Downtown Fort Lauderdale From The Causeway

I get asked to do things by people.  For some reason I get drafted to do a fair amount of heavy lifting.  Sure go ask the 6’4″ guy, 193 CM, he’ll do it.

Well I did whine a bit, probably more than I should.  Ok, Ok, a lot more.  I’ll shaddap.

This was for a very good friend who has done quite a lot for me.  I have helped him and his company out a lot in the past with technology issues, as well as this sort of thing.  Sometimes it even goes both ways like the time I installed a power battery backup for their servers.  Bolted that right into a cabinet.  I had to do the same thing for the company I was working for very shortly thereafter so it was nice not to have to use my own responsibilities as a guinea pig for that sort of thing.  I will call it on the job training.

I was told that mine later had to be cut out of that rack because batteries in a power conditioner and battery backup have a nasty tendency to swell.  Given about three years, swollen batteries will warp the case and lock everything in place in the server rack.  Get out the tin snips, it looks like a giant iPhone blew its battery pack.

That day was simpler.  Get a small refrigerator to the roof of the office block and leave it open to allow it to drain.  Come back the next day.

While I was waiting for things to settle and get ready, I was invited to a cup of what I call Office Coffee.  That’s appropriate since I was the taste tester for these things.

One sip and “It doesn’t taste right.  Your water temp is too high.  It’s bitter”.

Office coffee has a bad reputation but any bitter coffee can taste better by reducing the brew temperature.  Don’t even get me started with Starbucks, I won’t drink it willingly.

I have had this exact Kona blend before but I made it with my French Press.  Bring water in a kettle to a complete vigorous boil.  Wait 20 seconds, no less, for the kettle to cool to the correct temp, then brew normally.

Ahhh, coffee nirvana.  But this was … wanting.  There is a coffee company in the London that brews at 92C to 93C if you are looking for exact numbers.  I do it by waving my kettle in the air for 20 seconds.

I finished the brew, then we went upstairs.  With the refrigerator.  And my hands slipping and sliding the whole way with my mind repeating “I Think I Can! I Think I Can!”

Truth be told it wasn’t so horrible, and the view up there was quite nice.  Coffee or the heavy lifting both.

The city centers of South Florida from Jupiter through West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami are in discrete pods.  If you stand in the right place they line up like you would waiting in a queue.  Plop! There’s downtown Miami with Miami Beach next to it.  A little ways North is Aventura.  A little further is Hallandale with its massive towering condos packed too closely together.  Hollywood, then downtown Fort Lauderdale and the Beach behind it.

That day was brilliant, beautiful, and breezy.  Fort Lauderdale shined in the sun, becoming a playground once again for the sun worshipers.  A couple miles away over the palm trees it rose above the squatting homes below the tree line.

And all I had to do was help move an office fridge to get to see it.  Rather a nice bargain if you ask me.

The next day we moved it back downstairs after we chased the mosquitoes that colonized the water dripping from the little freezer in that short time.

Taking a sip of coffee, I commented “If you can, drop the temperature in this coffee machine a few degrees.  It will taste better.”

The look I got I think was a bit disbelieving but I know if it happens, I’ll get a report back.

Don’t overheat your coffee while brewing.  You may end up on a roof with a story to tell.

Video – A Trip To The Fort Lauderdale Beach, January 28, 2017

Yep, I had the camera on and the phone in hand.  I remembered to hold the thing the “right” way so you don’t get one of those stupid videos with bars on either side.

A trip to the beach.  Full HD.  Me acting goofy with the radio on in background.  The idiot software on youtube says that there’s a copyright in the music so you’ll have to tell me if it causes a problem.

Anyway, if you’re feeling cold and icky, this was my ride home in the Jeep from the burger joint I went to for lunch that day.  Kind of hard to bark at a trip like this and I had a clean ride North on A1A.


Now, that whole bit about practicing Spanish at the beach that you hear me laughing at myself with?  You see, since I am learning the language, I listen to very little English Language radio.  I always did like what we Anglos would generically call “salsa” but there are many more genres than just that.   So I put on the one station on the radio in the car, and in the kitchen, and sometimes on the speaker network in the house.   I also watch a minimum of an hour of Spanish Language TV per day but that varies and can be “the whole afternoon”.

