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Thoughts of a Foreigner

I’ve been kicking around this part of Texas for the better part of four days now, and I still don’t even know what to call it. The news peeps refer to the “Houston/Sugar Land/Baytown” metro region, but that’s all north of here. Whatever you want to call it, I like it – it’s close enough to the water to feel its effects without feeling its property values, and close enough to Houston to enjoy the city without having to enjoy the traffic. It is different than home, though, and as I drive around I continually see things that confuse, bemuse or amuse me …

Texas Trees

Know what kind of trees these are? Hit the Comment button below ...

– Singing roads: If someone tells you “it’s hotter than asphalt in Texas,” you know they’ve never been here. I assume it’s due to the heat, but the roads here are all concrete. Being as this is hurricane country, and concrete and rain don’t play will with cars, the roads are all grooved to allow the water to slough off. The result is that as you drive down them, particularly at speed, the tires play a melodic tune. Takes a little getting use to, but soon you realize that sound like a squealing Britney Spears fan is in fact another driver about to overtake you. Which brings me to …

– Drivers: As a native Angelino, I take a certain amount of abuse about our drivers, but they’ve got nothing on the folks around here. I’ve never been to New York, but I’ve been to Tijuana, and I can tell you the locals here are far worse. They drive with their adrenaline at full, and consider turn signals to be for sissies. I can be going twenty miles over the speed limit on a midsize highway and traffic will be stacking up behind me – or passing me on the shoulder. From now on, when I need to kick it up a notch in LA traffic, my mantra will be “channel your inner Texan” …

– Signals: You know those traditional red-over-yellow-over-green lights we all have? Not here – rotate them 90 degrees clockwise and read ’em left to right. I’m guessing it’s either a stable-when-it-blows-like-hell thing, or just a desire to be different.

– Starbucks: I don’t want this to make me sound too left coast, but it took me two days to find a Starbucks around here. Worth noting that in the same time, I found four Waffle Houses and six Whataburgers …

– Trees: There are two and only two kinds of trees here. The first is some kind of weed tree that seems to grow everywhere, and I suspect was the native cover here before any development. The other are the water towers that poke above the treeline, one per suburb. Inasmuch as this place is flat as a board, it’s the only way you’re ever going to have any water pressure. They also make wonderful navaids, since each is conveniently labelled with the town monicker.

Battleship Texas

Firepower is a wonderful thing ...

– DejaGoo: This isn’t so much a comment on the area as the the technology available to familiarize yourself with a strange region. I had an hour to kill last Friday, so, anal-retentive toad that I am, I scoped the place out in Google Maps. Using their Street View, I was able to virtually “drive” from my hotel to work, seeing all the landmarks. Once I arrived in the real Webster, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen something that I recognize – even though I’ve never been here. Cool and eerie all at the same time.

Our workshop ended earlier today, and I had a chance to spend an hour touring the battleship Texas – an awesome experience. Tomorrow it’s Galveston Island for half a day then home.


  1. Rob C says:

    You should have called. We were in Galveston last weekend and in Freeport for a good crawfish boil, Justin R. even made a camio. We do have it good here, just need to be in the know. 😉

    Rob C

  2. MarlinNut says:

    Damn … where’s the “feels like a dick” icon …

  3. Mike says: