Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Big Ships

It is surreal to be walking along brick ways, in and out of shops to explore their goodies, and then be shaken by the loud, mega-deep forms and turn to your right, and there, about a football length away, is a huge ocean-going freighter.    

See the guy clear up front?  That gives you a little idea of how immense these things are.  I have a neice who loves to see these big ships.  She needs to come to Savannah. 

Another shot of a guy peeking out the window.  Again, I am amazed at what one sees when one travels.  You just don't witness stuff like this in Seaton.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  It isn't often you see signage mistakes that are not only funny, but remain for all to see.   Ulmerton Road, just a short walk from Bedlam,  is a main artery and one of those busy, many-lanes, fairly unattractive city streets that one wouldn't readily know it were in Clearwater or Anchorage.  

This is a mistake that no one seems to be in a hurry to change.  All the better, I guess.  

2.  Too much going on a round here, I guess. The annual Mainsail Art Festival at the Vinoy park was held last weekend and it slipped my mind.  Drat.  One of the truly great things to attend here.  This is the invitational show where in years past I have paid a fortune for original art.  Makes me feel cultured.  I hate that I missed it for two reasons.  The first is simply that it hads become a time-honored tradition.  This is the day I gather all the clan willing to wander with me to get out amongst the well-washed St. Petersburg upper crust and look at creative genius.  The second reason is because I forgot about it.  What that say about my mental faculties?   Oh well, I saved some money.

3.  My Little Fashionista

4.   One of my not-so-secret pleasures of the day was to watch the Colbert Report and then The Daily Show.  Two middle-age white guys who provided lots of laughs at the expense of the politicos.  But I'm afraid that is about to change.  Colbert is gone and has been replaced by a Larry Wilmor, a black man with a decided black take on things.  As for the Daily Show, Jon Stewart is leaving and being replaced by Noah Trevor, a black South African.  

I've watched Wilmore's show a few times and he's generally OK,  but after a short monologue they get in a kind of round-table thing and chat.  Certainly not as inventive as the genius Colbert.  And, no doubt, I'll catch Trevor to see what he does, but its times like these I give an inward sigh and wonder why things must change.  

5.  Surprisingly good flick, A Walk Among the Tombstones.  Liam Neeson does his Neeson thing as an unlicensed private eye, but with a world-weariness that is true and endearing.  It didn't make a ton of money and wasn't one of those tired super-hero things.  A pretty good story, good characters and certainly worth a watch.  

6.  Poor Strato

I've pretty much stopped trying to duct tape my bike cover together.  The poor old girl is just going to have to put up with the elements until we get her garaged. 

7.  Dragonflies are cool.  Norah and I spotted this one the other day on one of our walks. 

8.  Finally, there is a a current ad on TV shilling for Xarelto.  Annie Palmer, some comedian and some NASCAR driver are talking about its benefits.  I noticed both the other guys each touched Arnie.  

I don't know,  he's a god of sorts.  I'm not sure I'd ever tap him like some kind of prized goose but maybe that's what you do with immortals.  

Thanks for Stopping by.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tybee Lighthouse

I'm no photographer.  I don't have the knowledge or expertise, not to mention talent.  I'm more of a point-and-shooter with a fancy ass camera type-guy who is just as surprised when I pull off a decent picture.  There's aperture, f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, and light metering stuff (technical terminology) that has to be evaluated with each snap when you are on Manual settings.  While I do aspire to tweak settings, it's certainly not with any type of certitude that I do so.     

This little accidental treasure was taken in Tybee Island on the recent visit to the Sutor's.  At my age if you don't know yourself, you are either in extreme denial, frightened or stupid.  I kind of knew going in that sleep may be elusive tonight. Put me in a different nest than my usual nest and somehow I get too wound up.  Too many thoughts, too much to control.  As it was, I was tossing and turning so I said to hell with it, got dressed and drove over to the beach area where the Tybee Island Lighthouse is.  

Stunningly cold.  Bone-rattling cold from the ocean was coming in and made for a difficult session.  This was on the long walkway to the beach from a parking area that also houses a restaurant-bar.  I was mostly focused on the ocean and anything up in the dark sky that might be fun to shoot, but then I turned around ands saw this image.  I had to be quick because I liked how the moon and just sunk below that wisp of cloud.   