I did enjoy the drive anyway, and it was nice to get out of the house and have a burger with a very good friend.

Here’s the drive back.  If you’re hating the weather where you’re at, feel free to watch this.  Aqua Colored Water, Brilliant White Sand, and a whole beach full of people.

My First Boil Water Order

I’m pretty stoic about some things.  I tend to overprepare, but that is what you’d expect from someone with my career history and path.   Plan things out as far in advance as you can see and you will be fine.

So this particular morning when I woke up, I was surprised to hear everyone panic.  I mean You Do Prepare Don’t You?

In reality, a Boil Water Order can be a pretty important thing to worry about, if you haven’t planned.

My Freezer had a full tray of ice, and I know that would last me a solid week.  I slid the switch on the Ice Machine to Off.

I heard about it very early in the morning so Coffee and Tea were safe.  I simply poured off all the extra water in the kettle to a pitcher and refrigerated it.  There’s extra Mint Tea made, since I had to boil the water anyway.

Mind you, the dog waters the Mint too so I never have that “right out of the garden” without really washing it well.  If you think your produce hadn’t been watered by wildlife, a dog, or even a person, you are most certainly fooling yourself.

The Dog?  I’m not worried.  I see how he says hello to other dogs, and he cleans himself doesn’t he?  He’ll be fine.

Then I got to thinking.  Has this ever happened before?

Probably.  In the day of Social Media, we hear everything seconds after it happens.  Think back to things that you saw just last week online that you might never have heard about.  Anniversaries of a fire that happened back in the 1970s in Cherry Hill NJ when the Garden State Park burned to a twisted wreckage.  That was the first time I heard about it in years, but it came instantaneously.

The reality is that if you go back to pre-social media days, a Boil Water order would come out and you would hear about it hours or even days later if you happened to miss the “Six O’Clock News”.

That just meant you were drinking tainted water for an extra couple days.

In this case my Boil Water Order was caused by e coli coming into the pumping station.

E Coli?  I can remember swimming in the Delaware River south of Stroudsburg PA at the Water Gap more than once.  Maurice River in the Pine Barrens in NJ.  Atsion Lake in the Pines too.  I’m sure there was some e coli in that.

Drank Well Water?  Directly from the source?  Yeah, me too.  I doubt people on well water boil that every day.

The Pioneers certainly didn’t and they used to poo right into the creeks.

My own irrigation well?  I wouldn’t drink from that, but I have gotten blasted full strength in the eye and in the mouth more than once. 

That gator is definitely not smiling.  It’s thinking “You Look Tasty”!

Mind you, I wouldn’t swim in a river or a lake here in South Florida.  The gators would have you for lunch.  Definitely not safe whether there is e coli or not.

So it boiled down to “In Me or On Me”.

In Me gets boiled.
On Me I take my chances.   After all the water is still getting treated.

My coffee and tea are safe, as are the drinks I make from them.
Iced tea from a mix?  I’ll use that extra pre-boiled water.

When I got finished with the morning routine, I made some rather nice Rye Bread Rolls from the Wonder Bread Clone Recipe I found a while back.  Just substituted Rye flour for Semolina and it turned out fine.   The water was from a case of bottled water we had bought for Hurricane Season.

We made some bow tie noodles later on.  Water was from the tap, but it got boiled for a good 10 minutes anyway. 

The rule is bring the water to a full boil and hold it there for 1 minutes and you are safe.

After all, burgers are considered safe if cooked to an internal temperature of 165 and allowed to rest for 3 minutes.  “Muscle” meat is typically 140F or warmer for at least 3 minutes, internally.

Then I got a little paranoid and rethought things.  If I rinse and reuse a plate what happens?  That’s technically “In Me”, I set it in the still hot oven.  That should make sure it’s sterilized.

