Wintery Day Is Just Right To Stay Inside and “Chill”

Morning greetings of winter white out the door--Lyons, Kansas.

Morning greetings of winter white out the door–Lyons, Kansas.

Just like family get-togethers and exchanging presents, snowstorms seem to be a tradition of every Christmas holiday visit I make back to my home state of Kansas.  This morning we woke up to a couple inches of the white stuff on the ground, with even more swirling around in the air.  The snow itself made for a pretty scene outside, but the cold blast of 7 degrees when I opened the door was more than what I’d call “brisk.”

The first thing I had to do was sweep a path on my sister’s patio and then out on the grass for Annie to take a “go.” Finally, she did, at lightning speed.

With the snow still coming down most of the day and the cold wind zipping at the skin, other than re-sweeping the doggy paths, I haven’t wanted to venture out.  It was just the kind of day to keep the house cozy by using the oven to cook up the pork roast and sauerkraut we got yesterday in preparation of a cold day.

Tonight the forecast is for 5 degrees, but I’m sure that the blankets and quilts on the bed will keep me–and Annie–warm.

Swept paths for a little dog to make a quick run outside.

Swept paths for a little dog to make a quick run outside.

Annie stays near--or on--a warm lap on these cold days.

Annie stays near–or on–a warm lap on these cold days.

Advertisements

Let It Snow, Let It Snow–Wintery Weather Comes to Houston, Rare Event for the Bayou City

As predicted, snow and colder temperatures started out the day in Houston.  The outside temp in my car on the way to work was in the high 30s this morning.  Small bits of icy drops started hitting the windshield as I left the neighborhood, but near downtown,  the heavy wet flakes started coming down.  Some kind of precipitation–from rain to sleet to the more frequent snowflakes–kept coming down throughout the morning and afternoon.  Many schools and businesses let students and employees go home early in anticipation of wet, and perhaps icy roads, as the temperature was predicted to keep dropping.

I was able to start for home at 3 PM, and by that time, the outside temp reading was 32 degrees.  Traffic was slow as drivers cautiously maneuvered the streets and freeways.  However, when I got back to my neighborhood, the sun started peeking out from behind the clouds.  With the sky now almost clear and dry and the sun setting, the air felt significantly colder this evening when Annie and I started for outr walk to the mailboxes around the corner from our cul-de-sac.  Even dolled up in her pink pea coat, she resisted the short trip and was not game for our usual walk that we take after getting the mail.

After lows in the mid to upper 20s tonight, the temperatures are expected to bounce back into the fifties tomorrow, and this little jolt of cold will have passed.  But snow and cold in early December is unusual for Houston.  Is this an indicator of a colder than usual winter?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Here’s what NWS says for us in the next few days:

Tonight (Dec. 15th): A 30 percent chance of rain, mainly after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43. North wind between 15 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Wednesday: A 30 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 53. Northeast wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Wednesday Night: A 50 percent chance of rain. Cloudy, with a low around 42. North wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Thursday: A 30 percent chance of rain, mainly before noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 54. Northeast wind between 10 and 15 mph.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 39.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 61.

Snowy Denver Trip Brings a Change of Pace

The street below my window during the storm.

The street below my window during the storm.

This has some of the image scraped off, but it's a very descriptive illustration warning about falling on the ice.

This has some of the image scraped off, but it's a very descriptive illustration warning about falling on the ice.

Over the past few days, a work-related conference took me to Denver . The trip was busy, fairly tiring, but overall worthwhile.

I hadn’t been to Denver since going to see Fleetwood Mac at Mile High Stadium back in the late 70s. Plus, the day after my arrival, the city was hit with what everyone there said was the biggest snowstorm of the year. Therefore, I can’t say how much Denver has changed in all those years.

One of the many people walking dogs out in the snow.

One of the many people walking dogs out in the snow.

However, despite the hectic schedule and the winter elements, Denver seems to be a clean, people-friendly city. The downtown is easy to maneuver on foot, the people are friendly, and I felt safe walking around. Sixteenth Street has been made into a pedestrian area, with the only vehicles being free buses, which traverse its length in both directions. They stop for riders at every block making it easy to get around, even in the cold weather.

A scene of the street from the skywalk from my hotel.  Some of the dots are snowflakes; others are melted flakes on the outside of the glass.

A scene of the street from the skywalk from my hotel. Some of the dots are snowflakes; others are melted flakes on the outside of the glass.