Someone once told me that in every painting there should be some red.   The above picture is kind of nicely framed by the street lights on either side. the walkway barely visible to add a little mystery,  a tinge of red to add contrast, the moon to add transcendence and the lighthouse to provide grounding.  How's that for a quickie pic?      

Friday, April 24, 2015

Flashback Friday

I don't want you to think that college was nothing but classes, studying at the library, late night cramming, and then up early to do it again.  Mind you, others found more time than I did to wander down to the bar, while I was engaged in more academic pursuits.  But I did my best to join them when I could.  Short of that we stayed on the floor and amused ourselves by taking pictures of each other, I guess.  Why remains a mystery.  Apparently someone thought I needed to be permanently recorded in the doorway, which, just might have been my room.  Perhaps my roomie, the now eminent Dr. Kolbow,  thought it necessary to use up my expensive Polaroids for no reason at all.  

I include this picture for your perusal this week to let you know a couple things worth noting.  One,  after commending the Polaroid company last week for their superb use of film emulsions that have withstood time, I come across this picture that has not stood the test of time very well.  It is showing a great deal of degradation around the edges as well as some cracking.  I, too, seem to be degrading as well with time.

So Polaroids were a hit or miss thing when they developed.  I have some that look just as pristine as the day they were shot and others, like this that are well on their way to being virtually unrecognizable.  

The bumper sticker on the door was a popular phrase about that time.  Times have changed however.  Today such alcohol-induced bravado is socially and legally risky.  Somewhere in the room above or at the least on the dorm floor, was a picture of W.C. Fields, an iconic favorite of my college comrades, saying something like, "Someone stole the cork out of my lunch."  A different time, indeed.     

Just thought you might like seeing me back when... I was somebody. 


Thursday, April 23, 2015

More River Street In Savannah



Today we continue our stroll down River Street in Savannah.  Not much has changed in the 80 years since the 1937 picture was taken.  I don't know when these old huge warehouses were built but when cotton was king the bustle of the bundles coming and going out, not to mention exchange day must have been electrifying.

Savannah still has a world-class harbor with big freighters arriving and leaving constantly.  Cotton is no longer the main business, however.  Now there are small shops, antique stores and very neat cafes all along the street in the warehouse that used to hold commodities.  These two tugs were traveling in tandem probably to prepare a ship heading out of harbor.  

Interesting picture of three types of ship:  on the left is a replica of the Pinta, a tug and a huge freighter on the far right. 

These work horses not only maneuver and escort the freighters, but also take harbor pilots to and from ships who actually do the driving when these big ships travel the river.  

It was fun to see the perspective of the Pinta.  It was small and would be pretty iffy on those cross ocean crossings.  I suppose you have to figure that back when it was sailing it was probably huge to its passengers.  

Beautiful Talmadge Bridge that takes you over to Hutchison Island and then north to South Carolina. 

This little dinghy was moored off the pier.  That was one nice looking boat and while we were around it a couple kids came up topside and wee playing around in the wheelhouse.  Imagine being a 13 year old kid and traveling with the folks in this.  

The street "looks" old, too.  To its credit the city has embraced its history and has run with it.  The place is built around squares in a grid-like configuration with memorials to every conceivable event that has happened in the past 300 years. 

The facade of the buildings down here have been maintained has original as possible, I think.  The old winding stairs, the metal walkway overpasses, the cobblestone streets and teeming people out and walking this city makes it a fun experience.  

 Silent watchers of time passing, these windows have framed generations of Southern sons and daughters.  River Street is my kind of place:  a veritable breathing link of today that can whisk you back to a time long gone.  Oh, and that ice cream shop was pretty neat, too.  Oh God, yes.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Savannah's River Street

Tybee Island is only 12 miles from Savannah so you can get the nice peaceful small-town seclusion of Tybee and in 15 minutes enjoy the best of big-city life.  This is Savannah from the West.  In the center is the gold dome of City Hall.  To the left is the Savannah river and the never ending churn of sea-going freighters, tugs and tourist ferries.  And this trip focused on River Street.  A mix of boutique shops, cafes, and history.  

Everywhere down here are steps, some are closed off, but many are open, but not without warnings. 

The history here is palpable.  It is not hard at all to see the merchants, farmers and businessmen coming down those steps to bid on cotton coming in from all over the South.  And then seeing it plied onto ships from all over the world for transport.  

These cobblestones came from inside ships that used them as ballast.  

