Remember

On September 11, 2001, I was sitting in my office.

I had recently ended my morning call to my rather competent client, and hadn’t yet gone to do battle for my client with my rather incompetent management at work.

Things started getting strange out in the hall outside my door.  It was a buzz that was unnatural.   One of those moments that remains in your mind a long time afterwords.

Internet access got slow.

My immediate boss came in and asked me to check the news.

That was how I learned that thousands of people were in the process of being murdered by a terrorist attack in NYC, The Pentagon, and Pennsylvania.

Suddenly my incompetent management problems at a University on North Broad Street in Philadelphia became even more unimportant than they were before, it became a September Tenth Problem.

Later we had heard of this once ever commercial put out by Budweiser Beer.  This went out on the Super Bowl in 2001 during Half Time.

I missed it.  Then as now, I aggressively skip commercials.

If I see a commercial there’s going to be a compelling reason for me to watch it.

As much as I try not to share Youtube links, here it is in case you have not seen it.

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Dorian’s Florida Sunset

The storm in South Florida was minimal.

It did however ruin Grand Bahama.

I saw a before/after map of the island where about 1/2 of the place was underwater.  There were videos of utterly demolished places with a random wall standing and other videos of where people were standing knee deep on their second floor as flood waters were turning their couches into pool floaties.

Watching the coverage on Bahamian National TV at ZNSBahamas.com you could hear the desperation in the voices of the callers.

And this storm isn’t finished.  It’s heading for the Carolinas.  Finish your storm prep up there, don’t wait.

Even though it is currently a Category 2 storm, it can still wreck your day.

These storms are a way for the environment to move excess heat from the ocean into the atmosphere.  The explanation I heard was that this mechanism was a partial reason why Dorian stalled out over Grand Bahama.  The heat of the Bahamian ocean got lifted into the upper atmosphere and got dumped into North Carolina and broke down the steering currents.

All this caused an upwelling of the cold water in the deeper parts of the ocean and slowly weakened the storm until it got a nudge from the environment and started it moving North again.

After two days.  Imagine a category 5 storm sitting on your house unleashing the hounds of hell for two solid days.

Relief efforts are beginning.  The Major Cruise Lines pledged support.  Carnival and Royal Caribbean both have pledged direct efforts.  Disney has already announced relief efforts.  I’ll expect to hear more as the days go forth.

If you can’t give to the Bahamas Red Cross or go there directly in a Flotilla like I heard my neighbors were going to do, consider shopping those companies that are supporting the efforts and let them know why you are.

For now, there are four storms in the Atlantic, one more in the Gulf.  The season does not end until December 1 so we can have this happen again in a week or two.

How it got to be Kevin Puryear’s Bench at Pompano Airpark

For me, the story starts well after things were in play.

You see, I restarted a regular habit of my own, then took it on the road.

I have started skating on a regular basis this year, and that meant I was going to Pompano Airpark.  I’d go, skate, fall down, and generally beat myself into a pulp while thoroughly enjoying the exercise.

I’m going twice a week, as early in the day as I can get out there, to skate a 9 mile workout. It is a great way to burn upwards of 1500 calories, and get some beta endorphins.

I guess being as big as I am, almost 7 feet on skates with helmet, the beta endorphins would soften my own appearance.

Going along on the trail, I’d have a big goofy grin on my face, while I am in my cocoon of music on the headphones.

I became a regular. People would recognize me, smile and wave.

There was one person in specific who hung out at the 1.5 mile water stop.  It’s a small stand of shade trees surrounding a water fountain and three green metal benches.  Since the park really needs more water stops, this stop became a bit of a hangout.

I noticed as I was skating by, heading past the big Goodyear blimp hangar, there was one person curiously asking me the time.

Frequently.

“What Time You Got? Is it 9 O’Clock yet?” I’d hear.

“Um sure!” Glancing at my watch.

“Have a great morning!”

I’d be confused as he was generally very friendly even if his outward appearance was on the rather scruffy side and led me to believe that he might be homeless.

As I’m going through this year, I’m testing out old equipment to prove that I can continue to use it, or that I should “retire” it.  Trust me, skates don’t age well, and my newest pair is over 15 years old.

One of those test workouts, I had to stop at that water stop.  By that I meant I was in desperate need of a rest since the skates being tested had me burning almost twice my usual “burn rate” in calories.  I was exhausted.

