Thursday, August 31, 2006

Reason to Cross the Bridge this Labor Day Weekend

LIVE MUSIC News Flash (via e-mail - no idea who is providing this music but what the heck!)

Classic Rock-Blues-Jazz-Easy Listening!
Saturday- September 2nd & Sunday- September 3rd
from ~ 7p.m. - 10p.m. on the Dock
at White Sands in Port Isabel!

Turtle Lady Wikipedia Entry needs help!

I got this e-mail from Anne Toal:

Hey Sandy,

Ila Loetscher has a mention on the Texas Wiki Project inside Wikipedia
as one of the most important Texans, but the link to her entry hits an
empty page. Think you could get some people who knew her to contribute
some content?



Monday, August 28, 2006

Goodbye Joe

Update 8/29/06 - Joe Maize died last night. This morning we are all trying hard to adjust to the unimaginable: a sandworld without Joe.

A site for online tributes to Joe has been set up at

Update 8/31 - An e-mail from Joe's sister Jackie:

As many of you may know, my brother, Joe has passed away. I thought I would go into his address book and personally tell everyone that you were all special to him. I know that he wrote you often in bulk e-mails because I got them too. His stories of his travels were pretty great. He wrote the way he talked. He was very entertaining. I am in Hawaii right now making his final arrangements. He has requested that his ashes be divided and sent to Harrison and Florida, which I believe the portion that goes to Florida will also be divided and will travel to Europe as he always did. Of course, some will stay here in Hawaii and be spread on Waikiki beach. In the last days that I spoke with Joe, he told me that he had a great life. He was proud of all the things he accomplished and that he had the opportunity to travel around the world.

I understand that the ashes sent to Harrison will be mingled with sand that Joe wished us to use in a special sculpture. I also have been told that a collection will be taken up there to help cover Joe's final expenses. If you are not going to be in Harrison and would still like to contribute, you can send funds directly to Jackie at the following address:

Jackie Schmidt
9532 Ronda Ave.
San Diego, CA 92123


Thursday, August 24, 2006

The news from Glen Lake

Life is exciting here on beautiful Glen Lake. The other day we got to watch Lux do battle with a buoy.

I think we would have to call this a draw; while Lux failed to retrieve it, the buoy was killed in the process.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sand Sculptor News - Joe Maize

Got a most disturbing e-mail from Jill Smith yesterday:

I just got off the phone with Joe Maize. He is in the hospital and he has
cancer. The prognosis does not sound good. He says the cancer is
everywhere, lungs, liver, kidneys. He also has pneumonia and some other
infections. He wants to write a letter to email to everyone but is not sure
when he will be released from the hospital and does not have a computer to
email there. I can tell you he sounds very weak and was not able to talk for
very long.
It sucks to pass on such bad news.

Indeed it does.
Some suggested courses of action for anyone who knows/loves Joe:

1. If you believe in the power of prayer-- well, go for it.
2. If not, down a jello shot and think positive thoughts for his well-being.
3. Send him an encouraging message. Feel free to post it here if you like.

Finally, if you have any news -- updates on his condition, name/location of the hospital he's in, etc. - thanks for passing it on.

Yo! Joe! Let us know what we can do for you, buddy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Changes in B District

I am going to miss the public hearing on this at tonight's BOA meeting, so I sent this to my alderpersons....

Greetings esteemed alderpersons and Mr. Mayor,

I need to catch an early flight in the morning and as usual am running behind on everything, but I would like to share my opinion on the changes proposed by P&Z to allowed uses of B district areas.

Via my website, assorted blogs & forums -- as well as the face time spent with visitors who hire me to teach sandcastle lessons -- it seems clear to me that our town does not have enough places where both visitors and residents can dine or have a cocktail while enjoying a beach view. Discouraging the creation of such businesses seems to me to fly in the face of the Texas Open Beaches Act, and it seems that the proposed changes would do just that.

Sometimes it seems that the people who own property on the waterfront are doing everything they can to keep the rest of us from enjoying their views in a relaxing and convivial setting. One can't blame them for trying to keep the "riff-raff" (like me) out, but one also mustn't let these people turn us into a sleepy retirement community with a reputation for outlawing fun.

