Tag: Houston

Miss Wini

Posted by – April 6, 2009

The day after I came out to Texas, I was sent to Magnolia to work in a center.  My manager was a woman named Winifred Foley.  She preferred to be called “Wini”.  She was a very sweet lady.  I sat next to her for a few weeks and she loved to talk to me so, as you can imagine, I came to know her rather quickly.  She had a great sense of humor.  When we moved to the center in Houston, she sat across the room from us so we didn’t talk much but I would occasionally go over to chat with her.

One Thursday morning we came in and found she had mistakenly taken 3 times the dosage of her blood pressure meds. (Pharmacy mix-up) She had put in a call to her doctor but heard nothing so Judy took her to the hospital.  The doctor said the meds bottomed out her blood pressure, then after it started wearing off, it skyrocketed.  She ended up in ICU. Her blood pressure was extremely high and kept fluctuation but never lowered or stabilized.  She was in ICU for a week before they were able to move her to a regular room.

That Friday Judy and I visited her.  She was swollen and bruised.  She had taken a fall and also suffered a heart attack while in ICU.  After the visit we headed over to collect her things and check her out of her hotel. The following day we took her rental car to Ellington so someone could shuttle it back to Austin.

Two days later she was released from the hospital and we picked her up and took her to the airport for her flight home. Before going to her room we decided to get her something from the gift shop.  Just a small “We’re thinking about you” gift doll.  When we got to her room we collected her things and headed out.  Her poor feet were swollen to two or three times the size of her shoes so they squeezed some socks on her feet so they’d (at least) be covered.  Off to the airport.

The airline gave Judy and I security passes so we could go with her to the gate so, after she bought a book and some Twizzlers for the trip, we headed for the gate.  (The only other thing she insisted on taking with her was the doll we had gotten her.)  At the gate I noticed her ticket had her mid to back of the plane so I asked the gate agent to switch her seat.  No problemo.  When the plane was ready to board we said our “see ya laters” and the gate agent took her down to the plane. 

We spoke to Miss Wini a few weeks after she got home and she was doing much better.  She said she was looking forward to Judy and I coming to visit whenever we both were released from work.  The last time Judy spoke with her was in mid February. Still sounded good.  But…

During a quick “gathering” at work on March 19th Judy and I were reminiscing about Miss Wini and had the wind knocked out of us when someone said that Miss Wini had passed away in the early morning hours of February 28th.  Apparently she died due to kidney failure.  Shocker!   But it doesn’t stop there…

The day after we found out, Judy and I were having lunch and had been talking about Miss Wini.  Judy’s cell phone rang and after checking to see who was calling, she looked up at me with a strange look on her face.  Then she turned her cell phone around so I could see who was calling.  The name on the screen…  “Miss Wini”.   The call was actually from Judy’s son-in-law who was working in her motorcycle shop in Houston.  I was a bit skeptical of the whole thing until it happened again.  Then Judy showed me that the shop number in her cell phone actually said SHOP.  She also told me that it didn’t happen every time she got a call from her son-in-law.  Only those two times when we were both together.  Too much of a coincidence.  I think someone is trying to tell us something!

When I came back home from Texas I flew to my mother’s house and we drove up to mine.  I was taken aback when I opened my refrigerator to find a package from Miss Wini.  (Mom said it came at Christmas.)  Not sure what to make of it all.  I do know I’m happy to have met Miss Wini, even for that short time.  Thank you Miss Wini and may you RIP. ~

The JSC

Posted by – January 19, 2009

One Sunday, during my mother’s visit here, we took a drive over to the Johnson Space Center.  A cold front came through the night before so we bundled ourselves up with multiple layers of clothing to keep warm and headed down the highway.

We arrived around 1pm, got our tickets and made our way inside.  There was a security guard outside the door checking bags (sort of) and the ticket takers & turnstiles were just inside the door.  We decided to take the tram tours as soon as we got there so we’d be out in the cold during the “warmest” part of the day.  Before entering the tram line they took each group’s/family’s picture to then try to sell you a package later.  Once through the tram line we were subject to another security check.  What a joke!  There was a metal table next to the line where you deposited your bags, coats, and anything out of your pockets.  Then they had you step through a metal detector where you were free to pick up your belongings and head for the tram seat queues.  That’s got to be the craziest security check I’ve ever seen.  No one checks the items that have been deposited onto the table which means if you DID have something you shouldn’t, you could simply deposit it and pick it back up after going through the metal detector.

