Travel

Shopping and Having Fun in Galveston, Texas

Posted by Frederick Parker on

Galveston, Texas, offers 32 miles of beautiful beaches where adults as well as children of all ages may build sand castles, picnic, wade in the Gulf of Mexico, fish, surf, or swim. A large portion of the beach is topped by a seawall that was built to protect the town from hurricane damage. The seawall and adjacent boulevard are great places to bike, walk, roller skate and cruise. It is certainly the attraction of the fun in the sun that brings multitudes of families back to Galveston year after year, but Galveston also has a lot to offer those looking for cultural, shopping, and dining experiences.

Galveston was home to one of the United States foremost architects, Nicholas Clayton. He designed many building in Galveston, including the Bishop’s Palace that was home to Bishop Bryne of the diocese of Galveston, before the official diocesan office was moved to Houston and the Galveston-Houston diocese was born. The Bishop’s Palace was originally built as a private residence in 1886 at a cost of $250,000. The architecture is still ranked among the top 100 most historic homes in the United States and daily tours are held for a nominal fee. The home offers a stunning look at stained glass windows, beautifully painted ceilings, and a glimpse into the historic past of Galveston.

Another home available for touring are the 1938 Michel B. Menard home, which is the oldest home still standing in Galveston. It is of Greek Revival and filled with old south charm. The 1839 Samuel May Williams home is a combination of a New England sea captain’s home and a creole plantation. This home was actually built in New England and hauled to Galveston on a barge. The 1859 Ashton Villa is an Italianate mansion also on daily tour where a look into the lifestyle of a prominent Victorian family is available. Many original furnishings are intact and a portion of the mansion is available for rental for weddings, receptions, parties, and the like. The 1895 Moody Mansion and Museum is another historical Galveston home that was built by W. L. Moody, Jr., who was a financial pioneer in Galveston. Rounding out a tour of Galveston homes and buildings would surely be the Rosenberg library, which opened in 1904. This is the oldest public library in Texas and features several art and history galleries, a rare book room, a tremendous collection of Lalique. The Rosenberg library was established as a gift to the people of Galveston by Henry Rosenberg.

Another wonderful piece of architecture exists in the 1921 City National Bank Building that is now home of the Galveston County Historical Museum. This museum features a Thomas Edison footage of the 1900 Storm and many rotating exhibits from quilts to Native American exhibits. Available for touring from this same era is the 1930s passenger deport of the Santa Fe railroad. The building is rented out to offices but the main floor has been preserved as a museum featuring an old waiting room, model train layout, railroad china exhibits, and original Pullman sleepers, cabooses, diner and mail cars open for inspection. It is a wonderful look into the railroad history of the country.

More current museums include the Mardi Gras Museum and the Lone Star Flight Museum. Both of these entities feature dramatic glimpses of history pertinent to Galveston and the United States. The Flight Museum is also available for for private receptions and features programs especially designed for children.

Other great places to visit include the Moody Gardens situated on 240 lush acres on Galveston’s West End. This entity has a 10 story glass pyramid which houses the rain-forest pyramid, a ride film attraction, a private white sand beach, the Colonel Paddle-wheeler boat for touring the bayou, a 3-D theater, a beautiful hotel, and lush, tropical gardens. Each Christmas a beautiful festival of lights is held on the Moody Gardens grounds, which also include hiking trails. There is a beautiful hotel, convention center, and several restaurants featuring fine cuisine to hamburgers.

If eating is your thing, Galveston offers terrific Italian food at Di Bella’s, a little place in mid-town that is favored by locals. Luigi’s on the Strand is also a great place to wine and dine, as is Rudy and Paco’s next door to the 1894 Grand Opera House. Take in one of the fabulous shows at the Grand then slip over to Rudy and Paco’s for a really fine meal and great ambiance. The Grand features performers from Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, and Jerry Jeff Walker to the Nutcracker Ballet. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and some seats are just terrific with original boxes still available. Again, a great glimpse into the past.

