Monday, September 28, 2009

Eric's Wedding

A lovely bride indeed!

That's my son Eric and my daughter Samantha, all gussied up for Eric's wedding to Cari. Yes, I need some pictures of Cari because she's quite a looker, nice gal. A few pictures are rolling in, after yours truly (me) forgot the camera at home. It was a beautiful day after a week of the rainy stuff.

Here is Lori and I, trying to act solemn.

Now who on Earth would that be?

Monday, September 21, 2009

20 Million Dollar Boondoggle?

The Town of South Padre has about 17,000 tax paying accounts for property taxes, about 6,000 inhabitants on average, something like 2,500 legal residents, and about 900 voters. Yet we want to vote yes or no about a tax bond this Election Day in the amount of 20 million dollars. Whoa, that's a lot of debt per capita there.

The reason for the bonds is three-fold. One would be to do something on Padre Boulevard, the main drag, although we're not sure what. Another would be to redesign Gulf Boulevard, the street by the ocean of course. And the third would be for a "town square" concept with an old church and maybe a new fire station.

There is no information that I could find on the town website, not anything in the "document center." Not even a notice about upcoming elections in the November Election Day polls, which includes a constitutional amendment for preserving the Texas Open Beaches Act and adopting Home Rule. I still can't find anything about a bond election. What happened? This is big stuff.

According to what I can tell, some bond attorney or consultant said we could safely borrow up to 16 million on the "muni" bond market, and then raised it to 18 and then 20 million dollars. So I guess we're borrowing money just because we can. But what the heck are we going to spend it on? We are paying interest on that money, possibly 3 percent or so, which comes out to ... hundreds of thousands of dollars over 15 years.

The feeling I get is that of the three options to vote for, the Gulf Boulevard option is a lame duck and might fail. It was half-baked, no real plan, and definitely work in progress by a consultant and committee.

The town square idea might pass, but if it does not, we'll have to find a place to build a new fire station with that grant money and "Obama stim." Really, the concept of a town square is pretty stupid, it's just a large, shabby deconsecreated church and parking lot, not something that could become a cool town square like up in New England, or even Georgetown, Texas (a nice one).

Then there's the Big One, Padre Boulevard. I can't figure out what the heck the Aldermen intend to do there. One thing I heard was to replace all the wooden electric poles with concrete ones. Does that sound silly to you too? Maybe there's some big vision with lots of money from Texas Department of Transportation, but I'm clueless here. Yes it's true, we don't even own the roadway and only control slivers of land where the sidewalks are. Amazing. I'd like to see exactly where I'm spending all my money.

Being how it is the third week in September, not too long until November Election Day in the first week, I can only wonder what is going on. In comparison, the last bond elections for the municipal center and birding center were 5 to 7 million each, and widely spaced apart; the taxpayers didn't even have to repay the birding center, which was funded by a local sales tax for the Economic Development Board. May I add that the bond for the muni center became outright war, and there are bad feeling to this very day because of it. So here we have 20 million dollars on the table to be voted up or down ... and there's nothing there.

It's like people want this to fail, or perhaps the bond election is languishing for lack or attention. But I don't understand it. If I can't be convinced, I am behooved to vot "No" because lack of a vote cold mean "Yes." Remember, there are only 900 voters and I suspect only 700 or so will even show up, at best, since there are no local board of aldermen elections.

I have an open mind, so if anybody has a clue please let us know.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Rainbow

In honor of Banned Book Week - and nice recent drought-busting showers - I write about The Rainbow and rainbows. Nice double rainbow for a cheapo camera, eh?

D.H. Lawrence wrote The Rainbow in 1915, which had little to do with rainbows as much as the sexuality versus sensuality of a young married couple. It was immediately banned as pornography and the writer was prosecuted and all the published books were burned. Today, The Rainbow seems to not even be very racy, but back then it was quite a witch hunt.

When I was at the University of Texas I was in the Plan II English Department, where I happened to discover that the Ransom Center had the very manuscripts that D.H. Lawrence wrote The Rainbow. This was rather mind-blowing in itself, the boxes of lined paper that the author actually put his hand to in pen in long-hand, in three revisions and a master editing version that was typed by a secretary. Naturally, I also had the final published version as well. My paper tracked the changes over the four versions, while at the same time following where D.H. Lawrence was living and his biography. It was rather cool stuff.

How come my favorite artists all got banned? Even in the 1970s, books like Huckelberry Finn was banned from some schools and libraries, and there were the famous "music wars" where Frank Zappa confronted the US Senate regarding a possible ban on nasty rock lyrics (remember Tipper Gore?). Today, the epicenter of book banning is the Texas Education Commission, which pre-approves books for all the public schools K through 12. They're pushing evolution as an "alternative" to intelligent design and pushing bible classes now.

I'll leave you with that scary thought. Perhaps it is best to reflect on ... a rainbow.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Offshore Frigate Birds

When out offshore fishing about 45 miles off SPI on Sunday. We didn't do very well on catching and releasing huge billfish, but we did see some marvels such as the Frigate Bird. I wish I had something better than my $99 automatic camera, but was lucky to bust off a few decent pictures before they headed off to sea after checking out our baits.

These birds ran in a flock of maybe 6 or 8, gliding along with impossibly large, crooked wings with a long narrow tail and a white head. Three flaps of the wings and they seemed halfway to the horizon.

By the way, seeing Frigate Birds are supposed to be very good luck for fishing. Sure enough, I think we caught a small dolphin fish right after they departed.

That's one of the reasons why I enjoy offshore fishing. Sure, "catching" is always nice and the company is always top shelf, but you always see something totally mysterious and completely new out there in the Deep Blue.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Happy Labor Day

We work so hard, or some of us lately have been looking for work so hard, it's about time to celebrate that socialist, commie even called Labor Day. It's origins go back to the Pullman Strike in 1882, when a bunch of US Marshals killed a bunch of labor protesters. A bill was rushed to US Congress to give everybody the first Monday in September the day off. The origins and meaning of Labor Day have been lost over the years, basically an excuse to go get drunk and make whoopie on the last weekend of summer.

So far, the event hasn't resulted in a massive turnout for SPI tonight, although I would expect more people tomorrow. The last firework shows are tonight and Saturday at 9:15.

But let's talk about the labor movement for a minute. Because some hard-core corporations and business leaders were abusing their labor force, unions, collective bargaining, and labor arbitration was invented. I never went for that stuff, always an independent worker or a sole proprietor, but the fact is that in the last 8 years, the average American has lost wages when adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, productivity has gone way up, meaning we're working our tails off for less money than ever. Somehow, this "new world order" really sucks.

But let's forget all the deep thinking and heavy thoughts. Have some fun, darn it. Be real careful and safe, since there might be some amateurs out there. Happy Labor Day Weekend of 2009.