Job Wonder

Ingenuity for hire: I graduated from Rice with a BS in electrical engineering in May 2002 and found your story to be eye-opening ["Taking the Plunge," by Jennifer Mathieu, June 19]. I was in the same situation as Rob and Saad a year ago. However, I decided to handle the situation differently.

With the help of my friend and fellow Rice graduate Emmie Chang, I co-founded Wonder-Space Computer and Technology Enrichment. Wonder-Space aims to teach creative thinking and problem-solving to children seven to 17 years old through the use of technology.

The downcast job market and economy actually served as the catalyst for the inception of Wonder-Space. I may not have made $70,000 this year, but I have invested wisely in my future. We let society create a timeline for our lives, and some of us scramble if we are thrown off-base. I am not criticizing Rob, because I felt like him for a while. But I think sometimes we fail to realize the abundance of opportunities we have around us. Success does not necessarily entail getting a job from Boeing after graduating from Rice; achievement does not even require a degree. Success is the result of hard work, determination and perseverance. Thank you for your story.

Josefa Marquez

Turtle Tribute

Save the Ridley: I just wanted to compliment you and your writer for the excellent story on the need for additional volunteers to monitor the nesting of Kemp's Ridley sea turtles in Texas ["Ridley's Recruits," by Wendy Grossman, June 5].

I have been covering this story occasionally for the Voice of America for more than two decades. It is truly one of the great, but least reported, conservation success stories of our time. The animal was virtually doomed just a few years ago. It is also one example of a friendly, cooperative and successful effort between the U.S. and Mexican governments. So any press this story gets is important, and well worth it. I just hope the city and county officials in Galveston rise to the occasion and protect this turtle, now that it is expanding its nesting area back to beaches it traditionally visited 10,000 years ago.

Texans deserve a lot of credit for what they have already done, but the turtle can't be protected by Donna Shaver and her volunteers headquartered on Padre Island National Seashore when they're nesting 250 miles away.

Andrew Guthrie
Washington, D.C.

Wages and Reason

But it was only five paragraphs: The box titled "Paying Their Way" [by Craig Malisow, June 26] within the feature on the homeless was obviously cheap innuendo that the salaries of top officials ($71,000 to $126,500 per year) at the Star of Hope ($13 million annual budget) were out of line. You withheld until the last paragraph the fact that these salaries are well within the range of a United Way survey of salaries for similar positions at other organizations.

I suppose a more accurate title, "Agency Salaries in Line with Others," would not have been quite so titillating.

Griff Godwin

Lay Off the Parks

Cutbacks are warranted: Your article on the parks department [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, June 26] is yet another demonstration of a shoddy and mean-spirited brand of "journalism." Through all the petty gossip we are exposed to in this article, nothing of substance emerges. You sound the alarm that the department is laying off its graphics group.

Perhaps the more alarming question is, Why do the taxpayers need to support a team of "acclaimed" graphic designers in the first place? And the department is laying off lighting technicians to be replaced (in the miniscule print of this article) by private contractors. Exactly why is this so terrible? After all, these folks are not likely needed eight hours a day, 365 days a year, are they?

Apparently no city job could possibly be cut without the gravest consequences, according to Mr. Fleck's column. Of course, the greatest fault of the parks director apparently consists in hiring a consultant to, horror of horrors, design a logo. I know we are in rough fiscal waters these days, but is this the best Fleck can do? Is this the kind of top-of-the-line investigation of the city's fiscal waste that the Houston Press is capable of? Spare me and your readers your private vendettas, please.

Roger M. Soto

Miller time: Perhaps Mayor Brown should have done more research before appointing such a ruinous person to parks chief. Roksan Okan-Vick's concern does not seem to be on the beautiful parks we have in Houston, it seems to be more on getting her way.

Miller Outdoor Theatre is one of the most wonderful things. The opportunity to see art and performances is available to everyone in Houston -- the performances are free! And as for the culture it provides, Houston is such an ethnically diverse city, and anything that would lessen the expression of that diversity is a damn shame. I don't know much about parks department appointments, but can citizens call for removal of parks chiefs based on their apparent disinterest in the park system? Or perhaps there's a better way to balance the parks budget -- cut Okan-Vick's salary to reflect her poor performance.

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