Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Winter

January 31, 2019

A devastating cold front, complete with extreme low temperatures, wind and precipitation, is hitting much of the United States this week. The phenomenon, known popularly as a “polar vortex,” will move across the Midwest and Northeast, keeping temperatures in many places well below freezing for an extended period of time. (Photo: DieterMeyrl / Getty Images)  arctic-blast

Guess that’s why Arizona is so popular in the winter.  I’ve been going to tennis clinics these past couple of weeks and it’s so warm you don’t even need a jacket.  (Photo not me, just a Racquet Club shot.)

The coldest I’ve ever been in was -20° at Michigan State walking one evening in very dry snow.  (Yes, that was just after the dinosaurs died.)  Hard to wrap my head around temperatures with wind chills of -65°.  I’m sure you’ve all read “To Build a Fire”, the short story by Jack London. I think the guy was told not to go out when it was 60° below.  (?)

Exercise

I go to exercise classes at the local Y five days a week (Senior Aerobics and Piloxing – a non-stop, cardio fusion of standing pilates, boxing and dance) but the Y’s new rule is that classes over 30 need two instructors, which these don’t have.  The 10am MWF Aerobics is so popular that there is a line by 9:30.  Got there then on Monday and the last five of us were overflow and couldn’t get in!  Today there was no sub for our TT Piloxing class, so that was cancelled.  Aargh! Walked fast uphill on the NordicTrack for 15 minutes and did another 10 on the rowing machine, but got bored and left.  Guess if I had music on my cell with an earphone I could have done the 50 minutes, so must be prepared in the future.

The Government Shutdown

Dec. 26 [2018] The Federal Emergency Management Agency issues a “stop work” order to all contractors, telling them they will not be paid.  government-shutdown

Note: I was a contractor, through my company (Fluor), for FEMA.  If I hadn’t quit (end of October) I guess I’d have been home for an extended holiday, not paid.  Sure feel sorry for my compatriots who stayed on.

Impeachment

So if the Prez gets impeached and actually leaves, we’re left with the Veep.  There’s a recent, hostile (read this: NPR review) biography of Mike Pence, The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence, out by Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner.  According to them, Pence is a “Christian supremacist” biding his time until he can take over the presidency from Donald Trump.  Sure, Trump is not fit to be President, but do we want to replace him with a Christian Supremacist?

Back on September 5 there was a NY Times op-ed white-house-anonymous: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration; I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. Then speculation that Pence could be the author, based on the op-ed’s use of the word “lodestar,” which Pence has used throughout his career. Check out this video from The Late Show: Stephen Cobert

But when it says that docs have been removed from Trump’s desk how do we knows that they weren’t something liberal?  Trump used to be a Democrat.  Maybe he wanted the government to fund Planned Parenthood (hah!) and Pence couldn’t stand that!

Plus, according to the Los Angeles Times’ letters editor (the bold is mine):

God’s presidential plan for Mike Pence
God's presidential plan for Mike Pence

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018.  Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.  (Photo: Vice President Mike Pence gestures while speaking to the Republican National Lawyers Assn. on Friday. Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Permit me a brief biographical digression. I grew up in the world of evangelical Christianity, having attended schools that promoted things like biblical literalism, doubts about Darwinism, and abstinence-only education, including the lie that condoms contained microscopic pores that allowed transmission of the HIV virus (more on that in a bit). Each week, we attended chapel services that often ended with calls to rededicate ourselves to Jesus Christ, even if we were already professed Christians.

It is this background that helps me understand the behavior of Vice President Mike Pence, the pious man who faithfully serves the famously non-penitent President Trump. Just as the faithful Christians at my school were happy to perpetuate falsehoods about disease-spreading condoms if it served the greater godliness of abstinence before marriage, Pence is willing to abide Trump’s constant lying and personal moral failings if it puts him in the best position to do God’s will by becoming president.  latimes

You must read the whole article, which does quote from the above book.  Scary.  But no, I haven’t read the book.  Can’t even finish the article on Mitch McConnell in last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine (Mcconnell) that a friend says I have to read.  Politics is making me sick to my stomach and am reading mostly scifi for escapism, although said friend did lend me Dead Wake about the sinking of the Lusitania.  It is non-fiction, but a long time ago, and lots of people die (Cousin Hal – I can hear you laughing at my lame jokes), so I can stomach that reality.  Am reading more now that I am not working.  Shall mention the books (a few about memory) in my next blog, if I remember!