Anywho, the tram ride took us around the complex (buidings and parking lots) finally making a stop at the building where the Mission Control Rooms were located.  One room had a viewing area with a glass barrier and, according to our tour guide, was set up so families of workers and astronauts could come visit during missions.  After a little info and some Q&A we headed back to the tram and our next stop.
After a short (but frigid) ride, we stopped at the Saturn V building which houses the rocket with it’s parts separated so you can see how it’s put together.  There’s also quite a bit of info up on the wall along side the rocket which some may find quite interesting.  After about 15 minutes we were all shuffled back outside to catch the tram back to the visitor’s center.

Too cold for another tram tour so we opted to stay in the visitor’s center and check out what else they had to offer.  (Somewhere in there we also grabbed a bite to eat at the food court.)  There were a few things we decided not to do.  The simulator ride was one.  My back was already angry with me.  I could see no good reason to make it worse.  We did check out the shuttle, the display of space suits (from past to present plus), and the 2 Imax movies (To Be An Astronaut and Inside the Space Station).

Overall, it was just okay.  I’d say the only things we really enjoyed were the Mission Control Room and the Imax movies.  I didn’t take many photos but what I did take can be seen here in my albums.  *Note:  If you can avoid it, don’t go on a Sunday.  According to our tour guide, the Mission Control personnel are off on Sundays otherwise we may have able to see some at work when we visited the room.

Seems as though, in my humble opinion, that this is a much more enjoyable experience (and maybe even geared more) for kids. 
If you’ve been, what did you think?

Roadside Slingers

Posted by – December 15, 2008

One Sunday I decided to take some time out to drive around downtown Houston and the surrounding area.  On the way back to my hotel I stopped at a red light at one of the major intersections and suddenly there was this strange guy cleaning my windshield!  I sat sort of stunned and irritated for a few seconds thinking “Who asked this guy to do this?”  Since it was dirty I sat back and watched until he was finished, then gave him a buck and went on my way.  However, by the time I got to my hotel I was irritated all over again.  In fact, I almost felt violated!  I would never touch anyone else’s… anything without asking. Then I got ticked at myself for relenting and even giving him money.  What an idiot!

The following Sunday, coming back from Galveston, I ended up back at the same intersection.  I saw the guy step off the curb and head in my direction and immediately I started giving him the wave-off while shaking my head NO.  He then headed for the person to my right and got the same reaction.  Next, he went to the car ahead and, even though he got the same wave-off, he started cleaning anyway.  What’s up with that?  “Excuse me while I do whatever I want with your vehicle…” NOT.

I was curious after all this.  Was there any info on the web about these roadside squeegee slingers?  Sure enough, there was.  Matter of fact, some of them have been known to get violent with folk who give them the wave-off (or don’t pay) breaking windows and kicking dents into their cars.  In some places they’ve made it illegal.

I found some postings about it here and here.

In the end, I don’t buy the argument that these folk are, at least, trying to make some money and if they weren’t doing this they may be committing crimes.  (That sounds more like a justification a squeegee slinger would use.)  It’s a safety issue for all involved, as well as, annoying to those of us who don’t care to have some strange person lunging themselves and a dirty squeegee at our vehicle. 
But that’s just my humble opinion.  What’s yours?

 A driver’s-eye view of the crime in progress, as seen in 1993.
(Photo: Angel Franco/The New York Times)

End of the Road?

Posted by – November 2, 2008

Many moons ago, I would have never thought twice about going over a bridge and an overpass.   As a matter of fact, I use to get a kick out of going over something like the Seven-Mile Bridge in the Keys or one of those towering expansion bridges like the San Francisco Bridge.  I didn’t have many experiences with big high-rise or multiple overpasses because everything in Florida was fairly low to the ground but they always looked cool.

All that changed in 2004 when, after Hurricane Ivan blew through, I saw this.  An interstate out over water, a bridge, blown apart by…. wind.


It got me thinking about just how safe (or unsafe) these things are.  I guess I always pictured them welded together and then reinforced by tons of cement so there was never any fear that anything would ever happen to them (or me) while driving on one. 

