Five Biting and Stinging Bugs to Watch Out for This Summer in Houston

Categories: Houston 101

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Photo by Flex via Wikipedia
Despite what many may believe, this fuzzy little guy will NOT sting you.
Of all the joys that summer in Houston brings -- heat, humidity, hurricanes -- perhaps the most aggravating is the plague of bugs that descends on us like a swamp (which is basically what the city is anyway). As the creepy crawlies come out of hibernation in the spring, they begin to infest what feels like every nook and cranny of our lives. Exterminators no doubt love the summer in Houston for the very same reason most of us can't stand it.

Most bugs in Texas are harmless. Yes, that includes roaches, you ninnies. Some are even remarkably beautiful, like butterflies. But there are a handful of bug types (I say bugs because at least one type is not technically an insect) that can cause you some pain if you come into contact with one of them.

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J.J. Watt Finally Speaks About a New Contract

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Photo by Groovehouse
"You've got guys in the Hall of Fame that have been franchised in back-to-back years. The franchise tag is worth something to the team, and you can't be afraid to use it." -- Bob McNair, 8/8/14

Whether it was Intentional or unintentional on the part of Bob McNair, if you're looking for a salvo that may have led to the rare contractual candor from J.J. Watt on Tuesday afternoon in Denver, that might be it.

Since about the time Watt was putting the finishing touches on his second season in the league, a football masterpiece that concluded with 20.5 sacks and the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award, his next contract has figuratively hung over NRG Stadium like an ominous cloud, blanketing more and more of the sky with every pass he defended and every quarterback he dropped for a loss.

When asked about a new contract previously, Watt would smile, defer, spit out a line or two about being "just a football player," and essentially cut the line of questioning off at its knees.

That is, until Tuesday.

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Accused Atherton Elementary Teachers Want an Apology From Grier; TEA Reviews HISD's Investigation

Categories: Education

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One teacher has been back at her job since March. Another is ready to settle with Houston ISD for a year's salary and her promise that she will never apply to work for HISD again, according to her attorney Larry Watts.

But the third and fourth teachers originally accused of helping students cheat on tests at Atherton Elementary are more concerned about their good names than money, according to Watts, who, borrowing a line from The Merchant of Venice ("Who steals my purse steals trash ... but he that filches from me my good name ... makes me poor indeed"), vowed Tuesday to continue battling on their behalf and to wrest an apology from HISD Superintendent Terry Grier.

"We want [Grier] to tell the state that we didn't do anything; that your evidence is not good," Wattts said.

"Sherri Jackson has returned to Atherton, Veronica Davis is settling and Reuel Sosa and Jennifer Sterling are fighting it," Watts said. "They don't want money. All it would take is for Grier to admit he was wrong. There was no evidence."


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Gov. Rick Perry Poses, Grins for Mugshot

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In his mugshot taken Tuesday at the Travis County Courthouse, Gov. Rick Perry sports that sly grin we've all come to know so well.

Perhaps that's because Perry thinks he's winning the public relations war that's erupted over his indictment. Following his indictment Friday on felony counts of abuse of power and coercion of a public servant, Perry called the charges "partisan political threats" that "rip away at the very fabric of our state's constitution." Tony Buzbee, Perry's lead defense attorney, later called the indictment "nothing more than banana republic politics."

As Forrest Wilder at the Texas Observer aptly points out, pundits across the country have followed suit, calling the indictment "unbelievably ridiculous," "sketchy," and even "weak sauce."

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University of Houston Nixes Mandatory Campus Housing Plan From Agenda UPDATED

Categories: Education

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We actually lived in a Wal-Mart our freshman year.
Updated at the end of this post are some more comments from Sen. Whitmire.

University of Houston officials have suspended their plan requiring freshmen to live on campus after some blowback from Texas Senator John Whitmire.

University officials pulled the proposal from a Board of Regents meeting agenda this week after Whitmire voiced his concern Monday to UH Chancellor and President Renu Khator, the Chron reports.

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Katy ISD Superintendent Calls Anti-Stadium Signs "Bullying At Its Worst"

Categories: Education

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Courtesy Michael Franks
School bond elections don't exactly see the type of white-knuckle politics currently plaguing Gov. Rick Perry (you can read about that here, in case you missed it). Still, things got pretty tense before the Katy ISD Board of Trustees' unanimous vote Monday night to put a $748 million bond package on November's ballot.

