July 27, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

When Nikolai Yezhov, a top Soviet official, got on the wrong side of Stalin and the front side of a firing squad, he was air brushed out of official group photos. Yezhov never existed. That’s what some folks are trying to do with our own history, erase any mention of the Confederacy. (In Memphis, the bodies of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife are being dug up and moved to a more obscure site.) In Texas, we have many reminders of our part in the War for Southern Independence, as my grandmother called it. The biggest flap is what to do with the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis on the South Mall of the UT-Austin campus. The Longhorns ain’t just whistling Dixie anymore.

The movement to erase any mention of the War of Northern Aggression, as my other grandmother called it, is growing, and we must wonder why, after all this time. I think one reason is demographics. In recent years, Texas has been inundated by a million newcomers from the other states, many from the North. They don’t know and really don’t care about our history. They didn’t grow up with Friday Night Lights and Saturday night rodeos. No Willie and Waylon and the boys. No Travis, Bowie and Crockett. And definitely no Lee, Johnston and Davis. Some are more than indifferent, they are missionaries to the savages, wanting to change our past and our culture. (“Why do your children say ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, ma’m,’” I was asked by a newcomer from New York.) So we have many new Texans whose ancestors wore blue, and who they would just as soon get out the air brush.

Fine, that’s their opinion – only they want to make it mine, too. But who or what do we put on the UT pedestal to replace Jefferson Davis? We can’t leave that big space with its large base totally empty. Thus we must fill in the blanks. The first name that pops up is Rick Perry, but when the Aggies wanted to rename their main building on campus the Rick Perry Silo, he refused. So did his bail bondsman. Perry might feel the same way about a UT statue. Darrell Royal would be fine, except the Longhorns already have an enormous football stadium named for him. Earl Campbell is too modest to allow it. Bevo? Been done. Michael Dell dropped out of UT after his freshman year to dabble in computers, and was never heard of again. But he must have done well because the new UT medical school on campus is named after him. If we do want two salutes to Dell, he should be portrayed in a smock wearing Latex gloves.

There are lots of other candidates. Moses Rose springs to mind. He was a defender of the Alamo, a role which should certainly be honored. However there are problems with this. He went by two names: Moses and Lewis Rose. Also, he was the one and only defender to flee the mission before the final siege. Years later, when asked why he left, he explained: “I didn’t want to get killed.” Now who can argue with that? His quote should be carved on his pedestal as an inspiration to all the students who dropped a course just before finals. Another candidate is Wallace L. Hall, the regent who wants professors to actually teach a class. But doctoral candidates would vandalize it by dawn.

Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury and the man who set up many financial policies for the nation which are followed to this day, is probably going to be replaced on the $10 bill by a woman. The key to Hamilton’s weakness is the previously mentioned “the man.” For it is decreed that a woman needs to have her face on a bill. Which woman? It doesn’t make any difference, any woman. So how about replacing Jefferson Davis (a man), with a woman who fairly shouts “Longhorns!” to the world. I suggest a cheerleader, with large pom-poms. (Big Bertha is a drum.) Maybe a frat house-mother wearing a blindfold, with hands over her ears, see no evil, etc.

If a woman deserves a place on the podium to replace Jefferson, how about minorities? Juan Seguin, the only Texian to fight both at the Alamo and San Jacinto, or José Antonio Navarro, lawmaker, legislator and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Maybe a statue honoring Jose Cuervo, inventor of the margarita and Tex-Mex food. Each time a student orders a frozen-with-salt and a plate of enchiladas with rice and beans, she will think of that statue on the mall, which is more than we can say about Jefferson Davis. There are many black Texans who could be honored: Barbara Jordan and Scott Joplin would be leading candidates, among many others.

