The 2012 Houston Web Awards

The Houston Press rides the wave to the next group of winners.

He would later tell GLBT sports blog Outsports about his older brother, Joe, who came out to his friends and family when Barwin was in junior high. For Barwin this wasn't just a trendy cause to get behind; it was about human rights in general, the right for families to exist as they saw fit. "I definitely think that people are going to look back and be amazed that so many people had a problem with it," he says.

Barwin lives in a high-rise apartment in downtown Houston amid skyscrapers and Discovery Green, and from his patio you can spy parts of Minute Maid Park, BBVA Compass Stadium and Warehouse Live, one of his favorite live venues in town. His favorite bars are steps away, too. His favorite restaurants — Underbelly and Uchi — are just a short drive away, and he and some other Texans are regulars at Under the Volcano's Monday steak nights.

"Houston is cool enough to where there is no judging, and I don't have to hide," he says. But honestly, when he's at a concert it's hard for him to blend in. He sometimes feels bad when he really wants to get close to the stage at a show. It makes taking concert pics easier, though.

Imelda Bettinger, seen here in a beautiful filteredInstagram, takes shots of the world around her, which includes raising three kids and working a full-time job.
Lisa Ramirez
Imelda Bettinger, seen here in a beautiful filteredInstagram, takes shots of the world around her, which includes raising three kids and working a full-time job.
A  contributor to the Swamplot blog sneaked into the decaying Reliant Astrodome during RodeoHouston to snap some shots of the fading stadium from the inside.
A contributor to the Swamplot blog sneaked into the decaying Reliant Astrodome during RodeoHouston to snap some shots of the fading stadium from the inside.

His place is blocks from the METRORail, but he mostly gets to and from work in the Prius, and he can sometimes be seen biking around town. We bring up the fact that a Prius seems small for such a big guy, and he reminds us that a Prius isn't all that compact and that he can fit a few teammates in it all at once.

On one wall of the apartment there's a huge floor-to-ceiling mural that he commissioned from street artist Daniel "Weah" Anguilu. The story of how it came to be on Barwin's wall is a testament to the plugged-in (and almost frightening) nature of social media in Houston.

"I had always seen his pieces when I lived in the Museum District, and one day I decided to find out who it was. I tweeted a picture of one of them and asked if anyone knew whose work it was, and within minutes I had his name and phone number." The next day Anguilu was at Barwin's place looking at a blank canvas, and a week and six hours later, it was a reality on his wall, and Barwin was live-tweeting the whole thing.

"I wanted a place to be myself," says Christian Palmer. As @pogsandjello, the Houston resident reels out hilarious non sequiturs to an audience of just around 600 followers, making her feed a hidden gem. When she says she tweets the way she talks, she's not lying. She's rarely mean or cynical, maintaining a sense of whimsy without resorting to negativity. Years into this Twitter experiment, her journey into the social media site is still hazy.

Palmer, a journalist and photographer by trade, never imagined that Twitter would become as big a part of her life as it is now, either. Most people who join Twitter and stake out their own distinct plots of virtual real estate say it has changed their lives for the better. She doesn't even remember what her exact motivation to join the site was, but she's glad she did.

"I have made more friends being on Twitter during these past three years than I did during the entire 20 years preceding. I met my best friend and also the love of my life." Her openness and acceptance of most everyone have allowed her to build an audience. When we tell Palmer that she operates one of the funniest feeds in town, she gets bashful, which is refreshingly endearing, and she makes it look effortless.

The best thing about being funny on Twitter is that it allows normal people to riff on their own lives and experiences. Sometimes the seemingly most normal have the most outlandish things to say. It's always the quiet ones. Sloppy grammar is a pet peeve of Palmer's, and coming from a writing and editing background makes navigating Twitter at times twice as maddening. Even when she's had a few drinks, she strives to remain word perfect and ­understandable.

She doesn't like the word "woot" (but then again, who does?), and she is frequently confused by emoticons, mostly because they're used incorrectly. Why all the winking? When it comes to her favorite users in town, she gravitates toward those railing against the world. "I prefer anger, but I get an enormous kick out of whimsy. I see myself as more whimsical. Does toilet humor count as whimsy?" she asks.

Imelda Bettinger has taken the art of online photo-sharing to a whole new level in the Houston area, joining forces with other mobile shutterbugs on Instagram. They are documenting the everyday beauty and countering the banality in their everyday lives. With just a cell phone, a few preloaded photo filters and some imagination, you can churn out something endearing, haunting or humorous.

Bettinger, a wife and mother of three in Pear­land, embraced Instagram, the massively popular photo-sharing social media application, just two days after its launch in October 2010. At first the app was only for iPhone users, but this past April it became available for Android phones, too. A few days later it was bought by Facebook for $1 billion.

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2 comments
Huh...
Huh...

Seriously? Plonk? They update their FB page every 10 days. If HP qualifies that as good communication with their fans, they should try writing a story every 10 days and see if that system works better for them.

Throwaway
Throwaway

Conner is douchey. There was a long line to get into Little Woodrow's before the rugby game at the Dynamo Stadium. He tried to cut straight to the front with about 7 other guys. The bouncer refused, thankfully.

 
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