Friday, November 21, 2014

Flashback Friday

Veteran's Day was the 14th and I wanted to honor our Vet's closer to that date, but other things got in the way.  This series of pictures are of Herb while having landed somewhere in the South Pacific with some crew members.  He was the captain of a gunboat during World War II, a 90-day wonder is what they were called.  
He joined the Navy while in college and went to Columbia University in New York to take a three month course on navigation and other nautical elements, and graduated a Lieutenant JG (Junior Grade).  When the skipper of the ship was transferred, he became its captain.  His gunboat travelled around the Philippine Islands specifically Mindanao.  

These pictures had no information on the back so we can only guess as to what was going on here, but it would seem that they fell amongst the natives wherever they landed and posed for these shots.   

Herb is in the middle in what looks to be some lush forested ground.  It almost looks like there is a river or creek to the right and are those people in the water swimming?  

Herb (rear right) and his shipmate seem to be enjoying themselves in this picture.  They must have just learned that they would not be the main course in the evening meal.

Here is Herb kneeling down with some native children.  I'm not real fluent on my WWII history but I recall hearing that the native population in the remote areas of he Philippine Islands aided the Allies in their fight against Japan.  The Japanese invaded the Philippines in 1941 and retained control until 1944.  That probably makes these pictures somewhere in that year, give or take, and would make Herb around 22-23 years old.  This would have been when we took back the Islands and from what I remember Herb saying, there was still plenty of action in the area.

I recall seeing a picture of old Gunboat 61 but I don't have it, so I will be checking with the brothers to see if they do.  If so, I'll post someday.  A gunboat was smaller than a destroyer but bigger than a PT boat.  They were good for going in and out of inlets around the islands of the south Pacific. 

I am still amazed at how the citizen-soldier, or in this case the student-soldier, of World War II could be studying a business class  in Monmouth College one day and in New York studying navigation the next.  And in a few short weeks commanding a ship in the Pacific Ocean, and getting fired upon by Japanese torpedoes (true).  

As always, thanks to the Vets I know who sacrificed to secure our freedoms.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More Florida

Last week we examined, photographically, some of my reasons why Florida in my neck of the woods is so durn unlovable. And I didn't even get around to the summer heat.   
Here are more examples of Florida in my backyard.   

I suspect it helps to be stoned in this state.

A pasture that looks oddly like one in Northlandia is right next to 10 lane Rt. 19 - Death Alley.

Life, even weedy life, clings to whatever purchase it can.   Imagine the very little soil in this open gate piece of steel, then imagine a seedling that came from somewhere and its subsequent germination and life.  

An empty box of condoms I guess is no great thing lying along the sidewalk in the city.  I took a picture of this one since I had passed one previously a block or two back.   A classic example of "Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink."   

The juxtaposition of an adult novelty outlet and barbed wire was simply too good to pass up.  

And besides, Floridians are damn poor parkers.

This picture doesn't do it justice, but invariably at each bus stop the amount of trash and garbage lying on the ground is amazing.  But that doesn't stop the mowing crews who just chop and mulch it it into smaller pieces.  Also, it is amazing that over there just a few steps away is a trash receptacle.  Floridians are pigs.

An example of the above, I saw this the other day on my walk.  I don't know what this means:  can you down  a six-pack before the next bus comes?  

And what's with all the underwear lying around?  I hate feeling like I'm missing out on something, but gee whiz, why is everyone going free-range?   

Having trashed the neighborhood I feel compelled to do my best to find local good things that make living here in bedlam worthwhile.  Look for that post in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In For A Penny...

My friend Christopher in BFE likes to go treasure hunting with his metal detector.  I've seen some of the stuff he unearths and a lot of it is really impressive.  Looks like a fun and potentially rewarding hobby. 

 I learned down here that Floridians are so rich or blind that they throw coinage in the streets and on sidewalks.  It may be one of those "city" things but for the most part I keep my head down to the ground most of the time I'm walking.  I have found many dollars worth of pennies, dimes, and nickels down here; my biggest take at a car wash once was around $3.00 - just left behind on the cement abutment between bays, presumably by someone who didn't want the job of cleaning them from being sticky and stuck around inside their car.  Midwest tightness or borderline poor, I'll be glad to take them off your hands.  Money is money wherever you find it, and I find plenty on the streets and parking lots around here.      

Like most folks I have a budget and I try to stay within it, more or less.  I allow myself a weekly cash allowance and I get my groceries, any incidentals and eating out with this allowance.  Anything left over from week to week goes into my secret compartment as a kind of emergency fund.  I explain all this utterly worthless factoid in order to explain this penny.  I used to ride a lot here and there when I was at Shawshank, but at Bedlam the traffic is such that I'd rather not mess with it and so I walk.  I walk every Thursday or Friday to get my allowance funds that are at an ATM at the grocery store.  Along this path I have to cross East Bay Drive which is a 6 lane major road.

One such trip I espied something coppery while in the crosswalk.  It lay about a yard and a half out of the walk in the center of one of the lanes.  It was indeed, the penny pictured here.  I walked on by,  half mad I didn't dart out and grab it.  Next week, again, it was still there but I kept on walking.  I asked myself why I didn't grab it and the answer was kind of vague:

  • I don't think I wanted anyone stopped at the light to see me dart over  for something on the road that may label me a derelict or bum.  Here I am worried about what a bunch of strangers will think whom I have no connection, or will ever, while grabbing free money from the pavement.  

And then I started asking questions about what it said about me.  I didn't like some of the possible answers.   I decided, then,  that the next week I would grab that penny if it was still there.

There were a couple of thoughts I had while I walked outside the crosswalk and bent down in front of all these stopped cars and picked up this penny.  None are particularly profound but it gave me an opportunity to look at myself and to give myself a pep talk on certain things to keep in mind.  

  • George Patton always used as his mantra,  "Audacieux, audacieux, toujours audacieux."   Audacious, audacious, always audacious.  I think that is the spice that we sprinkle on our activities every once in a while that become memory makers.  Once when I was at Cotton's/Timmy's on Rte 150 for Bucket night with Neighbor Tim a storm blew up and instead of sitting tight while it ran its course we decide to run back into BFE in as blistering a rainfall as I remember.  Couldn't see the road, and we went like a couple bat's out of Hell, but we made it and it was because of that audaciousness that I have a memory that will last till I die.  Another example is grabbing an artifact from the old Ponemah pumping station with the Wombie a couple years ago.  Yet another is climbing the grain elevator at BFE once and for all next time I'm in Northlandia.  And while a penny in the road isn't perhaps very audacious, it is, nonetheless a signpost that reads, "If given an opportunity, do the daring. "  We all need to do the daring once in a while.  
  • To Hell with what people think.  Who gives a mole rat's ass? I understand there are political considerations and appearances with jobs and other places we inhabit where staying under the radar is commensurate with conformity, but in all other areas,  to hell with what people think.  Be yourself and if you want that penny, walk over, reach down and pick it up.   
  • Look at that poor penny.  You can barely distinguish any of the normal features found on the one-cent piece.  I have no idea how long that penny has been trampled, shoved, run over, skidded, slid, scraped, mauled, or crushed by traffic.  But, you know what, it still retains its value.  Its somewhat like all the rest of us.  We have been hurt, stressed, or endure all the things life throws at us, but we retain that distinctive quality that makes us…us.  We still retain our value, too.  Perhaps grayer, a few more wrinkles, a bit less steady, but we remain essentially ourselves, and loved by others.  
Sorry to be a bit windy about a penny lying in the street.  But there are lessons to be learned in the things we do every day.  There is a chance you will see a coin lying on the sidewalk someday.  Don't walk by.  Pick it up.        

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tidbit Tuesday

1.  I have returned to Bedlam.  My list of "Things To Do"  didn't exactly happen as I had hoped, but then they don't usually, anyway.  The Retirement party was a smashing success.  I crawled out of my self-imposed introvert bubble and tried to act charming witty and self-possessed.  You'd have to ask others if it worked, but a morning-after self-evaluation revealed cracks in the foundation.  

My super secret attempt at surprise was successful in all aspects.  Holly was asked several times if I was coming up and she said that she didn't think so; "He'd let me know if he was."  So I have some trust issues to repair.  Many at the Club said there had not been such a party of that magnitude for years.  Congratulations, Mark. 

The weather and perpetually cloudy skies prevented many planned activities but other pursuits helped make the trip immensely enjoyable.  The lens I rented to see more of the night sky was barely used.  By my accounting, with the 20 some pictures I took with it, each one cost around $2.60.  And most of those I trashed.  Oh well.  I'd do it again if I had the chance.  I did learn that if Santa wanted to be nice this year, he'd put a Tokina 11-16 mm wide angle in my stocking.   