Furthermore, I would ask the board to consider the positive impact local restaurants and watering holes have on the neighborhoods in which they are located. If we are really and truly trying to create distinct neighborhoods that are pedestrian-friendly, these kinds of establishments are an important element. One of my favorite things about Wanna Wanna is the fact that it is just 3 blocks away from my house -- a very pleasant excuse for an evening beach walk.

Thank you for your time.


What I am doing this weekend...

airport insecurity

All these new airport security measures have been much on my mind - particularly since I will be flying out of here in just a couple of days. So they have decided to let us carry small amounts of certain types of liquid, though we definitely must remove and submit our shoes for scanning -- in spite of the fact that the technology currently being used in our nation's airports is unable to detect the type of explosives it is supposed to be scanning for (read this.)

The last time I flew (out of Boston Logan) I set off the security beeper for some reason. I had never set it off before and I still don't have a clue what set it off this time, but the ensuing pat-down was invasive and humiliating in the extreme.

It amazes me that this latest round of indignities is not making fliers angrier than it is. I was reading some "woman in the airport" type articles on line and they quote people saying things like"Yes it's a pain but if it makes flying safer than how can you object?"

Well, listen up, folks: scanning shoes, confiscating bottles of water, lighters and any other common object that they suddenly decide they want to take from you is not making anyone safer. They are attempting to close the barn door after the horses have all escaped as the bad guys are 3 steps ahead in finding new ways to mess with us. To take the barnyard analogy one step further -- we are all just a bunch of dumb sheep if we let them keep foisting these indignities upon us.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Don't Breed or buy while shelter pets die!

The following was sent to me by the manager of our local animal shelter. I think it should be required reading for everyone.

"I am posting this (and it is long) because I think our society needs a huge "Wake-up" call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all...a view from the inside if you will. First off, this is a forum to for adoption and/or rehoming as clearly stated in the rules. All of you breeders/sellers on craigslist should not only be flagged (and I hope the good people on craigslist will continue to do so with blind fury), but you should be made to work in the "back" of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don't even know?that puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there's about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays", that come into my shelter are purebred dogs. The most common excuses I hear are; "We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)." Really? Where are you moving too that doesn't allow pets? Or they say "The dog got bigger than we thought it would". How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? "We don't have time for her?". Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! "She's tearing up our yard?". How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me "We just don't want to have to stress about finding a place for her?we know she'll get adopted, she's a good dog". Odds are your pet won't get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you?your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off?sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy?if it sniffles, it dies. Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don't, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the "Bully" breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc?) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don't get adopted. If your dog doesn't get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn't full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed?it may get a stay of execution?not for long though. Most get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression?even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles?chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don't have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment. Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down". First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash?they always look like they think they are going for a walk?happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to "The Room", every one of them freaks out and puts on the breaks when we get to the door?it must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it's strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process?they will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the "pink stuff". Hopefully your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerk? I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don't just "go to sleep", sometimes spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves. When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed?waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You'll never know and it probably won't even cross your mind?it was just an animal and you can always buy another one right?

I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head?I do everyday on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter. Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.


Hate me or flag me if you want to?the truth hurts and reality is what it is?I just hope I maybe changed one persons mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say "I saw this thing on craigslist and it made me want adopt"-- that would make it all worth it."

Friday, August 11, 2006

gray is (even more) okay

A few years back I wrote a column for the local paper about my decision to let my hair go gray. That column is posted on the internet - Gray is Okay! - and has been visited, read and commented upon more than just about anything else I have written.

Today I came across
an article in the New York Times that states that some studies suggest that use of hair dye "might slightly increase the risk of get lymphoma, a group of cancers of the lymphatic system."

This doesn't surprise me. As I state in my column,

Getting your hair colored is no picnic. In fact, I would put it right up there with getting your teeth cleaned as one of the least fun things upon which people voluntarily spend large chunks of disposable income. The process lays waste to the whole afternoon, the stuff makes your eyes water when it is applied and it smells bad - sometimes for days. As you sit there, you are saying to yourself (if you are honest) - "Something this vile cannot possibly be good for me." And yet you do it over and over - every 6 weeks or whenever the roots start showing. And you thank the stylist and add a generous tip as you make your next appointment.

Does this strike anyone besides me as just a bit ... weird?

The NYT article goes on to say,
"For those who view hair dye as the embodiment of their personality, youthfulness and attractiveness, the mere suggestion that the beauty treatment might be risky seemed to constitute a threat to self-image."