In 2006, about 5 months after Hurricane Katrina, I went to Biloxi, Mississippi to visit some friends who were working there.  One day I decided to check out the area so I drove down Beach Boulevard to Gulfport, did a ubee, and went back the other direction (along the beach and past my hotel) toward Ocean Springs.  I stopped off on the side of the road and at the beach a few times to enjoy the weather, take in the scenery, and take some photos, but just as I neared the road that led over the bay to Ocean Springs, I realized the road was gone.  Blown apart and dumped into the bay just like the one in Pensacola.

Then in August 2007, the bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapse during rush hour.  No storm involved.  No wind.  Just… traffic. 

Since then, crossing bridges has been a bit unsettling.  The cool-ness has been replaced by white knuckles.  Unfortunately, most times you don’t have any choice but to cross over (or under) one of these structures when driving to or from your destination so out of necessity I do it but I don’t like it.

I bring this up now because, as you may know, I’m currently in Texas and there are bridges and tons of those high-rise highways and overpasses all over.  I cringe when I leave my hotel because I know that no matter where I’m off to, I’ll be going over or under one (or many) of these structures.  For this reason I keep my eyes on the road, my hands on the wheel, and the pedal to the metal.   I stay aware of my surroundings and the traffic so if anything happens, I’ll be the one driving (or climbing) up over everyone else to get to safe ground.  LOL!

Go ahead.  Say it.  I’m a wuss!

Not So Natural

Posted by – October 30, 2008

 On one of my days off (as I was recovering from bronchitis) I decided to go to downtown Houston and check out a museum or two.  This particular area is called the Museum District but unlike the Smithsonians in Washington DC, these are not lined up next to one another.  Instead they’re spread around forcing you to walk all over town.

Someone told me the Museum of Natural Science was currently showing the Body Worlds exhibit.  I heard that was suppose to be awesome so I went straight there after I finally found a parking garage.  Getting to the museum was a pretty lengthy walk for me (in my weakened state) so I was tired before I even got started. LOL!

Once in the museum I found I wasn’t going to see anything without putting out some cash first.  Okay, hold on!  The Smithsonians are waaaay bigger and they’re free!  What’s up Houston?  Anywho, it was $10 per adult just to walk through and see the basic exhibits.  The Planetarium, IMAX, or Body Worlds would be more.  $25 later I headed down to the Body Worlds exhibit on the bottom floor.  The exhibit is actually in two places in the museum.  The first half is on the bottom floor and the second half is up on the third floor.  Yea steps! 

Before stepping into the exhibit area we were all informed there were no photos allowed, no touching anything, and cell phones had to be turned off.  Inside there were large poster-type displays with information about the exhibit including the man who created it and where the bodies came from.  They also touted the breakthrough process “Plastination” which keeps the body from decaying.  Sprinkled around each room were small glass cases containing organs, skeletal parts, and transparent body slices.   Larger cases contained whole bodies in different poses that were suppose to show which muscles would be used for that particular activity.  There were also whole bodies not encased that were split, sliced and diced several different ways.  The whole bodies were either bones only or bones with muscles, tendons, and organs in place. 

I don’t know if it was that I still didn’t feel well or what, but I was disappointed.  Moreso when I thought about the fact that I paid $25 (plus the $6 parking) for an anatomy lesson and didn’t really see any more than I’ve already seen (and learned) FREE from the Invisible Man toy I had when I was younger, the Discovery Channels, and Dr. Oz.  

The Plastination, along with the paint (or stain) they put on the muscles, made the bodies look fake.  The poses that were suppose to show what muscles were being used, didn’t.  (At least in my opinion there were no muscles that looked any bigger or more tensed than any other.)  Also, if you even looked as if you were touching one of the cases the museum “hall monitors” were right there with a quick, loud “Don’t touch that!” which meant you couldn’t get close enough to really see what you were suppose to be seeing.  You couldn’t touch any of the bodies or organs either so, really, what’s the point?  Again, I could have seen and NOT touched any of that for free.

I left disappointed and tired.  I decided to skip the other museums for now (maybe indefinitely) and return to my hotel to rest.  I hate feeling as though I’ve wasted my hard-earned money.  The only I can say (for sure) I got from this is being able to say that I saw the exhibit.  Anyone else seen it?

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