Tag Archives: Thoughts

I Should Have Been More Scared

Bike sm I wanted to let this sit for a day. I came within about one second of being seriously injured, or worse, yesterday. And I really should have been more frightened. I’m not exactly sure why I’m not still.

Regular readers know I’m a fairly avid cyclist. I’ve been spending a lot of time on my bike the past couple of months, and that and about 1,500 – 1,800 calories a day have resulted in the loss of about 13 pounds so far. I’m hoping for a lot more, but it’s a good start. It didn’t all go on overnight, but it seems like we’d like for it to all go away overnight. Still, I could write the worlds shortest diet book. “Eat Less, Exercise More”. Chapter 2? Repeat.

But I digress.

I was stopped at the intersection of Florida Boulevard and 3rd street. I do occasionally make a right on red at that intersection, but yesterday there was more oncoming traffic than I really like for that maneuver. I recall looking left, seeing the oncoming SUV, and deciding to wait. Bike Route South

Then, the Dodge 2500 beside me started to move. I glanced up at the light, and it was green. “Great,” I thought. “Let’s go.”

I started into the intersection, and the truck beside me honked his horn. The black Chevy Blazer that I had seen in the distance, blew through the light like he hadn’t even seen it. If not for the driver of the pickup honking his horn, I’d have been hit. He whizzed by us in a blur, and barely slowed down when he realized what he’d done.

Strangely, I didn’t have that “I almost died” adrenaline rush. I made a “WTF” gesture at the SUV, and proceeded on across Third and finished my ride. I think the older gentleman driving the truck was more scared than I was. If he’d have proceeded on into the intersection, he’d have been T-Boned, and likely pushed into me.

It’s the second time I’ve come close to dying. The first was a near mid-air collision days after I’d received my pilot’s license. It didn’t keep me from flying, either.

But what’s the deal with running the light.

Florida And Third I have no way to know if the driver of the SUV was on the phone, not paying attention to his or her driving, maybe text messaging, or if they just didn’t want to wait the 30-40 seconds (literally) that traffic is stopped on Third street to allow cars to cross on Florida Boulevard. Not that it matters. They blew through the light, and I saw another car do it on Pennman Road as I was going home. What I do know is, for some reason, I wasn’t hit, but if I had started through the intersection a second earlier, I’d be writing this from the hospital if I was able to write at all. My little plastic helmet would not have done me a bit of good.

So please, if you drive on Third Street at the beach, please, please, please be careful. The lights are short, you’re probably going to be late anyway, so those additional 30 or 40 seconds are not going to matter much, and you’re going to feel really, really horrid if you hit someone. There are lots of bikes at the beach, and its up to everybody to pay attention.

Oh, and I do have  right to ride my bike on the road. Sidewalks are for walking. Cars are supposed to share the road with cyclists. So stop giving me those loving looks and phrases of encouragement.

I’m staying.

Sig

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Filed under Beach Living, Bicycle, Cycling, Exercise, Life, Thoughts, Traffic

Just Not Funny

I made it through about 3/4 of Saturday Night Live last night … the premier of the shows’ 35th season.

Megan Fox was the host.  I have to admit I really wouldn’t know Megan Fox if I tripped over her, but even her mostly see-through “dress” in the opening monologue couldn’t salvage the show.

I’ll date myself, but I remember when SNL premiered. It was 1975, and I was a Junior in high school. We were so excited about the prospect of a live comedy sketch show on television. The key word there was live. Live TV hadn’t been live, other than the news (which was still news back in the day) for years. Everything was all about this innovative, live sketch show with music and celebrity guests. George Carlin was the first host of SNL, which was called NBC Saturday Night (ABC owned the “Saturday night Live” name at the time). The cast was virtual unknowns, many coming out of Chicago’s “Second City” sketch and improv empire. Belushi, Akroid, Chase, Curtin, Morris, Radner.  Many of the catch phrases from those early seasons are still with us. “It’s Always Something”, “I’m Chevy Chase … And You’re Not”, “Because We Are … THE KILLER BEES!!”. “Jane, You Ignorant Slut”, and “Never Mind …”. Saturday Night Live defined comedy for a generation.

