Archive for May, 2006

Where Am I?

If you’re anything like me, you’d see this while in a huge rush. Oh, and don’t forget to take off your shoes.
Post your guess in the comments section!

(Answer posted on Wednesday, May 24.)

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List of things Houston is, has been, or should be Capital of

Houston has made it to the top of yet another list. As the newly crowned “dog bite capital” we either have the most vicious loose dogs or the tastiest mail carriers. There seems to be an awful lot of list-making going on in American media these days. As I’m as guilty of list-watching as the next guy I’ve compiled an incomplete list of things Houston has been dubbed the capital of the last few years:

1. Obesity (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005)
2. Eating Out (I’m sure that has nothing to do with #1)
3. Hardest to Navigate (2005)
4. Most Polluted (2002, though Southern Cal seems to have that covered now)
5. World’s Largest Medical Complex (…and still champion…)

Of course we all know this gives us a very skewed vision of what life in Houston is really like, well, except for the eating out part. Calling all readers, what should Houston really be known as the capital of? The comments are open…

Houston on the Cheap: Bubble Tea

Today we’ll have some cultural expansion! One of my favorite cheap things to do in Houston is to get Bubble Tea.

Bubble Tea is a drink made from iced milk, your choice of flavors and little pearls of tapioca. They share the same name, but its not like tapioca pudding at all. The tapioca pearls are little black balls of chewy goodness that sit conveniently at the bottom of your cup waiting to be sucked up into your oversized straw. The pearls don’t provide much flavor in specific, but the drinks come in literally hundreds of flavors depending on where you get it from. Bubble Tea originally comes from Taiwan before spreading throughout Asia and to America, so some of the flavors aren’t familiar to us Americans. If you don’t feel like being adventurous, they’ve got plenty of really sweet favorites like green apple and chocolate.

Depending on where you go and what you get, drinks cost about $3.50. So, to be really technical, drinks costing the same as Starbucks isn’t exactly cheap. But, there are a few reasons that make those dollars stretch: 1) The pearls are surprisingly filling. So filling in fact, it can almost be used as meal replacement. 2) The cafes where you get bubble tea are almost always full of stuff to do. They’ve got lots of seating, board games, magazines, TVs, wi-fi and internet terminals. 3) Most of the places have frequent buyer’s card that gets you free drinks eventually.

So, to review, for $3.50 you get: 1) A really tasty drink 2) A small meal 3) Cultural expansion 4) Something to do and someplace to hang out.

“That’s a great deal!” you say. “Where can I get some?” you cry. Worry not, there are tons all over the city and I’ll get you started. I’m sure everyone has their favorite place, but I’ll cover my two favs:

Tapicoa Teahouse
The Tapioca Teahouse is an awesome shop with tons of flavors, decent service and a great atmosphere. I’d definitely recommend the #109 Thai Tea. On top of their board games, magazines, free wi-fi, internet terminals, they just added a whole new wing with really comfy couches. The Teahouse is located at Westheimer and Shepherd, next to the Randalls. There’s another one in Hong Kong City Mall, but the location isn’t as nice.

Tapicoa Express
Tapioca Express is very first-timer friendly. Fewer, more familiar flavor selections make it a whole lot less intimidating. They’ve also got a great twist on the standard drink called the Snow Bubble. Basically, it’s a cross between bubble tea and a smoothie. It’s really really good. The #23 Almond is absolutely fantastic. The shop itself is a nice atmosphere with the usual games, plasma tv, wi-fi and internet. But they’ve also got a full blown internet cafe/gaming center in the back. So, you can pwnt some n00bs while you’re enjoying some Bubble Tea. Tapioca Express is located at Westheimer and Winrock.

There are countless others all over Houston, so feel free to search around or stop in if you happen to see one. In your exploring, just remember that if you don’t like a flavor, don’t give up, just try another. There’s some really tasty stuff in there.

If you already know the fantasticness that is Bubble Tea and have a favorite place, leave a comment with a review and we can build a good list here.

Houston on the Cheap is a regular feature highlighting things to do, eat, drink or see in Houston for cheap or free. If you have something you want to contribute, suggest it!

American Apparel finally in Houston?

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After waiting months and months for the American Apparel store to *finally* open in downtown Houston, it has arrived… in Montrose?

Joining the ranks of hipster shopping cool-dom, the new AA store has settled in at 1665 Westheimer near Buffalo Exchange and the plethora of funky area boutiques.

It’s about time!! Now Houston will never have to worry wear to buy its solid-colored cotton coolness ever again.

Houstonian Pugilist Robbed

Despite a split decision draw on HBO’s primetime boxing against reigning super featherweight title holder, Marco Antonio Barrera, Houstonian Rocky Juarez appeared to this fight fan to be the clear winner. Barrera outboxed Juarez in the early rounds but to no avail. Although he landed more punches, they were weak and ineffective compared to the bombs dropped by Juarez. In the later rounds, it was all Rocky Juarez as the youngster’s tenacious attacks left Barrera gasping for air and holding on for dear life.

In the end, the judges must have been watching another fight as they saw fit to rule the bout a draw. The draw means that Marco Antonio Barrera retains his title and Juarez gains only the respect of the boxing world.

