Not Your Typical Old White Man

Don’t know if this title is accurate or not. I’m not exactly sure what a typical old white man is. I certainly don’t believe I’m what is described in the media as such. While I’m somewhat of a liberal I’m not registered in any political party, but I have definite opinions and always vote. I stay pretty busy doing not much of anything. I am a bit of an introvert but certainly not a recluse. I like  most people and I like to take pictures. This is suppose to be a good place to post pictures. So, here I am. We’ll see how it goes.



Remembering Charlie

It’s Memorial Day. One of my veteran friends on Facebook wrote that we shouldn’t honor her or thank her for her service today. While she appreciates the sentiment, this is not a day to honor veterans, they have a day for that. Today is a day to remember those who never made it back to become veterans. So today I am remembering Charlie Clark.

Charlie was a couple of years younger than me and was, like me, an only child. The Clarks, Tom and Madge, lived directly behind us back when neighbors communicated. The Higgs who lived next door to the Clark’s had a homemade barbeque pit with a steel barrier between the fire and grill and a piece of tin roof to cover the ribs, which is all I remember ever being cook on that pit. The grease from the ribs would drip on that hot steel barrier and burst into flames. It was always a fun day and Madge made the best baked beans I have ever eaten.

Charlie had snow white hair, I don’t mean blond, it was white white. His dad had been a bombardier during World War II and we played army all the time. We dug foxholes in the vacant lot next to our house. We had sticks and boards we used as rifles and machine guns. We never lost a battle. Before he started to school, I caught the chicken pox and had to stay home from school. I stayed away from others because it was catchy. Madge had me come over and sit on their backdoor stoop with Charlie so he could catch the chicken pox before he started to school. She didn’t want him to miss class with the chicken pox. I don’t remember if he ever got the chicken pox or not. I think Tom sold insurance or something and for some reason he bought a drug store in Dixieland. I don’t know if they had drugs or not, but they had a soda counter with stools and sold ice cream. What a treat! It must not have worked out though because soon afterwards, the Clarks moved to Orlando and I lost touch with Charlie.

Faye Higgs kept in touch with them and I would occasionally hear how they were doing. It seems Charlie was married and had a child. He must have joined the Army and became a lieutenant and was sent to Vietnam. In those hot, steamy jungles, he died, leaving behind a heartbroken young wife, child and parents. According to Faye, Tom and Madge were severely shaken and never recovered from the shock and depression. Not only do these young soldiers sacrifice their lives, those love ones left behind suffer devasting sacrifices, too.

I have always regretted losing contact with Charlie and anytime there is a thought of honoring dead soldiers, it’s Charlie who enters my mind. I have seen his name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington. I am sure everyone who goes there looks for a particular name. I like to think his baby has snowy white hair.



Don’t Forget To Vote

The following are Facebook entries about how I decided to vote on 2018 Mid Term elections. They may not be in the order that I posted them, but if they can help you make up your mind on any candidate or issue it will have served its purpose. In any case Vote!

I believe early voting opened in Polk County today. I’ll wait and go to the polls. Whether early or at the polls, please vote. I’m voting for Bill Nelson for Senator, mainly because he’s not Scott who brings a lot of negative baggage. Also because he is for limited gun control, saving the Florida environment by working with Rubio to curtail oil drilling off the coast and generally having a reasonable approach to issues. I’m voting for him. I hope you will, too.

Don’t forget to vote. Congressional House District 15 has candidates running I know nothing about. The good thing is, it’s not Dennis Ross. Spano lives in Dover and has been in the State Legislature. Carlson lives in Lakeland and is a citrus activist and prosecutor. Checked out their web sites and it looks like Carlson is more in line with my thinking. She believes in climate change and women’s right to choose and limited gun control. Spano pretty much favors lower regulations and taxes, and wants to reduce the financial budget with a balanced budget amendment. Looks like I’m going to vote for Carlson. Hope you do, too.

Please vote. For governor I’m voting for Gillum. Every time I’ve seen him on tv he says the right thing. He doesn’t evade or re-direct the question, he says what he believes. He is for better education and believes he has a plan to improve it. You may not like it, raising taxes on big businesses (instead of paying them to move here which they never do) and raising teachers’ pay so they don’t move to Georgia, but it is a plan that may work. He is for limited gun control and believes in climate change. All I know about DeSantis is that Trump likes him better than Putnam, which I never understood, and he  loves everything about Trumps policies and would continue in Scott’s footsteps.  I’m voting for Gillum and hope you do, too.

The General Election is one week away. Don’t miss it. Vote. District 4 Polk County Commissioner is on everyone’s ballot, even though I don’t live in District 4. I don’t know why I should choose who represents folks on the other side of the county…oh, wait a minute…could it be so that the county majority party will control the Board of County Commissioners instead of the District’s majority party? Well, if that is the case, Santiago is in the majority Republican party and Weizel is in the minority Democratic party. There are enough Republicans on the Board. I’m voting for Weizel and hope you do, too.

