Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Protect Your Pooch!

I took Wags in for his monthly steroid shot at the PI Animal Clinic today, and while we were waiting two ladies rushed in with a cute little white puppy (maybe a Westy?) that had just gotten struck by a rattlesnake near the SPI Golf Course.

Fortunately, the pup was hit in a relatively good place - the bony area just under the nose. The owner identified (and killed) the snake and took the dog immediately to the clinic so the prognosis is very good. What I learned while observing this is that 1. The golf course development was built on top of a rattlesnake habitat and 2. A rattlesnake vaccination is available and probably a really good idea for anyone - but especially residents of Laguna Vista - who has a beloved pet.
'Nuff said.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gobble Gobble Gobble

So how does a single vegetarian with family in MI and a boyfriend in CA celebrate Thanksgiving, anyway? Well, I'll tell you how this one does -- and it is not by sitting around feeling sorry for herself. Some of my best Thanksgivings have been quiet, solo affairs and - looking at the pink sky sunrise happening out there right now - I expect today to be in the top five.

I have so much to be thankful for these days - a cozy condo on SPI to call my own; a beautiful garden that gives me great joy; good friends who say skip the bird and come over for pie; a certain someone I happen to be crazy about who is flying me out to CA next week to carve sand with him; a loving family that will (mostly) be here on the island in just a few weeks; enough work to get me through the winter and two sweet puppies who are going to get turkey jerky treats today (just because I don't eat bird doesn't mean they don't.)

Today I plan to get some web updating done and then embark on a new project that will allow me to work outside on this gorgeous day - creating stepping stones for a garden path. (It is an ambitious plan, one that I expect will take years to finish.) And I will let the dogs take me to the beach; I will enjoy that tasty garlic parmesan focaccia I found at Walmart yesterday (make more of that stuff, please and thank you-- it's really yummy!) and a glass or two of a nice red wine...

And then I am going to claim that piece of pie.

I believe that Friday afternoon I will get started building Toasty the Sandman on the beach at Wanna Wanna. Stop by if you are in the neighborhood - I will have a spare shovel or two for anyone wanting to work off some of today's excess.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The "official" line on gambling (?)

The Sons of the Beach Sandcastle Wizards have been spending a lot of time at the South Padre Island Visitors Center the past few days while we replace the resident sand castle with a sandy Christmas tree and a family of snowpeople. (Stop by and take a look - it is pretty sweet if I do say so myself.)

It is always interesting hanging out there because we get to see up close and personal the public face our town shows to first-time visitors. The people that work there are very nice and very helpful -- and also very careful to keep personal opinions out of their answers. ("Sorry, but I am not allowed to recommend one restaurant over another.")

And sometimes the kinds of questions we get to hear asked are as interesting as the answers. Like the guy who came in Saturday and asked, "So when is South Padre Island getting gambling?"

I had expected to hear the counter person say something like "gambling is still illegal in Texas, though there are people working hard to change that," but the young lady calmly and with great confidence in her own words said, "We will have it here in two years."

Huh!!?? What does she know that I don't? And is that the town's official line these days? Didn't we just reelect a governor who is adamantly opposed to casinos in Texas? And don't the residents have any say in the matter whatsoever?

What am I missing here?


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sandguy on Youtube

The object of my affection doing what he does...


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Spread the Wealth Around

(Update 11/12 - the link works now - sorry 'bout that....)

I noticed it again this morning: my beach access sucks. The parking lot is badly in need of repaving and striping; the planter is sprouting only weeds; and since Rita took the walkway out, the beach users need to compete with the city tractors for access. There is a soiled disposable diaper under one of the benches that has been there for days if not weeks. (I unlitter bottles, cans, etc. on a daily basis, but I cannot bring myself to touch that nasty thing.)

Many if not most of the town's public beach accesses are falling into a state of disrepair and neglect and the goal of creating a contiguous dune ridge has received nothing but lip-service. We have strict laws about keeping glass off the beach with hardly any enforcement. Ask why this is so and it always comes down to "not enough money."

But wait just a doggone minute! Of course there is money -- so much money that we can spend $300,000 to get the town's name - tiny tiny - on a Nascar truck!

Everyone knows that the town of South Padre Island collects a hotel/motel tax - something like 5 million annually - that "may not be used for the general revenue purposes or general governmental operations of a municipality" and must be used for the kinds of promotions and expenses commonly associated with "putting heads in bed" -- right?

