Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Its about time," meets "No more Toll Roads!"

Yay! The new expanded portion of 121 will be open soon from Coppell to Carrollton. However, it will soon come with a price..Tolls.. This has been a long argument that citizens have been fighting with the state, and so have some cities. TxDOT says that the new extension will open in July, and it will be running on a "Marketing Period" where tolls will be "waived" for users (Thank you TxDOT!!). Currently it would be a little hard for them to collect tolls because there are no toll booths. Oh and that is another thing.. It is not going to have any "person" operated toll booths. It will be the 2nd (yeah thats right Dallas Morning News, the Westpark tollway was the first, check your facts!) roadway in the nation that will be totally automated. If you do not have a TollTag or a Harris County Toll Road Authority EZTag, then a picture will be taken of your license plate and you will receive a bill in the mail at the rate of 30% higher than if you were to have a TollTag.

It is all annoying in the first place because the taxpayers have already paid to build what they have so far. Why is it that we should have to now pay to use the stupid road. I know that it is all a matter of convenience, but still, I think that I will be peachy with the feeder roads. That is what we all are using now, but there are just traffic congestions while they are currently tearing up the earth to continue the job. If the outlying areas of the Metroplex weren't expanding so fast (Carrollton, Lewisville, Coppell, Frisco, Plano, The Colony, etc.), then we wouldn't have to be subjected to such instances. Oh well, I guess that is how the gun shoots when we are an urban sprawl society.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cattle Rustling in 2006? really?

I saw this on the Chronicle's website and I thought that it was really interesting. It is just shocking that cattle rustling is still occurring in 2006. This is something that you would expect to hear about in the late 1800's early 1900's. Even Nolan Ryan, the baseball hall of famer, could not avoid being victimized in this archaic crime :

"Authorities said Tuesday they have cracked a cattle-rustling operation that stretched across eight counties and claimed 289 head, including 17 cows and 30 calves belonging to Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.The total value of the stolen livestock was estimated at up to $300,000."

I guess that we can still use the excuse that this is Texas and in some parts, we are still a ranching society. But in this world of technology today, you just think.. really?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Houston Flooding

Well, it is that time of the year. Hurricane season usually brings in the onslaught of large amounts of water to the Greater Houston area. However, it usually comes in the form of a tropical system that comes in from the Gulf. However, today, a low pressure system has stalled over the area and is stuck between 2 high pressure systems that is pretty much blocking it from moving. In the South-east part of town, there is T.S. Alison amounts of flooding, approximately 10 inches of rain within 3 hours. Many streets around the Hobby Airport area were flooded and there was water surrounding the runways at Hobby.

One thing that would help prevent this kind of flooding is the reducing of urban sprawl. There is too much concrete and concrete does not absorb rain water, that is the job of the earth, with the help of trees, grass, etc. Now this would not have made a great impact on this situation, but it would have helped a little bit.

One interesting thing is that this system is acting just like Tropical Storm Alison from 2001. TS Alison hit Galveston and passed through the Greater Houston area and then went as far north as about Conroe, and then returned to the Houston area, drowning most of the city this time, and then made its way towards New Orleans. It did not have a good steering current (high pressure system) and it was just being held in place for the most part, moving with what energy that it had or could gather from the local air currents. Being that this has happened for a second time and that it has not really happened before, I am curious if this is something associated with changing atmospheric conditions or if this could just be sheer coincidence... Only time can tell...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Happy Friday!

Well, we did not get to have a meeting today. About half of the class was not able to attend the proposed meeting today. Instead, Dr Williams said that we were just going to be learning techniques to use in the field, so they were just going to teach them before they use them. We did, however, learn a little bit about our flight. It is a lot later than I thought it would be, we are departing from DFW at 5:05 in the afternoon and they are wanting us at the airport at 1:30pm and we will be back in the metroplex at 6:30 Monday evening. I have finally decide to go ahead and get a new account at a new bank, one in which that does not charge any fees whatsoever, even for using other banks ATM's, so that is pretty awesome. I will have to take care of that this weekend. That is all for now...I have to pump myself for a free concert of Ashlee will take from now until the event tomorrow night...the things that you do for friends...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

As the World Turns...

Well, it has been a while since I have last made a post. I have been working hard at work and my Summer I class just started and I have been doing a lot of hanging out, so I have been worn out the last few weeks and have had my mind in a million places at once. I have been doing some extensive, extensive research on which bank that I should use while I am away. I think that I have narrowed it down to either DATCU (my current Credit Union) or Century Bank, which does not charge any ATM fees at all anywhere or at anytime. It is a little annoying that I have had to do all of this researching in the first place because I think that it is a little dumb that banks charge people to use their money in the first place, however, I can understand the fact that the bank is a business and must try to make a profit at the same time that they are providing a service to the public.

This Friday, we hopefully will be having our first and only meeting before we leave for our trip. It will be an opportunity to ask questions pertaining to the trip and a chance for Dr. Williams and Dr. Lyons to present preliminary lectures to us about the topics that we will be covering while we are there and also give them a chance to prep us on what we should expect to encounter while we are there.

Yesterday, I read through the "Study Abroad for Dummies" book that I bought last summer in anticipation for this trip. It had some interesting details on how to pack, what to pack, traveling within in the country and other stuff like that.. It had some good information in there. I have already got the list going and some things set aside that I know that I will need while I am there and I am also starting to stock up on supplies. I am just in a conundrum about the suitcase that I should use. I have a soccer bag that I have been using as a suitcase for a while now, but I am wondering if I would be able to use a standard suitcase instead that way I could have extra room for clothes and whatnot. We will be doing a lot of traveling by car and walking in the airport so I need to check with the profs to see which is the best option.

The excitement is starting to build big time. Listening to Virgin Radio is not really helping matters because as I am listening to it, I keep imagining that I am in London and I try to imagine what life would be like living there. I think that I might have to get a hold of a radio for while I am there so I can listen to them live and in person instead of streaming through the internet. It would also be a great opportunity to experience what the rest of the radio band has to offer.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Banks suck

Well, in preparation for the trip, I have been investigating banks. I currently bank with Wells Fargo, and I am really happy the service that I have received thus far. However, they really suck with overseas service. They want to charge $5 to access an ATM overseas and they charge 3% currency exchange rate fee to use my check card as a credit card. That is ridiculous. You would think that this day in age, the technology is such that it wouldnt be a problem to make such a transaction. Now I am in a search to find a bank that will not charge me to access my accounts while i am abroad. My credit union does not charge anything currently, except just for the local ATM fees that those banks assess, but now they are going to start charging a small precentage for ATM withdrawls... My roommate opened an account at Century Bank and they are not supposed to charge fees to access your account abroad, so I think that I may have to investigate them for myself and possibly open an account there temporarily for this trip....

Cubes ROCK!

Sometimes it is great to work in an office. We wrapped my co-workers cube in aluminum foil. It was lots of fun.. and it didnt even take as long as I thought that it was..