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Old 09-16-2008, 11:53 PM   #141
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No, it is not true. Dallas is about 250 miles from Houston, so it should take him only 10 gallons of gas to get there or about 2/3rds of the typical 15 gallon tank that a car has. He didn't have to get any extra gas containers at all.
Dallas is so far from Houston that you have to make frequent side trips to load up on barbecue. That is likely why he needed so much gas.

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Old 09-17-2008, 10:07 AM   #142
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Haha, that is even funnier than you know as the guy is morbidly obese. You must know him?
I think he was just afraid the hurricane would head to DFW as it did show on tv weathercasts even here that it initially might swing that way. It didn't, and went way back to Louisiana instead I think.
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Old 09-17-2008, 11:02 AM   #143
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Waiting to hear from my brother, whose house is (or "was") in Bridge City, TX--90 percent of the town was covered with water. He and his family did go to Dallas (but is not morbidly obese ).

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Old 10-11-2008, 02:41 AM   #144
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We just got back from our three-day blitz Houston trip to visit Rice U.

Much more student-friendly and more intimate than Notre Dame's 7000+ students. Our kid was a just as sure that she was going to Notre Dame as she used to be positive that she was going to USNA. However now she's been totally seduced by the image of being a Mighty Fighting Owl (or, as REW would say, a MFO). Rice had a great admissions brief followed by a good tour, and a student took her to lunch & class. The visit was exactly what she needed to be able to look around and say "Yeah, I could do this." She's totally jazzed and motivated to study for her next set of SATs.

I like the idea of college in warmer weather (except perhaps July & August) and an urban environment instead of a frozen wasteland cornfield. Having a bunch of Fortune 500 corporations within stone's throw for research projects and internships doesn't hurt either, and the Rice NROTC unit claims that they get treated better than ND. Rice's NROTC seems to work fine-- unlike ND, Rice is so hard to get into that Navy rubber-stamps the scholarship application. Last year Rice didn't admit any NROTC applicants, and an entire NROTC class of 13 students is made up of mids from other campuses.

Of course it's easy to love Houston in October when it's a bit brisk in the morning and quite temperate the rest of the day. One day was utterly & completely blue sky with not a speck of clouds. But there was some mild concern in the hotel about a rainy day, because most of their roof is blue tarps and there's already a couple pallets of drywall in the hallways. The only other remaining visible hurricane damage in urban Houston seems to be an occasional plywood window and piles of curbside tree branches. Rice was being groomed by platoons of groundskeepers, every tree had a mulch layer a foot thick, and every barbecue grill was well-stocked with kindling & firewood. Everywhere I looked, both at Rice and the adjacent medical complex, I saw building cranes.

Central Houston's rush-hour traffic truly sucks, but unfortunately that's just my provincial standards. A 16-mile crawl in Hawaii is a freakin' cataclysmic disaster, but around Houston it seems to be commuter business as usual. After nearly two decades of Hawaii driving I found the speed limits and following distances to be pretty exciting. A truck kicked up a rock that put a dime-size chip in the passenger side of our front windshield, so DisAdvantage car rental and I are going to have even more to talk about soon.

Only once during the entire trip did I hear "All y'all are from Hawaya an' yer vacationin' hee-yur?" That's a new record.

I had a great BBQ dinner with 2B, 2Soon2Tell, Htown Harry, and Leonidas. Thanks again for the hospitality, guys! After several hours of detailed analysis we developed a plan to fix the stock market. We began implementation this morning (Friday 10 Oct), but the rest of Wall Street will need a few more weeks to recognize our prescience and get onboard. Patience.

In the meantime our kid is looking into chigger repellent and scorpion anti-venin treatement...
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Old 10-11-2008, 08:05 AM   #145
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Central Houston's rush-hour traffic truly sucks, but unfortunately that's just my provincial standards. A 16-mile crawl in Hawaii is a freakin' cataclysmic disaster, but around Houston it seems to be commuter business as usual.

