Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

native plant sales

We are going to try to use an many native Texas plants as possible when filling out our gardens next door. I suppose it's really rather relative though. Many plants now considered to be Texas "natives" were most likely brought over with the Spaniards or other European colonists hundreds of years ago.

Spring is the time for plant sales. Native plant sales too.

Spring 2017 plant sales
By  on March 16, 2017

Many Native Plant Society chapters are conducting plant sales to support their local projects. You can also find sales at botanical gardens and nature centers. Here is a list of native plant sales coming up in Spring 2017 that we know of. We’ll keep this updated as more information comes in.

Click here to see lots of photos of native wildflowers, shrubs, trees, vines, and succulents.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Writer's Block

I've subscribed to one of the local papers: the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, which is published weekly. It's a good way to keep up with what's happening on the island.

Dina Arevalo, one of the Editors, has a weekly column. Thought I'd share this one with you.

Texas Week
by Dina Arevalo

Spring Break isn’t just big business for the Rio Grande Valley, it’s also big news. Having worked in the media industry for a while now, I’ve covered my fair share of Spring Breaks in the past. And usually, Texas Week is the biggest, best week of all. 

It’s during Texas Week — the week when most universities and colleges throughout the state take their break — that the largest beach bacchanals can be found. And back when one particular sandy hot spot carried the name of a certain popular soft drink I was roaming through the crowd with one camera hanging from my shoulder and another clutched in my hand. 

I’d already been taking photos of the rap battles and dance competitions that had been taking place on stage. I’d also meandered along the fringes of the crowd at the water’s edge, snapping shots of frat boys playing football in the shallows and gaggles of sorors posing for group photos. But, sometimes in order to get the photo you can’t linger on the outskirts, you’ve got to dive into the din itself. As such, I soon found myself deep in the throng and amid the combined smells of sunscreen, alcohol and less-than-legal clouds of second hand smoke. 

Even in the thick of it you could find people gathered together in smaller groups, laughing together, dancing together, playing beach games, etc. As I made my way between a couple of groups the path ahead of me suddenly cleared and I saw something that made me laugh. In front of me stood a young woman with a very patriotic bikini. It was a playful homage to the Texas flag and on the rear of the bikini bottom our state’s infamous motto, “Don’t Mess With Texas” was printed in white block letters. I asked if I could take her photograph and she agreed. That image recently came to mind since this is Texas Week. And though the week is almost over, Spring Break isn’t done quite yet. The message on that bikini bottom remains relevant. 

We’re a welcoming folk here in the Laguna Madre region and there’s almost nothing we love more than sharing our beautiful Island with new people. It’s kind of hard to not shout from the rooftops about just how awesome this place is. 

It’s beautiful. It’s warm. The sand is soft and the water is cool. The fish are always biting and the birds sing such a gorgeous chorus in the mornings you hardly need an alarm clock. The sunrises and sunsets alone are daily proof of the existence of the divine. 

But, it takes a lot of hard work to keep this place a magical one. And we need your help while you’re here to keep it that way. It doesn’t take much, either. Help us keep our beaches clean by properly disposing of your trash. 

Help us keep the traffic on our streets flowing smoothly by obeying directions from traffic officers . Help us keep our residents and other tourists healthy by letting emergency vehicles pass. Help us continue to offer fantastic service by adopting a little Texan lingo; “howdy” and “thanks, y’all” go a long way ‘round these parts. 

In the end, we hope you will fall in love with our Island, our beaches and our bay just as we have. Just as we continue to do every day. So, y’all enjoy your stay, be safe, have fun and come back soon!

photo credit: Anthony Medina

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

traffic zebras

How do you get drivers to slow down and pedestrians to obey traffic signals in the city? Something most large cities have to deal with.

Traffic Zebras!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

laughing parrots

Studying more about birds and life on Earth and I stumbled upon Kea Parrots. 

These Parrots Can Make Other Parrots 'Laugh' - A First

The kea of New Zealand is the first non-mammal species to demonstrate infectious laughter, a new study says.

Forget the laughing kookaburra—kea are the birds that really tickle each other's funny bones.
The highly intelligent parrot has a specific call, that—like human laughter—puts other parrots that hear it in a good mood. This makes the kea the first known non-mammal to show contagious emotion, joining the ranks of humans, rats, and chimpanzees.
Scientists already knew that kea—native to New Zealand's mountainous South Island—make a non-threatening warbling sound while playing with other kea. But since the birds also warble alone, the noise could simply be an expression of pleasure.

Go here to see a video


Kea play a lot—by themselves, with others, on the ground, or in the air.

While aloft, kea perform aerial acrobatics and chase each other. Playing with objects is usually solitary, with a bird manipulating an object with its beak and/or feet, but it can also involve birds tossing an object between each other. (Also see "Walruses Found Using Birds as Toys for First Time.")

Friday, March 17, 2017

Steve Stockman

One of the Tea Party favorites, Texas Republican Steve Stockman, could get up to 5 years in prison. No surprise here. All of these "holier-than-thou" types seem to have something going on under the covers.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Wall

Here we go!