Last October

You can kinda tell that I had emails to myself all through the five months when I wasn’t blogging, of what I could write when I got back to it.  Today tossed out all of the FEMA letters to the troops (us) – buck up, next hurricane coming, etc.   But there’s a note from October 19th:

This morning, exiting Orlando for home in Tucson, went better than expected.  First, I had scored on a hotel baggage cart last night.  (They often could not be found at all.)  And gave my leftover food to a compatriot, just a floor above me in the same timeshare building.

I finished packing and got everything in my expandable two bags (one an inexpensive duffel) and a carry-on, not bad for almost a year away from home.  Had never used my bathing suit; had never even gone to the ocean, which I guess I should have done at least once in the year in Florida.  But skin cancer can do that to you.

Pulled up to check out at timeshare main desk and valet said he could do that for me.✔  No traffic to the airport.✔  Person checking out my Avis car got me a valet with cart.✔  ($10 but worth it, as only one bag had wheels.)  Remembered to get a receipt for $40 for second bag to expense.✔  (My AA status gives me the 1st bag free.)  Long line to hand in bags but it went fast.✔  A few minutes to finish my morning coffee (no liquids through security), then a short time through TSA pre-check, well worth the $85 for 5 years, with all of my travels.✔  Full flight, but with AA Priority (gold, not platinum), I got a seat an extra inch wider!✔

Asians

September 9, 2018

Saw Crazy Rich Asians two weeks ago. I also read about the controversy over casting Nick, as Henry Golding is only half Asian. He’s trending now.  Instagram photo of him at Tom Ford’s spring collection, between Anna Wintour and Cardi B. The entire rest of the cast is made up of Asians from all over the globe, including Ronny Chieng who is an annoying senior correspondent on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show; he plays an equally annoying character in the movie.

Rich Asians reminded me of Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (on Netflix); she’s a bit too profane for me but did crack me up at this description of her husband:

Asian-American men are very underrated. I don’t know why people don’t go for them. They’re the sexiest. Asian men are the sexiest. They got no body hair from the neck down. It’s like making love to a dolphin. Oh, my God. It’s so smooth, just like a slip and slide…  And then Asian men, no body odor. None. They just smell like responsibility. That’s where the umami flavor comes from.

The same idea as Rich Asians (rich boy falls for poor girl and mother isn’t pleased) carries two Netflix series – Meteor Garden (Chinese) and Boys over Flowers (Korean), both with subtitles and both based on the same manga series.  But these are set in high school with an edge to the plot – rich boy with attitude falls for poor girl with attitude.  Frankly, good escapism from work.

SNL

Was reading, in the NY Times, about a new Amazon series with Maya Rudolph; I don’t have Amazon, but it mentioned her SNL impersonization of Donatella Versace, so I had to check them out.  LOL. There are three on this link:  Versace. Then, since the last one had Mick Jagger, had to check out his nine SNL sketches (which you can also do from that link).  He’s also a kick.

Epcot

Labor Day last weekend so spent Sunday at Epcot Center with two guys from work.  Probably shouldn’t have gone to the first weekend of the its International Food & Wine Festival; parking was zooey, but there are trams to take you to the in lines (followed by the check bags line). Nine hours, and more than I usually drink, but also more than I usually eat. 90° and 78% humidity, with a few very short rains.  Then, at the end of the day when I was looking like a drowned rat, they thought we should take pictures.

Hurricanes and Other Disasters

We are watching the weather here – please no hurricane until we’ve completed processing the last one!  This from Brock:

Once again, we find ourselves looking at multiple storms threatening the United States at the height of hurricane season.  Right now, a Tropical Cyclone is bearing down on Guam and will likely make landfall early next week, Hurricane Oliva is tracking towards Hawaii with effects potentially starting as early as Tuesday, Hurricane Florence will begin to intensify again as it heads toward the East Coast, and there are other storms brewing in the Caribbean and off the coast of Africa.  I cannot recall a time when so many intense storms threatened the United States in such a short timeframe.  Added to that, the area of concern spans more than half the globe…

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 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

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.


