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

Friday, March 31, 2017


It's the return of the End of the Month Meme Dump, where I post some memes that didn't make it to the blog (or maybe they did, what the hell). 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

fish makes art

Nature is just surely the most glorious thing on this planet. That, and women, which are, after all, part of nature.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

civilian bloodbath

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in Iraq, Syria and the Middle East since #45 took office, but hey, he said he was going to take the gloves off.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Go Elon!

SpaceX makes aerospace history with successful launch and landing of a used rocket

from The Verge

After more than two years of landing its rockets after launch, SpaceX finally sent one of its used Falcon 9s back into space. The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this evening, sending a communications satellite into orbit, and then landed on one of SpaceX’s drone ships floating in the Atlantic Ocean. It was round two for this particular rocket, which already launched and landed during a mission in April of last year. But the Falcon 9’s relaunch marks the first time an orbital rocket has launched to space for a second time.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk appeared on the company’s live stream shortly after the landing and spoke about the accomplishment. “It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight,” he said.
This evening’s mission was a critical milestone for SpaceX, which has been working to make its rockets partially reusable since as early as 2011. Up until now, practically all orbital rockets have been expendable, so they’re basically thrown away once they launch into space. That means an entirely new rocket — which can cost tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to make — has to be built for each mission to orbit. SpaceX’s strategy has been to land its rockets after launch in an effort to fly them again and again. That way the company can partially save on manufacturing costs for each mission.

more at original

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Friends of Animal Rescue on SPI is a finalist on the Animal Planet's Pet Nation Renovation! Their "Rescue Me Resale Store" is where Gretchen got her cool shirt. (nephew's dog)

Friends of Animal Rescue among finalists for Animal Planet’s Pet Nation Renovation

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — They’re hoping for good news, but they need your help. 
Friends of Animal Rescue on SPI has been selected as one of the five finalists for Animal Planet’s Pet Nation Renovation.
In order for a crew from Animal Planet to come and give the shelter a much-needed makeover, your votes are important.
“We need this,” said Sherry Pindard, the director of operations at the shelter. “We work really hard and do a great job with what we have, but our shelter definitely needs to be renovated and updated. That way, we can not only continue helping animals in need, but help more animals in need. They deserve it.”
By going to, you can watch the five videos of the finalists.
The three- to four-minute videos show each of the shelters, which two are from California, one from Michigan and one from Colorado.
Each of them discusses why they are deserving of the renovation.
“I put hours into that video and I am really proud of it,” said Jamie Whetstone, the coordinator of grants and communications at the shelter. “But there are so many shelters that enter this contest and I didn’t think we would actually get picked. It still feels surreal, but I am beyond excited. Friends is an awesome organization and definitely deserves this.”
The shelter found out on March 16 that they had been chosen as one of the top five.
The shelter becomes home to about 600 animals each year, including wildlife, which they nurture back to life.
The shelter can hold about 30 at a time, but has had as many as 68 at once.
The shelter receives very little funding from the city, so it is operated on donations and proceeds from the Rescue ME Resale shop.
Because of that, income is different every year, making it difficult to plan for any renovations.
There is one thing Friends knows for sure, though.
“The animals are our number one priority, always,” Whetstone said.
Step 1: Go to
Step 2: Scroll down the page until you see Friends of Animal Rescue
Step 3: Click inside the “select” circle
Step 4: Click “submit your vote.”
Public voting runs through April 2
About Friends of Animal Rescue
It was formed in 2010 to assist the city of Port Isabel when the city took control of the Isabel Y. Garcia Animal Shelter. After placing the shelter’s 400 animals, Friends refocused efforts toward the animals on South Padre Island.
“We believe there is a home for each and every homeless animal.”

Thursday, March 23, 2017

cleaning palm trees

We recently paid our yard man to clean up the palm trees on the western boundary of our property. We thought there were five palm trees in there, but when he really got in there and started cleaning out the dead branches, turns out there were 17 palm trees! Many of them were pretty small and we couldn't even see them because they were obscured by the dead branches and trash around the bottom of the palms. 

I had no idea cleaning a palm tree like this one was so much work, but it convinced me that I am NOT cut out to do it!

Can you find Alfredo?

All of the trash gathered around the bottom of the palm trees was obscuring the smaller palms.

In addition to cutting away the dead branches (all of which have large spikes on them), Freddie stripped some of the extra skin off of the trunk, revealing a clean, smooth trunk. The difference is like night and day!

We thought we had 12 palm trees on the two properties. Turns out we have 30!!

