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Dear sandy feet,

These are such unsettling times. The stock market is on a roller coaster ride, the president is on trial, Saddam is still in power, the Y2K bug lurks just around the corner and network TV is simply the pits. I find myself lying awake at night worrying about what the future may hold. Do you see any hope for us? And how can someone like you continue to play at building sand castles on the beaches of SPI when the world as we know it is crumbling? -Just Wondering


And a happy new year to you, too.

Fortunately, I just happen to be well-prepared for your question. Santa knows that my favorite toys are the kind I can plug into my computer and I must have been really good because he outdid himself this year and brought me my very own Super Prognosticator XL5 - a handy little crystal ball-looking gizmo that plugs into the SCSI port of my G3 PowerBook and gives me glimpses into the murky depths of.... What Lies Ahead.

So of course I wasted no time but immediately connected the hardware, installed the software and fired that puppy up.

After the smoke cleared, I reluctantly flipped through the manual and discovered that the program's binary particle extensions were conflicting with the fuzzy logic on my fatherboard. Once that little problem was corrected, I just hit the enter button and viola! out popped a whole bunch of predictions for the upcoming year. Here are some of the highlights:

Late February - Island visitors who take advantage of the free coffee and donuts and other assorted goodies as part of the SPI "Winter Texan Appreciation Week" festivities feel so very appreciated that they vow never to leave . This resolution is short-lived, however and completely disappears when the first pale Canadian springbreakers start arriving by the busload.

Mid March - Prowlers and Winnebagos face off against Jeeps with "no fat chicks" scrawled on the windows. The $4.50 "all you can drink" happy hour special at Garcias is just a memory (and a blurry one at that.) The two dozen Island residents who don't have to work during spring break flee for the Caymans.

April 1 - The US Post Office admits the one cent raise on first class mail was really just a big joke and reactivates the 32 cent stamp -- causing much gnashing of teeth among the creeps who bought the PO out of one cent stamps (forcing others - like me! - who just needed a few! - to spend way too much time waiting in line for stamps that seemed to sell out just before we reached the counter.)

Early May - After a long and costly trial, President Clinton is found guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and is duly impeached by the Senate. President Gore is sworn in and looks toward the 2000 elections from the comfortable perspective of the incumbent. Republicans from coast to coast suddenly wonder if this was really the goal they had in mind.

July - The debate on whether the new millennium arrives at New Years eve in the year 2000 or 2001 reaches a frenzied peak among the five or so people who actually give a damn.

Early-August - Thanks to the efforts of our Senator Lucio, thousands of Texas kids who would usually be starting school right about now learn that they actually have three more weeks of vacation. Local businesses that hoped to profit from the extended summer break are destined to be disappointed, however. Room sales are down -- but Prozac prescriptions soar.

Late October - Pumpkins and witches and scary monsters rise from the sands of South Padre as a result of the 12th annual "SandCastle Days" competition falling on Halloween weekend. Thousands of Valleyites show up to watch and participate, causing about 95% of them to realize that building sand castles is way more fun than lying awake at night worrying about the future.

Well, that's pretty much the extent of what the Prognosticator was able to show me. After Oct. things get really murky -- which could mean that the Y2K bug is going to destroy civilization -- but could also mean that my fatherboard needs yet another expensive upgrade.

Spionline poll results: Our last poll asked site visitors how they felt about outside merchandise displays on the Island. Out of a total of 17 votes, eight (47%) said they should be allowed; seven (41%) said they should be allowed but regulated and two (11%) said they should be banned.

The current poll asks whether or not Schlitterbahn should be welcomed to SPI. If you have a feeling one way or another on this issue, please drop by http://spionline.com/polls.html and vote!

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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