Fast and Furious

November 30, 2017

About forty newbies from Wave 11 showed up at our AFO on Monday.  We scrambled to find enough tables and chairs, and the PA TFLs (Team Field Leaders) were stretched to manage more of us.  Our feet are being held to the fire to get our calls, meetings, and documentation done quickly and the applicants’ paperwork finished and to the feds before the Christmas holidays.  I started off behind, as my first applicants were schools, I arrived at the AFO on the Monday of Thanksgiving week, when all of the schools had a week off for break.  (I did not get an entire week off to join the Native Americans in their National Day of Mourning, nor did my children or grandchildren.)  Our applicants have already waited almost two months for disaster relief from our government.  BTW – According to Wikipedia, Irma’s damage is almost $64.66 billion – Unofficially the fifth-costliest hurricane on record, which makes this a good time to cut taxes.

Fitness

Walked to the Subway for lunch today – 0.8 miles each way, according to Google maps. In anticipation had slathered with sunscreen in the morning, as the clouds have finally receeded.  But I had forgotten that when the humidity is 75%, you’re damp when you return.  However, I need exercise, and walking up and down the stairs to my second floor “residence” (It’s not a room,  it’s a residence), plus walking up and down the stairs to the third floor office aren’t enough, but getting up to exercise before work (starting time 8 am at the latest) does not appeal to this not-a-morning-person.  And after work I’m tired.  (Remember, I haven’t worked full time for almost ten years.)  Nevertheless, the RVD Athletic Club is near, and at 5:30 pm they offer Group Core:

Train like an athlete in 30-action packed minutes. A strong core, from your shoulders to your hips, will improve your athletic performance, prevent back pain and give you ripped abs! Motivating instructors and music will coach you through functional and integrated exercises using your body weight, a weight plate, a towel and a platform – all to challenge you like never before. REACH YOUR PEAK with Group Core!

Hahahahaha…

Flora and Fauna

Our office is in a beautiful office park (photos here from the Web) with mature trees (with leaves! unlike those in Tucson), some laden with Spanish moss.  (Click on the one at right for a view.)  Walkways wind along masses of green – azaleas, some blooming, society garlic, also blooming, large swaths of giant philodendren, liriope larger than I can grow in Tucson, New Zealand flax, all in large beds, manicured hedges,  low walls covered with ivy or moss, and large ponds, some with water lilies.

Already mentioned the plethora of squirrels, the vultures and the hawk, but forgot the cattle egrets (tick birds we used to call them in Jamaica, as they had a symbiotic relationship with the cattle, keeping them relatively free of bugs) – about five of them sitting on a hedge, as there are no cows around.  And a solitary egret in one of the ponds, looking like a statue among the flock of ducks, mallards and white peking, enjoying the water.  No segregation here.

No Frolicking

We were sent an email about Rental Car Unauthorized Activities.   This was one:

Frolicking- doing things that are for recreation, sightseeing, movies, bowling, concerts, bar hopping, going to the beach or amusement parks; if you are having fun you are unlikely to be in the scope of your employment.

Having fun is definitely not in our scope of work.

Speaking of rental cars, ours are to be cheap, and mine is a two-door VW beetle.  But a bit snazzier than the delapidated one my boyfriend had in college. Because it’s a turbo, the first time I hit the gas I nearly got whiplash!  And it has heated seats, which I’ve used on two “cold” mornings.

This ‘n that

September 23, 2017

Last week we laughed because the weather forecasters talked about a cooling trend – in other words, double digits, 97° rather than 104°.  But today it’s absolutely balmy!  Only 85° with 14% humidity.

Worms and Spiders

I’ve had these tiny black striped caterpillars eating my parsley.  Been picking them off to save a few sprigs for myself, and putting them on the “hedge” of my neighbor’s cat’s claw above the wall, thinking they could eat anything green.  Only thought today to look them up.  Turns out they’re also called parsley worms.  Guess why!  Then they turn into pretty black swallowtail butterflies, and I guess I’m not going to have any more, having starved these poor worms.  These photos, and the info, from another blog:

Swallowtail caterpillars… serve as a food source for songbirds and other wildlife. After their metamorphosis into butterflies… one-third of the world’s cultivated crops depend upon the work of pollinators like butterfly and bees. In addition… just watching the whimsical flight of butterflies is enough to lift the spirits!  black-swallowtail-caterpillar

I had also seen inch worms on my basil (and mint and lantana) and had picked them off and deposited them in the cat’s claw.  Today more holes in the leaves but only a tiny yellowish white spider.  It couldn’t be eating the cutworms.

