Friday, September 22, 2006

Isla Blanca -- not saved yet?

This was forwarded to me today from Faith Ballesteros:

Well Friends, don't take those "Save Isla Blanca Park" bumper stickers off your cars just yet. It looks like we have been played the FOOL by our county commissioners and judge! They smiled at us and said, "We are listening to the people. We won't let Isla Blanca Park be developed." But they really tricked us BIG TIME.

We've recently seen the new contract. After pages and pages, the contract finally states on page 35 that the developers can, in fact, develop Isla Blanca Park after all!!! So, folks, we have been tricked, lied to, bamboozled, etc.

It's called "Right of Reversion" and it states that the county can go ahead and allow the developers to build casinos and hotels and other commercial establishments in Isla Blanca Park after all. There are other problems with the new contract as well. But in a nutshell, the county said they were going to take Isla Blanca Park out of the agreement, and they didn't.

We should be getting that contract on the website soon.

As you know, it's election time. Keep that in mind! And get ready for Round 2... It's time to complain like you've never complained before. Remember, we were totally LIED TO. Make phone calls, write letters and emails to the judge and commissioners. Send letters to the editor. GO TO COMMISSIONERS COURT even when we aren't on the agenda. If you've got legal or government expertise please let us know.

If you didn't get involved in ROUND 1, please give us a hand for Round 2. If we have any rallies or protests, PLEASE SHOW UP. We need numbers. We need to show this county that we are a big group of people who want our public park left PUBLIC. Tell your friends and neighbors, we've been tricked!!

The county is laughing at us right now. They really think they out-smarted us.

Peace and Love,

Busy Weekend Coming UP!

Everyone's going to get out there and unlitter the island this weekend -- right?

The SoBs are actively recruiting sand sculptors (all levels of ability/experience -- including NONE welcomed!) to build an "unlitter' sand sculpture at Lerma Pavillion in Isla Blanca Park starting at 8 AM.

And then we are all going to show our support for the arts and watch a film or five at the SPI Film Festival (at the convention center) -- right?

C'ya there -- and there!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

So Long, Barney

This arrived today from my neighbors Stuart and Diane:

We lost our best friend this week. I thought I'd tell
you a little about him.
His name was Barney. We adopted him from a kill
shelter about 6 1/2 years ago. He was a little over 8.
( At the time we already had two Rotty's - Maggie and
Daisy. ) He immediately walked in the door to our home
in Dallas and "tagged" the first plant he could find.
( Maggie - our oldest set him straight.) From that day
forward, he followed me everywhere I went.
We moved to the island a year ago, and he became "King
of the Deck " on our big pink house. He would meet me,
on the days that I didn't take him and Daisy to work,
at the top of our stairs with unconditional love, that
only a big 'ole floppy eared puppy can do. He would
beat me up the stairs every night , to the middle of
the bed, and give me a little growl, when I would try
to move him.
He loved Diane like crazy , who would sing to him and
Daisy everyday she arrived home, a little ditty, that
would send him jumping and "goin' a little bit crazy",
as she would say.
A few months ago, he started losing weight, a few
days ago they determined that he had liver cancer,and
yesterday I had to do the hardest thing I've ever had
to do, for the second time in my life. ( Maggie got
too old for her body a few years back. )
I don't think I'll ever understand how you can grow to
love something so much and then things can change so
There's a piece of my heart that shall never heal,
but I thank my lucky stars to have been given the time
and memories,and I hope everyone remembers the next
time they look to get a pet, that at one of the
shelters near you, may be a puppy or kitty that could
be your best friend... if you just give them a chance.
Thanks for allowing me to share this with you.
Your friend and neighbor,
Stuart Williams

Barney did this little circular dance whenever Wags and I walked by his house... it always made me laugh. I miss him too and am very sorry for the pain I know you guys are feeling. It just doesn't seem fair that our best buddies' life spans amount to just a fraction of our own...

Monday, September 18, 2006

"Frankenstein of the Skies"

City planner Cate Ball passed this one on:

Interesting concept of future air travel… for the rich and/or intercontinental travelers. With this, SPI could become much more of an international destination. Could potentially be something the Town and/or Cameron County could court to help us with destination / travel issues to the Island, especially since it can land in the water.

This looks like a super cool way to travel.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

sandblasters II in production

Blogging from the Houston airport, where I am finally on my way home from the world championships in B.C. (and a short sidetrip to see my sweetie in Santa Cruz). I am already making plans for my next trip later this month when I will be heading back to CA to compete in the next episode of Sandblasters - the sandsculpture contest where everything gets blown up.

Those TV people like to mix things up a bit and for this episode my old partner (Suzanne, a fellow "Woman in Black") and I will be trading partners with the orange team - "Grain Damaged" - winners of the "Best Recovery" award. She gets Carl Jara, and I get Kirk Rademaker ( In addition to being a really talented sandsculptor, Kirk also happens to be the aforementioned "sweetie" in my life and I am really looking forward to carving alongside him. We will have a new team name - "Trowel & Error" - and a new shirt color (charcoal gray) and we have been told that the show is scheduled to air March 4, 2007.

Fun fun fun!


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Happy Harrison!

Arrived in Vancouver with no incident. The customs line was short, the officials friendly and I was wheeling my luggage into the terminal 10 minutes after we touched down. Unbelievable. Even more wonderfully, there was a small round smiling man holding a sign with my name on it.

