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Posts published in “Day: March 19, 2002

Wild Weekend at Jesse Jones Park

With the advent of computer and video games, attracting younger people to enjoy the wild outdoors at times can be a seemingly daunting task. To help make this endeavor a little less stressful for the budding naturalist, Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center offers a pair of programs this weekend that can spark some interest in your young nature enthusiast. Saturday, March 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. all Junior Girl Scouts can participate in a Girl Scout Wildlife Badge Workshop. And Sunday’s Baby Butterflies program at 2 p.m. is sure to entice younger audiences to enjoy the softer side of nature.

It is often difficult for scout parents and leaders to help their scouts complete all of the requirements for certain badges. Jones Park can help Junior Girl Scouts achieve their Wildlife Badge during a Girl Scout Wildlife Badge Workshop Saturday, March 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. By the end of the workshop, individual Junior Girl Scouts and troops can complete all of the needed activities to earn and receive this badge.

Reservations are required. Please call the park for additional details.

Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m., staff wildlife biologist Don Olbausen presents Raising Baby Butterflies. Mr. Olhausen gives visitors a close look at butterflies and moths as “baby’ caterpillars. Participants can also learn the life cycle and habits of these beautiful insects, and even take home a host plant to attract butterflies to your yard.

Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, a Harris County Precinct 4 facility, is located at 20634 Kenswick Drive in Humble. All programs are free of charge and open to the public. Harris County Precinct 4 programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, national origin or disability.
For more information on the park or any of its programs, call 281-446-8588.

Student authored play at Kashmere Multi-Purpose Ctr.

The Life of a Confused Teenager, a play written by David Watters, a student at Kashmere High School will be presented at the Kashmere Multi-Purpose Center, 4802 Lockwood Drive, at 7:00 p.m. on March 22nd.

David Watters has performed in many plays, such as The Creation, Noah Build An Ark, Go Down Death, Gods, Pearlie Victorious, On Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Christmas at the Mardi Gras, Who was Emmitt Till, The Grinch who stole Christmas in Hip Hop Whoville, etc.

For ticket information please call 713-672-1192

Hoffman Middle School News

Hoffman Middle School recently chose the “Students of the Month” for February. These students are chosen based on academics, improvement, citizenship, and other qualities that make them outstanding on their team. The students are:

Starblazers: Marquis Neal
TNT: Susana Ramos
Tornadoes: Fanchort Rathers
Excel: Jeremy Campbell
Top Dawgs: Wesley Williams
Rockets: Joshua McWright
Aces: Patrisia Leal
M & M: Anel Calvillo
Challengers: Emily Whitley

We are “Hoffman Proud” of these students who do their best every day.

Hoffman Middle School history students recently participated in the Aldine Regional History Fair. All of the Hoffman students who participated worked very hard and we are “Hoffman Proud” that they represented our school to the best of their abilities. In group performance competition, the team of Crystal Cho, Eva Cheng, Rebecca Le, and Ly Pham were awarded 2nd place with their performance, “Ten Years of Madness.” In individual projects, Katherine Perez placed 3rd with her project on the New London School Explosion. These winners will compete at the State History Fair in May. We wish them the very best and are so proud that they will be representing Hoffman.

The Hoffman Middle School 7th and 8th grade Pentathlon team recently participated in a competition. Both teams worked very hard and congratulations go out to them. The 7th grade team won 2nd place, overall, and 3rd place in the Super Quiz. The 8th grade team took 3rd place, overall, and 2nd place in the Super Quiz. We are “Hoffman Proud” of both of these teams and appreciate that represent Hoffman in a positive way.

MacArthur Ninth Grade School Read Across America Day

MacArthur Ninth Grade School book club members celebrated Read Across America Day by reading to students at Johnson Elementary. Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community and to celebrate reading on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2nd.

The National Education Foundation sponsors the event to send a clear message to America’s children that reading is fun and important. The ninth grade students who traveled to Johnson Elementary on March 1st read Dr. Seuss books to kindergarten, first, and second grade students. The entire MacArthur Ninth Grade School, including all staff members and students, celebrated the day by reading for fifteen minutes during homeroom.