What if you can’t see any worms eating the… plant? The culprit might still be mint plant worms – cutworms to be exact. Cutworms are nocturnal feeders and then post feast, hiding in the soil during the day at the plant’s base or in its debris.  edible/herbs

And speaking of spiders, I have a number of pretty 1½- to 2-inch black and yellow garden spiders on my tomato plants and bougainvillea (this photo from Orkin, which, unfortunately, sells you chemicals to kill all bugs) but none of them have done the zippers on their orb webs I’ve seen before.  I just work around them; love having them eat the tiny insects.

Vegetable Garden

After spending half a day raking out two inches of gravel, which I guess the owner considers landscaping, dug my compost into another two feet of space for the vegetable garden, having found another section of soaker hose.  Planted seeds for a few butterfly bushes, broccoli and cauliflower plants, carrots, radishes, and nasturtiums.  A month too early for arugula.

Am still harvesting about a pint of cherry tomatoes a week, and made ratatouille twice, first from three Japanese eggplants, next from three small, round eggplants (Black Beauty).  The tomato bushes (Super Sweet 100) are so huge, had to buy a tomato tower to support one of them, which I had originally only planted with a tiny cage.  Tried a recipe for baked cherry tomatoes, and it made them way too sweet!  Slathered it on goat cheese sandwiches.

Lizards

After the bobcat and roadrunner appearances in my yard, have not seen any large collared lizards around, they’re being more cautious, just tiny ones doing pushups.  Googled that, even though I knew the answer, and got this cute column from the Tucson Weekly a number of years ago.  You must read it!  why-lizards-do-push-ups-and-other-tucson-wildlife-tidbits-you-need-to-know-before-you-die

The English Monarchy

Reading commentary in last Sunday’s New York Times about my cousin, Tony Blair, The Boys of Brexit:

Did Blair ever think he would see a time when the royal family would keep calm and carry on as the queen’s grandson moved toward marrying an American TV actress who is divorced and half black?

Huh?  I don’t follow the Monarchy (except to watch Netflix’s series The Crown and the 2006 movie The Queen, with Helen Mirren, about the royal debacle after Diana died), so had to look up which grandson was marrying an American.  Turns out red-headed Prince Harry is “dating” a divorced American actress, Meghan Markle, Jewish, half-black, and four years older that he is (36, 32).  And it appears that she has moved into his “cottage”, at Kensington Palace.  Nottingham Cottage is not a Thomas Kinkade cottage (gag), but small.  (Photo of the couple from Getty Images.)

Loved this detail of Kensington Palace from the U.K.’s Daily Mail.  You can click on it to make it larger.  Price Harry’s arrow is third down on the left.  According to Hello Magazine,

Harry’s new digs have been dubbed “the royal bedsit” due to the one-bedroom apartment’s modest facilities, which include a small living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Equifax

Another article in the Times, Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings.  Thought I ought to see if I was caught in the web.  equifaxsecurity2017.com  According to the NPR news, you click on Am I Impacted? and get another page.

  1. Click the button above, “Am I Impacted?,” and provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.  [And prove you’re not a robot.]
  2. Based on that information, you will receive a message indicating whether your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
  3. Regardless of whether your information may have been impacted, we will provide you the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier. After checking if you were impacted you will see an option to enroll. The enrollment period ends on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.

I did so and got:

Thank You
Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
Click the button below to continue your enrollment in TrustedID Premier.

Darn.  But  was so gratified to know that:

Equifax paid $3.8 million in restitution to customers, a fine of $2.5 million and $200,000 in legal costs.

However,

Richard F. Smith, the chief executive and chairman of the Equifax board… received $15 million in total compensation in 2016, up from $13 million in 2015.

John Gamble, Equifax’s chief financial officer… received $3.1 million in 2016.

John J. Kelley III, the company’s chief legal officer… received $2.8 million in compensation last year.

Gee, that’s fair.  Read the article to see why they pulled in the big bucks.  Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings