Thursday, November 20, 2008

Santa Gets Caught Reading

A book is the ideal gift for someone who has everything and someone who has nothing. Books are affordable; one size always fits all, and they provide hours of entertaining escape. There is a book for every special person in your life. An adventure, a romance, a mystery, a laugh. Wish it, and it will come true in the pages of a book. Share the love of books with your friends, students, and loved ones this holiday season.

Shop Online at an Indie Bookstore

No Snow? Get Toasty!

To people on or familiar with South Padre Island, Lucinda Wierenga, aka SandyFeet is a source of local pride. She is an internationally known and award-winning sand sculptor.

With the holidays on the way, I couldn't resist sharing part of her personal contribution to getting those on our sandbar in a festive mood.

From her blog:
Weather permitting, Toasty will appear on the beach at Wanna Wanna Beach Bar and Grill starting on Wed., Nov. 26 and staying until -- he melts. Or something.

Hello Again

Those that follow me on Twitter know that my laptop decided it needed a break and just quit working more than a week ago. Without this old faithful friend I have been unable to update my blog but I'm back online now. Fortunately, the nice guys at Action Computer, didn't find anything seriously wrong and after a few tweaks to my video driver, a thorough cleaning (yes, the dust and dirt was getting a little thick), and a nominal $35 charge I'm up and running.

There are some advantages to forced computer and internet withdrawl. First, it allows one more time to read. I was able to get through several books on my to be read stack and with the tanking economy this escape was pure joy.

Since I couldn't do anything online, I spent the time focusing on preparing for the move to South Padre Island. Books and more books have found their way into boxes and have been hauled to the garage. Griff will arrive from New York on Friday and he plans to make sure the old "Raven" is prepared for the trip. On Monday, I have arranged to have a packing/moving service come and move any large pieces of furniture to the garage and pack any pictures lamps or other odd items.

When they have left, we can put my mother's house back together, so when she returns next spring it won't be to the tornado-struck mess of today.

The goal is to leave Denver early afternoon on Tuesday and head to the sandbar, and paradise. It will be a family trip - my mother, aunt, Griff, the bookends and me. We will find someplace to hang out on the Island for a few weeks while completing whatever final arrangements need to be made in order to move in. Griff heads back to New York on the December 1st and will arrange for the mover to pick up everything there (which was packed last summer) and then to make a stop in Denver and pick up the items stored in our garage. I should have "my stuff" delivered sometime before Christmas. Then I can work at unpacking, which will be quite an experience in itself!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

El Juego De La Loteria

Playing Loteria /
El Juego de la Loteria
By René Colato Laínez
Illustrated by Jill Arena
  • ISBN: 087358919X
  • ISBN-13: 9780873589192
  • Format: Paperback, 32pp
  • Publisher: Luna Rising
  • Pub. Date: January 2009
  • Edition Description: Bilingual
  • $6.95
Buy this book

This post is for Island Princess at ToDo Padre.

Some time ago, in a discussion on the SPI Forum, she was enthusiastically describing her plans to develop new activities to help entertain and welcome our Winter Texan friends. She was so excited as she talked about all the fun we would have playing Loteria, and having Loteria parties.

To my chagrin, I had to confess my lack of Spanish language skills as well as how little I know of the Mexican-American culture. I asked "What in the world, is Loteria?"

So when I saw the write-up for the new paperback version of Playing Loteria, along with several reviews of the title and downloadable lesson plans, activities, and instructions, I decided to share.

From La Bloga:
La Loteria, or Mexican bingo, is a wonderfully fun and colorful game that has been loved by people of all ages for over 200 years. In this charming story, a little boy visits his grandmother in Mexico. With the help of la loteria he learns new Spanish terms, and his Abuela learns various English words. Together they realize that loved ones truly do have special ways of understanding each other. The rules of the game are included so you can play and learn at home, too.

"An enjoyable and visually satisfying experience." – Críticas

"…very appealing and fun... a perfect present for kids." – Tradición Magazine
2008 New Mexico Book Award, Best Children’s Book;
2007-2008 Tejas Book Award Finalist;
2007 California Readers “California Collection”;
2006 Latino Book Award, Best Cover Illustrations;
2005 Best Children’s Books, Críticas Magazine;
2005 Southwest Books of the Year.

You can also learn more about Playing Loteria, download lesson plans, and find other fun activities--like creating your own game cards and boards-- at

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sunset on South Padre Island, TX

I found this when catching up on my reading of the blogs I follow. It reminded me of why I am so excited about moving to this wonderful little sandbar along the south Texas gulf coast.

Thanks to Todo Padre for sharing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Texas Book Festival on Book TV

Last weekend was the SPI International Music Fest so I doubt if many Island residents headed to Austin for the 2008 Texas Book Festival. However, if your interests run to the non-fiction genre, then you are in luck.

Book TV, the weekend programming arm of CSPAN, broadcasts author events and highlights the latest in non-fiction books. This Sunday, November 9, they will be featuring several of the discussions which were taped last weekend, during the Texas Book Festival.

Here is the schedule:

12:00 PM
America - United We Stand?

Authors: Bill Bishop; Ronald Brownstein; Robert Cushing; Paul Stekler
American politics has become much more partisan, more zero-sum, more vicious, more willing to make mountains out of molehills, and less able to confront the problems we face. And yet, in poll after poll, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as either "very conservative" or "very liberal" hasn't budged in over a generation. America may be more diverse than ever, but the places where we live are becoming increasingly crowded with people who live, think, and vote as we do. We've built a country where we can all choose the neighborhood - and religion and news show - most compatible with our lifestyle and beliefs. How has America become so polarized? The writers in this panel address the problem from both political and cultural perspectives.

1:00 PM
Bubblin' Crude - The Life and Times of Oil
Authors: Robert Bryce; Alexandra Fuller; Lisa Margonelli; Will Wynn
How has America become so polarized? The writers in this panel address the problem from both political and cultural perspectives. Noted political documentary filmmaker Paul Stekler moderates.With the cost of oil skyrocketing to record-breaking prices (over $147 a barrel earlier this year), there has never been a better time than now to gain insight into the complexities of this all-important commodity and whether American energy independence will ever become a reality. Alexandra Fuller's The Legend of Colton Bryant immerses readers in the lives of Wyoming's oilmen and the danger, unpredictability, and hardships that they and their families must endure. Fuller gives a touching portrait of one man whose life is tragically cut short due to the negligence of the oil company he served. In Oil On the Brain: Petroleum's Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank, Lisa Margonelli provides a smart and funny account of the oil industry that deftly pieces together this mammoth economy that takes her from a Texas drilling rig, to the New York Mercantile Exchange's crude oil market, to an Iranian oil platform. Ultimately, Margonelli uncovers a series of stark warning signs for American drivers. Robert Bryce, in Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence," questions the achievability of energy independence. With his meticulously researched book, Bryce provides a nonpartisan look at how American voters are mislead about their energy needs and the necessity of embracing the reality of energy interdependence.

2:10 PM
Memo to the President Elect
Authors: Ross Douthat; Bob Moser; David Patterson; Reihan Salam; John Stauffer

Whichever candidate wins the presidential election the Tuesday after the Festival weekend, he is going to inherit a raft of problems to solve – among them, the need to attempt to unify the country. The writers on this panel, some of the nation's most astute political observers, will offer their insights about the first steps our next president should be taking.

3:15 PM
The War Over American Ideals
Authors: Douglas Brinkley; Fred Burton; Jane Mayer; James Traub; Ted Widmer

America stands at a historic crossroads; the war on terror has not only affected how the rest of the world thinks of America, but how Americans think of themselves. We've gathered the writers of four of this year's most compelling books that address America's standing in the world and asked historian Douglas Brinkley to moderate the conversation. The writers include Fred Burton (Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent), who helped create and lead the counterterrorism division of the Diplomatic Security Service; New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer (The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals); former President Clinton speechwriter Ted Widmer (Ark of the Liberties: America and the World); and James Traub (The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy [Just Not the Way George W. Bush Did]).

Indie Businesses Unite!

I have been posting on the SPI Forum about the advantages of independent businesses for the community. Actually, I think most everyone is tired of hearing about Indiebound, the Indiebound Community, or anything else that begins with "Indie".

In an effort to help the business climate of South Padre Island, the Town has initiated the formation of a "Coalition for Business Development". The coalition is being asked to identify ways (1) to increase consumer use of our existing businesses (2) to attract new businesses which will be used by consumers and (3) to attract more consumers by increasing the number of permanent residents and visitors. To meet these objectives several subcommittees have been formed, with each one being asked to provide recommendations that will help to meet the broader objectives of the coalition.

The subcommittees include:

(1) Establish a Merchants Association to focus on ways to improve sales for existing business.

(2) Establish New Programs will focus on new Special Events.

(3) Recruit Permanent and Part-Time Residents and Increase Tourism will focus on Specialty Groups to which our Island offers areas of interest.

(4) Recruit New Business will focus on developing an On-Line Website for the EDC that can be used by new business seeking information about the Island. In addition recommend better use of technology for data based marketing, and identify a liaison between new business and the Town.

My interest in these discussions is directed toward the Merchant's Association with a focus on some type of a Shop Local campaign, with an emphasis on our Independent Businesses.

The IndieBound program offers some great materials which can be used to promote, not just bookstores, but all indies within a community. This message, which appears on a flyer that can be customized for individual stores or for a merchants association, reminds the customer that when they shop local they have done something good for the community.

Here’s what you just did!

1. You kept dollars in our economy

For every $100 you spend at one of our local businesses, $68 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community.

2. You embraced what makes us unique

You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way?

3. You created local jobs

Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.

4. You helped the environment

Buying from a local business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation, less packaging, and products that you know are safe and well made, because we stand behind them.

5. You nurtured community

We know you, and you know us. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains.

6. You conserved your tax dollars

Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money available to beautify our community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong—right here in your community!

7. You created more choice

We pick the books and gifts we sell based on what we know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wider array of unique products because we buy for our own individual market.

8. You took advantage of our expertise

You are our friends and neighbors, and we have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. We’re passionate about what we do. Why not take advantage of it?

9. You invested in entrepreneurship

Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community.

10.You made us a destination

The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone!

So, remember the advantages to our communities when we Shop Local!