Friday, April 30, 2010

Goodbye Betty

Last weekend Betty and I went to Briny's Pub in Ft Lauderdale. 

The place was not her first choice.  She had no idea what an Irish Pub was, and at her Golden Girl status, I don't think she had ever gone to one.  That fixed it for me, we had to go.  Being an Italian Woman, she kept coming up with Italian restaurants and the BBQ joints up near her place in Century Village... sorry, Do Not Want!

So once we got to Briny's she had sat down and took the place in.  I could actually see her relax and her eyes get larger from all the wonderful collection of junk up on the ceiling.  The place is right next to the Riverwalk, the boats sail by within 50 feet of where we were sitting, and we got to see the traffic on the bridge the entire time to add more to the whole experience.

She didn't know what she would want at a place like that and when I described the Cod Fish slabs you get in their Fish and Chips, she came around.  After all, take a dinner plate, plop down two expertly fried in beer batter fish slabs and a pile of french fries and you're in for a treat.  Too bad they aren't serving "Pub Fries" any more, and went to the more American "shoestring fries".  Not traditional and not as good.

Today I went to visit Betty for what I think is the last time.  We celebrated my birthday that is coming up over the weekend and had a massive meal at a Chinese Buffet.  Not the same food, and I won't tell you what she had to drink at Briny's either since she really did enjoy both places.

Betty is selling the condo, moving back to NY and will be near her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  She's also moving 1400 miles away from me.   Assuming I get my life in gear to be able to go up to visit, it won't be before a year before I can.  At 91, who knows.  I hope that I can get back for her 100th birthday, I missed her 90th here in South Florida while she celebrated it in Lawn Guy Lant.  The Condo Closes today, April 30th.  She leaves for NY on May 1.

I will miss her, I hope she's up to coming back next year as a snowbird.  If so I'll get a chance to have more Fish and Chips with her at Briny's, tell people she had a Gin and Tonic under the awning there even if she didn't, and experience another chance to spend time with one of my favourite people even if she is a relative.

Betty I'll miss you.  Come back soon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

One Step Closer

 one step closer

After hearing the presentation by WMMS last commission meeting and all the local residents and business owners, the commission appears to agree that the WMMS approach to narrow the drive to two lanes has merit.

The current feeling by the Commission seems to be that the WMMS approach is plausible,  Plausible does not mean that it is absolutely going to happen, it means in this context that the City needs to look further into the plan.  The questions arise about the financials and the numbers that WMMS had presented.  The Commission has directed the city manager to contact the engineers, Chen and Assoc. to look at the numbers produced by WMMS and verify the estimates.

This step by the Commission can be considered 'due diligence', and needs to happen in order for all the Commissioners to make a knowledgeable decision.

The drawback is that there seems to be a feeling that the plan be put on the ballot as a straw vote.  The biggest problem is that the law states that the question only state the cost only and not the net profit that we will receive after the first year.  This is unfortunate since in a down market, many if not most will vote against the plan due to the cost.

This is quite one sided and if the profit is not listed, and it therefore fails, the Commission will shrug and that will be the end of the narrowing of the drive.

If that happens, you can watch for the business district to begin to fail as it is in its current form and things stagnate until the energy goes somewhere else in South FL.

Yes, parking and narrowing the drive is THAT important.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers

You may recognise this one, I got it as a cut and paste "spam" from a good friend.  I liked it so I'm putting it here.

Now, where is that beer?

 - - -

Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers...

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.

The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full.

The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand..

The students laughed..

'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car..

The sand is everything else---the small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children.

Spend time with your parents.

Visit with grandparents.

Take your spouse out to dinner.

Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter.

Set your priorities.

The rest is just sand.
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented.

The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.'

The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend..

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rough Seas in a Pool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Tree Blooms on Wilton Drive

Sunday morning, right after the sun finally came up, I made it out to the Drive. 
I was near the tail end of the dog walk for the day and I saw a massive pile of yellow flowers on the sidewalk.  I found it amusing that in this little city, the rubbish on the sidewalk was flowers.  Other cities it might not be so pleasant a pile but that is neither here nor there. 

When I got to the trunk of the tree, my dog decided that she needed to sniff the thing.  She did it for a very long time, so I looked up and got this view.   Beautiful tree that had the sky almost completely blotted out with yellow blooms.  

The blooms have all been fertilized on my citrus trees, the Mangos are starting to form on the tree near the house.  This tree and the others like it have their time right now.  For the meantime, I'll just enjoy them along the drive.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Iguanas are back

Afraid so.  It wasn't forever, merely a break from the inevitable.

Yesterday we were out driving around looking for a strawberry pot.  My neighbors had given me three little heather plants and they're doing very nicely in a large irrigated pot.  In the middle of that pot is a smaller pot with a strawberry plant.   While all four plants are happy together, we thought we should move the strawberry into its own pot and let the heather grow in. 

That set us on the chase!

You can find strawberry pots fairly easily, however since all the pots in the back yard are maroon, we didn't want the run of the mill terracotta pot.  We ended up at the nursery just East of Andrews on Oakland Park called Green Thumb Pottery.  Nice place that is tucked into a triangular plot of land against the North Branch of the New River.   They have some beautiful plants in some rather interesting self watering pots and a collection of glazed pots that would look well in just about any setting.   There is also a room there that was set aside just for orchids.   These plants were all very happy, display quality, and would make for a fine display in any home.  It certainly is worth a visit to the shop and the area behind the building that is under the awnings is quite a nice view of the New River and the homes on the water.

Being where it is, you can see quite a distance down the river.  That river is not a very quick moving one, nor is it very deep.  I'd be hard pressed to say that that spot is navigable since the bridge over it is at the same level as any other road around here, which is almost invariably flat.  You can see in this picture where the place is, and our car was parked on the far left where the white car is under the tree.

After shopping and finding that they can get the perfect strawberry pot for the yard, we went back to the car.  That was where I saw the creature, a five foot iguana in stripes.  This is the first critter I have seen since the first cold snap back in winter more than 3 months ago.  

So they're back.  I can only hope that this one doesn't find a mate so we don't end up with them sooner rather than later.   If there is one, there will be more.   My best guess is that those things will be back in my yard by November or so and I'll be back to chasing them out of my bougainvillea.

I'm hoping for another series of cold snaps next winter.  Iguanas are too much work and Iguana Rid does not work.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Soaring Memory From Childhood

Sometimes surfing brings up the most interesting memories. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Morning Concert of Tire on Pavement

I find that it never is quite "quiet" here. 