There have been ups and downs along the way. A good season or cast here and there, but long stretches of seasons that were just not funny. Politicians of all stripes have been lampooned, some better than others and Republicans usually more keenly and pointedly than Democrats. That’s just pretty much to be expected, particularly out of New York.

As the original cast drifted away, some to more critical success than others, so did many of us who were so enthusiastic about those first live shows. That, and the sophomore cast, following what was a brilliant ensemble, slumped, in the opinion of many. I was among them, and I largely stopped watching when it just didn’t seem funny any more.

So I have to admit, I approached last nights 35th season debut with fairly low expectations. I wasn’t disappointed.

The show opened with a spoof of Muammar Qaddafi’s U.N speech and went downhill from there. The opening spoof commercial, a slot which has brought us such classics as “The Bass-O-Matic” (Mmmmmm that’s good bass) was a faux drug commercial that made it easy for men to pee, and not care where they did. The next sketch was about warnings of vapid airline flight attendants on a flight approaching severe turbulence, which in light of what happened to Air France Flight 447 this summer I thought was in particularly poor taste. After that, it kind of becomes a blur. There was one funny joke in Weekend Update … which I won’t go into here but it dealt with men’s underwear, and the thing that made it funny was that the punchline was unexpected … and had a grain of truth to it. But in 45 minutes of show, I laughed once, and wondered often why I wasn’t writing for SNL.

I don’t know about the improv chops of the current cast. From nearly 7 years now of performing on an improv stage, admittedly at an amateur level (very amateur), and writing a lot of sketch for ImprovJacksonville, I do know a lot of sketch comedy is little more than signposts that a talented improv actor can hit, and develop the characters themselves to make it funny. The sketches I saw last night weren’t as good as some of the stuff we performed at Laugh for Life, and I mean that.

I’ve never been a U2 fan, but I’m sure for those that like them, their performance was fine. I wasn’t impressed.

I suppose some people thought it was funny. The people in the audience certainly laughed … some. But the theater experience is much different. There’s a group mind that takes hold when you’re sitting in a theater and people will laugh at things at which they think they’re supposed to laugh.

Sitting at home, watching on TV, even in HD … not so much.

Sig

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Filed under Comedy, Saturday Night Live, Television, Thoughts

Thoughts On The Health Care Speech

US Capitol 4 President Obama can make a speech. There’s no denying it. I tuned in late for the Health Care speech, but I think I saw at least half. I tuned in in time to hear Congressman Joe Wilson shout “You Lie!” when talking about coverage for illegal immigrants. Probably not the brightest political move, but it does give you some indication as to how deep the passions run over this debate. I don’t condone what Wilson did. It was grossly inappropriate. I respect the office of the Presidency, even when the guy I didn’t vote for is in it. But the comity has been gone from Congress for a long time.

Of course, that incident got the Democrats on Facebook and elsewhere all atwitter. I’ve mostly stayed away from Facebook today to avoid hiding more people from my ‘News Feed’. Dems, it seems, are still so giddy about being in the majority and winning the Presidency that it wouldn’t matter if a Republican came up with a cure for cancer and offered it to the world for free, he’d be a dirtbag, and they’d find some way to denigrate his character. One of the people now hidden from my ‘News Feed’ was talking about how cute it was that one of her kids was asking who all the “angry men” were. I read several places about what ‘losers’ Republicans are for not standing and cheering the things in which they don’t believe. These writers must not have been paying attention to the dour expressions on the faces of Democrats every time President  Bush made a speech, and how they failed to jump to their feet to cheer every time a tax cut was mentioned. Most of them looked as if they would have rather been ANYPLACE else. Every time.

Best eye roll of the night, however, goes to Vice President Joe Biden. At one point, when Nancy Pelosi jumped to her feet for the umpteenth standing ovation of the speech, Joe looked at her as if to say “I’m just too old and tired to stand up again.”