The pedestal doesn’t even have to support a person. The Spirit of East Sixth Street? Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars Texans pour into the school, how about Tomb of the Unknown Taxpayer? A large pyramid with the top cut off, dedicated to “The bottom 99 percent.” The UT alumni magazine, the Alcalde, like most alumni publications, always features graduates who became senators, tech tycoons, Olympic stars or, more importantly, grads who made a squillion bucks and gave some of it to the school. But they are the tip of the pyramid. Holding them up are the other 99 percent who weren’t Rhodes scholars, Nobel laureates or made a squillion dollars. You can’t have the top 1 percent without the bottom 99 percent down below holding them up.

So there are my suggestions to air brush our past. Actually, simply to rectify history, UT may want to put up a statue to honor Nikolai Yezhov, “Victim of Stalin.”

First student looking at statue: “Who was Yezhov?”

Second student: “Beats me. Who was Stalin?”

First student: “I think he was on the ten-dollar bill,”


Ashby is statuesque at


The Magical Island of Fano

July 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

by Dick Dace

When Barbara invited me to join her family holiday on Fano, an island where her family has vacationed for more than forty years, I was thrilled. When she told me the houses were built by hobbits, the beaches were covered in jewels, and dragons flew in the sky, I said, Absolutely!

Fano is a small, picture-perfect barrier island in the North Sea. People from all over northern Europe flock to the island, not just for the sun or plethora of seashells, but for the ruby-red, blood-orange, and daffodil-yellow amber, the fossilized tree sap from the Jurassic period. This gorgeous garnet brings people from around the world and to their knees to dig through the flotsam and jetsam pushed ashore by southwestern storms.

They arrive promptly at 10 am, in any weather, rain or shine, and flock like birds to one of the widest and deepest beachs in the world. The beaches were broadened by the north sea’s currents that have moved thousands of tons of Moroccan sand from Sylt, its neighboring island.

“I found one!” Barbara screamed, to no one in particular. Did she really jump up and down?

I confess I wanted to know the size and color, but instead I said nothing, and doubled my efforts.

Fano is only accessible by a twenty-minute ferry ride from Esbjerg, Denmark, a vibrant port city with regularly scheduled service to Iceland and Norway. This tiny paradise is a summer and winter playground for anyone looking for the perfect beach getaway with beautiful scenery and adorable wild animals, which reminded me: Where are those dragons?

While no Game of Thrones-worthy winged reptile yet, by day two, I had checked off gem-covered beaches and now, hobbit-built homesteads. Slung low, close to the ground, their roofs made from local reeds, the homes remarkably resemble Bilbo Baggins’ cottage in the Shire. And Fano’s answer to the Shire is every bit as magical. Practical too, especially for tourists, as more than 300 homes on the island are for rent, many with a pool or sauna, and able to comfortably accommodate 6, 8, even 12 people.

Originally, Fano was a center for shipbuilding and whale hunting. After the invention of the steamship, Fano reinvented itself as a place for those seeking a seaside cure. People still come to Fano for what ails them to this day, enjoying its sea breezes and its sun. And those dragons!

Whether they pushed the pronunciation a little bit, or I was guilty of magical hearing, I eventually discovered that my friends were actually saying Drachens, the Germany word for kites. Some days, the Fano sky is so filled with kites there isn’t a lot of room for dragons. Some kites are so large, people use them to surf the sand, or to pull their three-wheeled buggies back and forth along the beach. The display is vibrant, constantly moving, with geometric shapes in rainbow colors zipping, swooping, curving, and diving against a brilliant blue background. No surprise Fano is home to several national kite flying clubs.

But not all the charming sights of Fano are overhead. In fact, one of the many perks of waking up early on Fano is watching the local inhabitants begin their day. Standing in the kitchen one morning, I spied a white tail, four-point buck, crossing the road in front of our house near the beach. His mother must have loved him very much, because he looked both ways before crossing. Within seconds, a large jack rabbit just flat out ran (pun intended) and leaped across the street with a hop and a jump.

