Friday, July 27, 2007

Hurray for Shane the Turtle Rescuer!

Great article about local hero Shane Wilson who jumped inteh water to save a little sea turtle trapped in fishing line. Way to go, Shane!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Parking Up the Wrong Tree

What follows is an open letter to Alderpersons Rios, Mills and Money:

First of all, I would like to thank you all for devoting so much time to the affairs of our town. Having spent much time in the company of a former alderman, I know this is a thankless job for which you receive much grief, some of which I suppose I am about to dish out.

There is still time to change your vote before the second reading of the parking changes ordinance, and I am asking for just a moment of your time to consider the attached photo. It was shot this morning - a Wednesday in July - at about 7:30 AM at beach access #15 - the one immediately adjacent to Las Dunas. This is a newer complex that was built when the ordinance required 2 parking spaces per unit.

You will note that there is not a single available parking space. You will have to take my word for the fact that there were no day-trippers lounging on the beach at that hour. Clearly, this public beach access parking area is being utilized by the guests and residents of Las Dunas. This is not at all unusual - I walk through this access almost every single morning with my dog and I can tell you that during the summer it is almost always completely filled with Las Dunas vehicles. Now just imagine if this complex had created only 1.5 spaces for its residents -- their cars would undoubtedly be packed into the few remaining spaces along Gulf Blvd, leaving no room for anyone else who might want to actually access the beach from here.

As a person who does not live on the beach and must utilize the public beach accesses; as a person who makes her living on the beach utilizing the public parking; as a person who (long ago) lived up the valley but escaped to the island every opportunity she had where she gratefully utilized public parking areas before and after spending money at local businesses -- I am begging you to reconsider your vote on this matter. You can still prove that you are not in the pocket of Big Development; you can still redeem yourself.

Lucinda “sandy feet” Wierenga

Update: I have been notified that the cars parked in access #15 most likely belong to the guests and residents of Seabreeze, the complex on the other side of the beach access. My apologies for casting aspersions on Las Dunas. Either way, there still isn't enough parking spots.

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Carving the Sandcastle Days Budget

Well, nobody asked my opinion on this subject, but I am happy to give it nonetheless.

The event has continued to evolve since the SoB’s were summarily ejected from its planning meetings, and that is as it should be. I like that it is becoming less of a contest and more of an exhibition and would like to see it trend even more that way. How about letting sculptors choose their own hours to work? Some prefer to work early early morning or evening hours instead of the heat of the day. I don’t think you would see any loss of quality in the final products and might even see better sculptures as a result of giving the artists a chance to create on their own timetables. Spreading out the works hours would have the additional benefit of spreading out the crowds more evenly, helping to alleviate parking and other crowd issues.

Carl Phillip’s article about the proposed budget cuts was a bit vague but implies that the biggest cuts could be made to the “Sandsculptors of the Future” program, which makes sense to me. As one of several island sand sculptors who offer lessons year round, I can’t help but resent the town’s funding my competitor’s offering of free lessons the whole week of the event. Furthermore, the format of the lessons - building on top of big trash barrels - does not translate back into better beach experiences for the students (how many people carry big trash barrels with them to the beach?) The town could get a bigger bang for less money with an experienced instructor sitting down by the water and showing folks how to create structures with the items they already commonly bring with them to the beach. Better yet, require each of the competing masters to conduct an hour-long workshop - open to the public - on certain aspects of sandsculpture that would expose interested folks to lots of different sandsculpting techniques. A program like this would definitely make SPI’s event stand out in an increasingly-crowded field.

I believe it is possible to reduce the budget for this event and still put on an amazing show -- Amazin’ and I did it for years on a shoestring. I am not suggesting we should go back to those days, but I do have lots of ideas on how to do more with less and would be happy to share them with the Sandcastle Days Board if they are interested in drawing upon my two decades of experience in competing in world-class sand sculpture events.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Dog Days of Summer on SPI

All kinds of interesting stories over at Google News today - including 2 SPI stories involving dogs: Check out Carl Phillip’s report on two rescued Chihuahuas and then look at the nice mention of dog-friendly SPI La Quinta at

Man fights flesh-eating bacteria contracted at Texas beach is not a headline we like to see, but anyone who takes the time to read the article will discover a. this happened in Galveston, nowhere close to SPI and b. this gentleman had health issues that put him at greater risk; most of the general population is not vulnerable to this bacteria.