No matter how you look at it, Keith Carmichael accepted a pretty tough gig when he agreed to chair the district's bond committee, which worked for months to craft the multi-million dollar package the Katy ISD board approved last night. The district says it's fast outgrowing its current facilities, particularly in light the 3,000 additional students expected to join the district each year.


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2014 Heisman Odds: Three Sleepers Who Are Off The Board

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Ready for Heisman season?
How do we know the college football season is almost here?

Well, not all that long ago, it would have been because the best of the preview magazines were hitting the stands -- Athlon, Lindy's, Street & Smith's. When you saw the cover with the best player of whichever the hottest team in your region was, you knew that it was almost time. (This still applies today, but magazines have slid to the back burner.)

Certainly, in 2014, we know the season is almost here when a new network-that-owes-its-existence-to-college-football launches. A few years ago, it was the Big Ten Network. A couple years after that, it was the Longhorn Network. The Pac-12 Network closely followed LHN, and finally, just a few days ago, the most highly anticipated of all of them -- the SEC Network -- launched as an adjunct to ESPN's family of networks.

Me, I prefer to see the proliferation of prop bets on the board in Vegas as the sign that college football is almost here.


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Bikers, Skateboarders Tug of War Over Skate Park

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Despite 78,000 square feet of ramps, rails, pipes and pyramids, Houston skateboarders believe the city's newest skatepark still isn't big enough to share with BMXers.

Spring Skate Park currently stands at Kuykendahl and Rankin as America's largest statepark. Opening day last week drew huge crowds of eager skateboarders, many of whom have traveled from out of state just to careen and crash over the park's beautiful concrete slopes.

Yet as skateboarders made use of the free facilities, bikers loudly protested their exclusion. Spring Skate Park won't allow cyclists to share the space, citing safety concerns over mixing four-wheelers and two-wheelers even though skateparks the world over have traditionally allowed both groups.

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Kliff Kingsbury Organized The Best ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Yet (VIDEO)

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Screen shot from the TechAthletics YouTube page
I mean...just look at that hair.
Everybody's doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

You can't make it through three posts on your Facebook newsfeed without stumbling across one of your high school friends dumping the ice cold bucket of water over his or her head. And to be clear, I have no problem with this. It builds awareness for a great cause (raising funds for research to find a cure for ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease).

And according to reports, the Ice Bucket Challenge is working. Donations are reportedly up tenfold from this same time period a year ago (late July through mid August), from $1.7 million to $11.4 million.

As a show, we did ours on Friday out at our remote show at Fat Boy's Bar and Grill. Nothing extravagant, other than Ted Johnson removing his shirt, which began a mini photo session and meet-and-greet with all of the females in the patio area. (Oddly enough, no one asked Rich Lord and me to remove our shirts.)

Some have taken the IBC as an opportunity to simultaneously raise funds and show off their creative side.

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Sheriff's Deputy Sues Over New HCSO Social Media Policy

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If you're a Harris County Sheriff's Office employee, good luck sticking to the new restrictions put in place by the HCSO higher-ups that dictate what you can and can't post on social media.

Under the new policy, HCSO employees risk disciplinary action if their Facebook or Twitter posts "cause undue embarrassment or damage the reputation of and/or erode the public's confidence" in the sheriff's office. Posts containing any HCSO logos, badges, or personal photographs that show employees in HCSO garb or uniform are prohibited without prior approval from a chief. Also: "speech containing crude, blasphemy (sic), negative, or untrue claims about the HCSO and/or any HCSO personnel is forbidden and therefore will be grounds for disciplinary action."

Similarly, HCSO employees now face disciplinary action for any comments on social media that "negatively affect the public perception of the HCSO."

Sound overly broad to you? It does to Harris County sheriff's deputy Carl Pittman, who sued Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia in federal court Monday over the 15-page policy implemented by HCSO last month. Pittman argues in his lawsuit that HCSO's new policy is chock-full of language that unlawfully curtails employees' First Amendment rights to free speech.

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