Remind others to vote. I was disappointed to discover I was in State Senate District 20 where Tom Lee and Kathy Lewis were running. I so wanted to vote against Kelli Stargel, but she is in another district. Lee has been in and out of the Florida Legislature for several years. He even ran unsuccessfully for Chief Financial Officer. I have seen him on a PBS show and was surprised that he was reasonable about the issues. He supports the 2nd Amendment and “Stand Your Ground”, but he opposes arming schools. He wanted Federal money for expanding Medicaid and wants health care more accessible. He is pro-life. I couldn’t find out too much about Lewis. She lives in Wesley Chapel and has an autistic child. She, too, wants to expand Medicaid. She also wants to increase the minimum wage and increase school resources. Don’t know her position on guns or Women’s Right To Choose, but assume the NRA is not supporting her and she believes in women’s rights. While I actually like Lee and his disposition I lean more toward Lewis’s positions. I’m voting for Lewis. You make up your own mind and vote.

Time to vote is on or before November 6. Ricky Shirah has been on the ballot for something in just about every election in the past 10 years. He is running for District 39 State Representative this year against Josie Tomkow. She is for the 2nd Amendment, protecting life in all stages (she may or may not mean mothers’ lives) and supporting Donald Trump. Shirah is for limited gun control, against fracking, and for public schools. I’m going to vote for Shirah again and hope you do, too.

Be sure to vote. There is a clear choice for the Commissioner of Agriculture position on this year’s ballot. A long time Florida family member and a native born but relatively new constituent. Caldwell lives in the Fort Myers area and has been in the legislature. He is a property appraiser, never voted for a tax increase, supports the 2nd Amendment and has a picture of Donald Trump on his web page. Fried is an attorney and lobbyist out of Miami. She believes the government has hindered the implementation of the medical marijuana bill and wants to promote a hemp farm industry in the state. She has denounced the NRA and believes in climate change. There is a definite choice between these two candidates and I choose Fried. I hope you do, too.

Vote. I was pretty much in a dither about voting for the Attorney General. One was a prosecuter and the other was a litagatior. After checking the ballot I discovered there was a third candidate, Joel Marc Siskind. He campaigned by walking from one end of Florida to the other (a Lawton Chiles trick). It didn’t seem to work for Siskind because I had not heard of him. But I like what he says on his website. He says the Attorney General should not be associated with a political party because he/she should be the attorney of all the people. He is for limited gun control, medical marijuana and Citizen Access to Quality Health Care. He wants to establish interface councils for Cuban-Floridians, Seniors and Young People. He has quite an impressive program laid out on his website. Check him out. I’m voting for Siskind and hope you do, too.

Don’t forget to vote. Surely God there are better people in the State of Florida to run for Chief Financial Officer than the two from whom we have to choose. Patronis is a part owner of a restaurant in Panama City and served in the state legislature. He is the incumbent by virtue of being appointed last year by Scott. Ring is a technological guy from Yahoo, been in Florida since the beginning of the century and served in the state legislature. Both of them think the other one received contributions from unscrupulous people. The CFO serves on the pardon board and the only way I could decide on either one of them was Ring believes in restoring voting rights to ex-felons. So I am reluctantly voting for Ring. Hold your nose and make your own choice.

Vote before Monday or go to the polls on Tuesday, but vote. These constitutional amendments are designed to be confusing. I first thought the constitution was some kind of sacred document that reserved rights and protections for individuals. Then I discovered the state constitution is a rambling list of statements which probably should be laws instead of inalienable rights of individuals. So maybe the amendments are confusing because the constitution is confusing. In any case I’m voting NO on everything except Number 4 and Number 9. Number 4  automatically establishes felons voting rights without needing the approval of the Governor. If you paid your price to society you should get your rights restored. Number 9 prohibits oil and gas drilling on state owned waters. Duh…a no brainer.  All the rest should be handled by the law makers. Elect people who will do what you want and if they don’t, vote them out. You have the power. Use it. Get involved.  Study the issues and vote.

Vote. School Board positions are again selected county wide but represent districts. This makes a little more sense than the Board of County Commissioners county wide vote. To begin with they are supposedly non-partisan and while the members are concentrating on districts their decisions affect all students. I realize this flies in the face of an earlier comment  I made, but in my mind this is different. Use your own judgement. Only two positions are being contested, neither of which is mine. District 3 is Fortney vs. Jones. Fortney is a teacher, Jones is a store manager. They have become friends during this campaign. That is a good thing. I’m voting for the teacher, Fortney. The other open district is 5. The incumbent Fields vs. ex-teacher Sabin. I’m not real impressed with either of these. It has been reported that when confronted with a LGBT mom tearfully complaining about discrimination against her son, Fields responded, “We are sorry that it happened. I’ve been discriminated against in the past too.”  Probably taken out of context, but it sounded a little insensitive to me. I’m voting for Sabin. Check them out and vote for your choice. It’s a pretty important position.

Today is the last day for early voting in Polk County. Vote today or Tuesday, but vote. On the sample ballot is a section for Polk Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Greg Williams is running for Group 2. I could not find out if I lived in Group 2 or if it even mattered if I lived in Group 2. Greg is a hard working teacher who can get things done. I met him when he started a photography Meet-up group and you probably met him when he started the Hate Has No Home Here movement in Lakeland…well Polk County…well Central Florida. He is a tenacious kind of guy who will make things work regardless of the obstacles. He will mourn the passing of a rescued squirrel and photograph an alligator face to face. He would be good at public service in any position. If he is on my ballot I’m voting for Greg. You won’t regret it if vote for him, too.

Don’t forget to vote. There is a Proposed County Referendum for the Continuation of County Wide School One-Half Cent Sales Surtax for Capital Improvements to Educational Facilities. When your schools are rated as the 40th in the country you need to vote for anything which maybe help improve them. I’m voting for continuing the one-half cent sales tax and you should, too.