Rocky Juarez & Marco Antonio Barrera

Congratulations to the hometown hero, Rocky Juarez for beating the champ regardless of the decision.

The Woodlands Market Street and Waterway

My husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary this weekend. Because we have the baby now and can’t just go out when we please without tons of preparation, we decided to drop the bundle off at his grandparents’ house in the Woodlands and spend our anniversary at Brios on the Woodlands Waterway and then check out Market Street. I grew up in the Woodlands and though these new attractions have been around for a few years I hadn’t been back to explore them. It is very weird for me that all this development has gone in. I remember when…

Anyway, the river part was okay and Brios was very good. Valet parking was $5 and very convenient. After dinner (rare steaks and a salad with gargonzola all over it) we headed to Market Street. There was a huge garage we could park in and we did not have to search for a space. Market Street was very well done and is similar to a small town square where everyone goes to congregate and meet each other. Chris said it reminded him of the town square in Back to the Future. I agreed. Also, with all the shops he said it was similar to West Palm Beach. The best part I think was the movie theater. We didn’t go inside but it was very cool looking. I recommend a trip out the ‘burbs to check it out for a day of shopping and a night of dining. I never thought I’d say that!!!

Doggone Cool

my buddy LouGot an active dog? Does your pup pal have waaaay too much energy for most social doggy situations? Fear not, the Houston Active Dog Meetup Group is here. The group is made up of dogs and their owners that just love to get out and meet others.

The meetup group offers many opportunities to get together and you can join in all or a few. Here are some of the upcoming ones:

Challenge Day 2006-Get moving Houston
When: Wednesday, May 24, 2006, 6:30 PM
Where: Post Oak/Hidalgo Across from Transco Towers/Williams Co. 2800 Post Oak Blvd
Houston , TX 77056

Fido Fest 2006
When: Saturday, June 3, 2006, 10:00 AM
Where: George Bush Park 16756 Westheimer Pkwy
Houston , TX 77082

Come on out and meet some great dogs and oh yeah… some cool people too!

Freeway Closures This Weekend

I hate traffic. I hate it to the extent that I sometimes avoid going to school just because I don’t feel like dealing with the excuse-for-a-freeway that is called 59. I hate it so much that I post about it all the damn time.

So imagine my delight today when I visit the Houston Chronicle’s site only to find that there will be more freeway closures this weekend. What I don’t seem to understand is why the little information billboards don’t show this information anymore. It’s already frustrating enough going home late at night on the weekend and having to deal with drunk drivers all over the place. Road closures without any warning don’t help the situation.

Enough ranting – here’s what you need to know (quoted from the article):

59: The Southwest Freeway will shut down completely this weekend from West Loop to Texas 288 from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Southbound traffic must exit to Texas 288; northbound traffic must exit to the West Loop. One lane of traffic from the Loop may enter the northbound freeway but must exit at Shepherd. The southbound freeway will be open west of Greenbriar/Shepherd entrance.

I-10: Katy Freeway construction will see eastbound lanes at the West Loop interchange reduced to one lane for part of the weekend.

From 9 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday, the I-10/Katy Freeway eastbound mainlanes will be down to one lane between Chimney Rock/Wirt and I-610/West Loop, and the I-10 eastbound ramp to the West Loop will be closed.

From 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the West Loop northbound ramp to I-10 westbound will be closed.

When will it end?! I wonder if I will live to see the day where there are no construction projects on any of the freeways…

Houston Bloggers: Garf wants you to call him

Houston Bloggers: High Tech Texan Michael Garfield wants to speak to you this Saturday from 12 Noon to 2 PM:

So how about I open the phone lines on my radio show this Saturday to bloggers? I want to hear from Laurence. From Greg. Kuff, JK, Kevin, Anne, Jay, Tom, Perry and everyone else who blogs regularly from H-Town. Dwight said he is traveling this week but hopefully he will make an appearance one day soon.

Share your tricks of the trade with others who are trying to grasp this technology and create their own soapbox. At any rate you’ll get a nice opportunity to pimp your blog! Bring it on, please.

The High-Tech Texan Show airs on TalkRadio 950 KPRC each Saturday from 12p-2p. You can listen live online and even tap into our videoconference (it WILL work, guaranteed). You got the number. See ya on the radio Saturday.

If I wake up in time, I may just walk up Post Oak bearing home-baked bread.

If I don’t, well, I’ll at least listen in my jammies with the kittycats.

Houston-Area WiFi?

So there is an effort underway to create a community wifi network in Houston. Given the way that the city parcelled out licenses when cable TV first showed up in town, I am somewhat reluctant to consider this a good thing. The cable TV thing was handled poorly and anti-competitively. Citizens were given one and only one company they could sign up with because that company had exclusive rights in their neighborhood.

Similarly, I’m not sure I buy the idea that the government of our cash-strapped city has a role in providing wifi for the city. You could make an argument that this is good for everyone but those arguments would also apply to city-wide telephone service (or for that matter, cable TV). I’m all for being able to connect up wherever I might be, but I’m also enough of a capitalist to wonder why we’re supposed to have the gubbernment do something for us when there are plenty of companies capable of providing this service (some already are) when demand increases to the level that pricing becomes reasonable.

Me, I think I’d vote no until the police force and fire department are fully-funded. But that’s just me.

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