Sunday, October 29, 2006

Couch Potatoes Successfully Grown

One of the more interesting things we had at the Saturday Plant Swap was some couch potatoes. Many Islanders do not have the time and inspiration to grow them, since most folks are so active running about, but this was like "cold fusion." Anyway, it turns out that couch potatoes are fairly easy to grow, with the major ingredient being of course a couch. They do not require sunlight, other than some exposure to the television rays. We don't water ours, although the occassional spill from a drink seems to be followed by a major growth spurt. Fertilizer seems to only be crumbs from bags of chips, Cheetos, dust balls, and stuff like that.

An analysis by the urban foresters from Weslaco and Brownsville revealed that couch potatoes are not edible, although pretty darned neat. You just throw a couple of these honeys under the couch and watch 'em grow! With American's lazy habits and slovenly eating habits, and if the potato was engineered to be edible, the potential could be limitless. Note that these are actually climbing vines, so be careful they don't grow all over you.

To actually discover the couch potato on South Padre was fairly remarkable, since like I said most folks are furiously running about, travelling, getting exersize, and raising money for this week's fundraiser. Perhaps the jungle-like humidity has something to do with it. I'd like to name the new species "Couch bulbifera americanus boobus" although perhaps a tribute to South Padre Island would be more in order.

[Editor's Note: Sam, those are the air potato, the cinnamon vine or 'Dioscorea bulbifera.' They belong to the tropical yam family. Thanks to the folks that brought them to the plant show.]

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

SPI plant swap this Saturday!

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.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sand Castle Days 2006

Sand Castle Days was a great success this year. I've posted eight of my favorite shots, as there were a ton of fine entries. Above, Amazing Walter, the guy who helped start this event 19 years ago, finishes his award-winning castle.

It wasn't just about the international experts. A tent was set up for the "future masters" to learn the craft. Here, Cate, our Town Planner, helps out with some, err, 40 year-old kids. Everyone needs a planner with skills like this!

Sandy Feets, another founding Sons of the Beach, did a wonderful castle after a major collapse on Friday. The weather on Thursday and Friday was horrenously wet and windy, but Saturday was a beautiful day.

A former town council member, "Alderdude Fred," is shown above with another fine entry. Judges said they had great difficulty in selecting winners, and the final tally was delayed for over 30 minutes.

Here's the work the 2006 Grand Master Champion, Karen of Canada. That castle is maybe about 10-12 feet tall. Actually, this is the backside, but my camera glitched on other shots of her masterpiece. It was truly awesome.

Above, here's another winner, Joo Heng from Singapore. Joo was a delight for all who got to know him. This Buddist inspiration is apparently very popular in his part of the world. We hope to see him again next year!

The amateur divisions were equally impressive, especially since they only had 7 hours to pound up a castle, while the experts had 3 days. I suppose I'm being biased towards the "Monkeys" here, one of the amateur award-winning teams that included my lovely wife, Lori (above right) and Diana from Chicago.

Corporate sponsors also built castles. Here's one for the Brownsville Airport showing ... what is that, a jumbo jet plowing into the sand? Too funny! All in all, it was a very good, sunny day on the Island, with kites, banners, and flags flying everywhere.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Port Isabel loses annexation appeal

According to out little local paper down here, Port Isabel lost its appeal about trying to seize vast stretches of South Padre Island. The 'Island Breeze' (October 20) reported that Mayor Pinkerton said "it was just as expected." The attorney for the Pinnell Estate said that Port Isabel never acted in good faith to even consider a proposed settlement. Thus, the 13th State District Court denied all annexation claims and said that Port Isabel had to pay over a quarter million dollars in attorney fees. That's some cool beans, man.

Now this was the best news since Doyle Wells got his butt kicked out of Isla Blanca Park.

I suppose if Port Isabel still has a case of the red-ass, it could appeal to the Texas Supreme Court to waste even more taxpayer money, which seems to be their forte. Hey, shouldn't we be working together for a change? Last I checked you had to take the causeway from Port Isabel to South Padre Island. Heck, we don't even have a football team to have a rivalry out here. What's their team's name again, the Fighting Tampons?

