The Trails at Countryside Park, League City, Texas

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Countryside Sports Park, League City, Texas
Countryside Sports Park, League City, Texas

I recently wrote about the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trail. Today I’ll tell you about the Countryside Park here in League City, Texas. Both trails are excellent for hiking, biking, walking , and running. One of the best things about both trail systems is that they are long enough to get some good mileage in.

There are a couple of other things to recommend Countryside. First, the trail is never crowded. Secondly, most of the trail is well-shaded, a real benefit now that we are experiencing the scorching days of summer.

The trail itself is concrete so it’s not as forgiving on the knees as the crushed granite trail in Seabrook, but the shade and scenery more than makes up for that. There plenty of wooded streams which makes for a pleasant view.

How to Get to Countryside Park

Getting there is easy. From I-45, turn west on FM 518 (which is Main Street in League City). Drive about 5 minutes and turn right on Bay Area Blvd. Approximately 1 mile down the road the entrance will be on your right.

Water flowing by the trail.
Water flowing by the trail.
Wildflowers are abundant.
Wildflowers are abundant.

Look for the Wildlife

A turtle catching some morning sun.
A turtle catching some morning sun.
Sub-tropical creek in the woods
Sub-tropical creek in the woods
The trail goes under the highway.
The trail goes under the highway.
A wooden bridge, about 1 mile into the hike.
A wooden bridge, about 1 mile into the hike from the parking lot.
Want to go off trail? There are many rustic side-trails.
Want to go off trail? There are many rustic side-trails.
Clear Creek flows past Countryside Park
Clear Creek flows past Countryside Park (It’s not so clear, is it? What a misnomer.)
The park benches may seem a bit eclectic.
The park benches may seem a bit eclectic.
Park trails amble off into the distance.
Park trails amble off into the distance.
Countryside Park basketball courts
Countryside Park basketball courts
A wooded ravine
A wooded ravine.
Recommended field attire for adventure.
Recommended field attire for adventure. Excuse the perma-stubble; I’m being trendy, OK?
No idea what these wildflowers are.
No idea what these wildflowers are. But I like them.

So there you have it. This (Countryside Sports Park) is another very un-utilized park in our area. That’s a good thing because we can enjoy it without undue crowding. Take time to unwind and enjoy.


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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Exploring the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trails

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A Park Bench along the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trail System
A Park Bench along the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trail System

Seabrook, Texas was founded in 1832. It is just on the north side of the Kemah Bridge on Highway 146. Like most municipalities, as the years went by it added parks to the community. The real stroke of genius was connecting many of these parks with a crushed granite trail. This became the Seabrook Hike and Bike trail.

Parking at the Seabrook Trails

There are three convenient places to park safely. The easiest is the swimming Pool parking lot at Miramar Park, halfway between Todville and Meyer. The second is where Hester Park meets with Todville. The third is at the intersection of Todville and Red Bluff Road.

This trail system is one of my go-to spots for running and hiking. Depending on which options you choose, it is easy to get in ten miles. It doesn’t hurt that trails are so much more forgiving on the knees than concrete. Any kind of exercise is beneficial, whether you take health supplements or not.

Hester Park Bamboo Forest
Hester Park Bamboo Forest

Many, many years ago Hester Park was a working nursery. The land got donated to the city and many of the plants and trees that had been for sale just stayed where they were and thrived, like this bamboo.

Hester Park Crepe Myrtles
Hester Park Crepe Myrtles
Lilies Along the Trail
Lilies Along the Trail
A Massive Oak Tree has Its Limbs Supported
A Massive Oak Tree has Its Limbs Supported
Oak Tree
Same Oak Tree, Different View
Wild Muscadine Grapes
Wild Muscadine Grapes are Abundant Along the Trail (Yum) and are Ripening Now (Late June)
Pine Gully Along the Seabrook Trails
Pine Gully Along the Seabrook Trails

Every now and then an alligator can be spotted in Pine Gully. Other wildlife such as herons, hawks, egrets, turtles, rabbits, javelina, and deer are abundant.