The city and the private sector do a great job of clearing the snow from the streets and sidewalks even in the midst of the storm. Another big difference that I noticed is how “green-friendly” the city is. Compartmentalized trash containers everywhere are set up for recycling.

On the other hand, even the snow was an exciting change (I didn’t say an “enjoyable” change) and the city looks to be very livable, the cold was not pleasant at all, and even worse for me was the dry air. I began to notice how much water I needed to drink to keep my mouth and lips from drying out, and even though my skin sponged up every drop of creme that I had taken along, it still feel like sandpaper.

Saturday morning on the 16th Street Mall.  There is an almost festive atmosphere, with lots of people, including street muscians and vendors.

Saturday morning on the 16th Street Mall. There is an almost festive atmosphere, with lots of people, including street muscians and vendors.

I really didn’t have the chance to take very many scenic pictures, though when I did get some glimpses, the mountains covered with snow were a beautiful sight. Therefore, these more “artsy” shots (well, “artsy” might be a bit of a stretch) and the little video will have to do.

Now both Annie (she stayed in Houston) and I are back together, and both of us are recuperating from our stay away from home .

Check Out the Traffic and Red Light Cams on Streets and Highways All Over the Houston Region

Some of my internet favs are webcam sites–not so much the ones that show people and their lives, but the ones of places around the globe. I remember the first time seeing Antartica via webcam and a strange one just focused on some doorway in Barcelona. I love how these cheap (or not so cheap) little cameras can take you half a world away. Maybe the view is not always clear nor so interesting, but that can be part of the fun too.

black_snowflakeProbably many people are aware of them but there is a whole set of traffic webcams for Houston and a wide region around the city. There are so many of them that you can check out the traffic and sometimes the surrounding views from your on-ramp to your off-ramp. They not only show many of the exits on all the major freeways, but many intersections on some of Houston’s busiest streets. There are even Transtar cameras more than a hundred miles out of the city. Check out this intersection in downtown Giddings, Texas (about 100 miles northwest of Houston on the way to Austing), or look at the snow still on the ground still on the ground today (12/11/08) near Anahuac (50 miles east of Houston).

After you click on either of these, you can choose other camera locations all over the city of Houston and a large region of Texas.

houston2The Houston TranStar site itself is full of all kinds of information about roads, weather, and transits (like the Houston Metro) for the greater Houston area. If you’re a Houston driver, coming through Houston, or just want to know more about Houston, it’s an excellent site to check out.

redlight-cam1If you want to see the locations of the intersections where the cams catch you for running a red light, check out this map, which shows you the more than 50 redlight cams used by the Houston Police Department.

Two Too Cool: Little Gifties–Snow in Houston and Pet Shop Boys’ Remix of “Kids”

It was one of those days at work today, all hectic in the morning and then an afternoon that dragged its butt until 5 o’clock (and, no, calling in for “Call in Gay Day” wasn’t really an option. There were just too many things that had to be accomplished that couldn’t have been done any other time. I’m not sure I bought into that tactic anyway.)

When I got outside the wind whipping through the parking garage was bitter cold. The thermometer in my car for the outside temp said 34, pretty dang cold for Houston at 5 in the afternoon in early December.

It wasn’t until I reached the stoplight at the top of my exit ramp that I noticed the white flecks barely hitting the windshield and thought they might be snowflakes. Then after I hurried inside, got Annie bundled up for the cold dash outside for her “business” walk, more of the the moisture was coming down, and when I saw them landing on her black patches of fur, I knew for sure it was snow.

We hopped in the car and headed for our little Logan Park, thinking there’d be nobody else for the evening dog romp, but there in almost a huddle were five hardy or crazy friends and as many dogs managing to have fun in the wind and wet. Annie and I stayed ten minutes at most, both of us ready to get back into the warmth of the car, go back home, and get inside.

Tonight, just a little after 10, we went out for the last “go” before bedtime, there was about a quarter inch layer of snow on the tops of the cars outside, but none had accumulated on the warmer ground.

I don’t like snow when I’m some place where it gets so deep that you have to shovel it and fight it when you drive, but here in Houston, where it’s such a rarity, the snow is a delightful change in the weather.

MGMTNow if you’re a Pet Shop Boys fan like me, here is a fun little “gifty” for you that I ran into (maybe you already have). PSB has made a remix of MGMT’s “Kids” and it’s very PSB. Originally, I found it at: petshopboys.co.uk .  It’s no longer there, but there is a lot of other PSB good stuff.

Check out some other remixes of ‘Kids’ in my Vid Box in the right sidebar.

Hey! I found it again; check it out!