10 Things You Say That Make You a Houstonian

Categories: Houston 101

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Photo by Jeff Balke
Multiple indoor stadiums? Damn right.
Colloquialisms are part of all regional cultures. When someone in New York asks if you want to go half on a pie, they don't mean apple. But, in many places, there are words and phrases we use that help define us as denizens (and often natives) of that specific location. Houston most certainly qualifies. Some of them are rather odd words we have adopted while others are phrases too often repeated for all the wrong reasons.

Why we use them is self-evident to anyone who has lived here long enough to adopt our unique language. If you haven't been here long, consider this a primer for how we Houstonians talk and, perhaps, a glossary of sorts for the next time you want to go local.

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The 5 Least Charitable ZIP Codes in Houston

Categories: Houston 101

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The Chronicle of Philanthropy's interactive map points out where the givers are in Houston.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published a report on charitable giving throughout the U.S. culled from Census information. The report noted that charitable giving among wealthier Americans is down and that the most poor citizens give a larger percentage of their income to charity than the richest. But what about Houston?

Fortunately, the organization put together an interactive map that divided up areas by ZIP code, and we were able to see just where people gave and where they did not.

For the purposes of this list, we excluded neighborhoods outside the the boundaries of the city limits with one exception, because even though it is its own entity, it is still inside the Loop. Areas like Sugar Land, for example, were also on the short list, but they were well outside the city limits and the central portions of Houston. This list uses ranks ZIP codes based on the organizations "giving ratio," which is calculated by taking the percentage of charitable donations from the ZIP code's adjusted gross income.

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9 Reasons Fall in Houston Is Awesome

Categories: Houston 101

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Photo by John Olives
Believe it or not, we do get a few leaf color changes in Houston.
Fall in Houston is not exactly like other parts of the country. We don't get the same kind of foliage color changes. We don't really need layered clothing -- though you'll still find people doing it anyway -- but you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer place to be after October 1. But, it is more than just the change in the weather and the onset of holiday season. There are plenty of reasons to love Houston in the fall.

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7 Titles and Businesses That Should Consider a Name Change

Categories: Houston 101

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Google streetview
"Who Made the Cake!" Wait..is that a question or not?
In Houston and throughout Texas, there are a lot of weird names that confuse visitors. It is difficult to explain that Kuykendahl Road is properly pronounced KIRK-un-dahl or that there is something in the state called Waxahachie. That's before we even get into the influences from the wide variety of ethnic groups that now call our state and city home.

But those are just pronunciation issues. Most of us can recover from that. What is befuddling, however, is the fact that many of the names we have given various businesses, organizations and locations don't make a whole lot of sense. Some are borderline offensive if taken the wrong way. We would like to help correct that unfortunate error.

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10 Things You Never Hear Houstonians Say

Categories: Houston 101

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Yup.
"Everything is bigger in Texas."

"If you don't like the weather here, wait."

"Hey, y'all."

There are certain phrases synonymous with Texas. Some of them you hear with regularity. Yes, we do occasionally quip about everything being bigger here and warn people not to mess with us. We even use y'all when it strikes our fancy. Houston too has its own colloquialisms. We refer to all soft drinks as "Cokes" for example. All cities have sayings they call their own.

This is not a list of those things. Instead, we figured that giving a rundown of all the things you would never hear us say would be enough to clue you in to who we are as Houstonians. Because you won't hear a native utter anything on this list unless he is drunk or being sarcastic.

It should be noted that there are certainly more than just these, so feel free to add your own in the comments.

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Two of Houston's Freeways Top Texas's 100 Most Congested Roadways

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TXDOT
Sorry Austin, but Houston has knocked you out of the top spot. Well, at least when it comes to the top spot on the list of Texas' 100 most congested roadways, anyway. We haven't quite caught up to you on being a hipster hot-spot yet, but we suppose there's always next year.

According to an analysis conducted for the Texas Department of Transportation by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Houston's very own I-610 West Loop has officially surpassed Austin's IH 35 -- last year's winner of the prestigious traffic award -- as the most congested roadway in Texas. Awesome.

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Houston Rent May Be Skyrocketing, But These Five Areas Are Still Affordable

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Apartment Guide

Looking for an affordable apartment? Good luck -- and we mean that. Houston's rental prices are increasing at the fastest pace on record, and those sky-high apartment tags are no longer limited to the Inner Loop.

As of July 2014, the average apartment rent in Houston is about $1,249 a month, and recent data shows that apartment rents are increasing at around 4.9 percent every year in the Houston region. The housing market for buyers is also kinda rough -- as in there's not very much to buy -- and residents in Houston are also making a shift from owning to renting.

The data, released by CBRE, a Los Angeles-based real estate brokerage firm with offices in Houston, shows that rents are growing at the fastest pace on record at that 4.9 percent rate. And that growth isn't all in areas one would expect, either.

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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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Houston Has Its Own History of Race Riots

Categories: Houston 101

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Wikimedia Commons
Murder trial after the Houston Riot of 1917.
As tear gas and rubber bullets flew on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, this week, I couldn't help but be thankful for the relatively peaceful streets of Houston. Sure, we have crime like most big cities and racial tensions do, at times, rise. For instance, when protesters took to the streets of River Oaks after the death of Trayvon Martin. Despite some concerns at the time about looting and violence, it was entirely peaceful. But, that hasn't always been the case.

In the past Houston has been marred by race riots--three in particular--that turned violent, resulting in injuries and deaths to civilians and police. With the civil unrest in Ferguson this week, it seemed like a good time to remind ourselves that Houston wasn't always such a quiet, diverse place.

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The 7 Minor Annoyances That Drive Houstonians Crazy

Categories: Houston 101

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Photo by Adam Baker
Like death from above.
Traffic sucks. Public transportation is a joke. Heat plus humidity is stifling. Hurricanes threaten to wipe out life as we know it. When it floods, freeways turn into rivers. The lack of zoning and historic preservation ensure our cityscape (beyond downtown) remains a massive sprawl of strip malls (and strip clubs). Our most beloved landmark, the Astrodome, is likely going to be bulldozed. Ozone levels thanks to nearby chemical refineries will probably kill us sooner than we'd like. We're practically the capital of human trafficking. Don't even get us started on potholes and the endless freeway construction.

These are real problems. This is not a story about those.

We could fill volumes with our complaints about the city we love despite its shortcomings, fixable and otherwise. We still live here. We still love it, against all odds.

But there are certain things that are frustrating as hell. They are the daily annoyances that take us to the brink and turn our normally polite demeanor into something more akin to a serial killer who forgot to take his meds. It's not famine or pestilence, but on a Monday, pre coffee, it might feel nearly as bad.

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