I got up to walk the dog around my wonderfully quirky city at 6AM and expect it to be almost silent.  At this time of year and this time of day, I am up before the birds.  I have to be up that early, I have a furry alarm clock that insists that no matter what day of the week, whether holiday or not, I am up and walking her.

However it isn't so.   We've got this state owned thoroughfare running straight through the middle of Wilton Manors that is four lanes wide plus a bike lane and parking lane on each side of the road.   While a city has to have full access for people to come and go, visit, spend, enjoy, and then return from whence they came, we have been for a while too accommodating.

At 6 AM when I am out front of my house preparing for my morning mile walk, I can hear the cars passing on Wilton Drive, two blocks or almost a quarter mile away.  It isn't exactly pure silence I expect since this isn't the Jersey Pine Barrens and even there you have the music of the winds whispering through the pines.  On the other hand, I should not expect to hear tire on pavement and know that when they are going through there, they aren't exactly observing the speed limit since they're trying to get to work or coming home from "play".

It is rare that people drive appropriately when nobody is around.  It is an unwritten law, an understanding, that if nobody is about you can stretch the speed a little bit and get home a bit quicker.  In the area around Philly we call it the "Five Plus Rule".  You are breaking the law but an extra five won't be bothered unless you're in one of those ticketing towns.

I've changed my usual morning ramble with the dog.  I try not to cross that drive, whether at light or not, at all.  It flatly isn't safe.   In the amount of time it takes to press the button to cross at the lit cross walk until it stops traffic for you to cross, you can actually drive "almost the entire drive" from the Dairy Queen to Five Points at a legal speed. 

90 seconds at 30 MPH is 3/4 of a mile which according to Google Earth is the distance in question.

Clearly that timing is too generous and needs to be adjusted.

So an hour and a half later, I sit in my chair listening to the pool pump, the parrots outside, the wind up clocks and other equipment in the house.   All the windows are open, the coffee has been roasted and the scent of Guatemalan Peaberry is on the breeze, there's a pigeon cooing.  Underneath all that and the Tchaikovsky playing on the radio, I can hear a car accelerating up to speed out on the drive hitting the pavers in the intersection with a "Frrrt Frrrt" sound.

Hopefully this will all change.  The drive will get reduced to one lane each way with a bike lane and "reverse angle parking" and the speed will reduce because people just won't drive 50 on a road like that.  Our city deserves this gift to itself.  Short term inconvenience for Long term benefit to paraphrase Delaware DOT's signs.  A gift to ourselves that we will have to pay for but will pay us back 10 times the initial investment in 3 years.  A gift to ourselves that will increase the safety of the drive and hopefully allow fewer people to actually die trying to go from point A to point B.  A gift to ourselves of a forward thinking plan approved by a forward thinking Commission and Mayor. 

I look forward to the opening of that gift, but for now, I'll get that Guatemalan Peaberry Coffee off of the front porch so I can grind myself a second mug.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The great citrus bloom of 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now I have to make my own.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

CANA Has a big "AT"


This morning was another one of those sleepless ones.  Perhaps I've been having too much of that home roasted coffee, maybe it was the chocolate I had last night at 7PM, but at 330 in the morning I awoke. 

I'm sure this means that mid afternoon in the Siesta Hour, I'll be battling that as well.

After a solid hour and a half of tossing and turning and trying every trick I could think of to get back to sleep I crawled out of bed.  Five AM and I'm up.  The dog didn't even stir until I had a good solid stare at myself in the mirror.   Sticking my tongue out at myself I got dressed and gave Mrs Dog her breakfast - crunchy sheep in a tennis ball and I inspected the house for anything that might be awry.

Luckily all was well, so I grabbed my iPod full of Jeeves and Wooster audio books, her gear and went out for a quiet walk.  Being half asleep, I mumbled hellos to the one person I spotted that I knew that was up at that time of the morning and walked over toward the old City Hall.  Still somewhat sleepy and mental, I noted that there were no stray tennis balls for my dog and the amazingly friendly pit bull across the street so I moved on toward the Drive.

There on the corner of Wilton Drive and NE 21 Ct, the City had placed our traffic sign with a banner.  No, it isn't calling for a Zombie Attack although I think this is the model that can be easily hacked.  The sign said alternatingly:




I chuckled to myself that that had to be the biggest "AT" I have seen in a very long time.  That does say a lot being on some of the volunteer boards and having dealt with the public 'at' the Historical Society's sale at City Hall last month and moved on to the house.

It is so early that I had time to muse about my big "AT" while sitting in the chair at home after breakfast.  I got here, and switched on the Sirius radio to the Symphony Hall channel and with the windows open, sipping the last of the first mug of coffee that I think got me into being up this early, I noted that there was the scent of orange blossoms on the breeze.

Now as the sky turns from midnight to inky blue and the first birds of the morning wake up to shout hello outside my window I think I'll toss my mug at them and have another.

I'm planning on being there tonight for CANA at 7pm, Hagen Park, 2020 Wilton Drive, FL, 33305 and visit the rest of us who are interested in seeing our friends from the Central Area Neighborhood Association.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fast Food Slow

I'm not talking about Service at a fast food joint.  I have gone to all of them in the areas I've been in and most folks can say the same.  Everyone has their horror stories about how bad the service can be.  After all, you have people working a minimum wage job that can best be described as hazardous.

What I'm talking about is that whole slow food movement and how it applies to convenience food.   Slow food is the movement where you are expected to take sometimes hours eating a meal of exquisitely prepared food of the highest quality in a high end setting that is designed to enhance the experience.  I have had meals like that and almost always I find myself annoyed by the experience.   I see it as an unsaid comment of superiority in that they're saying look how much better we are for choosing this time consuming way of getting your food to the table.  The food may be better quality, and sometimes it is indeed worth it, but any time I'm still sitting at the table an hour after I've started eating and I still haven't finished, I am getting very fidgety and thinking what on earth is wrong with the kitchen here and vowing never to come back.

There are exceptions.   Some exceptions to that are truly glorious. 

But why is it that we have gravitated to fast food when the experience is almost without exception ... vile?

Speed, convenience, and our hurried lives have a lot to do with it.   The point is that every single "market" has its share of places that you can get conveniently served food of the highest quality and have it quickly.  Those places are generally very difficult to get in at peak hours and may be a One Off place where if it is a chain, it is a small one in comparison.

