Archive for the ‘Orlando’ Category

Orlando Art

July 15, 2018

Last weekend went to the Orlando Museum of Art. Behind the front desk were two large-scale charcoals by Robert Longo.  (See tma for another.)  In the courtyard a large Chihuly.  (Scroll down in denver-2014 for many more.)

Then the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art.  The Florida Prize, now in its fifth year, is an invitational exhibition recognizing 10 progressive artists working in the Sunshine State.

Carlos Betancourt’s “Let Them Feel Pink,” a 26-foot-long banquet table topped with a smorgasbord of objects including a giant pelican, all in pepto-bismol pink:

There were many of his photos too.  This huge one, Castro in Triumphant Advance to Havana, piqued my interest.  He was born in Puerto Rico; check him out in Wikipedia.  He was selected as the “People’s Choice” award recipient.

I did a double-take with Gonzalo Fuenmayor’s The Seeds of Decadence andTropicalypse.  They almost looked like black-and-white photos, but were ginormous charcoal works.  The first is a negative of a Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.  A section of it at right.  I just took these photos with my camera, so resoution isn’t great, but you can click on them to see them larger.  He was born in Colombia, but has resided of the US for over 20 years.

His recurrent opulent and decadent charcoal drawings have grown dramatically in scale and complexity with two monumental multi-panel, charcoal drawings such as “Tropicalypse” and “The Seeds of Decadence”. These massive works portray two seemingly disparate scenarios: While the drawing “Tropicalypse” portrays an imaginary apocalyptic landscape of burning palm trees; a gesture alluding to the palm tree as an archetype of “tropical culture” in America, “The Seeds of Decadence” depicts a lavish and opulent Victorian room with inverted values.  TROPICALYPSE

This by Kenya (Robinson), the recipient of $20,000 (the “Florida Prize”), considers white male supremacy (but no one mentioned the fake grass buddah).  Guess the artist’s race and gender.

The #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET, a project that began in 2013, is a work in which (Robinson) imagined a small, corporate-clad, plastic figure as a talismanic reminder that “white male heteronormative supremacy is an idea not restricted to phenotype, gender or nationality.” In fact, (Robinson) suggests that, “the -ism is insidious because we each believe in it a small amount, creating a dense network to be challenged internally, and as a societal task.”

I have many more photographs, but I  think this is enough for today.

Sink Holes

Sink holes are big in Florida (except for the small ones).  I’ve been watching one slowly grow next to the road I take from my hotel to work.  I first noticed it as a leaning power pole and a chainlink fence, covered with a vine (kudzu – the vine that is trying to take over the South?), sinking into the ground.  The fence has gone from about 10 yards to 40 yards underground so far.

This from the Orlando Sentinel (Monday, July 9, 2018):
Several guests were evacuated after buildings crumbled when a sinkhole formed at the Summer Bay Resort on US Highway 192 in Clermont near Walt Disney World.

This explanation offered by Cloud9 Services:

Types of Sinkholes Found in Florida

… Dissolution is a process where surface rock is soluble to weak acids and becomes dissolved. Suffusion forms cavities below the land …

Dissolution sinkholes of dolomite or limestone are most intense when water first contacts the rock’s surface…

…cover-subsidence sinkholes… develop gradually. Their cover sediments are permeable and also contain sand. Usually they form in areas with thicker brush [and] may go undetected for long periods of time since they are hard to spot. With new construction… they become uncovered.

…collapse sinkholes can develop over a period of hours [and] are devastating; you probably seen photos of them devour a family’s home…  They occur when the covering sediments contain a vast majority of clay. Over time, erosion, ground water flow, and deposition of the sinkhole will cause a surface depression and a cave-in from below.
http://cloud9services.com/sewer-drain-and-septic-services-blog/types-of-sinkholes-found-in-florida/

Post rain

It does rain almost every day now, and afterwards the sidewalk around our office is patrolled by tiny six-lined racerunners, a few dragonflies doing their thing, a few brown aloles on the wall, showing off their orange crests.  Racerunners can grow to 12” so I wondered why these were so small, and then I saw the egret.  Guess she (so graceful I made her female) was picking them off before they had time to grow up.

Phone Booth

Scott Pruitt is gone.  So I asked my boss if we couldn’t request his $48K phone booth.  We have no place here for private conversations.

I was thinking of Superman and his phone booth.   I can understand that he had his diver’s skin/bicycler’s lyrca under his suit, but where was the cape?  And does he leave his shoes and suit (neatly folded) in the booth?  What about his wallet?

Traffic

The lights here in Orlando are three to four times as long as those in Tucson.  It was a culture shock being back in Tucson –  I was stopped at a light and had no time to drink coffee or file my nails or read a book, the light changes to green so fast!

But long stoplights are not the problem on I-4.  This from the Orlando Sentinel:

Declaring that taxpayers deserve to know more, Central Florida’s Democratic U.S. Reps… today asked the state’s top transportation official why the “I-4 Ultimate project is both behind schedule and over budget.”

Other stories are Surviving I-4: Punctured tires, busted windshields – “Oh lord, please”, Construction resumes on I-4 Ultimate project after worker’s death, Local reactions mixed to plans to tear apart, rebuild SR 436 intersection with I-4, and more.

Aging

Some people worry about losing as they grow older: their eyesight, their hearing, their hair, their minds.  Some worry about gaining: weight, cataracts, skin tags, nose hair, a wavering in your voice (the website said I need to sing to maintain a robust voice). But I am bothered about the migration.  This is not like the wildebeest migration, which I have witnessed in Tanzania (and I can tell you, I don’t care if I never see another wildebeest again).

Over two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles move through the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in search of green pasture, in a regular pattern.

Watching two million anything day after day can get boring.  No, the migration I speak of is more insidious, and quiet.  Not like those animals splashing and braying as the crocodiles catch them in the river (wildebeests).  That “baby fat” that kept your hands soft, which are now witchy, the bones and veins bulging out, slithers up your arms, gathering strength, until it slides down your back, leaving some scouts on guard there, peering over your bra straps, then realigning its forces into a circle, as Cape buffalos do for protection.  Against what?  The hug of a grandchild?  (This circle is sometimes called a tire, although for thin people, such as my brother, it’s usually a bicycle tire.)  Why did evolution create this?

But while the migration is happening, so is calcification.  Don’t stop exercising or you’ll be taken for granite – and exercising is much harder to restart!  Granite doesn’t bend well and moves more slowly.

Haboob

Two of my friends have been in Glasgow, two others in Amsterdam.  And of course I’m delighted to be in Orlando where it’s 94° (heat index, which takes  into account the 57% humidity, 99°), even hotter than Tucson, whose monsoons have “cooled” the city down to “only” 91° (and with the humidity of 45% still feels like 91°).

In my 40+ years in Tucson I have only seen one haboob, and it was last fall, driving back from Phoenix.  Our climate change must be hatching more.  A friend posted this marvelous video on Facebook.  It shows A mountain, and the two houses I designed and built are right behind it.  haboob

Newfangled Gadgets

I challenge you to guess how to open the back end of my latest rental car, a Ford ecosport.  Bet you can’t figure it out without googling video instructions.

Note

My fortune cookie said, New possibilities with friends are in your future. 

Baked or Steamed

July 2, 2018

Obviously we’re baked in Tucson and steamed in Orlando.

Except in the office, where we’re refrigerated.  Maybe they think that if they keep us cold we’ll work faster to keep warm?

But the A/C was out at work for three days.  The first day the residual cold was extinguished.  After that it gradually warmed, so I wound down from my third layer jacket, then my sweater, to short sleeves, and was actually warm by the third day.  Reminded me of the punch line from the a fifteen stanza poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert W Service, Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.

(You can look it up and read it.  My father used to recite it at campfires every year when we’d go camping, and I memorized it in about the 4th grade.  After I had kids I would recite it at campfires. Had taken them on a raft trip down the Colorado River, and our boatman said he’d recite it at campfire; my son announced, My mom knows it!  So we recited in tandem.  My son also learned it, freaking out my daughter, You sound just like Mom!)

Commuting

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the rain continues to shower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as Commuters’ Hour

Blue Men

They’ve performed at U of A on many occasions, but I’d never gotten around to seeing them, so I bought a ticket at the Universal Theater complex, for the row behind the first 4 rows, where they have a splash zone, like at SeaWorld for the orcas and dolphins shows. They color splashing from the snare drums appeared to be mustard and catsup.  And later on someone smashed bananas. But the audience there were all wearing those $1.95 clear ponchos, which I assume the show gave out.  It was vacuous but fun.  They didn’t allow photos during the act so I just snapped this afterwards.

Distilled Water

We’ve had a number of people who have “demob’ed”.  One of the guys in our group, who went home to get his roof, severely damaged from a storm, fixed.  He left me a gallon of distilled water that he bought to iron his shirts.  (! You can tell he’s old.)  Now I rarely iron, so I thought to just drink it, then thought I ought to check before drinking that water:

Distilled water tends to be acidic and can only be recommended as a way of drawing poisons out of the body. Once this is accomplished, the continued drinking of distilled water is a bad idea. Water filtered through reverse osmosis tends to be neutral and is acceptable for regular use provided minerals are supplemented. http://waterhealthstudies.blogspot.com/2007/12/distilled-water-vs-reverse-osmosis.html

So thought to make coffee from it:

If you care more about the longevity of your coffee maker, feel free to use distilled water. Your morning fuel won’t be great, but it will get the job done. However, if you’re all about stellar coffee, always skip the distilled water. Instead, make coffee with cold tap water. Your taste buds will thank you.  http://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/should-i-make-coffee-with-distilled-water

But it works well for my Waterpic.

