Watching the world watch Texas.

February 28, 2023

In this issue of Branding Texas: The world is watching the power grid of Texas which survives another icy January; space aliens arrive with a bang in South Texas and make headlines in Jerusalem; a dead vulture and stolen monkeys in Dallas excite interest in London; “printing” a house in Houston is considered international good news; and the Financial Times in the UK ranks Rice University’s Jones School of Business as Number 1 in Texas.

Thomas Graham


Texas power grid survives – so far

The national media loves to monitor the annual drama in Texas as state power authorities seek each year to keep the power on during ice emergencies and stormy weather.  Here in Austin where I live, more than 140,000 customers went without out power at some time during January, some for more than 48 hours.

Most weather reporters here in Texas and across the country remember when a winter storm in 2021 brought the power grid to the brink (and over the brink) of collapse. Millions of Texans lost power during and after the storm. But this year, most of the scattered outages were caused by downed power lines and fallen trees.

Energy expert Ramanan Krishnamoorti from the University of Texas told ABC News that a true Texas deep freeze that tests state power grids usually comes only once a decade.  December 1983, he said, holds the record for the coldest December for both Dallas-Fort Worth and Waco.

East coast media mavens are additionally alert when Texas freezes because those deadly winter storms that begin in the Arctic regularly move through here but then head off for New England which has additional super-cold fronts that come directly down from Canada each year.


“Corgi-sized meteor as heavy as 4 baby elephants hits Texas”

So your great uncle Marvin from Luckenbach was right after all.  The space aliens have landed in Texas and NASA confirms it.  A half-ton meteor lit up skies across South Texas in February but there was some honest scientific confusion on whether the alien rocks, seen across South Texas skies, actually landed on our side of the border.

On February 20, NASA finally confirmed that pieces of the meteor had actually landed somewhere near McAllen.  The news was picked up with amusement as far as Israel where the Jerusalem Post headlined: “Corgi-sized meteor as heavy as 4 baby elephants hit Texas.”

The meteor and its bits were mostly heard but not seen by folks in South Texas and only a few pilots claim to have watched the phenomenon move across the sky – and it was the loud unexplained noises that created some of the confusion.

Uncle Marvin may have been excited by the rumble too, if he was out on the porch facing south when the rocks zipped to Earth, but USA Today was playing up a quote from Cesar Tores, chief of police in Mission, Texas (pop. 77,000+) who told reporters in no uncertain terms: “It created panic throughout the city.”

A little bit further to the East, of course, is Space X’s Starbase … maybe that’s what the space aliens were targeting!


Dallas vulture death and monkey theft a global media event

There has been a flurry of international interest from animal-welfare advocates over recent problems at the Dallas Zoo which has been dealing with a series of animal trafficking problems for years which one guard attributes to a lackadaisical security protocol of not challenging trespassers.

The Daily Mail in London picked up that there had been four incidents in the Dallas Zoo in January alone, including an attempted break-in to a monkey enclosure there, the theft of two tamarin monkeys (later found in a closet in an abandoned nearby house), and the “suspicious” death of a vulture.  CNN reported that one of the incidents, the temporary escape of a rare clouded leopard, was caused because a section of fencing had been intentionally cut open.


“3D Printing” a house of the future is a Texas reality today

The Good News Network, which is headquartered in Virginia, shies away from news about violent warzones or any impending apocalypse in favor of upbeat developments like the impending completion of the first two-story home to be 3D printed in the U.S. – a 4,000-foot home rising in Houston.

The “printing” means that a hefty computer-connected machine is actually crafting parts of the house in concrete and pairing the massive bits with wood framing.  The whole process takes place on site and requires 330 hours to completely create a three-bedroom home.

Another two-story home was done this way in Belgium in 2020 – two living rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and foyer – by a company working on sustainable construction.

The collaborative effort in Texas included architectural designers Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, principals of HANNAH; along with PERI 3D Construction, and CIVE, one of the leading engineering and design/build contractors in Houston.


Jones School of Business at Rice U ranks first in Texas

Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business in Houston has been ranked first in Texas by the Financial Times.

Metrics for the 2023 rankings included average salary three years after graduation and salary percentage increase as well as the core curriculum’s focus on environmental, social and governance and climate solution-related courses.

The school’s namesake, Jesse H. Jones, was a Democratic politician and entrepreneur who make his first fortune in lumber in Tennessee but moved that business Texas and developed a real estate empire in Houston that included mid-rise and skyscraper office buildings.  He had a great deal to do with the Port of Houston and the Houston Ship Channel and became head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation that shepherded industrial development up to and through World War II.

Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business now ranks 17th among top U.S. business schools and 29th globally.


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