Tuesday, October 31, 2006

scraping trash into the foredunes

This morning I received a great pdf document from our city manager that explains very clearly and concisely how dunes are formed and how they re-build after a storm. I found this really interesting and have put it up on my server so that anyone else who is interested can read it as well. (click here)
One of the most eye-opening sections comes toward the end, when the author talks about beach scraping as a totally ineffective way to build dunes - a practice that breaks down more than it builds up. That a community would scrape on a daily basis for purely aesthetic purposes when there isn't hardly anything to scrape and no people to view a spotless beach seems so preposterous as to not to even have occurred to him/her.

This is the off-season. There is very little debris washing up and few people to mind what little seaweed is there. And yet, the beach tractors are making daily, multiple passes, scraping wide swaths of already-clean beach. For what purpose? Do we not have better uses for the manpower? the equipment costs? the fuel????

Even worse, these tractors are picking up litter and burying it in the foredunes where it will be ugly, harmful to wildlife and difficult to extract for months/years/decades. As this photo I snapped just this morning clearly shows.

If we really love our beach and really hate litter, we will get these city workers off their tractor seats and on the ground with trashbags. Beach scraping should occur only when there is massive amounts of material washing up and lots of people here trying to enjoy the beach.




Sunday, October 29, 2006

what if

the town of South Padre Island had to pay for all of its own beach renourishment projects?
I don't know how much of the tab is currently being picked up by the federal government, but my guess is that it is substantial. In Virgina Beach questions are being asked...

But former Old Dominion president James Koch said federal funding to protect people living in vulnerable areas, such as flood zones or shorelines, encourages more people to live in those areas.

"If the federal government comes in and fights fires consistently, then people tend to come in and build houses in places that are risky," Koch wrote in the university's annual Regional Studies Institute and Economic Forecasting Project. "Society has to ask... whether that's a good idea."


Friday, October 27, 2006

Jan. 9 New Yorker

I am a bit behind on my reading but in the past two days have been totally immersed in the Jan. 9 edition: specifically, "Deluged: When Katrina Hit, Where Were The Police?"

This is some pretty strong stuff, followed with a portfolio of photos that will make your stomach churn. Nothing I had seen or read previously about this tragedy had hit me with this kind of impact.

Maybe because CPAC (comprehensive plan advisory committee) members have been talking about disaster recovery (which may or may not be within the scope of our assigned task) this stuff has been on my mind anyway. But after reading this article one can't help but give serious contemplation to our own municipal services and how they would handle a Serious Situation.

Of course the bridge collapse was a pretty good test and -for the most part - the town coped admirably. My gut level feeling is that our authorities are better-prepared than were those of N.O. -- but maybe that is only a fervent hope. And I would prefer not to have to find out the hard way. Ever.

At any rate, I think that anyone who resides in a hurricane or flood-prone area should read this. Really.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sandcastle Days 2006

So everyone wants to talk about it. Or wants me to talk about it. As you might guess, I have some pretty strong feelings about what I think worked -- and what I think went way wrong with this year's event. And I probably won't be able to exercise self-restraint and hold it in forever. But I am trying. For now.

So you tell me: Were you there? What did you like about it? How could it be improved for next year? Let's get some unofficial feedback!

fall plant swap on spi

Oct. 28 -- SPI Gardens Fall Plant Swap/Plant Sale from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Turtle Park (E. Morningside Dr.) Everyone is invited to bring plants to swap. Plants will also be available for purchase.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wet weekend ahead

Anyone who is interested in sandcastle days has probably been doing the same thing as me - checking in on the weather forecasts every couple of hours or so. And the forecast at this moment is.... not so good. Unless you are a fan of severe thunderstorms and potentially heavy rain. Which I normally am - when I am not planning on organizing a bunch of sand into something lovely.

Because so many people fly in for this event and are either already here or on their way - there is no moving Sandcastle Days 2006 to an alternative date. The contest will go on - wind, heavy rains or shine. (They will pull people off the beach if there is any danger from lightening strikes, of course.)

"So how do you carve sand in the rain?" you may be asking yourself. "Doesn't it 'melt' the sculpture?"

Well, I can tell you that it isn't nearly as much fun as carving in the sunshine, but generally speaking a little bit of rain will not harm the sculpture. A long steady rain will erase fine detail and a deluge will erase pretty much _all the detail. We do spray a diluted glue mixture on carved areas to preserve the life of the sculpture and this "sealant" will in fact enable the detail to stay crisp longer and through more rain than you might think possible - IF (and that is a big "if") the glue has a chance to soak in and dry.

So, the next few days are likely to prove a bit of a challenge. I won't have much time to blog or e-mail, but I will try to post photos from my cell phone onto my flickr stream - hope to see you on the beach!

Monday, October 16, 2006

sandyfeet.com updates

I am sorry that the rains drove the bikers away because I know that is going to hurt people I care about in the pocketbook --but personally I wasn't sorry to see it come down in bucketfuls. My garden is really green and happy and even the roses have a bunch of new growth springing up and best of all it forced me to stay inside and do something I have been meaning to do for a very long time.

I maintain a portfolio of all my competitive sand sculptures here. Until the rains came down I was a full year behind -- and now I am practically current. And while I was working I counted and I have competed in the masters level in something close to 75 competitions since 1987.

That's a lot of shoveling.

Anyways, I've got pictures and short commentaries on nearly all of them posted at sandyfeet.com. So if you are interested in that kind of thing, please drop by.

