Texas Liberal

All People Matter

1569 Views A Day For 2009 And 600,000 Total—Thank You Blog Reading Public

For 2009, I set a goal of 1500 page views a day for Texas Liberal. In 2008, I had 912 a day.

(Above is a picture of the Ohio River I took from the Eden Park Overlook in Cincinnati two years ago. Cincinnati is my home away from home.)

So far for 2009, I’m averaging 1569 page views a day.

Also, yesterday Texas Liberal went over 600,000 total page views.

I’m also a featured politics reader-blogger at the Houston Chronicle.

Thanks to the blog reading public for the support and for your comments.

If you like this blog, please forward the link. A blog grows one reader at a time.

(Below–Galveston, Texas. Another home away from home.)

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May 4, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Cincinnati, Galveston | , , , | 3 Comments

Two Pictures Of Hurricane Damage At Flagship Hotel In Galveston

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( Blogger’s Note 6/5/10—Things at the Flagship are no different today than when I made this post in April of 2009.)

Above is a picture of a room at the Flagship Hotel on the Seawall in Galveston.

Now those are rooms with a view.

The Flagship was damaged by Hurricane Ike. This picture was taken just a few weeks ago. The hurricane was in September.

I’m sorry that the Flagship was damaged and that people who worked there have lost their jobs. But I’m not sure the Flagship was very nice.

The Flagship had been renovated in recent years, but every time I walked by it I could see evidence of poor or non-existent maintenance on the grounds of the hotel. I’d see people driving to the place to check in, and I’d think that they were paying hard-earned money for a place that was not so nice.

Below you see where the driveway to the Flagship was once located. There is a small walkway beyond the former driveway, but the driveway is washed away. I wonder how long it will be until someone comes and cleans up this damage.

There are nice places to stay in Galveston and it it worth your time to visit Galveston. There is still damage from the hurricane, but repairs and improvements are being made even as we speak. Please click here to review what you can do in Galveston.

Here is a book review for Hotel: An American Historyby A.K. Sandoval Strausz

From the review—

Hotels were originally conceived as a way to shelter and control strangers — a growing preoccupation in a country whose citizens were becoming among the most mobile people in the world. Foreigners remarked on the unusual and easy freedom of movement Americans claimed as a birthright; indeed, it seemed a hallmark of a democratic society. Anyone (except blacks and Jews) could go wherever he wanted. Sandoval-Strausz dates the inspiration for the creation of the hotel to the first presidential tours of the new colonies, from 1789 to 1791; to avoid the appearance of favoritism, George Washington insisted on staying in inns and taverns, converted houses with liquor licenses. His accommodations from New Hampshire to Georgia, when they were available, were for the most part dirty and uncomfortable; it was not uncommon for guests to share beds swarming with insects. Local burghers were so embarrassed by the reports of shoddy hospitality that they began to finance the construction of large, lavish public accommodations, the better to receive notable visitors to their cities.

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April 18, 2009 Posted by | Books, Galveston | , , , , | 26 Comments

Sanko Bright—A Ship In The Ocean

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Above is a ship called the Sanko Bright. This ship is registered to Singapore.

This picture was taken in Galveston Bay last week from the Bolivar Ferry.

According to the world ship registry, the Sanko Bright is a crude oil tanker.

Here are photos of the Sanko Bright in different places around the world.

The Coast Guard put out a press release involving this ship back in 2007—The Coast Guard medevaced a crewman from an oil tanker in the Galveston Fairway anchorage off Galveston, Texas, this morning. A watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Houston/Galveston received a call for assistance at 6 a.m. from the captain of the Sanko Bright, a 783-foot oil tanker, reporting one of his crewmembers was having difficulty breathing and his face was swelling. The Coast Guard patrol boat Skipjack was diverted from patrol to medevac the man.  The boat arrived on scene at 7:19 a.m. and crewmembers went aboard the tanker to assess the man. The Skipjack transported him to the Coast Guard base in Galveston, where awaiting emergency medical personnel transported him to the University of Texas Medical Branch, also in Galveston.

I hope the crewman was okay.

Though the ship is supposed to be from Singapore, it is owned by a Japanese company—The Sanko Steamship Company.

 A book I read about global shipping is The Outlaw Sea by William Langewiesche. The book talks about ships with poor safety records and about tax avoidance and poor regulation at sea. Here is a review of this book from The National Sea Grant Law Center. 

It is fun to see big ships in the ocean, though I do feel they should all be regulated and that the people who own the ships should pay all taxes due.

This is why I am hoping to be appointed Czar of the World’s Oceans by the United Nations. I will keep my readers up to date on my quest for this title.  

April 12, 2009 Posted by | Books, Galveston | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UTMB Rehiring—Why All The Layoffs To Start With?

The University of Texas Medical Branch is now hiring people back after massive layoffs in recent months

I’m glad about this. Though I’m still concerned about the future of UTMB in Galveston.

At the moment though, what I’d really like to know is why all the layoffs to start with? Surely there was some other more transparent way to do this that did not cause so much misery and anxiety for UTMB workers and for the people of Galveston.

March 25, 2009 Posted by | Galveston | , | 2 Comments

First Ever Texas Liberal Video—I Have Confidence In You

Here is the first Texas Liberal video. I filmed it on Galveston’s East Beach a few days ago. It is just under 2 minutes long.

The video explains why I am making videos for the blog. The video expresses the idea that I have confidence in you because of the things that you and I have in common. 

Not in the video is the rotting dolphin carcass that was about 30 feet away from where I was standing.  At first look, people thought it was a seal carcass. Don’t folks know that the only seal ever to come near Galveston was the now-extinct Caribbean Monk Seal? (Below) This was the only seal native to the Gulf of Mexico.

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Why do you think that people must drive big pickups onto the beach and motor around in circles? I’d like people to please know that I kept my eye on the camera despite these trucks, the dolphin carcass, the many bulldozers replenishing the beach with sand after last year’s Hurricane Ike, and people feeding seagulls out of moving cars as the seagulls followed the cars in noisy flocks.  

Thank you for reading this blog and for watching the video.

March 2, 2009 Posted by | Galveston, Sea Life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Ron Paul Joins The Socialist Movement—Welcome Aboard!

So-called libertarian Congressman Ron Paul, a Republican from the Houston-Galveston area, is now happily part of the Obama Socialist movement. (Above are logos of the Socialist Party of Portugal. This is what party Rep. Paul would be a member of if he lived in Portugal.)

Here is the Houston Chronicle reporting on Congressman Paul’s adding of earmarks to the recent stimulus bill —“Rep. Ron Paul vehemently denounced the $410 billion catch-all spending bill approved last week by the House of Representatives. But although the libertarian-leaning Republican from Lake Jackson cast a vote against the massive spending measure, his fingerprints were on some of the earmarks that helped inflate its cost. Paul played a role in obtaining 22 earmarks worth $96.1 million, which led the Houston congressional delegation, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of more than 8,500 congressionally mandated projects inserted into the bill. His earmarks included repair projects to the Galveston Seawall damaged by Hurricane Ike and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.”

It’s easy to say you oppose the bill and vote against the bill when you know it is going to pass. What would have been the real test for Rep. Paul would have been to not  add any projects to the bill. If you know it is going to pass, you know that by adding projects you will be increasing the cost of the package.

I’m glad to see that big government is on the move in the United States and in Texas. People can whine and moan, but in the end they know that it is only government that can do big things such as fixing the Galveston Seawall and the Intracoastal Waterway after a hurricane.

With the support of people such as Representative Paul here in Texas, I know that this movement of big government will be very hard to stop even after the recession ends.

Also, in addition to Congressman Paul, let me please thank former President George W. Bush for messing up so bad that he made this all possible. I’ve been waiting really all my life for a government that works for average folks and now finally it seems we have that chance.   

(Below–The Intracoastal Waterway at Bolivar and entering Galveston Bay)

March 1, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Galveston, Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

In Galveston Today—Extinct Fish, Sea Monsters, Mermaids, Merbabies And Neptune

What do I hope to see and film in Galveston today when I go down to the island with my new Flip Camera to film some videos for this blog?

(Update–Here is the video I recorded in Galveston.)

Extinct sea beasts ( Here is information on prehistoric fish.)  

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Sea monsters  (Here are drawings of all types of sea monsters) —

Mermaids ( Here are mermaids from the American Museum of Natural History.) —

Mermaids with merbabies (Yep–That’s a real painting. By an Arnold Bocklin who lived from 1827 until 1901. Check out this one.)

And, of course, Neptune himself  (Here is a measure of information on Neptune.) —

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Here are some things you might also see if you visit Galveston.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal. Without the blog reading public, what is a blog?

February 27, 2009 Posted by | Art, Blogging, Galveston | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Big Texas Liberal Blogging Announcement & Innovation

Hello Blog Reading Public!

I’ve purchased one of the small Flip Cameras because I’m going to film videos and post them on this blog from time-to-time.  I have many ideas for these videos—Though as yet these ideas are not fully formed.

( Update–Here is the link to the first video I recorded.)

(Above–19th Century camera. This would be a bit bulky to carry around. Here is some history of 19th century photography.)

Over the next week, I’m going to think what I would like to say, do and film in my videos. I’m going to test the camera both inside and outside to see how it works in various settings and how well it records sound. Later this week, I’m going to go to Galveston, Texas, on the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and film my first videos.  

(Below–A movie camera of a type still in use. It is an Arricam ST. This camera is a bit elaborate for what I plan to be doing. Think of the batteries it must take. ) 

Because I want to do the videos right, I’m going to post on a reduced basis for the next week or so here at Texas Liberal. There’s only so much time I can spend blogging while keeping my job and spending time with the excellent wife. 

I’ll post a picture or something else short and easy.  Despite these short posts, I urge regular readers to still visit the blog as often as possible. The higher my blog traffic each day, the better I feel about the collective judgement of those I share the planet with.

(Below–A disposable camera. Hopefully you’ll feel that this blog merits more than one use.)

Texas Liberal has averaged 1645 page views a day since the first of the year. I have the goal of being the largest individually operated political blog in Houston and in Texas. I’m also a featured political reader blogger at the Houston Chronicle. (And I post on things other than politics as well.)

( Below–This self-portrait of one Robert Cornelius from 1839 is said to be the first picture of a person ever taken. Will anything I do last 170 years?)

If you like this blog, please forward the link. A blog grows one reader at a time.  Please also feel free to add me as a friend on Facebook. My name is Neil Aquino and I live in Houston. My profile picture at the moment is a boat stuck on land after Hurricane Ike.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal. If you have any ideas for my videos, please offer a comment.  

(Below–A Flip Camera just like the one I now have. I hope I do a good and creative job with my videos. Please visit Texas Liberal very often and see how I am doing.) 

February 24, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Galveston, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cardinal DiNardo, Silent On Many Questions Of Social Justice, Shuts Schools in Poor Areas And Opens Schools In More Wealthy Areas

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, silent on so many questions of social justice, is shutting down four schools in poor urban areas and is looking at opening new schools in more affluent sections of the region including The Woodlands.  

From the Houston Chronicle article on the subject

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will close four elementary schools in low-income areas by summer, but will be building schools in fast-growing suburbs, diocesan officials announced Friday. The diocese is urging about 450 students at the schools that will be closed to transfer to nearby Catholic schools. “We do have limited resources like everyone in the world,” said diocesan superintendent Sister Kevina Keating. “Our Catholic schools are here to stay.” Closing will be: • • Holy Name, just north of downtown• • St. Philip Neri in the Sunnyside-South Park area• • St. Charles Borromeo on Tidwell• • Our Mother of Mercy in the Fifth Ward just northeast of downtown.

 Some parents and officials at soon-to-be-shuttered schools decried the diocese’s decision. The diocese, they said, will cater to the needs of affluent parishes but is giving up on a mission to help children in some disadvantaged neighborhoods. The median annual household income in neighborhoods surrounding the four schools range from $22,000 to $33,000, according to the latest Census figures available. The schools are in mostly Hispanic and black neighborhoods. …The diocese hired Meitler Consultants of Hales Corners, Wisc., to study its current and future demographics and revenue stream. The consultants recommended which schools should close and which areas needed schools. New schools the diocese is opening are generally being built in suburbs. St. Theresa parish in Sugar Land opened a school while the diocese was studying the closing issue. …Catholic officials are considering opening a high school in Spring or The Woodlands….”

Please get with the program Cardinal DiNardo. Your voice is needed speaking out about the drastic cuts at the U. of  Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, the urgent need for greater resources for hurricane recovery, the large number of people without health insurance around here, and the ever-widening gap between rich and poor in the region served by the Archdiocese.  

Yet instead of your clear and consistent voice on these questions, what we get are these school closings. Why would anyone look to you for leadership on questions of social justice when you close schools in poor areas in order to serve the more affluent? 

Would St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (drawing above), the Patron Saint of Catholic Schools, have followed this course?  St Elizabeth, who was the first American born saint, cared for all. From a description of her life— 

The extraordinary manner in which Elizabeth lived an ordinary life flowed from the centrality of the Word of God and the Eucharist in her life. These strengthened her enabling her to be a loving person toward God, her family, her neighbor, and all of creation. She undertook works of mercy and justice. Not only did she and her Sisters of Charity care for orphans, widows, and poor families, but they also addressed unmet needs among persons oppressed by multiple forms of poverty. Elizabeth had a special concern for children who lacked educational opportunities, especially for religious instruction in the faith.”

No–St. Elizabeth would not have followed the path that Cardinal DiNardo is following.

February 8, 2009 Posted by | Galveston, Houston | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hurricanes Not A Rainy Day Expense?

The malignancy known as the Texas State Legislature must decide if it should make more cuts to state programs, or dip into the nine billion dollar rainy day fund to help pay for expenses related to Hurricane Ike and two other hurricanes that impacted Texas last year. 

Above—Not a rainy day. Hurricane Ike flooding not far from where I live in Houston.

Governor Rick Perry says that the Federal Government should pick up many of the costs. That’s because Governor Perry is a big believer in using government to help people. (That’s a joke.  He’s not those things. He’s a mean guy who panders to a mean constituency.)

The idea that we would even consider cutting services in this already barbaric state because we had a hurricane that came and did people a lot of damage is….well, that idea is just Texas for you.

February 6, 2009 Posted by | Galveston, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , | 2 Comments

25 Things About This Blogger—With Paul Revere Painting

I’ve been tagged for one of these 25 things about me lists on Facebook. Vanity compels me to comply. I’ve not yet posted this on Facebook. It’s just that I need a blog post for today.

I like Facebook. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with folks.  If any of the blog reading public would like to add a friend who is also one of America’s leading bloggers…..well, I can’t help you.  But if you’d like to add me, my name in Neil Aquino and I live in Houston. Look me up and I’ll add you on. The more the merrier. 

Here we go—

1. Anything good about me, or good in my life, is in large part due to my wife. Anything bad is my doing.

2. I’ve had four clear-cut best friends at points in my life. One is my wife. One was a grade school kid I’ve long lost touch with. One is just beginning the study of Chinese medicine in Portland, Oregon. I still exchange e-mails with her on and off.  The final one is the only I can’t have a decent conversation with anymore. I’m appreciative of her friendship at one time in my life, but I don’t regret the inability to converse with her now.

3. Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off giving up the blog and writing a letter to a friend each day. I give a fair amount of thought about the best ways to communicate.

4. I work hard to maintain friendships across the years and across what are now often great distances. I’m mostly successful with this. Yet I have room to do better.

5. When we keep up with friends, I feel we provide our lives with a measure of permanence that offers a rebuttal to death. We are saying there is a source of stability in an existence marked by things moving away from each other. Longstanding relationships also give a greater relevance to the ways we’ve spent our time in life. When you have a friend for a long time, it’s evidence that you made a good decision many years ago. 