NEA’s hope is that parents, caregivers, teachers, and students will keep reading 365 days a year.

Six months post 9/11, blood supply below minimal levels

Blood donations are down, likely due to illness and Spring Break vacationing. In spite of an 8.5 percent increase in donations during 2001, statistics show collections are down the first quarter of 2002. Many hospital orders are unable to be filled. Daily, 700 donations are required by our community to meet patient need, and meeting this daily goal remains elusive. Patient lives are dependent upon regular, volunteer blood donors. The upcoming long Easter holiday weekend will only further the need for an adequate blood supply. As is evident from recent news reports, increased trauma has placed an additional strain on already stressed emergency medical care facilities, which could account for an increase in blood usage.

September 11, 2001, citizens of our community, like those in communities across the United States, responded to the disasters by donating blood. Sadly, the perceived need of the terrorist attack victims proved much greater than the actual need. The actual need was met by donors who had donated in Washington and New York the days and weeks before the attacks, as is typically the case in such situations. For this reason, it is imperative that those generous enough to give blood during times of disaster realize the need is constant and donate at least three times a year. The blood supplied by regular donation saves lives daily and most notably, is that which is available immediately when disaster does strike.

Locally, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center collected more than 12,000 units of blood the seven day period following September 11, and of that amount, 99.8 percent of the red blood cells were transfused, saving thousands of lives. The short shelf lives of blood and blood components – 42 days for red blood cells and 5 days for platelets, which aid in blood clotting and are utilized most often by cancer patients – explains the need for regular donations. A regular donor donates at least three times during a calendar year.

Currently, blood donations of all types are needed and will continue to be needed each day of the year. A single donation can save as many as three lives, so donors are urged to give regularly and often.

Blood donors must be 17 years of age, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in general good health.

Donors may contact the following institutional participants in the regional blood program for locations and hours of operation.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (call for extended facility hours): 713-790-1200, 1-888-GV-BLOOD (1-888-482-5663),

The Methodist Hospital: 713-441-3415
St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital: 832-355-4483
UT, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center: 713-792-7777,
The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston: 409-772-4861

Cool fun in ‘Ice Age’

Animation has been used in films since the 1890s when movies were first invented. Since then the technique has been used extensively, usually with great success, though it has not always received the respect it deserves.

It was only in 2001 that a category was added to the Academy Awards to honor the best-animated movie of the year. We’ll find out which one wins on March 24th. I’d bet money that “Shrek” will take home the little gold bald guy.

I’m just as sure that next year the very amusing “Ice Age” will be in the running for an Oscar.

Not as satirically smart or as richly textured as “Shrek,” “Ice Age” is similar to that movie in plot, character traits and some of its messages.

“Ice Age,” like “Shrek,” is a satisfying mix of sly witticisms and buddy banter along with some potty humor thrown in for the kiddies.

Not surprisingly, the action takes place thousands of years ago when the world was being covered with ice.

Ray Romano (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) provides the voice of our hero Monty, a cranky woolly mammoth who just wants to be left alone as he treks in the opposite direction of most of the other animals who are looking for warmer climates.

Monty meets up with Sid, a sloth who has been left behind the migration partially because he’s lazy, but mainly because he can be quite irritating. As everybody knows, irritating is a great trait in a comedy.

John Leguizamo (“Moulin Rouge”) provides the voice of Sid. Boy does he get to use his vocal cords because as with the Donkey in “Shrek” Sid never seems to shut up. And he has no problem hero worshipping a creature who does not like him.

Monty is a loner and wants nothing to do with the silly sloth. Not surprisingly, before long Monty is saddled not just with Sid, but with a human baby and an untrustworthy saber-toothed tiger Diego, voiced by Denis Leary (“The Ref,” TVs “The Job”).

As in “Shrek” there’s a quest that has them travelling far and encountering dangers. Unlike “Shrek”, there’s no romance in “Ice Age.” In fact, there are very few females at all. I don’t know if the baby is female or not. If so, it hardly counts.
Two female sloths have a memorable sequence lamenting how hard it is to find a good male, “The sensitive ones get eaten.”