Really, I backed it up to watch it again.

Obama Joint Session I’m still very concerned about health care. I didn’t see or hear anything last night that gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling that people like me, who don’t currently work for a company that offers health coverage, will have any option but the public option, and no matter how many times President Obama says there won’t be bureaucrats and bean counters making decisions that should be made by doctors and patients … I’m skeptical. He may even believe it, for all I know. But people like Obama, or most of the members of Congress on either side in either chamber, haven’t lived in the real world for some time. I often wonder if any of them knows how hard people are struggling out here, and how frightened and skeptical they are about a massive government program. They always seem surprised when people come to town hall meetings and express their views forcefully. It’s because we’re scared about the economy, we’re scared about getting sick, we’re scared about paying our bills and looming tax increases at nearly every level of government when we can’t make our mortgage payments now, and many of us have very little confidence that the federal government can come in with a massive, one-size-fits-all program and magically make it better. If you believe that’s true, I envy you, and wonder if there are unicorns where you live. Government MIGHT EVENTUALLY get it right, but I’ve never seen one of these things that didn’t have a whole lot of unseen, unintended consequences. Many might not feel it, but if it’s you, it’s a huge problem.

It’s like the old adage. A recession is when unemployment is high, a depression is when YOU’RE the one who’s unemployed.

I would like nothing more than the opportunity to buy affordable health insurance on the open market from a provider of my choosing. Why is that such an unreasonable thing? Why is it impossible for health insurance to be like car insurance? If you drive, you have to have it, and it’s expensive for some people, but for the most part, it’s affordable. Homeowners insurance is getting to be pretty dicey, but for now I can a t least buy it and pay it with my mortgage. That’s pretty painless. What makes health insurance so special, and why is it impossible for individuals, even with pre-existing conditions, to be able to afford to get sick.

Is it any wonder emotions are high? And can the government really do something about it?

Like it or not, it appears we’re about to find out.

Sig

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Filed under Beach Living, Congress, Health Care Debate, President Obama, Presidential Speech, Thoughts

Swordfish

I haven’t done this for a while, but for the first time in like forever, I felt creative about dinner for me. Sometimes, I just enjoy preparing something just for myself, and I’ve GOT to learn to start taking pictures of my food before enjoying it.

Now Saturday, I did a boneless turkey breast thing to take to Richard and Elaine Brown’s house for dinner. I marinated in coffee, cider vinegar, molasses, garlic, dry mustard, onion powder, and smoked paprika. Then I opened them up, stuffed them with a mixture of grated smoked gouda, parmesano reggiano, and more garlic, and roasted them on the grill with hickory chips, giving them a nice, smokey flavor. Served with a little chimichurri sauce, I think all but one little piece was eaten, and I did two of the turkey breasts.

But tonight, it was swordfish. I love swordfish, and Publix had it on sale. $6 for a perfect one-portion piece. Regular readers will know that Andie doesn’t like fish, but she was at PEO, so I had the kitchen to myself.

So, I dredged the fish in some Wondera Flour and Adobo, and pan-fried it in olive oil and butter. It came out a perfect crisp golden brown.

But that’s pretty boring, yes? So I put it on a bed of sautéed spinach and mushrooms with parmesan. Getting better, yes? But wait, there’s more. On top, I did a relish of fire roasted diced tomatoes, corn, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Nice kick, and I ALMOST got too much cayenne … but somehow all the flavors just went together.

Have I mentioned recently that I love to cook? I haven’t done a lot of it recently, for any one of a number of reasons. It’s sometimes difficult to be creative cooking when you’re concerned about what every ingredient going into the dish costs. On the plus side, we’ve been throwing away a lot fewer leftovers … we’ve been using them. That’s probably smart no matter what the economy.

But regardless, it was good to know I could still do it, and have it come out as something that I’d order in a restaurant.

Now all I need are 30 or 40 more of those. I don’t know what I’d do with them, but they’d be fun to have.