After lunch one day, Barbara’s brother Hansjoerg and I took a bicycle tour of the island, which at its longest point, is about five miles long. Scattered across the island are more than 300 monolithic concrete anti-aircraft above-ground bunkers that the Germans built during World War II to protect the it from an Allied invasion. The largest, now mostly buried by the dunes, has only two turrets and one entrance visible. They’ve all seem to have been forgotten except one, located near the beach, and noticeable by the “Free Love” emblazoned on its side by a local graphic artist. Today, its more practical use is as a marker for where to park one’s car.

Another afternoon, we went on safari, which, granted, sounds a bit out of the ordinary for a placid island getaway. But it was extraordinary because it was an oyster safari. No pith helmet required.

Apparently, cargo ships have entered port with several hundred stowaway Gulf Oysters on board. When the ship flushed its bilge water, the oysters were deposited directly into the delicate ecosystem of Fano. These oysters filter a gallon of water an hour. The local clams filter only a gallon of water a day. Making oyster safaris a very valuable ecological tool to try to keep this invasive species in check. Our guide, Thomas, took us to the port side of the harbor, and with buckets in-hand, we walked out into the water. And walked. And walked. It took my fellow safari mates and I nearly an hour at steady pace—45 minutes to be exact—before the waters began to rise above our ankles. I started to wonder if Sylt had any beaches left. At that point, all we had to do was simply reach down and within five minutes, pull up a bucketful of three-to four-year-old oysters.

Thomas showed us several ways to eat our harvest. He started a charcoal fire, and roasted the oysters in their own juices for several few minutes, before opening and adding different toppings to the oysters, including strawberries, pico de gallo and Italian dressing. We decided that the ones we liked best were the oysters served raw, straight from the shell.

Soon, our week on Fano was over. However, renting a shire-style bungalow is as easy as it is convenient, and instead of sad goodbyes, conversation quickly turned to planning our return. We comforted ourselves with the knowledge that within a year, we would all be back, in a cottage complete with a furnished kitchen and all the other amenities of home, affording us the opportunity to meet locals and other travelers, and actually “live” this island life. While it’s great fun to take turns cooking, if we decided not to, we had a more than generous selection of restaurants on the island, everyone serving the freshest fish. If you prefer a less do-it-your-self type of vacation, there are a few hotels and guest houses available.  But no matter where you decide to stay, you’re sure to find, as I did, that Fano is the perfect place to find a truly magical adventure—dragons, or drachens, included.



Holiday in July at JW in San Antonio

July 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog



Santa Claus Soaks in Some Sun at the Popular Hill Country Resort

Swim with Santa at the JW Marriott San Antonio

Swim with Santa at the JW Marriott San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO – July 21, 2015JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa welcomes Santa Claus as he takes some time to kick back and enjoy the Hill Country scenery and laid back pace.  The resort will host Santa on Saturday, July 25 from 4 7 p.m. and will celebrate his arrival with a 72-hour room sale open to everyone for booking select days at 55%-60% off regular high season rates.  Room rates are for arrival stays November 22-29, 2015 and December 6, 2015 – January 3, 2016, some blackout days apply.  In recognition of Santa’s summer vacation and a “Christmas in July” spirit, the 72-hour sale will begin July 24 and end July 26.


The 72-hour sale rates are $149 per night for a resort room and $169 for a resort room with a view. No booking codes needed and reservations may be made at or or by calling 210.276.2500.  Rates are per room, per night; taxes and resort fees are additional.


With six-acres of water slides, pools and lounge areas, Santa will enjoy acting like a kid again while soaking up some sun and fun with resort guests.  Wearing his resort attire, guests will be able to spot Santa splashing in the pools, floating down the lazy river and climbing the stairs to the tower slides during the late morning.  Along with his elves, the jolly guy looks forward to talking with kids and their parents before he begins working long days at the North Pole making his lists and checking them twice.  Holiday-themed activities and offerings will be featured for resort guests that day to celebrate Santa’s visit.

