Sunday, February 28, 2010

Guadalupe bifaces discovered on Guadalupe River

SEGUIN — Local archeologist Robert “Bob” Everett paid a visit Thursday morning to an excavation site where hundreds of arrowheads, spear points and other Native American artifacts were recently uncovered along the banks of the Guadalupe River.

“This is the richest archeological site I’ve seen on the Guadalupe River in 35 years,” said Everett, a steward with the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Archeological Stewardship Network.

Everett and his wife, Carol, examined numerous artifacts when he visited Jody and Floyd McKee, owners of the Saffold House on Stockdale Highway along the south bank of the Guadalupe River.

“There could have been a series of villages of different tribes over the past 11,000 years. It appears to have been heavily occupied for an expansive period of time. This could have been a major village with satellite villages strewn along the river,” Everett said.

He said many of the artifacts are from the Archaic to Early Late Prehistoric periods in geological time. He also advised the McKees to carefully control their excavation sites and to measure them as well as they can.

Finds at the site include more than 30 Guadalupe Biface pieces, which were chert or flint tools whose use was uncertain. There are knives, adzes, drills and awls and one atlatl in addition to the spear points and arrowheads that range in size, shape and color, some with corner and side notches. The McKee collection includes a very rare Andice spear point in addition to Wilson, Georgetown and even a Hell Gap artifact that Everett said does not originate in this area.

Everett said the tools could have been used to deflesh an animal hide or to even carve wood.

It’s possible that the site on four acres in back of the McKees’ historical home could have been the site where dugout canoes were carved from local trees.

The McKees had put the house that was built in 1865 on the market after they restored it, and they had an offer from a venture capital firm that wanted to build condominiums, a restaurant and parking lots to serve them on the property.

“If they had paid what we were asking and we had sold it, we wouldn’t even know what we have here,” Floyd said.

Jody said her husband dug out some soil from the property behind their house and spread it in the yard around the house to fill it in.

Then one day it rained, and the McKees found artifacts that had washed to the surface of their yard.

“All of these arrowheads were everywhere. We took out another scoop, sifted the dirt and found all kinds of things. I took a rake and found stuff while raking the surface of the yard. I found five axe heads. You can almost kick the dirt and find something,” Jody said.

“We have stuff in boxes and buckets and on shelves, including more than 30 Guadalupe Bifaces. To find 30 of them in one hole is unheard of,” she said.

“We are not going to sell our house now, this is too much fun,” Jody said.

Since their significant find of Native American artifacts in their back yard, the McKees and their dogs have been working full time digging and sifting dirt in their big back yard. The dogs dig into the piles of dirt, unknowingly kicking up spear points and arrowheads in their attempts to cool down on a hot summer day.

Floyd said he wants the residents of Seguin, especially those who live alongside the river, to know what they have found in their yard.

“It would be a shame for people in Seguin not to know what they might have in their back yard,” Floyd said. Since their first discovery in March, he has dug out an 8 ft. deep, 10 ft. wide, and 50 ft. long trench in one section of their property. The McKees also dug in another spot overlooking the river, and found about five of the Guadalupe Biface pieces, which suggests that five to six people had a workshop at that site.

Floyd McKee has a special interest in Seguin’s history, as he is descended from Sarah Day and her son, James, who were original stockholders with Lot No. 27 on Walnut Branch’s original town map. Sarah was caught up in the Runaway Scrape in 1836, and her son and Floyd’s great-great uncle James Calahan were Texas Rangers assigned to the Seguin post. His grandfather, James McKee, was a district judge and congressman who owned property in the McKee Hill area where Juan Seguin is currently entombed.

The McKees plan to excavate much of the rear of their property to determine the extent of the site of prehistoric occupation, but will stop stop if they encounter a burial site.

“We haven’t run across any bones yet, if we do that we will have to stop and find out what it is,” Floyd McKee said.

Everett, who had been enticed to visit the site after being ill for some time, had brought along his reference book, “Prehistoric Artifacts of the Texas Indians.”

“This is an important site,” Everett reiterated.

“A lot of natives found old spear points and reworked them for reuse,” he said.

Carol Everett said her husband was happy to visit Seguin’s newly-discovered archeological site after a long recovery period.

“This made his day, it made his whole week,” she said.

“Look for a Clovis point, and I’ll be back,” Bob Everett told the McKees.

“There is no telling what we will find out here. Over the past 10,000 to 12,000 years there must have been a lot of camps out here. It is mind boggling,” Floyd said.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saving the infirm at Louis Armstrong Airport, 2005

When The Levee Breaks

Air Force medical teams pluck families from chaos

By Michael Cary
SAN ANTONIO -- New Orleans native Robert Danfield stared balefully out of the airplane's small porthole, a row of parachutes hanging above on the bulkhead, and glimpsed a final view of his hometown. As a 9-year-old in 1965, he had lived through Hurricane Betsy; 40 years later, he and his family barely survived Hurricane Katrina. "The grace of God is what got us out."

As the passengers boarded the airplane, the air overhead buzzed with rescue helicopters that landed by the twos and threes every 30 seconds at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, unloading hundreds of people who were plucked out of their attics, from rooftops, and hard-to-reach high ground in the Crescent City.

The C-130's engines roared and the aircraft vibrated underfoot. A medical technician distributed earplugs to weary residents who had only hours earlier been rescued. The plane smelled metallic, like a set of keys held too long in a sweaty palm.

The 25 passengers who could walk were strapped into red, webbed seats designed to carry paratroopers, and they sat subdued. Air Force medical crews hooked up intravenous saline pouches and attached blood pressure monitors to the critically ill patients - those with tuberculosis, kidney failure, or sickle cell anemia - who were strapped into 20 stretchers rigged along the spine of the plane.

Danfield patted his nervous wife on the knee as if to reassure her that they were leaving the chaos of New Orleans, where thousands were still being rescued from their attics and rooftops. Although the death toll hasn't been calculated, city officials estimate thousands of people died during the week that passed since Katrina stopped the heartbeat of the city.

Nine months ago, Danfield, 50, moved into a newly mortgaged home near Franklin Avenue with his wife, Deborah Glenn, and his stepdaughter, Heather. Their three-bedroom home in the New Orleans' 8th Ward is located about midway between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.

When Hurricane Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast on August 28, Danfield's family was among the 20 percent of New Orleans' 480,000 residents who did not evacuate. Relieved that the eye had veered to the east of the city, they went to bed feeling safe in their home.

But, Danfield, says, about 6 a.m. Monday, Heather awoke from a dream that her family was in danger. Later that morning, floodwaters breached a levee on the 17th Street Canal, and Lake Pontchatrain flowed into the 8th Ward, engulfing most of the homes.

Like scores of residents, the family became trapped in the attic by the rapidly rising floodwaters. To escape, Danfield knocked a ventilation fan out of the roof. He broke off a PVC pipe and used it to fly a white T-shirt through the hole to signal any would-be rescuers. But the disaster had just struck New Orleans, and few had arrived to rescue the thousands who were suddenly stranded.

Fortunately, Danfield had a flashlight, and that night he used it to send signals into the darkness with the thin hope that help would come. On the afternoon of August 30, rescue workers from Coast Guard and National Guard units pulled the family to safety and delivered them to the New Orleans Convention Center, where, Danfield says, they stayed in "pure hell" for the next three days. Thousands were stranded at the facility without food, water, electricity, medical care, or law enforcement.

Now Danfield confronted a bigger problem. Glenn suffers from kidney disease, and without crucial dialysis treatment, her health was rapidly deteriorating. Danfield decided he needed to move his family to the Superdome, where he thought his wife would more likely receive medical care or be evacuated.

So, on Sept. 2, the family traversed the one-and-a quarter miles from the Convention Center to the Superdome. "We waded through water up to our waists, past dead bodies, to get to the Superdome," Danfield says. There the waiting began anew.

As the Danfields were settling into the Superdome hoping to find medical help for the ailing Glenn, in San Antonio, aircraft were departing Lackland Air Force Base every 45 minutes to rescue sick and injured New Orleans residents who had been transferred from the Superdome to Louis Armstrong International Airport, where military forces had set up the largest triage center in United States history.

At 4 a.m. on Sept. 3, a five-person medical crew at Lackland Air Force Base with the 452nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron joined an Air Force flight crew from Arkansas, which had been put on alert Thursday night. The crew loaded medical gear onto the C-130 cargo plane. The crew included nurses, technicians, and an additional three-member Critical Care Air Transport Team, including Maj. (Dr.) James Johnson, a cardio-thoracic anesthesiologist, Captain William Wolfe, a critical-care nurse, and Staff Sgt. Sybyl Thibodaux, a critical-care technician, all from Lackland's 59th Medical Wing.