I had a great BBQ dinner with 2B, 2Soon2Tell, Htown Harry, and Leonidas. Thanks again for the hospitality, guys! After several hours of detailed analysis we developed a plan to fix the stock market. We began implementation this morning (Friday 10 Oct), but the rest of Wall Street will need a few more weeks to recognize our prescience and get onboard. Patience.
Nords,

It was great having you show up and I enjoyed meeting my fellow forum memeber.

It isn't your provincial standards in judging the traffic. The traffic has been horrible around Houston since I first arrived in 1973. Around the Galleria is the worst of the worst. The West Loop around the Galleria is supposedly part of the freeway system but more closely resembles a parking lot from 4am to 8 pm (commute times).

I've always handled the traffic by working and living on the fringes. We recently moved from Clear Lake to Katy when I got a better j*b 3 years ago in Katy. I commuted 50 miles each way for about 3 months and it was just about enough to kill me. There are people that travel farther than that for decades. I think they are nuts. You experienced the joy of I-45 a few times so you get the idea.

We certainly have better BBQ than the Galleria food court but it worked out well for your DW and DD to have an opportunity to escape the forum "reunion." I think I was the only one that met them so they probably weren't too tramatized.

I called the market bottom on Friday. I'm sticking with my prediction unless it goes down Monday. You were traveling most of the time so you didn't have the "in your face" experience of watching the market dump all week. Lucky stiff.
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Old 10-12-2008, 12:05 PM   #146
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Lucky Nords...watching the market go down did nothing for me, but give me heart palpitations. Fun times.
Your kid will love Rice, and I cannot encourage her more. It is the finest. She'll get used to the humidity and heat, and won't melt.
And, as you noticed, Houston is booming. Lots of construction going on since I left in '03, but plenty was happening even then, too.
Houston is predicted--according to the tv stations in Chicago when I lived there one year in 2003-2004--to overtake the population of Chicago within 10 years. Now, being 2008, that should be like 6 years.
The only big downside to all this is with the Katrina victims coming to Houston a few years ago, crime boomed 40% up. Now we have all the Galveston victims. Trust me, most of Galveston was composed of the poor-poor. In fact, it was really a few haves and many, many, many have nothing at alls; so, I am wondering what the affect will be on crime now that this latest hurricane has happened. Watch that.
I lived in Bellaire, which is bike riding distance from Rice. She will love it. It's beautiful over there. Thumbs up is my vote, Nords!
***Oh, yeah...and the only people who sound twangy when they talk in Houston are people from outside Houston proper. Trust me, the Houstonians sound Midwestern, more or less, with really no noticeable accent at all. Dan Rather (the tv anchor) is from Houston, for example. Don't feel surprised about what Houston is really like as my ex- thought he would see tumbleweeds rolling thru the center of town...oh brother! Inner-city Chicago boy...what can I say
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Old 10-16-2008, 05:59 PM   #147
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Glad your daughter had a good visit, Nords. The mild Houston winters vs. the Midwest weren't the reason my daughter became an Owl, but they certainly grew on her! Fingers crossed that your daughter gets in everywhere she applies and then has the pleasant dilemma of choosing which school to go to.
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Old 10-17-2008, 05:47 PM   #148
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As for the heat and humidity....

I didn't really mind it for decades. Now that I'm getting to almost be an old codger, it's really draining.

When my father used to visit when in his 70's, he wouldn't leave the house after 10 am. He kept saying it was too hot to go anywhere. I'm now starting to see what he meant.
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Old 10-17-2008, 08:05 PM   #149
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Heat in Houston, What heat. I'm 62, 1.5 yrs past cancer surgery, chemo and radiation treatment and I walk 5-10 miles 4 to 5 days a week in this heat. I can't run anymore but I can walk and I will be fast walking the Houston half marathon in Jan.

Seriously, the Houston heat does sap your energy and my DW has trouble in the summer. I do believe you can somewhat adapt by being outside when it is cooler in the AM or later in the evening when the humidity is lower but the temp is higher. We also try to follow the standard advice of wearing light clothing and drinking lots of fluids. With all of these precautions it sometimes feels like I am dragging lead weights around in the summer.