Well, Island resident Will Davis thinks we may have more latitude in spending those funds than our town leaders realize -- or care to admit. He has written a thoughtful, well-researched letter outlining why he thinks this and then goes on to list some town expenses currently being paid for out of the general fund that could conceivably be funded with the hotel/motel tax. This letter has been sent to the Mayor, BOA members, and several other movers and shakers -- with no appreciable result. I believe that the community as a whole could benefit from more people reading this and then discussing what it could mean and perhaps applying some pressure on our elected officials to investigate further.

Will agrees and has given me permission to post his letter on my server
What follows is an excerpt. You can read the whole document here... please do!
Comments are welcomed.

...If residents knew, however, that a broader use of these funds were permissible, I believe many would be of the opinion that such permissibility should be actualized, at least to some degree. If so, that is an opinion I would share, and I will briefly offer three reasons why.

(1)        Many costs associated with some of the activities listed above are currently paid for on SPI out of the general fund. These include beach policing, code enforcement, construction/maintenance of beach access, sanitation (bathroom facilities), parking, and the like. In my opinion, this is an undue burden on town residents. If some money from HOT revenues were utilized to help defray such expenditures, this would release general fund monies now encumbered for such purposes, allowing them instead to be redirected to other activities/functions bettering resident life, or alternatively, returned to the residents themselves.

(2)        Relying largely upon general fund revenues for such purposes is impractical because the resulting budgeting pressures make it difficult to meet perceived needs effectively. In other words, it is difficult to meet specific needs with excellence without money, and when a large pot of money, potentially available for such needs, is erroneously identified as untouchable, needed projects may be left unattended, or where they are addressed, quality may suffer. I hesitate to offer specific examples, as I know my own judgments on particular specifics are uneducated. No doubt, for example, many on the "Beach and Dune" committee would have a better idea about the priority needs relative to beach issues. I will venture only the untutored layman observations that the beach accesses are paltry, worker access is problematic, parking seems to be an omnipresent challenge, bathroom facilities are limited, dune restoration is under-attended, and park/recreational venues are nonexistent. I will offer no particular suggestions with regard to the interesting item #3 in Section 351.1055 Subsection (c) quoted above except to recall it to your attention. It implies many possibilities.

(3)        SPI is a tourist destination because of the beauty and allure of its beaches. Certainly no special event, no advertising spot, no marketing campaign, no matter how clever, comes close to competing with the visitor attraction of the beach itself. Short-term gains in stimulating tourist interest may be made by dedicating all HOT revenues to advertising, etc., but in the long run attracting visitors and retaining their interest to return is dependent upon the wise management and protection of our beaches. Suitable enhancements maximizing tourists' sense of security, ease, and delight in their enjoyment of the beach experience, accompanied by appropriate husbandry of the natural environment, will result in long-standing and increased future benefits to the tourist industry unmatched by other activities.



Friday, November 10, 2006

Words of Wisdom from a Longtime SoB

This arrived from Balde (aka Toby Beau) - he and Renetta are still in Hawaii:


In the last 10 years we have seen a great many of our friends fall away. Billy, Duane, M L, Joey, K C, Danny, and those are not the only ones. I can recall this late at night. Sammy Carrasco's death rattled me more than I thought. Pirates, the Grim Reaper has bought a condo on the Island and filling his quota with all our friends. Well, you know what!  F... him. I propose this .....'" WE WILL NOT GO GENTLE INTO THIS GOODNIGHT." Not anymore. We will make a point to get checked up, the doctor is not the enemy, we will dust the cobwebs off of that old VHS exercise video tape and transfer it to dvd, We will have a salad instead of fries, We will walk to Circle K to get the paper instead of driving, We will notice when our wives look at our bellies and our hair then get that mournful look of longing in there eyes that can only mean "Gee I could have married better". We will get in better shape and we will verbally assault any pirate who doesn't.  Drastic measures must be enacted, marshall law will have to be declared, We are at Defcon 5 Pirates, our lot is to plunder, not go six feet under. Lets make a change. Lets have a real surviversfest, the biggest one the Island has ever seen.  We will invite everyone in the valley. We will have only healthy food and no booze! Well, we'll have healthy food. Send me your input.

