Sunday, April 30, 2006

Have Any Lies To Tell Today?

The Bay Area Task Force is using eminent domain to claim private property so they can build boat ramps. The survey of boat ramps is illegal trespassing. The entire committee is a waste of time and the $60,000 in the budget should be sent back to the Town.

No, I am not making this up. It was a coordinated attack by certain individuals who wanted to spread disinformation about our committee, of which I am a member. I will not say specifically who was involved, other than the person is a prominent member of the Laguna Madre Business Association (LMBA). Heck, they even bought and brought an attorney to help scare the dickens out of us!

It did not work as they intended, as the chairman fought valiantly back, being a lawyer himself. “Go to the Board of Aldermen if you don’t like it” was his response, “we don’t make anything other than suggestions and recommendations.” The LMBA fought this too, saying we should talk with the Town Lawyer. Again, we stated that we were a citizen’s committee and we had put a lot of time and effort into this project, and the Town Lawyer would see it later on when it reached his desk.

The only thing that was effective about the LMBA strategy was that it totally screwed up a potentially good meeting, taking almost an hour and a half of a two-hour meeting. If that is progress I’ll be darned. No, we’re not going to launch a big campaign against the LMBA because of their obvious intent to subvert a citizens planning group. But since this is my blog, I get to tell it like I see it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Arbor Saturday - Be There?

Just a reminder we'll be at the Water Tower Park starting at 9:00 on Saturday!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How About Them O's?

The Mystery of Oleander Street was finally solved by our good neighbors, Steve and Betsy. I had said “Hey keep an eye on that car parked down there on your empty, wild lot. He could be a sancho or something worse.”

It turns out the guy is an internationally known bird photographer. He felt a little sheepish about camping on Steve’s land so he gave him a huge glossy book about raptors of the US, a truly awesome tome.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Not only had this guy set up a bird blind, like a tent, but he also had put out grapefruit, water, and all kinds of bird goodies. We met Tom the pro birder (his tripod was worth more than all our cameras combined) and he was all excited about “the fallout.”

That’s when a spring norther comes through and the migrating birds literally hit the Island from exhaustion. I walked the dog about 2:00 and there must have been 150 birds around the bushes, in the space of about three puny Island-sized lots. There are only three primo spots on the Island, and apparently our street is one of the tops! Sheepshead and the Convention Center are the other favorites.

I wish I my cams were working, as I pointed and turned dials and the batteries all went dead. Lordy, why me and why now? But I took Lori down there after work for a gander and we saw a few Baltimore Orioles before dusk. Beautiful bird. It made her day so I got happy again.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Kiteboarders, a Commentary

The kiteboards are becoming quite a problem on the Island now, as almost any local will say – even the local kiteboarders. I got real mad one day because a passel of them swooped down on my wife and I, buzzed us real close, and one wiped out right next to us. Not good when you have nothing but a bathing suit on, just trying to enjoy some primo body surfing.

I even contacted a few kiteboard shops and the Island, since they train and rent gear, but they said that the issue was the out-of-town yahoos. All the locals know to stay like 100 feet away from people, never jump over them, stay off the beach beak, etc. The shop folks sounded not a little exasperated. Basically, there is nothing they can do on the Gulf side … I heard from one authority that you can call the Coast Guard if somebody gets hurt … wonderful.

None of the local surfers and wind surfers I talked with wanted to be named … let’s just say they’ve been here forever and in some cases almost had to open a can of Whoop-Ass because they got run over. All said it was a problem and ….

Folks, if the situation continues to get out of hand, I’m going to petition the Town for an ordinance prohibiting launching or landing any kiteboards on SPI beaches, and will seek a MOU with Cameron Parks on Isla Blanca Park there, too. None of us want this to happen. Regulating fun is not our goal … but safety IS our concern.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Arbor Day Celebration

Come on down for a double-whammy on Saturday, April 29th. The state-sponsored beach cleanup starts at 8:00 and one of the gathering locations is the Water Tower Park (look for the huge blue water tower mid-town).

Later in the morning we'll be setting up for an informal Arbor Day celebration with a plant swap, some local urban forestry gurus, maybe a famous author, and more ... things are still coming together. Native plants will be a main focus, and some landscape companies are being invited. This should last until the early afternoon.

Did I mention there are restrooms, water, and maybe some freebies? Heck, sometimes the County will even throw a weenie roast! So come on down, clean a little beach, and buy a native Texas plant ... see you there.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yellow Sophora

My, I’ve become quite the budding little naturalist lately! This little fella here grows in the empty field next door and is quite beautiful – the picture does not capture all its charm. A story: the mowers came with a huge “brush hog” tractor one day and yours truly was standing in defense of the poor critter … the mower ended up three feet away and we were saved by the boss heffe, who told the operator he had the wrong field (shrug).