Six things you could do without

Try to limit it to just six.

Betsy DeVos, office coffee, the Heritage Foundation*, plastic grocery bags, the Syrian war, soda (except for tonic to go  with my gin)…

*…Heritage’s recommendations included some of the most prominent members of Trump’s cabinet: Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos (whose in-laws endowed Heritage’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society)…

…Feulner packaged his fledgling think tank’s ideology into five basic principles: free enterprise, limited government [= no help for the poor], individual freedom, traditional values [=white men in charge] and a strong national defense…

…It published papers advocating making Social Security voluntary, argued against giving striking workers access to food stamps and warned parents about the danger posed by the advancement of “secular humanism” in public schools…

…But Heritage had its complaints about Reagan at the time… “They were looking for competent people,” Nofziger, who had gone on to become a key political strategist for Reagan, later recalled. “I tried to explain to them that the first thing you do is get loyal people, and competence is a bonus.”..

…supported a Heritage agenda that included opening offshore drilling on federal lands; opposing mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food; reducing regulations on for-profit universities; revoking an Obama executive order on green-energy mandates for federal agencies; phasing out federal subsidies for housing; and opposing marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity…

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/magazine/trump-government-heritage-foundation-think-tank.html

Grammar Lady

From the person who manages my weekly hotel bills: your welcome
From a reviewer of my documentation: Debris quantity inconsistency’s

A Magical Place

June 4, 2018

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
Sometimes I’d like to quit
Nothin’ ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around
Nothin’ to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Weather most foul…  No – not that bad yet.  Hurricane season does not start until June 1.  But…
Today is the official start of the rainy season; Tropics: hurricane forecasters give 30 percent chance to Gulf disturbance.   florida rain

YMCA

I started writing this a few weeks ago, but never finished it because not only am I burned out from work but I’m also tired from exercise.

I am presently going to exercise classes during my lunch hour MWF at the Y down the street from work.  They had a 50’s luncheon last week. (No, I did not attend.)  Heard in the locker room: I bought this dress at Goodwill and shortened the skirt to make the jacket.

On TuTh I go to a Cardio Strength class after work at the Y a couple of miles from the hotel where I’m saying.  Heard two women in class talking last week: I’m so excited about the cruise!  Yes, I really enjoyed it.

Diocese of Orlando

All of my Applicants are PNPs.  Some are schools in our diocese.

William Borders, the first Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando, claimed in 1969 to Pope Paul VI that the then-active 1917 Code of Canon Law placed newly explored territory under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the port of departure, making the Diocese of Orlando responsible for the moon following the flight of Apollo 11. (Wikipedia)

However, their insurance policy does not cover:

11.  Satellites and spacecraft while on the launch pad, or after time of launch…

SeaWorld

I figured that since I’m living next to SeaWorld I ought to go once.  (Had offered to fly my daughter’s family here, with my frequent flyer miles, for Spring Break, but she said they couldn’t afford the amusement parks once they were here.  Orlando is a magical place. But I hadn’t even looked at prices.  Walt Disney World and SeaWorld – $100 per person per day!  How was it that the place was crowded with families?)  The previous weekend it rained, but my phone’s weather said overcast for this Saturday, but no rain.  So Friday I got sucked in by the Visit SeaWorld for one day and save $20 when you book your tickets in advance.  $80.  Plus tax.  You guessed it: my phone still said no rain, but yup, there was precipitation.

So I did my grocery shopping and laundry and went after lunch, when my phone said it was raining, but it wasn’t.

They still work with orcas – six.  One of their tricks is to make sure that the audience in the Splash Zone gets wet.  (And they must be messy eaters because a couple of egrets hang around.)

And they still show the standard dolphins doing tricks, and it’s amazing how they can stand straight up in the water working their tail fins.  The trainers are super agile.

They also save a lot of manatees.  Hurricane Irma was hard on them – many stranded pups separated ftom their moms.  And sea turtles – on the right.  (Had a closer look when I took my kids, when they were young, to Costa Rica and we watched a larger one lay her eggs, up close and personal.)

Here’s an injured dolphin, healing, that is fascinated by umbrellas, and on the right a sea turtle.  (Had a closer look when I took my kids, when they were young, to Costa Rica and we watched a larger one lay her eggs, up close and personal.

It’s funny taking photos of fish here, as the displays I’ve seen while scuba diving were far superior, but I never bought an underwater camera.  Yellow tang.  However, I’ve never seen a wobbegon shark (right) in the wild.  (Have seen many sharks – even went on a shark dive in Fiji.  Shark dive)

Another funny thing – my favorite show did not involve sea creatures; it was Pets Ahoy!  (Might also be because  it was the end of the day, I was tired and glad to sit down.)  These are official SeaWorld photos – much better than mine.  All of the animals in the show, dogs and cats, a rat, ducks and doves, and a potbellied pig, were so well trained and the skits were Laugh-In -style funny.