A Heron Waiting for Lunch
A Heron Waiting for Lunch
The Old Iron Bridge
The Old Iron Bridge
The Bridge and Pine Gully
The Bridge and Pine Gully

Seabrook Lucky Trails Marathon

The trails are also the location of the Lucky Trails races each March. An entire weekend is a flurry of activity with a full marathon, half-marathon, relay marathon and 5K. The weather is almost always perfect and these events have no problem selling out.

The Bridge Leading to Pine Gully Park
The Bridge Leading to Pine Gully Park
A Racing Firefighter at the Lucky Trails Marathon.
A Racing Firefighter at the Lucky Trails Marathon.
Passing the Gazebo at Todville Road and Red Bluff Road
Passing the Gazebo at Todville Road and Red Bluff Road

The bottom line? If you are looking for a good way to spend the day, why not explore the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trail System. As an added bonus, the Kemah Boardwalk is only a couple of miles away.


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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Maximize Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

by Kelly R. Smith

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These air leaks in your home also leak money.
These air leaks in your home also leak money.

This article was updated on 10/16/20.

One thing nobody likes to do is throw away money. But if your home is a perpetual slacker on its attempts to restrict energy usage, that is exactly what you are doing. As a general rule of thumb, the older a home is the less energy efficient it is. There are many reasons for this but the two main ones are:

  1. In days gone by, utility expenses were not what they are today. For one thing homeowners didn’t have all those confounded contraptions that we just can’t live without today. And why does everything have to have a clock?
  2. The building technology wasn’t what it is today. Our forebears knew nothing about tight envelopes, radiant barrier foil and passive solar concepts.

Keep in mind that in the long run it is not necessarily one big thing that will reduce your bills, but the sum total of a lot of smaller home improvements. Let’s look at a few, shall we?

Insulation is a Bargain

In most cases insulation is a good place to start, especially if you are a frequent rider on the climate change bandwagon. It gives you the most bang for the buck. Your attic should have the recommended number of inches for your location. Even if your home started with the suggested amount, remember that the fiberglass settles over time. If you want to take your savings a step further, roll out some radiant barrier foil over it.

Exterior walls are also a concern. This involves a bit more expense and hassle because obviously these walls are closed on both sides. The best solution is to hire someone to install blown insulation between the studs. Can you do it yourself? Yes, but a pro has the right equipment and knows how to make it look like there never was an intrusion.

Use Thermal Mass to Your Advantage

OK, the term thermal mass doesn’t mean what you might think it does; let’s not go there. Thermal mass simply refers to an object that absorbs and retains heat. Some examples are brick, concrete, ceramic tiles, and eco-friendly cork flooring.

In the wintertime of course, we want those objects to absorb heat during the day and release it at night; this will save tons of money in utility bills and wear and tear on your HVAC equipment.. This can be accomplished by the sun coming through the windows or from areas where the home’s heating system affects the objects.

In the summertime the opposite is true; we want to shield these objects as much as possible. For all seasons, homes should be built or remodeled with the concept of passive solar building in mind.

Seal All Air Leaks

Checking for and sealing all air leaks in your home’s exterior is an easy, inexpensive DIY project that can and should be done twice a year. Just pick days before the weather transitions from cold to hot and visa versa.

Possible leak culprits include windows, doors, even things like recessed light fixtures on your ceiling and behind cover plates for your switches and outlets. Special wall plate insulation gaskets are available and you can complete the job in just a few hours with a screwdriver. The materials to put all things air-leakable right are inexpensive and readily available. Most likely things like caulk and floor sweeps will do the trick.

Keep in mind that the tighter your home’s envelope becomes, the greater the danger of radon is. What is radon? Radon gas is a radioactive, invisible toxic vapor that results from a natural process which is the radioactive breakdown of the uranium isotope. It pays to test for it.