2.  I had lunch at the Side Trax in Galesburg while back.  Pat and her daughter Shelley met me and it was nice to have a Tenderloin since somehow they don't have those in Florida.  Spent some time here when it was the old Crappies.  Always good food and pretty decent atmosphere.  

When the waitress brought my change back I momentarily was confused on two things.  First, there was no change and from a $20 she had brought a five and some ones back from a $8.72 bill.  I'm not the swiftest cat when it comes to math so I was initially surprised at the fact I didn't get a $10 back and thought I had been shorted.  While I was doing my mental math I said, "Uh..." before she went away and then she said, "Oh, I shorted you the change, did you want it."  Like that would be most unreasonable.  I said, "Well, yes I do."   I then wondered if it was some kind of new thing up in G-Burg to openly steal from customers, or that patrons don't have the pockets for change.  She would have gotten the usual tip, but in this case she got a $1 and the change she brought me.  

3.  I was watching a commercial for Wal-Mart while at Mark's and they had the stirring heartfelt music thing going and at the end they had a line that read "Wal-Mart pledges to hire 100,000 veterans by 2018.  And then I got to working on my math skills again:  

  • There are approximately 4253 stores in the US (as of July 2014).
  • There are approximately 2,000,000 employees worldwide of which 1,200,000 are in the US.   
  • Average turnover in any business (2006) was around 35%.  Because of the pay and working conditions some Wal-Mart stores have suffered 85% turnover.  They stopped issuing their rates but it is higher than the rest of industry.  But lets assume a 30% turnover rate, which is lower.    
  • There will be a possible 400,000 openings at Wal-Mart this year (2015).  By 2018 that number increases to 1,200,000 for a total of 1, 600, 000 openings between now through 2018.    
  • Vets make up 7% of the workforce in the US.  
  • Of those 400,000 openings that means each store will have approximately 95 hires per year.  
  • Wal-Mart only needs to hire 5 veterans out of 95 openings per store.   

My fractured math may be off.  It may be off a great deal.  I'm no mathematician - ask anyone.  But if my facts and figures that I gleaned from various sites holds true, Walmart's bar for hiring vets is extremely low, but sure sounds good on a commercial.   In marketing it isn't the reality, it's the presentation.  This may be a long way around to take the opportunity to bash Wal-Mart, once again, but is an opportunity I don't want to miss.  By the way, I relaxed my ban on Wal-Mart a bit while back in Northlandia.  If one must go to the place, try the one in Aledo.  No lines, friendly faces and if one must, one could probably find someone willing to help you.  

4.  It was too cold to climb the grain elevator in BFE and it was overcast every damn day so the lens I rented just took a long trip in my suitcase.  I went out once while the skies cleared for an hour, so we'll see what I ended up with when I plug them into my computer.  Out of everything that didn't go as planned, the project to move Miss Frump to Burgess was a rousing and heartwarming success.  I went with jumper cables and ether in case she was persnickety, but she started right up and she drove just fine.  We are warming up to each other and I foresee a long and happy union together.  She is a dazzler.  The drive from Henderson through Alpha and New Windsor to Viola was great fun. 

5.  It was chilly while in Northlandia but on Monday it got up to 60 degrees.  And I also saw deer and snow!  Wonderful. 

5.  Ashley, Mark's smart and beautiful daughter is my social soul-mate.  If given the choice of wading through a room full of people or jumping into a swimming pool in January, well..."Pool Time!"  We both navigated the retirement party like well seasoned gadflies but I was just as glad it was over.  Ashley, too.

6.  Pat told me her father had a unique superstition.  Whenever he entered a building or house he always left by the same door.  

7.  Thanks JC for providing the transportation to and from the airport.  Thanks also to those who put me up and put up with me while back:  Mark and Holly and Pat.  Their generosity is always amazingly selfless.  

8.  I forgot my phone in Northlandia and it is being sent back to me, so if anyone called,  be patient - I'll return your calls when I get it. 

9.  I have learned that my Aussie Shepherd rescue application is in the reference stage.  Pretty soon they'll want to meet me. Yikes! 