The Contiguous Duneline? Yeah right

Pretty much everyone agrees we need it.
City staff as well as elected officials claim to support it.
So why is there still a below-sea-level channel - created and maintained by city workers - cutting through the dune that is trying to form just north of Suntide II at beach access #16?

I have asked this question repeatedly and I have still not gotten a satisfactory answer.

Hey! Property owners! Jupiter, Venus and Saturn! Yo Esperanza! You are located in one of the lowest parts of the island, and if we get a storm surge, your town has dug out a channel that will direct it right into your happy little neighborhood!

Okay. You can go back to sleep now.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

beach renourishment without the ugly pipes?

Came across this article about a guy in Florida who has proposed an interesting alternative to dredging/piping sand and is looking for investors to build the prototype. The system would be used year-round and would utilize a "blower" on barges in the water and a "catcher" on the beach. The town could purchase the equipment and employ local workers to fill in the narrow spots as they appear, with less expense and less inconvenience to the beach users.

Worth a read, I think.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Where Were YOU When the Lights Went Out?

I guess Saturday night of Texas week would be the worst possible time for the electricity to go out. But I bet Saturday night of Bikefest would run a close second.

And that is what just happened. At least on my block. Which is the same block as the police department. Where things got very busy during and just after that five minute period when

the lights went out. 9:30 PM. Saturday night. Bikefest.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sand Castle Days Misinformation

Just got off the phone with a nice lady who was having a very difficult time finding information on Sandcastle Days. She wondered in particular about the free lessons. She had called the Sheraton -- the front desk told her the lessons were scheduled for Oct. 16-23 "the day of contest judging." (All categories will in fact be judged on the 21st.) She called the Chamber of Commerce - which apparently had no info whatsoever. She called the Visitors Center - they gave her my phone number.

I had the city's press release which (presumably) gives the right dates, anyway. But nowhere in the PR or even on the event website can you find the hours when these lessons will be offered.

You can see a slideshow though! How very helpful!


The REAL Writer in the Family...

.. is my sister Debra. She has just had a new essay - this one on an alternative approach to "work" - published at jugglezine.com that perhaps some visitors to my blog might find of interest. She has also earned acclaim for her poetry, some interesting samples of which may be viewed on the website I maintain for her at debrawierenga.com.

I am particularly fond of "Barbie's Story" ....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

shark attack?

Anyone know anything about a shark-bit surfer? The incident supposedly happened on Sunday.... and would help explain On The Beach's marquee sign that says something about shark repellent.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Red Tide in Corpus Christi

Latest Updates on the Port Aransas Red Tide Bloom from the TPWD

It looks like this bloom was first spotted back in Sept. I find it rather strange that no local newspapers have made mention of it. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that we have a couple of big event weekends coming up, could it?

Well, I looked it up because I have just recently started having to use my (asthma) inhaler with greater frequency and I have been coughing - not a lot, but more than usual - even though it doesn't feel like a cold. It feels like red tide and now I am convinced that is exactly what it is.

Please note that I am the "canary in the coalmine" with this stuff, being more susceptible to its effects than most. So it is entirely possible that other residents and visitors aren't even noticing it. And maybe the norther that is supposed ot blow through here later this week will totally wipe it out. I hope so.

But potential visitors with respiratory problems really need to be forewarned. And I think that is the press' job. And they aren't doing it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

So Just What Was All That Fuss About?

I just came back from doing a big family reunion photo-op sandcastle experience over at the Palms Resort. There was a baby - and lots of adults - building sandcastles. Right there. In front of the new beachfront cafe where you can get a mimosa or a bloody mary or some other adult beverage with your meal.

The place is not officially open yet (that happens tomorrow I believe) but there was already almost a full house (which still isn't much of a crowd as the place only has something like 5 tables). It is a classy, friendly spot to sit and enjoy the view and quite frankly seems like an unlikely spot for the wild, drunken orgies some have predicted it will spawn.

The enemies of this establishment have blown this thing way out of proportion. I suggest everyone who is terrified that the beach around the Palms is suddenly less "family-friendly" stop in and see for themselves just what kind of place it is.

And then - if you are honest - you will also wonder why thousands of dollars had to be wasted on litigation to fight this.

"Post Scripts" Response

This is a letter I just sent to the editor of the PI/SPI Press:

At last! Mr. Rasmussen and I have found common ground!

As he semi-eloquently states in this week's "Post Scripts":

"The Valley ought to be studied by students ... it is a perfect example of what happens when one party reigns supreme over a long time.... power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The Republicans have controlled both houses of congress as well as the Executive branch (and some might reasonably argue they own the Judicial branch as well) for waaaaay too long. Duane and I (apparently) agree! It is past time to let the loyal opposition (um, that would be Democratic Party, I believe) have a voice in how this country is run. Based on results of recent polls, it is clear that the Republicans have failed to impress the majority of the US population with their lies, their pre-emptive war gone bad and their blatant disregard for the Geneva Conventions and our own Constitution. "Foleygate" is just one more illustration of how the Republicans holier-than-thou moral values stance is... well, all hat and no cattle.

Elections are coming up and it is time to clean house. Both houses, actually.

Thank you Mr. R for stating it so plainly. Your columns usually just irritate me so it is nice to discover that we actually agree on something. Throw the bums out! Vote Democrat!

Lucinda Wierenga

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

San Diego was a blast!

Just got back in town after filming Sandblasters 2007 -- it will air March 4, 2007. Lots of pics on my flickr stream.