That brought me to thinking about the dishes in general.   Baking fills the dishwasher.  Run it or not?  We decided that since the water is heated close to boiling, and the soap is basically Lye, then the air-dry cycle afterwords fills the house with steam.  I’m good.

We just don’t hand wash anymore anyway.

Showers?  “On Me”.  Lather Rinse and Repeat.  Just don’t drink the water.

Toothbrushes.  Use bottled water, or rinse it out with a little Hydrogen Peroxide or Vodka afterwords.

Vodka?  In times of trouble, field hospitals use Vodka to sterilize instruments.  The Russians, where autoclaves are not available,  used Vodka to sterilize their instruments.  They also used it to sterilize wounds.

I just hope we don’t come to that. 

Don’t use rubbing alcohol on anything that goes “In Me” because it is poisonous.  Vodka is safer.

So basically it’s a week of annoyance here.  It will take a while for the pipes to get flushed, and Fort Lauderdale was planning on flushing their system with Chlorine to make things cleaner this week, anyway.

Now if they could do something about their speeders coming through town.

Who’s Vacation Is It Anyway?

When I lived in Philadelphia people would ask: “When’s the last time you went to see the Liberty Bell?”.

Normally when I heard someone respond they’d say “Oh back when I was a kid” or “A couple years back”.

I did go to see it from time to time.  I have a great picture somewhere, probably lost to the ages, of someone walking behind it so that it looked like The Bell was walking somewhere.

I guess you had to be there.

But that’s the thing.  The Locals don’t do these sorts of things. 

Oh sure, I was at The Rocky Steps, the Art Museum Steps in Philly, many times.  It was a great place to cool down when I had a race or was just out training.  It’s also a great place to rub shoulders and meet up with friends, or friends to be.  But to go TO the Rocky Steps to do that run up them?  Nah.  The Art Museum in Philadelphia is a totally different thing, a world class museum of Art that if you’re there, you should go see it.  I did… Back when I was in High School.

Get the picture? 

Now that I’ve been here 9 years, I’m starting to grow roots.  Some of them are quite deep, the others may just be a bit grey, but they’re sinking in.  I’m beginning to make those comments about my adopted home city of Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale area in general.

“The Beach?  Floridians don’t go there except in their car to look at it.  It’s pretty but it’s just full of tourists!”

“South Beach is a nice place to go for a meal but it’s such a hassle to get there.  You can drive through it though and look like you’re in an episode of Miami Vice or Grand Theft Auto!”.

“The Keys?  You have to do it at least once, that drive to Key West, but be careful.  It could last anywhere between 4 to 12 hours to get to Key West.  I heard once there was a fender bender in the island just above Key West and the traffic didn’t clear for two whole days!”

You know, those comments “Locals” say when they have been there a while.

So add to it the general “Nice” factor and you know what I am going through this week.

“Whaddya wanna do?”
“I dunno, what do YOU want to do?”

Then suggestions are made, the nay sayers are heard, and eventually something happens to the day.

Nice to have a day to “kill” anyway, right?  You’re in paradise, the sun is bright, the weather is warm, the Everglades are burning because the wet season paused.

Oh that last one happens around this time of year.  You see things dry up and burn out there on the river of grass.

But yeah, you’ll see it.  We can go for a drive there.  Hit Federal Highway and maybe drive down to the Keys if it’s not backed up. 

Avoiding Strange People at 5AM in a Tourist Town is Important

At Five in the Morning, Wilton Drive usually looks like this.


I’m up at five every day.  My body just does.  It started when I was competing on inline skates, the early hour gave me time to get to Fairmount Park in Philadelphia so I could get in a good workout before sunrise.

It still gets up at five now.  This particular morning my mind was reviewing Accounting practices.

“The Income Statement shows Revenues minus Expenses giving Net Income, and that feeds into the Statement of Owner’s Capital.  The Statement of Owner’s Capital shows the change in Capital over the period with Beginning Capital plus Net Earnings minus Withdrawals giving Capital at end of period.  That Capital line feeds into the Balance Sheet as Assets equal Liabilities plus Capital.”

Yes, that was my mind at 4:30AM.  In a loop as I came into full consciousness.