Consider Installing Energy Efficient Windows or Window Film

Today’s higher-end windows are head and shoulders above those flimsy contractor-grade windows. Yes they will cost you more money but isn’t it worth it to be able to see outside and save on utility bills?

If your bank account isn’t flush don’t despair. Solar window film is an acceptable alternative. It won’t perform as well as the new super-windows but they will still make a huge difference. If you have tinted windows on your car you know what we are talking about.

Finally, if your electricity company allows it, get on one of those plans that averages your bill so you don’t get slammed on those peak months. Follow these tips and you will maximize your home’s energy efficiency in no time.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Al Gore– The P.T. Barnum of Climate Change

by Kelly R. Smith

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Al Gore expounding on global warming
Al Gore expounding on global warming

This post was last updated on 11/03/20.

It used to be “global warming.” When that catchphrase came under question the buzzword shifted to “climate change.” The idea was to make the term so vague that if the temperature in any given area got cooler or warmer, the True Believers from the Church  of Carbon Defiance (CCD) could wag their warm/cool fingers at skeptics and mutter, “I told you so.”

But the political correctness and the search for a more palatable phrase continues. www.the guardian.com says, “Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term ‘climate change’ in their work, with the officials instructed to reference ‘weather extremes’ instead.”

A couple more examples of rhetorical manipulation include substituting “resilience to weather extremes” for “climate change adaption” and “build soil organic matter” for “sequester carbon”.

I earlier mentioned the CCD because climate change really is a faith in the sense that any other religion is. The so-called global “real science” climate change that backs it up is nebulous science and conjecture at best.

When did Meaningful Weather Records Begin to be Collected?

Older weather records are only as accurate as the instruments used. In the US, Thomas Jefferson made regular observations at his home Monticello from 1772 to 1778, and participated in taking the first known simultaneous weather observations in America. But that is one solitary location and hardly gives us the “big picture.”

That didn’t begin to happen until the invention of the telegraph so that weather observations from distant points made by volunteers could be collected in a reasonable period of time, plotted, and then analyzed at one location. In 1849 this location was the Smithsonian.

Weather Projections from Past, Present, and Onward

There are three time frames in weather analysis. First, the past as outlined above up until today. While the early technology was primitive, the resulting data can at least demonstrate trends and patterns that can be loosely correlated with advances in industry and manufacturing (e.g., the increase in carbon emissions).

The second frame is a snapshot of today. At any given moment we have an accurate comprehensive view of what is happening worldwide. Finally, we are left with the third frame, computer projections of the future which is where we really begin to get into trouble.

Anybody on the gulf coast biting their nails while watching the dozen or so computer-generated hurricane path possibilities during each and every hurricane season knows how accurate that can be. Given that dose of reality, can we bank on what is going to happen 50 or 100 years from now? Which brings us to…

Al Gore, Alarmist and Profiteer

As an analogy, if Jesse Jackson can be described as a poverty pimp, Gore can certainly be described as a climate change pimp. It boils down to taking a popular issue and using it for personal gain rather than making a meaningful difference. After a lackluster performance as Vice-President and failed Presidential candidate, he had to cast about for something new to do.

After working as a visiting professor at various universities he drifted off into the global warming movement. He was no stranger to this world; he had been involved with environmental issues beginning in 1976, when as a freshman congressman, he held the first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste and global warming.

Carbon credit: any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or the mass of another greenhouse gas with a carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide.

Seeing an opportunity, he jumped into the carbon credit business, founding Generation Investment Management (GIM) along with David Blood. The firm’s focus is on a research agenda including global sustainability and renewable energy issues.

GIM took a big position in the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) for carbon trading and Gore used an alarmist position to attract investors.

According to forbes.com, “Between May of 2008 and October of 2009 the CCX market value for one metric ton of carbon plummeted from $7 per metric ton to $0.10 along with the shareholders’ investment values. Losers included the Ford Motor Company, Amtrak, DuPont, Dow Corning, American Electric Power, International Paper, and Waste Management, along with the states of Illinois and New Mexico, seven cities, and a number of universities. But GIM was in a winning position.

