Sunrise on Wilton Manors

I get up whenever I feel like it.  Unfortunately I tend to feel like it as early as 4:30 AM.  A late day is getting up at sunrise.

Part of it is habit.  I would get up on weekends back in the day.  First it was for rowing on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.  Later it was for running in the Valley Forge National Park, or to the trails for biking and Inline Skating.

I miss the Skating the most.  South Florida with its drivers that aim for anything out there including other cars is not conducive for putting any decent distance on inline skates.

Decent distance for me is 100 miles per week.  That is 162 km for the Imperially Impaired.

But the habit continues.

Lately it is a two mile, 3 km dog walk every day, rain or predawn shimmer.

That predawn shimmer can be quite beautiful.

I’m out there with my faithful side kick and shadow, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) every morning and we cover practically the entire Wilton Drive.  It’s a coping strategy.  You see, Rack is quite fearful and having little traffic before 7AM, we’re out there to try to do some distance to keep in shape.   It works, but it also serves to allow him to get a taste of what he is afraid of without truly having a major panic attack.

The minor ones will trip you up enough anyway.  To get out and explore your own town at a time of morning when there are few others out there truly is a privilege.  On the one hand, you get a weird zombie movie or post apocalyptic vibe where there are tumbleweeds rolling down the main drag.  It’s dead quiet, and there are only a few  people up.  You can ignore them.

But there are the changes as you walk along.  The skies go from indigo to purple to blue.  You get a Subtle Hint Of Mauve, whatever color your eye translates that to be, on everything, and the buildings begin to glow.  The flowers begin to pop.  Later you hit the golden hour and the world wakes up.

So does the traffic, and that can be a distraction for a fearful medium sized mostly black dog.  He gets more insistent to get

Off The Drive and turn back into the neighborhood to head on home.  It’s a 45 minute or more wander.  Later walks are always longer.   You need to take care getting across that street that you didn’t when you left home.  People wave, the officers in the patrol car flash their lights or chirp their sirens to say hello, dog walkers emerge.

I am living my own version of the intro to the movie Roxanne as all the sudden I am smiling as a baby Beagle and a Pug are wrapped around my legs begging for attention and Rack is snuffling around the owners looking to be pet.

We’ll end up home soon enough.  Herd a few ducks, watch the last clouds turn from golden to white, and ponder whether the rain will come on shore before you get home.

Another dog walk at sunrise ends with the cool of the living room.

Hello!  I’m home!  What’s for Breakfast?

Wilton Drive At Sunset and a Conversation About Docker And Other Computer-y Things

So what about Docker?

What do you mean, what about it?

 

Have you gotten anywhere with it?

Oh that.   No, haven’t started.  It’s going to be a series of articles when I get started anyway.  It has to be.

 

Why a series?

Docker being what it is will need one to set it up, another to actually use the beast.  And besides, it’s for my Linux audience anyway.  Us weirdos out there in the One And A Half Percent Of The Market that realize that my 5 year old laptop on Linux is faster than your brand new one out of the box.

 

Yeah Yeah Yeah.

Less Microsoft DRM Crap means a better experience.  Besides the only thing I ever do on Windows these days is write the blog and that’s only because I have more disc space there to store all my photography.

 

True but you have Linux tools to do Photoshop, right?

Yes.  GIMP and Inkspace run natively, and I can run Irfan View under emulation on Wine.   I really do not need Windows at all.

 

So why not migrate?

The Windows machine has a bigger screen.  It’s 15 inches, and the Linux machine is 12 but much faster with the same resolution.

 

Yeah yeah yeah…

Stop.  I have a picture to take.

 

Oh?

Even Rack stopped faster than you did.  Never mind that.  Hold the leash, look West down the Drive.

 

You’re right.  Nice view.

I’ll get a few while I am at it.

 

Like you said, the best use anyone ever got out of a Parking Meter is to use it as a camera mount.

Yep!  And with me using a phone as a camera, it needs all the help it can get.

 

The silhouette looks like that shirt I had for years.

The one of the Key West skyline?   You know that was a test shirt.  A Mistake.  It was meant to be multiple colors and they only got black on it.  I liked that shirt until my weightlifting made my chest too large to get in to it.  Wear it in good health.

 

So, that Docker Thing?
Yeah.  Installing it is trivial.  A couple commands on the Linux Command Line, then edit the .CONF file to configure it, then start the container install.  I guess I can get that much done by next week.  Over a beer.   Did I tell you that I did my best coding on a Friday Afternoon after a Guinness and a Roast Pork Sandwich?

 

Many Times.  Don’t forget the horseradish!
That reminds me, I still have that in the freezer.  About 3 pounds of Pork Loin.  Will you ever try that?

 

Didn’t think so.  Ok, lets get the walk done, I want dinner.

Peas and Bees on Early Voting Day

This was the day to do something outdoors.

October in South Florida is our Secret Season.  The weather Up North isn’t yet awful enough that people have decided to escape.

Our weather has decided it is time to be “Nice Out”.  The highs have dropped to the low 80s.  The rains are here, but moderate.  Hurricane activity is fading away.  This year it was abrupt since the last one churned up the ocean enough to make it pleasant and cool on land.

In other words, I live where you vacation.

When I heard about London suffering through a heat wave where people were being told to limit outdoor activity, I realized that their weather was a normal South Florida summer day.  Low 90s and sun.  A bit much to be out and about, but you can deal with it.  That would be a cool Philadelphia summer day for example.

But now?  Windows open, roofs off cars, locals enjoying it.  If you’re up before sunrise you may even see a stray jacket or two.

Yeah, that nice out.

So what did I decide to do on that Tuesday Morning?  Stand on line.  I went to our City Hall and went to vote.  It took about fifteen minutes since there was a line of around 20 people.

But when that was all done?  What to do?   How about walk the town?

Beautiful day for it and I did not want to head home just yet.  I planned on hitting the thrift shops and looking at books and jeans and other odds and ends that a normal life would need.   Why not?  It would be a two mile walk total, only 3 Ks.  Sunny but not oppressive with a nice breeze off the ocean.

That’s why you live here.   Sunny With A Nice Breeze Off The Ocean.  Even in February it can be like that.

I left the first thrift store and walked past our wee little triangular park.  It’s too small to put a shop or a house on it, so they put shrubs in and a few benches and it’s a place to picnic.  It is also a place I walk the dog past before the sun comes up two hours later practically every day.

In all our Wet Season rains, the shrubs there are growing crazily.  In fact I would not mind getting some cuttings from those plants and propagating it.  It would make a great hedge in the yard.

But some of it is as high as seven feet.  If I can’t see over it, it’s tall.  Chock full of orange and yellow flowers.  The bees love it.

Mind you, even as tall as I am, I’m not fond of bees.  Go make your honey but leave your stingers away from me.

Luckily they did.  They may not be Africanized Killer Bees since they left me to my own curiosity.

But among all those multicolored flowers were some “weeds”.

Now, I’m not a farmer but this struck me as odd.  Sweet Pea Flowers among the hedges.  In fact if they are allowed to grow, I’m sure you could get a small harvest of the things.

There they were, pure yellow, intertwined among the hedge, and growing some ripe pea pods.

Made the bees happy I am sure.

It also struck me as amusing as to the incongruousness of having a Pea farm in a park in an urban area coated with hundreds of bees.

That’s all part of being here, I suppose.  Drop a seed and it will grow.  Ignore it long enough and you have a farm full of misplaced invasives.

 

Sometimes it all works out for the best.

A Morning Gift, Or Not All Of The Creatures Up Before Dawn Are To Be Avoided

Wandering through the heart of Wilton Manors means walking through an area that other people consider their playground.

It’s my neighborhood, you don’t live here, you’re borrowing it.

I’m up at stupid O’Clock.  That varies between 4:45AM and if I really am sleeping in, as late as 7AM.  One of us will get me up typically before 6 but it is almost like I set the alarm for 4:45.

Two solid hours before sunrise.

That means that some of the creatures of the night are not yet gone.  No, Wilton Manors isn’t that edgy or dangerous, it’s that people have a habit of lingering after the bar closes. If there’s a problem here, it is almost always due to an outsider coming in.

Typical for a resort.

So I watch as we walk.  Being up that early means I am out before the beginning of rush hour walking Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM).  It benefits him as he’s still quite fearful and afraid of things like traffic, the 50 Bus, and the beater of a minivan that the newspaper delivery folks tend to use to drop off the morning dailies.

At 5:15AM there is very light traffic, and that’s just enough to keep the dog alert without being wrenched out of his mind due to a stream of cars.

This one particular morning was an odd one.  There were leftovers in the bar parking lot having a party.  Salsa music floated out of a car and I caught random snippets of a conversation in Spanish, but not enough that I could completely understand.

Walking further south on Wilton Drive, the Fort Lauderdale police cars were servicing their normal Donut Emergency speeding north with the lights flashing.  They turned into the Courtyard Cafe and went for their breakfast.  Why they need to speed like that I have no idea but I do plan to have a talk with the chief of police next time I see him about this.  It’s a two or three time a week occurence.

I was awakened from my own reverie by a flash and a friendly wave.  One of the patrolmen on our own Wilton Manors PD were waving a hello and a quick burst from their lights.  Nice folks on duty here.

We have a long daily walk to start the day.  I’m out more than an hour most mornings.  A two mile walk with a dog can be a half hour or it can be two hours.  It all depends on how much there is to sniff and whether the walk itself slid late and I’m running into local friends to chat with.

Yeah, I can run at the mouth.

But right in the middle of Wilton Drive, in a traffic lane, there was a woman in a silver VW Jetta.  She was waving at me.

Now, being used to the creatures of the night, I am wary.

She got out of the car.  It was stopped in the traffic lane.  I was amused and relieved when she got out of the car in a black lace baby doll shirt and some rather short shorts.  There was no way she could have been hiding anything in all that lace.

I heard her story:

“Excuse me, but I want to give you something!”

That’s new.  I’m watching traffic approach from the north.

“You see I have some things.  I had a dog that I had to give up because my landlord won’t allow dogs.  I have a little Yorkie and I have to rehome him for a while.”

I’m thinking that I’m about to be given a dog by a random woman dressed in a baby doll shirt.  “But ma’am…”

She continues:

“So I have all these treats and I want to pass them onto someone who has a dog while I figure out what to do about my Yorkie.”  She opens the back door in a swift moment and starts looking through her packages.  I notice that her shorts were quite short indeed, but nothing out of the ordinary in Florida in August.

She pulls out a bag of treats and a small container of dog food.  Rack immediately stops being afraid and realizes that this could be good for him.  “I have some goodies.  Don’t worry, they’re all still sealed!  Can I pet your dog?”

“Sure if he will let you, he’s very fearful…”

Rack let her pet him but not too much. A truck sped by and he flattened out on the pavement.

“Aww, he really is afraid.  Enjoy these!  I really wanted someone who had a dog who treated them right to get them and you two looked like you were having fun on the walk!  Take care, bye!”

“Thanks, that was truly nice of you!  Thanks again, we will enjoy it!”

Needless to say I was bemused.  The package of dog treats and the small container of food were perfectly sealed, so Rack will get some treats.

It isn’t every day that you get stopped by a stranger in a major city to be given treats for your dog!

This is a picture of the Nations First Permanent Pride Flag installation, or so I have been told.  It stands on Wilton Drive, across from City Hall, in Jaycee Park. Taken June 14, 2016 at around 2 in the afternoon.

About a week after it was installed, the murders happened in Orlando at The Pulse bar.  Now the flag is at half staff along with all the other flags that were seen on Wilton Drive.

It was described by John Oliver as The Most Florida Thing That Could Ever Be.  A Latino night at a gay bar in the theme park capitol of the world.

Or very close to that.

It was a closeted man, hyper religious, and hyper authoritarian.  He had a profile on a gay dating app called Grindr.  Whether he used it to date or to look for victims, we don’t know yet.

 

Probably both I would expect.

 

We do know he basically hated everyone, according to what his boss said in the interview that I saw.

I will not Pray For Orlando.  It was religion and prayer that got us to where we are.  Had this murderer been following a Religion of Peace, he would not have killed.  His own personal version of the particular religion that he did follow was a twisted relic of evil once his hateful mind got through with it.

I will leave it up to you to judge.  I simply will never support someone elected to office who supports the possession of those sorts of weapons.  They are designed to tenderize their victims and turn them into hamburger before the victim hits the ground.  They are designed to kill people more effectively.  They have no place in this world.