Sig

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Oshkosh Wednesday

Another long day in the trailer, though I did get out for a bit to walk around the show. The coolest thing I did today was flying a Cirrus SR22 simulator. Not a full-motion sim, but for me, for not having been in the front seat of an airplane for god knows how many years, it was an amazing experience.

Now, I’ve never flown a side-stick aircraft before, nor one that complicated. It gave me my first real look at an Avidyne EFIS glass cockpit under something resembling actual flying conditions.

I’ve got to tell you, I thought the boat GPS moving maps were cool until I saw this. There’s no way to describe it. Everything on glass panels, all in one, and so many different displays to select. It was a little overwhelming, and a lot like an elaborate video game.

I didn’t crash.  I also didn’t manage to land right on the centerline, but I did manage to land, I think. There was someone very familiar with the airplane in the other seat. Left to my own devices, it’s anybody’s guess.

I walked away from the experience with a big, big, big smile on my face. But I have so much to (re) learn.

Duggy

A smile almost as big as the one painted on the nose of this DC3, sitting in AeroShell Square at Wittman. I love what people do with their airplanes … mostly. Of course, the ones on display at Oskhosk, and not off in the “North 40” where people camp under their airplane wings are the showpieces. Not to say there aren’t some great airplanes in the North 40, but the ones up front near the flight line are spectacular. And yes, people bring tents and such to camp out under their airplane wings. Some just stretch a blue tarp over the wing and roll out a sleeping bag, some have nice camping gear, but they’re all about just being at Oshkosh.

Airbus Nose

The Airbus is on the ground now, but there’s still really no way a picture can convey to you just how big this airplane is. Think of a flying cruise ship, and not one of the dinky little ones. The wheels on the landing gear of this airplane are nearly as tall as an adult, each of the engines intakes could easily swallow a minivan, let alone a Volkswagen. In fact, I don’t know if it would even know if it passed a VW. But it’s amazingly quiet. Flying at two or three thousand feet yesterday, gear and flaps extended as in a landing configuration on one pass and just at a nose-high slow flight configuration in another, you could carry on a conversation with the person standing next to you. That is, if you weren’t struck dumb, which a lot of people seemed to be. The noise certainly wasn’t deafening.  Older jets that used to fly over our house in Maryland, which was sometimes in the departure corridor for National Airport, made a hell of a lot more noise from much further away.

Piaggio

And finally, this Piaggio. Why would I include this, you might ask. Well, this is the type of plane that Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan used to go zipping off to Vegas or New Jersey in on “Pitch Men” pretty much every week. I don’t know if Piaggio or the charter service they used paid for the product placement on the show, or maybe they traded it for use of the airplane, but just about every week, you saw one Billy and Sully getting aboard an airplane like this one and racing off to find the next “must have” product. It was a little bit of nostalgia when I saw this plane, and so I had to have the shot.

It’s Wednesday, and we’re cranking away at it until Saturday. Then a very, very, very early flight on Sunday. I’m still not sure of the logistics of that yet, but it’s going to be either a very long day or a very short night. But as nice as it has been the past couple of days, with temperatures not topping 80, low humidity, and chilly nights … well let’s just say I’m ready to be home and back near the ocean. Lake Winnebago is very nice, and there’s even a Donzi dealership here for those who feel the need to compensate for some other inadequacy, but Mother, Mother Ocean … I have heard you call.

Sig

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Filed under Air Shows, Airplanes, Beach Living, Flying, Oshkosh, Thoughts

Stimulus Projects At The Beach

Money to the north of us, money to the south of us, but Neptune Beach is left with a shrinking tax base, but still too much money to get anything from the federal stimulus. I wonder if we’re the only little town in the nation to not get a dime.

Mayport FerryTo the north, the Mayport Ferry is slated for $3 million for upgrades to the ramps that get the cars on and off the ferry. Ports spokeswoman Nancy Rubin said every dime will be spent on the ramps. It doesn’t seem like you could spend $3 million on ferry ramps, but I suppose it’s possible. It’s really a pity that some of that can’t go into operating, because it won’t matter how nice the ramps are to get on and off the boats if the boats aren’t running, but I know that’s not the way the stimulus money works. Operating a ferry is not a “shovel ready” project that puts people to work. Hiring contractors to build new ramps is a “shovel ready” project, so new ramps it’ll be.

Still, that’s not necessarily bad news. It does mean there’s a commitment to the ferry, and that’s been an open question for a while. I don’t think they’d pump that kind of money into the ramps if they planned to stop running the boat. But then, it might be the only thing they were allowed to spend the money on.

To the south, there’s $5 million to be spent on 9th street south from 1st Avenue South to Osceola Avenue. Curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and drainage. Not that 9th street doesn’t need it, it does. It’s a pretty major thoroughfare between Beach Boulevard and South Beach Avenue. It runs through an area of Jacksonville Beach known as “The Hill”, which is not the best part of town.  Drainage in the area is bad, and anything resembling a heavy rain floods the streets. It’ll be worthwhile to have work done on 9th street.

But here in Neptune Beach, we apparently didn’t have any “shovel ready” projects that qualify. There was an article recently in The Beaches Leader in which Neptune Beach Mayor Harriet Pruette said there was too much money in Neptune Beach for us to be in line for any stimulus, but goodness knows Florida Boulevard could use some drainage work, and to be widened with a turn lane, and maybe a couple of lights.  But apparently even with a 5 percent reduction in property values which will affect the tax base, we’re too wealthy.

It doesn’t seem that way at our house.

We’re here kind of in the hole of the donut. Most of the money would likely trickle down anyway. I don’t know that there are construction companies here in Neptune Beach that could get a contract to work on a road. But all those people have to eat somewhere, and we do have some nice restaurants, and they might need something from K-Mart or the drugstore. Still, the improvements would have been nice.

I don’t begrudge Jacksonville Beach or Mayport their stimulus projects. I drive on 9th street and I sometimes use the ferry, so I’ll get something out of it, as will most everybody at the beach. But I can understand Mayor Pruette’s frustration.

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I’m out for Oshkosh on Saturday, 8 days steeped in airplanes. I’ll try to keep up something resembling the blog, but can’t make any promises. It’s going to be an incredibly busy week, but I’ll let you know all about it when I get back.

With pictures.

Sig

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Filed under Beach Living, Federal Stimulus, Mayport, Neptune Beach, Thoughts

Sad News

We received news today that Senator Jim King has been moved to hospice. While I have no inside information about this development, usually a move to hospice is not a good thing.

I’ve thought a lot about Senator King in the last few months. He was among the first politicians I met when I came to Florida. I consider him to be one of the good guys.

My experiences interviewing Senator King have always been exceptional. The first time we sat down together, it quickly became obvious that he was a straight-ahead guy that would answer questions candidly and in depth. In every interview I conducted with Senator King, on issue after issue, he (almost) always took every question straight on, and gave a good answer. And it wasn’t always the answer you expected.

Senator King has been a stalwart champion of his district, and the entire region. He was instrumental in changing the school funding formula and increasing state spending on education in Northeast Florida. His accomplishments are many, and Northeast Florida is a better place for his leadership.

But as powerful as he became, Senator King has always been approachable. He has always made an effort to make time for the media, or at least for me. He has shown me respect when he didn’t have to, which begets respect in return. I always came away from any encounter with Senator King feeling like I knew more than I did when we started, and not just formal interviews.

King has been parodied by Carl Hiaasson, who doesn’t seem to care much for Republicans. He was never called out by name, but from the description, anyone who knows anything about Florida politics knows who Hiaasson meant. Not very complimentary, to be sure, and I never asked King about it, but I’m sure he took it with his usual good humor.

Senator King was nearing the end of his political career. His presence was going to be missed regardless. The news today was not entirely unexpected, and yet it came faster than at least I thoughts it would. Of course, our thoughts are with Senator King and his family.

Sig

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Filed under Beach Living, Florida Politics, Thoughts