It starts with a (cute) rat, running onstage, then through a small door, a cat in pursuit, followed by a little dog, coming out a second door, going through a third, and so on.

What got me were trained cats!  That is a cat weaving through her legs as she walks.  (An undersized dog does it too.)  Have you ever owned a cat?  I thought I was doing well getting mine to come when called!  They has something like a dozen trained cats!  Amazing!

What’s especially nice is that, All of the animals that star in Pets Ahoy! have been adopted from local rescue shelters and given a new home at SeaWorld.

My Villa

March 13, 2018

Each time we leave on “rotation” we have to check out of our hotel rooms so our flights home are cost-effective.  I decided that I had had enough of the cheerful SeaWorld crowd, and found an apartment in a uge (sorry – I’ll never be able to say that word again without a Trump accent) resort complex, Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa.  I’m in building 90.  (You’ll need to click on this map to read it.) I have a One-Bedroom Deluxe Villa.  Now a villa is supposed to be a large and luxurious country residence.  So they’re trumping up (yes, a real expression meaning concocting especially with intent to deceive) their rentals.

Saturday we were told not to work, so I decided to walk from one end of Westgate to the other.  Took an hour.  I walked out to the Sunset Key Island (top left on the map).  A cay (pronounced key) is a low island or reef of sand or coral, so shouldn’t it just be Sunset Cay?  This photo of the stacks of “villas” is shot from Sunset Key Island.  My “villa” is in the third building from the right.)

 

Quite a mix of people: black, white, older, younger, some with kids, others with dogs, a man in Mickey Mouse ears, most in shorts or bathing suits, but a few women in hijabs.  Didn’t look at all full, but the parking lot was. Took some photos of water birds with my iphone.  Gray heron posing on a fence, limpkin, egret.  And a photo of Sunset Key Island.

I did my usual laundry and grocery shopping and went to the Jewish deli again for bagel and lox.  Then I walked the length of the open-air Marketplace at Dr. Phillips.  65 shops – these are just the restaurants:

Bistro Clo Clo (coming soon), Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine, Cariera’s Cucina Italiana, Chamberlin’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Christini’s Ristorante Italiano, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Flame Kabob, Greek Flame Taverna,  Keke’s Breakfast Cafe, Lemon Shark Poke, Lotus Garden Chinese Restaurant, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Nagoya Sushi, Pinkberry, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Stefano’s Grill, Subway, The Dessert Lady, TooJay’s Original Gourmet Deli, Which Wich?, and Yogurtology.

Recycling

I don’t see anyone recycling here.  At work we toss a lot of papers, and I used to put them in the blue wastebasket until I noticed the cleaning guy empty them all into the same bin.  I asked and no, we don’t recycle.  Plus there’s a soda machine in the break room, so imagine how many cans and plastic bottles are thrown out daily.  (I refill my water bottle at the drinking fountain.)

I only went to a local sandwich place once because everything was served in or on Styrofoam!

Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and appears to last forever. It’s resistant to photolysis… This, combined with the fact that Styrofoam floats, means that large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along coastlines and waterways around the world… a main component of marine debris.

It breaks down into those tiny pellets that sea birds and fish accidentally eat, and die with their stomachs full of them.  Plus it’s poisonous.  Read the whole article: styrofoam

When my hotel room gets cleaned, they change my towels daily, polluting more water, even though I hang them up.  And they toss out a roll of toilet paper if it doesn’t have much on it, and small bars of soap that I could easily use for another week.

I also miss my compost pile.  Last night I was peeling a potato and hated to put the peels into the garbage disposal.

Rental Car

I had a slow leak in one tire, so instead of giving me a coupon to have a tire store fix it, the Avis guy gave me a different car, a Hyundai Elantra.  The black Beetle had had Georgia plates; this one has New York plates.  They’re school-bus-yellow, which is lucky, as I’d never find it in a parking lot otherwise – it blends in with all of the other gray Asian cars.  I miss the heated seats on our cold mornings, but I like having a windshield wiper on the back window.  On foggy mornings the windows fog up and I need to see out the back.  Anyway, when he told me that it had New York plates, he said, So be sure to cut people off and honk a lot!  After that we discussed the dreadful Florida drivers.

On a similar note:  we have two armed guards per floor at work, one for each elevator bank (as FEMA is part of the Department of Home Security), and all they have to do is check our badges as we enter and exit.  So each has a television, and the rest of the time they watch the news.  The other day one was watching a snow storm in New York.  I asked him if he’d ever lived Up North.  He said, Yes, New York!  So I asked him where the worse drivers were – New York or Orlando.  Orlando!  We both laughed.