I got out of bed at 5, hauled my own bulk out to walk Rack, and was out on Wilton Drive by 5:15AM.  It looked like that picture.  Deserted.  Not even the delivery trucks were out.

Then I got near City Hall and heard someone say hello, a couple times.  I said hello once and got Rack off Wilton Drive, and around a corner.  I’m good at reading people.  You get that way when you worked in the middle of the Badlands in Philadelphia for 8 years.

Wilton Manors is a “tourist town”.  Our population surges just like every other touristy place, we see many more people in town on a Friday Night than on a very early Tuesday Morning, which is when I am writing this.  It’s a way before dawn as of this point. 

Yes, I’m writing this to get it off my mind.

This person, Dave he called himself, said “Hey! It’s my birthday!” as he weaved almost falling onto Wilton Drive itself.  The empty drinks party bottle may have weighed him down on one side.

Great, Dave The Drunk wants to say hello.

I have also said that: “The problems that we have here are mostly due to “outsiders” coming “Onto the Island” and stirring things up.”  Our crime blotter is mostly filled with people from Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park, adjoining cities plus the oddball from some place like Ohio or the big cities Up North doing something “Creative” with someone’s lawn ornament.

That’s also normal to Tourist towns everywhere.

I’m thinking this guy was walking up from Fort Lauderdale, drunk, after celebrating his birthday.  I’ve seen him lurking around town before. 

Lurking is a good descriptive word, I’d say.

I wasn’t quite fast enough changing my route to get away from him.  I made a couple turns designed to disappear from sight, but Rack paused to water some plants.

He caught up to me and insisted on introducing himself and giving me information about himself.  I made brief happy talk of nothing really substantial – the code for “Move on, Pal, and sleep it off”.

It didn’t work.

Like I said, they come onto the island from out of town to try to cause a ruckus.

I suspect if I were a smaller person, he would have been more aggressive.  I’m 6’4″ and 220 pounds, built fairly solid.  Better shape than the average man my age.  This guy was around 5’8″ since his head didn’t really go past my shoulder and lean, but definitely not handling himself well.

I was clearly mentally doing a threat assessment at this point.  I turned on the flashlight at something to make sure there was enough charge to fire off the taser if I needed it.  It’s useful in clearing out pests like badly behaved dogs owners.

He kept up the patter as I walked around the block and headed generically towards home. 

It also was the time of morning that I knew certain people would be getting up and out.  My neighbor Jim was taking his two Samoyeds out for a walk at that time.  I managed to get Rack to sit down so that Jim would make it a point to stay longer.  He looked at my dog and I mouthed “HELP” soundlessly.  He didn’t take the hint and moved on.

Well, that didn’t work, and the patter kept on.  I kept responding to lower his expectations.  I didn’t appreciate the company at all.

Another neighbor was heading to the Gym.  Bob saw this guy and did the “I’m not looking stare” and it really looked like him thinking “You can take care of yourself”.

I can.  My own problem is that I’m too nice of a guy.  I did start making comments like “Come on, Rack, time to get home and wash off your feet, I need my coffee”.

Yeah, like that works with a panhandler.

He made his plea coming up to the corner of my block.  I cut him off.

“Sorry, can’t help you, I don’t have any cash with me.  Nobody brings cash with them when they walk dogs at this hour.”

Ten bucks?  Get lost.  Inflation hits hard, it used to be “Spare a dollar?”

He wandered off with a few four letter words.  I guess the alcohol that he was “sweating off” didn’t hinder his vocabulary.

Fat Tuesday’s drinks don’t work well as a cologne at all.

My hand relaxed off the taser’s red deployment button and I moved quickly home.  Before I turned down the walk, I turned to notice he was well gone.  I left the blinds closed when I got inside the darkened house.

There’s “An Element” here, just like every other tourist town.  People flow in to enjoy what’s in a tourist town.  People also enjoy tourists – some for the contact, others to try to get something from them. 

