Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kendrick Meek in Wilton Manors

Yesterday I attended a Get Out The Vote rally at City Hall in Wilton Manors.

I was able to see Kendrick Meek speak on MSNBC and all the local TV stations, and I think he said pretty much exactly what he should have said.

Debbie Wasserman-Shultz on the other hand proved that she doesn't understand Wilton Manors and if she's going to inject herself in local politics she should study who she's supporting...

This was the second Get Out The Vote rally that was held in the early voting season here.   I'm glad that we're finished with Early Voting because from what I've heard around 1/2 of the people who are expected to vote have already done so.  It also means that we won't have any more spectacles like these rallies.

Why I'm calling it a spectacle is that if you watch how it has been called, and who has been called to the rally - it is strictly a partisan event.  It was called by the desperate current Mayor, in order to rally the troops.  

The actuality is that even in a partisan rally, once again Gary Resnick is Unsuitable and showed it in how he seeks reelection.  The first Get Out The Vote Rally was billed as a non partisan affair.  This being South Florida and Wilton Manors, it was almost exclusively a Democratic affair as well as being partially hosted by the Dolphin Democrats, a group that seems to have a purpose of getting gay candidates elected - even if the candidate is not as good a candidate as a straight one who is an ally.  It seems to me that that is skewed, and the Dolphin Dems are doing some very good straight candidates a strong disservice by not supporting them.

I got to see State Senator Chris Smith mishandle the election by supporting the Clueless Gary Resnick in such a rude and diffident manner that I won't be voting for this person in any future elections.  The Imperious manner he brushed off questions of his support proves that he does not care about local elections, and the people who he support left me question his capability to lead.

Had the Tea Party been there, it would have been a more appropriate time than it was yesterday. 

I had arrived to the rally about 15 minutes early to speak with Candidate for the City Commission, Steve Zollo and Current Commissioner Ted Galatis and both people are a pleasure to speak with.  Fascinating individuals, if you ever get a chance to speak with them by all means do.

Up comes the fringe radicals the Tea Party and they start to surround Steve Zollo and myself with their bizarre signs and claims.  These signs were questioning all sorts of things from the legitimacy of the current federal government to what Stephanie Miller would call Shaking Their Puny Fists In Anger At The Sky - undirected anger at everyone and everything.  When one of them tried to set themselves up with a sign behind me, I merely looked down at them and they backed off.  It seems that lunatics don't like being stared at.  Steve Zollo was audibly and visibly disturbed and I said, Loudly, "Don't worry Steve, it won't be the first time I had to work Security at an event!".  At that point the Lunatic Fringe redeployed further away from me and Steve.

Steve decided to go talk to Ted under the tree near where the legitimate candidates set up and called to me to come over.  Saying that I had lived long enough in South Florida to appreciate the shelter of a good shade tree, I relocated next to Mr Zollo and Galatis and continued an engaging conversation as the rest of the people gathered.

The rally got started with Kendrick Meek arriving to one clown with a bullhorn chanting his name, OK, Fine it's a Political Rally but it's a small area, decidedly overkill.  They tried to get Mr Meek and the crowd excited, but the reality was that this being a small town, there really weren't that many people there.  Press outnumbered the locals at least 3 to 1, and the locals that were there were all involved in the elections or like me - volunteers.

None of that dissuaded the affable Kendrick Meek, and the questions started with the inevitable one about whether he should withdraw from the US Senate Race.

If I had seen Kendrick Meek before I had voted, I would have immediately been convinced to vote for Meek.  Assuming that what he had said was completely true, Charlie Crist had called him three times over the last two days to try to convince Meek to remove himself from the race.   The Rumored call from ex President Bill Clinton had not come to try as well.  When Crist finally got to talk to Meek, the conversation was basically Crist saying "If you drop out, I win".   Charlie Crist, that was a call that should have happened before Early Voting had started... at this point not only has the horse already left the barn, but has run a race and won the Kentucky Derby.  

Timing, Mr Crist is everything and you certainly blew that one.

One thing that stuck in my mind said by Kendrick Meek was that Charlie Crist was a Republican for many years, chose not to fight the Ultra Right Leaning Marco Rubio  and declared himself a convenient Independent.  Kendrick Meek declared himself a "True Democrat" and would fight for "Democratic Values" and then said "What exactly does Charlie Crist Stand For?".   After hearing that I was wondering myself.

As disastrous as a Senator Marco Rubio would be for the rights of Floridians with his near Fascist leanings with stated policies of his working to reverse "Roe v. Wade", the other choice would be the moral quicksand that a Charlie Crist would present.   What does he stand for indeed?

After Meek Left, the publicity hound, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz took stage and asked for her own support.  She said basically nothing of what she stood for, put up a wall of sound, muttered some support for Gary Resnick and then left.   I got more of what she stood for after the cameras were off when she offered Kendrick Meek some of her sandwich.  That showed a more endearing side than her public persona.  Debbie, go with it, the warmth will win you more than supporting an unfit Gary Resnick.

After Debbie left the little area, the cameras left, and Gary Resnick was left alone to speak to his shoes and the locals and even the Tea Party radicals left spouting more of their agenda which included homophobia, xenophobia (round up all THOSE people and send them home), and a circle the wagon mentality that left me wondering if I could borrow a flack jacket from the Wilton Manors PD.

Once again, Gary Resnick was left alone as his supporters were nowhere to be seen.  There were more people there supporting the candidates that pledged to co-operate as the weak support that Resnick had melted away like an empty table at a Business Association meeting.  If Mr Resnick gave a speach, it was ineffective with a weak delivery.  I can't honestly say what he had said, as people simply decided to get out of the bright sunlight and move away.

Once finished, true to form, Gary Resnick headed away very quickly with a couple mumbled slams at his competition, Joe Angelo.  The Passive-Aggressive approach does not win friends and is never completely effective, and I've seen this approach from Mr Resnick before, personally. 

Two years ago, I was standing at a door at Wilton Manors Elementary School auditorium where the debates had just finished.   It was a chance to meet the candidates of that day, and this was when Mr Resnick was running for Mayor the last time.   I was holding the door waiting for my partner to arrive so we could leave and he said as he walked past  "I'm surprised you don't support me" and kept moving.  It was a throwaway comment from a throwaway politician.  He hasn't changed from that day.  Hopefully he'll be back to being a private citizen on November 3, we just can't afford to have him reelected - there is just too much work that needs to be done with this ineffective man at the helm.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Spooktacular

Celeste was right.  She knows what I'll enjoy.

In this case I was with the Wilton Manors Rec Volunteers helping out at this year's Halloween Spooktacular.

This was an event that was primarily for the kids.  In some cases, the kids were well into their 50s and 60s but that didn't matter.  

I got to watch the City Wilton Manors Leisure Services Director, Patrick Cann in a Pirate Outfit act as an Emcee for the Halloween costume contest.  I will say that he looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself, without an "Arrrr!" in sight!  There were costume classes for different age groups from the Adults down to the Kids and everyone did seem to be having a good time.

Celeste introduced me to the rest of the Rec Volunteer board and we sat about displaying the prizes for the later Cake Walk... a contest that takes a fair amount of description on it's own.  The prizes for the Cake Walk were on the order of 86 boxes of cakes, cookies, pies, fudge and other assorted sweet gifts.  This being the main event, the wares were on display for the entire evening until the Cake Walk begun.

Since I arrived at 7pm, and the Cake Walk was not scheduled to begin until 8:30pm, I had some time to explore the grounds at Wilton Manors Elementary School.   I had forgotten just how big the place was since usually I'm driving past it on the way to or from somewhere.   It fills a city block and the athletic grounds were a large enough size that I had a feeling that is a rare one in Urbanized South Florida - I felt exposed.  Usually there are so many trees, plantings and homes when you're in any given town here that everything feels close and intimate.   The grounds were our own little version of Montana Big Sky country where you were away from the trees, away from the buildings and you could see the thunderstorms off in the distance west of I-95 that night.  

The grounds themselves were covered with two Bounce Houses, an inflatable slide, some small bleachers and the basketball court but they didn't give the impression of being crowded.   Add to it the four large orange parking cones to square off the Cake Walk grounds and you have the scene.

For a little bit more than two hours, I enjoyed the hospitality of Celeste Ellich and the ladies of the Rec Volunteers, as well as running into my friends on the Wilton Manors City Commission and some of the electoral hopefuls.  Knowing all of them I had no problem finding something to do or someone to talk to. 