But we shouldn’t be laughing about the snow.  A co-worker who follows the news announced at lunchtime today that, The Boston Globe reports 155K without power so far.

Fried!

February 23, 2018

First, it was hard to get used to working full time.  Then working nine-hour days.  And an additional four hours on Saturday.  But a ten-hour day defeats me. My brain works too fast and it’s hard to be bring it down.

However, I do get to sleep in on Sundays.

And I went out to dinner last Friday night (the Bonefish Grill is around the corner from my hotel) and had a martini (okay, green appletini), something I haven’t had in a dozen years.  (12 years ago I was working Katrina, and there was a bar that had not been hit by the hurricane where a few of us would go occasionally after work, with about 100 different “martinis”.  I can’t stand the taste of a real martini, but I love the glass they’re served in, so the bartender made a few for me that didn’t taste like martinis and I zeroed in on the green appletini.)

A side story.  Many many many years ago I was in the Peace Corps in Jamaica and decided to go home at Christmas to Detroit to spend the holiday with my parents.   There was a lot of snow.  One evening we went for a walk around the block.  The snow was crystalline and I think a full moon gave the scene a Norman Rockwell look.  There was a light on at their neighbors’ house and Dad said, Let’s drop in at Joe and Herta’s.  They welcomed me home and in a moment we each had a martini (the middle class drink in those days) in hand.  I had never had one before but I drank it to be polite.  It was strong!!!  I was making snow angels (for real!) the rest of the way around the block.

Another side story.  Went to a TexMex restaurant here in Orlando and ordered a margarita, but up, not on the rocks, as it was winter and I was cold.  It came in a water glass!   Went to another restaurant a week later (I have no recollection which one it was) and ordered a margarita.  Guess what.  It came in a water glass!   I asked the waiter whether this was a Florida thing and he said it was because I’d ordered it without ice.  They think that the margarita glass would look too empty?  Never going to either of those places again.  (Imagining someone serving a martini in a water glass!)

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

You have to have read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, (which is really silly but I loved all four volumes of the “trilogy”) to understand that or the screen on the dashboard of Musk’s Tesla.  This in Wikipedia:

Arthur C. Clarke said Douglas Adams’ use of “don’t panic” was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity.  On February 6th, 2018 SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, carrying Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster which had “DON’T PANIC!” written on the screen on the dashboard.

A NASA database includes our solar system’s eight planets and their moons, more than 755,000 asteroids, 3,500 comets — and, as of this week, one cherry red sports car that belonged to a Silicon Valley billionaire.

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX, put on a stunning show Tuesday with the inaugural launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which became the most powerful operational rocket in the world.  spacex

i thought the greatest part in this video falcon 9 is The falcon has landed, right on the bullseye!

We watched the launch, albeit from a distance (I took this photo of the contrail from my office  window).  One of the guys asked why Musk would “waste” a Tesla.  Advertising!  Tesla’s advertising budget is $0.  Of course, Falcon Heavy cost $80M.  But in 2011, Ford Motor Corp. had over two billion U.S. dollars in advertising expenditures.  ford-advertising

Death in the afternoon

Wednesday I woke up and turned on NPR as usual.  Unfortunately this fair state had made the news again.  They even quoted the Onion (a satirical newspaper), which runs the same headline with each mass shooting, ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens’.  The article remains the same; they just change the particulars.  This from Time (remember that we’re only half-way through the second month of this year).  The bold is mine:

Nikolas Cruz, the expelled student suspected of killing at least 17 people and injuring more than a dozen others at his former high school in Parkland, Florida…

… [this] shooting is the 6th school shooting resulting in injuries this year. There have been 17 incidents of gunfire in schools this year.

…Cruz used an AR-15 rifle — a semi-automatic assault-style rifle that has been used in numerous other mass shootings…

These events took place a week apart near where I am presently working.  What’s the difference?  Elon Musk is an immigrant!  And there is that thing about the semi-automatic assault-style rifle which I guess a hunter needs to kill a deer?  And gee-whiz, our elected officials are debating both.  Are they coming up with the correct answers?  Seems the only sensible answers are from the students who lived through it.

Technology

Every morning when I exit the hotel for work the doors open automatically for me, and I think of a boy in Jamaica when I was teaching there (with the Peace Corps) 40 years ago.  I was assigned about a dozen elementary schools, teaching elementary school teachers (most of whom had only finished high school) how to teach math.  Anyway, the first time I went to one school in “da bush”, up a very bad road (when something falls off the car, you stop and retrieve it, in case it’s important), past Firefly Estate, where Noel Coward is buried (and that’s another story), I pulled up at the school and the children flocked around my car.  I think some of them had never seen one.  A boy asked me if the window rolled down, and I demonstrated for him.  “Tis a wonder,” he commented.

