Enjoying the “Real World” on Honeymoon Island

Last weekend Rose and I went to Honeymoon Island for a walk on the nature trail. She didn’t really want to go but she knew I wanted to take pictures so, as a good wife, she suggested it.

At the beginning of the trail we saw an armadillo going about his business, total oblivious to our presence (which is why most armadillos die near roadways). Further down the trail, it seemed that every hundred feet or so there was an osprey in a tree. Some were in a nest, others were nearby keeping a lookout, still others were flying overhead, sometimes with a fish, possibly bringing it to feed their young. We could even hear the sound of young osprey calling out to their parents, but we could not see them over the top of the nests. It is a world of wonder that can’t be fully appreciated from your living room, even while watching National Geographic.

Rose initially came as a favor to me but was soon glad she did. I was also glad to be there but was somewhat disappointed that my camera lens was giving me trouble. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day and it was refreshing to be outdoors in such a natural environment.

The last part of the nature trail was closed a few years ago because bald eagles had built a nest there. It has become an attraction as people walk the trail to see the young eagles during the winter and early spring. We walked to the end and spotted two young birds in the nest. There were a few other people around, some with cameras and another with binoculars. The eagles were too far for a good look but close enough to see what they were doing. On this day, one of the young birds was jumping around the nest flapping his wings like he was almost ready to fly away.

While we were there we met a man named Mike Brown. He was visiting his father from Ohio and we got into a discussion on how people today spend too much time indoors watching television or playing on the internet. When they are outside, their concentration is focused on their phone and they just don’t see the beauty that is in from of them. It is a shame because disconnecting yourself from technology and entering the real world, even for an hour or two a day is very refreshing and I would say even healthy.

Before we left I gave Mike my card he has since contacted me. I feel like we have made a new friendship that would not have been made over the internet. Don’t get me wrong, the internet is a fine place to meet people but there is never a strong connection until you can talk to someone face to face. There is so much we humans communicate visually that can’t be revealed in a text message.

Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise

I ordered a new lens, which arrived yesterday, so Rose and I took another walk on the trail yesterday afternoon. This time we were greeted by a gopher tortoise instead of the armadillo that greeted us last week.

On the first part of the trail we saw fewer osprey than we did last week until we walked a little further down. We then saw one osprey after another, each a few trees away from each other and every one of them was eating a fish. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon, which must be lunch time for ospreys. It’s amazing what you can see when you make the effort to get out once in a while.

Osprey with fishOsprey with fishOsprey with fishOsprey with fish

We then walked to the end where the eagles were. One of the eagles was watching from a high branch. We saw the adult eagle flying toward the nest as we approached the end of the trail. There were a couple of photographers there that said she brought them food. We couldn’t see them eat but they must have finished pretty quickly because they seemed like they were excited, jumping back and forth across the nest.

Bald eagle with young

The other eagle watched from a nearby tree.

Bald eagleAll in all, it was a great walk on a beautiful day and I look forward to doing it again.

My Least Favorite Season

My Least Favorite Season is here and it is not winter. No, it is much, much worse. It is election season.

bs on tvThe main problem is that our Congressman, Bill Young, had to up and die so now we have to have a “special” election. There are two main candidates going after his seat, Republican David Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink. The only reason I know their names is because I can’t turn on the television, watch a Youtube video, or listen to Pandora without hearing about how one or the other is the lovechild of Satan and if elected will destroy the Earth.

This happens every time there is a major election. Character assassination is a big part of politics and this election is no different. What amazes me is why this still works. Are people that stupid and gullible and believe what one candidate says about another?

Okay, don’t answer that. I know some people can be pretty stupid. Some people can be amazingly stupid, and it seems like these people are everywhere, but I think the reality is most people have, at least, some common sense.  You just hear about the stupid ones because what they do is so noteworthy. This is why I am amazed that there are enough people who fall for these negative ad campaigns to make them financially viable. They also seem to target seniors like they think they are the most gullible people on earth. They don’t seem to realize that most seniors are pretty sharp and the ones with dementia are probably not going to remember where the polling place is.