Also remember, that Galveston has two of the finest seafood restaurants known – Gaido’s and Clary’s. One is on the Seawall and the other is on the West End of the Island. Other great choices for dining are Landry’s, the Steakhouse, and fun spot with the kids, the Rainforest Cafe, which also features a lagoon ride that is lots of fun. Just 20 minutes from Galveston is the Kemah Boardwalk featuring several top name restaurants, a hotel, rides for the kids and the young at heart, fireworks, a fast boat ride, and live music. An entire day can be spent at the Boardwalk. Bring a folding chair for the outdoor concerts.

In 1877 the tall ship, Elissa, was built and put into service. It is now a museum that provides an audiovisual presentation in the adjacent museum and a computerized immigration database for those entering the United States through the Port of Galveston. The Elissa and museum are located at Pier 21, just a short walk from the historic Strand which is a national landmark. The Strand features one beautifully restored Victorian style building after another with many providing restaurants, unique shops, souvenir shops, clothing stores, and all manner of entertainment. The Strand is also a center of attraction for the Lone Star Motorcycle rally, Mardi Gras, and a unique Christmas festival entitled Dickens on the Strand. During this street festival, the Strand is turned into a Victorian shopping and entertainment paradise with many vendors and participants dressed in period costume.

Also in close proximity to the Strand is the Pier 21 Theater which features the film “the Great Storm”, about one of the nations’ worst natural disaster, a hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900, killing more than 10,000. After the storm, the entire city was elevated and sand pumped in as a new foundation and raising the city above sea level. It was a tremendous undertaking and even the historic St. Patrick’s Church was raised during this time. Just a short trip over the Pelican Island Causeway will take any visitor to Pelican Island and the Seawolf Park that offers a pavilion, fishing, a magnificent view of the ship channel and the opportunity to explore the USS Cavalla and the USS Stewart. Pelican Island is also home to the Texas A&M; Maritime University.

Besides TAMU, Galveston also offers a medical school, a nursing school, a junior college, and a school of allied health sciences. Galveston actually has the oldest medical school in Texas, with the original medical school building, “Old Red”, still standing. Old Red is another product of Nicolas Clayton, and is a tremendous tribute to the history of medicine. The huge rotunda once used for surgeries is still used as a classroom.

Likewise, the NOAA/Fisheries Sea Turtle facility in lid-town Galveston is a constant place of learning and research. The laboratory opened in 1978 does extensive research into the Kemp’s Ridley turtle and the Loggerhead sea turtle.

Galveston is a great place to live and to visit. If you want to swim, fish, surf, sail, visit museums, have a big party during Mardi Gras, or just eat some great food and stroll down the boulevard, Galveston is the place to do it. This article mentions only some of the available entertainment options. Look online at for more information.

 

Ideas

WESTERN CRAFTS for FUN and FLAIR

Posted by Frederick Parker on

A wonderful gift for friends and family, to spice up your home décor, or for some creative family fun, there are many western-themed crafts that will take a minimal amount of time, effort and money. Here are a few great ideas for western crafts you can do at home:

THE CACTUS POT

Adding a bit of western flair to a room is very easy with a cactus pot display. Purchase a potted grouping of cacti, and a terra-cotta planter big enough to accommodate the pot. With some acrylic paints and a few western stencils, found at your local hobby store or online, you can paint the pot and add some of the old west to any table or shelf. Place the pot on a folded bandana to make a western placemat. If you do not have a green thumb, just remember that cactuses do just fine with neglect- often its over watering that kills them. Total cost of the project: $15-30. Time spent: 2-3 hours.

DREAMCATCHERS AND OTHER KITS

Many places online sell make-your-own dream catcher kits. Depending on the size of the dream catcher and the skill required to make it, these fun craft kits can take an hour or more, and add a little of the southwestern flair to any room. Kids’ kits are also available, which makes this a great family activity.