To its credit, Savannah has long recognized its historicity and has attempted to preserve as much as possible even after a purge of misguided renovation in the 70's.  

These old building are virtually unchanged from the time when trains would bring in cargo  and cotton to be bought and sold on the wharfs of this city.  Now, you can spend a day walking up this street and checking out all kinds of shops that sell unique items.  One place sold honey (yum).  Another ice cream (yum yum).  There are fancy priced antique stores interspersed with tourist-type T-shirt and seashell mirrors. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  Barbie and Her Dogs

Seen on the shelf at Target.  Wait for it....

2.  Name Game

OK.  Unimaginative parents or really imaginative parents?  Hey, Trav, where are the Harry Berries?    

3.  Why does the fashion world insist on making women wear high heeled shoes?  I have never seen a lady wear them without looking clunky, awkward and, well, looking like they have some form of impediment to their gait.

4.   Am I missing something?  I see where UN Ambassador says we are "chipping" away at ISIS.  Our defense spending is obscene.  We are the world's only Super-super power.  Our technological know-how is unequaled.  

Why is it, then, that we have spent some 13 years in a stalemate or worse in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that we are still watching ISIS roll across borders?  The forces we have engaged in Afghanistan are using old Kalashnikov rifles and travel by camel or burro.   

One would think our $640 billion would help procure a military victory over our enemies in the region.  Perhaps this is another lesson learned from Vietnam: experience, strategy and command of the terrain trumps technological prowess.    

5.  My Norah -

6.  And did you know she is part of a crime-fighting superhero family?

You see the darnedest things at Target. 

7.  Did last week's Flashback Friday seem to end abruptly?  While I avoided the flu this winter I did catch a cold from Miss Norah and simply became too distracted with recovery to finish my train of thought.  

8.  Sources tell me I may be able to get ahold of a rhubarb pie from  the Aledo Rhubarb Festival.  That would be a little slice of heaven. 

9.  My fantasy baseball team, the Fighting Flamingoes, has started the season 0-2.  I'm not ready to panic quite yet but I did go against my usual policies and have 2 Cubs on the roster.  I won't do anything drastic until at least a month into the season, but if we are still winless, changes will have to be made.  

My Roster

c McCann
1st Pujols
2nd Russell/Semien
ss Reyes
3rd M. Cabrera
OF Betts
OF Stanton
OF Bruce
Util Fielder

SP Kluber, Bumgarner, Lester, Lynn, Bauer, Keuchel, Porcello
RP Storen, Miller, Gregerson, Britton 

Till next week, and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Two-State Solution

I don't know when it was that I realized that Florida was too alien a place for me.  Great place to visit and have some fun but for a permanent day-in, day-out place, it sorely lacked some of the things that I had always taken for granted.  Once at Three Birds Tavern a few years ago I expressed the void I felt and came up with a two-state solution: a kind of snowbird idea where I would spend time in both Florida and Illinois.  In the intervening time I have made many trips up to Northlandia but always stayed with either the Wombie and his lovely wife Holly, or with great friend Pat.  There have always been offers from friends as well.  

Then I bought a house in Henderson and it has served as a rental, supplemental income and all that.  More or less successfully.  More successfully lately as I turned it over to a management firm, sort of, and they have provided long-term renters and finally, I'm making a profit.  (Knock on wood.)    

During my last trip up I commented to Mark and Holly how it would be nice to have a place in Aledo - we could have twin fun.  Twin fun is more fun than solo fun.  We even looked at a couple places.   It was kind of serious, but kind of not.  Well, it got serious fast.  They went through a small place and said it would be perfect.  I had another person go through, Miss Patti, and she said it was worth every penny.  In the most agonizing decision I have had to make I pulled the trigger and now have a place in Aledo to escape to when I need the Wombie, or dark sky, or a beer with the boys, or a bike ride, or breakfast with the girls.  When I need to see corn, go to a car show, or breath Northlandia air, or see a snowflake or drive down to Seaton, or get a Jerry's pizza, I now have a place.  

To my great and good friend who extolled me to get my foot off first base in order to make it to second, well, thanks for the encouragement.  To Mark who is willing to allow me into his town, thanks.  To Holly who will provide her own polish to my mess, thanks.  And to friend Pat who always says, "Do it!", thanks.

