Remember that Houston energy-industry buffer that some economists were talking about? The one that would protect us, at least for a while, from the free-falling economic recession the US (and most of the world) now finds itself in?
Well, it's gone. The unemployment rate is rising, the number of new jobs created is nearing a standstill, and overall the city is in the worst economic shape it's been since the summer of 2004. That was a bad summer; we spent most of our time trying to land a job in Austin, unable to get hired at so much as a Subway. We can only imagine what it was like here. We're guessing identical, but noticeably more humid.
Lately we've had to make some adjustments to our lifestyle, which, in the interest of helping out our fellow Houstonians in their hour of need, we will now share with you.
1. Ride your bike to work. Not only will you save on gas, but nine months out of the year your ride will be so hot and miserable you'll actually be happy to get there.
2. Cheddar cheese flavored ramen noodles with beef jerky: a surprisingly filling and wholesome meal, if you're drunk enough.
3. Speaking of: apologies to the heroes of the Spoetzel Brewery, but when out drinking, it's cheaper to alternate Shiner-Lone Star, rather than splurging on an all-Shiner binge. Look, hard times call for sacrifice, all right?
4. Give your air conditioning a break: in the coming summer months, change the setting so that it shuts off every once in a while. Putting the thermostat at about 90 should do it.
5. Save on some emergency room bills: limit yourself to just one bag of fried Oreos at the rodeo this year.
6. Stanford executives: firearms are costly and messy. When the time comes to make your "grand exit," the Williams Tower will provide a majestic final view, and there's very little pedestrian traffic between midnight and 5 am.
7. Instead of wasting gasoline and energy constantly mowing your lawn, see if your homeowner's association will let you construct a tasteful rock garden, reflecting pool, or tarmac on which to park your fleet of massive pickup trucks.
8. Instead of booking an expensive white-water rafting vacation at an exotic locale, simply get an inner-tube and float the mighty canals of Houston the next time a hurricane rolls through.
By following these eight simple rules for surviving the recession, we're pretty sure we can all make it through this. Look on the bright side: if everything goes to hell and the world's various nations start slugging it out for real, we Houstonians are in an excellent position to have a relatively warm and balmy nuclear winter.