I can just imagine how’d they’d be with escalators, airplanes and other marvels.  (Although one time my own son, about three, had a window seat, and when we took off he looked really scared, “Mom, the wings aren’t flapping!”)

A Rainy Sunday

January 28, 2018

Every Sunday I get the one copy that the local Walmart has of the New York Times, make myself a latte, and try to read the whole thing, as it’s gotten quite expensive (although I am saving four dollars a day by making my own lattes) and I’m trying to get my money’s worth.  I even read the Sports and the Business sections.

In this week’s Business section was a  interview with Bill Gates and Steven Pinker (mind-meld-bill-gates-steven-pinker).  As I often do, I get distracted, and when Gates said that, “If you’ve never seen Eddie [Izzard] perform his stand-up routine… you’re missing out,”  I had to watch a few videos of Eddie Izzard.  Enjoyed Stonehenge, but was really Laughing Out Loud at Eddie Izzard – Learning French.

Gentrification

Then went out for my Sunday lunch of bagels and lox, taking the Magazine.  It started pouring before I left,  so had to stay and read another article, this on gentrification, when-gentrification-isnt-about-housing.  In Tucson I was aware of the gentrification of the barrios, guacamole, and burritos, even kale and pho, but had just heard of the trending raw water  (unfiltered, collected from the natural environment).

Exercise

I’ve been missing my daily hour of exercise class at the Y.  This hotel has a workout room next to the laundry, so I do some fast walking uphill, lift weights (the smallest is five pounds and I hadn’t done that with my right arm since my last shoulder injury, but I’ve just got a very sore neck), and use the elliptical trainer, good for the arms and legs.  However, it’s boring by myself, so I asked a friend at work what she does and she says that she swims lap around the Spring Garden pond on weekends at the De Leon Springs State Park.

The outstanding feature of the 625 acre park is the spring, overlooking beautiful Spring Garden Run, producing 19 million gallons of water a day at 72 degrees year-round…  swimming nine laps around the pool would be about a mile.

She says there’s a fence around it, so there aren’t any alligators (!), and it’s a bit chilly, so she always wears  a wetsuit.  Brrr – I prefer an 80° pool, or the Caribbean. 

Surf Expo

Because I have a kitchenette in my hotel room, I usualy fix my own dinner, as restaurant meals are usually too large for me.  But Friday nights I often go out,  and if there’s a wait for seating, I eat at the bar.  The Bonefish Grill bar area has a length of bar-height tables, and there was one seat vacant at the end so I asked the good-looking young guy on the next stool over if anyone was sitting there and he answered, Yes, you.  (!)  Started to chat and he said he was here for the Surf Expo, www.surfexpo.com, selling T-shirts.  Then the old guy (my age) across from me piped up that he was here for the Expo selling T-shirts too.  Funny.  I got an earful about merchandising and how much Amazon has cut into it.

Politics

I really don’t want to comment on Trump today, and no, I am not going to read Fire and Fury, but I enjoyed Trevor Noah being interviewed by Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, turning Trump’s words into a bad reggae song (and I do appreciate reggae, having lived in Jamaica for two years in the Bob Marley era): Trevor Noah’s reggae.

Future Disasters

Had a meeting with our Fluor rep the other day.  This is what I was recruited for last June, before all of the hurricanes hit and the Feds postponed the decision.  The country has henceforth been divided in thirds, so one contractor gets the West, with fires, floods, and mudslides; another gets the Midwest with tornadoes and ice storms; and third, we get the East, with hurricanes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded three companies positions on a potential five-year, $610 million contract for advisory and assistance services to support FEMA’s emergency response and disaster recovery missions.
Fluor Corp., Serco Group’s North American subsidiary and CH2M Hill will perform technical assistance and infrastructure support work the agency has divided into three geographic zones for each individual awardee.
Fluor was selected for the Zone 1 portion that covers 19 states primarily along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Serco Inc. was chosen for Zone 2 that covers 17 states primarily across the Midwest. CH2M Hill was picked for Zone 3 that covers the remaining 14 states including those along the Pacific Coast.
fema-response-contract

Never a Dull Moment

January 21, 2018

What a roller coaster ride this last year.  Never boring.  Just this last week, Hawaii thought it would get nuked, it was reported that Trump “entertained” a porn star four months after Melania had Barron, for which his lawyer paid $130,000 hush money just before the election, he was also quoted as calling African nations, Haiti, and El Salvador “shitholes”, and the Federal government has just shut down.

Well, I and my compatriots happen to work for the Feds.  “FEMA is ordered to execute an orderly shutdown and we will furlough non-exempted employees,” emailed our Director, Brock Long.  Luckily, our group is exempt, so we shan’t have to leave our hotel rooms and move into our office spaces.  Hah!