It is long past time to act.  If Sandy Hook and 20 children dying there, and Columbine’s massacre weren’t I doubt this will be acted on either.  It probably is too profitable for the paid off class of people to want to anger the NRA.

Enough praying.  Time to pass some meaningful gun control laws in this country and where ever else needed.  If the laws are there already, why aren’t you people enforcing them?

Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of The Way.

Roxanne and the Fire Station Re-dedication

Really, there are some very nice things about living in a small town.  Even if that small town is wrapped by a rather large monster called Fort Lauderdale, our little enclave of 12,800 or so good people and a few stinkers can be a nice place to be.

When I moved here, I was looking forward to being in a place you could wrap your mind around.  Not Too Big And Not Too Small.  Having lived in Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, happily, I started to see that sort of community, but it was diluted by being in the city limits of Philly.

I now know that if I leave the house, I have to double the time that some of you folks out in the Suburbs would take to walk to the corner – if you ever left your car behind.

South Florida is famous for being a place that a car is required.  You have to drive everywhere, and since they’re trying to convince people to take the buses, it’s only going to get worse.  You can widen the roads to add a bus lane, but without adding a bus lane you will make certain that there will be people out there who will make it a point to vote against the politicians in charge of that decision wherever possible.

County of Broward is a good case in point.  The county government infrastructure exists, but I am hard pressed to see any point to it or any good at all done by them.  Most Florida counties, I would wager, are the same.

However I’m lucky.  I’m in the enclave of Wilton Manors.  You see, I don’t need a car.  I can walk within a half mile to anything that I would require, and add more distance up to a mile and I’m pretty well suited.

So I walk.

Everywhere.

It works out that I have a herding breed dog, a Mc Nab Dog, that requires exercise.  Generally as a result I’m walking two miles a day, some days as much as 5.

Now, my own walking pace with the dog is about 3 miles in an hour.  One of those three dog walks should take about 20 minutes.  Bags in hand, looking for a safe place to dispose of them.

But it doesn’t happen that way.

Over the weekend we were notified by The City that there was a ceremony at the Fire Station.  Apparently every decade or so they have a celebration, and talk about what the building means and what it does for the community.

Great.  Lets go.   We made a mental note of it and decided to go.  After all, being even slightly interested in the goings on in a Small Town, you get to know The City.

 

Yes, in capital letters.

In our case, we know practically everyone in The City government of Wilton Manors by at least face, and know the management structure by name.  It’s not a brag, it’s a part of living here.  They’re good people and certainly worth getting to know as they do their jobs and get things done.

I’ve been waved at by most of them, even had one of the Police higher ups (no, I won’t say who) stop traffic, set off the sirens and horns and lights, just to say hi.

Like I said, one of the perks.

That’s when my own bad timing got in the way.  You see, I have to plan that when I go anywhere, that 20 minute mile with the dog is always doubled.  I allow an extra 20 minutes minimum to say hello to this shop keeper or that barback, or the guy who makes  the excellent ice cream on the shop over in the lofts just a short way on the other side of the Drive.

It is definitely like the movie Roxanne’s first scene.  Steve Martin walking to his fire house as the fire chief saying hello to people, sticking his rather large nose into shops, and I think he even saved a cat.

Fun movie, well worth the watch, it’s a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac’s tale set in a rather beautiful Oregon seaside town.

I’m not a fire chief, but that is pretty similar to my own experience here.

You see I missed the dedication of the Fire Station.  I think I blitzed.  I didn’t put Two and Two together.

You can’t say I wasn’t warned.

I was walking East on Wilton Drive, trying to get home with the dog pulling me towards things.  He thought he was going to visit with the owner of the art gallery, get attention, get cookies, and get on with things.

I was in a rush when I heard it.  A Chorus of City Management.

I heard my name called out over the five lanes of traffic.  “BILL!!!  THAT’S HIM!  BILL!!!”

I’m thinking who on earth could that be.

Then in the twilight I saw them.  It was a cluster of about 10 to 15 of the people who I consider my own friends, the majority of the City Mangement structure of our town.  Calling out my name.  Really quite nice to have that kind of a greeting.

I looked over at them and waved.   Rack got spooked by the fire truck and pulled me off my balance.  I even heard a chuckle from across the street.