Tomorrow is the last day to vote. Don’t miss it. There is a Proposed Charter Amendment No. 2 for Polk County limiting consecutive years as a County Commissioner to twelve. I generally oppose term limits believing the voters should set term limits at the polls. If he/she has been there too long, vote’em out. However, with a small base of candidates in a county and the tendency to build a dynasty, maybe term limits are okay. You can still vote them out during the 12 years, but if they become too imbedded, the term limit will slow them down.  I’m voting Yes on Polk County Charter Amendment #2. If you don’t agree, VOTE your choice, but VOTE.

Scare politicians by voting. I don’t even know how to approach “yes or no” on a Florida Supreme Court Justice. Judge Lawson was appointed by Scott to replace a “conservative” judge. The fact that judges are labeled conservative or liberal is already beyond reason. I thought Lady Justice was supposed to be blindfolded. Lawson voted on a case, which I didn’t understand at all, while in the lower court that he said could have affected same sex marriages. It had nothing to do with same sex marriages, but he related it somehow in a way I still do not understand. Anyhow his vote seemed to indicate he supported same sex marriage. Since being on the Supreme Court it appears he has turned out to be the “swing vote”. They say he is has a strong personality that tends to persuade others to his point of view. I’m going to vote “Yes”. You need to do your own research.


“What Goes Around, Comes Around”

Being retired, I have time to sit around and watch television all day if that’s what I want to do. Last week that is what I wanted to do. I was able to watch the Senate Judiciary Committee vote to confirm Judge Bret Kavanhaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. It was truly worthy of an episode, or maybe even a season, of “House Of Cards”. The confirmation was all set to be completed. Judge Bret had spent most of the week languishing in the praises of how great he was from the right side of the Committee panel and enduring pointed questions, grandstanding and bitching because the Republicans had withheld information from the left side of the panel. He was able to deftly avoid answering any questions and hide most of his disdain for the Democrats and the process. At the last minute, just before the vote, a newspaper reported the Judge had assaulted a girl while they were both in high school. The vote was delayed until the accuser and accused could testify in front of the committee. This took some negotiations but it was finally decided Dr. Ford, the accuser would testify in the morning and the Judge in the afternoon.

In the meantime, another lady claimed the Judge had waved his penis in her face at a drunken college party and he was bad about getting sloppy drunk. His roommate stated the Judge was quite often drunk which made him aggressive and belligerent. Another lady claimed he and his best friend ran a gang rape operation where boys lined up to take turns raping  defenseless drugged girls.

Back at the Senate hearing, Dr. Ford meekly told a compelling story of how she was forced into a bedroom where Bret jumped on her, fondled her and tried to remove her clothes. When she screamed he held his hand over her mouth and she feared for her life. Bret’s best friend witnessed the encounter and when he jumped on top of them she managed to escape to the bathroom and lock the door. She heard them leaving and laughing. Her story sounded true and I believed and felt for her. The Republicans had hired a prosecuting attorney from Arizona to do their questioning to avoid the optics of attacking a frail lady. The attorney was very respectful and did not establish any reason for the Doctor to be lying.

The Judge’s testimony was defensive, mean and vicious. The opposite of the Doctor’s. He emphatically denied all accusations and accused the Democrats of disgracing the whole process because they didn’t like Trump, vengeance because of his participation in the Clinton impeachment, and they were evil. “What goes around, comes around!”, he threatened. They had been against him from the beginning. He was very upset, drank a lot of water and rolled his tongue on the inside of his lower lip constantly. The Republican attorney approached him as she had the Doctor, calm and non-accusing. The Democrats on the other hand attacked him and questioned his drinking habits to determine if he had ever been so drunk he could not remember what had happened while he was drunk. He answered an emphatic no and followed up by explaining how much he like beer in high school and college and even now. He liked beer. The Republicans could no longer tolerate the attorney’s mamby-pamby questioning and began attacking the Democrats for their horrendous behavior. Lindsey Graham was particularly vicious.

In the end, Republican Senator Flake, forced a week delay on the Chamber floor in order for the FBI to investigate the charges. It didn’t amount to anything and Justice Bret Kavanaugh was confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court. There is a big backlash from women and men, mostly women, who have experienced the trauma described by Dr. Ford. That is important and may influence the next election, but, the part that bothers me is the statement, “What goes around, comes around!” I would think that a judge, regardless of the level, should begin each case in a new world every day. There shouldn’t be any thought of getting back at anyone. “What goes around, comes around” is a vengeful statement. A “You’ll get yours” kind of statement. A “I’ll get you later” statement. That is a disqualifying attitude for a judge to have. This was a job interview and if I were hiring someone and they looked at me and said, “What goes around, comes around!” I would not hire them. What kind of blind justice can we expect from this vengeful person? If I had a vote on the confirmation of Judge Bret Kavanhaugh for a Supreme Court Justice, I would vote “No” based on that statement alone.