Anyway, if they develop the land next door those two plants, also known as the Necklace Pod Sophora, is mine. Plant ID seemed reasonable after consulting the Native Plant Project and the Aggie native plant database. Here's some links:

Texas Native PlantDatabase
Native Plant Project

According to these folks, the shrub should grow up to 6 or twelve feet tall. National Arbor Day is Friday April 28; support your native plant resources.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bongo Dogs

Local band the Bongo Dogs had a wonderful CD release party last Saturday at the Wanna. I had to run off early after the first set but I never tire of them - their "improv" style makes every song and every show different.

The local newspaper ran a nice article and the question about what kind of music was asked. The band calls it "caliche" because the trombone player, Cathi, drove past a gravel pit one day. Don't bother using Google because caliche is white limestone; I think the idea is a combination of latin, jazz, rock, and blues with most songs having a latin accent. The steel drum caps it all off for a definite Caribe feel.

Dave the guy who helps manage the band sent me some freebie songs but this blog seems tough to add them ... we're working out some teckie stuff and because I like the Bongo Dogs, you'll be sure to see some more updates right here.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Today's blog is over at a real cool site called SOB News, which is a link on the upper left of the home page here. I don't know if they allow many comments there but it has some cool content.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

More Island News

Well, most of the locals in our clan are jumping ship, leaving me to hold the fort. It is not much of a fort, more like a sandbar with some pointy things on it. Fortunately, there are no mosquitos and the temperature is cool compared to the mainland. Ooh, and my plumerias are starting to bloom!

Erosion on the north end of the Island appears to be getting real bad. This area is north of the Tiki and La Quinta, where many seawalls are now eroded under their foundations. Town planner Cate Ball suggested grant options to haul some sand in from the dunes that blow sand on Route 100 up north, but alas it is turtle egg-laying season so "no can do." Another option would be to bring in the dredge again ... but Brazos Pass has already been fixed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the dredge pipeline never gets that far north.

Discussion of Isla Blanca development certainly has gotten heated, with hints already of the County and developer wanting to sue each other. I hadn't thought about that option! As the Prez says, bring it on ...

The "Battle of the Medians" on the main drag seems to have dimmed, and TxDOT (our state transportation folks) offered some concessions to allow some additional turnarounds - while biting their tongues because that is exactly where one would predict the worst accidents ... darting left across two lanes of on-coming traffic.

Finally, our Bay Area Committee is coming out of the closet (you-who!), with some good agenda items courtesy of your humble Secretary here. We even landed a meeting place at the Convention Center, a relatively swanky venue. If you're around on Thursday afternoon on the 13th, swing on by! Umm, is beer and wine allowed in there?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Two Tyrants Call It Quits

Well, this certainly was a day for gravitas, as both Tom Delay of Texas and Prime Minister Thaksin of Thailand called it quits and stepped down. Something was in the air other than allergies and Moma having hot flashes (another story she'd rather not read about - but damn it's cold in here!). Is there a connection?

No, probably not, as my mind wanders amongst the day's busy flimflam, noting such things as Governor Perry and making a big PR release with John McCain and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels (all heavy dudes) that if a big hurricane comes to Texas, he doesn't want the Feds to take over emergency situations because doing so "could kill people." I liked that one, and I heartily agree ... for once.

One might almost expect President Bush to say "Fooey, I messed up and let's try to set this nation back on course" or maybe that the Isla Blanca developers would decide to pull out of their massive bulldozing deal on public property. Shucks, life just ain't all THAT good, I suppose.

Well, folks certainly seem to be busy, spinning in tight little circles and hopefully having some fun. Lori is headed up to Austin, leaving me for four days of dogsitting again, but at least I can roast at a comfortable 81 degrees when the sun is out.

And those Mets, my great-grandma would love to see them win something big this year! But hey, at least two international despots stepped down all of their own. Not bad.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

April Fools Part Deux

You know spring is finally here when our favorite Latin rock/jazz band the Bongo Dogs start playing at the local Tiki bars again. Yes, we have spring break kids and Easter is coming but this is the true bellwether for the locals … dancing all night and such.

The seaweed wasn’t too bad so far this spring but scientists are completely mystified by the large schools of giant squid down by the southern end of the Island near the beaches and breakwater. “I thought I had a bull red,” said one fisherman, “instead it was big ole squid. It was a beeg fight. I guess I have some bait now. Oh no, dees one even bigger!”

Researchers at Pan-Am Biology center can’t quite explain the swarms, being tens of thousands of squid called (unintelligent Latin name). Some swimmers and surfers have been a little shocked because of bumps and the feely-tentacles. “We think they’re mating or something,” said one graduate student, “they mate by feeling stuff with their tentacles and you know, doing their thing.”

While nobody has been bitten or attacked, a few beach-goers complained about “being felt up” in the water. A few dead ones washed up on the beach but were quickly disposed by cleanup crews. Despite the swarms, officials say the beaches are open, even though at times the water turns dark from all the ink, which the squid release when excited.

One surfer who preferred to remain anonymous said “I think it is Mother Nature telling us that the Isla Blanca developers are trying to bury us in black ink.”