While I knew I was safe from harm, I had a dog who was highly aware of any sort of strange activity and he was watching closely the goings on, I did not relax.  He clearly had no room in his T-Shirt and board shorts to fit a weapon, that was obvious even in the sodium orange lights that are used here.

I’ll make it a point to be a bit forceful in the future.  It’s one thing to be a nice guy, it’s another to have to deal with a drunk coming in from Fort Lauderdale looking to buy his next bottle on your ten dollar bill.

I guess I really should add “Crisis Management Expert” to my resume!  If not that, maybe “Alcohol Abuse Counselor”?

Believe it or not, I’m not really bothered by the incident, more annoyed.  It was a disruption to my normal morning routine, and a very rare one.  I’ll just make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Lifeguard Hut on Fort Lauderdale Beach

It is difficult to think of a more South Florida scene.

Lifeguard Hut.  Beach chair.  Sailboat.  Sand and Surf.

Perhaps if you added a pod of Dolphin or a Manatee?

This is the sort of thing you see when you’re stuck in traffic on A1A on a late weekend afternoon.

The sun blazing, people enjoying some time off from whatever keeps them occupied, and being outside never hurt.  The beach is always busy, people come from far and wide to be right there.  I can honestly say it was one of the reasons why I moved here, although I haven’t put foot to sand since 2006.

But it is there, 2 miles from my home, and I can get there any time I want. 

Fort Lauderdale Beach, A1A And Las Olas

How about a ride!
In The Car!
Let’s Take The Dog!

We were heading down to flip tapes at Kevin’s office.  That meant we’d be stuck in traffic.

Since we were going to do it at least twice plus other ancillary voyages up and down our suburban pseudo urban sprawl that constitutes the Proposed State of South Florida, that means sitting in the car looking at the pretty scenery.

I have a love hate relationship with the beach at Fort Lauderdale.  It used to be The Strip until some small minded right wingers closed down the whole spring break scene sending it off to other places.  It was a huge draw and an economic engine for all of South Florida.

After that, the businesses closed at the beach one after another, then the Republican induced Great Recession hit, and the Beach isn’t anything like it used to be. 

One of my favorite memories was after driving 1206 miles from my home in Suburban Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale, going to the beach and parking right about where this picture was taken from and enjoying the sun, surf, sand, and the party.

Two out of three ain’t bad, and that’s what they’re saying here.  Granted, it is still off season, so the crowds are a little off and that is to be expected.

Going from The 17th Street Causeway to Sunrise isn’t exactly an efficient drive.  You get stuck most days somewhere, whether you go up Federal, wait for a bridge on Andrews or NE 3rd, or simply take this route at the beach on A1A. 

So, as I get lectured often, why not take the prettiest drive?

To be fair, I was driving the same route with Kevin one day.  He went via A1A, I went via Federal.  We got home within seconds of each other.

Everyone hates being wrong, but he is right, why not enjoy the scenery.

Besides, I’m not the only one enjoying the scene.  Lovers embracing, bikers walking, people taking pictures, lying about on the warm sand or frolicking in the surf.  All of that is what I saw when I was sitting there, two lanes away from the bike path waiting for that light to change.

Fort Lauderdale Beach Palm Tree

Stuck in traffic again.  Driving in Fort Lauderdale it is bound to happen. 

This isn’t like the traffic of the Northeast where you can get onto a major road and move a mile in a half hour.  If a person on foot walks faster than your car, it’s only for a block or two. 

I know not to expect a clear drive to the airport on Federal Highway when I get South of downtown and below the tunnel, it’s just not going to happen.

Since there really isn’t any public transportation worth mentioning here in the South Florida Sprawl, you’re going to take your car. 

I don’t understand how they thought that putting in a lane that you pay for on the road that you paid for with your fuel taxes and registration fees would be a good idea, then they added insult to injury by removing a traffic lane so that the “Lexus Lanes” would be more likely to be used.   Here in South Florida, that Lexus could easily be too passe and it could better be called a “Lamborghini Lane”.  Either way it is bad public policy since you have to have the public transit in place before you restrict traffic.  Typical.  Just typical.

The rule is I-95 is to leave town or for Tourists.  The locals take the surface streets.