But I didn’t figure it all out.  Even though I was invited, I didn’t think that this was the night of the ceremony.  I thought it was some sort of night out and the truck was going off to fight a fire.  After all, it was the cooking hour and this was the time where most kitchen fires start – 6 to 7 pm.

I’m getting pulled away, waving at the folks across five lanes of too fast traffic and walking toward the house.  Eventually I get pulled into the house and close the door smiling at the situation.

I was still a bit clueless until I spoke with Kevin about the details.  He reminded me that “We had that ceremony to go to but I was late in a meeting and you didn’t realize what was going on”.

I was disappointed that I missed the little ceremony at our fire station, after all, these were the people who I know the best here in town, those who I am most comfortable with.

We get notifications about every other month.  The city holds get-togethers for things like this.  Holiday celebrations, re-dedications, breakfasts for the Veterans, and the like.  I get the notices, and really do have to make it a point to go to the next one.

After all, why not spend time with those who you know.  Even if it will take me 20 minutes to walk the half mile to city hall, it’s well worth it.

Even if my nose isn’t huge like Cyrano’s.

Belle Isle Bird

Have you ever thought that you were being followed?

I don’t do the tourist thing all that often.

I live in a place where depending what you are looking for, you can find it.  Sometimes you can find what you’re looking for in your own town, sometimes you have to get in the car and drive a little bit.

I’m about two and a half miles from the ocean.  Two and a half miles North of downtown Fort Lauderdale.  I could walk to one or the other.  I could easily ride a bike or skate to either.  Actually, I know my fitness level, I could ride a bike or skate to both in one afternoon since that isn’t really that big of a workout.

Nothing quite so exciting that day.  I just wanted to go out to Wilton Drive.  With in a leisurely stroll of the house there are quite a few shops.  I actually am looking for something that you would want to get at a thrift shop, and we have three of them within about a half mile of where I am sitting right now.

I wanted a Pizza Steel.  I didn’t find one.  A Pizza Steel is a slab of metal that you put in your oven.  Turn the oven on to “Good-And-Hot” and let the oven come up to temperature.  Then you slide your pizza onto it.  Anything you cook on that would get a crispy bottom.

Since I hadn’t found one, I have been using a rather thick aluminum cookie sheet.  It works, but I’d prefer more “mass”.

So I left the house.  Noticing that there was this goofy white bird feeding on the lawn across the street, I started heading out to The Drive.  I didn’t think all that much of the bird, we’ve got lots of wading birds here in town.  They tend to fly out overhead as the afternoon begins to wane to go out to the Everglades fifteen miles West, or just any other little waterway nearby.  There’s a lot of water in South Florida to manage, and it has been managed.  Badly.

I got to the first thrift store, walked in, did my browsing.  No Pizza Steel.  Nothing I could hack to use as a Pizza Steel.  I did notice that there was another one of those white birds standing there in the lawn feeding, and watching me.

Thinking, that’s odd but harmless, I headed to the second thrift store.  Still no Pizza Steel.  Damn.  But there was a bird again.  Ok, this is getting weird.   I walked a little closer to it and it watched me.  Deciding that neither of us were getting anything out of this bird watching, I headed to the last thrift.  This one is the one that is there to benefit the animals, and as a result I like to shop there whenever I can.

But no Pizza Steel.  I’ll have to keep using the cookie sheet.  It is a very thick aluminum sheet, and will crisp the bottom of the pies, but it isn’t quite what I want.

You guessed it.  When I headed out, my bird was back.  Now, I can’t tell one from another.  They’re all paper white with orange beak and bright eyes that watch you back.  It was a strange coincidence.  It just stood there, on top of the little hedge watching me.

Now, to anyone else, these birds are wary.  They’ll waddle off when you come near or even fly away.  Not this bird.  It waited for me to get as many pictures as I wanted.  Standing there on top of the hedge, it seemed to like the attention as I fired off more pictures.
Sure, little white bird.  You’re happy to be seen.  I guess it knew I was harmless.  What got me though was that coincidence.  We’ve got quite a few of these birds around.  They’re like Starlings up North sometimes.  You’ll see great herds of them hunting for grubs in the lawns, especially untreated lawns.  But four separate shops on a heavily traveled road with little greenery?

Where’s Alfred Hitchcock when you need him.  I think I have a story idea for him.

Oh wait, it’s been done?