Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

I wish all my loyal followers a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Thanks for following my blog during the past two years. I hope to continue your readership by posting many more interesting notes throughout 2010. And to all the fellow travelers out there (even those among you who can only be vicarious travelers) - Happy Travels! May all your trips be safe, productive and enjoyable!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Still "Grounded" at home but enjoying it! May I Interest You in Houston's Newest Library??

As my good friend in New York noticed the other day, the Traveling Chemist is still "grounded" at home in Houston. Well, to be candid, I don't mind spending some time at home and in fact it is often what I secretly wish for on the eve of every long-distance international trip and especially after being away from home for a particularly long period of time. Being home affords me time to address all those pesky chores that crop up during the year and which I've had to put off while I was away from home. And, with all these 'monster' snow storms affecting airline schedules during these winter months, I just as soon avoid the airports anyway! As one wise friend once commented: Christmas is the time of the year when people who normally don't travel, travel. I don't know about you, dear followers, but THAT is exactly the time of year I DON'T want to travel!! (Avoid all those crowds!)

Meanwhile, in my attempt to keep alive the interests of my loyal followers who are checking in here daily or weekly to see and read about my travel exploits, I will at least try to post some pictures that will have an admittedly local focus about my life at home for the Holidays in Houston (my home city for the past 32+ years). But, dear followers, please stick around! Next month is promising to be more active with an international trip planned for mid-January. In the meantime, can I interest you in details about Houston's newest library???? Then read on .....

On Thursday, December 17, there was a "pre-opening" celebration at Houston's newest library - the Kendall Library branch on 609 N. Eldridge Parkway. It is the only branch library with three floors, a gymnasium and a drive-thru window! The current Kendall branch along Memorial Drive will be officially closed in February and all its books will then be moved to this new building.

Well, I can't conclude this posting without at least one picture of the Holiday paraphenalia appearing outside many of Houston's homes. The one above depicts a snowman.

Don't worry - no one was actually hurt here. Just one family's idea of a humorous "decoration". This model allegedly shows someone having just fallen off the roof while stringing up some Christmas lights!

Ah well, apologies to anyone who might be offended ...... but with such a weird company name (might there be a company called "Gigolo"??), I simply could not resist capturing this photo while on the way to the barber in Bellaire last Saturday.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jackson, Mississippi - Dec. 8 & 9

Photo: The Mississippi state capitol building.

My first ever visit to Mississippi came on Tuesday (Dec. 8) when I flew to Jackson, the state capitol of Mississippi. I arrived to overcast skies and a slight drizzle (which later turned to a driving rain later that evening). I was met by a driver who took me to my motel - the Holiday Inn Express in Pearl - a suburb of Jackson.

The following morning was superb - clear blue sky with a cool temperature. The purpose of this trip to Jackson was to give another in the series of my lectures that I am presenting on behalf of a professional society for petroleum engineers. My presentation was held at the River Hills Club outside Jackson. Before my talk started at 12 noon, I asked my sponsor if he'd mind taking me into downtown Jackson to allow me to at see at least one main attraction in the city! I chose the capitol building. With blue skies in the background, it made for a picture perfect day - see the above photo! After our brief excursion downtown, we headed to the country club where we had lunch followed by my talk which lasted 45 minutes. Attendance = 17 people.

My presentation was over at 1 pm and by 1:40 pm, I was at the Jackson Airport where I managed to snag an early flight home to Houston. My kind of trip .... short and sweet!!

The eagle atop the state capitol buidling.

The old capitol building, located a few blocks from the current capitol building (shown at the top of this posting).

The Mississippi state flag. In the upper left corner is the old Confederate flag (the "Stars and Bars"). A little nostalgic but upsetting to some as it represents bad elements of the old South.

The River Hills Country Club where I gave my lecture presentation.

A view from my seat in Row 19 (the last row) of the flight home to Houston.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snow in Houston, Texas!!

I fully realize that most folks living in the northeastern USA or in the upper mid-western states or in the Rocky Mountain areas (Colorado, etc.) or anywhere else (for example, northern Europe or northern China, etc.) will chuckle, chortle, laugh or just shrug ("so what's the big deal ...") at all this fuss I am making but, hey, today's weather is a BIG deal for us Houstonians! Today marks the earliest recorded snowfall in Houston - ever. Never before has it snowed in Houston as early as December 4th!! Normally we go for several YEARS without any snow so when we do see some snow - even if only in small amounts - we are excited! And, today, the meteorological conditions were perfect! In my area of West Houston, we only experienced a light dusting of snow - about 0.5" to 1 " total accumulation. Outlying areas had up to 3 - 4 inches accumulation! And the best outcome of all .... our office workplace was closed at 12 noon. A perfect way to spend a winter day in Houston!

The snow by our apartment pool area. Talk about a strange juxtaposition!!

Snow covered vegetation .....

I managed to scrape up enough snow from these cars to make a few snowballs!!
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Follow-Up: Saturday was a superb day: clear, blue sky and very cool temperatures. The day began at 26 deg F and eventually rose to around 50 deg F (10 deg C). My neighbor's flowers all withered away from the thermal shock. Sadly, with the temperature quickly rebounding, it wasn't long before all traces of our recent snowfall disappeared. Oh well, our one day of winter! It sure was nice while it lasted!
Madame Lefty: Welcome back! It's great to get another posting from you and also good to hear that your teaching job is going well. I must admit I was surprised to learn that our local school district (Houston Independent School District - HISD) kept classes going while our company - and many other large corporations - let their employees off from work! Oh well, it's still early in the season, maybe Houston will get a 'double-header' and receive yet another wintry blast! I hope!!
Ron: Thanks so much for your suggestions! I am always afraid of checking my camera and lenses for fear of theft by the TSA and by baggage handlers!
Nichole and Kyle: Many thanks for taking the time to leave comments and glad to hear you liked my posting!
Hindsfeet: Glad you like my photography! It's my favorite hobby .... after traveling, of course!!