I think out of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of commercials I saw about David Jolly and Alex Sink, only one was not negative, but that one gets very little air time. To be fair, some do not come from the candidates but other organizations like the Republican and Democrat Parties. This just means that entire committees got together and decided that it would be better to drag the opponent through the mud that point out any good qualities of their candidate.

How is it even legal to lie about people on television. If I were to even write a post and claim that  a non-politician like Bill Gates was having a secret love affair with Kim Jong-Il I would be sued (by the way Bill, I just made that up). That means that this practice is either legal or nobody wants to sue for fear of losing a system that has worked so well for centuries.

Personally, I am tired of it. I cannot turn on my television, computer, or radio without being exposed to so much negativity. I can’t wait until this election is over when I can get all the negativity I need just by watching the news in the morning.

As far as the election goes, I don’t plan on voting, and if I do, it won’t be for David Jolly or Alex Sink. I think promoting smear campaigns against others is a sign of bad character. If I do vote it will be for someone who hasn’t forced a negative agenda on me. Good luck Lucas Overby. You have my vote (in spirit) as long as I don’t have to listen to any of your commercials.

Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade at Marker 1 Marina

The annual Holiday Boat Parade in Dunedin, Florida is a beautiful procession of festively lighted boats that leave Marker 1 Marina on the Dunedin Causeway, head south through the Intercoastal Waterway to Marker 2, turn around and finish at the Dunedin Municipal Marina.

We were fortunate enough to live near Marker 1 Maria and saw a few boat parades from our back yard. From our vantage point, we watched the boats leave the marina, head west and then south until they were out of sight. The parade starts around dusk and I was in an ideal location to get some great pictures, as you can see from the photo below.

Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade 2008

Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade 2008

We now live on the other side of the marina and cannot see the boats exit into the Intercoastal. We are, however, closer to the action and can see people getting their boats ready. Before we were seeing more of the “big picture.” Now we get to see the people involved and get a closer look at the boats, although admittingly, only half the marina comes by our home. Nevertheless, it was very interesting to see the parade from a new perspective.

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People are getting their boats ready for the parade.

2013 Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade at Marker 1 Marina

A boat full of Charlie Browns.

We saw a boat full of people dressed as Charlie Brown. That was something we would not have noticed from the other side. We yelled for them to turn their lights on but they had to save their power for the parade. A few boats left with their lights off, which was disappointing but understandable since we were at the opposite end of the marina from the exit.

2013 Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade at Marker 1 Marina

 

Daylight soon faded away and all the boats passing by us then had their lights on.
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It was a beautiful night for a boat parade and from what I could see, Marker 1 did a great job getting the boats out in an organized manor. I am already looking forward to next year.

Why do I Still go to Wal-Mart?

It seems every time I find myself in a Wal-Mart store, as I am leaving I tell myself “Never again!” Unfortunately, I have a short memory and end up back at Wal-Mart a couple of weeks later, where I repeat those same words to myself again.

I stopped at Wal-Mart after work on Friday. I parked a mile away, as usual, and walked past 45 handicap spots (I counted them). Most of the spots were empty and the cars that were in those spaces were probably people parked illegally, people who are not handicapped but driving their grandmother’s car, or people who have no trouble walking but our government classifies them as a handicap because they were able to file the request form. My grandmother had a handicap parking permit for her car because she was blind. What?????

I believe our government, in its infinite wisdom, probably requires Wal-Mart to have one handicap spot for every two regular spots because the government loves making rules and because nobody ever bothered checking how ridiculous that rule really is. I could not find the actual requirement online, because I didn’t bother to look, but I am sure my reasoning is either right or wrong.

The reason I went to Wal-Mart in the first place was to pick up flowers for Rose. I knew she didn’t have a vase at work so I thought I could get both the flowers and the vase there. Sure enough, as I walked in the door, the flowers were right there but there was not a vase in sight. I guess that would make too much sense putting the vases near the flowers. Its better to have the customers go searching in hopes that they will find something else to buy.

It worked. I picked up some fruit, which I was going to buy anyway, so I guess it didn’t really work. I then went on safari for the elusive vases. I thought I spotted them in housewares but I was wrong. They can be elusive creatures but fortunately Wal-Mart has several guides to help people on their quest. unfortunately, those guides are as elusive as the very vases I was looking for.

Alas, after a long and exhausting search, I ran out of time and had to give up. At least I had my fruit. Now came the worst part of my trip: standing in line.

The Wal-Mart planners did one thing right; they put in 52 cash registers because they knew that these supercenters get very busy and they needed plenty of cash registers to keep the customers happy and coming back. Of course, somewhere between the planning and actual implementation, something went very wrong. I don’t think I have ever been to Wal-Mart and seen more than 10 registers open at one time. Usually, when I am there, I see two or three registers open on one end and two or three at the other end, so if the lines are long, you could take the long walk to the other side, but since you can’t see that far there is no way to know what you are getting into.

Finally, after a ten minute wait in line, I headed out the store thinking, “Never again!”

My Observations: Part One

I will turn fifty years old in July and I thought it would be a good time to share with you some of the things I have noticed throughout my lifetime. People tend to like their information and quotes in the form of pictures these days so I thought I would start out with some words of wisdom:

Post Quotes as Pictures!

Just kidding, here is my quote for the day by yours truly:

I am amazed at two things

 

If you like it, please share.

How Do You Divide The Kindle Books In A Break-up?

Rose and I both have an Amazon account and after I bought her a Kindle I signed her up for the Amazon Prime membership which, among other things, allows her to borrow certain books for free. Around the same time I put the Kindle program on my tablet computer and linked it to her account. I just thought it would be easier and more efficient if we just had one library.

For anyone who does not know how it works, Amazon remembers all of your kindle purchases and keeps them for you “in the cloud.” When I purchase a kindle e-book, it goes to my (technically Rose’s) virtual library. I can then download the new purchase to my device, whether it be the Kindle, my tablet, my desktop computer or even my phone. To do this, all these devices must be registered to the same account.

If I end up with too many books on a certain device, I can remove some of them and still bring them back in the future if I want to. Another nice feature is that I can read a book on the kindle, then later pick up where I left off on my Android phone.

Here is where it can get confusing. A Kindle e-book is not like a regular book in more ways than one. Besides the obvious, you can’t sell a book when you finish reading it. You can’t even give it away. The best you can do is let someone borrow it for two weeks, but even then, that option must be allowed by the author or publisher. I don’t know all the details but I believe you do not purchase a book but it is more like you buy the right to read it.

I wonder what happens to that right when you die. Does it disappear or does it go to your next-of-kin? Can you leave your rights to someone in your will? Sure, anyone with your username and password can have access to them but what if your benefactor does not know it? Can they petition Amazon for your library?

What I am really curious about is what happens when a couple gets divorced and the one who’s name the account is under changes the password?  I have a good marriage and I don’t have to worry about this but many people do not. I am not a lawyer but I believe anything purchased during a marriage is community property so when the assets are divided up in a divorce the e-books should be part of that division but there seems to be no way to do that.

Technology has changed our lives so much these last couple of decades and the laws that were made for a non-digital society just don’t always apply anymore.I guess for now, in cases like this, we need someone like Judge Solomon to threaten to cut our Kindles in half. What do you think?

 

Sad Times For The Orangutans

Rose and I went to the Lowry Park Zoo last weekend and I was shocked when I learned that the zoo had put all the orangutans out with nothing but the fur on their backs and an old shirt and some paper bags to protect them from the sun.
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One was too embarrassed to show his face.
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Another decided to just wait until the sun went down or until zoo officials changed their mind and let them back inside.
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One thought he could go over the top like Bruce Wayne.
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Yet another decided to use this time to relax.
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With only a few pieces of lettuce to eat, food was getting scarce.

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Soon depression started to set in. This fellow contemplated jumping.

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And this one plotted a way back inside.
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I sat down and talked to one of the orangutans.

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He told me, and I quote, “he he he he he he heeeeee.” I couldn’t help but cry.

Author’s note:
For the one percent of the people that do not know that this is a joke: This is a joke. Please do not call Lowry Park Zoo to complain. Never-mind, call them if you want. It might be funny.

My Smoothie Fiasco

When I was I child I decided the two worst foods in the world were spinach and coconut. This, of course, was before I discovered lentils. I pretty much avoided those two foods until after I met Rose. She made a spinach pie, which I ate out of out of courtesy at first, but then realized that it was quite good. I then discovered that raw spinach was good too and not the horrible toxin that I remember from childhood. Now I will actually order a spinach salad in a restaurant because it is the best salad on the menu.

I think my dislike for spinach goes back to when I was little and my grandmother gave us a bowl of cooked spinach, probably from a can, and told us we had to finish it before we could leave the table. I must have been at the table for an hour before I finally forced it down. I then got up and puked. I think the trauma made me more sick than the spinach. It’s funny how events from childhood can affect us long into adulthood.

Coconut was another story. I didn’t have any trauma connected to coconut, I just didn’t like it. I was well into my forties before I discovered that coconut did not actually taste bad, I just didn’t like the texture. It is like chewing on ground cockroaches.

Ladybug

For those of you grossed out by that statement, let me rephrase it. It is like chewing on ground ladybugs. They are much cuter unless you see them close up.

Ninja BlenderThere is a point to all this, so here we go. Recently Rose and I bought a Ninja Blender. We wanted something better than our old blender for making fruit smoothies and other healthy drinks. This one has 1100 watts and blends much quicker and quieter than I am used to. The first time I used it I was afraid a vortex was going to open up in my kitchen and my brand new blender would be sucked into another dimension. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

Naturally, I looked through the big book of recipes that came with the blender but I could find nothing that I would want to make. Most of the recipes involved opening a can of something or putting perfectly good fruit in the microwave. I’m glad I didn’t pay extra for the book.

I ended up looking on YouTube for some smoothie ideas. I find YouTube to be a great source when you need to learn something and I found plenty of videos on how to make various kinds of smoothies. I saw a few recipes that used coconut and I learned that the fresh, raw, coconut water is very healthy for you. I also knew Rose liked coconut  and I believed that if I could blend it up well enough with other fruits then I could drink it with no problem, as long as I didn’t have to chew it.

The next day I bought a coconut on my way home from work and the following morning I got started on my experimental smoothie. I had watched some videos on the proper way to open a coconut, which all happened to be different, and I thought I was ready. I was wrong.

It seemed so easy. A couple wacks with the back of a meat cleaver and BAM! Of course that didn’t work. The only thing I accomlished was to get Rose yelling at me that it was too early and I was going to wake the neighbors. It didn’t matter that the neighbors moved out days before. So now I had a coconut AND Rose to contend with. How do you quietly pound  the crap out of a coconut? Hmmm…

I decided that I needed to open it fast and to hell with the noise so I got a hammer and screwdriver and pounded until it opened. Even then it took several hits and more yells from upstairs. After it finally opened and I put the water in the blender and then had the delema of breaking the two halves ito smaller pieses, again without making noise.

Once I finally broke the halves into smaller pieses, I then pried the “meat” out of the shell. Unfortunately there is a skin that needs to be removed as well so I had to scrape it off with a potato peeler. When I was finally done I put the pieces in the blender with bananas and other fruit and blended. It came out pretty thick so I added some more almond milk and blended again, this time leaving it on high for a consideable amount of time. I wanted to make sure the coconut was blended smooth.

Finally. After almost forty five minutes I was ready to taste my creation. I poured it in a glass, took a drink and…Yuck! It was like drinking a cat litter smoothie. I had to dump the whole thing down the drain and to top it off, I had to hurry up so I wouldn’t be late for work because I wasted so much time.

I don’t get it. How is it that so many people put coconut in their smoothies? Is it just me that is bothered by it or did I do something wrong? If anyone knows how to make this drink so it is actually drinkable plese let me know. In the meantime, coconut is back on my most hated food list.

What is Wrong With Carnival Cruise Lines?

Many of you have probably seen the news about the problems with the Carnival Triumph. I know that things like this could happen to any cruise line and this may just be an isolated indecent but my last cruise on Carnival showed, to me anyway, that they seem to have put maintenance and upkeep on the back burner.

In a nutshell, the windows were all so dirty you could barely see out of them. The carpeting on our floor was disgusting. There was a soft spot in the floor that I am certain was close to breaking. The laundry room on our floor had three dryers and none of them worked, but they did take my money. To top it off, the excursion we went on was nothing like it was described.

There was also a problem in the dining room. Parts of it seemed much hotter than the rest and there was a terrible smell coming from the area set up for drinks. The smell lasted the entire trip and we happened to be in the dining room around the third day when workers were, in my opinion, trying to track down the smell. Eventually one pointed to the ceiling as if to suggest that something died up there.

Dirty carpets near our cabin

I sent them a long letter detailing many of the problems that Rose and I encountered on their ship. I also included pictures of the windows and carpet. I wrote this letter in a very friendly manner, hoping to get a response from them. I thought the least they could do was give us a discount on a future cruise. What I got was a somewhat disappointing. The following email was dated September 24, 2012:

Dear Charles,
Thank you for contacting us following your recent cruise on the Carnival Destiny.

Keeping customers happy is at the heart of our business. A cruise is meant to be an escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life: a time to feel pampered, to enjoy fabulous food and great entertainment, to lie in the sun without a care in the world.

I am very sorry to hear this wasn’t the case on your cruise. You have my sincere apology for the overall lack of cleanliness you’ve described.

We regret to learn of your overall disappointment with your shore excursion in Jamaica. Although we research and select the best tour operators available at each port of call, there are those rare times when the tour may not be exactly what you envisioned. We apologize the tour did not meet with your expectations and have taken the liberty of forwarding your comments to those that can make a change.

We appreciate your having taken the time to send us your additional detailed comments. As part of our ongoing process to improve our product, your feedback has been shared with the relevant department managers for their disposition.

Please don’t let what happened this time around tarnish your entire opinion of us. We hope you’ll reconsider your position in the future. We’d love to welcome you back.

Sincerely,

Andrea Reyes
Guest Care Specialist
Carnival Cruise Lines | 3655 NW 87th Avenue | Miami, FL 33178 |
800-929-6400
iCare@carnival.com

The letter seemed to leave it open that someone else would contact me. Nobody ever did. I will say that we did have fun on the cruise. All of the people who work on the ship were very friendly and helpful. I also don’t think that experience would have kept us from booking another Carnival Cruise. We would have just made sure it was on a newer ship. It is the lack of caring that bothers me more. If someone would have just made the slightest effort to show us that they really cared, that would have made a difference. Now I think Carnival is about to reap what they sow.

A Ghost in St. Augustine?

Rose and I took a trip to St. Augustine just before the new year. On Saturday Night we had dinner at an Italian Restaurant called Nonna’s Trattoria. We sat outside for dinner and afterwards I took the photograph of the area where we were sitting. When I got home I noticed a strange figure in the photo (left center).

The figure appears somewhat transparent. I know that a long shutter speed and a moving object can have a similar effect but I hand-held this shot at a shutter speed of 1/4 second. Slow but not that slow. In addition, the person would have had to move more than the width of his body to produce this effect which does not seem to be the case. Also, his shadow is very distinct and not from a flash.

I don’t believe in ghosts but this sure is strange. If someone can explain it, please leave a comment.

Is this a ghost?