Monday, February 16, 2009

Why live in The Woodlands Texas?

Every once in a while we have to ask ourselves, "Why in the world do I live here, instead of some exotic place in the world?". Well, maybe we don't normally ask about exotic places, but at least we do have choices locally.

I have lived here or called this home most of my life. Near the coast and in the forest, The Woodlands is what I call "home". It is north of Houston, not in Houston! I still consider Galveston reasonably close for a day trip. I also have easy access to Freeport and other coastal communities where there are plenty of birds and a number of bird sanctuaries. Although the ocean water is warm in the summer, the seashore provides many neat things to do whether it be fishing, crabbing, boating, sailing, bathing, etc. It is all there, from bike rentals to shopping to about anything you can do on and near the water. That barely touches what I like about this area.

Here I like the weather. Coastal weather is humid, but that is not too much of a reason to say it is horrible in this part of the country, like some people do. Up here some 60+ miles from the coast, the ecology, weather and just about everything totally changes. It is hot at "high noon" but normally mild in the evenings. We go outside in the evenings to enjoy the outdoors even on very hot days. There are some days which we prefer to be inside, especially when we have mosquitoes and high humidity, but we learn to deal with that. In the winter, we can have a week of 70 degree days. That has certainly been the case this year. Even cold days are not very cold, at least in recent years. One year that I recall vividly, we had a rare week of temperatures lower than freezing. You do get rain, wind and coldness when the climate goes south. It can be uncomfortable outside. So there are days we prefer to be inside.

We love these piney woods north of the big city. Just recently, I went to observe our Bald Eagles in a short sleeve shirt early one morning. Two days earlier, I went to watch migrating birds. Yesterday, I went to watch some deer in the evening. Our kids like to watch and play with the ducks on the pond. We have one of the best concert pavilions in the nation right here in The Woodlands, and we are making it bigger and better. There is simply no end to what we have available for recreation and dining.

Sometimes, we like to go to the big city. One member of my family likes to go to a Discotheque there sometimes. There is plenty of nightlife in Houston. We all like to go to the zoo or planetarium or museum in Herman Park. We like to go to an opera or a ballet or a concert. For bargain hunting, we sometimes go to the city. One of the best medical facilities in the world is found in the medical district of Houston.

I consider the Houston area to be the best place to live in the country, but of course it depends on what you really want. I want it all and believe I have it. I fish right here and have three big lakes nearby - Conroe, Livingston and Houston for skiing and water sports. I have a lake right here - Lake Woodlands for kayaking, canoeing, sail boating and fishing. Really, I cannot imagine anywhere on earth as good as it is here, and I have lived, worked and visited diverse places all over the world and the USA. We like to think of ourselves as a secret. I do not like to "sell" our secret place. I am afraid too many people will find it.

But then again, we don't have hardly any snow, nor do we have mountains. Remember that when you think about living here. It is a good reason not to come.

Will your checkbook be stimulated?

I see cities and states squabbling over getting a piece of the $787 billion pie while I'm sitting here wondering about people on fixed incomes who have lost so much money over the past couple of years. Spend money fast and stimulate the economy! It is looking more like engineering and construction companies will prosper as they get get the lion's share of the money. There is a lot to be done to repair infrastructure of this nation. Shifting the cash flow from housing construction to that infrastructure may help stabilize the country. The trickle down will come to cement truck drivers, concrete companies, steel, and other construction related jobs and services.

It is American business in general where I am hoping for a comeback. Those who are on fixed income worry about many things, but right now, loss of income from the economy crisis combined with the rising cost of living is a huge issue. Tax relief will help, but we must see a recovery of business before we can take a deep breath. Those in retirement are holding on tight while those who have bought bigger homes than they can afford are given special consideration to help save the banking system. Hopefully we can come out of this without a full blown depression. There seems to be a spiraling wind that only accelerates in this climate of desperation. Maybe the economic trickle will come home without inflation. Let's at least hope for that!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Sunday - Family and National Day

It just can't get better than this! Some call Superbowl Sunday a national holiday. And in reality, that it is. Who can miss the show's television preamble? Some can but it gets a lot of attention by sports fans. It is the time for the best of the beat singing of the national anthem, the best of the best salutes to our military, the best of entertainment in twelve minutes you will get anywhere. A day of national pride and excitement. OK, we may have a gender issue here, but that has been gradually changing in this country for decades. So families get together, eat snacks and sweets, drink beer and wine, send text messages, if some are out of town, and generally tease each other and root for opposing teams as much as possible. Save your voice for Superbowl day; you will need it! Popcorn, chips, hamburgers, hot dogs, cookies on top of beer, what a way to spend a Sunday afternoon! What do you use for your stomach recovery? I could not even sit down during the last quarter! But I kept shoveling it in.

Now there is DVR! What a great invention for a Superbowl game! I can watch the game twice now, but I am not inclined to watch the game itself on the second viewing. I will replay the commercials! Yes, you heard me right. I love super commercials and only got a taste of them. I did what I had to do during commercials so that I would not miss a moment of the game itself. I am freezing the game in "do not delete" mode, to protect my game from my wife and kids. No soap opera can write over it now.

How about that tribute to our troops? As the jets flew in formation over the stadium, my wife saw the excitement in my eyes. She said, "I am going to buy you some Superbowl tickets one day." That I cannot argue against. Remember when we had the Superbowl here in Houston? My entire family went downtown the evening before the game, like many of you did, to enjoy the crowds and their enthusiasm as the big day approached. That was well worth the trip and time!

2009? It was a great year. In a couple of weeks, we can start thinking about 2010! When is Congress finally going to make this a national holiday anyway?