March For Our Lives

Last Valentine’s Day a former student walked into a high school in south Florida with a military style weapon and killed 17 students for no reason. There have been several mass killings in schools, churches, night clubs and in the streets in the past few years. The survivors of the south Florida high school have banded together and with media support demanded the government do something about the killings, especially of children at schools. They want to limit the accessibility of military style weapons, stronger background checks on people who buy guns, limit the sale of guns to people at least 21 years old, the ability of law enforcement with a court order to remove weapons from people who have demonstrated they may be a threat to themselves or others. Their demands were demonstrated this past weekend with many March For Our Lives rallies, not only in America but in other countries as well. The one in our town was a rally at a local downtown park attended by about 200 people. I was there taking pictures and supporting their cause.



The Kingston Trio Trip

Wednesday March 14, 2018

Rowland Scherman was a photographer who said the reason to always have your camera with you was two words, “Flying saucer. What if you saw a flying saucer and didn’t have a camera?” My two words are “Kingston Trio”. We attended a Kingston Trio show at the Mahaffey Theater this week and, because I read you could not take pictures during the show, I left my little Fuji in the car. After the show they were in the lobby having their pictures taken with all those old folks. Old folks were the audience. Not many millennials know or care to know the Kingston Trio. By the way it’s not really the original Kingston Trio, thank goodness. They could not have been as we remember them. They would have been as old as us. One is the son of Nick Reynolds, an original. They knew all the good songs, ‘Tom Dooley’, ’MTA’ etc., and a couple I don’t remember. We sang along and enjoyed a good time. On the way back (we were staying at Madeira Beach) we drove through a McDonald’s. There must have been only three people working, one to cook, one on the counter and one at the drive-thru. We waited at least 20 minutes and maybe a half hour. It is always an adventure at a McDonald’s drive-thu.

Thursday March 15, 2018

The next day Sheila brought her twin granddaughters and their parent over to visit and enjoy the beach. We were staying at the Madeira Beach Barefoot Beach Resort. They have a big beach leading to the gulf. We’ve stayed there before and it is always nice. Currently they are in the middle of building a bigger addition on the street side. It will have six stories towering over the four there now. Anyhow, the twins, Sara K. and Charlie are just as cute and charming and fun as they show on Facebook. The water was too cold and it was windy, but that did not stop them from playing in the sand and chasing seagulls. Lunch at the Mad Bench across the street was good as usual and the girls were good, too. Their mama and daddy are doing a great job.


Friday, March 16, 2018

On the way home we ran by the Johns Pass boardwalk to buy some fresh red snapper right off the boats. And then is was on to Tampa and Lagunda’s Bakery. We got there right after noon and it was packed, I assume with folks getting a take out lunch. We were there probably a half hour waiting on a couple of sandwiches. The “muffalota” is very good. They did not have any cinnamon roles or nutty buddies so I had to settle for an ee’clair. The counter guy finally figured out I wanted an eclair’. It was good but not as good as a nutty buddy. Made it home with no problems even though I had torn off the passenger side mirror backing out of the garage the week before. But, that’s another story that doesn’t need to be told.


Shoot The Hostage

The government has “shut down” because the Congress and the President cannot agree on a spending bill, whatever that is. It sounds like a “shut down” only hurts poor people who depend on the government for survival, like folks on food stamps and public health recipients. Congresspersons and the Administration have exempted themselves, and people of means will not even feel it, except for the constant news coverage.  In any case there seems to be a stand-off with the Democrats stopping passage of a funding bill by holding a DACA solution hostage.

I have heard it said that when you encounter a hostage situation the easiest solution is to shoot the hostage. While I don’t advocate violence, particularly shooting anyone, perhaps this is the solution to the “shut down” crisis. What the Republicans should do is resolve the DACA problem with a single item clean bill. Shoot the hostage, and leave the Democrats with no card to play. But, wait a minute, you say. The President is holding “the wall” (that Mexico is going to pay for with American taxpayer money) hostage to the DACA problem. Solution: Shoot the hostage. Give him funds for the wall in the same clean bill. The problem is, while everyone is for a DACA solution, “the wall” is not so popular. Who cares? “The wall” is just a slogan anyway. Money has been already been appropriated for a part of the wall and “they” say only 1% of it has been spent. The money will lay around and eventually  be moved around to suit Congress’ so called needs anyway, as in the Social Security fund, if you get my drift.  The President can call it a win, but as the debt rises, as it will, particularly with the recently passed “Tax Reform/Cut” bill, he will have live with the consequences and close to 800,000 youngsters will have what was promised to them by the government. Yes, Mr. President, the previous administration was the government.

Seems simple as long as both parties limit the number of hostages. Neither party can snatch another hostage out of the crowd, or even a different crowd, and expect the crisis to be resolved. If you are not careful you could have a massacre on your hands. You can’t negotiate for family members to have priority to immigrate or only those with special skills can immigrate. You can’t say only people from Haiti have priority or nobody from Africa is allowed. Wait a minute! Maybe that is the dysfunction problem! There are always too many hostages. Maybe things would go better if each problem were addressed separately. Of course, that would require some kind of trust between the parties.  We’ll solve this right now and for your vote we’ll address your concerns immediately after…like the Senate promised Susan Collins to address her concerns as soon as she voted for the Tax Reform/Cut bill.

Looks like if honesty is a requirement we have evolved a system where the elected people running the government are holding us hostage and there are no qualms about shooting the hostage. Maybe we should refuse to become hostages. Maybe we should only elect honest people to run our lives. Honesty is not always pretty. Coal jobs are not coming back, spending has to be curtailed, wages have to level out with the rest of the world if international goods are to be traded, isolation is expensive. These are not situations easily accepted, but it is the honest truth.   But with innovation, education, tolerance, sacrifice, and generosity all of these negatives can be overcome. That, too, is the honest truth. Take control of the situation, find honest candidates to vote for and refuse to be a hostage.