As they say in Texas we don't have to shovel the humidity and its the price we pay for our mild winters.
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Old 10-20-2008, 10:13 AM   #150
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When I used to walk fast or sprint around Memorial Park, which is a 3 mile cinder track everyone uses (i.e., I ran into George H.W. Bush, lots of boxing pros, the Judge on Texas Justice, etc. etc.), I had to leave by 6:30 am latest after May--because, by 8 a.m.--it was just tooo darn hot and humid to walk. Welcome to the reality of Houston heat and humidity!
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Old 10-23-2008, 08:23 AM   #151
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However now she's been totally seduced by the image of being a Mighty Fighting Owl (or, as REW would say, a MFO). Rice had a great admissions brief followed by a good tour, and a student took her to lunch & class. The visit was exactly what she needed to be able to look around and say "Yeah, I could do this." She's totally jazzed and motivated to study for her next set of SATs.
During supper last night the HS kid and I were discussing the next step in college selection. The Princess chimed in with a bit of news regarding Rice admissions. She had a discussion with another HS mom, whose hubby is a Rice prof, and they were discussing our particular HS and college admission. The HS is about 40% Asian and the academic competition is brutal - of 45 National Merit Scholars in the district this year all the other schools eked out 1 each and the other 35 or so attended this HS. The Valedictorian will probably be decided on about the fifth or sixth decimal point in the GPA.

Anyway, other mom told the Princess that Rice has been slightly disappointed in the quality of incoming Owls over the last several years. They were brainiacs par exellence, many of them Asian, but the school feels that they have not been getting well rounded students. Too many kids who dedicated every waking moment to the books and didn't get very involved in non-academics. The current thinking is to adjust admissions to cut down on the maxed out SAT'ers with 5.99879 GPAs and get kids who are still wicked smart but bring some other things to the university.

This seems to follow a pattern that I've noticed that schools have started to discount, at least to some extent, the standard test scores like SAT and ACT. Older kid is a sophomore at the University of Tulsa, a school about the size of Rice, which has been vigorously recruiting NM scholars with full ride scholarships for years. He says that this years incoming Freshman had a collective SAT score that was much higher than his class, but there is grumbling around that the new frosh are not well-rounded. Or as he puts it, "outside the classroom they are a collection of dumbasses that can't carry a conversation."

Edit to add: Re-reading my post I think I need to clarify a point to keep the PC police off me. The reason I highlighted the high percentage of Asians in my posts is that there is, as with all stereotypes, a bit more than a grain of truth in this one. Not all of my son's Asian classmates are drudges who study around the clock, only about 95% of them. He had a conversation with a girl last year and he made a comment about the importance of having a life outside of studying for physics. She corrected him by saying, "No, Thomas, studying is everything".
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Old 10-23-2008, 08:34 AM   #152
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My brother graduated, and later returned to teach at Rice. This was in the late 60s early 70s. One of the problem Rice identified was they were getting brainiacs that were dying at an early age. They concluded that one of the problems was lack of physical activity. They had freshman that could not throw a base ball 10 feet! They instituted a mandatory 2 year PE program for all students. The purpose was to expose students to activities that they could carry forth in life like hand ball, racket ball, running, swimming and such. I think it still exist today.
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:19 AM   #153
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DD had to take two semesters of PE at Rice--I think she took golf. There were a ton of sports clubs--she started one herself that is still thriving--and leagues among the individual colleges. The kids were hysterically funny and smart, and the student population was pretty diverse--she is lucky to have all kinds of friends.