Now, here are the caveats:

  • Because I will be trying to keep two places going on a small county pension, my budget will be stretched.  I'm not buying any rounds at the Club or Gimpy's.  Allow me to just do my own thing.  This is an expensive proposition and I'm constrained by a strict budget. 

  • Norah will have to adjust, and will probably do better than mew.  So if I suddenly get quiet, I'm thinking of my family.  If I suddenly get a ticket and head back to Florida for a while,  that's the price of love.  I intend for this to be the best of both worlds, and I won't stand to be away from her, or them, for long.   

  • I'm bound for a year.  If after a year it hasn't worked out, or I simply can't operate on the revised budget, I'll modify the situation.  The hope is that this is the best thing I've done in a long long time.   If it only lasts a year, then I'll make it a Hell of a year.  If it lasts longer, well, then you can probably count me as being a pretty happy guy.  

Finally, I'm scared but excited by having an opportunity to put it all together, so to speak.  But old guys tremble at the unknown.  We stay up too long, tossing in bed worried about what may happen next.  Young guys don't, they lack the circumspection too many years provide.  Circumstances and fate made me a two-state nomad, and now I have created a two-state solution.  It may be a high wire act but not having done this I would have always wondered.  It's a big move, and I am creating a bit of a house of cards, but damn it, let's make it work.  

Stop by for a beer or a Bloody Mary.  I even have developed a taste for something called Rum Chata.   My brother biker and neighbor Tim has a Home Rule: if the flag is flying at the garage, the bar is open.  At my new place, if you drive by and see a Pink Flamingo,  stop by and say Hello.  

Maybe, just maybe, you can go home again.  


Friday, April 17, 2015

Flashback Friday

Last month I wrote a short essay on my experience in a fraternity.  One of the fringe benefits was having an association with one of the local sororities.  Naturally, I don't remember a great deal of these pictures, but they had something to do with an initiation of their newest ranks into our ranks.  

You will see mostly smiles in these pictures.  It was an annual event and the only requirement was to have fun.  Good clean fun.  Maybe a little beer, maybe some trepidation from the new ones, but that;s part of these things.  Good, safe, clean fun.  

The Beta's were our sister sorority, and when they had new recruits they had an initiation kind of like our Hell Week.  Sometimes these things are done unannounced and participants don't even have time to take their curlers out.   In the above picture we are trying to keep the ladies in the room but RB and Nick are having some trouble getting that accomplished.  Of course it doesn't hurt when you send out Betty, who could have been a linebacker for the IWC Tigers football team.  Betty, one of my favorites on campus was one of the sweetest, funniest girls I've ever been around.   


One of the more juvenile aspects to these things (I didn't say we weren't above acting like children) was the ever-popular sleight of hand with food.  A little pasta masquerading as worms, a few potato chips disguised as glass, and so on.  

More attempted escapees?

The old vets and the newer initiates then having a fun celebration and a welcoming into the brotherhood and sisterhood.  

I'd also like to say at this juncture, my fraternity Hell Week was the old fashioned, old school type.  The next years after they were modified, and yes, diluted into more fan-friendly type rituals.  In fact, the name itself was changed from Hell Week to Help Week.  I'm sure I had an opinion at the time, but it is lost now in the ether of time.   But looking back I'm sure I was delighted with the change and opportunity for constructive character development.  But there is always a price for change.  Always.  On one hand you gain the opportunity to shape, yet lose tradition and the best of the past.  Progress isn't always progress, and change isn't always good.  

We couldn't see it back then, but the end was just around the corner for us all.  Administration moves to bring all Greeks back onto campus was just the first blow.  Dwindling enrollment and a change in attitudes for Greek system all contributed to the demise.  The Phi Delts, my fraternity, was the last one to survive, and it closed in 2009.  Go to the IWC website and under Greek Life you will see a this statement:

"The Iowa Wesleyan Greek community has a long, rich tradition of supporting student involvement and development.  We are currently in the process of rebuilding, offering four opportunities for Greek Life at this time.  We have a national sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, which is the oldest active chapter of their organization, and three local chapters, Theta Sigma Rho and Pi Delta Chi, local sororities, and Zeta Psi Mu, a local fraternity." 

I don't know what that means, really.  But OK.  I don't know what "process of rebuilding" means.  In my day there were 8 National fraternities and sororities.  Now there is one.  And I haven't a clue as to what a local fraternity is.