Sometimes, when you’re feeling particularly daring, you can go home by the beach.  Personally I think driving by the beach is beautiful, but it is going to be slow, and it is somewhat out of the way.  Others will insist that it’s faster than taking Federal highway.

You may be right there, but sitting in traffic for a block or a mile is not my idea of fun.

If I’m not driving, I’ll do my best to shut up.

I did have something to keep myself entertained.  I had my camera.

I was taking pictures of all sorts of things that very late afternoon.  Close to sunset on a cloudy day meant that the camera’s brain was going to struggle with things like Light Levels and my own motion in the car.  But the tree was there, in a gap between trash cans and volleyball courts, and it needed to pose for its portrait.

Of all those shots of babes and brawns, beach sand and lifeguard stands, this was the best of the lot.  Dark day, camera only went so far.

But it did manage to keep me occupied.  I guess instead of watching content on a TV I’m better off trying to be creative with a camera.

Welcome to Fort Lauderdale, Here’s Your Coffee

It’s October 2013.  David has arrived for his April 2013 Vacation.

It’s also one of those things.  Schedules change and life gets in the way.  April slid into May and we were not really set  for having visitors in those two months.   Lettie left, Rack arrived…

The Summer is a busy season for the locals in Key West.  All you people coming from other places in the cooler weather thinking that life’s all Margaritaville forget that sometimes you have to pick up the palm fronds, repair fences, and pick up the beer bottles that got left behind.   That job still will happen whether you like to go outside and do it or not.  

My own version of that was the Power Washing of the deck that isn’t quite finished.

Yeah, I’ll get to it.  Chill out and have a glass of iced tea.   Sorry, we don’t generally keep the “hard stuff” in the house.

The Hurricane Season peaked and began to ebb.  Now the cooler parts of the day are absolutely perfect.   You have arrived for our Secret Season.   Snowbirds haven’t yet fled the frozen tundra of the North.  They’re still bragging about their Fall Colors, and this would have been the week to take the roof off of the Jeep and drive up the Delaware River to the Water Gap and have a picnic on the little park by the water.

But you’re here now, let’s settle in and have a chat.  Talk about times gone by.  Brother-From-Another-Mother, we’ve known each other since the mid ’80s.  I was on vacation, you stayed there ever since.

It’s good having you here.  I roasted for you this morning a special “Half-Caff” blend.  Estate Grown Guatemalan Regular and Decaf in equal parts to a Full City Roast.  Enjoy that, no I don’t need the jar back, and we can “Do Lunch” later.

You’re leaving after a long weekend?  Sorry to hear that, we’ll have to make it count.

Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal Waterway and Graphics Search – Picture

I know it’s here …


That’s how my day has been all week. 

I am looking for a specific picture to be used as the background for a website that I’m the webmaster for.

Take the picture, sample it, layer it on top of a sunburst, then fade it so it looks like a watermark.

Got it?

If you do, you were probably sitting on my couch discussing changes to that website.

Problem is that it wasn’t where I thought it might be.

That’s what happens when you take a lot of pictures.  I’m in a place and a time where I pretty much have to take a camera with me whenever I go out.   Cargo Shorts and Extra Pockets are my friend.  That camera fits in there nicely.   Phone cameras just don’t cut it.  While Digital SLR with Macro Zoom Lens and all that stuff is a dream, this works well.

Out on a trip around town gives me an excuse to be a hopefully not terribly obnoxious tourist, leaning out of the door of the car taking “Holiday Snaps” of the surrounding countryside.   Even being stuck in traffic can be fun when the bridge opens.  You’re going to be sitting in the same spot for about 5 minutes while, as Homer puts it, “Bridge Goes Up.  Bridge Goes Down.”.  So lean over the railing with a good grip and get Just That Shot, even if there was a tourist standing in almost the same spot a day ago got Just That Same Shot.

Well never mind that, it did turn out pretty didn’t it?  SE 17th Street Causeway looking North from the bridge. 

I really don’t want to schedule another photo shoot…
Now, where is that picture?