And the students certainly attack the most important problems of the day--most recently in the news, they've developed bio-beer :

Rice National Media Site
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:21 AM   #154
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God help their football team. They must never win a game... Still laughing at the last few comments (not PC, but oh! so true).
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:19 PM   #155
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The HS is about 40% Asian and the academic competition is brutal - of 45 National Merit Scholars in the district this year all the other schools eked out 1 each and the other 35 or so attended this HS. The Valedictorian will probably be decided on about the fifth or sixth decimal point in the GPA.
Speaking from a state with a high percentage of residents of Asian ancestry, that's not a slur-- that's a family value. If you sort Hawaii school district GPAs by neighborhood ancestry then you'll find a similar correlation. (Admittedly it's homogenizing as the melting pot boils everyone down.) And if I was raising a family in that neighborhood and looking for money from the NMS people, then I'd move.

But maybe moving wouldn't make a difference. It seems to me that the National Merit Scholarship has become much more cut-throat than it used to be. My 1978 high-school class, not an intellectual hotbed by any standard, had two scholarship recipients out of <400. Our local 2008 high-school class had one out of at least 500, although Punahou scooped up at least a dozen NMS awards. I think the awards have dwindled from the top couple percent to the top fraction of one percent, but I haven't found any data to support this conjecture. I think the NMS cachet is only worthy of the résumé bullet, not the revenue, and that it's much easier to get major scholarship bucks anywhere else (Go Navy).

The "nice" thing about a school with such a high percentage of NMS winners is that it's self-perpetuating. The competition may be vicious but the teachers will probably be given quite a bit of support, training, and funding to keep teaching at that level. Maybe not much for homecoming parties & prom dances, but pretty good at turning out college-ready graduates.

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Anyway, other mom told the Princess that Rice has been slightly disappointed in the quality of incoming Owls over the last several years. They were brainiacs par exellence, many of them Asian, but the school feels that they have not been getting well rounded students. Too many kids who dedicated every waking moment to the books and didn't get very involved in non-academics. The current thinking is to adjust admissions to cut down on the maxed out SAT'ers with 5.99879 GPAs and get kids who are still wicked smart but bring some other things to the university.
Rice admitted zero NROTC students last year, too. And if they're growing the student body 10-20% then they'll have to allow for some talent dilution... just like a major-league sports franchise. However the admissions staffer didn't bat an eye when he said "We'd like to see SAT scores of at least 1450." And he's a Rice alum with a degree in English literature.

I'm reading an excellent eye-opening college-admissions book ("What You Don't Know Can Keep You Out of College") that mentions this same problem. Schools are learning to go for a whole-person multiple, with less emphasis on GPA, or else they find themselves too inbred. Everyone stays in their room and studies instead of experiencing the "traditional" college life of passionate enthusiastic activism & exploration (& debauchery).

I'm told that Rice (and many others) are considering "norming" GPAs back to a 4.00 scale by taking away the AP course's extra GPA point. (Our school had dozens of people who scored a "5" on the AP Psychology exam. There were only three "5"s on AP World History.) They're also giving much greater weight to varsity sports letters, Scouting honors, and other leadership indicators.

Our high school has a pair of siblings who are truly phenomenal-- kids of research scientists, high-ranking finishers at Intel & Siemens national science fairs, National Merit Scholars, and simply scary smart. They've been like this since the 6th grade Geography Bee, and it's because of their parents. They look great on paper, however they're each only missing two things-- a life and a personality. One of them lacked the strength of character to avoid a cheating scandal. Neither one has even found the time to get their driver's licenses, let alone date or any of the other teen rites of passage. Those of you watching the TV show "Big Bang Theory" know the types of whom I speak.

Our kid has cut back to "only" two AP courses this year and life has never been so good, so we make the most of every opportunity to compare her new life to those two classmates of hers.