6. I feel you can define family in anyway you choose.

7.  I wish I had the ability to be an artist of some kind. I’d like to be able to  paint a picture. I’d paint a picture of people in a way that conveyed who they are. I’m lucky to have seen in person Copley’s painting of Paul Revere in Boston. Below you see that painting. It’s my favorite.  In this painting, Mr. Revere is both a worker and a thinker. 

 

8. I wish I had the time in life to be as creative as I feel I could be. I could gain a measure of that time by the better application of self-discipline.  

9. I feel that both the material events in our lives, as well as the thoughts that we think, all need context. Nothing exists alone. We need to know what came before and what may come after.

10. I think one can merge the public and private aspects of life in ways that give greater meaning to both. The two should not be divorced from one another.

11. I often wonder how one can combine a strong desire to be alone with a need to communicate. Hopefully, I’m able to do this in a way that is neither (fully) stand-offish or involves being around to much. (Though in truth, I’ve not yet figured this mix out.)

12. I have a good memory. I recall some things with such clarity that I feel the events I’m thinking about are taking place again.  This makes me wonder that if man is the measure of all things, than does not the abilty to retain and relive our memories challenge some of our concepts of time? The past is present in our thoughts and as a guide to our future actions.    

13. If each morning we could take just a few moments to assess our lives and our goals for the day, that would be an act of creation and imagination we could accomplish each day.

We could create time and time again. We could do so in a way that builds upon what came before, so that even an act of creation comes with context. I want to have the discipline to be able to do this.

14. I’m not convinced our leaders really believe most Americans have a viable economic future. At least in relation to how we have lived before. 

15. I’ve never spent a night outdoors and I never will unless forced to do so by a bad turn of events.

16. Just because your life is very good, does not mean it is entirely the life you want. Expressing this thought does not detract from the good things in your life. 

17. I’d like to live on an island.

18. I feel at home when with the wife, when at the ocean in Galveston, Texas, when writing, and when reading.  I also felt at home when I was at a bar called the  Jockey Club in Newport, Kentucky. That place has long been torn down.

19.  Much about the practice of politics bores me. I did not like most people I met when I worked in politics. Though the time I spent involved in politics was worth it.

20. I’m proud of the fact that my name has been on the ballot twice. Once as a candidate for Democratic precinct executive a Hamilton County, Ohio. I was the only candidate and won with about 15 votes cast in my little voting precinct.  That was, I think, in 1992. I got a certificate of election from the county. In 1997, I ran for the Cincinnati Board of Education and won about 10,000 votes.  I finished 9th of 12 with the top four being elected. I was endorsed by Stonewall Cincinnati and by a number of unions. Beyond being glad I had not finished last, I felt that I had done well in the voting.

 21. The best non-fiction book I’ve read is S.E. Finer’s three volume history of government. The best novel I’ve read is The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.  

22. I’d like to start volunteering somewhere. I have a place in mind.

23. I’m lucky.

24. I think we can balance a strong and autonomous personality, with the need for collective action in our political lives. What could be better than free citizens making the willing choice to work for common ends?

 25. I’ll end where I started—Anything good about me, or good in my life, is in large part due to my wife. Anything bad is my doing

January 31, 2009 Posted by | Art, Blogging, Books, Cincinnati, Galveston, Houston, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Politics, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

If Only Our Own Defenses Against The Storms Of Life Could Be Fixed With Some Sand And A Few Dollars

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Galveston Seawall is at risk of collapse after all the years of storms and after the more recent battering of Hurricane Ike. (Above–Seawall protecting Galveston from a hurricane in 1909. Here is some information about that storm. It was the first big test for the Seawall after the famous 1900 storm )

From today’s Chronicle article— “For a century, this vulnerable barrier island’s famed Seawall has protected, comforted, enabled and endured. But the hopelessly romantic notion that the Seawall could stand tall forever, holding back storm surges while preserving Galveston as a place apart, disappeared with Hurricane Ike. The September storm threatened the wall by exposing the wooden pilings that support its older sections, state and local officials said. Ike left so little sand to shield the Seawall’s base that the underpinnings could corrode or wash away, causing the 17-foot-high concrete structure to collapse. The danger has prompted a multimillion-dollar effort to replenish the beach in front of the Seawall before the next hurricane season. “We wouldn’t be spending millions of dollars if we weren’t really concerned about the wall,” said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who is responsible for the state’s coastline. “We want it to be there another 100 years. The effort requires more than 400,000 cubic yards of sand from nearby land to be dumped along the Seawall to create a 70-foot beach from 10th Street to 61st — a strip that fronts several hotels and restaurants.