There are numerous references to survival of the fittest and the harshness of nature. A pride of saber-toothed tigers are especially tough – going beyond hunting for food to revenge on humans. The lead tiger is pretty scary and his thirst for the baby’s blood could frighten some kids.

“Ice Age” has edge. It even has moments when it’s a little mean spirited, but ultimately it’s about being good to each other – no matter the species.
The group ends up becoming an unlikely herd, in other words a non-traditional family – a loving, trusting family.

Monty may be the hero, but it’s Scrat, an ugly squirrel like creature that gets things started by breaking off a huge glacier while trying to bury an acorn. Scrat is a hoot from the moment he opens the movie to his various small scenes during the film and his continued acorn obsession at the end of “Ice Age.”

As with many animated films during the last few years, “Ice Age” is not just for kids. There’s something for everyone. Rated-PG Mild peril

May three-week mini-term is NHC’s solution to “having your cake and eating it too”

College students sometimes struggle with wanting to take college credit during their summer vacation and having enough free time to enjoy the summer break. To help with that dilemma, North Harris College offers a unique 3-week mini-mester schedule during May.

“From May 13 to May 31, students attend class Monday through Friday for approximately four hours a day,” says Dr. Cher Brock, NHC’s associate dean for instructional management. “By the end of three weeks, students have earned three credit hours of a required college course.”

Course offerings for the mini-mester include: Art, Business, Economics, English, Government, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Spanish I and Speech.

The summer 2002 mini-mester begins May 13 and NHC’s regular six-week summer I session starts June 3.
Registration for summer credit classes is currently in progress. Early registration is recommended for best choice of classes.

The office of admissions is open for registration: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For registration information, contact the office of admissions at 281-618-5410 or send e-mail to:

The college offices will be closed March 29 through 31 for spring holidays.

North Harris College is a member of North Harris Montgomery Community College District. The college is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one mile south of FM 1960, between Aldine Westfield and Hardy Roads.

North Harris Montgomery Community College District, the fourth largest community college in Texas, comprises North Harris College, Kingwood College, Tomball College, Montgomery College, seven satellite centers and The University Center. Cy-Fair College, the district’s fifth comprehensive college, will open in fall 2003.

Amarillo by Morning Takes on New Meaning During TOWA Convention

It was a long waltz across Texas to Amarillo last week to attend the annual convention of the Texas Outdoor Writers Association.

Every time I take one of my long treks across the state, I always marvel at the wide variety of terrain and lifestyles Texas has to offer. From the long stretches of sand dunes and saltwater bays along the coast to the flat, endless stretches of prairies of the High Plains region in the Panhandles hundreds of miles to the north, Texas offers a constant change of scenery. In between, I traveled through the rolling hills and blackland farms of Central Texas and the rugged, mountainous areas in North Texas covered with scrub oak and cedar thickets.

On the way, I purposely skirted the big metropolitan areas to be able to enjoy the flavor of the Texas countryside. This allowed me to see the small towns, each with a prominent cattle auction barn, several pastures with herds of longhorns, a field of oil well pumping rigs with their heads bobbing in unison, I was even privileged to see a free roaming herd of buffalo.
The farther north I drove towards the Panhandle, the more desolate the landscape becomes with the small towns becoming farther apart with only an occasional ranch house in between. Regardless of the terrain, all of the regions across the state have their own brand of beauty.

I finally arrived at the Radisson Hotel, the grand gathering place for the outdoor writers, photographers, and wildlife artists across the state. For many years, the organization has moved its conference around the state with different cities playing host to the TOWA gatherings. Besides being a good excuse for old writer friends and hunting and fishing buddies to get together, the conference is also a great chance to attend various seminars to help hone our skills.

Expert speakers were on hand to give advice and to answer questions on a variety of skills such as improving one’s writing style, mastering photography, and tips on getting a manuscript published and into bookstores.

During our visit, the gracious and congenial staff of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce went all out to show us the best that their city has to offer and to make sure we were well fed and entertained.

One of the highlights of our trip was the dinner and tour of the American Quarter Horse Association Headquarters and Museum. As a former owner of quarter horses, I was awed by the portraits and sculptures of famous bloodlines and the history of the quarter horse in our western heritage. A trip to Amarillo would be incomplete without a visit to the AQHA Headquarters and Museum.

Another must-see destination on any trip to the Amarillo area is the Palo Duro Canyon. Traveling about 20 miles across the flat plains, the canyon seems to materialize out of nowhere. It is a deep and rugged gorge carved out of the landscape by centuries of wind and weather. As we toured the bowels of the canyon, deer scampered out of our way and flocks of wild turkey shuffled across the road.

Our last afternoon was spent at the local gun club and shooting range. There we were able to view displays and have hands-on access to the latest in lures, fishing tackle, and hunting gear. We were also able to shoot the latest models of shotguns and ammo furnished by Winchester and Browning on the trap and skeet range.

Some of the writers were paired up with a few members of the local Boy Scout troop for a round of trap and skeet. Some of the young members had little or no shotgunning experience. However, lack of experience did not diminish their enthusiasm for trying the sport of shotgunning. My shooting partner, Clint Caldwell, was quick to learn and experienced beyond his 12 years. He had a natural ability for shattering a big percentage of the clay targets shooting different styles of shotguns.

The awards banquet was held that evening. Early the next morning, I nosed my truck into a brilliant Panhandle sunrise as I watched Amarillo disappear in my rear view mirror. Occasional tumbleweeds bounced across the road in the gusting wind as I headed south.

Aside from the great hospitality of the fine folks in Amarillo, I looked forward to planting my boots back on the Gulf Coast ground. Although the morning sunrises are spectacular, Amarillo is a little too far to get the salty Gulf spray in my face, and it is too far removed from the saltwater flats where speckled trout and redfish roam.

“March on Crime ” looks at burglary prevention

Could you break into your own home? If the answer is yes, then so can a burglar. With a small investment of time and money you can make your home more secure and reduce the chance of becoming a victim of burglary, assault or vandalism.

•Check the locks: Make sure every external door has a deadbolt lock. Secure sliding glass doors with a lock, broomstick or wooden dowel. Homeowners can also drill a hole in the sliding door frame and insert a pin in the hole to prevent the door from being opened from the outside. Don’t hide keys in mailboxes, planters or under doormats. If you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.

•Check the doors: Make sure all external doors are solid wood or metal. Doors should fit tightly in their frame, with hinge pins on the inside. Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors, so you can see anyone outside your doors.

•Check the outside: Prune backyard shrubbery that hides doors and windows. Cut back tree limbs that could help a thief climb into windows. Install lights for porches, entrances and front and back yards. Store ladders and tools that can be used to break into your house inside your locked garage or storage area. Call the proper authorities to report broken streetlights, abandoned cars, vacant buildings and graffiti.

•Check the inside: Put lights and radios on timers to create the illusion that someone is always at home. Leave shades, blinds and curtains in normal positions. Stop newspaper home delivery when you are on vacation and have a neighbor pick up mail and park their car in your driveway. Take time to update a home inventory listing your valuables. Engrave your Texas drivers license number on all your valuables to help identify stolen items and make insurance claims easier.

•Check Alarms: Before you invest in alarm systems, check with several companies to determine the level of security you desire. If you already have one, make sure the city permit is current.

•Don’t check out opened doors: If you arrive home and find your doors or windows are open, do not go in. The burglar could still be in the house. Go to a neighbor’s house and call the police.

•Have an officer conduct a “Home Security Survey”: Your homeowner’s insurance premium could be reduced as much as 15 – 20 percent when an officer inspects your home and completes the corresponding forms.
This service is free of charge and all you need to do is make an appointment.

For more information about the “March on Crime” campaign, or to make an appointment for a “Home Security Survey”, contact the Houston Police Department Community Services Division at 713-308-3200.