At 6 a.m., the pilot lifted the aircraft off the runway and sped into the pre-dawn, set to arrive at Armstrong Airport less than two hours later. The seven-person flight crew and the medical teams were taking help and hope to thousands of severely traumatized New Orleans residents.

The crew landed at 7:50 a.m. and taxied to the D gates, where people lay on stretchers in the middle of the airport concourse. They had been rescued, processed through triage, and were queued up for the many medical evacuation flights that would occur until everybody was in medical facilities in Texas or other states. Complicating matters, rescue airplanes and evacuation helicopters had to share one runway, because the remaining tarmac at Armstrong Airport were eroded by floodwaters.

"We're going to Ellington," said Maj. Stacia Belyeu, the nurse in charge of the aeromedical evacuation team. Ellington Field is a former military airport that Houston now maintains, 15 miles south of downtown.

Chief Master Sgt. Rodney Christa of San Antonio was in charge of evaluating patients, many of which were rescued from nursing homes and hospices. He is assigned to the 433rd Airlift Wing at Lackland. Since Aug. 31, he said, "we worked until we couldn't, 16 hours on duty, four hours to sleep."

Christa said his airport troops were dealing with people whose needs differed from the wounded who arrive from Iraq and other battle zones. "There are things we haven't seen before. If I don't move fast enough, people will die. If mom is sick or injured, we're moving the whole family."

The scene inside Armstrong Airport resembled a hospital critical-care unit, except that uniformed troops stood guard, lounged in airport gate waiting areas, or slept on the floor during off-times. Other troops helped with patients, patrolled the concourse and entrances, or prepared MREs, the military's prepackaged meals.

The airport terminal was littered with duffel bags, and other troop gear. The building was lit and air-conditioned by a generator with air blowing through ducts in the entryway. Foodstuffs and other relief supplies sat in stacks adjacent to medical triage areas roped off to keep TV camera crews away from the patients that lined the passageways. Outside the airport terminal, misery and chaos reigned among the young and old who squatted among the refuse, trying to get into the airport and out of New Orleans.

On the tarmac, the flight team revved the motors of the C-130. The evacuation crews had loaded the 20 patients on stretchers and 25 more who could walk.

"Tell CNN these people are not refugees," said Belyeu. "They are Internally Displaced People, or IDPs. Refugees leave the country."

In Houston around noon on Saturday, Danfield and Heather walked off the airplane alongside Glenn, who was pushed in a wheelchair across the tarmac to a terminal where hundreds of relief workers and medical personnel had set up an intake area. Glenn soon received her life-saving dialysis.

The C-130's four powerful engines revved again, and the airlift crews boarded the cargo plane for another flight to New Orleans to pick up 40 patients who would be evacuated to Lackland. Johnson, Williams, and Thibodaux lay back in the webbed seating in the aircraft's cargo hold for some much-needed rest before they landed again in New Orleans.

"We'll go back to New Orleans, but not to live there again," Danfield said as he smoked a cigarette and pondered his family's future. He dialed numbers on his cell phone, trying to reach relatives in Houston. "I have no identification, no credit card; not a nickel in my pocket. We've just got to start over ... we're thinking about staying in Texas."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Government responds to Falcon Refinery Superfund oil spill

Waterfowl covered in
toxic crude perish,
oil cleanup continues

A crested cormorant, two coots and a northern shoveler perished over the weekend after they were found immersed in toxic crude oil at the Falcon Refinery Superfund site in Aransas Pass on Feb. 11.

Despite intensive efforts by wildlife management groups at the Animal Rehabilitation Keep on Mustang Island, four birds died on Sunday, Feb. 16, Valentine's Day.

A fifth bird, a black-crowned night heron, also was found at the Falcon Refinery oil spill site last week and was taken in at the ARK for treatment, but it also has died from a disease unrelated to the toxic crude.

Heavy rainfall and a strong wind from the north aided efforts by state agencies and private contractors to clean up an estimated 1 million gallons of crude oil that gushed through a crack in a storage tank last week.

Officials from the Texas General Land Office, the Texas Railroad Commission, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency were on site in Aransas Pass to oversee the cleanup effort by a GLO response team and a private contractor.

The Falcon Refinery was designated as a toxic Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2002, and it was previously reported in the Aransas Pass Progress and the Ingleside Index that the site was due for cleanup by 2010.
The latest oil spill occurred during a crude oil transfer operation by a company that is leasing three storage tanks on the site.

“Right now the rain is helping with our response effort, flushing oil that got into a freshwater marsh back into a freshwater pond where we have a collection effort set up,” said Jimmy Martinez, senior response officer for the Corpus Christi region of the General Land Office.

Martinez said that employees of Superior Crude Gathering Co. of Corpus Christi were pumping oil into a storage tank about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, when the crude leaked into a secondary containment area (berm).

“The General Land Office was not notified until about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10. We mobilized our team and brought our command post out here at 8:30 a.m. At that time we asked TCEQ to conduct air monitoring for us, and in a couple of hours we had the all clear to send in our first responders to make an assessment,” Martinez said.

“Once we received the all clear we went over to the Superfund site. There is a 55,000-barrel tank that was holding 52,000 barrels of crude oil, and there was a rupture at the base of it,” Martinez explained.

“Oil was gushing out pretty significantly and was going into a secondary containment area, a dike berm,” he said.

The oil had leaked out of Tank No. 13; Superior employees attempted to pump oil into Tank No. 15 and managed to transfer 28,000 barrels into it.

“During that operation we observed another tank failure, this time in Tank No. 15. Now we’re dealing with two failures,” Martinez said Thursday afternoon.

“We also found three different breaches of those secondary containments, and oil was flowing into the duck pond and freshwater marshes,” he said.

“Once we observed the oil coming out of Tank 15, the company pumped water into it to raise the level of oil above the rupture, and we’ve been able to maintain that level throughout the night so no more oil was coming out of there,” Martinez explained.

“A barge arrived here this morning, and we began to load up the barge with 28,000 barrels of the oil that was in Tank No. 15. That operation started about an hour ago,” Martinez said around noon Thursday.

“We simultaneously had vacuum trucks on the scene to suck oil out of the secondary containment, and we had an overnight operation where we actually recovered approximately 2,000 barrels of oil in the secondary of Tank No. 13. We recovered 2,500 barrels of oil overnight, which brings us up to 20,000 barrels of oil,” Martinez continued.

Matt McCauley, senior response officer for the GLO, said he monitored the Falcon oil spill site over the weekend.

“As of yesterday (Monday), approximately four barrels of oil remained outside the containment area, in the freshwater lake and in a ditch,” McCauley said.

On the inside of the containment area, there are approximately 1,000 barrels left, and we’re hitting hot spots of pooled oil,” he said.

“Our operations are scaling down out there, and we haven’t solidified the amount of oil spilled and the amount recovered. We’re still working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Railroad Commission and Texas Parks & Wildlife.

Everybody is still heavily involved in the operation,” McCauley said.

Intensive care for the four birds last week involved a non-profit organization from Houston and personnel at the Animal Rehabilitation Keep.

The care and cleanup of oiled birds is a delicate process, and on this occasion did not turn out well for the birds, who were discovered dead on Sunday.

“Everything worked the way it was supposed to, but unfortunately when birds are oiled, it is a give and take situation when the birds ingest the oil. Sometimes with oil spills that’s the way it goes,” said Brent Koza of the General Land Office’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response office in Corpus Christi.

Koza had delivered a specially equipped travel trailer to house the birds in a warm environment while they underwent treatment.

A special cleaning tank apparatus donated to the GLO by the Citgo energy company was put into use for the first time last week at the ARK.

“The machine worked beautifully, the way it was designed to. Personally and professionally, I was disappointed with the way the birds died, but I was satisfied with the way the machinery worked,” Koza said.

Martinez said the oil spill site at the Falcon Refinery will end an emergency phase “when the oil is removed from the water itself, that is our primary concern.”

He said that by the end of Wednesday, Feb. 17, the GLO “will back off and the railroad commission will take control of longer term remediation.”

Sunday, February 14, 2010

St. Valentine's Day 2010

I kinda really don't like this holiday. I have been home watching TV all day and since I heard the winds outside gonna check on my laundry. The winds are whipping up. When's the Single people holiday? A holiday when we get to eat strawberries in chocolate? So, well, call me what you will, on today, the holiday for lovers, I am going back to bed. It'll be forgotten by tomorrow. Adios y buenas noches.

My Broken Ankle Adventure IV

So, now most of my time is occupied by a lot of contemplating. I'm scheduled to see my personal doc with the County as a follow-up scheduled before the accident happened. Confused?
It's the Sunday now after the Tuesday night that changed the way I'll live the next 8-9 weeks.

I order the cheap stuff from the Pizzeria. I do have personal info I'd like to keep that way, so I'll say that there are very kind and generous people on my planet. I do have info I keep private

So, I do very little at a time. I intend to fo the final "Organize" in my kitchen. This is mundane and boring. But I kept organizing it and I would discard or get something else and so there was less space, and is less space... So, anyway, those are the kinds of things I worry about with my elevated ankle and hoping the injury is not as bad as it may be. I just can't feel it as I normally would as there is always the risk that I already have a degree of something unexpected and bad. So, I hope that I can snag the guitar, and be inspired to write hopefully...

I gave am armful of (what I thought) were nice articles or clothing. I hope the young lady liked it/them and she can/will use them. So, I am down to judging the clothes and now will go into 2 piles. Cold and Hot (weather related). I've made a lot of progress very slowly. It's nice to look at the clothes and see a niticeable reduction in the size of the mountain. I have 2 other "monsters". One being "the cassettes". The other being "The VHS". So, here I am staring at my swollen ankle thru to all these VHS tapes. Hmmmm.. I have many containers of music charts. Put Away. Air tight. Closet. But they take a bunch of space. And so I want to economize my living quarters space or lack thereof.

And but now, I'm sleepy. And it's been days of this and pain in the waking hours. But it's a lot of thinking. Thank you God for forcing me to take the opportunity to learn. Posting more later.

My Broken Ankle Adventure III

So, after a peaceful, non-eventful ride to drop off the kids and then get some gas and then head on out to Spohn, we parked and JoAnne dropped me off where the ambulances bring patients. There was a think, Latino prisoner being watched by a lady cop. Joanne and I couldn't help but look at this young person in a head brace that looked like a wifi antaennae ( don't know how to spell antaennae). This young person was throughly sedated. We walked on to the triage age so they could assess my injury. After being warned by a well-meaning relative of some patient that it was a 6-8 hour wait. We asked her what was wrong with the patient. He had like boils and lesions. So, I understood what triage was doing. A boil or lesions should be handled in the doctor's office and not in the Emergency Room running up all kinds of expenses. It sounds like an out-patient surgical procedure. They took my info and we sat out in the waiting area and before hardly any time (we're talking ER time, like Dog Years), they called me to be assessed in Triage. Definitely,
a potentitial broken bone is more of an emergency. So, we walked to an exam room I hadn't seen yet. We waited. Nurse verified info. We waited. That took my vitals. We waited. Dr. Rudy came out and examined my ankle. We chatted and I by chance mentioned a previous break of that very ankle. Dr. Rudy had one of those Dr. House moments like where time stops and they do a surprised House face close-up.
An angel from heaven all glowy white and smiling brought me a pain-killer and a cup of water.
So, quite casually he suggests I get x-rayed just to make sure I didn't re-injure my old break.
Mr. Joe, came and applied an air-cast. I was pleased because it was not heavy and I could shower easily, scratch if necessary. They had splinted me in treatment of a sprain.

A nice x-ray tech showed up and wheeled me up to xray, splint in place, in a wheelchair.
I jumped on their counter and x-rays were taken of my foot in various positions. They wheeled me back to little exam gurney. Weeeeeee! That Lortab made for a nice improvement in my disposition and pain level. The wheelchair was much too much fun for a woman my age.

So, we waited. Joanne read her latest book. I fidgeted like a little kid. I was so tired. The Lortab helped but made me sleepy. Suddenly, an x-ray machine was at my feet at the end of my gurney. Now they needed x-rays without the splint. I knew it. So, we unwrapped my ankle and they positioned their x-ray machine and took more intimate pictures of my right ankle.

We waited. After some while they came back to tell me the old fracture had been re-fractured. Sonuva!!! In came Joe with a new cast for me. This time a hard cast. I was told to get an appointment with ortho as soon as possible.

They gave me crutches. I am horrible on crutches. I am more likely to cause more harm than prevent it in crutches. So, we went to the window and I was processed out. Right by us were about 6 very big Bandidos, their ladies, and an older Bandido that wasn't looking so good.

They gave me my prescription and I found out that they had a 24 Spohn pharmacy. Good to know. After I paid $10, she released 1 more 24 hour period's dosage. So, we were off to wait for 1 days worth of pills. We passed the Bandido contingency and now the sick dude looked like he wanted to hurl. We flew past that and ended up waiting at the Pharmacy.

We waited. I got my meds.

We passed the waiting area and everyone was gone except for the Bandido Lady and about 3 Bandidos. We asked about their friend and they said he was in bad shape but was getting help now. We told her we'd pray some for him. We tried to open the glass doors but between me, crutches, laptops, purses, backpacks that wheelchair was something else to handle. Three of those Bandidos jumped up like Knights in T-shirt Armor in their leathers, bandanas, and badges, and they made sure we cleared the glass doors. They were very gentelmanly. Joanne went to bring the car closer and I just stared at the stars wondering WTF.

We went (the trip was a blur, I took 1 Lortab and now had a foot in a cast). We were gonna treat ourselves. It represented the substitution of something sinful in place of the paper dolls my mother used to give me when I got sick.

So, we relaxed and Joanne had some Strawberry Pancakes, I had Strawberry Blintzes, and we split a fried banana Cheesecake with nuts at IHOP. The evening was complete. Joanne dropped me off and I made my way to bed and lay down. Emotionally drained. Physically in pain. Discouraged. We bantered with a very charming mid-east gent, manager, and then it was all over for anything strawberry on that table.

I slept all that day after the sun came up on Wednesday.

The next Thursday morning Joanne picked me up and we were off to CC around 8:30am when she discovered me posting and awake on FB and declared that we may as well get an early start. I agreed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oil spil at Ingleside Superfund site

This story first published on Dec. 9 in the Aransas Pass Progress newspaper

Falcon Refinery Superfund report due in 2010

By Michael Cary
Staff Writer
Petroleum wastes contained in tanks, equipment and piping at the Falcon Refinery Superfund site adjacent to Redfish Bay is due to be reported cleaned up in 2010.
The Falcon Refinery Superfund site, located 1.7 miles southeast of State Hwy. 361 on Farm-to-Market Road 2725 between Aransas Pass and Ingleside, was a refinery operated intermittently since 1980, and is listed on the Federal Register as "currently inactive."
During its operational heyday, it maintained a 40,000 barrel per day capacity for petroleum products such as naptha, jet fuel, kerosene and fuel oil.
The site included a dock facility on Redfish Bay where materials were moved between barges and storage tanks.
The site produced crude oil, but in addition contained hazardous substances, including chromium and other chemicals, and had dumped wastes from holding tanks and leaking drums into Redfish Bay wetlands.
Residents near the facility had as early as 1985 complained about odors from processing impure crude oil, and then complained about odors from a spill in 2000.
The Texas Water Commission discovered in 1986 that the site contained untreated wastewater in tanks that had been discharged into sandy, unlined containment structures.
In November 1995 a spill of approximately eight barrels of crude oil mixture occurred in the wetlands adjacent to the facility.
In 2000, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (formerly the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission) found a leak from a naptha "stabilizer unit," with an estimated 220 gallons of industrial waste that had leaked from the tank.
The commission in 2000 found fluroanthene, pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, benzo(a)pyrene, indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene, benzo(g,h,i)peryline, dibenz(a,h)anthracene, barium, manganese and mercury in sediment samples in the wetlands of Redfish Bay.
The Texas commission and the federal Environmental Protection Agency lists the National Oil Recovery Corp. as the responsible party for the site that entered into an agreement in 2004 "to perform and finance the removal action and remedial investigation and feasibility study for the Falcon Refinery Superfund Site."
The purpose of the removal action is to address the wastes from the tanks, the equipment and the piping that exists on the property.
According to an EPA report on the Falcon Refinery, "the removal action is ongoing.
"The purpose of the remedial action and feasibility study is to determine the nature and extent of contamination and to gather sufficient information about the site to support an informed risk management decision regarding which remedy is the most appropriate for the site," according to the report.
The EPA approved the work plan, a field sampling plan and an quality assurance plan in October 2007, with an addendum in May 2009.
The work is "expected to be completed in 2010."
William Zagorski, emergency managment coordinator for San Patricio County, said that beside posting documents regarding the superfund on the TCEQ's Web site and in other locations, there has been no update for local authorities.
"This is an ongoing superfund cleanup, we're not involved, we're local. We don't hear anything at all, it's the Feds and the way they do things," Zagorski said.
Jim Price, San Patricio County Commissioner, said the site cleanup is "long overdue.
"That site was left untouched with oil spilling over the tops of tanks and feeding into the bays and wetlands without anyone doing anything about it," he said.
"But I do think they have removed oil from old tanks, gradually tearing the tanks down and cleaning the place up," Price said.
"The government came and continued to let the owners operate part of that terminal while the rest of it was being cleaned up. They have quite a few trucks running 24 hours a day in and out of there," Price said.
Currently, the Superior Oil Co. has leased some of the storage tanks, and uses them to store crude oil from operating oil wells.
"The government came and continued to let the owners operate part of that terminal while the rest of it was being cleaned up. They have quite a few trucks running 24 hours a day in and out of there," Price said.
San Patricio County Judge Terry Simpson expressed some frustration with the length of time it is taking to clean up the Falcon Refinery Superfund.
"What usually happens with federal funding is they run out and wait for more money. October 1 is the date for the new federal budget, with funding to continue to remove materials from there," Simpson said.
"They have been removing material and testing for several years now. I wish they could get it taken care of in a year instead of several years," he said.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality lists 159 toxic waste superfund sites in 62 Texas counties. The Falcon Refinery Superfund Site is the only one listed in San Patricio County. There are several superfund sites in adjoining Nueces County, where Corpus Christi is located.
Those superfund sites include the Baldwin Waste Oil site, the Ballard Pits, the Brine Service Co., Industrial Road/Industrial Metals site and South Texas Solvents.
Selected superfund sites in Texas are in various stages of cleanup, according to EPA public documents.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Broken Ankle Adventure II

It's now 2010. I am living in an RV in old town Port Aransas. This RV has a series of steps. You take a step down to the kitchen, a step down to the bathroom, a step down to the bedroom.
I have a bad habit of stacking coats on this chair on the upper level and was about to tidy up and hang them up and put them in the closet. I tossed a bunch of plastic hangers on top of the stack of coats. I went to see something on the TV Guide channel to make sure they were showing House and 24. Two of my favoritos.
Earlier in the day I had planned to drop off my mini laptop because he keyboard has stopped working to take advantage of the manufacturer's warranty. I awoke not feeling well at all. I am a diabetic and there are days I just don't feel good at all. More often than not, it's in control, but there are days that for no apparent reason, I feel like hell. Bones hurt, my head was congested, my hip bones hurt. It was 7:30am and begged off the trip with the friend who was going to take me. He was out playing golf already. I know he thinks I'm a wimp because I sometimes just don't have energy or don't want to do anything but stay home with my dogs.
So, I stayed in and slept. I just felt terrible. I read a little Facebook which sometimes cheers me up. I have some very humorous FB friends that even tho I haven't met many of them, feel like I know them and want to know what they are up to.

I got up and made some toast. Drank coffee. Slept a little more. Around late afternoon, I took to doing some chores to try to wake myself up. I was about to make me some tomato soup and more toast before my shows came on. I forgot all about the hangers I heard fall on the floor and took one step off the TV area and weeeeee! I went flying on the idiot express again. I almost hit my head on the step, but don't think I did. I didn't hear bones break. I landed and I guess as I reached out managed to pull everything off the table by me. An open suit case from my trip to Dallas, guitar gear, coats, miscellaneous stuff landed and covered me.

I freaked out that I had fallen yet again. AGAIN. So, I unburied myself just manically throwing off stuff. I made myself stand up. Okay...the right ankle showed a small puncture wound. Made by something unknown. The right side of my right ankle had a lump that protruded more than my ankle bone. I held on to the edges of stuff and made my way to the couch.

House was starting. I popped 2 Aleve. I propped my leg on top of the back of the couch, up high. I watched House. It was a great show all about Dr. Cutty. I hobbled to the fridge and found 2 little lunchbox coolers. I went back to the couch and found a sock and stuffed the lunchbox coolers around the ankle. I put the foot on top of the back of the couch. 24 came on and I took my regular meds and lay and watched the show. I texted a few people.

After 24, I took more Aleve and took my anti-anxiety meds. Once I found position where I didn't move at all, I fell asleep. If I moved, there was pain. I slept with my boys who managed to be unusually sedate.

I awoke around 3am and texted my boss, my friend from Minnesota, Luis, Joanne, and a few others. My friend from Minnesota called and wanted to take me to the ER right then. No way Jose. I had a gig Luis and I had been trying to get set up for about a year later that night and I was not going to cancel that. No way. He seemed shocked but music is the most important thing to me.

I took more Aleve and went back to sleep. I awake later in the early afternoon and made some huevos and frijoles and flour tortillas. Drank some orange juice. I slept some more. About 4:30 pm I took a shower, got dressed, did make-up, oral hygiene, put my stuff outside to load into the care.

My Minnesota friend had agreed to take me to the ER after the Lobsters of Love for Haiti show. Luis was under the weather, but we were determined to kick some butt. After Luis picked me up and we got our stuff ready to complete the set-up, Minnesota came up and said Hello and put a dollar in the jar and went back to eat his lobster and continue drinking.

We started playing and about the 3rd song, Minnesota came up and just flat out told me "DOWN". I said, "Down what?". He relied that I had to turn down the vocals. I asked him why was anybody was asking him to have us turn down since he wasn't staff, wasn't my boyfriend, wasn't our management. He angrily responded that it was too loud for him. I mumbled well, ok. Shot a look to Luis who said, "Hey he's yours". I responded, "The hell he is". And jokingly told Luis I was just going home. My leg was in hard pain. It was cold on stage.

It was great to see Ms. Jackie there. She's a regular at Quiksilver. It was great to see North Beach Jennie, her daughter Kaitlyn (who is now taller than me), and her new pal, Kat, a very nice young woman it was a pleasure to meet. It was great to see JB and his lady. Great to see Surfer Mike. It was nice overall, but this weird behavior from Minnesota bugged me.

As we played I saw Minnesota talking to Moby Dicks management and I was distracted while I sang wondering what in the hell he could have to talk to them about. It was distracting. We played 2 hours without a break. We took a break.

I slowly made my way off the stage. My ankle really hurt. Minnesota walked over, drink in hand, put his arm around my shoulders and laughingly asked me if my ankle was ok. I told him I was in real pain. He then told me, "You must be really high then". I was shocked. I said no. I was in no way high having only taken Aleve. He seemed to be put off a little. I managed to remove his arm as he was starting to really annoy me. I made my way to the bar and made small talk with bar management and customers. Minnesota sat glumly and sucked on his hard liquor. I was talking to a gentleman when I noticed that Minnesota was yelling at Luis! He said, something God-damn and something about Luis getting his shit together. What!? WTF!? I immediately asked Luis to let's get started again to extricate him from that situation before he did what I wanted to do myself and pop Minnesota to another planet. Luis said he had to say hello to friends and that was good. I avoided Minnesota and in a few minutes we did go and do the last of the set.

Before we started tho, I called Joanne Klein to tell her Minnesota was drunk on his ass and I wasn't gonna be driven anywhere by him in that condition and I would prolly take the B Bus in the morning and could I please have a ride home if that happened. She asked me if I wanted to go tonight, she would take me.

We did our last set. Wrapped up gear. In a few minutes, JoAnne picked me up and Luis went to work his overnight shift. We drove to CC, dropped off Em and Alex with their Dad (thanks, Dave!) and made our way to Memorial Hospital.

My Broken Ankle Adventure I

Well, a few years ago, before 8am on a weekday, I was in a hurry to get to work at Las Colinas in Irving. I lived in a small servant's cottage behind a large "estate" type home. The house in front had many bedrooms and was probably 100 years old, and was made of native rock.

The cottage in the back was quiet in and peaceful and in the back of the property by the ally.

I had let the heel of my shoe wear down to the nail. Yup, it was an accident waiting to happen. I had forgotten something or another and returned to my bedroom. The car was left running because it was a matter of quick retrieval.
I hurriedly stepped on a concrete step, and weeeeee! I took a ride on the idiot express. I slid and when I hit the floor heard the bone break. I felt the ankle bend TO THE OUTSIDE. It was a surreal site to see the ankle bend that way at an unnatural angle.

I stood up and couldn't put ANY weight on the right foot. It was numb and yet in very profound pain. I called my friend, Hector, and he drove me to Presby Hospital at Walnut Hill and Greenville. They were very kind and took care of my fracture. Put me in a wheelchair. Wrapped it in a cast like splint. Told me to follow-up with an ortho doc. They gave me pain pills. I called in to work. Hector brought me home and I slept. In a few days, I was able to drive myself and followed up with an ortho doc named - Dr. Paine. Fo' reals. That was his name.

They put me in a blue ortho boot. I was hopeful that I would be ambulatory. I was. It was a miracle.

That night, I was to open for Sara Hickman at Club Dada. This was considered a much coveted gig for Dallas musicians. My little gang of pals showed up in support. I was lifted on to the stage and in a pain pill haze, did my opening gig. Standing. Standing on my broken ankle in my blue boot.

Sara was very warm and gracious and asked about my well-bring. She was nothing but kind and I am thankful for the opportunity to open for such a great artist.
The next day, exhausted, I slept most of the day.

I wore the boot for weeks. I did gigs. I worked in my office. Eventually, I didn't have to wear the boot on my shrunken, pale, hairy, healed ankle. They diagnosed it as an avulsion ankle fracture.

Monday, February 08, 2010

In Memorium of Maisie - Tia Minnie's Canine Companion

Please accept my deepest most heart-felt condolences. No one can know more than me how deep your loss must be.

My boys are all okay. It's been much too cold and damp here to walk them much but the sunny days are coming. We walk at night then.

I know Maisie was so much more than an animal companion. And I understand your feelings that she cannot be replaced in any way. To me, dogs are as valued as people as they love us more than most people ever would. They love us no matter what. You can't replace that. Just like you can't replace people.

I will always have a dog, tho. But until the very last of my 3 are gone, I won't even think about it. Gomez is going to be 8 on June 16. Viggo will be 6 on March 3. Papi Chulo's age is a mystery. He is the smallest one, the bravest one, the first to sound an alarm. The first that is aware of something not quite right. He sleeps on my head. Gomez sleeps between me and the couch back (I fall asleep watching TV), and Viggo sleeps behind my knees. Our sleep is well-orchestrated and if I turn over, we all turn over. We all wake up at the same time. If I sleep, they sleep. If I eat, they eat. Many a night, they have awoken me when something is in our yard that shouldn't be there, be it oppossum, dog, cat, hawk, or even the mysterious white rabbit that comes thru every few months or so...

I believe Dogs go to heaven. Surely, Maisie is there. Waiting, like they all do for us to come be with them again. They wait paitiently, so there's no need to hurry - hear me? 8-)

I will pray for her tonight and thank her for doing such a good job of loving and caring and guarding and looking out for you. She was a good friend and in my eyes will always be seen as just that - your best friend.

There are plenty of dogs in shelters who would love to have a loving companion like you if you're ever ready for another friend. Don't look at it as replacing Maisie. A person can't have too many friends in their life. Only you know if that time will ever come again. Just know there is a dog that would love to love you.

Please accept my that my heart hurts for you in this time of sorrow. I didn't know this had happened. Please know she will be blessed for having loved you so much.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Life Returns to Normal

I returned from Dallas to the normal events that comprise my life. Med refills. Laundry. Groceries. Bills. Gigs with Havana Daydream. We'll be playing at a benefit called Lobsters of Love for Haiti at Moby Dicks on Tuesday 020910 6ish to 9ish. $20 for a 20 lb lobster dinner. We could use your support as we hope to make this a regular gig and your support helps us to accomplish this. We hope to see you there. Please take care of yourselves and we'll see you further up the road.

My America's Got Talent Adventure Part VI

So, we waited and we waited. People were practicing quite loudly and some would burst into applause. I think the adrenaline and anticipation were taking it's toll on all of us. There people going back upstairs to buy nachos. We were getting up to get little glasses of water. People would go outside to smoke. I saw an Elvia impersonator leaning against the back wall. The 4 year old break dancer was in our group. Nearby, were was a lovely black young lady with her little girl and her mom, there was a young black lady and her guitar waiting with her boyfriend. There was a black young rhythm and blues singing loudly against one wall with young men loudly clapping and showing their support. There were many over-confident people. Over-confident? I don't see how. There were THOUSANDS there. Some are selected because they are so bad - like William Hung. Some are selected for their novelty factor. Some for being young. Some for being old. Some for being weird. I saw no need for over-confidence. I was there to simply do my best and through my luck into God's hands. So, we waited and waited and I was tired and grumpy and sleepy. I wanted a hot meal. Joanne and Alex were the real troopers. Patient and interested in the immense variety of artists.

At some point, staff came in and rearranged the way some of us were sitting. They pulled all the pretty young girls to sit behind another young woman who was dressed like a prostitute. A band-aid of a dress and high heels so high you needed a ladder to climb into them. All the staff seemed to be British. It seemed a rather absurd interview of this young hooker looking young woman, but had to remind myself over and over that this was AGT. The interviewee was rather animated in the interview and the interview lasted about an hour. I was a bit jealous and incredulous until I reminded myself that perhaps the only reason she was interviewed was because she was dressed so provocatively. I thought of Susan Boyle and how she never would have made that interview or even been considered eligible to be a prop behind her.
The pretty young girls positioned as props were growing tired of being props. They, too, were contestants after all. The interviewed a large group of black musicians. One held a Sousaphone. Behind me, they interviewed a middle aged Ecuadorian car salesman. He reminded me of that guitar hawker - Estevan. He was dressed in a suit just like a car salesman and was (to me) pretentious in his speech. "When I sing, I am not an artist. I am a man singing from my soul." Or it was something cheesy and hokey like that. He reminded me of the man in the Dos XX commercial about the most pretentious man in the world.
We waited and waited until finally, they decided were could quit being props. I was in the first group called. 1900 to 1950. They pulled us out to this hall and we waited some more in chairs. I decided it was time to hook up my Honey Tone to my belt and start building my adrenalin. It was cold and it took me a while to tune up. I then set the sound on my Honey Tone (a smaller than a toaster amp) and started my pacing and warming up my voice quietly. While I had blended into the crowd before, now all off a sudden I existed.

They then pulled us into a hall and separated us by singers, singers with pianos, singers with guitars, and dancers. We waited in our line some more.

They wanted some of us to sing "The Heart of Texas". They pulled a few of the more flamboyant ones and ran out. So, I took the opening to say, Hey! I wanna do it! So, they said sure, come on! I walked to the camera and did the one verse I could remember. "The sage in bloom is like perfume - Deep in the Heart of Texas". I was proud of myself for my ballsiness. I hope they include it in the spliced version of the song they air.

They separated the lines. They pulled out the singers with guitars and put us in an another area. They separated us into 5's. Finally, they called us in to audition. It was now about 4pm. 8 hours after we'd arrived.

They lined us up against the back wall. There was a table with 3 judges. Each had a laptop. I guess they taped us in their laptop. We were instructed to stand on the X and give our name, age, place of residence, and song we were doing.

I was first. My luck...well, maybe it was good luck...

I walked to the X. Told them my name and age and told them I lived on an Island in a little town called Port Aransas. My song was Love the One You're With. They said I could start anytime.

So, I went. I sang my heart out standing up. I did my little acoustic rock guitar moves and looked at the judges in the eyes. My 90 seconds just flew by as if it was only 5 seconds. I was done.

Next was a very nice young college student from Fort Worth who played a ukeleli and sang and song my a modern young singer like Feist or someone like that. She sat down and it was nice but not extremely impressive but she did the whole thing and didn't miss notes and remembered all the words.

Next was a young man whose hair I had an almost uncontrollable urge to wash. He was the proverbial hippy. He sang a John Denver tune and played well and had a nice voice.

Next was a the young black woman who sat nearby and played acoustic guitar. She sat and played and sang a song by Alicia Keys. I really liked her voice and the way she did that song. I was really impressed. If I was Simon Cowell, tho, I would say she could've put more feeling into her singing, but, nonetheless, I thought she was great.

She was followed by a 13 year old boy who played guitar and sang. He sat and it was clear he was scared to death. Still it was pretty courageous of a young boy that age to try out for AGT. You have to start sometime and I can only imagine how good he'll be by the time he's 20. He also did well, but could have been a better singer. It had a monotone kind of feel to it. Tho he went all the way, didn't forget the words, and got all the notes.

It was over. They marched us out as I hustled to be sure to tell the Ukelele player and the Alicia Keys girls how much I liked what they did. They were equally kind to me.

We all breathed a deep sigh of relief, said our good-byes, wished each other luck and all went their own way.

I had adrenalin to burn. Grateful we had a ways to walk, we walked thru the huge halls and across buildings to find Joanne's car. We loaded up and decided were wanted hot food and drove out of the parking lot.

What an experience. There is so much talent in Texas. Amazing. Next year? I dunno....
How many times can you do a thing like this?

So, this is the end of My America's Got Talent Adventure Part VI. Unless they call me in March and then I'll have a bunch of new tales to tell. I have as good a shot as anybody there.
Please say a prayer and cross your fingers.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My America's Got Talent Adventure Part V

On October 6, 2009, I received my invitation to audition for Season V of AGT. Because so many people around me acted so weird and unbelieving and over the top one way or the other, I only told my friend, Joanne Klein, a woman I met here on the Island and someone I consider family. She understood about people's reactions and so we kept it quiet. She offered to drive us to Houston where the first email said the auditions would be held. They weren't held in Houston. Something made them change the audition location.

Wednesday, I awoke to find I had no hot water and couldn't shower. I had to boil 2 half filled pots of water and fill them with cold water enuf to leave it hot but not scalding. It felt like it was a bad day. Someone had broken the washer and I was unable to do laundry.

They called last Wednesday afternoon to ask me if I was coming up to Dallas. I had decided not to go back in October because of the crappy job I had working at Bundys with a horrible manager. I decided not to do it because it was too expensive and money was tight as usual. I decided not to do it because it was insane to spend all that money, drive 8 hours each way to Dallas for a 90 second shot at a TV show. But I told Mandy who called that I would be there before I could catch myself.

Luis and Cheryl were with me. I was at Quicksilver Cafe and my friend, Phil, the owner was also there. I couldn't believe I'd said yes. I just had a feeling that I was supposed to say yes and do it this year. It defied logic. It was all based on a feeling. Mandy asked me to pick a day - Saturday or Sunday. I picked Sunday because I figured it was the easiest and maybe as many people wouldn't show on Sunday.

Luis mentioned that he couldn't go because he was filling in for Gerald that Sunday. I'd have to do it alone. I was disappointed, but, not shaken. I knew Luis was disappointed but he always remained positive and encouraging and really great about it even tho he could not go.

I called Joanne to check and see if she could still take me to Dallas. She said oh, yea...she could. She asked if it would be okay for her kids to go and I said that it was. Immediately all my priorities changed.

I caught a ride with Luis home to the RV and took a nap and did my usual Wednesday things. I was overwhelmed. I tried to do laundry, but someone where I live had broken the washer. I couldn't do laundry. I couldn't plan what to wear. It was a cold and nasty day. I was frustrated and went to sleep.

Thursday, I awoke and still felt clean from my boiling water bath Wednesday. It was cold and I was not going to take a bath on such a cold day without hot water. Thursday I decided on my song. The washer was still broken. I had a pile of dirty clothes on my deck. OC came home fixed my hot water Hallelujah. Friday, I had hot water in the morning. It felt good to take a hot shower that day. I went about my usual business. Joanne was busy all those days so we didn't make much contact.

She's a marvel to me and I greatly admire her. She's about 15 years younger than me, but we are alike tempermentally. She has a million things going and is super intelligent. That and she's raising 2 great kids I think of as a niece and nephew.

The washer was still broken so I still didn't know what I was going to wear. I felt like I should be doing more, but couldn't think what I should be doing. I didn't practice. I knew this song backwards, forwards, and upside down.

Saturday, I went to the yellow t-shirt shop on Cotter and decided to buy a Port A t-shirt so that I could "represent". I felt pride in representing our little town and proud that I was the first to do this in Port A. I also picked up a head scarf of jolly rogers and after I bought it realized it was over-kill, but knew I'd wear it later. Joanne picked me up and we went and did laundry at the WishyWashy. Well, it's called the Washtub, but I call it the WishyWashy. After that as done, I was able to decide that I would keep it simple. Black t-shirt, jean skirt, boots, leather jacket. After a half hour, she picked me up and I found Emily couldn't go to do complications in her attendence because of her having the flu earlier in the school year. I was bummed. By 5pm ish, we were on Hwy 36 headed to CC to take Emily to her dad's. After we dropped her off, we decided we were hungry. We found a Chinese Fast Food joint, ordered drive-thru, and off we were to Dallas. We ate as we drove and found we were all really hungry and the food was really good.

We made it up highways familiar to Joanne and the places she grew up. We took little side trips to her previous homes, to Flatonia, Seguin, Halletsville, and took our time. The missions looked beautiful in the moonlight of Goliad. I want to go back there some day soon. We stopped and got more coffee and gas and munchies and discovered a new toll road which allowed us to bypass all of Austin. It was great. The road was ours and we made great time thanks to the toll road. We made it to West TX and had to stop. It's tradition in my life to stop at the Czech Stop and get kolaches, milk, sausage rolls, and all manner of Czech goodness. We had another burst of energy as we drove into the night towards Dallas.

We finally made it to Dallas. We found a hotel room in DeSoto and quickly unloaded only what we needed and watched the Weather Channel. We were glad there was no snow in the forecast and pretty much passed out. I awoke in the middle of the night to find someone had turned off the TV. I awoke shortly before the alarm went off and after I gave myself about 10 minutes to wake up, dyed my hair red. Garnier #56 (Sangria). It makes my hair a very dark red but not clown red. Joanne and Alex got dressed and left me to shower and get dressed. I still hadn't practiced yet.

Now it was Sunday morning. We packed, checked out, I printed out the 12 pages of paperwork I needed to get into the AGT auditions. We drove up I35 to Griffin, were lucky and found a great parking space. We walked what seemed miles to Exibit Room E of the Dallas Convention Center. We found the room. The cops were all very nice and helpful. They seemed even to be having a good time. Easy gig, I guess. We made it to our first table where they asked if I had my completed paperwork. I did. He said Excellent. They gave me a number. We were directed to another table. This was security. We were told we were not to take photos or we would be disqualified.

They inspected all bags. They waved the metallic wand over each of us. Even 9 year old Alex. We took the stairs to another floor and found Exhibit Hall E. We walked a maze and found another line. They were checking for completed paperwork which some people didn't have. I got the guys attention and said I was ready and they pulled us out and took us to a nice guy named Raul at another table. He inspected and approved our paperwork. Joanne and Alex were required to have release forms completed. We were officially in the AGT area at 10am.

We were instructed to find a place to sit and wait for my number to be called. I was number 1948. We looked around and saw a huge hall filled with about 2000 people. Dancers, martial artists, river dancers, cheerleaders, rappers, hip-hoppers, cowboys, hippies, soul singers, Indian dancers, opera singers and they all seems to be making some kind of noise. It was overwhelming. We noticed there were guitar players quietly practicing along the back wall and we decided to pull 3 chairs and lined them up against the back wall. There was a New Yorker sitting on the floor and he was calling it "the Suburbs". It was funny. Later, more people pulled chairs against the back wall as the noise began to just overtake. We got munchies and waited for HOURS. We drank coffee. We saw singers practicing loudly. Getting off to the sound of their own voices in the cavernous hall. They were calling out numbers of 50 at a time to go audition. 1600 to 1650. 1650 to 1700. 1750 to 1800. There was a very loud of Brazilian percussionists practicing loudly as martial artists danced. There young girls in just terrible, ugly costumes. There was a 3-4 year old break dancer. There was a 9 year old looking girl with her sister and her dad waiting by us. People were passing the time texting and doing things (prolly taking pix) with their laptops.

I tried to access wifi from the convention center, but they wanted $20. I decided they could kiss my butt. So, with no signal on my cell phone, and no wifi, I was totally incommunicado.

After a few hours, they told everybody with a 1900 number to go downstairs. That was me. So, we packed everything up, and followed the crowd down the escalator to the first floor again and went into another large room. We found 3 chairs in the front of the room and proceeded to wait for more HOURS.