I miss you all,

Vote for Ukes for Troops

Found this on boingboing today:

So, on Friday, November 10, 2006 please watch the CBS news with Katie Couric and when they provide you with a list of 3 topics that you would want to see developed, please vote for 'Ukes for Troops'. If we win, then they will come out to Shirley's store, Island Bazaar, in Huntington Beach, on Tuesday, November 14th, and tape the story. Please let me know if you need more information. Please pass this on to everyone you know -- Anita Coyoli-Cullen, Co-founder of Ukes for Troops



Thursday, November 09, 2006

letter to the editor of the Valley Morning Star

The genocidal tyrant is tried by a court of law, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. One segment of the population rejoices; another shows its displeasure by stepping up sectarian violence.

And then the tyrant speaks. Having nothing left to lose, one might expect to hear him scream for vengeance, to urge the faithful to rise up and wage bloody war in his name. But that is not what happens. Instead, the tyrant simply asks all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds to "forgive, reconcile and shake hands."

Will those words have any effect on the Iraqi situation -- which by many reports is spiraling out of control into civil war? It is too early to say, of course... but one can't help but wonder what positive, redemptive deeds Saddam Hussein could be capable of from his jail cell were he shown the mercy of a commuted sentence. (Now who was that guy who taught his followers to "turn the other cheek"? Probably just some crackpot bleeding-heart liberal....)

Of course the sentence will not be commuted, mercy will not be shown, Saddam will hang and people like the editorial writer of the VMS will sleep better at night, secure in the belief that justice has been served.

And then others of us might lie awake wondering if we are executing the last, best hope for war's end and a stable MIddle East.

The inspiration for this letter comes from the best role-model anyone could hope to have - my Dad.

Island Women Rock!

I woke up feeling pretty lucky today.
I am blessed with some wonderful friends who made me feel really special on my birthday. Thanks so much Deborah, Lori, Laurie, Dianne, Nancy and Aziza!

Extra special thanks to Laurie Gaudi who hosted the gathering and whipped up a yummy stirfry for the occasion -- and to Nancy for the fuschialicious double pear cake.



Wednesday, November 08, 2006

SPI economic development strategies

At last night's CPAC meeting David Horton presented a super concise summary of the TIP Strategies workshop powerpoint presentation. I wish I had taken notes but there were some fairly heretical conclusions:

SPI will never be a shopping mecca - that just isn't what people come here to do. We want to make our visitors come back over and over again? We need to take care of our number one draw: the beach.

Don't plan on a bunch of baby boomers relocating here - lots of other communities are rolling out the red carpet for these folks and they are likely to relocate closer to home/family/friends, wherever that may be (Lufkin was mentioned specifically). Furthermore, many of them are planning for a "working retirement" - and it is doubtful that bartending or table-bussing are the kind of career options they will seek.

Texas Rio Grande Valley is one of the fastest growing population centers in the country. This is where our visitors are coming from and where they will continue to come from. (They will stop at that new outlet mall in Mercedes on their way here, of course.) The good news is that occupational projections in the valley for the next decade are trending to management, professional and technical. These folks will have money to spend and as the closest resort destination, SPI stands to benefit.

The challenge for the town will be dealing with greater numbers of drive-in visitors. That means more traffic and parking issues. The goal will be to get our visitors to park their cars when they arrive and make it really easy for them to walk or use public transportation while they are here.


The Gift That Keeps on Giving

From this morning's e-mail box:

Happy birthday, Sandy. And it looks at this point that Democrats may pull off the Senate as well as the House -- A birthday present?


It's just what I wanted!
Dem. control goes with everything in my closet!
And it's something I can use every day for the next two years...
(... when I will be turning 51 and expecting an even better present:
a Democrat in the White House.)


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

SPI weighs in on the Saddam Death Verdict

"Great Question with a great legal insight"
South Padre Island's own Charlie Fincher is a lawyer who cartoons -- or a cartoonist who litigates. Yesterday he got South Padre Island mentioned on the Washington Post website... and was paid a nice compliment as well.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

On November 8, 2006

...I will celebrate my 49th year on this planet.
O my!

Here is what else will be happening on that date:

On November 8, 2006, Mercury will slowly slide across the face of the sun during an event known as a transit. A transit of Mercury is relatively rare—there are only about a dozen in a century.

The Exploratorium’s Live@ crew will be at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, and, with the Kitt Peak staff, will Webcast the transit: a live five-hour telescope-only feed beginning at 11:00 am PST.

The transit will take place from 11:12 a.m. PST until 4:10 p.m. PST and will be visible from the Pacific, the Americas, eastern Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, although some locations will not be able to see the entire transit. Because of Mercury’s diminutive size, the transit cannot be seen with the unaided eye, but it can be viewed with a telescope (with the proper filter) or with a homemade optical projector.

read all about it