I didn’t mean to get on my soapbox, it just happened. Sorry.

Anniversary Trip

Thursday 11/10/17

We try to get out of town every year on our wedding anniversary and this year it’s kind of an abbreviated trip. We are at Clearwater Beach and planning on the Sunset Cruise tomorrow. Becky and Manny gave me the cruise on my birthday which was in January. We don’t like to rush into things. We did check on it last summer and found it was across the street from the Barefoot Resort where we had stayed before for Don and Sheila’s wedding. So, we figured we’d spend the night there, walk across the street for the cruise and spend that night because nobody wants to drive I-275 and I-4 after a cruise. Made all the arrangements, which was a bit of an adventure in itself, and here we are. Because of prior appointments we didn’t get here until right at sunset. We walked down to the beach where all sorts of activities are going on…acrobatics, singer, musicians, venders and people watching the end of day. Ate supper at Frenchy’s which was not quite as good as we were hoping. Old folks are resting up for a big day tomorrow.

We stayed just south of here 56 years ago in an Indian Rocks motel, The Admiral, I believe was the name of it. I was 20 and Sue was 18. We drove over in Mamma and Daddy’s blue and white ’57 Ford Fairlane 500. It was all marked up with shaving cream. Back then you had to be 21 years old to buy liquor. Well, we stopped at a liquor shop and I went in and ask of a bottle of Bacardi Rum White. He asked for my ID and I handed him my driver’s license. ”You just barely made it”, he says. The only thing I could figure was my birthday was 1/10/41 and the date was 11/10/61 and he got confused…or maybe he had been sampling the wares or maybe he considered it a wedding gift. Anyhow we got the rum. Probably didn’t drink much of it that night. We actually decided to get married on November 10th because November 11 was Armistice Day (if you don’t know Armistice Day, google it) and that would always be a holiday. Well, they changed it to Veteran’s Day and moved it to a Friday or Monday nearby. They are always changing the rules on us. Advice…learn to adjust!



Saturday 11/11/17

If you are going on a sunset cruise try to pick a day with sunshine. When we woke up yesterday clouds covered every bit of the sky. No sun peeking through anywhere. It remained that way all day. We walked down to Detroit Coney Island, now that’s a strange name, for breakfast. We ate inside. There were sidewalk tables and through a big glass window we watched a gang of six men who I am sure had just left “BadaBoom” (look it up). The walls are painted like some industrial shop with a little room set aside honoring Detroit based singers, Kid Rock, Ted Nuggent, etc. It was kind of interesting and while my “2 pancakes, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 bacons”, were okay, Sue was very pleased with her “croissant w/2eggs and cheese”. They toasted the croissant on the grill with butter. What’s not to like.



While resting back at Barefoot Resort she asked if I had gotten her a card for our anniversary.

“No, did you?”

“Yes. Sometimes you do and don’t give it to me because you think I didn’t get you one.”

“Well I didn’t this year because we only have one car.”

“You could have walked right down to Walgreen’s and got one.”

“Well I didn’t.”

“You want to see this one.”


Later we walked down the shopping strip where the tourist gather in the middle of the sidewalk to read and take pictures of the cute writings on t-shirts. We went into an ice cream shop where Sue got a scoop of  “no sugar added” ice cream and I had a root beer float. The “no sugar added” was nasty and ended up in the trash. The root beer float was okay. A walk down an alley to look at the beach and then back across to the bayside and back to the room the rest up for the sunrise cruise.

Now about the Barefoot Resort and Marina. It is painted highway yellow and bright blue, inside and out. The walls are covered with faded blue and pink pictures of flowers and seaside scenes. The view out the back window is of the pool at another motel very similar to this one with more subtle colors. The front window view is of a heated pool circled with chairs and cabanas where folks are smoking. No smoking in the rooms. Sometimes they are just standing in the hallway smoking. There is a dock with an assortment of boats tied up on the bayside. Stay off of the dock at night to preserve the live-aboards’ privacy. I am sure we could have stayed at the Barefoot Resort and Marina on our wedding night if we had just driven a little farther north.


After walking through a maze in order to cross the street (some kind of construction work going on, isn’t it always?) we arrived at the Tropic Sunrise Cruise a little before 4:15 as instructed.

“You can’t board until 4:45. We just tell you 4:15 for the parking.”


At least the sidewalk is a good place to people watch.



On the cruise the bartenders/guides tell you about all the owners of the buildings on the shoreline. They told us the sun was setting for you surely could not see it. There was a “champagne” toast and they acknowledged our 56th Anniversary. It wasn’t real crowded. Mostly young people with a few older tourist.

Back on shore and an excellent taco supper at the Marina Cantina. Back at the motel,

“Where is my card?”

“Do you want it?”

“Yeah, otherwise you’ll keep it ‘til next time. It’s not one you’ve given me before is it?”


“You’ve done that before.”

“I know. But not this time. See I have the date on it.”

It was a very nice card.

 The next morning we left in time to get home before a noon start Gator game.

 All in all a nice little adventure.



Walk To End Alzheimer’s

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to take pictures at a local Walk To End Alzheimer’s event. Naturally, for me it was a fun shoot. But I really haven’t had much experience with Alzheimer’s Disease, yet. Most of what I have seen I would consider dementia, not full blown Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association web site has, among others, the following comments:

 Alzheimer’s disease has no survivors. It destroys brain cells and causes memory changes, erratic behaviors and loss of body functions. It slowly and painfully takes away a person’s identity, ability to connect with others, think, eat, talk, walk and find his or her way home.

“ At this time, there is no treatment to cure, delay or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. FDA-approved drugs temporarily slow worsening of symptoms for about 6 to 12 months, on average, for about half of the individuals who take them.

Dementia is bad enough. This is even worse. To find a cure or treatment is a good cause.

Here are some pictures I took at the event.





Be Bold, America

Be Bold, America

Because of double natural disasters the United States of America is in a unique position to boldly test the feasibility of non-carbon electricity production and distribution.

The isolated island of Puerto Rico, an American possession inhabited by Americans, lost 70% of its electrical customers when tropical storm winds from Hurricane Irma passed just north of the island. Two weeks later Hurricane Maria with category 5 winds swept across the island causing widespread devastation. The electrical system was beyond repair and needs replacing. Why not use this opportunity to determine if electricity can be produced and distributed with natural, carbon free resources?

In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing the Rural Electrical Administration and a year later the Rural Electrification Act was passed which provided low interest loans to expand electricity to isolated areas where the sale of electricity was unprofitable. Not only were the profits low, the system in place would not work at the voltage levels available at the time. Private companies could not afford to expand to these rural areas. Non-profit cooperatives were formed to take advantage of the government loans. The distribution voltage had to be raised from 2300 volts to 7200 volts. Power plants and distribution lines had to be built.  Homes had to be wired for lights and appliances. In the middle of the Great Depression jobs were created and new technology flourished and peoples lives were improved.

Today there is a debate underway as to whether our current energy system is sustainable. Are we ruining our planet with carbon based energy production and is converting to non-carbon production worth the loss of jobs and income? Maybe an experiment is called for and maybe we have the perfect opportunity to proceed with it. Puerto Rico needs an energy system. The REA is an established entity. It should be allowed to make low interest loans to public and private companies for the establishment of non-carbon energy systems on the island. It may require a new type of power plant. There may or may not be a need for distribution lines. Home could very well need a new wiring system.  Technology could flourish and jobs would be created.

If it doesn’t work and is proven to be unfeasible, all we will have done is delayed the restoration of the current system and we will have to rebuild the 90 mile by 30 mile island which we were going to have to do anyway. We still should provide them with low interest loans even for this scenario. But, if it did work, and that technology was seriously brought to the mainland, it would be a long term conversion that would create jobs, advance technology and  possibly save the planet. That is almost as bold as the Americans were in the middle of the 1930s fighting to get out of the Great Depression and improve people’s lives.

We have a unique opportunity brought on by disasters. Why not take advantage of it?

Be Bold, America!

Irma and Central Florida

Friday September 8, 2017

It’s a little after 6am and I’ve been basically awake the last hour watching the stillness of the crepe myrtles through the lacy drapes in Beck’s bedroom. There is a bright moon this morning so the stillness is visible. There is no stillness about 500 miles south of here as Irma, the record breaking hurricane is wreaking havoc and devastation on all the islands in her path, which evidently will eventually lead straight up the center of Florida. That is the big news item since Harvey, after dumping flood waters on east Texas, fizzeled into rain showers probably in Tennessee somewhere. The poor people in Texas are still trying to recover and the folks on the Caribbean islands hit by Irma are, well, homeless and isolated. Since it is inevitable we, too, will be experiencing hurricane winds, it is time to prepare.

The governor has been on television a couple of times a day all week telling people to get ready and even evacuate if necessary. He has been somewhat of a jerk the last seven years, won’t talk to the press and doesn’t even get along with his own party in the State House and Senate. Do not know how he got elected, twice! But, he has been quite personable and caring during this episode. Urging people to do the right thing, answering all the questions and assuring us resources are coming and will be available. He does not want to “lose one life” to this storm. Perhaps his experience with Andrew a few years ago when he had some nursing homes in the Miami area is why he is so concerned about Irma. As a side note it is said he defrauded the government out of Medicare money at the nursing homes and that is how he got so rich. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but that’s the word that’s out there. Also, being the cynic that I am, his performance during this crisis could help him with a run for U. S. Senate next year. Regardless of the reason, he has shown real leadership so far this month.

We will be picking up the loose items laying around in the yard and trying to mount some plywood over a few windows later today. We have only used the plywood a couple of times and just on the back side of the house where the trees are. When Bob built this house back in ’79 he said if there ever was a hurricane he was coming here because this was a strong house. It made it through Charlie which I always thought came very close to us and it seems there was a storm sometime before that with no damage to speak of. So we are going try to ride this one out, too. It looks like it will be the biggest challenge. We have an almost full tank of gas in the car and Sue has bought a bunch of non-perishables. She’ll fill the bathtub with water for flushing the toilet. Two bags of charcoal for the Green Egg cooker and some containers to store drinking water should see us through.

The nicest thing, my cousin in Atlanta sent me a text last night and welcomed us to their home if we needed a place to go. We said no thank you, but it was the nicest thing. Sometimes it’s just nice to know folks that you least expect are thinking and care about you.