“The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is delighted to welcome Santa Claus as he rests and restores for his busy season.   We are excited that our guests can interact with him giving them another delightful memory to take home from their experiences at the resort,” said Mary Jo Ferrazza, director of experience, JW Marriott San Antonio.


The resort will add some surprise twists to the day with holiday themed activities such as temporary tattoos, holiday cookie decorating, roasting peppermint chocolate s’mores and more.  Elves will be seen roaming about the interior and exterior of the hotel passing out treats to those caught being kind to others. Young travelers will have the opportunity to float, swim and slide with Santa Claus for a few hours that morning before he sneaks away for some time in the resort’s spa and sharpening his golf game on one of the TPC San Antonio’s two PGA TOUR courses.







July 20, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

There has been a lot of confusion about the 2015 presidential races, so once again as the Answer Man, I shall clear up any questions, doubts and other stupid problems bothering you. Yes, the gentleman in the tri-corn hat and carrying a musket.

Answer Man, first of all, the elections are in 2016, or maybe it’s 1776. As a member of the Tea Party, which presidential candidate best reflects our beliefs and priorities?

An easy one. Millard Fillmore. Next, from the old guy with the white hair holding the “Sanders for President” poster. Please state your name.

I’d rather not. But do you think some guy from a little state like, say, Vermont, with almost no cash compared to his opponents, and no national recognition, stands a chance, especially if he’s a self-described socialist who wants to confiscate wealth and give it to the poor? Can he be elected?

Possibly, if he were running for president of Cuba. His best bet is to appeal to his base, Occupy Wall Street, but avoid the Starbucks bathrooms. Incidentally, in these election primaries there are many candidates, and perhaps I can give you some tips. We have Carly Fiorina, which many voters believe goes well with tuna bucatini and a dry pinot grigio. Actually, Fiorina was once head of HP and ran it almost as well as BP. She laid off 30,000 American employees, the stock lost more than half its value, and she was fired. But Fiorina left with a golden parachute of $20 million, big enough to self-finance her run for U.S. senator from California. She lost, but must still have some funds left over, because she’s now running for president. On the plus side, she is the daughter of a UT law professor.

Speaking of Texas, we have Rick Perry, better known to the voters as Governor Oops. Perry is the only candidate in either party under two felony indictments, or maybe three. He’s confused, but he plans to campaign in all 45 states. Also from Texas is Sen. Ted Cruz, who is MIA from the Senate, since he’s been away campaigning for president even before he was sworn in. But back to the questions. Has anyone heard of Donald Trump?


Next question, from the lady in the ragged T-shirt, cut-offs, with the large snake tattoo on her legs, both of them, and smoking something that smells funny.

Yeah, Man Answer, like, my name is Wonder Woman and I’m from Colorado, I think, and, like, there are so many candidates, especially on the Repub, Public, whatever, side. Which POG candidate best reflects my own, uh, like stuff, ya know? And why do you look like a giant anteater?

Wonder Woman, vote for Rand Paul. He is for legalizing almost everything except straight hair. Another wannabe president is Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida, who doesn’t believe in global warming, but may when his state is flooded by melting glaciers. Same for another Miami vice, Jeb Bush, who is famous for being a Bush, but quickly changed his last name to !, so he is now Jeb!, which is easier to write. Bobby Jindal from Louisiana also changed his name, from Piyush Jindal, explaining, “Piyush is such a Cajun name.” Rick Santorum, a Catholic father of seven whose kids are home-schooled, says he is troubled by even married couples using birth control. Next question.

Answer Man, who are Chafee, O’Malley and Webb?

