5 Things Houstonians Experience When The Weather Gets Cold

Categories: Random Ephemera

Photo by Cortney Martin
Houstonians Might Believe Ash is Falling From the Sky Before Realizing This is Snow. It's That Rare Here.

Houston's weather is famously manic. One day might be warm and humid, the type of day which will make almost anyone wonder if the proper term for our local climate should be "swampy." But that won't work, because our weather can change within hours, and the next morning might present us with a dramatically different forecast.

While it doesn't happen often, sometimes, during this time of year, the mercury dips dramatically, and Houston is faced with its own version of a winter weather. Generally more of an Icy Slush Fest than a pretty example of a snowy "Winter Wonderland," but it's what we get on our coldest days.

It's during these almost always brief periods of frigid weather that many Houstonians encounter familiar but nearly forgotten cold weather scenarios. For instance:

5. Many of us Don't Really Have Cold Weather Clothing.

Or not much of it anyway. My current winter weather wardrobe consists of a handful of hoodies and one light jacket. I don't think I'm alone in this, judging from the other guys I see similarly dressed, scurrying as quickly as they can from their cars to whatever source of heat they're running for. It just doesn't usually get THAT cold here, so buying a few heavy coats just isn't on everyone's must do list. On the four or five truly cold days out of the year where it seems like your bones might freeze on the stiff legged run from the front door to your car, that lack of foresight becomes obvious. As a side note, some people don't have warm clothes because they don't have the money to buy them, so donating clothes to shelters is a kind thing to do.

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Why I Don't Consider Texas a Southern State

Categories: Random Ephemera

Photo by Haphazard Traveler
Pictured: Not "The South".

I've stumbled across a strange controversy while perusing various Internet forums in recent years. There are passionate arguments being made about whether or not Texas is part of "The South."

I had never really thought much about it, to be honest. Growing up in the Houston area, I would very occasionally run across some older person who would use the term "Yankee" in reference to someone hailing from a Northern state, but that was rare in my neck of the woods. As I got older, and spent time traveling through the Southern states, I noticed that there was a certain similarity in how they "felt," a homogeneity in culture that I didn't notice existing to any large degree in Texas. I just never really thought the Lone Star State felt like the "South" very much.

But there are people who claim that we ARE definitely a part of "The South," and that it's impossible to deny. I've come across many a passionate online argument over this subject. To me, the fact that this is even up for debate sort of proves that a lot of folks just see Texas as something different culturally than other Southern states - there's not similar disagreement about the "Southern-ness" of say, Alabama or Mississippi.

Now it's true, far East Texas feels very Southern. Having spent a lot of time east of Beaumont, that part of this state does seem nearly identical in culture to other parts of the South. But this is a very big state, and East Texas isn't enough to claim the rest of it for the South.

Also, from a geographical position, there's no argument that Texas is located in the Southern portion of the United States. But geography isn't what I'm talking about; I'm talking about cultural similarities.

So why don't I think that Texas is culturally similar enough to other states in the South, to claim some major connection with the rest of them? There are lots of reasons.

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The 2014 Houston Press New Year's Eve Guide: Where to Party in the Bayou City

Each holiday season has its schedule. We eat turkey and stuffing, then we decorate a tree and open presents to the tune of constant Christmas music. But those are just the opening acts. The main event is New Year's Eve, where you count down the seconds until a new year, make a champagne toast, and dance and laugh while reflecting on the past year's ups and unavoidable downs. As always, we've provided you with a list of the best events of Houston to ring in the new year. From masquerades to comedy shows, four-course meals to kids' parties, there's something for everyone.

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10 Silly Reasons to Move to Houston

Categories: Random Ephemera

Norman Rockwell, Freedom From Want
There are lots of reasons to move to Houston that make perfect sense. If you work in oil and gas, you can double your lifestyle with high paying jobs and a low cost of living. It never snows here, we've got culture coming out of every orifice, a professional team in nearly any sport you could want, and the finest medical center in the country. I know I sound like a pamphlet, but that's all true.

That said, there are also some reasons you may not have considered that are just as compelling, if a little silly to say in sober conversation. Trust me, though, they are equally valid. What's Houston got for perspective residents?

10. Cheap Thanksgivings
Thanksgiving dinner is always a tremendous pain in the ass. Most of us do not regularly cook for ten people at a time, and what with the prices in Obamastan who can even afford to buy that much food?

Um, we can, actually. In Texas has the lowest cost of putting a traditional turkey dinner on the table in the country. To feed a family of ten the staples costs just $46.79 in 2014, down 2.68 percent from last year. Not included in the cost is a container of Goode Co. sauce to put on your cold turkey the next day, which is something you absolutely do as a matter of course.

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Christmas Things That Are the Worst Already

Categories: Random Ephemera

Photos courtesy of Hequals2henry
Galleria Tree is one of the BEST things about Christmas! We need more of those.
The holidays are a delicate balance of excitement and weariness. On one hand it starts too early, but on the other who doesn't get excited when all of their holiday shopping is done by the first week of December? Then again, who doesn't get all rage-y when Christmas carols are playing at the grocery store before the Halloween candy displays are out?

So basically it was pretty hard to ignore a recent email from Target touting their LATEST AND GREATEST holiday gift idea yet--Target Holiday Gift Cards! Not just the one you pluck off the rack at the register and load with $25 for that last-minute "whoops I forgot" gift, but the newest, coolest way to shop for gift cards. Target now lets us choose from more than 40 gift card designs, including two "WOW!" gift cards "that use technology like lights, sounds, and motion." You know what that means? One lights up when you press the Target bullseye button; another has a PEZ dispenser.