10.  Gimpy's with some friends.  Unbeatable.        

Monday, November 17, 2014

Vinoy At 5 In the Morning

It had been a long time since I'd done any night shooting at the Vinoy and Demen's landing.  In a series of shots of the same subject with some tweaking of the settings here, then, are some early morning pictures of Vinoy park, St. Petersburg skyline and Albert Whitted airport. 


These are great places to experiment with the many settings on the camera.  I have tried to get away from using the Auto setting as much as possible, so that I become more aware of aperture, focal length, exposure time and ISO.  I don't have a photoshop program so I do all the experimentation right at the sight, and hope I get some good shots. 
As always, thanks for taking the time to read Existing In BFE.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Not Posting This Week

Existing In BFE is taking a few days off.  I am presently in Northlandia drinking beer and eating all the great things they don't have in Fuckflorida.  I am attending brother Mark's retirement parties like a malt-laden extrovert and will give a full report when I return.  I am also checking in with some friends and family. We'll return on Monday November 17th.  
Until I return, play nice.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tidbit Monday

1.  Tidbit Monday?  Good Heavens, what's going on?  This is Monday, not Tuesday! Well, good morning Northlandia.  I have returned, if only briefly.  I am here to attend my Wombie's retirement bash which was on Saturday.  Yeah, I know I said last week I wasn't coming up, but that was a ruse to insure total surprise.  I couldn't miss the Wombie's big week.  Birthday on Thursday, city party on Friday, friend's party at the Club on Saturday.  That's a lot of socializing for a backwards introvert like me, but I'll do my best.

From this point forward he will be known as…

Aquaman Sum Emeritus
(Big Drip Is Plugged)  

  On the agenda:

  • Take Miss Frump from Henderson over to Burgess for winter storage.  My car guy, Richard, will take care of her over there.

  • Sort through some of the Wombies archives for additional Flashback Fridays pics.  

  • Finally climb the grain bins at BFE.

  • Fire Pit at Neighbor Tim's

  •  A pizza at Jerry's

  • More Night shots in the best, blackest sky anywhere (And I promise I won't get scared) 

  • Am I too late for fall foliage?

This visit will be shorter than in August.  But plenty of time to get what needs to be done taken care of.  

2.  Next up, big scare last week.  They have been sprucing the place up here at Bedlam - new paint on all of the units.  The formerly bright colors that we inmates enjoyed has given way to a variation of grays, which seems now to better reflect our mental moods.  This work was given to a group of south-of-the-border immigrants who certainly work hard.  

The other day I was babysitting Norah and we did our usual stuff - carriage ride to the mail box, over to the tennis courts to chase a few balls around, stuff like that.  Then over the pool to take a swim in the increasingly cool water (it's not heated like Shawshank was).  Later on that day I realized I couldn't find my phone.  It wasn't in the usual places and when Kenzie and the current Mrs. Blythe arrived from work, even their phone calls to me in the apartment/cell didn't result in any ring.  

We started retracing our steps outside: to the tennis courts, the pool area, the handball courts, the mail area, nothing.   There was a van sitting by the entrance area not far from the tennis courts and pool area that belonged to the painters, as they were working on the pool building.  As I was heading over to check the handball courts, the current Mrs. Blythe called me again while walking by the van.  Yep, she heard my ring tone inside the van.  She hung up and called again.  Again she heart my ring tone.  

She walked over to a group of workers and calmly said, "Excuse me, but my husband's cell phone is ringing inside your van."  the workers walked over, got another worker and all three went over to the van where they opened the side door and out of a tied white plastic bag, retrieved my phone.  

They said they found it at the pool area and were going to hand it in to the office.  I think I was a very lucky cell phone owner that day.  

3.  I am doing something almost unheard of on this trip.  I have rented a camera lens: a wide angle that will hopefully allow for bigger night shy shots and day light panoramas.  I have been checking Ebay for a Tokina 11-16 mm but they always seem to go for more than my budget allows.  And then I came across a company that rents them.  This will allow me to take some nice star shots while in dark sky country.  Exciting, huh? 

4.  I'm planning on taking a few days off from the blog and will return once I get back to Florida.  There are a couple of you who integrate EIB religiously into your daily routines so I apologize for the void that creates.  I appreciate the kind words and compliments  my rare good posts engender.  Thanks to all of you who visit daily or from time to time.   
Thank You for visiting Existing in BFE