Speaking of Brock (who signs his emails to us with just his first name, no title or anything else), he visited us last week.  He gave a talk on the seventh floor, broadcast to us on floors four through six.  The video onto a sheet.  With such tiny speakers we could only hear a fraction of what he said.  Embarrassing.  But he did come downstairs and shake hands with all of us, thanking us for our work.  Quite a personable guy, and one one of the few of Trump’s appointees who is actually qualified for the job (as opposed to Betsy DeVos), and doesn’t think that his department should be gutted (as Rick Perry, who said he wanted to abolish the Energy Department, and Scott Pruitt, who heads the Environmental Protection Agency but is a known climate change denier and coal industry supporter).  This from FEMA:

Mr. Long has more than 16 years of experience assisting and supporting local, state, and Federal Governments with building robust emergency management and public health preparedness programs…

From 2008-2011, Mr. Long served as Director of Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency (AEMA)… and served as the State Coordinating Officer for 14 disasters, including eight presidentially-declared events. Mr. Long also served as an on-scene State Incident Commander for the Alabama Unified Command during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Women’s March Orlando Anniversary

The weather is still up and down – Thursday morning it was 28°, and now it’s 78°.  That doesn’t seem to be helping my cough.  But I take meds, go to work, and vegetate on the weekend.  Didn’t feel up to joining the Women’s March Orlando Anniversary yesterday. (Photo by Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)  It was reported that thousands gathered.

A Glimpse of Beauty

Was driving “home” Friday, following Google Maps suggestions of shortcuts around backed-up streets, grimacing at some of the worst “architecture”, if you can even use that word, and then there was a four-and-a-half foot sandhill crane, standing in the grass on one leg, glancing at the traffic.  With a red head and dove-grey wing feathers, blending into its white neck.  Wow – so elegant!  Obviously couldn’t take a photo of it at 40mph, but Dannie Polley gave me permission to use his photo from the Web that looks just like it.

Immigrants

Practically everybody I know is a descendants of immigrants.  (I have worked with a few Navajos, who also migrated to North America, but about 3,000 BC+, so we call them Native Americans.)  Anyway, this from Nicholas Kristof’s column in the Times last week:

In 1885, a poor, uneducated 16-year-old boy arrived in our country from Germany at a time when immigrants were often looked down on by affluent Americans.

This boy was ambitious and entrepreneurial, and, despite language problems, he earned some money and then traveled up to the Klondike during the gold rush to operate a hotel that became notorious for prostitution.  He prospered, and today his grandson is President Trump.

Please read the whole column: Mr. Trump, Meet a Hero You Maligned

SeaWorld

January 16, 2018

With a title like that, guess I ought to see it, but I’m just living across the street.  We had the day off for MLK Day, so I went to Disney Springs this afternoon; it’s a large shopping mall with numerous themed stores – T-shirts or hoodies or pajamas with Mickey or Minnie, with Star Wars characters, with Marvel superheros, with various princeses. And numerous themed restaurants,  most serving french fries (except for the Japanese one).  Went to the Raglan Road Irish Pub for dinner; had a bad cold for the past two days (not the flu that’s killing babies and those over 65 – I’ve had my flu shot) and, as moving got me coughing, had spent a day and a half in bed with a box of tissue, cough drops, and a NY Times, so figured some comfort food would be nice – shepherd’s pie.  And stout, reminiscent of my month working in Dublin, where we drank Guiness every evening.  The Irish singers and dancers were fun.  (Their photo. I didn’t take any.)

But the cold is biting.  Thursday it hit 82° here.  Then another cold front rolled in and yesterday morning it was 39°.

Moved to a Residence Inn closer to the new office.  That hour in stop-and-go traffic on I-4 was wearing; to think that my father did it each way every day for 30 years in Detroit.  Spent Saturday packing, doing laundry, driving, then unpacking and grocery shopping.  The room is similar but I have a large window next to the bed that looks out, from the third floor, to a scraped lot, which shall no doubt be another high-rise in a few years. Within a few miles of my digs are at least 62 other hotel and apartment buildings which all look about the same.   I looked for places to eat and stopped counting at 110.  (See red dots on map.)  Grocery stores near here?  Zero.

Alt Right

There was an article in last week’s Times about how many white supremacist men marry Asian women (alt-right-asian-fetish).  Kinda typecasting.  Then I thought of Doonesbury.  Not alt-right, but geek.  Guess times have changed.

Fire and Fury

At least one friend is reading Fire and Fury, but it was depressing enough to just to listen to Michael Wolff’s interviews on NPR, and with Stephen Colbert, as well as commentary by “Melania Trump” on the Late Show.  (Well, Laura Benanti’s not depressing, she’s hilarious: Melania.)