I keep meaning to spend more time on the discussion boards at CollegeBoard.com so that I can be aware of all the latest issues surrounding applications, interviews, and individual schools. Then I remember, "Hey... not my problem!"
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:16 PM   #156
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Nords,

I meet the Senior class Valedictorian-to-be at my sons HS last week when she sat with us at a Orchestra concert. My son is a freshman, and I can 100% guarantee you that you would rather have my son working for you than this girl. She is a hard worker academically, very smart, but absolutely no other skills, socially or otherwise. Has never worked, has never dated, socially at about a average 7th-8th grade level. No knowledge of anything outside of academics.
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:33 PM   #157
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One of the problem Rice identified was they were getting brainiacs that were dying at an early age. They instituted a mandatory 2 year PE program for all students. The purpose was to expose students to activities that they could carry forth in life like hand ball, racket ball, running, swimming and such. I think it still exist today.
By the late 70's, P.E. was down to one year, but it covered about 10-15 different sports. Unless, of course, you flunked the swimming test given in the first week, which meant that you were sentenced to a semester in the natatorium. (Result: other than an occasional scholarship athlete who didn't have to take P.E., you will never meet a Rice grad who cannot swim.)

The gym facilities were terrible at the time, but like most schools they have upgraded significantly over the years. They just broke ground on a fancy new rec center scheduled to open in August 2009, just in time for Nords' daughter.

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God help their football team. They must never win a game...
True more often than not.

This year Rice scheduled fewer games against big schools, and as a result they have a chance of a winning season. They are 4-3 at the moment. Somewhere there's a football bowl game with Conference USA ties getting real nervous at the thought of having to invite a school that boasts only about 35,000 living alumni.

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Schools are learning to go for a whole-person multiple, with less emphasis on GPA, or else they find themselves too inbred. Everyone stays in their room and studies instead of experiencing the "traditional" college life of passionate enthusiastic activism & exploration (& debauchery).
Once the admission's office does its job, Rice's student body does their part in making sure that every former high-school nerd has a chance to widen his social horizons.

I'm guessing some of the details were not mentioned on the parent's tour, however. From last week's Thresher:
Superhero-themed NOD to have contest, burritos
Get ready to show off those washboard abs you've been working on all semester. This year, Wiess College's annual Halloween party, Night of Decadence, will take place tomorrow at 10 p.m. in the Wiess Commons. The theme is KryptoNOD: Horny Heroes and Villainous Vixens...

Wiess Socials Brett Wakefield and Becky Leven said they are expecting 1,200 to 1,500 people to attend. Last year, 1,391 showed up to the party, almost half the total number of undergraduates. There will be nine Rice University police officers, approximately 120 student security personnel, Emergency Medical Service volunteers on hand and three carts to transport people back to their colleges at the end of the evening organized by the College Assistance Peer Program...

Although last year there were concerns that students could wander into construction sites, Leven said she and Wakefield are less concerned about construction this year because there are currently no sites at or around Wiess. Nonetheless, RUPD Captain Phil Hassell said there will be security at the construction sites around campus to make sure students do not wander in.
In the commons, there will be club lighting, a fog machine, a shadow box and dancing poles. There will be many superhero-themed decorations as well, like a Batman-style spotlight and a "Fortress of Sexitude," inspired by Superman's original Fortress of Solitude. Leven said she and Wakefield are following a neon, kryptonite-based color scheme for decorations. There will be food including burritos from Mission Burrito...
It must have all worked out. The Sunday papers had no reports of Batman suit-wearing, beer- and burrito-fueled Rice students hijacking construction equipment.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:02 PM   #158
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It must have all worked out. The Sunday papers had no reports of Batman suit-wearing, beer- and burrito-fueled Rice students hijacking construction equipment.
As a college alumnus, I'm deeply disappointed by the lack of spirit. Where's their engineering creativity, let alone the YouTube videos?!?

As a parent, I'm deeply conflicted. I'm not sure I care to know my daughter's opinion of the "Fortress of Sexitude", even if she was only planning to consult on the design & construction...
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:54 AM   #159
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In the commons, there will be club lighting, a fog machine, a shadow box and dancing poles.
Paging Sarah!
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Old 10-29-2008, 09:56 AM   #160
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I think that hula hooping should be a required part of PE at every college, even the ones that don't have any hippies hanging around.

And hey, have you seen my new pole?
Yep, right by the front door!
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File Type: jpg Pole.jpg (15.9 KB, 4 views)
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