Happy Independence Day

It is early when I write this.  Not yet 8:30 in the morning, and I’m wondering when the celebrations will start.

I remember the celebrations when I was growing up.  The Alderfers next door would have a cookout and invite their friends and the neighbors.  We’d make burgers, hot dogs, get stuffed on sugary punch and crash out after the sugar high.   This being the plains of New Jersey, we’d get sparklers and light them off on the cooling coals of the fires and wish that we could have more.  If we were lucky we’d go to one of the nearby towns for a firework show.  For a while, the Garden State Park would have fireworks display until the big fire burned down the grandstands.  There’s a big box mall there now that is more popular than the old horse track ever was, but you don’t get excited when you’re a kid going to a big box store and the fireworks were more fun.

Later we realized that the park in Cherry Hill was a good place to see the professional fireworks shows from Haddonfield and Pennsauken.  If we put ourselves in the right spot you’d get to see some of the show from Philadelphia down the Cooper Creek past Camden.  We would load up the cars with supplies, go sit out in the grass and “Ooh and Aah” at the displays while slathering bug repellent and swatting those brown mosquitoes.  This was New Jersey after all, and its a very green and lush place.

Through the years I moved out of South Jersey, ended up in Philadelphia but never lost the love of fireworks.  It wasn’t really possible to get fireworks in the Philadelphia Area without driving out of state, and the trouble never seemed worth it.  One year I drove down to Hilton Head, South Carolina with my sister and my mom and we made it a point to stop off at one of those roadside fireworks stands in SC or NC and get a big bag full of Roman Candles and Bottle Rockets that we took to the Barclay Homestead in Cherry Hill and fired them all off.   Much more exciting!

Here in South Florida there seems to be an interesting quirk in the law.  From what I have been able to tell, there are no restrictions on fireworks on the water.  There are large barns of buildings with fireworks for sale and they make you sign a waiver explaining the law, but I can’t say for sure that I am right about that law since I am going on someone else’s memory of it.  From what I’ve been able to tell it would be legal for me to buy high explosives, float them on a plank in the New River around the city of Wilton Manors and blow them all up but have that plank on land and I’ve got to be careful.

Not to worry, I didn’t get any this year.  My neighbors will all be having fun so I can watch and be safe.  Where in New Jersey kids were running around with sparklers, here just about every block has someone firing off rockets that burst in mid air.  Mrs Dog will be a wreck with all that racket, but she doesn’t like Thunderstorms either.

The beginning of all of this was from a comment made by John Adams, who would later become the Second President of the United States.  From Wikipedia:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

If you don’t care for fireworks, Blame him!  For me, I’ll be enjoying the show!

Rough Seas in a Pool

Monday Morning we had a line of storms come through the county. 

Starting at 8am until it passed there were a series of warnings sounded on the weather radio for Broward County.  This all struck me as somewhat on the dramatic side.  I come from an area where a big deal was when a line of thunderstorms would come through and you may have a bit of a need to go indoors until it passed.   Say what you will about the Philadelphia Area Weather, but it was much more gentle.

As I am sitting here going through the job boards and all the postings for Business Analyst, Sr Business Analyst, Project Manager, IT Manager, and anything else that my very broad resume may fit, I’m also hearing first a Tornado Warning, then a Marine Warning, and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning sound in the span of an hour and a half.

Not too much you can do about that, I’m indoors, the Satellite radio is playing Haydn and other classical favourites, and the power is still on so I can make coffee if I should want. 

The second warning, that Marine Warning got me to thinking.   I haven’t been on a boat in a very long time, so I’m not terribly knowledgeable about what that would do to a person out in it.  I’ll stay on Terra Semi Firma and try to keep my feet dry.  As that rain started to fall and the dog got very unnerved I was thinking about when I was a kid in South Jersey.  My sister and I had a pool in the back yard.  Four Feet Deep so nobody would get in over their head, smooth vinyl bottom so your feet wouldn’t be sanded down by rough concrete, we would have many hours floating about like children would.   I remember one day we got silly though.   My sister Pat and I were having a particularly good time of it in the pool and I had a large two man raft in there with us.  We learned that if we filled that raft up with water, it would still float but get warm and comfortable but very heavy.   Once in a while we’d do that because it takes a lot of time with children’s hands to fill up that volume. 

On the other hand just moving in the raft even a little bit would mean it would rock in the pool.  We thought that was particularly fun one day and after we got through jumping in the pool very close to the raft when the other was in it, we hit upon “Rough Seas”.  My sister liked to sit in the raft and get me to do Rough Seas once in a while which consisted of my pushing down on one side of the raft so that she’d be leaning to one side, but not so much as to flip her and then letting go.  All the while chanting in a bizarre voice “Rough Seas…. Rough Seas…”.  After a few pushes we could let the pool do it’s work because it would set up waves and she’d be rocking.   Since I was quite a bit larger, I didn’t get much of a chance to be in the boat rocking about, but I did get it enough to find out what it was like. 

