Been awhile since I’ve blogged; so here’s an awesome crazy weird video. Keep it weird. Keep it real.
These photos show the Valley Morning Star’s awesome redesign. I was lucky enough to have the package story that day.
The article was about community policing. I went on a police-ride-along with several community resource officers who took me to seemingly abandoned buildings that were used as a place for people to do drugs, participate in prostitution and for some people - just a place to sleep.
While I sympathize with squatters down on their luck needing a spot for rest, I do not sympathize with the drug users or the people participating in prostitution. They left places near where children played littered with needles, used condoms and other hazardous materials.
I must say, though, it was fun to explore this really old, beat down factory where the sun could shine down from the fourth story to the basement in slender golden rays that illuminated twisted, damp rubble and graffiti-covered walls. And not the artistic kind of graffiti. All of this stuff was gang related.
After climbing a dark, narrow stair four stories to the roof, we came out onto a tar covered roof that sunk a little bit with each step. And to my surprise, amidst so much decay and disrepair, palms and other trees were growing on the roof of this building.
Anyhow, I thought this package was one of the best I’ve seen from the newspaper since I have been home in the Rio Grande Valley.
I do A LOT of work for the paper shown in this photo: The Valley Morning Star.
They have a talented editorial staff and I think the copy desk does a great job. The package story is mine. I barely remember writing it. But I think the gals at the copy desk did a better job on the layout than I did on the story, which can be found here.
Being your own boss is interesting, and often times frustrating. It’s a scary deal, to be your own boss. But I’m trying to embrace it as I can make more money freelancing than I can working at a restaurant or as a library assistant, which are the only other things I know how to do - unless another opportunity presents itself.
I never and ever thought I’d work for myself. The scariest part of all this? Figuring out how to do my taxes and saving money owed to the states and feds.
Kurt Vonnegut, a Monarch butterfly and the newspaper business
My life has been frustrating. I had a job, but couldn’t absorb corporate’s cuts. So, as a financial decision, I cut out a lot of bills in my life and moved home so I could just deal with the student loans.
I did a lot of freelancing here in the Valley, and will continue to do so. But it seemed probable that I was going to be hired at a certain paper. Then it didn’t happen to no fault of anyone on the local level and to no fault of my own. I won’t say anything more about that.
But lately, it feels as if journalism is futile. It feels like it hasn’t been worth it. I’m a young man and am very talented (I average 4.5 solid, well-written stories a day). But I cannot for the life of me get A) a job with a paper I can afford or B) a job with a paper at all. Nobody wants to hire. It doesn’t matter that I’m talented because talent has nothing to do with the bottom line.
Perhaps, like this photo of a Monarch butterfly that emerged from a cocoon on my niece’s birthday Monday, something else will happen for me. Maybe I won’t end up churning out stories in a newsroom, which would be to my dismay.
But it’s hard to say what will happen down the road. It’s hard to say I won’t find a job that I’m qualified for and would enjoy as much as I enjoy working in a newsroom.
As one of my favorite authors often wrote, So it goes. (Kurt Vonnegut)
HARLINGEN - We finally got rain. The following photos were taken in and around my parent’s house and show this morning, sunny and hot, and this afternoon, rainy and cold.
As the storm came in, all the crows in the neighborhood descended on a Chinaberry tree as if they were heralds of the storm to come.
Fun fact about Chinaberry trees, the green parrots that live down here are addicted to its berries like they were crack cocaine. My mom says the bright-green birds make a huge racket.
But the rain came with a cold front and cooler weather has moved into the area, which will be a nice change.
Before, after and for good measure - a pirate ship.
I caught two nice size whiting at the pier in Port Isabel today. I also caught 10 speckled trout, but they weren’t big enough. The largest one I caught was 14 inches. They need to be 16 inches to take, which brings to yet another reason I no longer peruse or upload original content to reddit.
A while ago, I posted photos of speckled trout that I caught and released, because they weren’t of size, to reddit. And some self-righteous redditor - because they are all self righteous - chided me for taking under-sized speckled trout >.<
Anywho, fishing rocks and reddit is dumb. Enjoy the pirate ship.
PORT ISABEL - I went down to the South Marina in Port Isabel to see to replica Christopher Columbus era ships: The Nina and Pinta.
The Nina is an exact replica of the vessel from Columbus’ time. It’s small and was made with the same ship building techniques and tools used in the 15th Century. It is held together with pegs and dowels. But it doesn’t have a steering wheel. It was a tiller and rudder. The first mate on the Nina, Vic Bickel, said those weren’t invented until 80 years after Columbus’ death.
Both ships were very cool and it was good to get out and do some freelance work. I haven’t written anything in more than a week.
For more information visit: thenina.com
The ships sail all around the Western Hemisphere in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, through the Panama Canals and in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
There will be a story in the Valley Morning Star March 22.
These are Kiskadees. We have a pair in my backyard. They tend to come around, occasionally. I enjoy watching these birds as they are smarter then the Red Wing Blackbirds that just arrived in the Valley.
The brightly colored, sleek birds are an enjoyment to watch. They make me think of angels, a calming thought. And wherever there is one Kiskadee, there are two. They are watchful and keen, and display it through how they approach you. One glides in and looks at your for a while. A little later it flies ten feet one way, landing on the ground. Then the other one replaces it on the same perch. This one will also study you acutely. Then it joins the other and they hunt for the rather large water spiders and bugs that live down here.
If you stand still, they continue to hunt for bugs. You really need to just stay in one place and let them do whatever they are doing, and the whole time the birds are keeping a very close eye on you. I’ve had them fly within ten feet of me. As long as I stay in one place, they are brave enough to keep a close eye on you while doing the same for the rest of their surrounding. The birds settle around the pool, or any water source that obliges them, and keep a 360 degree view on each other.
So they’re a pleasure to watch because they’re incredibly sharp, and are pleasure to the eye because of the birds bright green belly, black top and streaked, white eyes.
HARLINGEN - It looks like corruption and fraud even made its way to Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island, a place I frequent.
The Brownsville Herald’s Emma Perez-Trevino reports:
BROWNSVILLE — Money is missing from the Cameron County Parks Department, and county commissioners agreed Thursday to turn the matter over to law enforcement.
County Administrator Pete Sepulveda said they don’t have a dollar amount yet on the missing funds. As soon as officials determined something was amiss, they decided a criminal investigation was warranted, he explained.
The financial discrepancies were discovered through an electronic toll collection system that includes cameras and also a program for collecting fees for the lease of RV sites, Sepulveda said.
The system has been in place at the county’s Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island for about a year, with the discrepancies being discovered in the past 30 days, he said.
It was through a review of reports that the system generates — and the security cameras — that it was determined that funds are missing. A limited in-house inquiry followed.
Cameron County Commissioners Court unanimously agreed Thursday to refer the matter to law enforcement.
“At this point we don’t have an amount, but we have verified that there are funds missing,” Sepulveda said. “We don’t have an exact amount because we didn’t go too far into the investigation because I felt that we needed to bring in law enforcement to take over the investigation.”
The in-house inquiry led to the recent termination of two employees, Sepulveda said.
County Judge Carlos Cascos noted that “I’m just glad that it was caught and we are going to do whatever we need to do to take it to the full extent of the law.”
Missing funds could be from tolls or a combination of revenue, which would include lease payments for the recreational vehicle sites.
“It’s unfortunate,” Sepulveda said, but he stated that the electronic system has proven to be an effective management tool.
I’ll have to go back as soon as I have some cash and see if any of the guys in the toll booths have changed because, generally, whenever I went it was one or two guys.