This is indeed a dire report. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if our own internal defenses from the batterings  life offers could be restored with some sand and a few dollars? You’d be worn down from life, but have the knowledge that it could be fixed and you’d be back up and running. 

We all have our internal reserves, and for many of us they are quite strong and resilient. We also have people in our lives who help us out. There are beliefs we can call upon.  

Still, it would be good to know that when we simply run out of steam, that there was a fix such as the plan to secure the Seawall after over 100 years of hard work protecting Galveston. 

Here is some good information about the Seawall.

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Galveston, Texas | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Way To Get Rid Of A Hooters

One way to get rid of a Hooters is to have a hurricane come and blow it away.  This is what happened in Galveston, Texas with Hurricane Ike.

I got this picture from Wikipedia. I wish I had taken the picture because it is a scene I have walked past twice since Ike. But I did not take the picture.

I can’t recall if the Hooters was located where the there is nothing over the first set of wooden beams, or if it isthe damaged structure behind the beams. I think it is was where there is nothing at all.

There had been place called the Ocean Grill at this spot. It was there for at least 5 or 6 years— Maybe longer. I went there sometimes and sat out on the balcony that overlooked the ocean.  It’s so hard to find peace in the world and this was a place I found some peace.

One time I went there and intended to read a book of Martin Luther King sermons while I ate lunch. The hostess noticed my book and made a comment about how it looked interesting. I gave her the book.

I don’t say that to make out like I’m some great guy.  It’s just that each time I walked past the Ocean Grill—I visit Galveston from my home in Houston every six or seven weeks—this is what I thought about. I thought about the  young woman I had given the book to and about Martin Luther King.

Then the Ocean Grill closed and a Hooters opened up. Oh, how I hated that Hooters.

I’m sorry about all the trouble Hurricane Ike caused. But I am glad the Hooters is gone.

(Please click here for my Martin Luther King Reading And Reference List.)

January 17, 2009 Posted by | Books, Galveston, Martin & Malcolm | , , , , | 4 Comments

People Won’t Evacuate If They Have Nowhere To Go

The following was in a recent New York Times article about the Israeli assault on Gaza 

The Israeli Army also dropped thousands of leaflets into some residential districts warning inhabitants to evacuate their homes. Because of “the activity of terrorist groups,” the leaflets said in Arabic, the army “is obliged to respond quickly and work from inside your residential area.” Many residents of one apartment block in Gaza City said they had nowhere else to go and would stay in their homes.”

This made me think about all the people who did not evacuate New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina or Galveston before Hurricane Ike. It was clear from news reports that many who stayed behind were very poor. 

If folks don’t feel they have a better option but to stay and take their chances, they will quite possibly not evacuate when troubl is on the way. I think this is one of those cases where you have to be in the other person’s shoes to fully understand.

Though it is certainly easy, as I heard many times here in Houston after Hurricane Ike, to sit high and dry and criticize others. All I can say in reply is that if people are telling you that they are not going to get out of the way of bombs and hurricanes, I bet they have a good enough reason. At least in the context of their lives and their experiences in life, they have a good enough reason.

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Galveston, Houston, Hurricane Katrina | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Thankful For My Excellent Wife—Happy Thanksgiving

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Above and below are pictures of my wife. In the picture below she is with me. We are at a miniature golf course in Galveston in these photos. I don’t know if the course still exists. It may well have been blown away by Hurricane Ike. 

On Thanksgiving Day, and on all days, I’m thankful for my wife. She is the best person ever.

Please have a very good Thanksgiving. I’ll be back with a new post on Saturday.

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November 27, 2008 Posted by | Galveston, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever | , , | 1 Comment