You know what? Just give me the goddamned gift card. If I wanted to choose between 40 things, wouldn't I be buying this person an actual gift?

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10 Annoying People You Run Into Christmas Shopping in Houston

Categories: Random Ephemera

The holiday buying season has officially commenced, as anyone who had the misfortune to go to the mall as I did this past weekend can tell you. In the rush to celebrate the birth of Christ, the solstice, and some old Roman god with various expensive baubles and trinkets, I've noticed that there are several types of people in our city who make the season particularly prone to me needing a drink at the end of the day. Let's meet them.

10. The Leftists
I don't mean politically. I mean anyone who decides to do his or her shopping on Westheimer or Shepherd in Montrose who insists on turning into the shops with a left turn. Stop that. Stop it forever. Yes, technically it's not illegal to sit there for 15 minutes with your blinker working overtime waiting for a gap big enough to squeeze your car through into the parking lot of a vintage store, but doing so is clogging up the road like cholesterol. When you're shopping in Montrose, it's best to just pretend left turns don't exist and make your way around.

9. The Inuits
I get it. It's cold, and Houstonians have water for blood. We don't do cold, and there's nothing wrong with that because it means we're much smarter than people who live in the tundra. However, if you're going to insist on putting on every piece of clothing you own to stay warm, please spend a few moments in the safety of your own home learning to maneuver with your increased mass. I'd rather you knock over your Precious Moments figurines than bowl over my kid like a human beanbag chair.

8. The Truckless
If you've lived in Houston for any length of time, the odds are you've owned a pickup truck or been close to someone who has. Texas is the largest market for trucks in the country. You get used to the idea of there always being a truck available if you need one and it sort of skews your view of the size of purchased objects. Then Christmas rolls around and you forget that you don't own a truck or know anyone right off hand who does. Usually you realize this while trying to shove a mirror into a hatchback or a dollhouse into your trunk. These people are more to be pitied than to be annoyed at, though it's really aggravating to parking spot creep them and then watch them play a sad version of Tetris in their vehicle before they slink off back with the merchandise to inquire about delivery.

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Add These to Your Arsenal: The 10 Most Irritating Text Message Responses Ever

Sarah Marriage via Flickr

So, there is apparently a thing called "textiquette."

According to Urban Dictionary, "textiquette" is the proper behavior one should use when texting, i.e., responding promptly or the correct use of "lol."

Not quite grasping it? Need an example?

Brooke: God, why does it take so long for Taylor to text back?
Jackie: That's because she has really poor textiquette

Some of you may have already known this handy little term for rude text etiquette existed, and are probably, most likely, without a shadow of a doubt, under the age of 20.

The rest of us? Well, we try not to make up words.

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Thanksgiving Prep: Glamping Big Bend National Park

Camping and luxury are not mutually exclusive, and "glamping" is more than just a funny word--it's a legitimate travel craze. There are dozens and dozens of websites dedicated to glamping, or "glamour camping." The travel industry is capitalizing on the concept by offering people an alternative somewhere in between tent/car camping and a hotel stay. Rather than renting a hotel room, or driving around at dusk searching out an open campsite so you can pitch your own tent before dark falls, glampers can rent yurts, tents, trailers, and even treehouses to get a taste of the outdoors without sacrificing (much) comfort or convenience.

Of course, some of us still want to camp--really camp--in a tent, cook our own food over a fire (or, at least, a flash stove), and still more of us (read: ME) are doing it at Big Bend National Park for Thanksgiving. The combination of camping and holiday festivities begs for the addition of some GLAMOUR, so I touched base with my favorite female campers to get advice on how to glamp on a camp budget.

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The Best Free Indoor Playground in Houston Just Got Better

Categories: Random Ephemera

Photos by Jef With One F
When I had the chance to rank the best indoor playgrounds in Houston the set-up at the Memorial City Mall stood out the most. So when it was announced that the play area would be closed and dismantled to be replaced with a new one, it left me wondering whether they could live up to what they offered before. Luckily, they've done more than enough to ensure they remain the top free indoor playground in the city.

Frolic's Castle is a fairy-tale wonderland located near the Sears instead of the more central location previously used. It combines the best aspects of the other excellent mall playgrounds like Willowbrook and the Galleria with the perks that made the Memorial City area unique in the first place.

The space is large, easily half as large as it was previously. More than that, it feels larger because it's not a moat-like set of ground around a central structure. It has the hideaways that kids love so much in the Galleria combined with the running space of the Willowbrook play area.

Where Frolic's Castle succeeds better is that great attention has been paid to the fairy-tale decorations. It's full of soft, climbable dragons, bears, troll bridges complete with troll, and even a sleeping giant that is rather unfortunately positioned so that children usually end up sitting on his face. There's even a witch's cauldron that seems to be a big hit for kids to climb into...I think Disney needs to tackle Hansel and Gretel soon.

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5 Famous Texas Ghosts

Categories: Random Ephemera

Halloween is upon us, and with it a chance to tell stories of ghosts and other inhabitants from beyond the veil. We've already looked at some of the best haunted locations that you could road trip to in the state. Today we take a brief glance at some of the most famous ghosts as well.

The Austin Tavern in Austin is home to a famous and very active specter known as Emily. Like many of the ghosts of Austin, she is rumored to have originated in the days of speakeasies and Prohibition, when times were loose and violence was commonplace.

Legend has it that Emily was a waitress at the bar during this period, and that she was killed in a bar fight that turned riotous. Now servers and patrons say that she pinches them, knocks over glasses, and just all and all creates a ruckus.

During some renovations a pair of ladies shoes were found under the floorboards. The shoes are now kept in a display case on the second floor, and people believe they must have belonged to Emily.

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