They are others seeking the Democratic nomination against the wife of Bill Clinton, Monica somebody. Like that guy carrying the Sanders’ sign, those three nobodies don’t have much of an organization, money or voter recognition. You can spot their faces on the sides of milk cartons. Oh, and about Mrs. Clinton, pundits say her nomination is “inevitable.” They said the same thing in 2008. Since I am talking about money, casino tycoon Sheldon Adelman and his wife dropped more than $90 million last time around on first Newt Gingrich and then on Mitt Romney, and don’t have squat to show for it. But I hear the inside track still goes to Romney. I mean, they have all those bumper stickers for yachts left over. Then there are the men behind the curtain, manipulating the American political system, the Koch brothers, pronounced like “coke.” Just remember, elections go better with Koch.

Answer Man, obviously some of these candidates have no chance of winning, so why do they put themselves and their families through such an ordeal?

It is said that no presidential candidate runs for vice president. Tell that to LBJ, George H.W. Bush, maybe Joe Biden and all the other pols who ran for president but settled for second banana, then finally got the top job. There is also the ego or narcissism factor. Some people crave the spotlight, and shrivel without it. Examples: Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Dan Patrick and the person who was once Bruce Jenner. They are addicted to attention.

How is Fox News going to handle so many Republican candidates in one debate?

Fox News, or Faux News as some call it, has a real problem on its hands. Limiting the candidates to 10 excludes others, shutting them off to oblivion — or Iowa. If Ben Carson, the lone black candidate, is left out, the GOP will look like a party made up only of rich white guys.

What’s your point?

If Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is not included, there goes the Confederate vote. So Fox will do as it always does, blame the liberal media. Up till now I haven’t even mentioned Pataki, Huckabee and Kasich.

Is that a law firm or a Vaudeville act?

They are even more GOP candidates. In any event, it’s going to be a great race.

Great race? Does that mean you’re backing Ben Carson?


Answer Man, this whole crowd looks like a bunch of incompetent clowns who will say or do anything, pandering to our worst instincts.

Next question.

Ashby is electable at


July 8, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

           THE SHOW ROOM – As expected, I found you here, checking out the 2016 Lamborghinis. I am thinking the same, or maybe a round-the-world cruise. The kids can pay off their own student loans. I am discussing, of course, the very large fortune that is coming our way – our share of the $18.7 billion that BP is going to pay out for its big oil dump in the Gulf off the Louisiana coast. Of that pile of cash, Texas is going to receive $788 million. There are currently about 27 million Texans, so that breaks down to, uh, 29 or 30 something for each of us. Maybe it’s $30,000 or $29,000. Or perhaps $29,

Before you pick the color of your Aventador (at $548,800 a steal), let’s discuss a few points. First, it is not really $788 million in cash BP is shoving across the table. The money is to be distributed over the next 15 to 18 years. Eighteen years ago was — don’t rush me — 1997, or maybe 23,000. Can anyone remember any politician’s or businessman’s promise from then? Of course not, nor or we supposed to. By 2028 the Deepwater Horizon disaster will be only an oil slime covering some forgotten pelicans. Like the Texas Lotto that promises a winning pot of $1 million, you have to take the payout over 20 years, otherwise it’s much less, then deduct the taxes, etc. and that million isn’t anywhere near a million. Also, some of this BP money has already been spent. And BP being a British company and formerly British Petroleum, we’ll probably be paid in euros or pounds or quid. Don’t forget the lawyers’ fees, because they certainly won’t.

However, congratulations to our Texas lawyers for getting all that loot considering our Gulf shores didn’t really suffer that much harm from oil scum. We had a few tar balls wash up close to Louisiana, some fishermen were inconvenienced, maybe even hurt financially, but in no way did Texas suffer $788 million in damages. Still, grab the money and run. Then there is the aspect of where to spend the money. Some of it has already been earmarked: $70 million for conservation, more for campsites, boardwalks and showers, plus research projects at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and UH. Almost half of these particular funds, $34.5 million, are being spent to buy a ranch. It’s the 17,351-acres Powderhorn Ranch along the coast between Port O’Connor and Port Lavaca, and far from the oil spill. I think the idea is that within five years the land will become 17,351 acres of great bird hunting for state officials. Just how one rationalizes spending money for oil spill damages on classrooms and showers eludes me. Maybe the showers are for oil-soaked dolphins. The rest of that $788 million is up for grabs, and we can bet that the grabbers are already getting in line, hiring lobbyists and dolling out campaign donations.

Fortunately, in this feeding frenzy we have a precedent, which we can learn from: The Big Tobacco Windfall of 1998. Under the agreement between the tobacco industry and most of the states, they would receive more than $206 billion over the next 25 years. Texas’s share was $15.3 billion (later increased to $17.3 billion), only behind California and New York. The money to the states was to be spent on health issues, anti-smoking messages mostly for teenagers, and associated causes.

Instead, the states have used the windfall for all sorts of unrelated projects, In Alaska, $3.5 million in settlement money was spent on shipping docks. In Niagara County, N.Y., $700,000 went for a public golf course’s sprinkler system, and $24 million for a county jail and an office building. Colorado has spent tens of millions of its share to support a literacy program, while Kentucky has invested half of its money in agricultural programs. And in North Carolina, in the ultimate irony, $42 million of the settlement funds actually went to tobacco farmers for modernization and marketing. Here in Texas, the state says it is spending the tobacco money as it is supposed to, but I haven’t seen any anti-tobacco ads, maybe because I’m not a smoking teenager. Anyway, keep your eye out for new golf course’s sprinkler systems.

According to the Austin Chronicle, the American Cancer Society (ACS) believes that tobacco control should be the first priority of tobacco settlement dollars. “Texas has earmarked $10 million a year to tobacco prevention programs, in the form of a $200 million endowment with only the interest being spent on the programs. The ACS believes that a fully-funded effective program would require about $60 million a year in a state the size of Texas (approximately $3 per capita.)”

Now let’s talk legal fees. When it comes to crafty lawyers, Texas is Numero Uno. With the tobacco settlement finally done, the lawyers descended, demanding fees which in some cases were ridiculous, others were only outrageous. By judge-shopping, attorneys received such generous payouts that some states sued to reduce them. Atlantic Monthly noted that the Massachusetts lawyers in that state’s tobacco case had already been awarded $775 million, an average of more than $7,700 an hour, and a key firm was suing for its share of an additional $1.3 billion. Texas scored the highest per capita legal fees award with $3.3 billion being divided among five lawyers plus two out-of-state attorneys, but at the end Texas lawyers were suing one another for a bigger chunk of the pie. So much for our anti-smoking campaign.

Then there is Katrina, and I say “is” rather than “was” because we shall be hearing about that disaster for years, mainly concern[ng lawsuits. My application for $5 million in yacht repairs was turned down because the judge said my rowboat had been deemed “unfit even for dry land” by the Coast Guard. Like they know anything about boats. So don’t order that Lamborghini just yet. You probably need the advice of a good lawyer.


Ashby’s share is at







Escape to Belize with Special Rates from Pelican Reef Villas Resort

July 6, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

HOUSTON, TX (July 7, 2015) – Travelers looking for a steal on island beach getaways can celebrate with reduced rates at the Pelican Reef Villas Resort. Summer rates have been reduced an additional 15% off of low season rates for a total discount of 40%. This season, Pelican Reef Villas Resort gives guests the opportunity to experience unforgettable summer fun by the Caribbean Sea in a luxury resort for a unique seasonal price. All rates include complimentary breakfast.


Guests staying at the Pelican Reef Villas Resort should note that details and days of availability vary as follows:

Beachfront Villa2 BR (1-2 guests) $239.40

2 BR (3-4 guests) $329.40

3 BR (1-6 guests) $419.40

Pool/Ocean View2 BR (1-2 guests) $191.40

2 BR (3-4 guests) $281.40

3 BR (1-6 guests) $359.40

Pool/Garden View2 BR (1-2 guests) $173.40

2 BR (3-4 guests) $257.40

3 BR (1-6 guests) $299.40

*Valid for redemption until December 19, 2015. Offer valid any day of the week. Promotion is subject to change. May be booked by emailing or calling reservations office. Not to be used with existing reservations or in conjunction with any other offers or specials. Additional restrictions may apply. All rates are in US Dollars and exclude a 9% Belize Hotel Tax.


The serene property of 23 villas is located at San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize. The small and exclusive resort allows every guest to enjoy a personalized vacation. Only steps away from the Caribbean Sea, each villa features fully equipped kitchens, satellite TV, free WiFi, queen-size beds with pillow-top mattresses, washer and dryer, Eco Fresh bath products and central air conditioning. 


The Pelican Reef Villas Resort provides the perfect setting for all visitors seeking select travel experiences from romantic getaways to adventure-driven itineraries to memorable wedding ceremonies. The resorts offers upscale amenities including an outdoor bar, an on-site restaurant, beach spa services, room service, an infinity pool with waterfall and wet-bar access, an on-site activities center, bikes and kayaks, golf cart rentals, a snorkeling reef underneath private pier, loungers with umbrellas, hammocks and luxurious interiors. Activity packages are also available for guests during their stay at the resort and allow visitors to participate in activities ranging from scuba adventures, jungle zip lines, fishing excursions, sailing, river cave tubing, snorkeling, jet skiing and much more.


The Pelican Reef Villas Resort’s location is steps away from the beach, walking distance to several restaurants and a short drive to the San Pedro town.


To reserve your room or to view a full list of amenities and packages of the Pelican Reef Villas Resort, please visit, call (281) 394-3739 or email the Reservations Manager at

About Pelican Reef Villas Resort:Named one of the Best Hotels in Belize by TripAdvisor, the Pelican Reef Villas Resort is an exclusive property nestled between private homes on Ambergris Caye, Belize. The resort provides a combination of 23 two- and three-bedroom luxury villas in a personalized and relaxing setting. Upscale amenities include complimentary WiFi, satellite TVs, outdoor bar, a beautiful infinity pool with wet-bar access, room service, beach spa services, private snorkeling pier, pool loungers, furnished balconies, fully equipped kitchens and central air conditioning.


The retreat also offers guests customized packages for weddings, romantic getaways, adventure experiences or relaxing escapes that can include scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing jungle zip lines, river cave tubing and much more. The resort’s ideal location is only steps away from the Caribbean Sea, the world’s second largest barrier reef and only three miles from the town of San Pedro. For additional information or to book your stay, please visit and follow us on  Facebook and Twitter.





July 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                6 July 2015




AUSTIN – The traffic on I-35 is stopped dead both ways, and it’s not even rush hour. Our state capital tried to solve this problem by double decking the freeway, but no luck (never play Texas Hold ‘Em with two decks). The road is the main north-south Interstate through the town, so to bypass this roadblock, they built a toll road looping from north of Austin, east of the city south to I-10 at Seguin. That bypass is so lightly used the project is facing bond foreclosure. The road has an 85-mph speed limit which adds excitement to the frequent collision with feral hogs. Incidentally, if you are wondering why there is no major east-west road through Austin, as Bob Lanier, then-chairman of the Texas Highway Commission, told me, “Not many people drive to Fredericksburg.”

Too many cars is another example of Texas’s growing pains. Take Austin, for example. In 1840 – before Texas was counted in the U.S. Census – the town’s population was 553. Today it is estimated at 912,791 and has a net growth of 110 new souls each day. This is occurring in an area of 319 square miles for a density of 2,619 people per square mile. In contrast, Dallas has a population of 1,257,000 in an area of 393 square miles for a population density of 3,575. Houston has a population of 2,571,090 (but it’s early in the day) and has a density of 3,071. The Bayou City is the biggest in area, covering 655 square miles. Geographically, within the city limits of Houston you could put New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis and Miami. Now here’s an interesting point. Dallas is totally surrounded by suburbs and can’t grow in area, while Houston has Extraterritorial Jurisdiction, a state edict that lets the city annex almost any non-incorporated areas it wishes.

Austin is the fastest growing big city in the country, and is also the second largest state capital in the U.S. after Phoenix, Ariz. Yep, bigger than other state capitals such as Boston, Denver and Atlanta. According to U.S. Census figures, Austin’s population grew 2.9 percent during the 12 months that ended in July of 2014. Among the 50 largest American cities, next was Denver with 2.4 percent growth. No other major city even came close. Austin is now Texas’ fourth largest city and has already passed up Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington and all the rest in population. Little D, keep looking over your shoulder. Austin is getting closer.

We all know that newcomers are streaming into Texas from the other 49 states and from Central America — the number of illegal immigrant children from there has soared from around 7,000 to 8,000 a year earlier in this decade, to 24,668 last fiscal year. As of September of 2014 more than 52,000 had arrived in the U.S. The number has fallen quite a bit, perhaps because there aren’t any of them left down there. By far the largest group stay in Texas, and go to our schools. Thanks goodness we don’t have a problem with public education in Texas.

As for others from the U.S. arriving in the Lone Star State, well, in light of the brouhaha over the Confederate flag and UT statues, the Yankees invaded Texas in 1865 and it’s clear they’re still coming. Today Texas is the only state with three cities in the top 10 in population, but even among the three, the order keeps changing. Awhile back I noted that Mike Cox, in his syndicated column, “Texas Tales,” determined in the first U.S. Census of Texans, in 1850, the enumerators found 212,592 people in the state, including slaves but not Indians. The top 10 looked like this: Galveston (4,177), San Antonio (3,488), Houston (2,396), New Braunfels (1,723), Marshall (1,180), Gonzales (1,072), Victoria (802), Fredericksburg (754), Austin (629), Corpus Christi (533).

Four different cities have been Number 1 in the state: Galveston, San Antonio and Dallas once (1890). Houston took over in 1930 and has been there ever since. Dallas finally broke in as ninth biggest in Texas in 1860, right behind Sulphur Springs. By 1880 Big D was still smaller than Austin, yet within 10 years, 1890, Dallas was briefly the biggest city in Texas. Today it has been surpassed by San Antonio, and as noted earlier, Austin is gaining. Incidentally, Houston’s population is about 600,000 less than Chicago’s. Houston is gaining, and since 2000 Chicago has actually lost population.

In five years we shall have the 2020 U.S. Census, which means a lot of changes, such as an increase in the number of U.S. Representatives from Texas. This will also mean more gerrymandering – Tom DeLay figured how to divide Travis County into five different Congressional districts to dilute the People’s Republic’s vote. Need a government job? Start running for Congress, as there will be several openings. Texas will also have more votes in the Electoral College. Speaking of colleges, UT-Austin has been holding its enrollment at about 50,000 for decades while the number of the state’s college-bound students has exploded. Make sure your kid is in the top 0.01 percent of her class, or, as we have seen, you can give generously to the UT endowment. Texas A&M, however, continues to grow its enrollment, in one case by simply buying a small law school in Fort Worth, lock, stock and gavel.

You think we have floods now? As rapidly as developers are pouring concrete in our suburbs, there won’t be an acre left to absorb Tropical Storm Bonnie Sue. West of Austin in Bee Cave and other areas, bulldozers are scrapping off entire mountainsides to build new neighborhoods, Starbucks and Wal-Marts, plus huge parking lots for all the additional cars that can’t get there. Finally, the average American generates more than 5 pounds of garbage a day. Where we will get new landfills for all these extra Neiman’s catalogues? I have always recommended Arkansas.


Ashby is growing at ashby@2comcast,neet