Similar bead projects and crafts with feathers are also available. Try or for some affordable kits and ideas. Total cost: $10-15 Time spent: Varies

WOODBURNING

Wood burning kits are widely available in many stores. Frequently they come with all the tools you need, as well as wood for door hangers, wooden signs, and often leather for making key chains and other hanging decorations. Western themes are easy to incorporate into this medium, simply by lightly sketching boots, a western hat, a cactus, chili pepper or other western-theme icon into the wood, and carefully tracing it with the wood burning tool. Total cost: $25-40 Time spent: Varies

WESTERN THEMED LAMPSHADE

What better way to really add style to your western-themed home than with a decorated lampshade! Again, using stencils and acrylic paint, you can add any variation of designs to a simple, flat lampshade. Use vibrant colors to add to the appeal, for example, use a sky-blue shade with brown boots, vibrant red peppers and Kelly green cactus stencils. A simple, plain lampshade can be purchased at any discount store for relatively cheap. The stencils, through any craft supplier or online merchant.

Knot a red bandana around the stem of the lamp for a little extra flair! Total cost of this project: $10-25 Time spent: 1-2 hours, depending on how fast the paint dries.

POTTERY

Finally, a little bit of western-style pottery can go a long way to dress up a shelf or table. Clay can be purchased at any craft store. Be sure the type you purchase can air dry and does not need a kiln. Depending on your skills and budget, you can try and make western style figures, purchase a pottery wheel, or you can make a simple pot.

To make the simple pot, take a good amount of clay and roll it out on a flat smooth surface to make a long cord. Once the cord is relatively thin, begin to wrap the cord into a circle, gradually increasing the height of the pot by placing the clay coil on top of itself, leaving a hole in the middle. Once the pot is complete, smooth out the sides using your hands and a little water, if needed. Let it air dry, and then paint with a western design or motif, or simply leave it as is for a more primitive western look. Total cost of this project: $10-50 Time spent: Varies on project.

Western crafts can add some style to your home, dressing up an otherwise boring room, or provide a fun family activity. Check the internet and craft store for more ideas on other western-style crafts, because with a little creativity and time, you can redecorate your home or make great gifts for friends and family alike.

 

News

VirtualNes.com Is a Fun Place to Play Even More Vintage Nintendo Games

Posted by Frederick Parker on

I have been cruising EBay and Craigslist for months now trying to find a great deal on a NES system so I could play all of my favorite past time games but now I have found another site dedicated to emulation of NES games. The site is and it has 500 NES games for you to choose from and it has some of my all time favorite games that didn't have. Since the discovery of this totally free site I have abandoned all plans of buying a NES system, why spend $50 bucks and only get a few games and an old system when I can play all of my favorites on my computer at home?

The website is very simplistic and easy to use. Once you get to the site first thing I would do is click on the option that says Public Terminal Mode, once you click it the option will be set to on. This makes sure that your machine will be able to load the Java virtual machine in the window, for some reason Microsoft blocks it and this option will make it work properly. Otherwise if you leave this option off then you might see a page that says page can not be loaded, if you click on a game and this happens then come back to the home page and toggle this to on. You shouldn't have any other issues once this is turned to the on position.

You also have the option to turn the sound off if you want, I guess in case you are playing a loud game or don't know how to work your computers sound, what ever the reason they have included this option. Once you have your options set then you can go to the games, I stick mainly to the English language games because I am more familiar with them. What ever game link you click on will bring you to a long list of games you can play, now you just have to make the difficult decision of which game you want to play first!

I was impressed with the selection of games they have, I found so many that didn't have and was very pleased with some that I wanted to play badly but the other website didn't have. gets an A+ for game selection.

So next I was wondering if the quality of the games would be as good as and I have to say that the games are actually more impressive. Most of the screens are larger than at and game play didn't ever freeze, which was a common problem I had with . The quality is by far better here at compared to and I am going to stick to this site for most of my NES gaming from now on.