Saturday, September 09, 2017

It’s a little after 7am and like yesterday it is eerily calm here. The latest Irma landfall projection seems to be around Ft. Myers and then straight line to Tampa. We are about 35 miles east of Tampa which puts us within the 70 mile radius of hurricane winds and on the wrong side of the eye for tornado probability. They think it may be here Sunday night/Monday morning. It keeps moving more west than the original consensus was. I read somewhere from a forecaster “that ridge was not as strong as we thought it was”. The weather ridge is what was supposed to turn Irma almost due north. The forecasted path has gone from a straight line between Miami and Jacksonville to a straight line from Ft. Myers to Tampa and it’s still trending west northwest. It’s over the coast of Cuba, the wind speed is down a little and the pressure which has been running around 925 is now about 930. I don’t know exactly what that measures, but I know the lower the number the more intense the storm. There will be a better report coming out at 11am.

We are still tinkering around with preparations. Lots of containers for water are laid out on the bar. The tub has been scrubbed for storing water and some of the little yard things have been picked up. Cut down a big camphor tree limb that has been a worry for some time and boarded up the dining room window. We’ll board up the family room windows today and trust the newer windows in the rest of the house to withstand the 100+ wind. There was a wind tunnel at MOSI, Museum of Science and something or other, in Tampa a few years ago, nothing is a few years ago anymore, and it was nearly impossible to stand in there with 75 mph wind…just saying. Sue is going to pack us up a small bag for grabbing and running if it comes to that. She is always prepared for anything. Will be picking up some of her medicine at Publix later today and maybe pick up fruit and nuts just in case. Got to figure something to do with a Staghorn fern hanging pretty high up in an oak tree outside the sliding glass door to our bedroom. That should be a fun little project. Definitely want to get that done before it starts getting breezy around here.

We had a few little showers yesterday that puddled up in the driveway. The ground is already saturated from last month’s rain so it won’t take much to leave water standing all over the yard. Chris and Khakie tried to get some sandbags for their front door day yesterday. Khak said there was plenty of sand but no bags. Chris dug some kind of ditch, put the dirt in garbage bags and that’s what they’ll use to keep water from coming under the door. Sue is worried about all the glass in their home. She has cautioned to have shoes and gloves available for dealing with broken glass…always thinking and prepared.

All the schools were closed yesterday including the colleges. The Florida Southern students had to leave their dorms and find other shelter. Sounds pretty harsh to me. I think they are going to be closed through Monday. The post office and mail delivery is suspended. Publix will be closing at 8pm tonight until I guess probably Tuesday. Our relentless Sheriff will be monitoring the public shelters for people with outstanding warrants. “No criminals or child molesters will be allowed in shelters with our children. We have a special shelter of them at the safe and secure jail.” I hope he is going to overlook migrant families and parking ticket violators.

The 8am report states Irma is still over the Cuban coast just south of Miami and moving west northwest. Because some of it is over land the wind is down to 135 and pressure is at 937.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

I think there is a nautical term, “cat’s paw”, that describes the first ripple on smooth water that the first breeze brings. If you have ever seen it you know what I mean. This morning at 8:05 the Spanish moss hanging from the oak tree outside our sliding glass door stirred slowly and reminded me of a “cat’s paw”. I don’t know if that’s really the term or not, but it sounds good here. The moss could have been blowing earlier but I had just woken up and that was the first thing I noticed, well, except for that lovely lady hugging my back.

It seems the eye of Irma is on Big Pine Island in the Keys. I think there are a lot of the cute little Key Deer on that island. They have been there for some time and survived hurricanes and people. Irma will probably have little effect on them now. The five o’clock forecast suggest Irma will run up the gulf coast, hit land somewhere around Naples or Ft. Myers and pass closest to us with eye at Palm Harbor. That’s probably 50 miles west of us and hurricane winds are still expected to extend 70 miles on each side. We are expecting 80-85 mph winds somewhere around 3 o’clock Monday morning. Everything that we were going to do has been done. We are just waiting it out. A little concerned but not too worried. Becky is far away and worried about us old folks. She has offered some pretty good tips. Never knew what “airplane mode” meant and had not even considered the wind noise factor. I’ll try to keep her posted as long as we have electricity. Sue heard from one of her best friends who is my cousin Gail. She tried to get someone to trim some of her trees to no avail but they will be hunkering down at their place anyway. Her daughter, Tracy, works at the Health Department and had to work at a hurricane shelter yesterday. It used to be voluntary but now it’s mandatory.  Heard from Texas kin folks who are concerned about us. Reassured them we were doing fine so far. They are good people.

Last night we watched part of the Georgia/Notre Dame game and this morning we are watching those idiots who like to stand in a hurricane and tell you how bad it is. I think a picture of a tree blowing in the wind would get the point across just as well and no one would look like an idiot. I always assume the people assigned to that job are hated by their co-workers. Why else would they send them out in a dangerous hurricane…why else?

Sue says maybe we should wash the dishes by hand today so if the electricity goes out we won’t have stinking dishes in the dishwasher. I said the electricity will probably be okay until late tonight. “What about a tornado? Well, there may not be any dishes left in that case”, she says, answering her own question. The dirty breakfast dishes are in the dishwasher.

The 11 o’clock advisory reports winds at 130 mph moving north at 9 mph and the pressure at 933mb with hurricane winds extending 80 miles in either direction. My guess for us is about the same as it was before. I think we’ll be okay. So far, so good.

