5 Alcohol Cover Charge with purchase of any package or tickets.

Sample wines from 16 Texas wineries.
Wine Tastings package includes 5 tastings and souvenir glass.
Additional tastings available for purchase at the gate.
Wine tents open at 11am.

Craft Beer Wall opens at 11am.
Sample tastings or 16oz pours available.

Vendors all around town for plenty of shopping.
Celebration Children’s Area has fun for the whole family!

Two Stages packed with fabulous entertainment.
Headliner for 2014 Main Stage:  Cory Morrow
More entertainment TBA.

For more information on our wineries, food, and entertainment line up visit our website at www.experiencemontgomery.com

9th Annual Feast with the Beasts at the Houston Zoo

September 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Events

feast

 

 

Where: Houston Zoo
Date: November 7, 2014
Time:  7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Phone: 713-533-6550
Buy Tickets Here

FAQ’s & Website

The 9th annual food, beer, and wine celebration with musical guest Sugar Ray! Your admission ticket will allow you to enjoy sample-size food from any or all of the participating restaurants, two beverages, animal presentations, and live musical entertainment by Sugar Ray. Additional beverages can be purchased for $5 each – be sure to bring cash.

The 2013 Feast with the Beasts event featured 65 of Houston’s hottest restaurants, special animal presentations and feedings, and a live performance by Smash Mouth. Money raised helps support the care and feeding of the over 6,000 animals that call Houston Zoo home. Make sure you subscribe to the Houston Zoo e-mail newsletter for all Feast details.

Launched in the fall of 2006 as a fundraiser for the Houston Zoo, Feast with the Beasts was an instant hit! The Zoo’s naturally wild environment and 6,000 animals offer an unprecedented venue for this wine, beer and food event.

The 2006 event had 33 restaurant participants. The event has grown to feature more than 60 Houston-area restaurants, all serving their best dish, plus a live concert performance.

In 2008 we added the Beastly Battle – a chance for guests to vote for their favorite cuisine. In 2009 we added a Dessert Corner featuring sweet treats.

We’ve had sell-out crowds for the past four years, welcoming over 4,000 guests each year. Tickets sold out weeks in advance. With great restaurants like Taste of Texas, The Melting Pot and more, plus a rockin’ show, Feast with the Beasts is the place to be!

Change Your Breathing, Change Your Life

September 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Breathing

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