The games load so fast it's amazing, I mean I know the Nintendo was only an 8-bit system but still other sites that offer emulation of these games don't load nearly as well. The game play is always steady and I love this site for just killing time during the day or night. To use you will need a computer that has internet of course, and very minimal system requirements. Just a mere 192 MB of RAM and a Pentium 3 or better processor, so it's not heavy on system resources.

The website also has a forum and a help page incase you run into issues or just want to discuss the website. In the help section there is an extensive FAQ with some answers to common questions and a place to request a game be added to . There is also a section where you can donate to because as they state on their website hosting fees get expensive for a site like this and to keep it free to all the users. So think about a possible donation before you start to play or after if you are as impressed with the site as I was.

This is a very impressive site with hundreds of my favorite games from my childhood past, I have spent hours here playing games and Re-Learning how to win them. I didn't remember excite bike being this hard! I have had lots of fun here and hope you all will too, it's a great way to reminisce about your past and relive those childhood memories, also teach these young punks what real games were like! My cousin can take in Madden 2007 but he can't stop be and Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl!

Have fun playing the games and be sure to check out if you can't find a title you like at . So don't waste your money buying an old NES when you can play almost any game you can think of right on your home computer!

 

Travel

Cheap Ways to Have Fun in Upper Manhattan (Harlem area)

Posted by Frederick Parker on

It is not impossible to relax and have fun on a tight budget. Yes, having money can certainly make things easier, but there are little tricks out there if you keep an open mind and learn to think outside of the box.

First and foremost, learn to have a sense of humor about your financial situation. Unless you’ve murdered someone (which, if you have, shame on you, but see my article “Top Ten Reasons to Have Trunk Space”), remember that with time and patience, most things, including money troubles are reversible. Remember that you are not the only person struggling given the current state of the economy, and that there are always ways to still relax and have fun if you do your research. Even in NYC, one of the most insanely expensive cities on the planet.

If You’re a Foodie…

At the risk of stating the obvious, eat in. There are certainly plenty of specials out there, but nine times out of ten you would be amazed at how much you’d save if you simply ate at home more often. If you really love to go out, sign up on your favorite restaurant’s website so you can keep yourself up-to-date with any upcoming specials. Designate one night a week or every two weeks, depending on what you can afford, and make going out a special occasion where you get all dressed up and spend time with someone other than your dog. If you’re new to the area and don’t know of any places, but love eating out, check out “Frizzante,” on 117th and Frederick Douglass Blvd. It’s an adorable, atmospheric Italian bistro that offers a very reasonably priced menu.

Most entrees are $10 or under. Not one for Italian? Located at #964 Amsterdam Ave., Sushi Suma is probably the cheapest (without sacrificing on quality) Japanese restaurant in the area. They have free delivery if you order out and have some terrific sushi and sashimi deals. (On a side note, a brand new three level supermarket just opened up on 118th and Broadway called Best Ever Market. The selection is incredible. It has everything from fresh lobster to balogna and the prices are the cheapest I’ve seen anywhere in Harlem.)

If You’re a Spa Fanatic…

When I initially moved here, I was amazed at how many places offered mani/pedi specials for as low as $19.99. Is it more fun to visit the fancy ones that smell like candy and fan you down with a giant peacock feather while you get your nails painted next to Jennifer Aniston? Mmmmmaybe. However, there are tons of little gems on Broadway (between 110th and 90th), for example, that are much more cost effective and get the job done. No, they do not feed you grapes while charging your i-pod, but you are much less likely to leave feeling guilty about how much money you spent, and take it from someone who’s experienced both ends of the luxury spectrum, your toes will look the same walking out either door.