I think Jose missed all the islands devastated by Irma and will spin around in the Atlantic for about a week away from land and folks. Thank goodness those people didn’t get hit again…at least yet.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Starting this day as a leftover from Sunday. It’s no quite 1:30 in the morning and the last hour was why we did all the preparation. We thought we were going to be about 40-50 miles from the eye of Irma. As it turned out, she stared right at us. That storm passed right through the middle of town. We, unlike some folks, still have electricity. We lost our cable so don’t know exactly what’s going on with the storm except we can still hear it howling outside and things keep knocking on the side of the house. Everything is cozy and dry so far.

Well it’s almost 9 o’clock. It’s cloudy and the wind is still pretty brisk. After the rain stopped and things quit banging on the side of the house we fell asleep. Some of the neighbors are out looking around. We are amazed our lights are still on. There are tree branches and leaves scattered everywhere. In our yard one big limb broke off the old camphor tree (glad I cut the bad limb down before the storm) and a tree from a vacant lot fell on our property out back. There is nothing back there but water this morning. Yes, there is water everywhere, too. We’re okay. The house is okay and as near as I can tell the neighbors seem to be okay. There is a lot of clean-up work to do, but we are able to do it. That’s a good thing.

During the storm with all the rain and wind, we looked through the glass panes at the top of the front door and there on a decorative banister up under the eve was a little Carolina Wren. I am sure he/she was wondering what in world is going on. Well, maybe not, maybe it is the nature of other species to know more about what’s going on than our sophisticated species is aware. Anyhow, he/she didn’t stay there long though it seemed as good a place as any at the time.

On this date in 1960 Donna blew through our town much like Irma did last night. Sue’s daddy was a policeman and had to work that night so, being the noble young man I was at the time, I stayed at her house with her mother, sisters and grandmother. During the height of that storm the screen door on their back porch swung open and was banging around. Granny Williford walked out there and closed it. We were astonished at her nonchalant bravery! Later,  as I was comforting Sue in my usual style at the time, Granny thought I was a little too comforting, “You two are getting mighty familiar over there” was her nonchalant style to set the boundaries. While the boundaries haven’t always stayed with us, the saying has endured and been used on several occasions.

Becky stood by us with e-mail and text through the worst of it and still made it to work this morning. Chris and Khakie lost their electricity last night, but they have made it through okay. The glass windows survived, thank goodness. These are wonderful people whom we love and who love us. Take that Irma!

It’s 10:15 and the sun is shining! I love Florida!


Friday September 15, 2017

It has been clean up and survive the last few days. We have done very well. We had electricity which means we could stay cool, cook, and flush the toilets with our running water from the well. We didn’t have television or the internet. Most of the days were spent resting up from chainsawing downed limbs and dragging them and brush out to the side of the road where hopefully the trash folks will pick it up next week. They cancelled our garbage day, which is not a big burden on us. Most of our garbage is recyclable so two weeks of garbage garbage easily fits in the supplied oversized can. The whole neighborhood has a big trash pile in front of their homes. Irma did a good job of stripping the leaves, twigs and branches from the trees. There is one giant oak tree down at the end of the street that toppled over from the roots. Luckily it didn’t hit anything. The rooster crowing was a welcomed sound as was the hawk screech and a pair of Sandhill Cranes flying over with their loud honking. The only other sound was the chainsaws. That lasted until probably sometime Wednesday. We had resorted to transferring old VCR tapes to disk which meant we watched Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations from twenty years ago. As far as the news here and from around the world, we only knew what was on the radio. Radio broadcasters today do not know about news. To them it is a five minute read at the top of the hour before they press the play fifty five minutes of music button or it’s play a song (I started to write ‘record’ but no one would know what I was talking about) and rave on about some mundane entertainment, sport or traffic event. Which is all fine and good because most of the radio listening these days is done in an automobile while commuting. But I diverse. (Is that the right word?)

Everyone was not doing that well. All of our family and friends are not only left with the yard trash, they are without electricity. No cooking, refrigeration and, most important this time of year, especially after a humid hurricane, no air conditioning. We grew up believing air conditioning was a luxury. The movie theaters advertised air conditioning along with whatever movie was playing. Back then homes were built to allow a breeze to blow through the house. Windows with screens to keep out the mosquitoes, another problem following a hurricane, on all sides of the house and even screen doors. You didn’t leave the doors and windows closed all day like you do today. And, as I remember, folks didn’t have as much self-insulation as they seem to have today. In any case, air conditioning is very important in this day and time and is missing with no electricity. There are tree trimmers and line crews from all over the country converging on our state to rebuild the electric system, but when the damage is far reaching it is a slow and methodical task. About half of the people we know are still without power. Chris and Khakie and Khakie’s family have portable generators, so basic needs are met. They saved their frozen and refrigerated food and have eventually rigged portable room air conditioners. This was especially important for Khakie’s mother who is almost wheel chair bound and has a hard time outside her room. We have heard of elderly people in a nursing home down south who died from the heat when the air conditioning failed. The heat and humidity can be fatal.

Unlike in the keys and southwest Florida, things are slowly improving here. There is still trash to pick up and roofs to repair but the stores are open and school starts Monday and the garbage trucks are expected to back in our neighborhood next week. The news will slowly change from the Texas and Florida disasters to the latest Trump tweets and the world will be normal again, unless you live on the Texas or Florida gulf coasts.