According to Clairol, 54% of American women between the ages of 13 and 69 dye their hair. I bet if they limited the survey to women 40 and older, that percentage would be considerably higher. And I would be very interested to learn what the numbers are on the other side of the fence -- how many men worry about their gray hair making them look old? Not very many, by my own observation.
Call me radical, but I think we women would have a better shot at being taken seriously if we spent less time and money in the beauty salon.

Update 9/2/06
Just found another article that reports on the astronomical amounts women spend on their hair - yikes!

Women spend years getting hair just right
LONDON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A British survey says the average woman spends more than $68,000 and two years of her life washing, cutting, coloring and styling her hair.

The poll of 2,500 British women was conducted by Boots in conjunction with the launch of a new lotion-based permanent hair-straightening kit that can be used at home, the Daily Mail reported.

Over two-thirds of the women said they prefer straight hair to a head of curls, and 48 percent of those polled said they regularly try to achieve poker-straight hair.

Forty-three percent of the women said brunette was their favored hair color; 33 percent would like to be blonde; and 12 percent said they want to be redheads, the newspaper said.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

CS Monitor Article on Sand Sculpture

This July 28 Christian Science Monitor article about my favorite artform really rocks. (How could I _not love a photo caption that says: "SCULPTING STAR: The legendary Lucinda Wierenga entered a contest at Hampton Beach, N.H., in late June."



bye bye Joey

I was very saddened to hear about the passing of longtime local Joey Rucker last week -- practically a fixture at several of our local watering holes. Joey had a bad neck and seemed most at home kicked back on a bar stool. He had a ready smile, a quick wit and could be quite charming -- not to mention very entertaining. He will be missed by many.

Mike McNamara wrote this succinct yet moving account of Joey's passing which he has given me permission to share. The photo was provided by Scott Wheeler. Feel free to add your Joey stories in the comment section if you feel so moved.

"joey rucker died on aug 3. he pulled his own plug and went cheerfully on his way.

at grave side where the family interred his ashes shots of rum and coke were served. a bottle of barcardi, pack of ciggs, liter of coke and a dollar bill for liar's poker were intered with his ashes.

he had taken a couple of falls. the last one was several days before he died. his bones are so messed up and brittle that it doesn't take much for them to break. he broke his neck.

the only way he could stay alive was on a ventilator. he said no way. he was disconnected and with his family around him he said good bye and see you upstairs. he closed his eyes and died."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Good Music coming to SPI!

Aug. 10 - Green Mountain Grass at Palm Street Pier

There is a great night of music this week at the Palm Street Pier with the acclaimed million mile an hour bluegrass music of GREEN MOUNTAIN GRASS! They are scheduled to start at 8pm this Thursday night, August 10th, and are guaranteed to light the night up! It's more fun than you've had hearing live music for a long time, a must see! We are lucky to have them this far off of their busy tour, so please come down and support some world class music brought to you locally. Call (956)772-PALM for information, or checkout Green Mountain Grass on

Aug. 24 - Danny Schmidt

Gypsy Maintenance Presents:

An Evening Of Music With
-Danny Schmidt-

August 24th, 2006
8:30pm 112 E. Esperanza
South Padre Island, TX

tickets available at psychadeli or by calling (956)746-9707

This is very cool stuff - go to his website's listening room and you will understand why I am major bummed that I am going to be out of town for this one... - sf

Read more about danny at

most beach litter comes from beachusers

This article mainly talks about the national seashore, but I suspect it is also very relevant to SPI beaches.

I am seeing so much trash on "my" beach these days.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sandburgen bauen!

Hey- that's me --- in German!


Gadget Grrl

That's me!
Thanks to SoB Shop customer Chris Evans for submitting my books to a most excellent blog - "Cool Tools".

Naturally, I am tickled to find myself there....


Friday, August 04, 2006

The real GGW story

A reporter for the LA Times hangs with Joe Francis, the mad genius who has figured out how to make "dumb chicks" (his words) take their clothes off on camera for t-shirts, hats and underwear.

GGW has done more to ruin the reputation of South Padre Island than most residents will believe. It is embarrassing when I mention my hometown and the only thing most people know about us is that we appear very prominently on Girls Gone Wild videos.

Why do we continue to welcome his crews every March?

I hope I live to see the day when women respect themselves enough that nobody will flash this slimy toad so much as a smile.