Korea

Despite the false alarm in Hawaii (and another in Japan two days later!), Kim Jong-un won’t be pushing the “nuclear button” anytime soon, as North Korea shall be joining South Korea in the Winter Olympics.   Who would have thought that Trump could bring those two countries together?

The Move

January 9, 2018

I had mentioned, in fema-flexible, that we move a bit.  Well, our office left our verdant setting, where the lease was almost up, to a building south of the downtown area, which I have been told is a hangout for ladies of the evening and purveyors of pharmaceuticals.  Not a place to be at night.  I counted the pawn shops on the road we take from the freeway to the office – five.  Then there are two buildings which advertise “dolls”,  but from the look of them, there are no cabbage patch dolls there.  Another flashes girls, girls, girls.  These, and a McDonald’s.

Yesterday it took me an hour on I-40, in stop-and-go traffic, averaging 20 mph, to get back to my Residence Inn.  I’m moving to a closer one at the end of the week.  We weren’t supposed to move to the new office until next week.

Here is a view from my new, narrower window.  Not as picturesque as the pond.

This is what I shall be missing: from my office window last week I observed, not only the morning fog, but an egret sitting on a duck decoy, daily.  We’re not sure why the decoy is tethered in the pond – maybe to indicate a pipe?  Then a squirrel scampered past on the outside window sill.  Too fast for me to grab my phone for a photo.  We’re on the third floor!  One of the guys said that squirrels can climb up a brick wall.  Why?  Just to check us out, I guess. Two cranes (much larger than egrets) below the window, one making a very raucous cry!  At lunchtime, a cluster of six egrets took a long time to stroll across the road.

Away from the office a hawk darted ahead of me at an office building where I was having a meeting.  Vultures hung in the air above the Residence Inn.  A racoon scurried across the street in front of me last night.

But no frozen iguanas!  They’re farther south.

The cold is causing frozen iguanas to fall from trees in Florida

Because of the cold temperatures sweeping the nation, iguanas are dropping out of trees like overripe mangoes, littering the ground in an apparent state of rigor mortis. One tiny detail, though: They’re probably not dead. They are, however, literally frozen.
Emily Maple, the reptile keeper at the Palm Beach County Zoo, [said that] the cold-blooded animals get “cold stunned” – that is, they basically freeze – if the temperature gets below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
“If it’s just for a day or two they’ll just get to where they’re completely frozen in time. They’re still able to breathe. They’re still able to do bodily functions just very slow,” said Maple.

by AJ Willingham, CNN, Fri January 5, 2018

Iguanas!  I didn’t even know Florida had them.  Last time I had seen them was in the Galapagos, piled six high.  (This photo © Eric Mohl of Trans-Americas Journey – he sent me a nice email to use his photo.)  So I looked that up.  According to Wikipedia:

Due to a combination of events, the green iguana is considered an invasive species in South Florida and is found along the Gulf Coast of Florida from Key West to Pinellas County. The original small populations in the Florida Keys were stowaways on ships carrying fruit from South America.

Where I shall be leaving there are seven suite hotels on the block (most of them owned by Marriott I think, as they have been buying up the competition), and on the next street, a mall with seven restaurants.  Across  the main drag are sixteen more restaurants, spread over a few miles, from chains (such as Chuck E. Cheese, Denny’s, and Chili’s) to sushi, my favorite, Turkish, and a very good Italian.  Wonder what the next location will be like.

 

Home for the Holidays

December 29, 2017

We get to take a “rotation” every 45 days.  So I was home for the holidays.  And it was a lot cooler in Tucson than Orlando!  When I left Orlando at 6 am last Friday it was 63°, but with the humidity at 98%, even long sleeves were warm.  When I arrived in Tucson at 12:30 (having lost a few hours) it was 57° with 24% humidity.  What a beautiful city!  The air was clear and all four mountain ranges could be clearly seen.  I did like the morning fog in Orlando during the previous week, but I do enjoy views.

After getting Uber’ed home, ditching my suitcase, and picking up my car, went to my daughter’s to make many dozens of Christmas cookies.

Shopping & Ice Hockey

What a marvelous day of shopping Saturday, which I usually don’t like.  First took my youngest grandchild to Toys “R” Us for his choice, then on to the mall and Dillard’s for my son, the middle grandson, and my granddaughter to buy the wardrobe items they wanted.  Already got my daughter and son-in-law gift certificates for their wishes.  And I didn’t even think of all of the dollars flowing from my credit card, ’cause I’m working when I hadn’t expected to.

That night my son took us all to a hockey game, in my daughter’s new SUV.  We may not be the 1%, but it’s a good year for us.  Didn’t even know that Tucson had jump-started hockey again.  The Tucson Roadrunners are a professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League which began play for the 2016–17 season.  (The University of Arizona had had a hockey team from 1979 to 2011.)  Because my son lives in Vancouver, Canada, he is very into hockey.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Lights in my daughter’s neighborhood.