Somehow I think that it wouldn’t be quite as fun if you were stuck out off the coast in this slop that is falling from the sky Monday morning, but I can hope that all will be well for those out there.

May your Rough Seas only be on a float in the pool and a safe harbour is only as far as standing up in the shallow end.

A Soaring Memory From Childhood

Sometimes surfing brings up the most interesting memories. 

I was going through the morning web pages, and there was a link to building your own water bottle rocket.  I remember seeing these things in the stores when I was a kid.  You used to be able to get them for a couple of dollars a piece and they’d consist of a pump that is about 9 inches long, a funnel, and a plastic rocket that looked something distantly like a V2 Rocket.  You would fill the funnel with clear water, fill the rocket with it to a pre-measured level, then attach it to the pump end.  The pump would be clamped onto the bottom of the rocket and you would pump it an arbitrary amount of times until you couldn’t any more.  Then you would turn the rocket upright and pull the lever to launch your rocket.

The Wikipedia Page for Water Rockets has some general info on them but my little store bought rocket was much more modest than some of these monsters. 

I could launch these things probably 100 times each rocket until either I was bored with it, or the rocket ended up in a tree, then it was a trip to the toy store and get another.   They were commonplace and I had even seen one lately when I was in a store here within the last year so they’re still made. 

One time I was sitting on the front porch and had been launching this thing and wanted to see how far it could go so I started aiming it lower to the ground instead of straight up into the air.  I figured I could manage to fly it across the street, and if it was one of those Hot New Jersey Summer Days, the added benefit was a cold blast of pressurized water and air all over me to cool me off. 

When ever I think of those little red domed, white rockets, I would think of aiming it toward the street and firing.  You see once I did that just as a car was coming by and it managed to go in one of the open windows, and out the other side.   The driver of the car was just as surprised as I was to have this projectile fly through the car like something out of a Warner Brothers’ cartoon.

Years later, I remembered this scene and started talking to my sister and her then school-age son about it and decided he needed this memory.   Off to the toy store I went and finally found one.  I filled it up with water with Jonathan on the porch next to me, pumped it up, and launched.   We got a couple shots out of it before I turned it over to Jon.   He had some fun that day launching it and we went inside. 

The next visit we tried it again only first shot it went up on the roof.   Seeing that that house was two full stories high and we had no ladder that would get to the high roof, it was done. 

Somehow, I doubt he thinks of it as fondly as I did.

The website that had it, make.com, has a video and a web page about how to build a rather complex rocket if you want to see them… They’re fun but this rocket is really involved… I’d stick to the little store bought thing if I went to do it again.

The great citrus bloom of 2010

In New Jersey where I grew up, we never really kept the windows open on the house.  It was a split level and had a horrible air flow.   Contrary to the typical view of the Garden State, I lived in an area that was packed with trees and flowers and natural beauty.   You’re probably thinking of Elizabeth or East Orange NJ. 

Behind that first link was a river and an area of trees that lead back to some high thickets of Raspberries, Blackberries, Frogs and other natural things.  I doubt that you’ll find much of that in the latter two.

You will also not find Citrus trees growing outdoors in NJ unless it is summer and they’re in a pot.

Here in Florida I have a house that has leaky Jalousie windows.  Basically I get about 90 percent, give or take a bit among friends, of air flow through here.  If there’s a breeze outside, there’s a breeze inside.  Being about 2 miles from the beach, there’s almost always a breeze.   I’m sitting in my bouncy Poang Chair with the windows cranked open, listening to A Fifth Of Beethoven on Sirius “The Strobe” and the only thing I smell is Orange.  My tree went nuts.   Orange blossoms all over the place, there must have been hundreds of them at the peak.  The scent is almost overpowering since my tree is about 20 feet from where I sit, and directly in the air flow to this chair.

I think that I may just have missed something by not keeping the windows open as a child.  The scents were different in NJ, Pine instead of Orange and Lemon, Coffee instead of the restaurants that occasionally waft over on the breeze here.  Not at all unpleasant, but certainly a wonder to behold.

Yes, Coffee in NJ.  Every so often the Melitta plant at the 295, Turnpike and Berlin Rd that roasted coffee for distribution here and everywhere else that it is sold in the US would catch on the breeze.  Very rare, but it would happen. 

And now I have to make my own.

Congress Hall, Cape May NJ

What you’re seeing is a Historically Significant Building.   This is the Congress Hall Hotel in Cape May, NJ.   Way South Jersey, near the southernmost point where the Delaware River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
I liked the scene.  I had paid a visit just before I moved to Florida, and we spent the day walking around looking at trinkets both two legged and in stores in their quaint shopping district.   The Rockers are nice and comfortable, and it affords you a great view of the ocean.   The place was a playground for the rich in the 1800s and early 1900s, fell into the hands of a church and then into disrepair.   The rehab of the building turned it into a fully functioning resort and a Victorian marvel that was worth the visit.