Rounding out the group was the Taste of the Island sponsored snack stand where grilled Burgers and Hot Dogs as well as some bags of chips and soda could be had.  No dogs were grilled to make the hot dogs.

As time went on, people would buy a ticket for a chance at the Cake Walk and stop over to eye the prizes.  I caught myself eying the perfect little white cakes with a single rose or the yellow iced round layer cakes.  So did a lot of people, and the kids weren't shy about wanting one.   There was one particular lady that wanted the German Chocolate Cake and asked us to pray for her to win the cake.  Divine intervention was not to be found because someone else eventually got the cake in the first round of the Cake Walk.

The rules of the Cake Walk were simple, but logistically complex.  The grounds were covered with hundreds of hopefuls.  Everyone was lined up on that big square and they had their tickets.   Each ticket you bought was worth one try at a prize.  The music would play and everyone would shuffle around the square and when the music stopped so did you.   A number and a direction was called and then the officials would count the number of people from the cone you stood in the proper direction.   Left 10 meant the person on this leg of the square that was left of the cone that was 10 people away would get a Winner's ticket and get to choose a prize.   If you had bought another ticket you could get back in line.   Each time the music stopped, four more people got to choose a prize.

Simple right?   Not completely.  Americans being an independent lot tended to bend the rules somewhat, one particular woman didn't show for her prize immediately.  she walked up to the prizes, gave it a look and wandered back into the line.   We didn't know what she was up to so I went to ask - she wanted her kid to look.  While she dawdled waiting for the kid, 200 or more people were left scratching their heads.   I managed to get her back to the prizes and she dawdled some more.  Thanks to some diplomacy from the Treasurer of the Rec Volunteers, she got motivated so we could go back to giving more prizes.

Thankfully that one person didn't win again, but others did win more than once.   The Divine Intervention prize went to a woman dressed as a Nun who won a prize for the costume plus an early cake.   She got selected a third time and came back for some cookies.  

I spotted one very large and tall man with a stack of tickets who must have had the whole block in line - and as such, he ended up winning at least six of the prize treats because at the end of the evening he was walking out with a stack of boxes held up and wedged under his chin.  He didn't drop any but I had to wonder if he made it to the car.

That was at the end of the night, and the field was deserted in another 15 minutes.   I didn't spot too many toddlers who were overwhelmed, although there are one or two in every crowd.  According to the Omaha World-Herald newspaper, the kids under 3 have a problem discriminating between real and make believe so the sight of so many scary monsters and spooky people could have overwhelmed them.  Get past 3 years old and all is well and the wonders of a child's imagination takes hold.

Go Big Red!

All in all, it was a fun and diverse crowd, lots of people in costume, lots of fun and food.  Great night out!

Friday, October 29, 2010

An Open Letter to Gary Resnick

As Mayor of Wilton Manors, in 2010, you are engaged in a difficult battle for your seat.  You have a core group of very strong and fervent supporters.  That core group would be typical to any political campaign but it seems as if some of them have decided to step over the line into illegal activities.

For the last three consecutive nights, I have awoken to my Yard Signs having been disturbed. 

This is Friday Morning.

Wednesday Morning, the signs for Celeste Ellich for Commissioner and Joe Angelo for Mayor - your competition were pulled from the ground.  I spotted this when I got up to walk the dog and thought that someone just had a little too much fun at karaoke at Boom.  It is Wilton Manors, I am very close to the Shoppes and the Bars.  I thought that perhaps it was just someone annoyed at not having "Gotten Lucky" and took it out on Joe and Celeste's Signs.

Thursday Morning, it happened again.  Celeste Ellich For Commissioner and Joe Angelo for Mayor's yard signs were pulled up.  This time I found their two signs tossed in the garden under the window in front of the house.   This I think you agree would be suspicious.  Gary, your supporters are perhaps a bit strident and trespassing is a serious crime. 

Thursday Evening, someone had replaced three signs in a row for Joe Angelo for Mayor, Celeste Ellich for Commissioner and Steve Zollo for Commissioner on a lot on NE 21 CT.  The lot had just been mowed and there was a pile of all the yard signs that had been collected.  That was obviously part of mowing the property.  On Friday Morning, all three signs were still there but had been stomped flat.

Friday Morning, today I woke up and stepped outside of the house to find Joe Angelo for Mayor and Celeste Ellich for Commissioner signs next to my porch.  Specifically someone had pulled those two signs, walked up onto the front yard, past the cars, onto my porch and wedged the signs between my hedge and the iron railing on the edge of the Cement that makes the porch. 

They were directly in front of my front door.

Why I think this is a supporter of yours, Mr Resnick is that the sign for Scott Newton for Commissioner has been undisturbed every time.  I only have to readjust it for the wind in the mornings.

I find it difficult to believe that you personally would engage in this kind of activity.  I do not believe that you are that kind of person.  It simply does not seem to be your personality to perform this sort of harassment. I prefer to believe that you have an out of control person with a wild hair supporting you going to my house, specifically, and trespassing while doing this sort of mischief.

Hopefully tomorrow morning when I go to walk my dog, I won't have to go crawling through gardens in the predawn light.  This is truly getting annoying.

Thank you Gary for your time.

I shall return to my usual pictures and writings about my dog soon, I promise.   November 3rd is coming.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Border Collie Fun is CatThumpSmile

She is resting.

A 10 year old Border Collie that shares my life.  We are in her second life now, I am still enjoying her and I am enjoying it to the fullest. 

She had an episode back in the Spring.  I don't know what caused it, the vet didn't know.  It was a month of my holding her up to take her out to do Her Business in the yard because something happened in the middle of the night that made her very unsteady and practically able to walk.  I took her to the excellent Family Pet at 2750 N Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale and they managed to get her back to normal.  If you aren't going to them, call 954-567-2500 for your friend's care.  Speak with Dr Sharon Glass or Dr Javier Gonzales and let them know that you are ready to step up for the best care in Fort Lauderdale available for your friend.  Tell them that Bill, Lettie's dad sent you.

I walked in, all 6'4" and 225 pounds, filling the doorway carrying an almost 50 pound border collie that couldn't walk, crying into her fur.  After they calmed me down, they allowed me to stay with her as they stabilized her condition and got her to where she could heal herself with a couple bottles of non steroidals.  I think I finally left after about 5 hours of brooding fragile silence on my part.  She's on Glucosamine to this day.  50 pounds and 2000mg a day. 

Now she's feeling normal.   This morning the walk was the Almost One Mile that I do three times a day and despite the rain that floated through off the ocean, she came back invigorated.

She was, I still needed my second mug of coffee.

Parking myself in the bouncy chair, mug by my side, surfing to a German pop music station at I started on my Usual Morning Job Search Routine of 1000 links, 150 pages of job fun.

Welcome isn't what I'd call this side effect of the Republican Induced Great Depression, but it is what it is.

Lettie was feeling the music.  Being a German pop station, there was a piece of music on that I remember from the local dance stations in English that was particularly bouncy.  After listening to this station for an hour I've yet to hear anything in German other than the news broadcast...

Bouncy music means Bouncy Moose.   I'm in the bouncy chair.  The Poang that amplifies every major movement I make.   Lettie bumped into the chair setting me in motion and I kept up the bounce to the beat. 

Seeing The Cat, she bounced over to it and pounced on the toy making it squeak. 

Since I was at Border Collie Height in the brown bouncy Poang, Mrs Dog insisted that it was playtime.  Never mind that yesterday between all those links and job pages, it took me 5 hours to get through the routine, She Wanted To PLAY!

I found that she wanted more than my merely grabbing the leg of the cartoonish plush creature, she was happily whipping it and my arm around like a parody of a video on the Discovery Channel where an alligator is doing the death roll on some unfortunate impala in the African Savannah.  Having almost 50 pounds of insistent black fur tugging on a plush creature, and by extension my arm, we both were bouncing to the beat. 

Border Collies are amazingly intelligent dogs.  I have never met a dog quite as intelligent as mine, and while everyone says that who owns one, the comment is almost universally true of Border Collies and similar breeds.  I don't teach her tricks, I teach behaviors.  She knows "Show Me" means for her to go and take me somewhere then look at what she wants directly.  She also knows a very light touch on the nose to be "Hello".  So while I'm bouncing to the beat, and she's starting to tire of being the engine of the chair's rocking, I decided to reach around with my right hand and lightly touch her nose.  Smiling, she then decided "Daddy Likes This" and was reenergized.