He was there.  Still pleasant as usual.

I got my drink and he waited.  As soon as I had finished “Is it 9 o’clock yet? You enjoying yourself?”

“Oh yes, I am!”  I fibbed, but people never want to hear bad news.  After all my third wheel had swollen and was forcing me to take way too many rests than usual.

I guess I had made a new friend.  Every time in the future, I’d hear him cheer me on or shout a loud Hello! as I passed.

This was what he did.  He would hang out with the people working out at the park.  Some more athletic than others, always greeted by him.

I grew to expect to see him there, then grew to look forward to him.  He just was there, being pleasant, sitting under the trees, never threatening, just enjoying being there as everyone would come and go.

Later, usually late morning, he’d wander off.  I never saw where he went to but I figured he had another place to go and more people to see.

Local Color is what I call something like this.  Someone who does something unexpected that brings a bit of character to the area.

I realized after a while that he had gone missing and I didn’t know why.  My mid lap greeting was gone.  Since I tended not to stop often at that water stop, I never learned why.

Except one day a small memorial cropped up on his bench.  Right where he always sat, closest to the trail on the southernmost bench.

The story explained that he had been struck by the Brightline train on June 10, 2019.  His family had invited everyone to his service and his funeral to say goodbye.

It turns out that he was an uncle, a brother, and a friend to his family and they said he will be missed.

I was telling this story to my own family the other day and realized that yes, he would be missed.  I missed seeing him there on what I had taken to calling Kevin’s Bench.

It is now two months after he died.  The little memorial is still there.  I still look every time I pass there.

Kevin has gone, we at the park still remember.

You never really know who you touch in life or how you effect others by your actions.

Sometimes those effected don’t realize that they were until you’ve gone.

 

Got a Dog? You Are Being Watched. Got a Herding Dog? Better Respect The Process.

Every so often, you hear this story.   For me it was the other day on BBC, this is a similar story if you want video.  In fact, the story is so common that if you do a search on “Breast Cancer Dog”, you will find many videos and stories on this subject

The story went that there was a woman who has a dog.  A great dog, a Rescue Dog, friendly, they bonded deeply, and they integrated each other deeply into each other’s lives.

So what she described is what you normally call a Shadow Dog.  They follow you every where.

In my case, Rack is a Shadow Dog, but being a McNab, he does it differently.  He placeshimself strategically so that he can see where I am and what I am doing, no matter who else is in the house.

Get the picture?   Good, here’s where it gets intriguing.

This lady noticed a difference in her dog’s moods.  The dog became less bouncy.  Less energetic.  More reserved.

Of course, dogs have moods just like you or I, and the longer I have my own boy here, the more often I realize that he does things for a reason.

That “reason” is what was causing the mood swings.   She was getting ready to take the dog into the vet to see if there was anything at all wrong with the dog when she noticed something odd.

We’re all used to having our dogs sniff around.  Mine took an interest in a bit of road rash I have on my left arm that took a little too long to heal.  He sniffed that spot every time he came over for a visit during a perimeter search in the house.  So I paid more attention to it, washed it out more often and more thoroughly than usual.  When it healed, he lost interest.

Here is the parallel.  The lady’s dog sniffed her chest more than normal, and realized that the dog was sniffing one specific breast.  Since she was in the UK she was able to get the care she needed, and found out that there was breast cancer developing in that breast.

The dog saved her life, and this is one of many cases where that story works out for the best.

Really, I have said it before many times and I shall say it again “Trust In Dog”.

I have a routine.  It’s very fixed in the way things are done.   I suppose I live an ordered and orderly life, although if you saw my kitchen you would disagree.

Things happen the same way daily because I have figured out that best process and the best order.  You would expect that of someone like me, a Project Manager.   We do that, we plan, we watch processes for the best outcome and tweak them and tune them like a fine piece of machinery.

However, my own ordered life is noticed by Rack down to the last detail.

He knows not to ask for an ice cube after the first one is given in the morning.  We walk, come home, I feed him and then he goes to his bed tucked away in a corner.   I then putter in the kitchen making up a mug of French Press coffee and drop five, not four or six, ice cubes in the press to bring it to a perfect temperature.

Rack knows that when I go into the freezer to come but only when called.  He gets his prize, I get my coffee, and since it is usually well before sunrise, I settle in to sip coffee and work on learning Spanish, getting caught up, and getting started.

At 7:30AM every day, whether it is raining or not, the irrigation system comes on.  It is on a timer and must run to water the orchids and fruit trees in pots.  Regardless of weather since some of these pots require a specific watering schedule, I have to go outside.

By this time, He’s either needing to visit the large palm tree out back or wants to just get out for a break and a romp.  I’m not completely sure which, or both.

When I am ready, I put my keyboard away, and immediately I hear Rack doing his “Downward Dog” yoga stretch, and then a furious trot behind me to the back door.

Every blessed day.

Without fail.

RunRunRunSkid.

“Ok Rack, I am coming.”

Rinsing out that French Press mug, I get to the door.  Rack invites himself outside, first.  I dump the grounds in the garden and go about my Yard Inspection.

It is every day.

Every.

Even during Irma’s aftermath, I maintained that schedule, although since the power was out or running on a generator, I used that time to scoop debris out of the pool or just do gardening.

But Rack was there.  Watching over what I was doing and insisting on being there.

When he has had enough of marking the perimeter outside, He comes back and tries to nudge me back indoors.

It’s that process thing.  One step after another, respect the process.  In order.

Now if he starts sniffing any specific part of your body, pay attention.

Time Change Day Will Take All Day, But Maybe Not Again

Having a weird attachment for Time Pieces, clocks, watches, computers, and loud ticky things that are starting to get on my nerves takes days to find them all.

Twice a year we set our clocks forward or backwards – Spring Ahead, Fall back.

Tomorrow is the official day, but I generally start well before the time change day because over the years I have been given, bought, collected a bunch of clocks.

Like forty-leven-and-a-half of them.

Since I tend to fix anything of my own that breaks, they all work.  Or maybe not.  There’s one or two with a broken mainspring somewhere.

That and there’s this one clock I have on a wall above my right shoulder that annoys the daylights out of me.  It ticks loud enough to be heard in the bedroom at night and it’s in the dining room.  It also has a weird quirk that if it stops, you can’t set the correct time since it will drift to about 20 minutes slow. or more.  Then you remove the pendulum and let it run in super-fast mode until it “catches up”.

Now you know what I am doing this weekend.  Setting clocks.  Each time I use one.

Blah.

However, finally, someone is going to do what I have been saying all these years.

Set It And Forget It.

I personally don’t care if it is Daylight Savings Time.

I personally don’t care if it is Standard Time.

Just stop setting the clocks forward or backwards.

Set it and forget it!

They are considering that here for Florida.  If the law passes, I will cheer.  Why?  It will be Daylight Savings Time all year until someone gets annoyed and repeals the law.

It could as easily be Standard Time for me, I simply don’t care.   I just don’t want to set that damn wall clock.

It will annoy the rest of the country for the three or so months that we drift out of sync from the rest of the Eastern Time Zone, but everyone outside of Florida thinks we’re weird anyway.

From what I see, we might be.  We have iguanas that shred our plants, alerts because pythons are seen eating cats, and sharks in the tidal water about 5 miles from the intracoastal from time to time.

Yep, it’s a weird state, but abolishing Daylight Savings Time is a step in the right direction.

So if you will excuse me, that nail that sticks up the highest is about to get hit with a sledge hammer.

Yes, I have my wall clock to remove a pendulum from.

Hurricane Irma, The Wait For Power

Really.   If I can sit here on a Wednesday Morning and bust out some blather about the electricity being out and that’s about it, then I will survive.

The one story that keeps coming through my mind is a woman on Barbuda in the Caribbean.  She was one of 1600 people there.  She was watching a baby and a tornado hit her home.  The baby was sucked out of her arms.  Baby found dead later when the storm passed.

Really.  So, count your blessings.  If you are reading me, you are better off.

We are without power.  The gasoline supplies are very low, we’re waiting on the coast guard to allow tankers into Port Everglades to refill.  I guess we join a long line to fill gas cans like many others.

But we’re intact here.

I caught news that the west side of the state, Naples, Fort Myers, and the like got slammed by this horrible storm.  Here, not so much.  We didn’t have a predicted 9 feet of water in a storm surge come in.  We did have white-out conditions with rain so strong that I couldn’t see the wall of a building 250 feet away briefly.

The eye of the storm crossed Cudjoe Key.  Call it MM 52 – 52 miles East of Key West.  As well as they prepared, anything not nailed down is now not in the house.  Those folks will need help getting onto their feet.

So I’ll return to putting the plants back out and scooping my neighbor’s tree leaves out of the pool.  Not unscathed, just a bit muddy.  Not really even worth taking pictures of it.

A cycle of running the generator an hour, then waiting three hours to run again.  It keeps the bags of ice in the freezer frozen and the refrigerator cool.

Much better off than many.

Yes.  This is global warming.  Anyone that tells you otherwise is a fool and should be returned to their medications.  Anyone who makes laws or votes to the contrary is a damn fool and probably should not be allowed to effect other’s lives.

But after all is said and done.  A few observations.

Gasoline.  I suspect the state has been pretty much drained of this stuff.  We’re ok for four days now, after having gotten some.  I’m sure many won’t be as lucky.  Some of the lines were blocks long.  Police were thankfully directing people around.

And Gasoline is beginning to flow in which is a major plus.  It will take a while before we start to see supplies even out in South Florida.  There was a report that in Tampa, simply forget it.  Again, Thankful but that could be “helped”.

Traffic.  We drove down to Davie about 10 miles off.  I have to say the roads work better with fewer lights.  I’ve heard a saying that “Every Traffic Light Means Someone Died Here” but I have to question if streets aren’t just badly designed and enforcement of traffic laws are simply not stringent enough.  If you follow the rules, you’ll have a better time of it.  If you drive a car like an idiot, you’ll wreck it for everyone else.

A Traffic Light that is out is considered a Four Way Stop by the universal vehicle code.  Yes, Even For you.

We did make it to Wawa in Davie.  The line was untenable.  Close to 100 cars waiting for fuel.  Might need to get up in the middle of the night to attempt it next time.

Count your blessings.  If you can read this, you’re better off than many others.  Now, go talk to your neighbor.  They just may need something.   Mine just put out another bucket of Avocados.  There are plenty left, go and enjoy.

If I could just figure out how to eat the darn things other than sliced on a bagel!  I am thankful even for avocados, weird though they are!

 

Hurricane Irma, Slogging Through Saturday Into Sunday

But hey, I still have power…

At least through Sunday Morning, I have.

It wasn’t until 4PM here that I saw the first rain that left enough water on the ground to sheen the streets.

The county declared a curfew from 4PM through.  I’m guessing the duration.  I don’t know when that is.

The only thing that has bothered me is a few power pops here and there.  When power does go out, we’re sunk.  I can’t say that they’ll be by to reconnect us at that point, because there is some wind speed that they stop work at.

I seem to remember 35mph.  We are over that now.  44 was the last check, although it’s been gusting faster.

Then you’re on your own, cowboy.

Net’s up.  Power’s up.  Water’s flowing.

This isn’t a whole lot to deal with compared with Antigua, Puerto Rico, the DR, Haiti, and Cuba.

Now the Florida Keys.

It could be worse, I could be in the Keys.  The Eye of the Storm right now is crossing into the lower keys, and they’re still predicting that trip through Key West and up the west coast of Florida.  My heart goes out to them since I can’t say I would want up to 9 feet of salt water piling up on my house.  That’s going as high as 270 CM.

This map is of the expected storm surge.  Those pink areas are where the 9 feet of salt water comment comes from.  Naples, Marco Island, north up the coast.

I grabbed that map from the NWS Miami Twitter Feed.

I stocked up on rechargeable batteries a while back.

I’ve also been harvesting old laptop battery packs.

Why laptop batteries?  Each one is a larger and longer cell configuration so they will not fit inside of a standard radio or flashlight.  They also put out more voltage at 3.7 VDC compared with 1.5 VDC for a D, C, or AA Cell.

But.

Each one puts out between 2 and 4 amps.  Connect four together and you get 14.4 VDC.  Run them through a voltage regulator like that cigar lighter thing to charge your phone in the car and you now can recharge your phone a couple times.

So those 18650 batteries will charge my flashlights for months.  Battery operated fans for weeks.  Radios will play.

The air conditioning may not work due to power outage, but I will be able to listen to crappy music.

If you want radar?  Follow this link.  Remember that the highest point in the Keys is on Key West at 18 feet.  The map showing those islands should be considered a suggestion since most of them will be overwashed by storm surge.

That “9 feet” again.

But so far, for me, I’m lucky.  Not even anything worth taking a picture of here in Wilton Manors, and I thank my lucky stars for that.