Is it possible to have fast food that is done in the slow food tradition of high quality ingredients prepared in the best of all possible worlds?   If you think no, you probably live in a suburban area in a tract home and drive an SUV.  In other words, that whole herd mentality has boxed you in.   Take a little time and reclaim what we've learned over the centuries about the quality and preparation of food and experience something that is wonderful. 

I've written about my biscuits before.  Few people would even consider churning butter to make the blasted things at home at all, but when I tell you it takes under 30 minutes to do so you might change your mind.  I can't even eat biscuits at KFC and most people from areas that don't have a biscuit baking culture will think they're wonderful.  They aren't.  And yes, I am talking about my own Philadelphia Area. 

I did the whole breakfast in the car thing for years while I was commuting.  40% of all breakfasts are served from Mc Donalds on a given day and I was fond of a Sausage and Egg Biscuit.  Recently I tasted one of them and nearly hurled it out the window.  Dry Biscuits, over salted and over cooked, a Sausage that tasted of grease and salt and spice, and eggs that I could have patched a blown tire with.

Yesterday I set out to duplicate the fast food experience in my own back yard.  I had gone to GFS and gotten some of their pre-fab Spiced French Fries and tossed them in the oven after lightly dusting them with Parmesan Cheese.   I had had a real Kaiser Roll, well, real by Florida Standards and slathered it with Swiss Cheese and some sweet Bread and Butter Pickles, mustard and ketchup, and grilled a black angus burger on my grill to Medium Well (160F).  Since I had gotten 4 of them prefab from the shops, I'll be having this all week... they warm up well in the microwave with a quick "hotfoot".

But like I said, you don't have to do it yourself.  Those difficult to get into restaurants are there waiting for you.  I'm thinking of a couple in specific both here and in South Jersey that I wouldn't mind to go back to.  Sure, the food all comes in on the same Sysco truck, but in the hands of the right chef with a mind to maintain quality you can get a great meal.

In the interim, I'll keep going to the dives and the one off restaurants.  You can keep your chains.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The golden girls at the Dixie Pig

Yesterday in that massive amount of rain, I had scheduled a visit to my 91 year old Aunt's condo in Century Village.  We were going to go out to lunch or dinner, and this time we weren't going to go out for Chinese food.

I hadn't heard from her all week, and I hadn't called either since I was rather busy dealing with my own personal nonsense here.  Since the road to Dinner was paved with good intentions, I basically missed calling all week myself and when I got to Sunday she had made some small plans of including one of her friends to go with us.   We were going to go for Chinese and since I was bringing a friend along who has had quite enough for what passes for Good Chinese Food here in South Florida, we were going to go for barbecue.

Barbecue is a religion.  Everyone has one, their favourite is always better than yours and don't try to tell them otherwise.   We tried going to Barbecue before and they took me to this place here that is more steak house than Barbecue.  I had some dried up Tilapia while I watched everyone else enjoy their meals.

Dixie Pig is my favourite here, you can have your choice of sauces, all somewhat spicy to very spicy, and a choice of your sides and some excellent Iced Tea.  The place is near my house and convenient and I have never had a bad meal there.   Great Old Florida place, you order at the take out window and sit under the awnings on a picnic bench or just go home.

When I got to My Aunt's place, she said that she had planned on bringing her friend Jo and was going to call Lucy to come with us.  In the rain.  Biblical proportions of rain.  Lakes of the stuff.

I am just glad I didn't bring my Jeep because five do not fit in a Jeep without heroic efforts and I don't think I could put a little old lady in my lap while trying to drive a five speed manual!

So there went the happy little threesome which was a fun and friendly fivesome and we got in the beast of a Merc and drove down I-95 at 50MPH to get there.   If you have ever driven in South Florida, the speed limit is 65 here, and you get run over if you drive legally.  There are more banged up cars here than I am used to living in the North East because nobody up there can drive over 35 mph since there are too many on the roads.

As we got there, we witnessed that the three sweet little old ladies turned into some right ol' cougars.  The average age of the three was over 80 and they were starting to talk about whether they could "get" the opera singer from the night before performance if they tried.  They decided that he had a nice smile, but he was a bit old for them since he was in his 40s and they wanted a younger man.  On the other hand "He had a nice bulge".

Yes, from the mouths of babes....

We got there, in the downpour with me with my mouth agape in surprise, and I herded them into the awning for their meals.  Four of us with a Pulled Pork BBQ plate and one with a rather excellent Chicken BBQ sandwich sat down after drying the entire place with napkins and clearing a very noisy family of 6 away.

More talk about bulge, and I swear I heard one of those sweet little old ladies say "Betty, your nephew has a real hot butt".  Well not specifically "butt" but ... I'm trying to keep this G Rated.

For the record, I thought I heard Betty agree but very demurely... didn't want to cross over the line.

The family of 6 looked up and started making their way out into the weather across the parking lot lake, and I finally put my butt down on the damp, napkin dried seat to enjoy my own food once it arrives.

Just before we got there I realized that I had a calculator/clock that I had gotten in a grab bag that I wanted to pass on to others and we took the time diverting them from body parts onto the little calculator that all the sudden became the focus of the discussion.  WHEW!

It wasn't really all that predatory but I did get a chance to hear some rather amazing stories about parties in Alpha NJ back in the 40s and someone's neighbour in Bedminster NJ who was going to help out Jo with a particular problem that she had.

As they settled in I realized that I had a dog with her legs crossed while they tried to convince me and Kevin that I wanted to stay there so they could play card games.  I remember Betty's card games from when I was a kid visiting their home in Woodhaven Queens New York and they were always a blast, but an excuse to stay up way too late.

Mrs Dog wouldn't approve, nor would my furniture where she'd turn into a pointer and not a setter...

Quite a trick for a Border Collie isn't it?

We made it back with Jo saying that Betty is making up the names of these games like "King in the Corner" and my fondly thinking of those days smelling home made food while playing Continental and wishing I could stay.   After dropping off Lucy, since she could get her car and drive back and none of the rest could drive, we got Betty and Jo to Betty's condo.  Hugs all around and more "I wish we could stays" and we really meant it.   We got on our way leaving Betty and Jo there to discuss the ways of the world.

I am going to miss Betty when she goes back to Lawn Guy Lant.  I have always enjoyed her trips to see us when I was a child living on the Plains of South Jersey, and truly have liked having her only about 10 miles above me at Century Village.  It is much closer to me there than having to drive 100 miles from my house in Philadelphia, to my sister's in South Jersey, then up through New Jersey and New York City out to The Islant to see them. 