“Never give a sucker an even break” – P.T. Barnum

Arctic ice to be gone by 2012
Guess we dodged the bullet on this “real science” prediction.

Al Gore, Hypocrite

The face that Gore presents to the world is that of a planet-saving messiah. The truth is far from that. It’s a case of do as I say, not as I do. Case in point—his home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Al Gore's energy-guzzling home
Al Gore’s energy-guzzling home

According to Drew Johnson, National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) Senior Fellow, “The past year, Gore’s home energy use averaged 19,241 kilowatt hours (kWh) every month, compared to the U.S. household average of 901 kWh per month. During the last 12 months, Gore devoured 66,159 kWh of electricity just heating his pool. That is enough energy to power six average U.S. households for a year.”

“There’s a sucker born every minute” – P.T. Barnum


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Japan’s Whaling Policy Under Scrutiny

Commercial Fishing Hyped as “Scientific Research”: Hogwash

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Japanese whalers pull in a catch
Japanese whalers pull in a catch
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This article was updated on 06/12/21.

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The Japanese are known for all manner of odd things — quirky cartoons, kinky schoolgirl fetishes, and more. But by far the most odious is their continuing tradition of slaughtering whales. Certainly, the Japanese consume their fair share of seafood, but their whale meat consumption is significantly down in the aftermath of WWII so it hardly justifies their current hunting tradition. Then why?

What is the Japanese Fascination with Slaughtering Whales?

So why do they do it? Japan has set its 2021 catch limit for large whales at 383, the same as last year, in line with calculations to avoid a negative impact on cetacean resources, according to the Fisheries Agency. Note the use of the specifier “large.” This catch is not for the meat and it is probably not for perfume (ambergris is produced by sperm whales and valued as an ingredient for women’s perfume for some reason).

No, the Japanese Fisheries Agency says the annual slaughter is really, “research for the purpose of studying the ecological system in the Antarctic Sea.”

Wow, didn’t see that coming. But then hey! I’m not a highly-paid Japanese press agent, right? This takes fake news to a whole new level.

According to Yahoo News,  “Under the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to which Japan is a signatory, there has been a moratorium on hunting whales since 1986. Tokyo exploits a loophole allowing whales to be killed for ‘scientific research’ and claims it is trying to prove the population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting.”

Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like crappola in all its glorious splendor. Harvard International Review says, “whale meat from such “scientific” expeditions has been sold commercially, a practice that has regularly generated controversy for the country. In fact, the Japanese government began to subsidize its whaling industry during the years of its “scientific research”, and as a result of government purchasing, public schools have even served whale meat from these expeditions in lunches.”



The History and Future of Whales Slaughtered by Japan

The Japan Whaling Association is said to have begun around the 12th century. However, Japanese whaling as carried out on an industrial scale began in the 1890s when Japan started to participate in the modern whaling industry, at that time an industry in which many countries participated. Japanese whaling activities historically have extended far beyond Japanese territorial waters and even into whale sanctuaries protected by other countries. So nothing about their behavior is benign or even scientific and it is not in the realm of national sovereignty, it’s an international issue.

They also go so far as to claim that opposing their practices has nothing to do with being green. Ironically, they call their activities “capture surveys.”

Today, Japan is on board with Norway’s arguments on its own whaling activities. The thin argument is that it’s entitled to continue whaling because of the place whaling holds in its cultural heritage, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The whale meat from these hunts is consistently sold in shops and restaurants, which negates the “scientific” justification. To take the charade further, it is showcased at an annual food festival that, in some cases, features the butchering of a whale for onlookers.



As far as the future is concerned, Japan claims that as it is simply conducting ongoing research on whale maturation. It affirms that in the absence of “verified” non-lethal sampling methods, whales will continue to be slaughtered until the feasibility of non-lethal techniques is established. It seems that the motto of the Japanese whale slaughtering industry is, “We must eliminate them to find out how to conserve them.” That sounds like Nancy Pelosi, also a windbag.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.