And here is some news to spoil an already gray, rainy day: “Though there is a decline in offshore drilling, South Padre Island has experienced growth. Davis said 24 wells were drilled, up from nine wells in 2005.” Read this article here.

My plants loved the rain but I am ready to welcome back Mister Sunshine....


Monday, July 16, 2007

Music at the 'Moon tonight

Monday: Our good friends and fabulous folkies Matt & Raybo are playing at the Texas Moon tonight. Come on out and help support local live music. They invited me to bring my uke and maybe we will subject all in attendance to "unlitter song" torture ;-)

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

and now the end is near....

I'm sick to death, of this old cellphone


I too, will join the cult, I want an IIIIIIIII phone.

(This video from NY Times tech writer David Pogue had me rolling on the floor)

"What is a man, what has he got?
If not iphone, he ain't got squat!"


More cause for concern...

If you have animals and use the services of the PI Animal Clinic, do not assume that just because it is normal business hours there will be someone there to tend to your pet. I don't know why they are open when there is no vet in the house, but I learned the hard way you _must call first (943-6022) before dragging your poor, frail old dog across the bridge for a steroid shot, because if the doc isn't in, nothing gets done.


Just got my (local) bank statement and noticed a weird electronic check thingy for $99.75 to "Strongbucks" that did not ring any bells for me -- except of the alarm variety. Called the number on the website and learned this is a wide-reaching internet rip-off scam. I have caught fraudulent charges on my credit cards several times but this is something new - these folks found a way to tap right into my personal checking account. It seems that some database I was in got hacked and I am but one of many many victims. (Add "Strongbucks" to the victim list as they are getting irate calls out of the blue from lots of ripped off people and they have nothing to do with it -- the money is going into a Bank of America Account.)

Scrutinize ALL of your statements closely and promptly -- the bad guys are finding new ways to steal your hard-earned bucks at every turn.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Start your bellyachin'!

When I was a kid I was pretty good at finding things to whine about -- still am, I guess. My mom used to cheerfully intone, “Oh quit your bellyachin’!” But of course I couldn’t help but notice that if you didn’t partake of a little bellyachin’ every now and then, things that made you unhappy hardly ever got changed.

For the umpteenth morning in a row I have watched the big machines head out to a beach that is virtually seaweed and shell-free. I find this inexplicable and more than a little irritating. So today I flagged down the public works truck and asked why -- could they not see that there is in fact NOTHING TO RAKE?

Unsurprisingly enough, the operators have indeed noticed that. They are apparently under direct orders from the town staff to rake no matter what the condition of the beach. I was told that somebody complains if the rakes don’t go out. One can’t help but wonder who is this mysterious complainer that his/her desire for a zen-garden beach carries more weight than all the arguments against raking a clean beach?*

I suggest that it is time for us to complain about unnecessary raking. Loudly and repeatedly. Let’s see if a whole bunch of bellyachin’ will get their attention. I think we should start with Public Works Director Raul Morales ( -- a nice man who nods and smiles whenever members of the Beach & Dune Task Force talk to him about this -- and then cheerfully ignores our pointed requests.

*Do I need to list them again? Okay, here they are, in no particular order:
1. Waste of fuel
2. Needless release of exhaust fumes
3. Disruption of the peaceful, sunrise-over-the-gulf experience
4. Disturbance of habitat for the creatures who live along the shore
5. Disruption of morning beach activities of guests and residents trying to stay out of the way of the monster machines
6. Inadvertant collection of litter pushed into the dune toes where they will cause problems for nesting sea turtles
7. Disruption of natural dune-forming processes
8. Relocation of shells to places where kids building sandcastles will never ever find them

Update: I just added one of Nancy's photos that clearly shows how ineffective raking is as a means for filling in holes.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The unlitter song on youtube

Thanks Jackie & Jerry!