I hope she will make it back down to visit somehow, but I know she won't.  I won't be able to get to NY in a year because of my own complexities.  At 91... well, she's 91.  That brings it's own complexities.

May she and her friends all live to 200, hale and hearty.  I'll enjoy all the visits I can while I am able.

For now, I am sharing them with you.  Here's to you Betty, Lucy and Jo - in the back seat of my friend's Merc on I 95 on the way back from Dixie Pig.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Can you multitask? Here's how!

Actually I can, it is a requirement for someone in my field.  IT Guys have to.  There's always more than one thing going on in a technology department, and being able to solve a problem sometimes requires that you keep an ear open to the next guy's conversation.

Many women say that men can't multitask, and that we're good for only one thing at a time.  On the other hand I remember my Aunt Ann saying constantly when I was growing up "Will you relax, I only have two hands!". 

So what's the deal?  I'd say that it has to be a genetic thing.  Like some have blond hair, or others have a capacity to run a marathon (yes, I'm jealous of both), others are fortunate in the ability to do more than one thing at a time with their minds. 

I guess if I can't be blond and run marathons, I may as well be able to watch a movie and solve complex problems at the same time.  Strictly speaking, I guess that would mean that your ability to multitask is as genetically pre-programmed as would be your sexuality or anything else that science says is so.  Unfortunately I can't tell you how to develop the skill.  I've been lucky that way, many others are as well.  "Ya either got it or ya ain'ts".

So this morning when I was reading my daily news on the BBC website I came across an article describing how Science has learned how the human brain will process more than one task at once.   I was struck how the description was very similar to a hybrid motor in a car or a dual processor PC.  Basically you can multitask because your brain was programmed to use each hemisphere either in tandem on a task or you can split the tasks up and process the individual tasks in different hemispheres.  The PC analog is close because in that PC that would be in most of our laps we have a "Dual Core" processor.  Basically in a PC or a Mac with a Core Duo or later processor, we have two "brains" that are electrically connected and function independently as the software within the operating systems would require.  Your task list shows that under windows (XP or later) when you look at it by holding down the ctrl and shift keys then typing an escape and looking at your performance tab.   It has two or more boxes of graphs for what the individual cores in your processors are doing at that very moment.

Go ahead and hold down the Ctrl and Shift key, then type or tap your Esc key and then find the Performance Tab.  I'll wait as you look at the graphs under "CPU Usage History" (Windows 7).

The article on the BBC said that basically people are good at doing two things at once but not more.   So if you're reading this and listening to music, you may not be very good at doing a third thing.  Try cooking or baking a complex recipe.   If that phone rings, you end up just swapping out the frying pan to be able to handle that call.

Or as Aunt Ann said years ago "I've only got two hands".

Oh and that BBC website is the low graphics version.  I use it instead of looking at the blinkies on the main site.  It loads lightning fast.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Modern Moving with Old Fashioned CarL

I was out skating with the dog one morning, barely awake when in the distance, before dawn, I saw two lights.  These were on a truck, so I watched to see whether it was going anywhere and when it didn't move I relaxed.

I have a small 2 mile route around Wilton Manors' Central Area Neighborhood's South Side.  This is the side with the Shoppes on it, and while it is a poor place to skate, it is good for the dog since it is a short route.  Wilton Manors is trying as a City to make itself a great place to walk.  Some of the efforts are more effective than others, but on the whole, Wilton Manors is indeed improving visibly since I have moved here.

Hopefully when we get new crosswalks, they won't be so difficult to skate through.  Those Pavers they use bring me to an absolute crawl and I'm an Elite Distance Inline skater... I just won't skate on them.

But all that is neither here nor there right? 

I'm moving around down toward the corner with Tropics Bar at the Drive and 20th street and as I get to Wilton Towers, the truck was there.   It was a moving company.  I guess they were getting an early start on it that day, before the heat of the day, and the truck was idling there with two people inside looking bored wondering why this big guy with the black dog was going through in the dark with a flashlight (my Torch) on skates at about a double speed walk.

The dog is 9 years old, I go at her speed which is a dog trot.  I don't get much out of it but I can say I was out skating and she gets the cardio she needs.

As I get to the truck I am drawn in by the advertising speak on the side and start reading.  I normally avoid this sort of thing, but am so amused that I almost wipe out laughing out loud.  The dog startles then does her Doggy Smile and the two guys in the cab are looking at me now as if I'm insane.


Because on the side of a truck that is trying to say "Hey, use us, we're really careful with your things", there a long scrape along the side of the truck.   The logo "Modern Moving with Old Fashioned Care" was heavily damaged and read as the topic reads - "Modern Moving with Old Fashioned Carl".

Laughing I went on my way knowing I'd be back.   When I returned, the window was open and I shouted "Hey guys!  Who is Carl?!?!?" and kept going.   I left them confused and me laughing.

So why is this so amusing?  Ironic might be a more appropriate description.  Shows how little Old Fashioned Carl is out there if they're driving around with a logo that proves how little Carl they have in their product.   There is a lot of that out there.   Lately I've noticed places that have very little Old Fashioned Carl where you would like to pick them up and shake them.  Others are truly places of wonder and you keep going back.

But if I see a moving van pull up beside my house I'll be sure to tell them to make sure to Take Carl!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The immediate result of the WMMS Parking Initiative is a table

Pretty simply put it has been tabled for another meeting or two.

I should have written this the night of but procrastinated...

At any rate, everyone saw the presentation.  You will be able too soon enough since the presentation is now it is on the Main Street Website.  There is no sound to the presentation so if you want to look I suggest that you click on the pause buttons and take it all in.   The numbers there speak for itself, if you look at the revenue that you take in over the span of three years, it pays off any revenue bond needed to maintain the drive plus produces enough revenue to fund the movement towards the final phase of having trees down the middle of the drive and turn this speedway into a jewel.

The phased approach works.  It allows us to take the funds from the parking meters that would be installed in the 115 new spaces and pays for maintenance, meters, enforcement, and then more.   We can, after the first year pays off the striping of the drive, begin to reclaim the medians and place beautification "hardscaping" items such as pavers and other items such as planters to better delineate entries to driveways and streets and other things.

This can all be done by our little cash strapped city in the middle of a budgetary crunch.

The biggest problem I see with all of this is a vision thing - the plan will work if it is followed and the monies from parking in those 115 spaces that are created are strictly used for the improvement of the drive until the drive is completed. If these guidelines for finances are not put into place, the budgetary realities of life in a constrained era would mean that we end up with a striped drive with plenty of parking funding items that the city will need to function.  This money should not be used for painting offices, internet access for the outlying buildings, or replacing city vehicles for example.   The money should be strictly limited for the improvement of the drive until the plan for drive is "Complete".

Do we have the discipline to follow the plan?   I am a project manager by trade.  The plan follows a normal iterative process in project management.  If you follow each step, you will get to a point where you are ready to move onto the next.   You can't jump from step one to step four without going through the other steps first.  Without step one funding the rest, you will end up being stuck at step one "forever".

That will solve the problems of some of the businesses on the drive, lessen the parking problems in the immediate neighborhoods of the Central Area (Link was broken when I made this post) and help beautify the city.  Those who complete this plan will be justifiably be qualified for reelection.  

The plan needs oversight, and that can't be avoided, but it is a good one and allows for some flexibility in the final results.

So go look at the video on while it is there.  All the numbers are there for you to crunch.  The city will be revisiting the plan in two (or perhaps four) weeks.  There is a LOT there and I think the most prudent thing for them to have done was to table it while they look over the large three ring binders that were presented to each of them.

We will have to wait until then... but this can be a good thing.  Measured and thorough thinking always helps.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kids - Humor

Since this is tax day, I thought I'd give you a couple of chuckles.

As always Safe For Work.   Enjoy


While I sat in the reception area of my doctor's office, a woman rolled  an elderly man in a wheelchair into the room.  As she went to the receptionist's desk, the man sat there, alone and silent.  Just as I was thinking I should make small talk with him, a little boy slipped off his mother's lap and  walked over to the wheelchair.  Placing his hand on the man's, he said, 'I know how you feel.  My mom makes me ride in the stroller too.'


As I was nursing my baby, my cousin's six-year-old daughter, Krissy, came into the room. Never having seen anyone breast feed before, she was intrigued and full of all kinds of questions about what I was doing. After mulling over my answers, she remarked, 'My mom has some of those, but I don't think she knows how to use them.'


Out bicycling one day with my eight-year-old granddaughter, Carolyn, I got a  little wistful.  'In ten years,' I said, 'you'll want to  be with your friends and you won't go walking, biking, and  swimming with me like you do now.  Carolyn shrugged.  'In ten years you'll be too old to do all those things  anyway.'


Working as a pediatric nurse, I had the difficult assignment of giving immunization shots to  children. One day, I entered the examining room to give four-year-old Lizzie her needle. 'No, no, no!' she screamed.  'Lizzie,' scolded her mother, 'that's not polite behavior.'  With that, the girl yelled even  louder, 'No, thank you!  No, thank you!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wilton Manors Main Street has a vision for the future

I can't say when I had ever seen quite so much applause in a City Commission Meeting.  After the presentation there was a thunderous applause in a packed Commission chambers for a solid minute.

Of course I am getting ahead of myself...

The place was packed because there was so much to talk about.  There has been a petition circulated around the neighborhood asking for more police presence in the Central South portion of my city, and we could use it.  Too many crimes within a week, all caused by a wolf-pack of teenagers that have found that since they get picked up and released they basically can get away with it.

There has been the change of the Parking Meters up and down the Drive.  While that is connected to the Main Street Plan, this is not a direct connection.  The plan is still in flux as they discuss the details, and as we all know, the Devil is in the Details.   Personally I strongly believe that there should be a pass given to any Wilton Manors Resident (Show Driver's License) for free parking at any meter.  Place Sticker in window and you are home free.  I don't believe that any resident should have to pay a red cent for this sticker either.  We have to put up with influx and outflow of tourists every day, a raceway through our neighborhood, and the added "benefit" of hearing bars like The Mix have their rather frightening mix of Karaoke and Piano Bar music on the air two blocks away.

That having been said, the presentation went down extremely well.   The chambers were packed with people to discuss the Parking situation from all sides and the lights were dimmed.  The basic point of the plan was a Phased Approach to take back the Drive from the people who use it as a thoroughfare to go elsewhere.  You can't do it all at once, but the idea was to first reclaim the Drive from the State of Florida and make it a City Street.   That has a cost associated with it which is the amount that you will have to pay to keep the thing up. There will be a cost of $137,000 (round numbers) to actually do the first phase.

That was the set up and the Cons.  What about the Pros?

First off, we slow people down and encourage those people who want to come to the city to actually come here.  You can't find parking past about 10PM on a Bar Night (Thursday Nights especially) and the streets here are plugged up with out of towners running around looking for an open spot.  It has been this way since 1997 when I started coming to Wilton Manors and is actually a measure of our success.  People like us and want to come here.

Second, when we stripe the drive, we almost double (135 before and 115 added - again round numbers) the parking inventory.  Now with Doubled Parking for a third the price of the existing plan of demolition of Old City Hall and paving it over with Parking Spaces.  If you want to add another approximately 115 parking spaces at 400,000 you can do so, but personally I feel the best way to approach this is to Stripe the Drive, Demolish City Hall, Meter the Drive, and put grass and trees on the old City Hall site for the interim with the option of paving the Old City Hall site around those trees at a later date.

Third if the Parking on the Drive is Wildly Popular at night, like we all expect it to be, we will have the funding source to actually reclaim the median strips and plant trees and flowers down the strip. 

Fourth there is the funding.  Repeat after me, and do so every time someone questions why we want to do this:  "The Plan Funds Itself With A Surplus".  First year costs are always higher, but even the first year had a surplus.  Three years the surplus was 1.6 Million Dollars.   Roughly.   What can a small city do with 1.6 Million Dollars?   Simply put, excluding the addition of a lot on the old City Hall site, it comes very close to funding the entire project after about 4 or 5 years.   That would be if it isn't seen as a cash cow to fund other discretionary programs.  

The Wilton Manors Main Street Plan will Stripe the Drive.  After that, it will reclaim the Medians, allow us to plant the medians, and finally it will allow us to have trees and shade as well as safety.  This is one of those rare things that will actually allow us to have our cake and eat it too.   It doubles our parking inventory, funds not just that parking effort but improvements in the future, and after five years the money coming in is "gravy" and allows us to further proceed with other plans. 

Main Street have used the most conservative numbers when figuring out this plan.   The Plan actually uses the most conservative estimates that have been used in the discussions by Lanier when they were proposing to the City that they would be our Parking Authority Consultant.   "Your Mileage May Vary" but The Word On the Street says that we could actually expect the Plan to fund more than the numbers that we had come up with.

Yes, more than 1.6 Million Dollars.   Quite a lot of money for a small city like Wilton Manors.

All we have to do is enact it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Today's Commission Meeting Should be Interesting

Five major issues for the people who live and visit Wilton Manors will be discussed tomorrow.

1) Petition on the Crime in the Central Area
           On Sunday afternoon there was a petition circulated in the Central Neighborhood discussing the Armed Robbery that happened behind the Condos at the corner of 22nd Drive and 9th Avenue.  There have been a spate of robberies and assaults that have happened in the Central area lately, that being one of them.  They have been caused by underaged minority teenagers that are coming through and basically "Casing The Joint" in odd hours such as during the work day (I personally saw it happen today, Monday April 12 during the afternoon) and late at night.   They're looking for opportunistic crimes and to rob from those that they consider weak.  Unfortunately these individuals are also carrying guns and other weapons.   The Petition asks the City to increase Police Presence in the Central Area by stationing officers in the area as well as increased patrols.  Personally if they need to, I'll loan them the use of my driveway or swale.  If it gets rid of these vermin, I'm all for it!

2) Presentation by Wilton Manors Main Street on the Parking Initiative
    To directly quote the Main Street Page:  The plan will introduce the research, findings and support to restructure Wilton Drive from four to two lanes. This will create a much safer and more beautiful Town Center and provide IMMEDIATE additional parking directly on Wilton Drive.  The presentation will be highlighted by photographic concepts showing the incredible potential along Wilton Drive.  

Being on the Main Street board, I have seen the plan and the concepts.  There will be an immediate return on the investment and that will fund any expenses that will arise from reclaiming the Drive from the State.   The State does not want the Drive, nor does the County.  It is all in the hands of the Commissioners.  If they Do The Right Thing, people will have a true Main Street back and the Visitors will be able to come and go without having to drive around in circles.   This will blend the best of the past with the improvements we all need for the future.  This raised the question:  Are the Commission more interested in being truly business friendly and having a True Main Street or are the Commission more interested in having a street with closed businesses?
3) Lanier Parking coming back to the Commission with Resolutions for all outstanding problems
   The last commission meeting had some very specific issues raised.  The on site office was not yet opened, and they have not made arrangements for the servicing of the off site satellite parking for the various employees.  Basically, Lanier is behind schedule, why they are is complex and debatable.   They even suggested that the City pay more for shuttle busses and other methods to move people from the outlying free lots to their place of business.  That won't happen in a time of budget crunch.

4) PGFL had put in an application for the Stonewall festival and that will be debated by the Commissioners
   PGFL had put in their application to hold their festival in the later part of the year on Wilton Drive.  The only drawback with that is that there are open allegations of PGFL being slow to pay and needing significant oversight by the various other Volunteer Groups within the area.   Stonewall festival is growing from year to year and is drawing from a worldwide audience.  It should be a time for both PGFL and Wilton Manors to shine and not a time for people to wonder whether bills for the Port-a-pottys are paid.

5) Commissioners debating the question of taking back Wilton Drive from the State
   This is connected with the Wilton Manors Main Street Parking Initiative.  To do it right, you need to have the Drive narrowed down to two lanes and changes made to slow the speed of traffic down.   This has been an open discussion since before I moved here four years ago.  If it doesn't happen Wilton Manors will have a raceway where cars regularly speed through to go to other places.   I for one am tired of dodging cars from other states (the nearest other state being over 300 miles from here) in order to go to get to the candy store on the opposite side of the drive.  When I learned how to drive, I was told that under all and EVERY circumstance, the Uniform Vehicle Code that we all are supposed to conform to while on the road states that, The Pedestrian Has The Right Of Way.   How can a 200 pound (average) pedestrian win over a 2500 pound car?   Simply put he can't.   These cars are going Through Wilton Manors to go elsewhere, not going To Wilton Manors.   Make it convenient for us to be here and for visitors to want to stay and we shall.   A raceway that limits access will cause more deaths.  It is time to Take Back The Drive and make it safer for ALL people who live here and enjoy this wonderfully quirky city.

Yes, it is my opinion, and it is my blog.   And hopefully I'll see you at the Commission Chambers tomorrow night at 7PM.  I'll be in my usual seat in the front row.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Never Leave Your Nuts Alone

    A doctor at an insane asylum decided to take his patients to a baseball game.

     For weeks in advance, he coached his patients to respond to his commands.

    When the day of the game arrived everything went quite well.

     As the National Anthem started, the doctor yelled, 'Up Nuts', and the patients complied by standing

     After the anthem, he yelled, 'Down Nuts', and they all sat back down in their seats.

    After a home run was hit, the doctor yelled, 'Cheer Nuts'. They all broke out into
    applause and cheered.

     When the umpire made a particularly bad call against the star of the home team, the Doctor yelled, 'Booooo Nuts' and they all started booing and cat calling.

    Comfortable with their response, the doctor decided to go get a beer and a hot dog, leaving his
    assistant in charge.

     When he returned, there was a riot in progress.

     Finding his tizzied assistant, the doctor asked, 'What in the world happened?'

     The assistant replied, 'Well everything was going just fine until this guy walked by and yelled .


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yard Sale was a Success, more to come

Yes, I'm banging on about it again. 

Since not everything sold, they will be selling again next month at the Yard Sale in May.  I'll give you warnings about that one when the time gets closer.

I got to the Yard Sale yesterday at 8 in the morning greeted by my friends on the City Staff and the Historical Society of Wilton Manors.  Two friends in the City Government were there at the desk serving as the cashiers and general supervisory personnel, Lisa and Bob.  They got to volunteer their time on the weekend to see that things ran smoothly. 

I was also fortunate enough to run into my friends on the volunteer Historical Society and have a few words with them as I was dispatched through the old City Hall.  Diane, Mary and her husband, and I got to chatting and  they sent me over to the Police Gym to stand guard to help people as they began to file in.  One of the nice things about it was that I got to chat with Mary and her Husband about things through the morning, and I was able to help them with some suggestions for a laptop for the Society.  Having just been outsourced from my position of IT Manager for a mall holding company in Pompano Beach, I was able to go through all the technology that was stored in the gym and do a quick triage to determine what might be salvaged for reuse.  Unfortunately for we volunteers, as is with most "surplus gear", there wasn't much that could help us out that hadn't been picked up by the IT Manager for the City Of Wilton Manors, Russ. 

Makes sense to me, it was after all, the City's. 

The one thing that struck me was that there were a lot of people tire kicking and looking at the desks there, but the things that sold the quickest were the small items like power cables and knick-knacks.  If you need a desk, there were a few that were in perfect condition left when I ended my time there.

As the day went on, I had someone try to buy my thermos of coffee after I started up another cup.  I had roasted it fresh that morning, then immediately brewed the coffee and filled the thermos with roughly a quart of the stuff.  Tanzanian Peaberry perfectly roasted by me, so the scent was stronger than that of the old gym.  

While drinking coffee I got to visit with the people who shopped the sale as well as more friends with the City and other volunteers.   Having had a chance to speak again with Mary and her husband, I got to speak with Shirley and her husband for a good half hour between customers.  Fascinating people and I always have enjoyed their company.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and by Noon I as wiped out.  We left and went over to the local Pizza Place, Humpys for a rather excellent Cheese and 1/2 Mushroom Pizza and a bottomless Birch Beer.  The nice thing about their pizza is that the leftovers are always better warmed up the next day and there was about a half of the Pie in that came home.   The Birch Beer is something that I've always felt is a regional thing to the Philadelphia and nearby areas, and since the guys who own Humpys are from the Lehigh Valley, they appreciate a good Birch Beer too.

I haven't had their cupcakes but the idea of baking a Cupcake in a Pizza Oven is amusing.  The main chef there is someone who I see roughly five days out of 7 while walking the dog in the morning and we shared some horror stories about baking.  Baking a cupcake in a pizza oven would be a challenge to begin with, but when you add the extra wrinkle of trying it on a weekend after the store was closed like he had after Easter, it made for an amusing anecdote.   Since my own oven only holds a passing acquaintance with the actual temperature on the thermostat, I can commiserate.

That all having been said, it was a very full morning.  I was happy to give my time, enjoyed my time there watching people come and go and pick up their sold items and dicker for others.  Next month it will happen again, they will try to sell the items that didn't sell.  The building is slated for demolition and it will be a "Last Chance" to get to see the place.  Well worth the price of admission (Free) just to see what is going under the wrecking ball.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hagen Park Yard Sale Today 8 to 2 - Picture

Well, today's the day.  

The Yard Sale, which is always fun, happens at Hagen Park and Old City Hall from 8AM to 2PM today.

I walked the dog past Old City Hall today at 6AM and the lights were on in the Commission Chambers, but they had not set up yet.  There was some intrepid soul in the parking lot setting up a Red Pickup Truck and some awnings for their own private sale, so I know it is a go for later. 

Yes, for once I am writing this and posting immediately instead of my usual write-ahead and set-to-post-at-8AM deal.

What you see in the pic is a fond goodbye tombstone by those who worked in the place.   I was invited to sign it last time I was there but just didn't think it was quite right.   So out of respect, I passed.

If you want a chance to see why you really do need that brand new City Hall on Wilton Drive today is the day.  Come on over to the Yard Sale, meet your neighbors.  I'll be in Old City Hall with the Historical Society and some friends trying to make myself useful and sell a few things. 

You just may find a few bargains too.  Oh and if you do go, say hi!  I'm that really tall guy trying not to walk around too much and looking somewhat confused but I can help you find some things if you ask nice!

Friday, April 9, 2010

How about some desks and office equipment?

So, can we sell you a few good desks?

When I was walking through the old City Hall in Wilton Manors, I stepped into this room first.   It was the old Police Gym and at this point ended up being the repository for old office equipment.  Here you see the big pile of desks that were there for your choosing that created an interesting maze.

I managed to get through there unscathed - no knees damaged when I walked through the piles of desks, stacks of weights, tottering towers of old TVs and clumps of computers. 

Still in all, what is leftover will be sold as is by the Historical Society of Wilton Manors.  The money goes for a good cause, and you can pick up some furniture if you need it. 

I will be there having a look around and will be manning the Chairs so if you are nearby say where you heard about it.  If you don't see me, there are some truly wonderful people involved with the Historical Society who have some amazing story about this wonderful and quirky slice of paradise.  Trust me the Sale is worth it just to meet Diane, Ben, Paul, Mary and some of the others.  I count myself very lucky to share some time with them every chance I get.

Hagen Park and Old City Hall, Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL 33305
8AM to 2PM April 10th.  Saturday.

CYA There!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Anybody need a phone or three? - Picture

If I were in the telecom industry this would be a great background shot.

In Old City Hall, there was a big pile of old phones.  Apparently that is a problem everywhere with old phone hardware companies going out of business and the technology shifting over to Voice Over IP systems.

This was part of the surplus equipment that is being sold off from Old City Hall this weekend.   There's going to be a yard sale over at Hagen Park, and I'm signed on to do a shift early at the sale.  Hopefully the weather will hold out so that the sale and the proceeds will go to the Historical Society of Wilton Manors.

There are a lot of items left over and you may see something you could use.  If you have been watching this blog over the last weeks you have seen the pictures from inside Old City Hall and most of those pictures will have something that you may want.   I know there's a lot of desks and office furniture as well as filing cabinets and so forth. 

I'll get to be an early bird for this one since I'll be part of the staff.  This way if I spot something, I may beat you to it.

8 AM Saturday April 10, Hagen Park, Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL

See you there!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Many Monarchs in the Sun at the Park - Picture

A block or three over there is a little  park.  I've written about it before.   It is M.E. DePalma Park and it was a converted "part" of a lot that was too small to do anything with.

On this weekend the  weather was so amazing that I decided I'd go there and take some pictures.  It shows that in a small garden park, you can have some beautiful visitors if you just do the right plantings.

Mother Nature would be there and show off her beauty if you would just allow her.   M.E. DePalma has in her namesake park native species and the local critters have come back. 

I went out there in the sun and sat down on the bench and watched the goings on.  I got a couple of confusing glances, and waved to them all.  The WMPD looked over and made sure I was fine.   Neighbors looked out and wondered what I was up to, and watched me watch the critters.   There were small clouds of Monarch Butterflies there because of the native flowers, and the Mexican Milkweed that had been planted as food for their young.

What you see is a Monarch Caterpillar feeding on a seed pod.  This particular plant had been stripped bare of leaves by no less than 10 caterpillars on the little clump there.  No wonder why there are clouds of butterflies there in this little plot of a state named after flowers... Florida.

I got to spend an hour there as a quiet observer waiting for the butterflies to land.  They never did.   They had their own agenda and were floating around like something out of a Disney Picture.  If you get a chance, I'd say give it a go.  If you like watching them as much as I do, you will have plenty to watch.

Oh and those seed pods?  I am hoping that they re-seed that little clump of Milkweed.   The Monarchs need a place to land and my own Milkweed is a bit spare too.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Air Temp 78F, Water Temp 73F - Picture

Winter is over, folks.

We had a beautiful weekend this week.  It was so nice that we had the windows open all day, from when I got back from the AM Dog Walk And Skate until the PM Dog Walk and Skulk!

At the peak of the day, it was warm, not hot, sunny with not a cloud in the sky, and the wildlife was out and about.

Seems to me after all that cold weather, the Geckos were all out thawing their lizard blood, and I heard the songs of birds everywhere.   The flocks of Parrots have come back and there were butterflies everywhere, floating on the spring breezes.

If you are down here in South Florida, you know just how amazing the weather has been the last week.   We're expecting more like this.  Soon we'll be hitting the "Duck and Cover" season and buying dried food for the impending summer storms.

Until now, I'm enjoying it and driving home from work with the roof off the Jeep.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ever Been in a Jail Cell? - Picture

In my trip through the Old Wilton Manors City Hall, I got to wander through the entire building.

Why not?  They moved out!

But in this case, I got to see some things that I had never seen before.  In this case, it was a Jail Cell. 

I have seen Cells on TV, and before the New City Hall was officially open, on the night of the dedication, I got to see the new cells, but it really looked rather artificial.  You just don't expect places like that too look clean and shiny!

After all, the Lavatory in the new City Hall was actually cleaner than the one in my house!

This looks more like what I expected the Cells to look like.   It was dirty from bug bombs that were set off, graffitti carved into the walls, and all sorts of grunge all over the place.   I'm glad I've gotten to my current age and was so very naive as to not have been in one.
I guess that the folks weren't too happy to be in there, Right?

This was just a Holding Cell, according to what my friends on the WMPD have said to me.   Once someone gets in here and has a chance to go ahead and carve their names into the walls, they are sent off to the County Jail in Downtown Fort Lauderdale to have a chat with the Judges down there.

For the meantime, this place won't be used again for holding Drunks, DUIs, and other criminals.   They've got a nice shiny new Jail cell over at the new City Hall to carve the names into.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

M.E. DePalma Park at a perfect moment

On Good Friday 2010, at my evening walk, it was a beautiful Spring day in Wilton Manors.  The weather was absolutely perfect, not too much of anything, and everything that makes it wonderful to be outside.

I was out with my dog, Lettie, as usual at the walk, and got to the corner of the park and paused to look at something that caught my eye.   The sunlight was streaming down through the Slash Pines to the flowers that have been recently planted there and lit them to a shine.

What caught my eye was a bit of an orange flash, and I stopped at the beauty of the scene.   In the little park, there was a small flock of Monarch Butterflies rising and fluttering in the Thermals of the afternoon.  Monarch Butterflies are a creature that basically lower my IQ and make me act like a child once again.   Seeing three of them in the same small patch of Florida was amazing to me, and I and my dog stood there stuck to the spot.   I don't know what she thought of it, but I had a smile on my face and gained a feeling of calm that crowned the day perfectly.

As if to give me a blessing for being there, one of the Monarchs fluttered over and landed on the leash that was in my outstretched hand.  Neither of us moved much but the butterfly took a breather then went on its way.

I had always wondered what on earth would happen to that place.   The plot of land was too small for a house in this neighborhood.   It was left fallow and then given to the City.  It is too small to be a park to exercise in, although I suspect you could easily do Yoga or Meditate.  The Butterflies and Flowers will certainly help that. 

I had thought it might be something of a White Elephant before the park came out of its cocoon. I am quite happy I was wrong. 

It was given to the City and guided by the right person to do so.   M.E. DePalma and those who worked on the plot have shown that they know exactly what to do with a place like that. I am glad that my little city and those involved with it whether Volunteer or Elected have the knowledge and understanding to turn this into a jewel.

Thank you all.

(Picture "borrowed" from )

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cancel your credit car before you die - Humor

Cancel your credit card before you die..........(hilarious!)

Now some people are really stupid!!!!
Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die.

This is so priceless, and so, so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank.

Here is the exchange :

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'
Family Member: 'Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.'
Citibank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'
Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'
Citibank: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'

Family Member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'
Citibank: 'Excuse me?'
Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?'
Citibank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'
Citibank: (Stammer) 'Are you her lawyer?'
Family Member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.' (Lawyer info was given)

Citibank: 'Could you fax us a certificate of death?'
Family Member: 'Sure.' (Fax number was given )

After they get the fax :
Citibank: 'Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'
Family Member: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.'
Citibank: 'Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.'

(What is wrong with these people?!?)

Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'
Citibank: 'That might help...'
Family Member: ' Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'
Citibank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'
Family Member: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet???'


You wondered why Citi is going broke and need the feds to bail them out!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fire Radios left behind - Picture

When you have an old building you have things that are abandoned.  I had a chance to take some oddball pictures and this particular closet caught my eye.

I couldn't tell if it was still plugged in or turned on but there it was, sitting on some metal shelf, and old Decoder for the Fire Department.  That would be when we had a Fire Department, and probably back when we had a generation of Fire Radios back... or more.

This was in City Hall, in a little utility closet next to the offices, tucked away near the Commission Chamber.  I do not doubt it still works after a fashion, but probably turned off and left there forlorn.

Old electronic equipment fascinates me.  It it is truly old, you'll see the good stuff with Vacuum Tubes, but you hardly see any of that any more, even in a thrift shop.  This was installed before October 13, 1983 and left there ever since.   The Fire Chief would be happy to know, if he were still around, that his radio outlasted the building.

Well, Motorola did and does build good equipment.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mayor's Conference Room in Old City Hall - Picture

From the best I could tell, this is the closest to an actual Mayor's Office that the Old City Hall had.  There may be another room that was used, but this little ante-room was right off the Commission Chambers and was labeled the Mayor's Office (or so I remember).

I never saw it in use by the Mayor or any of the Commissioners, but it looked like it got some serious use over the years.  It was resplendent in 1970s paneling and had no windows.   The desk you see was standard size, and you can see the credenza just behind it.  On the right wall there's a book case and that should give you some idea of how small this room was.   I put it at about 10 feet square.  100 square feet of cramped office.   While Yes, it is a small town, I would say this would be a bit too minimalist for our city.   I actually felt claustrophobic being in that room.