Texans-Broncos: Five Roster Battles To Watch

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Going out to Texans practice during the preseason is one of the more enjoyable parts of my job.

Typically, it's well attended by fellow media members, so it serves in part as a decent social outing each late July and early/mid August morning. In fact, the first day of Texans' training camp is the closest thing to a first day of school that I've experienced in my adult life.

Also, you get to be like fifteen feet away from NFL players hitting each other, so that's pretty cool.

That said, I'm not all that bummed out about the Texans' traveling to Denver this week to practice with the Broncos, even if it did deprive us of a week of practice to cover here in Houston. Why, you may ask? Well look at the storylines that were either born or advanced since the Texans arrived in Denver:

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BARC is Bursting at the Seams and Needs Your Help

Categories: Spaced City

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Courtesy BARC/PetHarbor.com
Charles asks, "What are you waiting for?"
If you've ever considered adopting or fostering an animal, listen up: Houston's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care has taken in nearly 600 dogs and cats in the last week, busting the shelter's capacity. These furry dudes and dudettes need your help, stat.

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DA Candidates on Weed: Talking Points Over Data Points

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Photo by United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikimedia Commons

Though marijuana possession remains a jailable crime in Harris County, the law of the land is shifting toward leniency for offenders. Both contenders in the November race for Harris County District Attorney have presented alternatives to convicting those caught with pot.

DA incumbent Devon Anderson and challenger Kim Ogg agree that the old ways need to change, but they clash on how much. The confusion likely stems from the fact neither candidate has the numbers to back her plan. One lacks a cost-savings analysis, and the other has provided practically useless estimates.

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Here's A Few Suggestions To Fix MLB, Not That The New Commissioner Asked

Categories: Baseball, Sports

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There's about to be a new guy running Major League Baseball
Rob Manfred was appointed the new MLB commissioner last week. And even as the news was announced, the speculation began as to what Manfred could do to improve the sport, being as how he's not old and ancient like Bud Selig, the man he's replacing. Not that he's asked me, but I have a few suggestions, so...

INCREASE THE SPEED OF PLAY

Baseball's always been a leisurely game, but crap, no 1-0 nine-inning game should ever take over three hours to play. There's been talk about cutting down on coaching visits to the mound, on the number of pitchers who can pitch in an inning, and other such stupid nonsense. But here's a simple suggestion: enforce the damn rule book.

Rule 8:04 is simple and to the point: if the bases are empty, a pitcher has 20 seconds to throw the pitch. If he doesn't, the umpire is instructed to call a ball.  And rule 6.02 instructs the batter to remain in the batter's box, and that if he refuses to step back into the box upon an umpire's request, then a strike should be called.

If we really want to improve game speed, let's enforce the rules before implementing others.

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Food Trucks and Restaurants Bump Against Grease, Drugs and Empty Chairs

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Photo by Susan Du
Food truck operators packed city hall for the right to feed the hungry hordes of the downtown and med center.

Let's make Houston a more walkable city, even if people are walking on their way to tacos. Or so went the thinking for dozens who showed up to Wednesday's council committee meeting in support of relaxing regulations for food trucks.

The issues on the line: whether food trucks are allowed to serve in the medical center and downtown areas; whether food trucks need to set up at least 60 feet away from each other and whether they can operate within 100 feet of chairs and tables.

The camps: food truck owners, who swarmed the public comment session, versus the Greater Houston Restaurant Association, which claims brick and mortar eateries are losing business unfairly to the trendy mobile competition.



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Real Life The Purge Hoaxes Hit The Woodlands Social Media

Categories: Spaced City

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Going viral.
The day before Halloween in 1938, a rather young Orson Wells took to the radio airwaves and scared the living hell out of people. The broadcast was part of a re-enactment of the H.G. Wells book War of the Worlds, but innocent unsuspecting listeners were duped into believing aliens had landed on Earth. This was during a time when America was ramping up for World War II in a post-depression economy.

Today, people tend to be a bit more savvy about the potential for hoaxes, particularly on social media, though people have even been fooled by the video of a monkey shooting at African soldiers who had taunted it that was a promotion for the new Planet of the Apes joint. Sometimes fakes can be pretty convincing, which is why a recent spate of hoaxes surrounding the latest installment in The Purge films have led to worries in cities across America and even investigations from police and the FBI.

Those include posts to Facebook regarding similar purge-like conditions predicted for, of all places, The Woodlands. Personally, the only thing I imagine residents there purging is the Olive Garden, but someone seems to think it was worth the threat and authorities have taken it seriously.

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Zapruder Analysis Of The Latest Swimming Pool Dunk (VIDEO)

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Screen shot from JamBroz
I have to say, internet, rarely do I chastise you. Rarely do you let me down.

But I'll be honest -- the lack of acrobatic suburban white kid swimming pool dunks from you has been disappointing. Frankly, those dunks were a big part of what sustained me last summer from a content standpoint. (Aaron Hernandez's addiction to killing people was the unfortunate other part.)

However, if you're going to make a late run in the latter part of August, I may be willing to forgive and forget. The latest pool dunk you've given us is a pretty good start toward mending fences.

Not only a pool dunk, but apparently a pool dunking faction that I was unaware of! Like a WWE stable whose gimmick is perfectly timed jumps off diving boards and rocking GoPro cameras on their heads!

Say hello to the Jambroz, who if I'm not mistaken, authored the "ring of fire" dunk I Zaprudered earlier this summer.

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Hurricane Season 2014: New Disturbance in the Atlantic Heading for Caribbean

Categories: Hurricanes

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Weather Underground
Invest 96L might not make it out of the Caribbean alive.
As I've noted previously, we are now in the peak of hurricane season as we move through August and September and the Atlantic Basin is certainly beginning to demonstrate that fact. A disturbance which the National Hurricane Center has classified as "96L" is moving westward towards the Lesser Antilles and is expected to be in the Caribbean by the end of the week. The NHC is giving the disturbance a 50 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression in the next few days and a hurricane hunter plane is scheduled to fly into the storm Thursday afternoon if it continues its development.

All the reliable forecast models are calling for a gradual west-northwest turn once it reaches the Caribbean. Forecasters are also predicting the storm will reach tropical depression strength just south of Puerto Rico. After that, things get dicey.

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Renu Khator: Media "Misled" on UH Housing Plan

Categories: Education

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Senator Whitmire was totally not LOLing.
Toward the end of a thorough ass-chewing via text with Senator John Whitmire over a student housing proposal, UH President Renu Khator did what public officials who screw up have done from time immemorial: she blamed the messenger.

You see, according to Khator's text, the media "misled" people by reporting that the proposal was "a done deal." Maybe the media can be forgiven for interpreting the words "UH Freshmen Will Be Required to Live on Campus Beginning Fall 2015" on an August 15 press release as somehow suggesting that UH freshmen will be required to live on campus beginning in the fall of 2015. We'd link to that press release, but it's no longer on UH's site.

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HPD Confirms Identity, Investigation Into Officer Who Committed Suicide

Categories: Crime

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The Houston Police Department has identified the officer who shot and killed himself on Tuesday as Senior Police Officer Rudolph Farias, a 21 year veteran of the force.

Farias joined HPD in May 1993 and worked in the department's traffic enforcement division. He was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a parking garage behind the HPD jail near downtown, according to authorities.

Officers spotted Farias' emergency lights flashing in the parking garage at about 4 p.m., and checked inside his HPD patrol car. According to authorities, Farias was slumped over, still dressed in his patrol uniform.

Farias was let go from HPD late Tuesday afternoon as the result of a ticket-rigging scheme involving three other officers, KHOU reports.

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