Had the stretch limo all to myself and friendly conversation all the way to HHS. Headed directly to Old Settlers Pub to say hi, hug and kiss (three times in the Dutch way) the other sculptors already here. Walking back to the room at the Spa that I am sharing with the Amazin' Christy, I get to see just how wonderful a room it is -- a roomy 2nd floor kitchenette with a big bathroom and a decent-sized deck that is perched right over the parking lot/courtyard where adjacent to the strip of l-- and the place appears to be overrun with them - tend to congregate. In other words, we've got the party porch, which also happens to be fully equipped with a mountain view and a table, from which I am writing this. No wifi signal, which would make this the absolute best motel room in my personal history of sandcastling, but I have all day to find one.

Yup. One whole day with no obligations other than to pick out and get my forms ready for tomorrow. So I can hassle the duo competitors already at work. Shoot photos. Shop for a pair of flipflops or strum my ukulele on the deck.

You will be able to see some early photos of the Doubles Category entries at


Monday, September 04, 2006

Some thoughts on CPAC issues

Fellow CPAC members,

Please accept my humble apologies for having to miss yet another meeting. I am leaving in the morning for the world championship in British Columbia. After this I have one more trip scheduled for the end of Sept. and then I will work hard to become a much more active and productive member of this committee.

I am writing this - and posting it on my blog - as a reaction to the comments the rest of you have been sending the group - which I greatly appreciate so please keep me on your mailing lists, thanks. I was happy when Nancy set up a blog for the committee and then disappointed that no one else chose to participate in it. I think it would be a great way to encourage free discussion and allow other interested members of the community to see what we are discussing and provide us with their input. For this reason I will continue to post and report on our activities on my blog, anyway.

Regarding the vision statement and Clayton's list (I wrote this part last week but was unable to e-mail from northern MI for some reason):

Basically, I consider myself a resident first and a business owner second. What that means to me is that I place great value upon the aspects of this community that make it a great place to live. Being able to make a decent living where I live is certainly high on the list of desirable attributes - but it is just one of many. For that reason, I am not comfortable with the word "resort" as Clayton is using it; i.e as the diametrical opposite of "retirement."

Yes, we are a community that sells itself as a resort to the rest of the world and yes, tourism has, is and will undoubtedly continue to be the driving force in our economy. However, I do not see "resort" and "retirement" as two mutually exclusive terms. We can attract plenty of visitors - new and returning - while still keeping SPI a place that people want to live and eventually retire to. We can preserve and enhance the charms of existing residential neighborhoods while continuing to add new resort-type amenities. We can assume that open and accessible beaches, low-impact development, and funky-beachy charm - the very same aspects that drew us here - will continue to draw new visitors and residents as well. As I see it, it our job to ensure that future growth will accommodate the needs/desires of the residents as well as those whose sole purpose in being here is to make money.

Much of what I have read in the minutes and in the e-mails sent out by committee members take the form of complaints -- that the goals are pie-in-the-sky and do not have any basis in reality. Allow me to add one such complaint of my own:

It seems to me that everything that comes from this committee expresses a strong emphasis on the goal of "year-round tourism" -- so that we can all make lots of money every single day of the year. But nobody yet has explained to my satisfaction who these tourists are or where they are expected to come from. We describe ourselves as a family destination, and as long as kids have to be in school, family vacations are going to be limited to quick weekend jaunts and the summer/winter holidays. Which leaves us with older adults who have no or grown kids. Are they likely to come to a place where the main draw is to lay on the beach or by the pool during a season when the weather can be iffy? Sure they will - at least a certain percentage will -- if the beach is quiet and clean and the rooms are a bargain. Like it is now.

I am pretty sure that "year round tourism" is synonymous with "gambling" in a lot of peoples minds, and when they ask for the first they are really asking for the latter. There is still no legal way to open a casino here and even if that should change I think you will find a majority of the people who live here would oppose opening such an establishment on this end of the island. We do not have a large, rich metropolitan area to draw these year-round tourists from and fuel is not likely to ever be cheap again. So let's please consider _that reality as well.

Other resort communities - some with much higher advertising budgets than ours - have "seasons" just like us. I am missing meetings this month because beach communities seeking to extend their summer season schedule big sand sculpting events right about now. Year-round tourism is a myth -- a carrot being dangled in front of hardworking locals to sell them on gambling. Many of us have survived and thrived on a predictable tourist season and we consider the slow, quiet times the pay-off.

Thank you for this opportunity to express my feelings. I wish you all a productive meeting tomorrow and look forward to reading the minutes.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Book Disposal in Laguna Vista

I came home from the Post Office run today with a copy of the PI Press and a copy of the Island Breeze. Both publications lead with stories about the book purge at the LV Library. Both stories agree that books were tossed into a dumpster -- but that was about the only thing they agree on. The Press quotes mayor David Privet stating that books that had not been checked out in more than a year were being eliminated, while the Breeze - quoting LV alderman and Mayor Pro Tem Stan Hulse - asserts that plain old dirt and health concerns was the culprit.

Well, I don't know who is right, but throwing away a book just because it hasn't been checked out in a year is a piss-poor policy, IMHO. So I hope the Breeze got it right. And then I got to wondering if a copy of my book "Sandcastles Made Simple" ever wound up in that library. And if maybe it never got checked out because just about everyone I know in the area already has a copy or four.

So if anyone sees a sandcastle book in the bin, please grab it for me, okay?