Monday, February 01, 2010

My America's Got Talent Adventure Part IV

So after the summer of 2008, things got really bad. I wasn't eligible for unemployment. I scraped by somehow. I briefly made a few dollars at a local coffee shop and won't go into that. It was a bad experience. I sang at the Tarpon Ice House for tips. Those customers don't tip. They would rather save their $2 for another beer. The owner of the Tarpon kept assuring me the Winter Texans would come to the Tarpon. I was too naive and stupid to know the Winter Texans don't come to the Tarpon. Many nights I sang for beer. No one can survive on that. It was right by the Roach Motel where I lived at the time so there was a convenience factor. The daytime gigs I was doing came to an end as it was now the slow season. I survived on food from the Presby Church Food Pantry. I was not making it. Somehow, I got lucky and even tho there were no jobs on the Island, I got hired at Whataburger. I no longer had to depend on pennies from the Tarpon Ice House.
Work at Whataburger was brutal, but I got food at half price. We also would eat on the sly. There were discarded pieces of burgers and food that were unservable that I fed to my dogs. I would go by the Stripes before closing and they would give me corn dogs and burritos they were going to throw out and I fed those to my dogs. The work was brutal at Whataburger and they worked me near to death it felt like. My feet everyday felt like they were at risk because of my diabetes.
Even tho I had applied at the Condos since a year before, I always felt like the Manager just didn't like me. They were in a bad place staff-wise and even tho I felt the dislike, she hired me for the graveyard shift thanks to Luis. The details of that job are mine to know and I really don't want to go into how terrible the management and a front desk bimbo were to me, so I will keep those to myself. I had moved from the Roach Motel by then so things seemed to improve just because of that. I had applied for food stamps and medical help from the county and since I onoy worked 24 per week, qualified. T
I discovered the B Bus. One fine February day, I fell on the sidewalk. I messed up my face rather badly. It was one big scab. My arms, hands, and wrists were hurt. My front tooth twisted sideways when I fell on it. I broke my nose even tho the ER people wouldn't xray it, I knew is was broken by my blackened eyes. I was badly hurt and had to cancel a gig. The rest, I did all ugly with my injuries and whispers that I must've been beaten up. My face healed surprisingly fast. I started getting treated more aggressively for my diabetes. I have a nice doctor. He started me back on my anxiety meds. We worked on my diabetes meds.

They employed me from Jan to Aug of 2009. They cut me down to 8 hours per day and I had to find something else or I wouldn't make it. That's how they fire you here in Port A sometimes. The GM and the Manager accused me of stealing computer printer ink! That's how ridiculous and horrible those women are.
I was also working at a restaurant as a hostess part time. I want to keep that to myself also, but I managed to piece together money somehow and survived. When the slow season came in September that disappeared as well.
I applied at a new coffee house and was hired. There were problems with a manager I call the Nazi Troll. I was so stressed out as a result of her mistreatment, I ended up in the ER with serious diabetes problems. They fired me for calling in sick even tho I only missed work because of my 2 ER visits. Besides that, I never called in and was never even late. This time, I qualified for UI Benefits. I worked there from Aug to Oct 2009.
I have been surviving on that. This is where I am today. Surviving the Slow Season til Spring gets here and hopefully Luis and I can get some gigs and I can get a job that pays enuf for me to survive.
Then, sometime in late 2009, I got another letter from AGT.

My America's Got Talent Adventure Part III

A few years went by. I received more emails from AGT but I blew them off. I was barely surviving and fighting depression, diabetes, anxiety, and poverty. I survived temping, worked loser jobs, lived on unemployment. Did what I have to to make it through life.
I started working a paper route in Port Aransas on 121707. I lived in North Beach and worked in Port Aransas. I drove at least 60 miles per day. In May of 2008, I moved to Port A. The summer season of 2008 was my first living on the Island. I barely made it. The Winter Texans were gone and partying teenagers don't buy newspapers. My newspaper earnings dropped seriously. I got by on gigs at restaurants. Doing the route overnight and doing gigs during the day was killing me. My diabetes ridden body couldn't handle the physical requirements or the need for strength I needed to do both. Then my car broke and it was something expensive I couldn't afford to fix. I lost my paper route. I took cabs to my gigs that I was surviving on.

I was living in what I call the Roach Motel. A way too small ugly shack on Oleander which couldn't hold all my belongings. When Ike was heading straight for Port A, I discarded 60% of my stuff. I borrowed my brother in law's car and put in what I could not live without in it (gear, pets, some clothes, paperwork, computers, and other stuff). I threw away all that I could that stood in my way of packing the car. I left behind what I had to packed in randomness in Rubbermaid plastic tubs. I duct taped them shut as best I could and evacuated to my sister's in CC.

As I drove on roads almost over-run by the sea, they played Blue October's "I Want to Swim Away". North Beach was almost all already underwater as I drove by on Hwy 181.

When I returned from evac-ing, I was surprised to see how much stuff was still in the Roach Motel. Everything was in terrible disarray from my panicked packing. It didn't even rain here. Not that I'm complaining, but I couldn't saved myself so much anguish.

There were too many big problems living in the Roach Motel to go into here. It was clear to me, I had to move. So, I found my current home and have been here since Jan 2009.

I still have too much stuff for where I live, but I have taken more time in clearing the useless belongings. I am almost to the point where I feel comfortable with what I have decided to keep. I have too many clothes. But, I need a lot of clothes. I need office clothes, stage clothes, run-around clothes, work in restaurant clothes, and clothes that fit. I lost 60 lbs and my weight has vacillated to where I am having trouble determining what goes and what stays. But, that's my problem to deal with.

Anyway, I got another AGT email inviting me to compete in 2009. Luis and I had been working off and on as a result of circumstances surrounding him and his band, Triggerfish. Those band details are not mine to discuss so I will let those be. But we decided to get our music taped and to enter AGT. Both of us were struggling with money at the time, so we decided to fore-go the trip to Dallas to audition and rather to enter online. Edith Bujnoch, Joanne's mom, a retired home-ec teacher was kind enough to offer to film us with her digi-cam. Of all the musicians we know, of all our friends, she came through for us. We had a gig at Beach and Station St Grill on a Sunday morning and she came and patiently, generously, kindly taped 4 songs for us. We taped Love the One You're With, In the Summertime, Baby I Love Your Way, and Baker Street. It was fun and relaxed. By myself, I taped Cry Me a River.

It was an impossibly sunny, hot, windy day. You can hear the sea-birds and hear the wind. People would walk by. People were talking. Buck walked in front of the camera with his surfboard. I kind of rather like that he did that. It was cute and spontaneous and unexpected. I was happy for having done it. Finally, there was something to post on YouTube.

We Fed Ex-ed the paperwork to AGT. We uploaded the vids to YouTube. We uploaded the vids to the AGT website. I wasn't on Facebook yet so didn't mess with that. We linked to YouTube where we could. I sent an email letting everybody I knew that we were on YouTube. I asked for a critique. I got what I expected even tho I explained that we did it all ourselves and none of us were professional videographers. The sound was not great. It was too windy. We didn't sound check the video before taping. We taped in front of an obnoxiously yellow painted wall. I hated that color but didn't have a choice in that matter. There were all sorts of things we learned after doing the video, but I am proud that we did it despite our limitations. We just made it happen. We owe Edith Bujnoch so much for helping us.

So, it was out and we were entered in AGT. People actually looked at it. AGT became my YouTube friend.

Luis and I worked at the same Condos. He worked the shift before mine. When we changed shifts, we'd check out stats on YouTube and Google ourselves. We'd giggle that the video was watched in the Phillipines, England, Mexico, Turkey, and we were mentioned as contenders on AGT on Beyonce's website. It was all too cool.

For a person who had scoffed (that's you Luis) that he had been a professional musician all his life and been with a successful working band for 14 years, and now he had been reduced to doing a talent show, he was having fun with this. For me, it's all about enjoying what you do and having fun with it. We never got called. We never made the show, but we had fun and got just a tad experience with the whole YouTube thing. We saw what it could do.

On the negative side, I learned you can't tell everybody about these AGT type things. Some people just over reacted. One of the Managers angrily told people who were reacting positively to our stuff to not encourage us. People who I thought were friends made faces to mock the fact that we could do this. People just way over-reacted. Some hurt my feelings. Some made me angry. Some disappointed me. And I learned to keep my mouth shut.

I was happy about the vid. We did it without professional equipment. There are people who don't understand that. Maybe they don't want to. I just don't care.

Anyway, I was grateful to AGT for providing the impetus to get us to do something. Anything. I was excited again after some serious depression and anxiety. I started to get treated for diabetes again. I was still throwing stuff away that I didn't need. I started discarding people who were hurtful and toxic. Overall, slowly, there was a glimpse of hope for the future.

