I think winter just might be ending in Florida

Saturday, Yesterday, I took my dog out for her morning walk as usual.   This time I was a bit later than normal, getting out at 7 in the morning.  

I had pressed the max clean button on the dying Roomba, snuck a buttercream chocolate from the valentine heart, and fed Mrs Dog so it was time to walk out the door.   After putting on a heavy leather jacket and baseball cap, I started down the drive.  It was at that time I noticed something specific in that the mango tree across the street was in full bloom.   Mind you, it was not just a flower spike here and there, but the tree was a riot of flowers.   When they open up, those flower spikes will perfume the whole area in a strong scent that isn’t completely pleasant but it does say that the Mango Tree is Happy and is going to put out some fist sized fruit this season for the neighbors to enjoy.

As I got closer to the mango, the little lime tree next to it caught my eye.   I realized that the white spots I was seeing from across the yard were flower buds so it was getting ready to bloom too.  This was coupled with the hibiscus recovering from the iguana poaching the blooms, my orange tree and the new little lemon tree blooming and I came to the conclusion that we are in spring here.

That may be an empirical conclusion, but it just didn’t feel like it was COLD this morning.   Certainly I’ll indulge in a South Floridian’s view of things and say whenever it gets below 70, it is cold, so at 53 I can justify the word.  However when I was out walking around, the air smelled like things were growing again, the breezes off the ocean that was two miles away smelled sweet, and the early morning sun was warming my black leather nicely.   There was even a flock of cherry headed amazon parrots that were chattering loudly over Hagen Park who were greeting the dawn and I hadn’t seen many parrots that early in quite a while.

It just doesn’t feel like winter any more.

I’m sure that the folks in the Northeast and in New England will chuckle when I say winter and 53 in the same breath when they just went through a snow storm that dropped a foot on my sister’s head in South Jersey and added to the berms along the highway in Long Island, as well as knocking out power all over Connecticut and Massachusetts, but that would be what we get here.   Everything stops growing, you cut the grass only once a month or longer, and it gets cooler. 

So hold on a little bit longer up there in the snow belt, I think relief is in sight!

The Bagpiper

Another Joke from Velma… Enjoy!

  As a bagpiper, I’m often called upon to play at weddings, military events, and  funerals.

   Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a grave side service for a homeless man. The man had no family or  friends, so the service was set at the county pauper’s cemetery in the Kentucky back woods.

  I was not familiar with the backwoods and soon found myself lost. Being a typical man I didn’t stop to ask for directions. I finally arrived an hour late, the staff from the funeral home was long gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight.

  There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down.

  The vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.

  The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.

   And as I played “Amazing Grace,” the workers began to weep.

   They wept. I wept. We all wept together.

   When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car..

   Though my head hung low my heart was full.

 As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

Mai Kai Night Photography

Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale is an interesting place.   It is a restaurant that is Polynesian themed and has some of the most interesting food and drink that I have ever had.

My Vegan and Vegetarian friends will probably have some difficulty finding food there.

On the other hand, it is a property that is absolutely a riot of things to look at.  The inside has its shows, the outside has the lanai and the gardens.

What you’re looking at is what I call “A Stopped Clock Is Right Twice A Day” photography.  I was in the right place, the right time, and knew how to get the picture.   Not all of them are quite this good, but I do post my personal favorites, Copyright 2010 and all rights reserved, here when I can.   This one in the full sized picture is simply amazing.   I was sitting with my arm up on the lanai’s bamboo rail, having a “Barrel of Rum” drink, just finished some of the best Barbecue Pork I’ve ever had, and got the shot.

Waters in muted light glowing jade and reflecting the floods, the foliage picking up some shimmer of lights from the pools, the water forming a curtain in the slow shutter speeds.   I was amazed how beautiful the picture came out, but as beautiful as this is, the place far outshines it.   I’ll probably be back in May for my next birthday.  There are more pictures on the camera, and there are many more to take. 

Tripod not included.