Texans Receive First Notices of Land Condemnation for Trump's Border Wall
The government offered $2,900 for 1.2 acres near the Rio Grande. If Flores chooses not to accept the offer, the land could be seized through eminent domain.
The week before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Yvette Salinas received a letter she had been dreading for years: legal notice that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to build a border wall on her family’s land in Los Ebanos. The 21-page document, entitled a “Declaration of Taking,” is addressed to her ailing mother, Maria Flores, who owns the property with her siblings. The letter offers Flores $2,900 for 1.2 acres near the Rio Grande. If she chooses not to accept the offer, the land could be seized through eminent domain. “It’s scary when you read it,” Salinas says. “You feel like you have to sign.”
The 16-acre property has been in the family for so long that none of them can remember the year it was acquired. Salinas only knows they’ve had it for five generations. Her uncle runs a few head of cattle on the property, which lies not far from Los Ebanos’ most famous attraction, a hand-drawn ferry that shuttles cars and their passengers across the river to Mexico.
This is not the first time the federal government has wanted to seize the land for a border wall. In the wake of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, the Bush administration put up 110 miles of border fencing, much of it on private land in Texas. In 2008, Salinas’ family received a condemnation notice offering them the same low, low price of $2,900. Others in Los Ebanos were mailed similar notices.
But nature and time were on their side. Los Ebanos is squeezed into a bend in the Rio Grande, and lies entirely in the river’s floodplain. A treaty between the United States and Mexico forbids building any structures in the floodplain that could push floodwaters into surrounding communities.

Jen Reel
The map given to Flores in 2008 by the DHS showing their proposed fence acquisition tract on Flores’ land.

Salinas’ family held off on signing the condemnation letter. As time passed, building a wall in Los Ebanos seemed less likely, because of the treaty and because the Obama administration made wall-building less of a priority. In the meantime, Aleida Garcia, Salinas’ cousin, said the government has increased security in the area by adding more surveillance, which she prefers to Trump’s proposed 30-foot wall. “Even if they build a wall, people will still come,” said Garcia. “What’s helped us tremendously and is less expensive is the technology — the aerostat balloons, the ground sensors and even boots on the ground.”
But Los Ebanos appears to be a prime target for the Trump administration. The surveying and planning work has already been done, and the Secure Fence Act authorizes more border fencing to be built. And in 2012, the United States half of the International Boundary and Water Commission, a binational organization tasked with managing the U.S.-Mexico water treaty, capitulated to lobbying by DHS and agreed to a wall in the floodplain.

Jen Reel
Aleida Flores Garcia

Salinas says her family doesn’t want to give up their land, and they are consulting with lawyers to decide what to do next. But fighting the federal government could mean spending years in court. If they lose, DHS could take their land. Salinas, who is 29, says it makes her sad that the family’s legacy could be divided by an ugly wall that will cause problems for Los Ebanos. “We don’t want this wall — the town is pretty much united on that,” says Salinas. “But we don’t want to get sued by the U.S. government either.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that DHS could acquire Flores’ land through eminent domain without compensation. The government would, in fact, have to provide compensation for the land. The Observer regrets the error.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

told you so

#45 has admitted that his own supporters will suffer the most under his proposed budget and health care plan. We tried to tell his supporters that he was a lying shit, but either they would not listen or they didn't even care. I think they are going to start caring. Soon. But I am afraid that they are so stupid and gullible that they might not even "get it."

Trump doesn’t deny punishing his base with his health care plan

Steve Benen from The Maddow Blog

One of the most politically striking aspects of the Republican health care plan is the degree to which it punishes the party’s own base. The Americans who stand to lose the most from the American Health Care Act, which some have labeled “Trumpcare,” are many of the same folks who backed Donald Trump in large numbers last fall.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” this week, the New York Times’ David Brooks said the Republican plan is effectively “declaring war on their own voters.”

On Fox News last night, Tucker Carlson asked the GOP president about this, and Trump offered an unexpectedly candid response.
CARLSON: This bill has, as one of its centerpieces, a tax cut for investors that would primarily benefit people making over $250,000 a year. Already done pretty well in the past 10 years, as you know. A Bloomberg analysis showed that counties that voted for you, middle class and working class counties, would do far less well under this bill than the counties that voted for Hillary, the more affluent counties.

TRUMP: Oh, I know. I know.
When the host highlighted the asymmetry, suggesting “maybe this isn’t consistent with the message of the last election,” the president responded, “A lot of things aren’t consistent.” 

Trump added, by way of an argument, that the policy implications are “very preliminary” and in the process of being “negotiated.”

In other words, the president is conceding that the evidence is true, and his health care proposal really will punish key segments of his electoral base. I suppose there’s something vaguely refreshing about the fact that Trump didn’t deny reality; I more or less expected him to respond to the question by saying the facts are “fake news,” cooked up by nefarious conspirators, who are no doubt in league with Barack Obama, George Soros, and Bigfoot, all of whom are working to obscure the fact that his core supporters would all get free ice cream and ponies as a result of “Trumpcare.”

Instead, Trump implicitly acknowledged reality. He knows his bill will punish his supporters; he knows it will require him to break key promises he made to the nation; but at least for now, the president is content to assume he and his team will figure out solutions later.

New York’s Jonathan Chait added, “Whether or not he realized it at the time, Trump was essentially filming an attack ad that could be used against any member of Congress who votes for the bill…. Why would any Republican vote for a bill knowing they can be hit with an ad showing Trump admitting the plan harms their voters?”

If GOP lawmakers aren’t asking themselves the same question, they’re not paying close enough attention.