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.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

parasitic presidency

Charles Blow has a few words about #45. It's kind of hard to believe that most Trump voters are ok with what is going on. Maybe losing their healthcare will wake them up. Maybe. 

Trump and the Parasitic Presidency

Charles Blow
We have now passed the 50-day mark of the Donald Trump administration and one thing is clear: There is no new Trump. There is only the same old Trump: Dangerous and unpredictable, gauche and greedy, temperamentally unsuited and emotionally unsound.

If you were trying to create in a lab a person with character traits more unbecoming in a president, it would be hard to outdo the one we have.

He continues to have explosive Twitter episodes — presumably in response to some news he finds unflattering or some conspiracy floated by fringe outlets — that make him look not only foolish, but unhinged.

Indeed, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll published last week found:

“By 2-1, those surveyed disapprove of Trump’s temperament, a much more negative rating than he gets for his policy positions. Six in 10, including 40 percent of Republicans, complain that he tweets too much.”

In these fits of rage, he generates a lie or repeats one, which shifts the burden of proof to the legitimate media to swat it down and defend the truth. This exercise is already getting old.

Trump’s assaults on the truth are not benign. Presidential credibility is American credibility. There is no way to burn through one without burning through the other.

And when he’s not making explosive charges, he’s taking destructive actions. He has signed a slew of executive actions to demonstrate his power and signal his administrative direction.

As Business Insider pointed out, as of March 6, “The 45th president has signed 34 executive actions so far, with far-reaching effects on Americans’ lives.” These included “16 executive orders in 45 days.”

In addition, federal agencies and the Republican-controlled Congress have “delayed, suspended or reversed” more than 90 regulations in the short time since President Trump took office, according to a tally by The New York Times.

The Times’s report continued: “The emerging effort — dozens more rules could be eliminated in the coming weeks — is one of the most significant shifts in regulatory policy in recent decades. It is the leading edge of what Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, described late last month as ‘the deconstruction of the administrative state.’”

Now, Trump and congressional Republicans have locked arms in an effort to ram through a disastrous Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan — attempting to cast doubt on the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in the process — that promises to be a boon to insurers and the rich and a bane to the poor and the elderly.

Trumpcare would likely not only be more expensive and cover fewer people, but some people currently in need of care to extend their lives would no longer get it.

Put quite simply: This plan is not only bad, it could be deadly. Add to these destructive policies the fact that this president and his family are burning through taxpayer funds like it’s Monopoly money.

As The Hill reported on Saturday, “President Trump paid a visit to one of his golf courses again Saturday, marking apparently his ninth visit to a golf course in the seven weeks since he took office.” The site pointed out, “Trump has made several weekend trips to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., as well, calling the property the ‘Winter White House.’ ”

In February, numerous media outlets pointed out that Trump was spending on travel in a month nearly as much as what the Obamas spent in a year. This doesn’t even include the travel and security costs of Trump’s children or the cost of Trump’s wife and son remaining in Trump Tower in New York, at least for now, which is estimated to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousand of dollars a day.

This was particularly jarring because Trump had been a chief critic of the amount of money the Obamas spent on vacations. Indeed, Trump tweeted in 2012: “President @BarackObama’s vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars — Unbelievable!”

No, what is unbelievable is the staggering nature of the hypocrisy of Trump and his current spending and the near silence of Obama’s conservative critics.

Trump appears to view the Treasury as a personal piggy bank and the presidency as a part-time job. I think any who have been holding out hope that Trump will eventually change into someone more polished, professional and amenable than the man we have come to know must simply abandon that hope.

This is a 70-year-old man who has lived his entire life as the vile, dishonest, incurious creature who got elected. That election validated his impulses rather than served as a curb on them.

Trump will continue to debase and devalue the presidency with his lies. Trump will continue to follow Bannon’s philosophy of internal deconstruction of our government, its principles and its institutions. And Trump will continue to leech as much personal financial advantage as he can from the flesh of the American public.

That’s who Trump is. America elected a parasite.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

a madman

#45 is the nightmare we figured he would be. 

When the president is a madman
by Mark Morford

Trump points to which White House visitors he'd like
to have arrested and/or killed for not taking a flattering enough picture of him
He is inept and incompetent. He is petulant and hugely disorganized, sloppy by multiple definitions, his harried, frustrated staff ever in a state of confusion, a mad scramble for footing that’s never to be found.
He is temperamental, raging, a truly unstable old man-child with terrible impulse control, tweeting, replete with tyyppos and ALL CAPS, one moment about how former president Obama “wire tapped” his hotel, and then, apparently bored with that extremely serious but entirely unfounded criminal accusation, choosing, less than an hour later, to blast Arnold Schwarzenegger’s low ratings on Celebrity Apprentice, the President of the United States whipsawing between whiny emotional sneer and nutball right-wing conspiracy theory like a glue-sniffing ‘tween.
There is no accounting for it all, except to suggest mental instability, a savage derangement wrought of too much power swallowed too quickly into a bloated orange fleshball completely incapable of handing it; there is no compass of any kind, nothing to prevent the President of the United States from drunk-texting America in a spazzy, demon-haunted pre-dawn fury.
Is he bipolar? Schizophrenic? He never released his medical records, so it’s impossible to say just how many demons afflict him at any given moment, but lo, they are legion. He is most certainly enormously paranoid, given his panicked outrage at the recusal of Jeff “Forrest Gump” Sessions and his tweets about wiretaps; he doubtlessly knows the Feds are closing in on him, is surely aware that multiple intelligence agencies around the world are gathering all kinds of rock-solid intel on his vast, treasonous corruptions with the Russians (among multiple others), and it’s only the lead-booted, totalitarian power-suck of the GOP coupled to various madcap distractions – immigration bans! Guantanamo BayGutting your health care! Campaign rallies in Florida! – that keep it all from collapsing in on itself. For the moment.
One thing is clear: Trump hates this job. He hates the press corps, the various protocols, the lack of freedom, the “acting presidential” thing, all the people he has to pretend to care about. He even hates the White House itself, spending fully a third of his short time as president at his eminently tacky golf resort in Florida.
The president, watching Fox News at 3AM
 in a paranoid delirium, just before
tweeting about bad hombres and sluts.
He holds a special place of hatred for democracy itself: for the courts, federal agencies, regulations, investigations, congress. Witness: Trump (at Bannon’s behest) has deliberately left hundreds of vital positions unfilled across multiple federal agencies, countless vital junior-level diplomatic and administrative roles essential to a functioning country, from the State Department to HUD to the Treasury, all in a calculated attempt to destabilize the basic workings of government and create a power vacuum that Bannon will fill with flying monkeys and moral cyanide and, apparently, copious amounts of vodka.
He remains obsessed with Obama, with Hillary, with the New York Times, with Fox News and right-wing talk radio conspiracy theories spun of the nation’s most laughable – but now bizarrely dangerous – fake-new imbeciles. He eats only junk food, watches “the Sunday shows” to see how they’re talking about him, believes whatever Fox & Friends says, disregarding his own access to the best intelligence in the world.
He’s all about appearances. Despite employing the world’s shlubbiest neo-Nazi alcoholic as his top adviser, despite wearing ill-fitting suits and applying copious shellack to his paper-thin raccoon hat, despite drenching all his properties in gold leaf, garish marble and giant chandeliers, he is perhaps most obsessed with thinking it all looks classy, when it actually looks like Hugh Hefner did some meth and crashed into Liberace at Disneyland.
3. Accusing Obama/claiming "Watergate" scandal is a counterattack. Reveals dangerous seriousness of actual truth. Exposure must be imminent
It’s all just madness, really, barely controlled, intensely shoddy and deeply weird, to a degree that the media can barely keep up (though they’re getting better), Europe is preparing for the worst, and the despicable Republican party lets him inflict whatever horror he wants, lest it restrict their ability to gut health care, cut taxes for the rich and cram through their shockingly poisonous, unpopular agenda.
Meanwhile, the resistance is working, in fits and pockets, to push back, as the Democrats are gaining voice and finding their spines as fast as possible – which isn’t nearly fast enough, given how we are living in one of the most volatile, dangerous moments in history – and we haven’t even had a serious crisis yet, one in which Trump & Bannon will surely leverage to bash all criticism, invoke a police state and, who knows what else, shut down the press, create a state-controlled media, arrest and beat all protesters? It’s all more than possible. Don’t believe it? You’re not paying attention.
One thing is certain: We will, should we survive this cancerous blip relatively intact, look back upon this period with nothing less than deep shame and mortification, the time when America went off the rails, when, after moving carefully, thoughtfully, calmly a number of steps forward, the most fearful, uneducated and paranoid among us hurled us a lifetime of steps, a vicious punch in the face and a vile grope of the crotch, backwards.
We must accept possibility that @POTUS does not know fact from fiction, right from wrong. That wild claims are not strategic, but worse.

Your neo-Nazi , destroy-the-state adviser, looking healthy
and clear-eyed and not at all clogged to the brim with demons and cheap bourbon
How embarrassing. Original.