Sunday was made for convertible Jeeps

The day didn’t start out great.   I woke up at 530 and even for me that is early.   It was cool, and I had to get a sweatshirt to walk the dog. 

But it was cool and not cold.   This winter has been strange with iguanas raining from the trees and then disappearing from the face of central Broward county.  The curly tails that were migrating on to my little island have vanished as well.  They both may be back, there are some simple minded people that think that they’re “helping nature” by feeding invasive species instead of letting nature take its natural course.

It started to warm up and by 10AM the windows were open on the house and I had stepped into the shower.  Classic Disco playing on the Sirius radio filtered through the breezes in the house and all was well with the sun coming up and not a cloud in the sky.  

I was standing in the shower toweling off and saw the sun in the yard glinting off the pool and I thought that this would be a great day for a drive in the Jeep with the top off.  

It was at this point that I realized that I would be getting my wish as the phone rang….

There was a call asking for help clearing a printer jam.   I tried to talk through the person on the other end and she just was not going to be able to do it.  There are things that people in their 70s can be expected to do but clearing printers out … just won’t happen will it?   So I tried getting in touch with someone else and it was to no avail and I got in the car and drove the couple-feet-short-of-ten mles to the office. 

No, literally a couple feet short of 10 miles.  If I take a different route home it is always over 10, normally it is just under 10 and in about 4 days, it comes up as 79.9 miles on the car.   Right at 4 gallons of unleaded to take me there too.   A Jeep Wrangler is not known to be gentle on gas and it is rated 15 City.  I get just a couple feet short of 19 miles to the gallon.   Literally… but we’ve been there before.

I went in, found the form jam was cleared and after a grumble and a call from my Aunt I had an excellent cheesesteak for lunch and headed out of the building.  Then it hit me – the sun that is.   It was brighter than it had been in weeks, and I knew that the roof of the car was evil and must be punished by being folded away for the couple-of-feet-short of 10 miles home.

The only thing left was my turning on the Armin van Buuren track from A State of Trance and headed home.  Absolutely GORGEOUS ride home.   This was why I moved to Florida, to be able to be in the sun in late February wearing shorts, a T shirt, and having the sun caress my light brown hair and make me feel right.

Like the old song said “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy!  Sunshine in my eyes makes me cry.”.

Thanks John Denver, you said it right.   I was driving home with a big silly grin down the street and feeling fine!

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

Sunshine on a winter day in South Florida is excellent!

Fort Lauderdale from I-95

In view of the wacky weather that the Northeast has had all winter, this was the view from I-95 I had two weekends ago.  What you’re seeing is a marina that is viewable just East of I-95 South of downtown Fort Lauderdale. 

It was one of those days in South Florida that I used to drive 1200 miles to see when home was so grey and ugly.  “Simpsonian” clouds floating by, warm but not hot, very light breezes.   The only thing I should have done that day was to get the Jeep out of the carport and pop the roof off the car. 

Lately the weather hasn’t been cold, but merely cool and the weekend was amazing weatherwise.  Mid 70s are really hard to fight.   The windows open on the house are especially nice to deal with at any time of the year.  Nothing better than not having to heat or cool the house.   Since it is late February, the air will go on in a couple of weeks for the rest of the year. 

For now, I’m enjoying Winter.

Wilton Manors Commission Chambers Picture

Welcome to the New Commission Chambers at City Hall in Wilton Manors, Florida.

This was the view from my seat on the Dais at City Hall when I was at the first ever CAAB meeting.  Since then we’ve had a couple of other meetings in that hall such as Commission and the other normal City business.

Since this was the very first meeting ever in the new chambers, we needed photos for the Historical society.   I had my camera there and had the chance to photograph the photographer.

The old chambers had a semi-circular dais that was much more conducive to conversations and as a result more intimate.   The new chambers dais is almost linear, as the room is much larger than the old “Two Fire Truck Bay” that was converted and served for 30 or so years.   Other than that, no complaints, it is a beautiful room, and does the City well by its presence.  It is well equipped with all the new technology that you would expect in a modern meeting space.

Learning to become a better skimmer in the Info Age

You know, this stuff keeps coming back again and again.

People have been actively surfing since the the mid 90s.   Now they’re starting to realize that it is adding to the “Short Attention Span Theatre” that we’ve all come to live with.

First MTV came a long with their flickery treatment on Music Videos.  Everything had to be the Radio Mix, no such thing as the 12 inch or Disco Mix, and people ate it up.   Educational Programming for kids predated that with the Sesame Street treatment of short bursts designed to program the mind for learning.  As a result there seems to be an impatience with the long form of things that started growing. 

I have to wonder if Tolstoy could get War and Peace published today as a result.

Then the web browsers came along with this internet thingy.  People realized that as long as they were connected, one really doesn’t need to know just how many isotopes there are of Carbon or just how far north you can grow Durian Fruit. 

You can consult Wikipedia very easily for that sort of thing, and I have included links for that above.

I’m quite guilty of this sort of “knowledge” myself.   I am an IT Manager.  I recommend purchases, software, hardware, and staffing.  I have been asked in the course of one particular day to recommend the purchase of Network Switches, Internet Providers, Collaboration Software, PC Hardware and Software, Security Cameras, Security Camera Recorders, Cable both Network and Video and so on.  

That is also done on two major operating system families as well as their server variants and workstations.

How on Earth do you keep all that in your head?  You don’t… or rather you don’t particularly need to thanks to the web.  While someone of a generation before me would think that is sloppy, after all you do really need to figure out how to do Calculus in your head and paper in daily life, Don’t You?, I’ve come to realize that it is more important to know how to get the answer not the process.  

That is why you have the Web, Superiors, Peers, and Subordinates in the Workplace, and Blogs as well as other things.

I guess I’ll just go with the flow and try to be more flexible.   How about you?

Now where was I going with this… I’ll start launching Firefox now….

Protection for you and your home

And finally a protection hint from Cindy…

Protection for you and your home
If you don’t have a gun, here’s a more humane way to wreck someone’s  evil plans for you.  I guess I can get rid of the baseball bat.

Wasp Spray
A  friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone  coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection.  She asked the local police department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray  instead.

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray,   they have to get too close to you and could overpower you.  The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote.  She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn’t attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection… Thought this was interesting and might be of use.

Wasp And Hornet Spray
On the heels of a break in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo dead, self defense experts have a tip that could save your life.

Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High School  For decades, he’s   suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet  spray near your door or bed.

Glinka says,  “This is better than anything I can teach them.”

Glinka considers it inexpensive,  easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray.  The cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries to break into your home, Glinka says, “spray the culprit in the eyes”.  It’s a tip he’s given to students for decades. It’s  also one he wants everyone to hear. If you’re              looking for protection, Glinka says look to the spray.

“That’s going to give you a chance to call the police; maybe get out.”

Maybe even save a life.

Please share this with all the people in your life.

8 MORE THINGS A BURGLAR WON’T TELL YOU:

More helpful hints from Cindy…

8 MORE THINGS A BURGLAR WON’T TELL YOU:

1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

3. I’ll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he’ll stop what he’s doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn’t hear it again, he’ll just go back to what he was doing. It’s human nature.

4. I’m not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

5. I love looking in your windows. I’m looking for signs that you’re home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I’d like. I’ll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It’s easier than you think to look up your address.

7.. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it’s an invitation.

8.. If you don’t answer  when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

13 Things Your Burglar Won’t Tell You:

This one was making the rounds as a helpful hint email.  I got this one over the last weekend from Cindy here in Wilton Manors, and I think I’ll post it in two parts…

13 Things Your Burglar Won’t Tell You:

1..   Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2.   Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week.  While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste … and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove  it.

5. If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If a decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy..

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom-and your jewelry. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door-understandable. But understand this: I don’t take a day off because of bad weather.

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to   clean your gutters. (Don’t take me up on it.)

10. Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Helpful hint: I almost never go into kids’ rooms.

12. You’re right: I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system . If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates  the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at faketv.com.)