If You’re a Movie Goer…

There is a theater on the corner of 74th and Broadway that has a great morning special. If you don’t mind seeing movies that early, all shows are half price before noon. Also, I would highly recommend NetFlix. My fiancée and I have been using this service for the past four months and only pay about $9 a month. They also offer full seasons of television shows, in case you are considering cutting back on your cable bill by foregoing HBO. You can keep the movies for as long as you want and there are never any late fees.

If You Don’t Like Anything I’ve Listed So Far…

There are tons of museums to see in NYC. Most of them offer children’s, student, military, and senior citizen discounts. Before visiting a museum, be sure to visit its website to see if they are offering any discounts or coupons. The majority of places do. Remember, EVERYONE is being affected by this economy and as many people have cut back on outings in order to save, places will do what they can to get your business. (Fun fact: Once a month, the Natural Museum of History will turn itself into a night club. See its website for details.) Also, provides some terrific tips on cheap things to do in NYC from people who’ve lived in the city all their lives.

Hopefully, this has provided some insight and helpful tips on having fun in upper Manhattan. If not, let me know and I will be happy to return to the drawing board and do some more research. I have only been living here for about five or six months, so this is based solely on what I’ve learned living here thus far. Thanks for tuning in, and remember not to let your light pockets weigh you down.

 

News

Menewsha, Fun New Online Avatar Community

Posted by Frederick Parker on

Menewsha is an online avatar community that was founded in January of 2007, and has grown a lot since. It is in its Alpha stages now, but you can still do a lot of fun things there!

The sidebar of the website is easy to navigate, and contains most of the links you will need. Other useful links are easy to find also, they are located underneath the well drawn banner that is on every page. Menewsha has very good artists working for them, the art around the site is very nice and professional looking.

One of the cool things you can do on the site is create your own customized avatar to use that will represent you on the forums. You are able to choose your avatars hair, eyes and mouth.There are plenty of choices and they are all very well drawn and fun to choose from. You have the option to change these as many times as you want, for no gold, so don't worry about it if you like more than one of the styles of features. Once you choose your avatars features, you can look through the shops to see what clothes you will want in the future, seeing as your avatar is only in their underwear now! I find this good though, because unlike websites that give you starter clothes, at Menewsha you have to work to get gold to buy your first clothes! There are different ways to get gold, currently there is the card game and posting on the forums. If you are playing the card game you can bet your gold and pick a card. If you pick the right card you get double your gold, but if you pick the wrong card, you lose your gold. At the forums, it's less risky trying to get gold. All you have to do there is post! You will find that you get caught up in conversations and make new friends, soon you will have a bunch of gold without even realizing it! With almost 2000 users and many forums to post on you are sure to find someone you get along with! You might even find someone you know, because a lot of people (like me) hop from avatar community to avatar community! Don't forget to post on the newbies forum, when you are a newbie. There will be a ton of people waiting to welcome you!

Now, once you have posted on the forums and played cards until you have enough money, you are ready to buy clothes. It's lots of fun looking through the eight stores of Menewsha that carry all sorts of pixel clothes and cool things in search of the perfect outfit. If you don't find what you want the first time you look, don't worry, either the artists will put something new and fancy in the shop that will catch your eye, or when you go on the forums, you will see another persons avatar wearing something that you like, but didn't seem to see when you were looking through the shops. Looking at other peoples avatars is a good way to imagine how something in the shops would look on your avatar, since there dosn't seem to be a preview feature in the shops yet.

Don't forget to make a bank account also, once you get enough money to do so that is. You can earn a 5% monthly interest rate on gold that you have in the bank.

Journals are an interesting feature of Menewsha. You can make a journal, read other peoples journals and even comment on their journal posts.There are lots of people telling interesting stories in their journals, why not join in?

You will notice that there is a trading link on your sidebar as well. From here you can check out your trading activity that you have been doing with all of the items in your inventory.

So, as you can see, there are tons of fun things to do and many friends to make at Menewsha! Hope to see you there soon!