By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Sales:You need quotation on pumping?
HB: Yeah I'm a little confused, actually.
Sales: You sound confused.
HB: I'm just trying to figure out -- what kind of pressure pumping and stimulation do you offer with the BJs?
Sales: We offer about all the kind there is when it comes to well servicing.
HB: What about the coiled tubing? That sounds kind of painful.
Sales: Who is this?
Unfortunately, an unbecoming case of giggles overtook our correspondent at this point. We'll have to train him better if he ever hopes to make it to the "Is your refrigerator running?" survey team.
In case you've ever wondered "Who the hell would protest against the Swiss?" you have your answer, and it was right here in Houston.
Outraged chocolate lovers? People who just hate neutrality?
No, it was a bunch of journalists.
On October 13, a dozen members of the Houston Independent Media Center duct-taped their mouths and marched on the Swiss consulate, or at least on the lobby of the downtown skyscraper that contains the Swiss consulate, such as it is.
They were protesting the fact that the Swiss government had asked the FBI to seize a server belonging to its parent organization, Indymedia. There's a gag order on just what triggered the incident, although Indymedia sites in Switzerland reportedly posted pictures of undercover Swiss cops.
The protest was limited to signs such as "Swiss is no gouda," which we're sure changed a lot of minds. The demonstrators also got to meet with a member of the consulate.
The protest originally was planned to include a ceremonial dumping of computers on the street -- to show that their news network is now useless -- but, good lefties that they are, the HIMC members have decided to donate the used PCs to charity.
So far, no official boycott of Swiss Army knives has been declared. But if this thing escalates
Houstonian Josh Bullard was in high dudgeon recently. He traveled to City Hall, signed up to speak and heatedly told councilmembers of a heinous evil being perpetrated in Space City.
The evil? Bullard had actually seen a city employee smoking. In a city car. Using a lighter from that very same municipal vehicle.
He wanted action, immediately. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, council's leading antismoking advocate, was ready to answer the call.
"I'm looking at this as a workplace hazard," she said.
City lawyers were ordered to investigate, and said the mayor could indeed ban smoking in city cars by executive order. No word yet on whether he'll do so.
Until that momentous day, city workers who share those cars might have to smell someone else's stale cigarette smoke. And average joes like Bullard -- and you -- will have to suffer the indignity and hardship of watching city employees light up in city vehicles. Not to mention all the secondhand smoke inhaled as they drive by, assuming they're stuck in traffic for a long time. And you're standing right by one of their open windows.
Citizen Watch, Part Two
Melinda Holmes has a daughter with an immune deficiency, so she's constantly vigilant about diseases like West Nile Virus.
She didn't have to look too hard for ominous signs at her home near Tomball, though. A dead bird infected with the disease fell right onto her head. Literally.
"Out my back door there are a lot of trees, so I don't know if it was sitting on a branch dying and fell, or what," she says. The "or what" apparently covers other contingencies such as kamikaze attacks. Or just plain suicide. Or a bird too lazy to bother flapping its wings even as it plummets to the ground. (Presumably there'd be headphones and a Phish CD involved in that last scenario.)
Knowing that a dead blue jay isn't a good sign, Holmes reported it to authorities, who confirmed the presence of the virus. A second dead bird, also infected, showed up on her property two weeks later, although this time without a dramatic death dive.
So now Holmes, who is too financially strapped to do much else, is spending her time worrying about her sick daughter and trying desperately to keep mosquitoes away.
"I have citronella candles on my front porch," she says.
So far, at least, she's not wearing a hard hat while she walks the dog.