To be fair, even if we did have a football team it would probably be called the Stinking Sargassum or something. But the annexation wars seem to be over. Now the Town can proceed with establishing Home Rule without having all that going on. In the works are some limited SPI annexes to the South and North of town, along with a suggestion to annex Tomkins Channel to provide for water safety. Things are looking up again. Cheers,

Friday, October 13, 2006


Here’s a shot of my porch ceiling with its new paint job. It is close to the traditional old-time "porch color." The light wasn’t quite right – that color is supposed to the close to South Padre Island sandy blue-green. So I’ve been busy remodeling, and extreme sport related to “piddling” and “oh goodie, break time!” The outside hasn’t been painted in years and years, from what I can tell – and the ceilings maybe once (FYI, that’s real asbestos Hardy Board up there). I’m a little sore from all the unused muscles but things are starting to look better.

This weekend is “roar by the shore” for the Harley crowd. By the evening, after a Mexico trip and a visit to the complimentary Budweiser table, they should be doing wheel burns – you know, open the throttle, make a big noise, and then let out the clutch and smoke the back tire. Hah, it is a sight to behold, and even more on the ears.

The latest rumor is that big bull sharks have been feeding off the beaches near Isla Blanca. According to local surfer and artist Sharon Campbell, “it was feeding in the wave he was riding on, he fell and I'll bet the shark ran into him. They swim parallel thru the wave, mouths open, scooping up mullet.” Yikes! I think I’ll give surf fishing a rest for a few days – there has indeed been a ton of baitfish out there.

What else it happening? Next weekend is Sand Castle Days. The electricity has been good lately (a true wonder) but now the water mains have been breaking. With all this construction they seem to average about a break a week. Back in my old hometown, Leander, it was like that but at least they’d sanitize and air bleed the line – down here I think their idea of “sanitizing” is to pee on it! Off to do some more caulking and scraping,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

No Longer a Confused Fisherman

Man I don't know why it happened, but those guys at the Coalition of Confused Coastal Fishermen pissed me off today. That's a bunch of old rednecks up by Houston way. So they had a "do" up by Surfside, darn near to Louisiana, and I said I couldn't make it. My mistake was adding some lame excuses, namely that Lori didn't want no part of it (the tranny problem was exaggerated a little). So these rednecks "call me out" and say I'm a fool and an idiot. Heck, I've been called worse but a grown man just doesn't "get called out" without having a fight.

For you gals, "getting called out" means you have to "put up your dukes."

So I'm out of there. I never did like Houston - life's too short to live there. I though Surfside was a hell-hole dump next to DOW Chemical, which it is. The air pollution is intense and at night you can read the newspaper just from the light given off from the refinery flares. Screw that; no need to even "answer the call."

And you know, having folks like Randy Rogers and Fred Mallet and some other really good local fishermen, well I just don't feel all that confused anymore. I feel confident. I like the lower coast and especially right near South Padre Island.

No, I didn't leave any nasty mesages or threaten to open a can o' Whup Ass, which we all know is really Cheese Whiz. I just moved on. Maybe I'm growing up ... for a change. /Sammy

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Taco Curtain

I entitled this the ‘Taco Curtain’ because of all the political hand-wringing about constructing a 700-mile border fence, a good part of it right here in the Valley. This was supposedly a major victory for the conservative party – it was interesting because nobody wanted it down here and all the supporters were inland folks who didn’t have a clue.

Well good news comes in all different shapes. First Congress authorized 700 miles of fencing and estimated its down payment at about 1.2 billion dollars. So far so bad.

But in last-minute appropriations for the Homeland Security Agency, the Taco Curtain is nowhere specifically funded as a line item (source: New York Times online, September 6, 2006). Instead, border security could take such forms as a “virtual fence” with electronics, roadways, and … no real fence to speak of. The appropriations bill allows Homeland Security to spend its budget as it sees fit and includes measures to consult with the affected states, Indian tribes, and local governments as to the best solutions.

In fact, my understanding is that various kinds of “fence” will be tested before even being designed and constructed in any meaningful way. It could take years to even get a good start. This sounds much more like the federal bureaucracy we know and love.

For those of you who think the Taco Curtain, 700 miles long and 1.2 billion dollars, will be constructed within 18 months as the authorization bill says, you have been hornswoggled, bamboozled, and sorely misled. Yay!