We managed to get into a feedback loop.  Anyone who has a dog knows that anything they do tends to be short duration unless they're bored and in some sort of Obsessive Compulsive state.  The also know that most Middle Aged dogs tend to sleep a lot.  I won't call her Aged like the BBC did the other day, she simply does not act it. 

Instead of her being bored with my not being up out of the chair she started over and decided to try to get that cat out of my head by whipping her head around thrashing.  It was about that time when I heard a THUMP against the supporting wooden frame.  Yes, my border collie, the smartest dog in all the world smacked her head against the chair.   Did she care?  Not at all.  She decided it was part of the game.  I pulled the cat free of her mouth and she looked at me with those deep brown eyes, smiled and did another grab for the tabby toy.

Finally after I got tired of the game I started to toss the toy against the door.  Having to run and having to get the toy back to me slowed the feedback loop down until finally she was done.

An Hour Later.

She really must have needed that hour romp.  Finally, sated, she curled up onto the mat into a Dog Ball (TM) and is resting.

It is hard to say who enjoyed that more, Lettie or Me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Commission Meeting and Wicked Weekend 2010

I attended the last Commission Meeting of the current Commission before the elections are finalized and we have some changes in the seats.  This was my view from the front row.   As such, this is my opinion.  This is not paid for by any political campaign.   This is not to be construed as a political announcement. 

Last night's commission meeting was an interesting piece of political theater. It underlined why Gary Resnick is Unsuitable for Public Office.

It started as soon as last night's commission meeting had begun. A parade of people who having insufficient knowledge of the backgrounds of the Wicked Weekend event have decided to take the Tea Party route and merely condemn without offering an appropriate solution. This proceeded through the Mayor's comments where Wilton Manors Main Street was thrown under the bus so to speak by his decidedly warped view of history. I was particularly amused by the one commenter that said that since we have people in “The Recovery Community” that we should consider having liquor companies supporting the event wrong. I suspect that this person's high moral ground extends to Professional Sports and as such he refuses to watch anything with liquor or beer advertising.

I didn't think so either.

The Mayor seems to feel that the City of Wilton Manors is going to be able to merely put together a Request for Proposal (RFP) and we will have people wearing a groove in Wilton Drive to present their plans to make Wilton Drive home to another festival.

The reality of this shows just how Clueless Gary Resnick is.

Firstly, the event appears to have its own critical mass. People will show whether or not the Mayor wants them. It is drawing people from out of town. People have commented online in chatrooms that they are coming to Wilton Manors for this event as well as Stonewall and other events. Wicked Weekend and Stonewall both are taking on the characteristics of a “Flash Mob”. The City Manager recognized it in the statement he used as well as those of Commissioner Scott Newton and Ted Galatis when they all said to the effect of People Are Coming.

Secondly, there is the Bar Factor. The bars are one of the largest industry in this city. South Florida loves a party, and the bars on Wilton Drive have figured out how to capitalize on this. The City could unilaterally decide that they will do their own thing pending an RFP but the bars will still be there. Should the bars be cut out of the planning of the event, the bars will merely open their doors and fuel the party making their own profit. Should the City decide to go into business itself and try to staff the Drive with stand alone liquor sales booths, I would expect that the bar owners would not lend any help to this event. Whether or not you like having bars on the Drive, they are there for now, and we don't see them moving off for any time to come. The City putting itself in direct competition with an established business or businesses leaves the City open to all sorts of liabilities and may find itself slapped with a lawsuit for any number of things.

Conflict of Interest, anyone?

Thirdly, consider that there have been festivals in the past that have not been able to make this work. Wilton Drive is a thoroughfare in the middle of an urban area. There are intersecting streets, back alleys, back doors, and other entry points. I personally would be entertained simply by watching the City try to close off the Drive with all those leaky entry points especially with them having to maintain traffic through the core of a party that is currently expected to have 30,000 people! Since there is no practical way to close off the Drive with gates in order to charge festival goers for entry, how would the City expect any other entity to do so. After all, it is a public, state road and if someone wants to cross the road in a chicken costume, how can you justifiably charge them for the privilege?

I would welcome this effort. I am sure that the chaos that would ensue would put another nail in the incompetent Mayor's political coffin. The list of people that came out to speak against Wilton Manors Main Street with little idea of what actually went on to produce the festivals that are held here was not very long, and for the most part political contributors to the Mayor's own personal campaign. Hopefully the money that they contributed will be a waste. Gary Resnick is bad for the City of Wilton Manors and the political theater and the mind games that have been displayed in the run up to the election have been many. I for one am looking forward to Mr Resnick having a retirement party on November 3, 2010 as he is voted out of office once and for all. At that point maybe we will have a city government that is committed to work together on the future of Wilton Manors instead of blatantly pulling it apart for their own purposes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Clavicle Fracture? Been there, Broke that

I used to ride a motorcycle.  It was one of the most liberating ways to get around.  Back in the 90s, Philadelphia PD used to have a policy of hands off when it came to parking a Motorcycle on a sidewalk as long as you didn't block it.   Maintain passage and the police would watch your bike.

I had a Honda Goldwing Interstate that I rode all over the place.   Before they made them into a car with two wheels, the 'Wing took me from my home to the Jersey Shore, the Pine Barrens, up into the Poconos and the Epic Trip from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale, then down to Key West. 

Assuming you get back alive, a trip like that will change your views on many things.  When I think of South Carolina, I rattle through my memories, but I drift back to my riding down I-95 at 70-plus MPH in the Pee Dee Swamp with the radio blaring and being passed by people waving at me.  It felt like flying.  

A beautiful drive at any time, here's one that takes some planning.  Leaving the Florida Keys, plan to hit the Seven Mile Bridge at sunset heading South on US1.  By the time you get to the crest of the bridge, you are greeted by the sun first extinguishing itself in the Gulf of Mexico, then the stars coming out as if God himself sprinkled the sky with millions of Fireflies and Stars.

That all came to an end one night.  I was riding home from visiting friends in Center City Philadelphia.  There are a lot of old Trolley tracks that are disused.  Being a big city, the tracks were also poorly maintained.   The front wheel of the big bike got caught in the tracks and I went down.   The jacket I had snagged on the pavement and wrenched my shoulder.   Sitting dazed on the ground, the police and EMTs were called, and they convinced me to go to the Jefferson Hospital in Old City.  Keeping me longer than they really needed to, they sent me on my way diagnosing my broken shoulder blade, clavicle, and I rode the bike back to Mom's House in Cherry Hill, one handed, in a brace.  Shortly thereafter the family ganged up on me and coerced me into selling that bike.

I'm reading that the Dallas Cowboys Quarterback took a hit and his clavicle broke.   According to the doctors at the time, the clavicle is the easiest bone to break.  That break can happen if you're hit "Just So".  He'll be in a brace for a while, then have to go through some physical therapy.  I don't know if he's going to be back playing football as that bone won't be quite as strong as it was - I'm sitting here decades later and I'm conscious of my left shoulder without touching it as it feels "different".  On the other hand will certainly be able to live a "normal" life.   

I'd say the 6 to 8 weeks is a good prediction as to how long he has to nurse that break until it knits.   After that, who knows.  After all, Pro Football Players are multimillionaires.  I'd suspect he's under massive pressure to get back in the game.  It's a punishing game, I have to wonder if that first game may not re-break the bone.  Next year would be better, but I doubt he'll have that luxury.

Good luck, Tony Romo.  You'll survive the break, and the recovery will be interesting.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fundraisers are fun when Naomi is the host

Thank you Naomi Parker.

Yesterday I was at the fundraiser for Joe Angelo for Mayor , Celeste Ellich for Commissioner and Steve Zollo for Commissioner - all for the City of Wilton Manors.

At least I think it was officially for those three...

But I am getting ahead of myself. 

Every neighborhood has its share of Characters.  Interesting people that make life better by their being there.  I hadn't had the distinct PLEASURE (Get that?  I can't stress it enough!) of meeting Naomi Parker before.  She lives within walking distance of me, I've walked Mrs Dog past her house thinking that she's done nice work on her property, but I never knew that the beauty on the outside was outshone by the beauty of this warm woman's love and hospitality. 

Naomi is one of those people that when you say you hadn't met her you hear "You mean you haven't Met NAOMI?" in tones of awe of the experience you will have as you get to know this gem of a person.  Naomi is a warm and giving person who seems to be the "Earth Mother" of that side of the Central Neighborhood.  One of those people who seems to know everyone and lives her life by making them feel cared for, Naomi opened her house to me and mine, and the political people last night. 

Oh did I say she made some of the best Barbecue I've had and I'm making it my own personal quest to find some of the best.  You know you're in for some good food when you spot that smoke from a block away and sniff that tang of a barbecue grill on the air.  This thing was easily 10 feet long of grilling potential.  Forget your Weber's folks, Naomi doesn't mess around!

The warmth of Naomi and her friends was apparent as people in the neighborhood floated past the house all evening.  She started us off with the food and she'd introduce us to the neighbors, offer them some of her specialties, and set us on the right track.

That was a perfect analogy to the evening.  Warmth and Inclusiveness.

For the entire time I was there, the yard was filled with friends and family.  Everyone welcome, everyone enjoying themselves.  I'm skipping a breakfast that I don't need because she had so much on the table that was so wonderful.

As the group grew to its peak, I was asked what I would write about in this posting.  I looked around at the crowd and pointed out that I was looking at a group of people who are competitors in the current elections, at no point did the number of electoral hopefuls fall below 4 out of 7 for the municipal election.  Every one of them were chatting like they were old friends.

As a Project Manager, I was looking at it from the "Team Building" angle.   I realized if I were their boss, I would have had no work building the team.  These people were all able to work together, talk, and not compete.  It was an interesting view, as I pointed it out to the people gathered.  Celeste Ellich had said that "that was the way we wanted it."  For the most part, the City Commission does work together, fairly well.  With some notable exceptions, the people on the Dais every two weeks are there to co-operate and not play schoolyard games.

I would say that the fundraiser was a success.  It started at 4pm, and I left after 7pm which was it's official ending time.  Despite being turned into a pincushion by hungry mosquitoes (this is South Florida after all), I didn't want to leave.  There were good friends, good food and good times.  I can't say enough good about the time. 

The bottom line is that if you haven't voted, I can easily say that any of the people that were there last night were deserving of your vote.  

The list would be as follows:

For Mayor - Joe Angelo
For the 4 Year Commission Seats - Pick 2 of 3
Ted Galatis, Scott Newton, and Steve Zollo
For the 2 Year Commission Seat - Celeste Ellich

Thank you again Naomi!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Unstuffed Skunk Border Collie Toy

No rant today, I'm ranted out for now...

Walking through the minefield back to the bouncy chair, I noticed the floor.

There were little piles of white fluff everywhere. 

Looking down at my stocking feet, past the coffee mug, the culprit was spotted.   A Bored Border Collie.

Usually when I find fluff, I pick it up, and toss it into the trash bin.  The house has fur in the corners, dog foot prints on the "Show Everything" beige tile floors, and to add insult to injury the Parrot has a habit of eating "al fresco".   I could run the vacuum twice a day and never quite get all the mess up. 

The fluff tells me that I have to get out needle and thread and sew the seams back up.  I have a dog that loves her Frankenstein scarred toys.   She's one of those dogs that likes soft toys.  She will grab a leg or a tail and shake the thing around not caring that she'll brain herself.  It is probably best that way.  I have given her soft toys since she gave up on the Tennis Balls that I gather from around the courts at Hagen Park.  There's a bucket of those on the front porch that are waiting for Baby Girl The Friendly Pit Bull across the street or any other deserving dog that may need them.  

A Helpful Hint... if you have a tennis ball that needs to be cleaned off try the dishwasher or toss it in with the laundry.   If you do put it in the laundry, your clothes will be naturally softened and the tennis ball will come out fresh and ready for a new coat of slobber and floor grunge.

A Second Helpful Hint... Now that you have cleaned the tennis ball off in the washer, grab a knife and make an incision in it.  Make the incision slightly longer than a piece of your dog's favorite food.  For my Lettie, I usually try for something slightly wider than my thumb.   The result is now you have a place to put the dog food in that bounces.  I've fed Lettie that way when I want her to be preoccupied with something while I make my own dinner.

But back to that unstuffed toy.   The skunk has been around for a while, taken a couple trips through the washer and has been refilled with other stuffing.  It is scarred and ripped... I think this time it won't survive the trip.  Friends here, knowing that I have One Of Those Soft Toy Dogs will give me little plush things to give her.   I toss them in with my weekly laundry and then give the toys to her.  They briefly become her favourite thing, but she keeps returning to the same few toys.   That blasted semi-shredded skunk.

We call it "Road Kill" the skunk.  When it was fully stuffed, she'd had a habit of leaving it on its back with the legs sticking up in the air. The first time I walked in the house after we gave it to her, it sat, upside down in the middle of the beige floor with beady eyes staring back at me pleading mutely in my mind to save it from being chewed.  It was that time when Lettie bounded over to the door, grabbing the skunk in her path and making the electronics squeak at me.   Who knew Skunks could make noise?  I sure didn't!

Now with half the stuffing left, it is sitting in the hallway bent at an odd angle, fur all spiked with dog slobber and looking sad.   It won't survive another voyage to Lake Bosch.  It lost the electronics a while ago when they became a rattle then the pieces fell out in a short bit of flapping about one day.   I'm still finding white pieces of plastic in strange places.  I never was all that effective at using the vacuum either but with a dog, I can cover.

Or so I tell myself.

Her favorite toy was a grey squirrel.  She had that one for more than a year grabbing it by the tail and flapping it around dizzily.  After she savaged it, she'd place it carefully next to her mat and curl up into a dog ball.   Odd way to treat your toys, one moment it was to be shredded like an outside squirrel, the next your baby, but that is Dog Logic (TM).  Her sleep mat in the master bedroom has a ring of dog toys around it so she can keep an eye on them as if they were the puppies she never had.   I guess the ol' girl is feeling broody.

On the next trip to the kitchen, for the next mug of coffee, I pick up the next pile of fluff.   I stuffed it back into the skunk hoping it would stay there for a while giving the thing a little more life, but no... it popped back out.  It will go into the bin and Mrs Dog will have one less toy for a while.  

Not to worry, there's a box in the hall closet marked "Dog" in sharp black lettering with future furry treasures for her to shred.   If only I could get her to stop coveting my plush duck decoy...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wilton Manors Electoral Debates

Last night at Wilton Manors' Hagen Park was the debate of the election season.  I do not know of any more opportunities for people to have heard their future elected officials speak before they get a chance to vote.

Looking around the space, I noticed that this year there were fewer people in attendance than there were in the last election of 2008.   Partly because Barack Obama and the chance to reclaim our nation from the Fascism that was the Bush years energized us with Hope.   Partly because early voting meant many have made their decisions and are sitting this night out.

This was for those of you who haven't voted yet.   The early voting is at the Commission Chambers at City Hall, 2020 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors.   I believe that it is available for people through the entire county.  The chambers look strange without the rows of chairs waiting for a commission meeting and rows of little blue plastic stalls and they will remain that way until November 3rd.  My suggestion is to go vote and beat the rush.

Last night we were able to hear everyone speak off the cuff.   They were given questions and timed on their responses.   Commissioner Scott Newton and I seem to be cut from the same cloth - we're both wordy.  It was amusing to hear him get cut off by the person holding the stop watch, Nick Boyko.  There were a couple times where Scott found his muse and really got into the subject and then "TIME!"... I wouldn't have minded hearing him speak just a little longer on those.

This is what I saw from the front row, it is my opinion and nothing more.  I was not paid for this, although I did have some people who are local readers who are not running for office insist that I write my thoughts down.  I will reiterate, THIS IS OPINION, AND UNPAID.  THIS IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS A POLITICAL ANNOUCNEMENT.

There were two on the panel that were less comfortable than the famed Nixon vs JFK Debates or the "I am not a crook" Speech by Nixon. 

Mayor Gary Resnick looked out of place.   For someone who has had the position for two years, he has been widely seen as a dysfunctional and ineffective mayor.  Admittedly I find his recent actions at the Spirit Vigil reprehensible when he turned the vigil into a political rally.  I am ashamed for his lack of propriety in that situation.  Last night he proved that he was not up to the task.  His nerves were showing strongly as he sat there fidgeting through the two hours of the debate sweating as if it were overheating - it was not, I was freezing , and darting his eyes around as if he got caught with his hands in the cookie jar.   He was as he always was and the City has noticed his antics. Hopefully this will move him onto his next career.   Answers that were given were highly reactive instead of pro-active, indirect and evasive he acted like that smacked dog that flinches when you pet him.

The other person who did not belong up there was Julie Carson.  If Resnick's electioneering at the Spirit Vigil were reprehensible, Carson's actions were obscene.  That having been said, she had to do something to tone down her hard edges, she truly looks like someone who is out to get someone.  Of course that is all bravado.  Carson is an empty suit.  She would get started talking and you would quickly realize that she doesn't know what on earth she is talking about.   This person would be a disaster if she got elected.  The circular logic and incompetent reasoning had me wondering how many gallons of cheap coffee she swilled before getting up on that dais.  There was a rhythm to her speech.  She'd get started to speak and rapidly run out of steam doubling back and second guessing herself.  This is a behavior I witnessed when she was mistakenly on the City Commission before and she would hack into somebody and trail off into complete confusion.  This person has nothing to add to the discussion of City Government and needs to go back to her day job - clearly, Julie Carson is Unsuitable for Public Office.

The Four Year seat is currently up for grabs.  There are two positions and three people that are running for the office.  In contrast to the incompetence of Gary Resnick and the completely unsuitable Julie Carson, I found the three running for the Four Year Seat to be a pleasant discussion among people who were content to be with each other and hash out problems in a co-operative manner.   It came out that the newest to the bunch, Steve Zollo was actually coached to run for the office by current office holder Ted Galatis (no website).  It is hard to argue when your competition thinks that you belong in the post.  Steve and Ted both are joined by Scott Newton, an affable business person who is always entertaining while he explains away some arcane piece of public policy in a way that is engaging and will be easy to understand by someone who is not as involved as I or some of the other volunteer corps are.   Ted Galatis brings to the discussion the precision of his Lawyer's background and rounds out the triplet.

The other person running for the Two Year seat is Celeste EllichCeleste is a warm and caring individual who I have had the privilege to know for the last four years.  She has run before and tells people in her own "home spun" style that she has some problems with public speaking.  I'm going to ask Celeste to stop saying that because after watching Celeste in action, I aspire to be as good a public speaker as she was.   Celeste was the equal to the best up there and brings to the table a depth of knowledge that only someone who has more than 2 Decades of Public Service in a volunteer capacity could.   Celeste's knowledge of the Real Estate market will be a strongly needed asset to the City Commission especially in view of the G Resort controversy and the future zoning changes that will be needed in moving the City forward as a Jewel in South Florida instead of our lurching forward under the current administration like a ship without a rudder.   Celeste will bring stability and deep consideration of issues with her.   I highly recommend anyone to get to know this person, I am truly happy I do.

I have saved the best for last.  Joe Angelo.  Joe was easily the strongest speaker last night.   Listening to Mr Angelo was like listening to a concert violin virtuoso playing a Stradivarius.  Well thought out, and often humorous anecdotes would pepper a discussion that illustrates a deep understanding of current, past and future challenges to the City.  I found it particularly instructive to watch the others on the panel when Joe spoke.  I noticed them listening intently at what Joe had to say for something that they missed, and I caught each one at one time or another nodding in agreement.   Joe has an openness that is quite refreshing and a willingness to listen to people.  While he may not agree with what you are saying, he certainly will give you the opportunity to state your case and when you are through you will understand exactly why he feels the way he did and the thoughts that were necessary to come to his conclusions.  Like his election ribbons say "Go Joe!".  Joe Angelo will be a wonderful and energetic Mayor, and that is exactly what we will need to clean up the mess of his predecessor. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wilton Manors Spirit Vigil for Teen Suicides or Political Rally?

This is NOT a political advertisement.
This has NOT been paid for by any candidate.
This IS a personal opinion, and expresses my feelings that people who were bullied and harassed to death should NOT be used for purposes as offensive as this.

Last night I went to the Teen Suicide vigil in front of the Alibi.  It was promising to be a time for people to vent their frustration that so many Teens and Adults feel that the only way to escape the torture of being bullied and harassed for being different was to take the final solution and step into the long night.

Like anything in Wilton Manors, things are somewhat different here.  There was your usual contingent of people with Purple hair, although since this was Wear Purple Day to support those who need to know they're not alone, there were more out there and there was a good reason to do it.

The Vigil began at 7pm with the Gay American Heroes Foundation beginning to give a talk on the many people around this country who paid the ultimate price for being different.  It was not just gay teens that were remembered, it was straight kids who were merely different, and perceived as being an object to pick on.

There was problem of the curious choice of opening speaker – the current Mayor, Gary Resnick.  Mr. Resnick has just done his own bit of bullying by visiting the home of 70-something Diane Cline.  It seems that Mr Resnick's own political campaign is going so badly that he has to visit a frail old woman and bully her by accusing her of stealing his yard signs.  If you want to chose someone to represent what a bully actually is, our current Mayor is an excellent choice.   He learned at the hands of his tormentors.   Mr Resnick gave an approximately 10 minute talk about how difficult it was to be a gay teen and how he hid in the closet and did not come out until he was 27.  Then he followed by recounting the story of his male partner's failed marriage to a woman done so that he could cover.

Perhaps he should have listened more carefully to his own story because after that he completely forgot all he said and turned it political.  He said that he thought he should continue to be mayor in Wilton Manors because of this experience.  What he in fact did at this point was to dance on the graves of each of these teens by offensively twisting the vigil to his own needs.

Mr Gary Resnick – Unsuitable for Public Office.

This was followed by some brief talks by others and the introduction of “Former (Temporary Interim) Commissioner Julie Carson”.  Julie Carson took the stage and launched into a diatribe of what she thought were her strengths, what she thought she should be able to do in office that she is running for again, and why she thought you should vote for her.   It seems that she wants to be elected the Commissioner for the Lesbian community in Wilton Manors.   Unless I miss my guess, Julie, there is no such office.   Wilton Manors is more than 50% Heterosexual.  Assuming that Kinsey is right, that would mean that another 40% are Gay or Bisexual Men.  You really don't want the rest of our support and you do not deserve it.  This is a DIVERSE city.  We ALL work together to make it better, not just ONE GROUP!

After Julie Carson gave that tirade and whipped her fans into a frenzy and offended the rest of us she gave short shrift to the purpose of the Vigil.   In no more than two sentences she returned to the subject of Teen Suicide and moved on.   It was an obvious afterthought.

Mrs Julie Carson – Unsuitable for Public Office.

This was NOT a political Rally.  Both Julie Carson and Gary Resnick hijacking the vigil for their own sad political stunts was an offense to every person in need.   It was an offense to the thinking person that these two shallow people would be elected to office.  Gary Resnick has presided over a City Commission as mayor for two years of inaction, sluggish response, and bad decision making.   The energy of the decision making process on the City Commission has moved from being that of the Mayor leading the Commission to the Commission clearly leading the Mayor.   The position of Mayor is a leadership position and Gary Resnick Does Not Know How To Lead.

There also is the story of how Julie Carson had her term on the Commission back a while ago and was a complete mess.   She felt that it was appropriate to micromanage every individual that came before her and at one point proceeded to shred the City Attorney in questioning.   The end result was almost every time that she was speaking we were treated to a rant of circular logic that would confuse even an Einstein.  When through she was patted on the head figuratively and they merely moved on.   This woman was a distraction that most thinking people involved were happy to see move on her way.

For those reasons and more, I am thoroughly ashamed that Julie Carson is involved in City Politics.  

I strongly recommend that you take Mrs Carson's advise – learn about her competition, as well as the competition for the Mayor's race against Mr Resnick.   In both cases you will find people who are highly competent and ready to lead.  They also are not going to use the suicides of others as a political talking point to further their own questionable career.

I am deeply embarrassed for the city and for anyone involved in that offense that happened in the parking lot.   I was so offended by the actions of Mrs Carson and Mr Resnick that I had to leave early. 

Make sure this doesn't happen again and vote for
Joe Angelo for Mayor and Celeste Ellich for City Commission of Wilton Manors.

This is NOT a political advertisement.
This has NOT been paid for by any candidate.
This IS a personal opinion, and expresses my feelings that people who were bullied and harassed to death should NOT be used for purposes as offensive as this.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'll be Wearing Purple Today

In support of every person who has ever gotten picked on, every child who is bullied in a school yard for being different, no matter what that difference was,  I will be wearing Purple.

It isn't just the spate of gay teens that had had enough of being bullied every day by people that think it was acceptable because a sick and twisted version of a "religion" has told them it is right to pummel them every day when school lets out.  It just isn't right that it happens, ever. 

Being bullied is not a character building exercise.  It is violence.  It leads a child who should be brought up to strive to be the next Einstein to underachieve or to even take their lives because people around them didn't care enough to notice that something went wrong. 

It is not normal to be taunted because you are of a "different" religion.
It is not normal to be beat up after school because you have different hair color.
It is not normal to be harmed because you are not in the in crowd because of some sick and twisted arbitrary standard.

It will get better, trust me.

I had went to a Catholic High School.  The place had a tradition of hazing by upperclassmen upon the freshmen when they got in.  It was well known by the school hierarchy of teachers and counselors and ignored.  I watched each of my friends and co-classmen get picked on by a motley crew of some pretty underachieving students.   They got to me in Sophomore year.  I had my own problems and didn't need that.

I also stopped that tradition, personally. 

One of the ring leaders decided that one day he'd hassle me on the way to class.   It was right before the Christmas Break and it occurred to me that he didn't have the right.   I got through that and went to class and had two weeks to think about it.  He was short, fat and not that good looking and felt he could take it out on everyone else.   Typical for someone like that - in a dog it is called Fear Aggression, the common displacement of your own inadequacies on others.

Two weeks later, I met the same dumpy little guy and had had quite enough.  He started by slowing me down by grabbing the jacket that I had to wear as a part of going to this hallowed institution.  They should have paid more attention to the character of the students than what they wore, but that is typical of most institutions of that sort. 

What Mr Short and Dumpy didn't realize was that I had my growth spurt.  Over the two weeks of the christmas holiday, I grew 2 inches in height.  Somehow, subconsciously I realized this and subconsciously I knew I had more power than before.  

He hung on by my jacket and I stopped.   In front of an open locker, I turned around grabbed him by the shoulders and slammed him inside and locked him in.  The rest of the wolf pack scattered.

Going to Homeroom, the word went around and everyone was silent, including the teacher.  They all knew what happened. 

Over the intercom, the Dean of Students read a list of two names, Mine and the Bully.

When at the Dean's office I was asked Two Simple Questions:
Did You Do It? "Yes"
Would You Do It Again? "Absolutely"

Thank you, you can go back to class.

He got two weeks of detention.

I went on to single handedly break the tradition of hazing in Camden Catholic High School of Cherry Hill NJ.

So you see if you're being bullied and think you're alone, you are not.   People notice.  Once in a while that kid who is being picked will make a difference and make things better.   You will get through it.  

Even if you are in a backwater of a town where you're the only one - what ever that is, you will get through it.  You will realize that it isn't YOUR problem, it is Theirs.  Once you're out of school you can make up your own mind whether you really need to stay in such a place.  After all the big cities are typically much more openminded since they have to be.  Join a crowd and no matter what your difference, you will find someone just like you.   If the town only has 1600 people, it is easier to stick out.

I hear that today's schools have a zero tolerance policy in effect toward bullying in many places.  It is very different than when I went through that particular hell that was Camden Catholic High School and left my own stamp on their society.  Even with Diversity training, Teachers are not perfect.  Most are underpaid and undermotivated.  There were a few at CCHS that were shining examples of the philosophy of what a Teacher should strive to be, it wasn't ALL bad even if at times it felt it was.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the suicide of the Gay people across the country for various kinds of bullying.  The videotaping of the guy at Rutgers was offensive in many ways.   There are people who will be bullied tomorrow, but at least now it is in everyone's mind to try to stop it.

It won't stop but there is no reason why it should be so bad that someone will feel the need to kill themselves.

You will get through it.  I did. 

Don't go silently though - make sure that people who say they care about you know what you are going through.  Going through things alone will only make things harder to deal with.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Mornings are Made For Disco

It is a beautiful day here.  After the dog walk, I threw open the windows and started on the routine of the day.  Once the house quieted down, it got too quiet so I put on Diva Disco for a bit.

The neighborhood hadn't quite decided to start making the normal sounds of small engines, lawn tools, and the occasional truck.  Not that it has conscious control over it, but all was fairly quiet. 

As things woke up, I inched the radio louder, into the Parrot Zone.   I have an Orange Wing Amazon that I share this house with.  I have had him since 1986 so he's old enough to vote but since he doesn't have opposable thumbs that won't happen.  He's my hearing protector.  When the radio is too loud, he starts chattering at it.  Really crank that radio up to blow out the windows and Oscar is screaming.

Oscar can be a grouch you see...

I have learned just where to keep the volume so that Oscar's quiet, the music is reasonable, and I'm not disturbing the neighbors.  After all, it's after 9 in the morning so we're all up.

Walking from room to room, the music just barely loud enough to hear in the laundry via the open windows on the car port and the small door in the laundry, I'm listening to a track as I gather the wash from the racket that the dryer is making.

Padding out into the main part of the house, I get a clear view of the street as I am heading out to the bedroom to lay things out on the bed to allow them to relax.  The breezes of the South Florida Morning are cool to the touch on my arms while I smooth things out. 

I put away the socks and some of the other clothes that don't need to be folded, and begin to walk out to the living room.   The track was still playing, Harry Thumann - Underwater.  If you haven't heard it, its one of those Late Disco Era songs that has a lush enough sound bed that you could practically walk on the percussion as it skips across the pond of the still morning air like a stone.  Can you tell I liked it?

Apparently so did someone else because as the music swelled, and I went back out into the front room, I looked outside.  There was someone out in my swale, with his dog, bobbing his head to the beat of my music.

Ok, Oscar wasn't chattering, but this dude was doing the disco dance at 9 in the morning on the street in front of his house as he picked up after his dog.  I was smiling as I walked up to the front window and just watched him bounce around lightly to the Disco Beat.  Once a DJ, Always a DJ I guess...

He spotted me, waved and smiled, and went on his way.  I walked back to the big green chair with a laugh and turned the music down just a little bit.

Oh wait, Alec R Constandinos is on Diva... let me turn this just a little louder...  Shaddap Oscar!  I'll turn it down!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Friendly Pitbulls Do Exist

It is my fervent hope that anyone who mistreats a dog comes back in a future life as a dog and gets exactly the same treatment.  Karma.

When I moved here I had some very common misconceptions.  I remember walking to the train home through a rather questionable neighborhood and watched a Pit Bull trot down the street toward the "abandoned area" on the wrong side of the tracks.  She was clearly post-partum, covered with hundreds of ticks, and was getting ready to go back to her pups and nurse them.   Stray dogs in the city have a hard life.   Stray Pit Bulls in Philadelphia are almost immediately "put to sleep".  Needless to say I kept my phone in my pocket.  Whether that was the right thing to do or not, I am not sure.

Every home should be a caring home.  That is true for Dogs, Cats, and People.  Love really does make a family, and if Heather has two mommies, it is clearly none of your business as long as Heather is Happy.  No matter what Heather is.

I moved here and for a while I had heard horror stories.  I no longer consider leaving the dog in the car while I dash in to get a quart of milk.  People hijack your friend and do horrific things.  I was warned never to do something that I rarely did up North.

Here there are people who have pitbulls as a fashion accessory just like they do anywhere else.  Those are the people who should be chained in a yard in my own mind, but I'm sure that won't happen.  There are many of those fashion accessories that escape and end up in another home. 

Anabelle is one of them.  She was lucky enough to have walked past my Godmother and her husband at a festival quite a few years back.   Anabelle had signs of having been a breeder dog and smacked around quite a bit.   This dog is probably one of the sweetest animals I've ever met.  She sees me and tries to climb into my Jeep when I leave, parks next to me on the couch and lays down so I can pet her for as long as SHE wants.   My hand is cropped out of the picture but it was happily employed in making her happy.

After that, across the street moved in Baby Girl.  She's another Red Nose Pit that had clearly been in more than one fight.   There are bite marks that were on her head that are visible to this day.  She was found wandering the street in Hollywood, FL and adopted by Lisa and Billy across the street.  I was ... scared.  A Pit Bull Across The Street (Cue dramatic music!).  I finally allowed my fear to calm and this fat little dog waddled across the driveway and proceeded to fiercely lick my shin, scarily wag her tail, and snort fearful amounts of happy noises at me. 

I was clearly in the throes of another one of those mental adjustment moments that adults with preconceptions go through.


To this day, I'm quite happy to have this pink and blond love sponge across the street.   She teaches me about how those who are not human can be humane - or more humane than those who are expected to be.  When I visit Anabelle, I remind my Godmother that she will never have to worry about her dog because if anything happens, Lettie gets a friend.  Lettie won't like that but ... tough.

The hardest part about that particular dog will be teaching Anabelle not to get on the couch.

She's happy and healthy and so are both dog's owners.  I won't have to worry about adopting a second dog for quite a while.

That will keep Lettie, in turn, quite happy herself.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Entertain a Border Collie

Yet another Border Collie Post?  Yes, because people seem to like to read about them.  The last two days were brought up because a friend here lost his Chihuahua Gordita.  Something about this big gruff man's feelings about his little bitty dog that I had never met brought forth a bunch of memories.

Bunch, yes, it is a technical term.  Like Gobs, or oodles. 

But you see, I am being watched.  Every hour while I am home I have two brown eyes peering at me when they're not closed in sleep.   They are closed in sleep frequently, and sometimes I can even get up out of the chair if I am quiet enough when she's snoring, and leave the room.   If that happens, a Perimeter search results and every room is checked to see who is where, if anyone escaped, and whether they're out back or in the front yard.  The windows in the house are just high enough that she can see out if she stretches to look, so there are few places on the property anyone can be without being noticed.

Today having awoken at 430 AM for some insane reason and not being able to get to sleep, I finally got up and went about my business.   By the time we had left for the dog walk, I had roasted a batch of coffee, cleaned the sink, started a laundry and got dressed for the morning chill.  Yes, in Florida 65F is chilly.  Deal.

Coming home I went into the kitchen, ground the first batch and roasted more, made a small breakfast, and nibbled a few cookies that were out in the kitchen.  The entire time I had brown eyes staring at me.  Every time I left the room, I was followed by a mostly black dog.  I'd stop for more than a few seconds and she'd curl up and stare at me from the ground.  If I move out of sight for more than a few seconds, she stretches out and moves to follow, repeating the process.   With a moan.   Mooooo.

Working from home provides her with a lot of entertainment.   I move around in a regular fashion and at set times.   She knows the schedule very well.   The blog is written on a laptop and if I sit down and immediately grab the machine she will curl up and stare until she goes to sleep.   If I don't grab the laptop she comes over for some petting and comforting.  The key is leaving the laptop on the coffee table until she's gotten her petting and finds it weird.

If you didn't know that a dog could find petting weird, you don't know my dog.   She has a certain amount of attention she likes to get.  Once she's reached that point she would rather go back on security watch and curl up.  More like a Cat at times, she is highly independent.  It is as if she's saying, Fine I Get It Ok Now Let Me Do My Job!

When she's at that particular wall, I start to get a low grumble that turns into full bore growling and sneering.  Usually I merely touch her nose and tell her "Put that nose down you grumpy mutt".   No change with that, I grab the laptop and be on with my normal routine until the next time I get up and have to repeat.

They do like their routines.

So wonderfully predictable, we just did the same dance.  Since today is Saturday when I wrote this, I'm doing laundry.  The washer was done, on the wrong cycle, and that got me into the laundry and the kitchen.   She eventually followed me out of the laundry into the kitchen to finish off the last coffee roasting.  The usual comment is "Why is everybody in the kitchen?".  The Parrot was squawking at the coffee roaster slash popcorn popper, Kevin followed me in there for breakfast and the dog plopped herself at Her Spot in front of the refrigerator staring at me.

Routines can be a wonderful thing for people as well.  Now that she's back on her mat with a "Mooooo" and I'm finishing this posting...

Lather, Rinse, Repeat?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

From the Over 40 Crowd

I got this from Scott up North.  Nothing like reading your email in the morning with coffee in hand - it changes your perspective!  As one of those kids who played inside listening to the shortwave on a tube radio I found this amusing.  I caught myself looking at each one of those points and saying "yep! Did that!..."

All except the shoplifting.  There were better ways of getting music even back in the dark old days of Vinyl!

If you are 35, or older, you might think this is hilarious! 

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning.... Uphill... Barefoot...BOTH ways… yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it! 

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty-five, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today.  You've got it so easy!  I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! 
And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet.  If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!! 

There was no email!!  We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen!   Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there!  Stamps were 10 cents!

Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us.  As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!

There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes!  If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!  There were no CD players!  We had tape decks in our car.  We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless.  Cause, hey, that's how we rolled, Baby!  Dig?

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting!  If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that's it!

There weren't any freakin' cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your "friends". OH MY GOD !!!  Think of the horror... not being in touch with someone 24/7!!!  And then there's TEXTING.  Yeah, right.  Please!  You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was!  It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent... you just didn't know!!!  You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics!  We had the Atari 2600!  With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids'.  Your screen guy was a little square!  You actually had to use your imagination!!!  And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen... Forever!  And you could never win.  The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died!  Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing!  You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!!  NO REMOTES!!!  Oh, no, what's the world coming to?!?!

There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning.  Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-finks!

And we didn't have microwaves.  If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove!  Imagine that!   

And our parents told us to stay outside and play... all day long.  Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort.  And if you came back inside... you were doing chores! 
And car seats - oh, please!   Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on.  If you were lucky, you got the "safety arm" across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling "shot gun" in the first place! 
See!  That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled rotten!  You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1970 or any time before!

The Over 40 Crowd 
(Send this to someone you'd like to make smile)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Border Collie is my Co-Pilot

All the cliche's are right.   Adopt a Shelter Dog, you will find a friend for life.

I will say, Adopt a Shelter Dog, they may save your life.

Before I moved to South Florida, I was, sigh, a snowbird.  I'd look forward to the yearly trip to South Florida in February.   February in Philadelphia is the dismal dark bowels of winter.  I don't care how beautiful a blanket of snow can be, after three months of it, I want it gone.

I'd load up the Jeep and all my gear that I thought I needed and come on down.  One year I was fortunate enough to find a place that was "Dog Friendly" so I drove down with my faithful sidekick along.  Lettie is a better driving companion than pretty much every human I've ever driven with.

Sorry folks, the T Shirt was right as far as being in a car is concerned - the more time I spend with people the more I like my dog.  At least in that cramped Jeep Wrangler.   Cramped for me, she was luxuriously able to curl up into a dog ball and sleep.

The trip from Philly to Wilton Manors was 1206 miles, exactly.  I'd stop somewhere as far South as I could get.  The midpoint is Florence, SC, but the further I'd get the better I'd be the next day... so I'd push myself.  The last couple trips I took got me as far as St Mary's just on the GA side of the border north of Jacksonville.  Starting at 2AM got me past all the big cities in the morning without a hitch and would stretch the day, but it meant that I'd be a zombie until the sun came up south of Washington.

Reading all of that I'm thinking what a fool...

By the time you get to South Carolina, the road is long, straight, and boring.   The North Half of the state is a swamp save Florence, and I found that by the time I got to Lake Marion I needed out of that Jeep.   Every hour or two, I'd stop, Lettie would want OUT and we would both stretch our legs.  It would stretch the inevitable need for a final stop of the night but we had a rhythm. 

Being an athlete, I'm familiar with Hitting The Wall.  Your body says you need rest.   In this case, mid afternoon, 12 hours after starting this marathon.  In South Carolina you start to drift.  White Line Fever. 

Lettie knows me better than just about any human being out there.   It was in South Carolina where she started to pay attention to me.   I felt the wet nose on my right arm that was resting on the shift knob and would comfort her for a while and she'd be happy to curl back into her dog ball.  Subconsciously I would make a mental note to hit the next rest stop and stretch our six legs.

I guess her sleep and relaxation rubbed off.  More like the 700 or 800 miles of road but I began to fall asleep at the wheel.   She realized what was happening from the rhythm of what was going on and I awoke to a violent head butting that right arm.  Now, Fully Awake, I realized I'm done.   This particular trip, Done was in Darien GA where I stopped for the night. 

My furry angel saved me from my own stupidity.   We went into the little room and after the adrenalin rush of driving ended, we both went to sleep.

So what have I learned after 8 years of being with her?  Stop driving like that first off - you just don't need to punish yourself to get on a vacation that you may not survive the first day.   Second, Trust in Dog, Dog Knows Best.  Third, get your silly butt out of that Jeep once an hour and consider stopping in a shorter time. 

I haven't driven out of Florida since I got here in 2006.  I don't expect to leave Florida before 2011 on any vacations, and the next trip I will take will most likely be Key West, a gentle 190 miles away.  Sleep won't be a problem, in fact if the weather is right, I'll do it topless.  

Hopefully I'll have my co-pilot.  See, she knows me better than I know myself... there's this time where she saved my life....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I live in a place where I can make my own backgrounds

"You live in a place that looks like the background on the PC".

Interesting comment right?   Well I do.  Actually I caught myself doing this sort of thing for a while.   I take a lot of pictures as anyone who has looked at this blog has noticed, and I just drop all the blog pics into a folder on the laptop and let Windows 7 change them every 10 minutes or so.   I never see the background anyway since it is always covered up by all sorts of things, but I like knowing they are there.

Who said it?   My cousin from Nebraska.  I had never actually met the guy before, and he came here for his first ever visit to South Florida.   At 830PM, we had been chatting for about 2 hours, and I flipped the switches to all the pool lights and up spots and we went outside.   He got real animated and looked at my hedges and the orchid in bloom on the shed (its actually resting between flower spikes) and was like a kid in a candy store.

My cousin is a farmer who just sold the farm and is looking around the country for the first time and liked what he sees here.  I took him for a walk with the dog around town and every Palm tree we passed, every shefflerra that towered over the apartment building and said things like "That's a house plant back home".  

I promised him two meyer lemons off my little tree in a pot so he can try to grow them from seed.   It's mindbending to someone from out of town just how lush things can be.  Of course all those plants are not native species, and we're not in a natural environment.   We get around 50 inches of rain in around 6 months.  Six Months of Flood, Six Months of Drought I have heard it called.   It makes for an interesting natural landscape, and when someone from "up North" can show you what you have, no matter how much you appreciate it, it is always a welcome eye opener.

I think I'll toss some lemon seeds back in the hedges and let them fight it out with the bamboo... and why not? since the neighbor behind me has a Papaya Grove in the yard!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Border Collies can be Lousy Watch Dogs

 In Animal Shelters, the Border Collie is the number one breed for being a boomerang dog - a dog that returns to the shelter.

It isn't because they're dumb, it could be because they're so smart.  To successfully have a Border Collie that doesn't bark incessantly or get into destructive behavior, you will need to keep them exercised or entertained.  There are breeders that will simply refuse to sell a Border Collie to a "family home". 

You know, 2.3 Kids, Minivan, living in the suburbs... that sort of thing. 

When I drove from my home in Philadelphia to the Angel Pet Rescue, I was told by Megs, the owner, to make sure you walk her as much as you can stand.  Three times a day.  I lost 5 pounds by the end of the second month.   I was also told that Border Collies require a "Soft Hand".  I don't believe in hitting a dog, but trust me there were times I was frustrated in those beginning months and was thinking Ritalin may be an option.

We got through the teething pains of her trying to herd me when there was a Golden Retriever a block and a half away out of her own fear, and psychotic Welsh Corgi Owners and terribly trained dogs - that's a blog posting in itself.   She's probably the best trained fearful dog on the island.

How could you not love that face?

There's the problem.  Everyone else does too.  Show this particular Border Collie a little attention and you have a friend for life.  Not really a problem, more like a quirk.  A Big Personality on an island of Big Personalities, she's an amazing judge of characters.

When I first got her, she was terrified of other dogs, buses, motorcycles, and people who looked different.  Broadly, she was a fearful dog.   I would take her down to Germantown Avenue at the corner of Highland near the house and we'd stand there watching life go by from Kilians Hardware's Bench.   She learned to calm down and appreciate people petting her. 

Now she enjoys it so much that she thinks she should have attention wherever she goes. 

Being a Border Collie, one plus one equals three.  We walk past the bars and the Shoppes of Wilton Manors at least twice a day, normally three times a day.  It is the 800 pound gorilla in Wilton Manors Central Neighborhood.  You live here, you work with or around that shopping center and the Wilton Drive Central Business District.    For a Border Collie who has learned that people will treat her well, this is great mental stimulation... she loves her walks!

One particular shop in the Shoppes, a clothes store, has a particular worker who loves Mrs Dog.  He goes over to the window making faces and tapping the window and she goes over and sniffs and smiles and enjoys the attention and walks off.  She's been in the store and loves the attention too.   Canine Ambassador for Wilton Manors to the Snowbirds.   This all usually happens late at night. 

This morning, I awoke to a sinus headache at 5am.  I faked being asleep until around 530 a "Pixel storm" floated past... Reaching over, I realized that to stay dry, we had to walk early.  Nobody was around.  Officer Chadwick was off being the Cop's Cop and I didn't see him, the Baker at Humpy's Pizza was just getting in, I was before all the usual dog walkers - and yes, it is that predictable here.

You can set your walk by who goes past certain corners at certain times.  People are predictable as any Law Enforcement Officer will tell you.

But not my dog.   Since we usually see the guy in the clothes store at night, she thought she'd see him this morning.  After all, it was dark, right?   Dog Logic.  One plus One is Three.

When we got to his door where she'd usually be greeted by the tapping of a frenetic man, she stopped and smiled.   Sniffing the air she simply didn't want to go.  She missed her friend.  

My talking to her and telling her "No, Lettie, he's not there yet, it's too early" broke the spell.   She smiled at me then walked off to greet the baker at Humpys who enjoyed watching the whole scene.

If you're considering a Border Collie, you are in for a treat.  They are amazing dogs, and they will test you.  But if you bond with the dog, you will have a constant companion.  

Now I'm going to go off to the kitchen, make another mug of coffee and watch her glue herself to my leg....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunshine and Palm Trees

My sister, Pat, sent me an email.  It was one of those OMG messages that when you live in one place and your sender lives in another will put out and say "Did you know this happened in your own State?"

Sure it did, and It was a 12 foot Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake being captured by the police.   The St Johns County PD.  I'm in Broward County.  There are Rattlesnakes here too.  St John's County is 300 miles away.  St Augustine Florida.  Very pretty place, and quite well heeled.

Not to point too much at Pat, sorry sis..., it was just convenient that you wrote me today.  I don't really like snakes either especially when they sneak in through the back door and freak out the dog.

Before I left Pennsylvania I got a lot of questions why I wanted to move here.   Check the picture out, you won't get that in the beautiful neighborhood of Chestnut Hill Philadelphia that I had left.  How about Hurricanes?  Yep, we get them here.  Wilma trashed Broward County's electrical infrastructure and 4 years later, FPL has more surges and pops than a menopausal woman.  I moved here in 2006, a year after that bizarre year that saw Katrina ruin a one of a kind New Orleans, Wilma park over top of Broward and Palm Beach counties and cause damage that the area is still repairing, and Rita pay a visit to the Bayou country west of Nawlins. 

I really loved Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, but yes, still I moved.   South Florida has been in my system since I was 10 years old, riding across the Tamiami Trail in the back of that Buick Limited entertaining my Aunt, Uncle, Mom and Dad, Sister and Cousin at 80 MPH.  Or at least that's my memory.  I started coming back in college and knew that this was where I belong.  I'm here, much to the chagrin of a few, much to the pleasure of vastly more people.  You can't please everyone, and you can always avoid those unpleasant folks who you don't... or you can try!

So as I look out the front window at the clouds that Paula has created and spilled over this area, the palm fronds gently swaying in the breezes, the wild parrots screaming outside over top of the Disco that's playing on the squeezebox across the room, I smile and think... Maybe that's why.

It's October.  I'm in shorts and a T Shirt.  I'm sitting in a big green chair that I can watch the sunsets paint the skies bright orange and red fading to mauve and black.  I can spot the neighbor's Bird of Paradise and bright red bougainvillea

Wait until February.  When you're cold up there, so will I be.  It may even drop down into the 50s.