My America's Got Talent Adventure Part II

Sometime between receiving the email and being pre-registered. I had a gig at a local venue. I will call it The Venue because it's been a few years and I would like for my duo, Havana Daydream, to play there. We showed "The Manager" our picture and she didn't recognize me so those folks will remain nameless so that maybe we can play there again. If I name them, some butt-head will surely walk up to them and spill the beans and I will have to go postal.

Anyway, I googled AGT to see just what I was getting into. Potential contenders were posting blogs and stuff on their web-site. There were animal acts, contortionists, mimes, you know, all the weird strange acts you can possibly imagine.

Let's put it this way. Jerry Spring (who I admire, by the way) was the host for the first few years.

I found one act I found amusing. Boobzilla. It seemed she did tricks with...wait for it....her boobs. I was never quite sure what manner of tricks these were. She mentioned she had done her act in a room for Jerry Springer. I saw her picture. She was ... um... er... gifted as in well-endowed.

I had a gig at the Venue. I mentioned I was auditioning for the show and I used it as stage patter. Just something to talk about between songs. I mentioned Boobzilla and her story.
Everyone laughed. I never cussed or spoke in a manner that would be censored on TV. Clean language and descriptions.

Next thing I know a few songs later, the Manager came up and told me to turn off my mic. I did. Quite perplexed as to why I would be rudely told to do this. She gritted her teeth and told me she had had a complaint. That I had offended a customer with a little girl. I asked what it was I said. She repeated a lurid story of Boobzilla "doing" Jerry Springer in a room. That was something I had never said! She then red-faced and frizzy, bleached, clown-hair flying in the sea breeze commanded me to just sing and not talk at all.

I could see the nearby customers jaws hit the floor. I felt like I'd been belted. So, I did as I was told. Customers came up and put big tips in my jar and told me they knew what was going on and bestowed me with apologies. I completed my gig and the remaining customers and I made light of what happened but I was deeply affected.

Later that week, I called to rebook some gigs. A different manager came on the phone and told me my name was on the roster. Unbooked. And the word OBSCENE written by it with a command to not rebook.

I called again and spoke to the original manager after getting the runaround several days and she stood by her story and I was never booked there again.

Punished for something I didn't do. And it's been that way for years until Luis and I reapplied with a photo and she didn't even recognize me. So, we'll see what happens.

How It Started - My Americas's Got Talent Adventure I

I think it was 2005 when I received an email from America's Got Talent Sharon Nash inviting me to audition for the show's first season. How they got my name and email address, I don't know. I figure it may have been from somewhere I worked in Dallas or the Internet. I was working at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and that was a stormy employment relationship. I was not happy there so the temptation to go to Dallas was overpowering. I mentioned the email to my co-workers when I got it and they gave me a "yea right" look. This amused me because it was typical of the response I got from most people whereever I happened to have a day job.

I responded to the email and chose my preferred day to audition. At that time, we were able to make an appointment with a specific audition time. It was great because I would not have to stand outside waiting with those responding to the "cattle call".

My car needed repair. A radiator, I believe. If I fixed the car I would have no money to drive or fly there. Lack of money when I need money is a prevalent on-going theme in my life. After mentioning in a mass email to my joke receiving friends, a dear friend in Dallas came through. He works for American Airlines and magically managed to get me passage on stand-by. I arranged for some PTO, completed all the required paperwork for the show, arranged to stay with my friend Robert Hutchens in Oak Lawn, chose a song, packed, and my friend Jenny, neighbor and friend from North Beach drove me to the CC Airport. We got lost. After finding our way, she dropped me off. I was on time but there was an issue with the plane so I would have to wait for the next flight along with a whole class of students who were flying up to the Metroplex to compete in an event I cannot recall. We waited for some hours and finally we were all able to board. We flew direct so the flight lasted probably no more than an hour. When we arrived, I took a cab (can you say $70) to Oak Lawn Dallas, stopping to shop for a few things at a neighborhood convenience store I used to frequent when I lived there. It was owned by a very nice family from Nepal and it was great to see them. They asked about Gomez, one of my chihuahuas who used to come with me on my little shopping trips. They would dote on him whenever they saw him.

I made my way to Robert's place. He was at work. So after I found the hidden key, I made a bed for myself on the couch and slept as best I could as my mind was racing and my internal dialog would not stop. At some point, Robert came home, I met his friend Chris who was visiting from St. Louis, briefly said our hellos and he and Chris left me to cut some zzz's and went to his room to sleep and I dropped off again.

It seemed like a moment before it was time to wake. I got up, showered, dressed, put on a face and after Robert and Chris got ready, they drove me to the Hilton in North Dallas for the audition.

I chose Cucurrucucu, an old Mexican song, as my song to audition. I thought that being full of passion it would go beyond language barriers and since it required much skill to sing convincingly, would set me apart. The song is of lost love. A man loses his woman to death and he can't sleep, can't eat, and drinks endlessly. Every time he hears the coo-ing of a dove, he believes it's his lost love calling after him. It's a beautiful song I've loved since childhood.

I exited the car and in a tired daze walked to the Hotel entrance where there were about 25 people milling about. I was asked by someone with a badge if I had my paperwork and I said yes. They escorted me in and I found myself before another table. I presented my ID and my paperwork which was inspected and approved. I was told to take the stairs to the second floor and was told where the vocalist auditions were held. I hate stairs. I was met by Nigel at the foot of the stairs. I shyly said hello as I recognized him as Simon Cowell's business partner. I did take the time to notice what a tall and handsome guy he was. I slowly made my way up the stairs and made my way to my area. We sat in chairs lined up by the outside wall and all of us were quietly singing to ourselves and primping. We had 90 seconds to prove we were worthy.

One by one we were called in. I looked across the huge second floor as I waited my turn. I saw belly dancers, flying acrobats, River dancers, tap dancers, ballet dancers, jugglers, cheerleaders, and other choreographed dancers. I looked across the other direction to see what seemed like way too many people with guitars. They, too, strummed quietly and practiced with their singers.

Finally, it was my turn. I entered the audition room and stood on an X before a table of 3 judges and a large TV camera. The process was explained to me and I told them my age, name, residence city, and name of my song. I was told to start and I did my song for 90 seconds. I did okay. I hit all my notes and remembered all the words and sang a capella. Sharon Nash asked me what "Cucurrucucu" meant and I explained about the man who lost his lover and the sound the dove makes in Spanish. I never knew doves spoke English and Spanish. I was thanked and told I would be notified in 2 months if I made it to the show.

As I walked down the stairs to leave, I was stopped by Nigel. He asked if I was the one who sang in Spanish and I quietly admitted, that yes, I was. He then said they wanted to hear more. I was kind of stunned at this point. He guided me to another huge room filled with cameras and another large group of artists. I stood where they told me and watched a whip-cracker who used a whip to cut paper into increasingly smaller squares. Then he used 2 whips. He did all kinds of "tricks" with his whips and I wondered what chance I had competing with that. I then met a comic who claimed he was Carlos Mencia's cousin. I guess he could be, but how would I ever know?

I was directed to stand on another X in front of another big camera and did my song again. Again, no missed notes or forgotten lyrics. But I remembered I closed my eyes as I sang in some parts. It's a bad habit. I was thanked and this time, was told I would hear in a month and a half if I made it. I smiled and thanked them for the opportunity and walked outside to an even bigger awaiting crowd. More strange and diverse acts were gathered. These were people who hadn't completed their paperwork or were making calls or who know's what.

I called Robert who quickly picked me up. We ate Chinese food at a new place on Lemmon Avenue. We gossiped and caught up and before long it was time to go to the Airport. He dropped me off as I recalled the events of the last two days and pondered what would become of my job where it seemed they were just looking for reasons to hate me. This was the beginning of every job that's gone wrong in the Coastal Bend for me.

When I arrived in CC, dazed from the events of the trip, I took a taxi to work where I figured I could take a bus home. My boss, Mario Montelongo was stunned to see me and said I had to leave. I didn't understand why. He said they had sent me a letter telling me I was on administrative leave as they were investigating my job performance. I was stunned. I am a picky, skilled, overachiever who had taught HIM many computer skills he was lacking. I called my friend Marty to see if he could pick me up. (Marty was later murdered that year.) He picked me up and I told him all about my trip as we made our way to North Beach where we were neighbors.

While I was on administrative leave, I had my car repaired. It was cheaper than I thought it would be. I was later fired from A&M CC for no reason. They denied my application for Unemployment Benefits. I appealed and won. And with the back-benefits I was paid, bought the computer I am typing this blog on.

And that's how I started my America's Got Talent Adventure.